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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: India (02/12/09)

TITLE: Valley Of The Gods
By Lynn Jacky


Two years ago, I had an opportunity to travel to the Avalanch Research Station in Manali where I would assemble and teach the locals how to operate our Centaur. My employer, ODG or Ontario Drive and Gear. We build 'Argos, all terrain vehicles and Centaurs, an industrial 8 wheel drive, two person utility vehicle.

My first stop was Delhi. I became very cautious. The airport was under tight security with armed guards, soldiers with machine guns. All I can say is Wow! We are not used to this in Canada.

I was driven to my over night accommodations. Eight lanes of traffic coming into and eight lanes of traffic going out. Delhi is ten times bigger than Toronto and one hundred times busier. There are no traffic lights, no stop signs. Everyone is driving at high speeds, flying down the road, doing their own thing and no one watching the other guy. They use their horn. Beep! Beep! When you hear 'Beep', move over to the right or left. If not, who ever is behind you will run you off the road.

In the morning, I flew by small plane for 3 hours, then drove in an old Land Cruiser down a rough, twisty two lane road, winding against the River Beas for two more hours before reaching Manali. I stayed in a quaint little resort in Manali.

Manali is an important hill station in the Himalayas mountains and is know as the 'valley of the gods'. Many people from Delhi visit the resort for a week or weekend to be close to their gods. India's climate is very hot. Manali's cool atmosphere offers a perfect haven for those affected by the heat.

The Avalanch Research Station was another forty minute drive. I was driven there in a little Sprint, following the River Beas. We drove over rocks as big as the car. Once there, I was greeted by the General. For security reasons I cannot mention names. It is safe to say, he was charismatic, very peaceful and well decorated soldier. At this point, I was allowed no camera and no pictures. The pace was relaxed, one works differently in the heat. My day started at 8 am; lunch at 3pm, supper at 10Pm with tea times in-between.

Once the Centaur was built, the General and I went for a test run. He drove up a rough, windy road to the biggest tourist spot for skiing, and snow boarding. Imagine being fourteen thousand feet up in the Himalayas. These among the world's highest peaks and youngest mountains consisting mostly of uplifted sedimentary and metamorphic rock. There are river gorges, montane forests, subtropical and mixed forests and alpine shrub meadows where the snow leopard habitats. The panoramic view was breath taking.

I noticed small farms and roadways all over the mountains. Mountain sheds are used by farmers to feed and shelter their cattle and other animals.

The general gave me some mineral water, a water known to heal all ailments. It tasted very sweet, like maple sugar water. I drank Yak's milk coffee, very rich and excellent flavor. The people were very friendly. I was well taken care of and the food was delicious and spiced to my liking.

There are three classes of people, poor, middle and upper class. I noticed that the poor people seemed happy with what they had. The women make good quality hand made shawls from different materials. From the silk worm that floats like feather, 4x8 sheet when thrown into the air. Shawls made from goat's hair, hand pick from the beard of mountain goats and weaved together. And traditional shawls made from yaks wool, using vibrant dyes their colors don't fade.

At the end of each day I would return to my room at the resort, fall asleep to the gently sound of water softly falling like rain down the mountainside. Early in the morning, I would rise to see the peaceful view of glaciers and snow capped mountains rising far above the clouds. I was at peace with my God, myself and knew I could return in a heart beat.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 02/21/09
This is a well-written piece.

I was quite surprised to read about the machine gun-toting soldiers at the airport. I don't remember seeing any on my last visit. Also, there are traffic signals throughout New Delhi. Maybe not as many as we are used to here in the west, though. The traffic is quite crazy. I agree.

Thank you for sharing the story.