Last night as I was sitting around the bonfire at Banjara Lodge, some lovely guests from Mumbai invited me to tag along with them on a mini excursion this morning, to see Hatu Peak, around 5kms from the town of Narkandar. It is the highest point in the Shimla region, standing at some 11000 ft, so I jumped at the chance to go there and take in the panoramic views.
It was a 45 minute drive through pretty windy roads, dodging cows and buffalo along the way, so we set off at 7am in order to be back at the lodge for breakfast. We were not lucky with the views as it was quite hazy and overcast, but I didn’t mind as my attention was drawn to a beautiful temple that looked to be Tibetan in style with its dragons and intricate wooden carvings. It was actually a Hindu temple that had apparently been deliberately designed to incorporate different religious styles.
Just as I was having my photograph taken in front of the temple, the Pujari climbed the steps towards us and proceeded to open the beautiful wooden door to enter the little interior and do his morning Puja duties. Being in the right place at the right time, this meant that I was then blessed by him and given a red dot on my forehead, plus a generous handful of little white Puja sweets to take away with me.
It was difficult to photograph him because I was supposed to be posing for a photograph myself. But I did get this lovely picture of him, showing his gentle face and noble features, while he paused for a moment in the doorway before disappearing into the dark interior of the temple . (In fact he looked slightly more appropriate than his Pujari colleague who also made an appearance. He was sporting a trendy skull-cap and huge sunglasses and was talking on his mobile the entire time – I’m wondering if he should find himself a new vocation!)
On the way back I spotted a perfect pastoral scene of a lady milking a cow, surrounded by other cows and buffaloes. I jumped out and took some photos of the scene (another day’s post perhaps) and returned to the Lodge very happy. With such an auspicious and beautiful start I have a feeling that my Summer solstice is going to be a very special one!