Many years ago I walked across a pass into a magical land of coloured mountains and silver rivers, I thought I had never seen a place of such wonder, and it was true, i have never again found such a spot.
Today I have just returned once more from the same valley and though I have seen some amazing sights since that first vista, it still does not fail to amaze, awe and uplift my very being and there has never been an equal.
Spiti, a land of spearing peaks slashed with snow, sheer fortresses of rock, wearing skirts of scree in swathes of colour..(I once filled a pot with bronze dust that I used as a cosmetic glow maker!)
Waterfalls cascading down sheer rock faces, prayer flags fluttering from ancient monasteries. Mud homes, emerald meadows dotted with ridiculously bright flowers. It is a land indescribable in it’s sheer grandeur. That the head spins with the height and un – oxygenated air is but a small discomfort, it is spinning in so many other ways too.
These mountains make the soul soar, the heart sing and the spirit revive. Trying to chart the track, draw a road book and generally answer a heap of sometimes irritating questions in no way took away from the fact that I was back in this sublime part of the world again.
So often people have asked me ‘what is the best place you have visited?’ I have never had an answer because each place has it’s own magic.
However, this valley is magic. I thought so the first time I stepped across the Pin Parvati Pass and reaffirm it every time I return. So here I am reiterating once more – magic mountains – a most spectacular part of the world and I am blessed to keep returning there.
That some hordes of women will follow the route that I have charted, makes me shudder, while at the same time, knowing that they will go back changed and magicked too.
For the last month I have been trying to lead this group of myriad ladies up and down our mountains. They are used to driving automatic cars on flat roads, now these intrepid beings have got into good old Mahendra Scorpios and Boleros with stick shifts and steering wheels on the wrong side ( for them), yet they have driven the dirt tracks, taken two point turns and avoided falling down the ‘khads’ of some amazing himalayan tracks.
It has been a bit like ‘mid term trips’ back in school with the girls, music, hilarity, dancing in the streets and stories.
Nuns in ancient nunneries – that have a communal solar bath, a green house where they grow vegetables all year round, but also use as a gathering spot on cold winter afternoons, and a constant sense of naughty humour. Who would have thought it!!
Tiny little monastaries with painted frescoes fresh and bright of colours that have lasted more than 800 years. Every corner holds a surprise and a discovery.
This is a land to smell, to soak and absorb and then to do it all again. It is of subliminal enchantment!