I was in 5th standard and it was my summer vacations when my parents and Aunty Uncle (Taiji Tauji) planned a long trip to Uttrakhand (then U.P.), Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. We were a jovial group of 8 people, 4 adults, and 4 kids – very closely bonded. Wood! We decided to cover the entire belt of Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Mussoorie, Chandigarh, Shimla, Kullu and Manali.
Quite excitedly we explored all these places one by one and had a great time with family. I remember getting down on the road and taking a bath in the waterfall and doing many other fun activities. My father was a quite protective man and not very adventurous person in contrast with his elder brother, my Uncle with whom we were traveling. So, Tauji always initiated those adventures and all of us including Papa would join us. It was a happy trip until we reached Shimla.
After a long and fun-filled day in Shimla, we checked into a hotel and hit the bed. It was around midnight when we heard a thud on our door. It was loud enough to shake us up from our slumber. Before we could understand anything, we heard someone shouting and banging our door heavily. My parents peeped from a small window in the room to check who was outside. There were a young girl and a boy, under the influence of alcohol. Not in their senses, they kept shouting and punching at our door in that inebriated state. They were threatening us to come out else they will harm us.
Our room was right adjacent to our Uncle’s room but there was no intercom and those were not the mobile days so we could not inform them. To our surprise, there was no hotel staff around to intervene. We were scared. My parents ensured the door and window were closed tightly as that was the only thing they could do. After around an hour or so, the noise stopped. But my parents didn’t open the window to check and decided to take rest till the morning.
In the morning, we narrated everything to our family and the hotel manager. And all he gave us in return was his apology and assurance of our safety further.
The hotel staff was absolutely clueless about those youngsters. Nobody saw it heard them. That mystery remained unsolved till date who they were.
After 2 days in Shimla, we reached the capital of Himachal Pradesh, Kullu. It was our second last destination. We visited many places like Raghunath Temple, Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery, Rupi Palace, Jagannathi Temple, etc. The highlight of this place was Gurudwara Shri Manikaran Sahib which is the religious center of Hindus and Sikhs. There are different beliefs and history of this holy place. I was amazed to see the ponds (kund) of boiling water where people were actually cooking the food. They put rice in a muslin cloth, tied it well and put it in the hot water pond. We got the same rice as Prasad also. After visiting the gurudwara and Shiv Parvati temple on the premises, we headed back to the city again.
Before heading to our hotel, we decided to explore the nearby market. While we were busy shopping, we heard the sound of a bullet and soon there was a stampede. People started shouting and running everywhere. It was a terrifying sight. Thankfully, our hotel was right next to the market and we rushed inside it in no time. Later, we got to know from the locals that it was not any terrorist attack as rumoured by the public earlier but a tourist had a feud with the shopkeeper who fired a bullet in the air. We felt relieved with this development.
So, these were the travel stories of my childhood trip to Himachal Pradesh and I still remember the trivial details. Come back tomorrow to read about my experience at Sadhana Ashram, Rishikesh.