Tuesday March 13
We set out this morning by taxi from Mohal to pick up another cab and the rest of our party of nine to head up the Kullu Valley to cross the river at Akara Bazar. Leslie, her daughter Nandi and her friend Mara (both having just returned from 6 weeks of yoga in the south of India); Zack who has lived in Kullu for most of his 25 years; Caroline who returns to Quebec tomorrow with her 86-year old mother - a permanent resident for almost 40 years; our dear friend Ellen and the three of us. First stop, the Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery with burgundy-robed monks of all ages and laughing children, waving and shouting at us from their classroom window. A peaceful temple, beautifully laid out with tonkas and bright sunlight streaming in. Then off and way up to the “castle” at Nagger, 600 years old - perched on the side of a cliff - to enjoy the sun and view of the valley and peaks over a lunch of dal,pakoras, rice, chapatti and lime sodas. Blair did his best to learn a little yoga from Nandi and Leslie on the deck and Nandi’s friend Mara did her best to calm her stomach before we headed up the road on foot. We stopped at what was once the home of a Russian painter and teacher called Roerich whose house is now a museum – closed because it seems to be a holiday of sorts. Walked around this beautiful old home and the garden below where dozens of langur monkeys darted about. A group of women in their (daily) traditional mountain dress clapped, danced and sang on the hillside. Many dogs basked in the middle of the road, comically refusing to move for honking vehicles. The orchards just beginning to come into bloom, with surrounding mustard fields full of yellow. A long vertical climb up a steep staircase and path took us to a village at the top of the ridge. Zack describes it as a once-pagan community populated by people of Tibetan origin, now devout Hindus. Signs throughout the village ask visitors not to wear shoes or belts (leather) in their many rustic temples constructed with flat stone slabs layered between large beams and topped with heavy shale roofs. One man smiled a welcome and asked us not to touch the temple buildings. Children played, shouting “Potto! Potto!”which we eventually figured out to be “photo” as they wanted to see digital images of themselves. Mara grew greener as she struggled up and then down the path, dreading her 12-hour bus trip tonight to Delhi before the antibiotics take effect. Our stomachs are occasionally queasy, which (curiously) only makes me want to eat more! Blair seems enchanted with India.