When we came back from the mandir, we dragged Gagan out for some breakfast
. We went to the same place as last night, I had a delicious cinnamon bun, while the other two had Aloo Parathey. We went for a walk after breakfast in the general direction of Mcload Ganj. I remembered from the last time I was here, that there was a monastery (or that's what I thought it was then) up in the mountains. I wanted to go and have another look so off we went. About 2 minutes into the trek up the mountain Gagan and Soma said they were tired and sat on a bench. I went on up alone and everything looked very different to what I remembered from last time, mind you that was 8 years ago. There were a lot more building along the path, but when I got to the top I found the same open courtyard I had seen all those years ago. The first time I went up there, it was about 6am in the morning, I had gone up there to try and get a decent view of the sunrise, but came across this big open courtyard with single story rooms around three sides of it. When I got there, there was no body around, it was very quiet and peaceful, then all of a sudden at 6.30am, all the doors to the room's flung open and these loads of Tibetan kids started running around all over the place. They were all dressed in traditional clothing and I wasn't sure if was even allowed to be there so I left straight away.
This time I was a lot older and a little wiser, so I wanted to find out more about the place. There was a big stage to one side of the courtyard and there were a few people standing around playing musical instruments
. The stage backdrop had a picture of the Dalai Lama and it said 'a concert celebrating 70 years of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's life'. I went up to one of the guy's playing an instrument and asked him about the place (all the people were just wearing regular clothes by the way). He told me it was an institute for Traditional Tibetan Arts, student from all over India come here to learn about Tibetan music and dance so they can then go into Tibetan schools across the country to teach. He also told me about the struggle for independence that the Tibetan people have undergone since the Chinese takeover in 1959, apparently the Dalai Lama lives in exile in Dharamsala. There are a lot of Tibetan refugees in this area, many have settled further a field. I stayed up there and talked to him for a while but then I remembered the Larries were still waiting for me. We went back to the hotel and got packed up, we were ready to leave by 11am.
We stuck to the same formation as yesterday, Soma rode the Bullet with Gagan on the back and I had Kaka's bike. I put my headphones in and we were on the way, we knew it was going to be a long ride but what we hadn't banked on was it raining along the way! Soma was on another flex with his driving, he was either going super slow or too fast, after a while I just went at my own STEADY pace. It started raining a little around midday so we pulled over at a Dhaba for lunch (and some shelter), we got back on the road and made our way to the next big town Kangra
. I had left the other two behind and as I pulled into Kangra the rain started pouring down! With in a couple of minutes my top was drenched so I pulled into a petrol station. I put some fuel in and took the opportunity to change my top and put on my fleece (got my money's worth out of that!). Soma caught me up and after the rain died down a bit we carried on.
At around 2.30pm we reached Chenthpurni Mata. This is a place of worship for Hindus, we stopped here and went up to pray, there were a few steps to climb but nowhere near as many as Naina Devi. We didn't stop there long and were on the road in an hour or so. We got back into Punjab around 4pm and soon after back onto flat roads! I made the most of the flat roads, standing up for a while to dry my shorts, then I got a bit carried away and started doing the whole 'look no hands' thing. No I didn't come off! I must say my bike riding skills have improved a lot over the past few days, I wish I could say the same for the other two, Gagan rides to fast and scares the living daylights out of the passenger, while Soma is just lost! Anyway we got into Jalandhar for 5.30pm, stopped off at Subway for a bit to eat and then made our way back to Pind. We were home for 6.30pm.
It's nice to be back, the weather is better here but I'm missing the surroundings already. I would love to do it all again for about 2 weeks BUT ON MY OWN! I have noticed this everywhere I have travelled, the places you visit are always enhanced by the people you are around whilst there. If you're around lousy people then the place your at seems lousy too, enough said on that subject.
I am still thinking about going to Hem Kund (another place of pilgrimage for Sikhs in the mountains), but I also need to think about getting out of here very soon. I need to get the tiles sorted at Baba Moti's then I'm free to do as I please. Watch this space!
Well so much for not having an early start! Firstly Gagan and Soma stayed up till midnight talking in the room, then the guys they were talking to got drunk and made a commotion in the hotel lobby (which was about 4 metres from our room) till 2.30am. Just to put the icing on the cake Gagan and Soma got up at 6am, what are they like! Again that didn't leave me with much of a choice but to get up. To be honest the sun was out and from our window Bhagsu was looking beautiful again, so I got up to take it all in. We were all ready to step out by about 7am, but Gagan decided he didn't want to come out again so Soma and I went to the local Mandir. While we were in the Mandir, I noticed a Marble plaque donated by Neel Kamel Tailors (Darshan Uncles company), I know they used to come here a lot on holiday, in fact the last time I was here was with their family, that made me think of recent tragic events.