A year-long of no-travel-sadness finally ended with a solo trip to Himachal Pradesh in late February. Like many others, this was my first post-COVID travel. It also happened to be a trip one of many firsts:
Hopping on an overnight bus to Manali from Delhi I got off at Aut and took a cab to my destination – Tandi. A 2-hour ride from Aut, the journey had beautiful scenery to offer despite some under-construction roads.
- First staycation
- First hitchhiking
- First time to travel for 18 days at a stretch
- Hiked alone in the woods
- Worked while travelling
- Visited friends in the mountain
- Saw a full rainbow, and 2 rainbows at a time.
- Saw a frozen lake
Tandi – The treehouse village
Tandi is home to apple orchards, peach trees in full bloom, jowar fields, and a zillion pine trees constituting a forest as far as the eye goes. Gracing these forests are an incredible number of ravens and several pretty birds of all sizes. The crop fields and orchards are laced with butterflies and buzzing honeybees, and the paths lined by fallen pine cones; while the village is guarded by a handful of very handsome dogs.
The village has multiple treehouses for you to stay at, however, I couldn’t find one for my relatively long stay there and hence opted for a cottage.
I made Whispering Pines my abode for a week and boy what a beautiful choice it was. Perfect location, basking in the abundance of sunlight, open to a beautiful view of the mountains high up, super tasty home-cooked food, happy to help owners and staff – this two-story wooden cottage has it all.
Whispering Pines cottage consists of four private rooms and a kitchen that you may use with permission from the staff. They also have a friendly space for bonfires which eventually open up your view to the trails leading into the forests ahead.
This village, 8kms from Jibhi, has quite recently (four to five years) acquired proper roadways connecting it to Jibhi. Before that people had to carry stuff on their back and trek uphill without any motorized vehicle. Since Tandi has only opened its gates to visitors recently it is far less explored and not frequented much by loud and noisy tourists.
I discovered this village through two friends who happened to visit here during a trip to Jibhi, and they loved the place so much that now they’ve set up their home there.
Things to do in Tandi
Follow the trails and lose yourself in the beauty of the pine forests infested with photogenic yet prickly weeds in some areas. Sit back and bask in the quietude only occasionally disrupted by the rustling motion of birds fluttering by.
The forest is so blissful here that if you ignore the sounds of construction nearby you shall achieve an absolute sense of happiness in the silence lest you walk on dry leaves or step over dry twigs.
If writing is your passion, there couldn’t be a better place to inspire you. Set up your laptop or diary by the window, admire that scenery and write your heart away while sipping some ginger lemon honey tea.
This place is perfect for bird watching or bird photography.
You may also go on one-day treks to Jalori Pass, Serolsar Lake, Chehni Kothi, and Raghupur Fort from here. An option to camp is also available. After trekking in the day to Jalori Pass and Serolsar Lake, camp in the night and indulge in some serious star gazing. The next morning you can start for Raghupur Fort from there and then head back to your cottage.
Highlights from my stay in Tandi
A fine Friday morning gave off some feeble warning of rain with just a couple of thunder rumbles in the morning. After finishing the day’s shift, and ignoring the weather warning to an otherwise clear sky, I urged Yash (my host) to arrange a bonfire in the evening to sit by over some chai and pakode with my friends Pankaj and Ollie.
The next morning, however, we experienced a drastic change in weather within an hour. By the time I reached Pankaj and Ollie’s place from the cottage, a 15min hike uphill, there were quite a few rumbles up in the heavens, and it started to rain soon after.
Located at the top of the village and open on three sides, their home is more than often set to witness an undisturbed windy affair. We had to lock ourselves up in the kitchen in the warmth of the bukhari with their furry roommates Bhairav and Badal, to literally not freeze or get blown away by the strong wind.
Followed by multiple cups of tea, an extended lunch, some mesmerizing travel stories and a deep spiritual discussion we stepped out on the balcony to be greeted by a pair of double rainbows! Two full rainbows! What a pleasant sight it was. Gracing the village with this royal view the rainbows faded away gradually, leaving behind a bone-chilling cold air and some smoky clouds floating past us.
However, after several rounds of rain, the sky was clear. The black night sky was dotted with innumerable bright stars forming a handful of constellations. Eventually, the full moon flooded the village with a heavenly milky light making one die to go out and leisurely stroll through the pine forests.
While working the graveyard shift that night I took a break to make some coffee to pull through the night. I made sure to pop out in the backyard and admire the glowing satellite drowning the stars in its overflowing white light. It was hard to resist the inviting mood set outside by these natural elements, but I had to leave that desire behind and head back into the warm room to work. That’s where the money to travel comes from, so…
The following morning, although I had expected to wake up late, I was surprisingly wide awake by 8:30 am despite working till 4am that morning. After a quick breakfast on the lawn, I ended up tagging along with a couple of travel-bugs next room to Jalori Pass and Serolsar Lake. Although a beginner’s trek, it did give me immense joy and pleasure to break free from the otherwise uneventful workstation I was having so far. We took an entire day to trek and travel around the lake. We took a thousand detours, climbed every tall boulder, clicked a million photos, and stopped at every possible viewpoint to absorb the beauty the mountains and meadows had to offer. It was here that I witnessed the calming beauty of a frozen lake.
I would recommend one to visit Serolsar lake in the winter or early spring. It is not every day that you may get to see a frozen lake, or tread through deep snow-laden paths to reach a peak high up to just sit and dangle your legs!
On the day I was to depart for Jibhi, I genuinely didn’t feel like leaving behind this peaceful piece of Paradise. Every time I visit an extraordinary place I tend to leave a piece of my soul there. Perhaps someday when things aren’t going well I can think back and find joy in the memories I made there. Or perhaps I would go back to all those places to pick up the lost pieces of my soul and glue them back for a stronger and bolder version of myself.
After Tandi, I went to live in Shoja, another village above Jibhi.
…To be continued…