"Travel is glamorous only in retrospect." ~ Paul Theroux


Walking for Life

Bittu Sahgal, Editor Sanctuary & Cub Magazines, recalls a visit to the great Himalayan National Park, Himachl Pradesh where he was 'supremely happy'.

I could hear myself breathing. It was cold. My feet felt like wood. I was wet, not from the constant drizzle, but from perspiration. Around me the forest was damp and mist-laden. My camera bag felt like it weighed a ton.

But I was happy. Supremely happy.

That was when the black and tan dog turned up. He was huge. And furry. And friendly. Paws on my shoulders, tail wagging, tongue washing my face, he convinced my legs to rest awhile on a large, nearby rock. The sheep he was supposed to be watching grazed contentedly 30 metres away. Between us we consumed a full packet of Digestive biscuits before a high-pitched whistle had him bounding back to duty. I never did find out his name. But I can still feel his warm breath and remember his limpid brown eyes. I love dogs. Mountains too.

More About Himachal
At a Glance

Himachal Travel Diary
Return to Manali
Manali to Leh
Haridwar to Badrinath

Valley of Flowers
Deo Tibba

sheep A hundred paces further on I came upon a grotto of the kind that wordsmiths tend to paint in imaginary tales. Green-fronted with vines and creepers, a black recessed rock and its own private waterfall, the grotto was clearly a popular watering hole for local residents of the avian kind.

Bikram Grewal, Sir Mark Tully, Gillian Wright and I were on the return leg of a five-day trek through the Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh. Tired and happy, for the 100th time I asked myself why I lived in distant Mumbai, when I was destined for the company of sheep dogs, sunbirds and tragopans.

I have journeyed for two long decades to every conceivable Indian wilderness and have not yet experienced even a fragment of the natural treasure we are fortunate to possess. India is many countries rolled up in one. Not because of its size, but its sheer diversity. Cold deserts, snow-bound mountains, windswept coastlines, dripping rainforests, arid scrublands, sandy deserts and islands in the sun, where you can walk under shady green canopies... or dive beneath azure, glassy blue waters. We, quite literally, have it all.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.