Leaving Patnitop towards snow point—A short trip from Jammu
Last evening was windy and cloudy. Wind blew whistling through the whole night. In a new place that too at a good altitude I feel uncomfortable. I couldn’t sleep well. It was the first night.
I take a little time to adjust. At Patnitop it was our only night. When we came out in the open next morning, we found the sky still cloud covered but much brighter. Tukai and I went round the area exploring. The flowerbed attracted us first. A bunch of pink-tinged white flowers proudly raised their head at our feet.
Pink white flower bunch
Around the pink whites stood a circle of bluebells. I don’t know its actual name, but it was blue and had bells hanging.
Blue bells hanging
Usually when you walk you won’t notice the small flowers that look up to you when you pass by. If you stoop down you might find abundant beauty in them. For quite some time I had seen Tukai specially interested in the small flowers, insects and even pieces of dead wood that lie at his feet.
When we looked up and ahead, we spotted a blue bird sitting on the flower bed. We didn’t know its name then, but now I guess it was a blue whistling thrush. The yellow beaked blue bird sat still—around it was a sprinkling of pink white flowers against a backdrop of green grass.
Himachal and adjoining Jammu and Kashmir are rich in natural beauty with a lot of green cover. The nature of hills and the trees at Patnitop had lots of similarity with Himachal open hills that we had already passed through. We expected accordingly an abundance of birds. We looked at each other with sparkling eyes—at least one showed up!
In a few minutes our blue bird flew away leaving us to our aimless wanderings. When he looked at the green young plants with buds waiting to bloom, I had to admit that Tukai had the ability to spot future possibilities.
It will bloom
For some months this green faced me as the wallpaper on my desktop—its green soothing me.
I love trees and soon the majestic tree attracted me. I pointed it out to Tukai. The Patnitop compound is old as old are the few remaining large trees. Over the last forty years from the time I first went into a forest I had seen many trees—large and tall with thick trunks and wide spreading branches, but never before I met with a tree like this.
Near the giant of a tree stood another tall one bedecked in creepers—as if it said—don’t you find my guest beautiful? I thought—only the gracefully aged can collect a guest like this.
Guest of the gracefully aged
This backside we found the trees to be gracefully aged in their own ways. The group of trees extending their branches touching each other looked like a group of dancers suddenly going still.
Looking through the branches the hillside just opposite was bathed in soft light now. Layer after layer of tall trees rose to stop at a large bald patch on the hillside. Rows of tree at the top looked like hairs standing on a bald head. That must be the effect of snowing, I thought.
Turning around a bit we were greeted with far away white dots of houses thinly spread all over a valley. A bird could have flown straight down to land on a roof top in five minutes it seemed. We liked the view and spent a few minutes looking at the far away signs of civilization.
Life in dots
Open hillsides at this altitude in Kumaon or Himachal always enchant me. The trees rise straight with spread out branches. Undergrowth non-existent—you can unroll your mat and sit on the far away slopes under the trees wherever you wish. The slopes are so gentle.
My friend called—breakfast was ready. After breakfast we would leave for the snow point. We looked at our far away destination. The hill top lost much of its winter snow cover, but still some snow was left for us we felt.
After a quick breakfast we loaded our already packed luggage in the car and started for the day. It would be near evening when we would reach back to Jammu, but now snow point was our destination. With a slightly heavy heart we bade a silent good bye to Patnitop—we never knew you were there, but we liked you. We would come back again. Perhaps.
Author’s Note: We made our whole trip of Dalhousie, Khajjiar, Dharamsala and Patnitop based on Jammu. As the locations were mostly in Himachal, I always remember this trip as “beautiful Himachal”. Interestingly blue whistling thrush is covered well under Himachal birds in the Net, but not easily available under Jammu and Kashmir birds. When I searched for the birds in Jammu and Kashmir I couldn’t get as good a bird-page as I got for Himachal which I used in my link. Himachal is adjoining and nearby—flora and fauna do not change much. I guess most of these birds will be available in some or other parts of Jammu and Kashmir also.
The borders separating countries and states are only human-made—nature has no such bounds.