Back in the 60s, hippies travelled the world, discovering new places and embracing different cultures. The places they loved and called their own is now part of the famed Hippie trail. Nathaniel D’Costa picks out three spots that the hippies in the hills loved
In a time not so long ago, long haired, funnily clothed freaky people (not the Nicki Minaj variety) roamed the hills and valleys of India searching for answers to the world’s problems while promoting peace and happiness. Along with a little bit of drug use. And while the answer to that elusive question wasn’t really found, they did manage to discover some truly spectacular places.
These spots aren’t for those whose idea of a holiday are regular nights out at glitzy clubs, but rather for those who like the idea of breathtaking views while being away from the grime and claustrophobia of India’s cities and towns. If you are looking for peace and serenity and just want to admire nature at her best, then India’s mountain ranges house some beautiful spots which literally take you a little bit closer to heaven. Hills that tower to the sky, valleys that sweep through the land and fresh air that provides nature’s most intoxicating high, these places have it all.
The flower children say Crank’s Ridge is not a place; it’s a state of mind. This tiny pine-covered ridge is located on the way to Kasar Devi temple above the town of Almora, in Uttarakhand. The place got its popular name Crank’s Ridge after the iconic American psychologist Timothy Leary streaked on the ridge in the 1960s, when it became part of the hippie trail, during the peak of the hippie movement.
WHY GO THERE?
Perhaps the most popular spot in the hippie trail, Crank’s Ridge gets its fame from being a strong spiritual power centre. Legend has it that it’s due to the alleged gap in the Van Allen Belt above the ridge, a perception arguably strengthened by the free and easy availability of ‘wild plants’ on the slopes. People from Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore to Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens came here to soak in some inspiration.
HOW TO GET THERE
Rail: Nearest railhead – Kathgodam (90 km).
Road: Buses to Almora can be boarded from ISBT Kashmiri Gate in Delhi. Taxis can also be hired from Kathgodam.
Surrounded by lush green pines and startling landscapes, Dharamkot village is located 2 km north from McLeodganj, the Tibetan refugee camp. Placed over a hilly region, with just 25 minutes walking distance from McLeodganj, the village offers majestic panoramic views of the scenic Dhauladhar and Kangra District. The imposing Dhauladhar hill ranges loom large over the village.
WHY GO THERE?
You should visit this town as you might just bump into the 14th Dalai Lama, who lives at McLeodganj. The sanctity and serenity of Buddhism is all around and the many monasteries lend a calming presence. The highlight of this small panoramic village lies in its monasteries, restaurants, antique and curios shops that have been nourished with the old world colonial charm. And you might even learn a thing or two from the daily monk debates at the Tsuglagkhang Complex.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is Gaggal airport, 15 km from Dharamshala.
Rail: The nearest railway stations on the Shimla-Kangra narrow gauge line are at Kangra and Nagrota (about 20 km south of Dharamshala). The nearest railhead (broad gauge) is at Pathankot (85 km).
Road: From Manali too bus services are available to this place.
Parvati Valley is situated in the upper hills of Himachal Pradesh. The valley runs eastwards through a steep valley, after the Parvati river meets the Beas. The rivers provide for some lush vegetation and you will have trees and varied flowers for company constantly. Nature is truly at her best in this valley.
WHY GO THERE?
Parvati Valley is widely used as the base camp for all treks. From here you can trek to the backpacking paradises of Kasauli and Tosh. These two little villages will take you back in time to a simpler, happier world. Good food and good company abound here. Take a walk, sit amongst the trees, talk to the locals while sipping on some chai or take a dip in the hot springs. From Tosh you can even walk to the fabled Manala village.
HOW TO GET THRE
Road: To reach the valley you can take an overnight or a day Volvo from Delhi. It drops you between 7:00 am and 7:30 am at Bhunter, which is the nearest bus stop, or airport in Kullu district. From there you can take a bus or a cab.
Air: The nearest airport to this destination is also located at Bhunter.
Rail: Closest railhead – Joginder Nagar (115 km).
Leave technology behind – Use this opportunity to reconnect with yourself and with nature
Travel light – A lot of these places involve walking to destinations
Carry warm clothing – Nights in the hills can be very cold. Ensure you are protected
Carry torches – Most of these places have poor electricity and are not well lit up
Carry mosquito repellent – You might encounter them in the wild
Travel in the summer – Unless you really, really love the cold, visit these places around April or May
Volume 3 Issue 3