One lazy afternoon when the temperature outside was breaking all records and the AC inside was set at 16 degree, I was simply procrastinating and getting nostalgic thinking about my snow sojourns.
Yes, you can’t get snow in this season but you can definitely dream about it and resolve to catch it the first thing when the winter comes.
Presenting to you my snow diary so that atleast in our imagination we can get respite from this scorching heat.
First Snowfall at Sukhi Top, Uttarkashi
There is something magical about snowfall. The pure white blanket created by the snowflakes impress upon an illusion of perfection and purity. This Sunday morning somewhere between our late morning tea and repetitive discussion on weather, the topic of snowfall was touched upon. My dad, who is 65 dolefully said he had not yet seen snowfall but would really love to. Well, as we say, he had “Saraswati sitting on his tongue” (a local saying which means whatever you say comes true). A few phone calls and it was confirmed that snow had started falling in the upper ridges of Uttarkashi.
Thus the search for snowfall began. We decided to keep driving uphill on Gangotri road till we find snowfall. Almost after 2 hours of anxious driving and asking every local, “Kitney upar barf padi hai?” (where did snow fall?), we finally saw raindrops convert into snowflakes.
Snow-excitement creeped in! The valley was beginning to get covered in snow. It was the first snow of this season. At Sukhi Top (2744 meters above sea level), 18 kilometers from Gangnani, we stopped the car to enjoy snowfall. From here you get clear view of the snow capped Himalayas.
Wind was strong and snowflakes were hitting the face harshly but this didn’t deter us. We went mad soaking in the beauty of snow, clicking pictures and trying to collect and hold snow in hand. Uttarkashi is the perfect combination of unparallel beauty and surreal experiences. However, it was heart wrenching to see that we were the only people there.
After an hour our hands went numb, red and swollen, and the desperate search for tea began but sadly all the shops in the vicinity stood close. A local lamented about dwindling number of tourists post 2013 disaster which was the primary reason for shut shops.
It was getting dark and there was not a single soul around. It was better to drive back than get stuck in snow. To add to the woes was no phone connectivity in this area. Well, it was at Gagnani that we found two food stalls open though absence of tourists was evident. We ended our snow journey with pahad wali chatpati Maggie and steaming cup of extra sugary tea sitting in quiet corner of the deserted restaurant with spectacular views of the Himalayas.
Shimla Turns Romantic When It Snows
This was the first time I experienced snow falling on me. Total Bollywood movie like!
It was yet another regular day at office when my hubby called up and excitedly said, “Listen, I am coming to pick you from office in an hour and we are going to Shimla.”
What? Is he mad, right in the middle of the week and an unplanned trip? Apparently the weather department predicted snowfall in Shimla in next 24 hours. Idea was cajoling and reluctantly I approached my boss and told her in all honesty, the plan to drive upto Shimla in the hope of seeing snowfall, my first ever. Interestingly, she agreed and even gave a few handy tips!
I was on my way to Shimla in search of snowfall.
The mall road looks absolutely mesmerizing when the snow falls. I was excited like a little girl – slipping, sliding and enjoying snowflakes.
The next morning when I opened my window and sat on the sill to enjoy my morning tea, it was a splendid view outside. The sun rays were falling on the snow collected on the pine trees omitting a translucent light; the winding road beneath was lined with snow and as far as eyes could see, it was simple and pristine beauty.
Trip to Gangotri in December
Those who travel or keep a fair tab on travel information will know that no one goes towards Gangotri in December. Why? Because: the Gangotri temple is closed after Diwali and in December it is so cold and deserted that no one travels up there. However, lately the government is pushing winter tourism.
This was in 2006, it was December and we travelled to Gangotri, just like that! Courtesy Army we could drive till Gangotri temple because only Army vehicles ply on the road during this season.
It was an unusual experience. As it had snowed a day before, the complete drive from Harshil to Gangotri was snow lined. I would get down at frequent intervals and feel the snow in my hand. Once we reached Gangotri temple, there was an eerie silence; an absolute pin-drop silence. Not a soul around. I shouted and it echoed in the valley. Without any inhibitions, I was jumping around excitedly seeing the valley covered in snow. It was as if I owned the place. Though I couldn’t enter the temple but I have no regrets. I doubt if anyone ever had such an experience – a beautiful valley all b y yourself. Just you and Nature!