Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Naggar, Mateura and Mcleod Ganj

View from the bus to Manali:
I don't remember how long ago it was now, maybe a week or so, we left Vashisht and went by taxi to Naggar. It's a village which a 2 km up from the main road along the Kullu valley ( a little bit south of Vashisht)

It was a nice place, but we couldn't find a room that we really liked, so we only stayed there for 2 nights. One site of interest in Naggar is the castle, which used to sit on top of one of the surrounding hills, but was moved stone by across the valley by the villagers some hundreds of years ago (sorry,forgot the details). Some of the views were really incredible from parts of the town though, and so we enjoyed that of course. I also got an Ayurvedic massage, which was both relaxing and necessary (Ayurveda - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayurveda). The next morning, we left all of our stuff with a travel agent, and went fishing along one of the tributaries of the Beas River. We spent like 4 hours fishing, but didn't catch anything! This made us feel pretty pathetic, but we still had fun hanging around the river and trying to catch the trout. I was also a little upset because I was hoping to catch my dinner. A taxi picked us up later in the afternoon (with our stuff) and took us to Jari, small town along the Parvati Valley.
We didn't actually stay in Jari though, we hiked up from the road for about 20 minutes until we came to the village of Mateura, which was much more quiet. The population couldn't have been more than 100 people. We got a room at a small guesthouse, which seemed to be the nicest in the village. None of the rooms here had an attached bathroom though, so we had to settle for a common one (a bathroom has been one of our musts for rooms, when it's possible). It was perfectly clean though, because we were sharing it with the family who owned the guesthouse, so they kept it up for themselves. The family had 5 cows, so we were living next to them as much as we were the people. The walking trail that we took to get to Mateura continued on the other end of town and a couple of the days we went for hikes. The second hike we did was to a village on the other side of a valley from Mateura. As soon as we got into the village, a man approached us and offered a cup of chai. So we went with him, back to his house and had some tea and talked for a little while. He was a farmer and his main crop,like so many in the state, is apples. While we've been walking on these trails for the last couple of weeks, you often see people with big baskets on their backs, taking some kind of crop from the hills to where it needs to go. So, recently these baskets were always full of wheat. In August, they are full of apples. The man (his name was Krishna) also told us what he pays these people to carry his apples. 1 Rupee for kilo. 37 Rupees is one Canadian dollar. A couple of the days we also had to go into Kasol to run a couple of errands (only internet in the valley). It was a boring place, full of Israeli's and not much else. There was more Hebrew than Hindi to be found in the town, and it was easier to get a felafel than some Indian food. But it's location was still beautiful, so it wasn't a complete waste.

We stayed in Mateura for 4 nights. We then took a night bus to Mcleod Ganj (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharamsala) , close to where we are staying now. Mcleod Ganj is the home of the Tibetan Government in Exile and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. As well being the home to the big DL, Mcleod Ganj is also home to many Tibetan exiles and the town is said to be more Tibetan than Indian (we've eaten momo's off the street a couple times already, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momo_%28food%29). You also see many Tibetan Buddhist monks walking around town in their red robes. Typical of us lately, we are actually staying in a guesthouse, 45 minutes uphill from Mcleod in a village called Dharamkot. The view is great, we are actually in the clouds most of the time, so there is plenty of moisture here. It's fun having to walk to get anywhere, although a little tiring at times. But living in these villages and walking everywhere is a good warm up for our trek, which is coming up in a couple weeks.
We purchased our flight tickets from Delhi to Kathmandu today, so on June 30th, we leave India for Nepal.
Funny observation about myself in India: Whenever we walk by other white people on the street, I find myself unsure if I should say hello (because here, we are brothers!) or just keep walking like they were like anyone else. I think the other whities have these mental arguments as well, because whenever I end up nodding hello, they have the same funny look on their face.

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