We left Zen Valley with an intention to indulge ourselves in some serious trekking. We could see the mountains on the horizon and very soon, after crossing the village of Khanyara, we found ourselves gaining altitude and looking down upon the valley.
This is not a formal trail frequented by trekkers and has no fixed name. However, from what we could gather, these are as not far from the Triund trek, something I’ve already done twice. The direction was the same, so I could probably meet that Triund Indrahara Pass trail if one keeps going. But for the day, our humble plan on as to get some exercise. However, the views were much clearer from here compared to what I remembered from Triund.
This area, like many other lower areas of the Himalayas, have been chosen as a site for a power project, the 4.5 MW Maujhi Hydroelectric Project. Maujhi or Manjhi is a small stream that eventually meets the Beas. We crossed one of the installations belonging to the project and were told that there were more installations in the higher reaches. To be honest, power projects in the hills make me very uncomfortable. I understand the demand for power but they all look very fragile on those slopes and over powerful hilly streams, only one earthquake away from calamity.
Nevertheless, I tried to ignore that one and focused on the views. A village had become visible by now beyond the lush green pines. From where we were, the village seemed to be located in the middle of nowhere, and with no connectivity whatsoever. We asked some locals who informed us that the village is named Thathri. Some online research showed that it is actually the beginning of an ancient Gaddi trail in the higher reaches of the Dhauladhars that involves crossing the Kundli Pass. Enticing as it sounds, we did not have the time or resources for the same. So, we decided to go as far as possible in a couple of hours as we also had to come back the same day.
It took some time but eventually we reached Thathri and tried to find the trails that go higher up. We climbed up the next cliff, only to find a deep gorge staring down at the river and a very shaky looking hanging bridge. It seemed that if we can get down to that point, it will be possible to walk along the river and come out on the same road at a lower elevation.
I was not sure if this plan was even feasible but then we saw some local women crossing the shaky bridge, that too carrying huge loads of firewood. So, we went ahead with the plan and reached the bridge, an extremely narrow one, that could barely take one person at a time. The river was at least 30 feel below the bridge. We talked to those women and figured out that our assumption was right.
It is of course possible to start another round of steep climb on the other side of the bridge but we no longer had the time for the same. We reached a point where the stream was at the same level as the road, and enjoyed the icy water for a while. Some local guys were working there, mostly cutting stones from the hills to be used in constructions. Some chat with them and one joint later, we started moving downwards. Very soon we rejoined the road and climbed down to the plains, leaving behind a gradually darkening sky .
However, I was not done with Sidhpur yet. The next morning, before leaving for GHNP, I made a quick visit to the Norbulingka Institute. It is an elaborate complex, built in the 80s to nurture and promote Tibetan culture. For anyone who loves the Tibetans and supports with their cause, this is a great place to know more about them. They facilities to train traditional painters, weavers, and many other sorts of artisans. There is a monastery and also a restaurant. For me, the most interesting part was the Losel Doll Museum. Those were miniature dolls but extremely lifelike, recreating typical scenes of Tibetan life. Will I ever be able actually witness such scenes?
PS: For those who are wondering, you can do small courses in Norbulingka on Thangka painting, wood painting, and wood carving. Use this link to write to them for more information.