Day 72 – Bilaspur to Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (Kanyakumari to Leh Cycling)
By this time because of previous day’s cycling, my mind was set for cycling in mountains. Now even if there was a long climb, nothing would happen and I would do it inspite of exhaustion. My mind gets empty. It is present in the moment and nothing comes in it when I cycle up slope. Anybody I used to pass by, they see me with smile on their face and knows that I am at least going to Manali. Unlike previous day, the truck numbers reduced drastically after Barmana as they go to and from ACC cement factory present there.
I came across the beautiful town Sundernagar and its beautiful man-made lake. It is also situated in a broad valley and I could see wheat cultivation as well. I like the market place in mountains. Beas river was flowing in the opposite direction all along my way. Wherever I used to stop by for water, I used to enquire about the further terrain from them.
From the starting of this tour, I have hardly bought bottled mineral water except few times in Kerala when I needed cold water. Otherwise, I have always got my bottle filled up from restaurants, dhabas, taps, hand pump, clay pots, etc. and have never fell ill or had stomach problems. Now as I am in Himachal, I do not have to think twice about the water I drink because I know its fresh and clean. My average speed also got better than previous day.
I stayed in one historic gurudwara at Mandi and slept in the langar hall as there was no room for a single person. Rooms were occupied by paramilitary forces because of the elections coming up. It rained a lot whole evening at Mandi and it became cold. I found myself in a really embarrasing situation there inside the gurudwara because of the communication gap and I went with a group where I should not have been at all. After seeing me sitting the group, the person conducting the ceremony called me before starting and that is when I came to know what was I into. It is known as “Amrit Chakhna”. Sikh people who do it can not shave or have hair cut life long. They can not intake alcohol and share their food with others. I would have also got a “kirpan” which I had to carry and there were several other obligation they told me. Later, they asked me if I am ready to follow all these, I can sit. But there was no way I could do it.People there were very friendly and peaceful. I took a leave from there and was laughing inside at what I had experienced and what I would have become had I been the part of that ceremony.