THOUGH I have visited and holidayed with family in quite a few of the hill stations, the visit I remember so well was the Rohtang Pass in Kulu Manali. The sudden appearance of the mighty Himalayas, peak after peak after peak, like old sages of wisdom, grouped together, not concerned with petty problems below, quiet and solid and reassuring. “Don’t worry Bob,” they seemed to say without looking in my direction, “there’s nothing to worry about that can’t be handled higher up!”
Down south I have visited the virgin hills of Yercaud. The friendly taxi driver took us to all the points and finally we rested at the House Of Peace. Coonoor on the Nilgiri hillside was also equally beautiful though a bit crowded. I remember the spread of colour in the parks and gardens and also lovely evenings at the Coonoor Club where we stayed.
Kodaikanal was divine and had an aura of mystery in the sudden appearance of an old colonial bungalow and tiny church through mist and fog. Johnson, my taxi driver, took me higher and higher to colder and more lush green places where the view of the lake below was bewitching.
Closer home for me has been Mahabaleshwar and Matheran. Once upon a time it was a yearly trek up to Matheran. We climbed in the middle of monsoon and sang away enjoying the physical exertion. I doubt I’d be able to do it now with my pair of eternally stiff legs and equally aging muscles, though I wouldn’t mind a try.
Mahabaleshwar has always been our favourite family holiday haunt, though it was in Lonavala that I built a bungalow for the family, during my days in business but sold it when I got into full time writing. I loved the drive and the different cars I have driven have never let me down except a Tata Estate, but that’s another tale!
India has a charm that needs no visit to the outside world, though there’s one place outside that I must tell you about. It was a small stream flowing somewhere in the mountains of Austria, close to where ‘The Sound of Music’ was shot. Like I said it was a tiny stream that flowed pleasantly down the slope. I sat by it’s side and lowered a leg into the calm waters. I closed my eyes and felt the Psalmist whispering into my year, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.”
I believe these oasis of peace and tranquillity we visit to get rid of the cares of the everyday world are mountain top experiences to give us a glimpse of the Divine. Take a deep breath up there and let those divine moments live on as we come back to the ordinary below..!