Looming ahead was an array of rugged mountains; a cerulean sky hanging above them, softening the ferocity of the mountains. The car halted, each with a rucksack on our back and a bamboo pole in our dominant hand, we set off on our walking trip in mount Abu. The walk started on a little dirt track whilst our lovely guide Charles explained how the sublime scenery was formed. For example, he told us that there are over 2,600 different species of lichen in India, explained that the pockets in the rocks were formed by lava and that this mountain range was once bigger than the Himalayas!
Throughout the day we stopped many times to appreciate the gorgeous view and to refuel with biscuits, sweets and chocolates. However, by lunch time we were still starving! From his bag Charles produced a vast collection of different vegetables (I wondered why his bag was so big)! We lit a fire, prepared and peeled the vegetables, added seasoning and cheese and then cooked them for about 25 minutes. It was the most delectable lunch on the side of a mountain that I have ever eaten!
After devouring our mouth-watering lunch, we set off for the small village we would be staying in. On the way we visited a temple that saints often stay in for a couple of weeks and saw lots more picturesque scenery.
We stayed the night in a mud hut with a semi nomadic family which truly was a once in a life time experience! To start with we drank hot chai that re-charged us after a long day of walking and then we proceeded to make dinner. Incredibly spicy curry, an exquisite potato dish and roti (chapatis) which we were able to help roll out. Purely with our fingers, we demolished our dinner. During dinner, we learnt about a semi nomadic way of life, via Charles who was able to translate everything we said. After dinner we observed the moon, which was a full moon, and still resembled the colours of a sunset, creating a beautiful night time view. Now drowsy, the benevolent mother and daughter helped us lay our beds out; a couple of blankets on the floor and a couple of blankets on top – surprisingly it was very cosy.
After a comfortable sleep, we ate our breakfast; buffalo milk, Indian bread and porridge made with wheat. We then set off for another day of walking. Our guide Charles continued to tell us fascinating facts about the scenery surrounding us and we saw lots more scenic views. For example, Charles was incredibly excited to show where a leopard had left its scent, identified by the pull mark and surprisingly the smell of popcorn. We also saw the nomadic family’s campsite that they stay in during the summer, the small area shared between 9 people and about 5 cows! Charles explained to us his optimistic aspirations for the India’s future, 100% of people will have homes by 2022, conservation of Rajasthan’s environment and nature, and improved literacy rate for the north of India. Nearing the end of the walk, we stopped to look at another beautiful temple and to drink more chai. Once we finished our walk, we took a car to our next destination that Charles had kindly arranged for us. Because of Charles this was a truly unique experience, as my dad described it ‘better than the Taj Mahal’, and certainly less crowded!