Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roaring Silence of Nahan

Around four years ago, I took a special journey to a small place in the outskirts of HP state to a remote place called Nahan, I never knew that where I was about to land was somewhere back in time.
Nahan is the largest lake in himachal pradesh, It lies in the low lands (not on hills-hence it is the largest lake for the state). It has religious implications as well, for here the mother of parusharama, and the wife of jamadgini rishi- drowns herself to end her life. There is an interesting story related to this which is somewhat twisted- the mother renuka is killed once by her own son parusharama- because rishi jamadgini sees that she did not keep her mental chastity towards her husband. The son promptly does as the father tells, and happy the father asks parusharama for a boon- he asks for him to revive his mother back to life. Many such twisted tails in indian pantheon of gods.
Nahan is where devi renuka finally gives away mortal life by immersing herself inside the lake. The lake is pretty big; perhaps with a radius of 3-4 kilometers. There is only one state run hotel here- with the rooms from the victorian era- located on the periphery of the lake. With the incentive of a fireplace in the hotel room- and good local pahadi food, the place is an awesome getaway for city dwellers. I arrived in the evening after travelling all day from delhi. The road to nahan is on the chandigarh highway, where you take a cut before you hit punjab.
The lake is called renuka-ji, and boating is allowed in it, but no one wears footwear when entering the lake (holy water).
As soon as I reached, I remember a sense of quietude, of silence and respite- something pretty hard to describe until you see place for yourself. There are some small temples on one side of the lake, and some ashrams on another side as well. But for the most part, the entire place is very empty- picnickers, and people on pilgrimage come to this place in the day, but as there are no hotels etc here, most people make a move before dark. The time i reached, the place was desolate. I unpacked and headed out to sit next to the lake. Bodies of water are so peaceful, and this one stretches endlessly until its blocked by huge mountains on all sides. The lake has huge fishes- overfed by pilgrims waiting to do good to any and all life present in the lake. I stayed in this peaceful refuge for 3 days, where i just unwind-ed completely. There is no distraction here- not many people (cause its not a city), no hotels-restaurants and the city/town mixes. The place has a very holy/restful aura to it. There are some small lakes away from this main lake area, where I had the pleasure to feed some really old (perhaps more than 200 years old)- turtles, no i am not an expert on finding out their ages, but their immense size was proof enough. Turtles like the ones here- have such a strong huge mouth, one bite from them is enough to sever bone. One came out of the water to take a lunge at my shoe as well, but I was quicker than a turtle; atleast :)
3 days which i spent in nahan, i didn't use any electronic instruments, no ipod; tv; phone;camera etc. Just was a part of such a beautiful place was enough.
There is a huge zoo on one end of the lake, which boasts of having the largest amount of lions for a zoo in the country. You can easily take your car around the lake for a ride-as I did. The lions are healthy and its such a sight to see so many females/male lions together in one place - perhaps more than 15.
The asiatic lions are in pretty good health when I saw them, there were more females than the fluffy maned males. I spent a lot of time near the huge cages- where these animals are, looking at them, they didn't mind me too much, and that gave me a chance to perhaps look at this precious/gorgeous life form, perhaps before it is to go extinct; in my life time itself.
At nights, the lions become restless and so much more active, and its such a sight when they start roaring at nights. The entire place echoes with their roars, the hills and the silent lake roars with their power. Its such a different vibe to be in a silent deaf place and just hear huge roars from the other end of the lake all night long.
At nights, I would put some fire for the cold, have a nice drink (though its a religious place and hence some discretion towards liquor in the day time has to be observed ) and just look at the stars.
I also took time off to boat in this lake, pedal and row boats are present, and with not much customer activity- the boat owners gave me lots of extra time to pedal in this lake. The water is pristine clear, and cool. Such memories never fade in the minds of a city creature!
We city people forget what its like to be a part of nature, we have seen no connection-relation between our life and how/what nature is. Nahan is a place which can help us learn our place in the bigger scheme of life.
The walking routes next to this lake are many, and the time to go is when there is a nip in the air (around winters). This is a place to sit and curl up with a book. Meditate and feed fish. Breathe fresh air, and leave the city petrol/frightful horns environment.

The hotel is also empty most of the year, for the people who come here come generally on a day trip.
The nights are for you and your beloved ;)


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