The Taal of Chandra Taal and the Dance of Khushneen

I had the most heavenly experience in the midst of Spiti Valley when I first set foot on the hills to see the famous Chandra Taal Lake. The scenery was sublime as if it was a picture taken of the heavens. Snow peak mountains glittering with their silver light as the blue sky opened above them to throw a hue of colours on the jagged peaks. The mountains remained covered with thick mist that floated in the sky giving the whole place the look of a halo. All that was missing were angels and cupids playing with harps as the site grew dense with vapour.

Right in the middle, there was a crater that was the opening of the Chandra Taal Lake. The water was sometimes emerald green and at times tortoise with a tinge of blue sapphire. The lake kept hovering between these colours as visitors raced around the lake. Some were even taking a dip in its icy waters. The lake was at the bottom of a hill. With a huge thud planted my camera stand in the middle. I fixed my Canon 5D on top of the stand and just went berserk taking pictures of the scenery. I filmed the entire scene. The air was thin but moist and it was a 15 min walk uphill to reach the Taal. I was panting halfway but managed the walk and the climb uphill.

I strolled around the lake to take pictures as I spotted a sweet little girl jumping up and down the lake with rare abandon as she flung her arms and legs to take faint leaps. Her hair was like the Medusa that bowed up and down in the sky. She was thin but agile, fair and happy with a deep desire to live and an energy that was rare. My eyes met hers and I offered to capture her beauty and energy through my lens. I clicked away as she made poses and jumped even higher. We formed a connection, a kind of an invisible bond of admiration. “You look lovely and my camera seems to have the hots for you. I showed her what I had clicked and we struck a friendship. While strolling down the Taal, she told me her name is Khushneen and she was a Parsi from Mumbai. “Hmm, a Parsi, they are quite mad” I said as I showed her the pictures I had taken. I had her attention as I showed her every frame and choose for her the best pictures I had taken. Khushneen was my new found friend. I liked the girl for her chutzpah and her love for travel and nature. I will send her the pics through her id as a gesture of our friendship.

Night was upon us as it began to drizzle. We all headed towards our tents. Mine was a small cosy affair with blankets. Dinner was served at night that consisted of a basic meal of subzi, oiled paratha, dal and rice. The kitchen was well stocked and there were enough food and beverages to go around. I slept like a log in the night as the temperatures dropped and began to freeze. We were all up early next day as the glaciers began to melt and the water started to flow down through the mountains in the form of small streams. Many vehicles get stuck in these streams. Ours also go stuck but we had help as men with ropes pulled our car out of harm’s way.

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