Our original idea was to visit Anandpur Sahib, with no further plans made. Not having found any place to stay there, we accepted the invite to a friend’s farm in Una, Himachal Pradesh and spent a good 4-5 days there, commuting to Anandpur Sahib everyday.
The friends are beginning a new chapter in life at Una, indulging full time and professionally into organic and ethical farming, a vision to grow healthy food, sustainably. More on that in another post. But farm work is back breaking, and soon we wanted to take a break. Someone mentioned Dharamshala was barely 100km from Una.
The idea sounded good, packing us off towards Dharamshala, and our quest to find a quiet, peaceful place to stay brought us Sidhbari or Sidhpur, 19 km from Dharamshala.
We wanted to experience staying at a mud house, and upon an extensive search we had found this place called Prakriti Aalay, with the river Manooni on one side and a small chir-pine forest on its other. Everything about the place appealed to us and we headed towards it.
Upon reaching we realised its a good 50 meters trek down a steep slope, only possible on foot and the car has to be parked next to the road. We were a little miffed initially, but soon got over it. The car park was safe, and the staff helped us with the luggage. And honestly this 50 meters walk up and down the slope into the river valley actually felt better with each passing day.
Sidhpur has a gorgeous view of the mighty Himalayas, and the entire place is a birdwatcher’s pilgrimage, much to our delight. Wake up early to hear the Great Barbets, The Blue Whistling Thrushes, the Yellow Vented Bulbuls, The Fulvous Chested Woodpeckers call cheerfully. It was March and even during day standing in the shade made us want to put on our warm jackets. The soothing sound of the Manooni waters gushing over Himalayan boulders is like meditation music. Sidhpur is the place to spend a good week in, doing nothing much but walks around the woods and catching up on the sleep deficit. And of course the food.
Soon after leaving our luggage, we drove towards Norbulingka Institute and Dharamshala, and of course some good local lunch.
We spent a day just walking around the Chir-Pine forests behind the property. Not the native trees of the Himalayas, chir-pine forests are typically devoid of bird and animal life.
With the catchup with sleep just about getting even, it was already time to leave. How could we plan a longer route back, weaving through as much of Himachal as possible, soaking in the Himalayas for as long as we could? With some work at the Agriculture University in Palampur, we moved ahead. This University itself affords such beautiful vistas. We wished we could do a short term course here in organic farming, just for the excuse to live on campus for a few months. But we must keep moving on…