Magic of the Mountains

Gul Panag loves travelling and exploring uncharted territory between shoots. She recently went on an adventurous camping trip with her husband and family to the Sach Pass in the Himalayas. Read on as she shares her experience with us.
Counting vacations takes the fun out of them. So I don’t really remember how many times I holiday in a year; the philosophy is always the more the merrier. Whenever I am in the mood for change, I head off on an interesting journey, preferably to places that are not crowded with tourists. My recent vacation to Sach Pass in the Himalayan range was by far one of the best I have had in years.
I hadn’t been to this part of the country before, and the seclusion made it even more appealing. Not to mention that it was a definite respite from the scorching Mumbai heat! Joining me on this adventure were my parents and my husband, Rishi. The trip was to be a short one – just three days. But camping in the Himalayas and exploring the unexplored gave me an adrenalin rush like no other, something exciting as opposed to lying in a hammock whiling away the time. I am all for fun and adventure.
Chandigarh to Sach Pass 
We set off from Chandigarh to Sach Pass. Camping is bound to get tricky at times; you don’t really know what to expect. So we were completely prepared. We had a portable stove, sleeping bags and tents, a sturdy knife and a fortunate spare tyre (which many Bavarian cars don’t have, but ours luckily did). And we were definitely thankful for this; the mountainous roads can be treacherous at times.
Chandigarh to Sach Pass 
There were many scenic places en route for us to explore. One of them was picturesque Satrundi. The isolation of this region makes it more interesting. Here you won’t come across any annoying hawkers peddling souvenirs. I usually enjoy driving - yet another reason why this trip was exciting. But I had to focus all my attention on driving this time, and sometimes missed being a part of the constant chatter.
Gul Panag 
On the way to Sach Pass from Satrundi, we crossed Bairagarh, which was about 20 kilometres away. It was the last spot where our phones had reception; we were definitely pushing our luck going through such a terrain with just one spare tyre! It was then that we took the greatest gamble of our trip. On encountering white water, my father decided we could manage to go through it. Based on his judgement, we carried on further, labouring through, narrowly avoiding a giant rock on our right with a 1,000-foot fall on the other side. I could hear my heart thumping as loud as jungle drums! This is one part of my trip that will surely remain etched in my memory for a long time to come.
Gul Panag visit to Himalayas 
Once we reached our campsite, we pitched our tents, and before long we had a campfire going. It had been a long drive. I was glad to settle down to enjoy the view with a hot drink in hand. I try to eat well whenever I travel and sample the local cuisine at every possible opportunity. But while on this camping trip, we had our own food supplies as we weren’t really sure where we could find pit stops for meals. My advice to all those off on a camping trip is, carry a knife and quality wares to sleep and live in. A water purifier and a portable stove are extremely handy. Food supplies should never run low.
This trip, though too short, made a refreshing change. It not only gave my spirit of adventure free rein, but tested my driving capabilities too! The challenge was almost as invigorating as the beauty and the adventure, and I would love to go back for more.         ..... Gul