‘Darwin may have been quite correct in his theory that man descended from the apes of the forest, but surely woman rose from the frothy waters, as resplendent as Aphrodite on her scalloped chariot. This is one such place which will take you deep into the tales which we read about men and women. Still, calm, extravagantly silent and simply takes your imagination to different levels’!
‘The place is mesmerizing, could be termed as out of the world too but for the first timer in the hours of twilight it would be terrifying too as cape fear because of the sounds of silence whispering in the environment and the ripples of the water making scary noises but at the strike of the dawn and as the first rays of the sun hit the waters the effect is as enchanting as ever it could be in the mountains. An ideal place for a big time romance with nature and pen down something memorable. Once you are there after setting up the camp, let me assure you that you would not like to leave early but once you decide to do so the nostalgia fills up the psyche over flooding it with memories of the time you have spent there. So a big welcome to the ‘Pari Talab’ as the locals call it and the place is simply fantastic’!
Mischief is an ornament of the youth when exuberance tends to take over the entire mind frame. It was one of those NCC outings of which I was very much a part off. Those days were so good with nothing to fear about. It was by mid afternoon that day when the band in the khakis reached the place after a stiff uphill climb from Mandi and thereafter scattered around to explore but a few friends that included me sat on the banks just gazing at the water. One of the seniors, a girl, screamed in a shrill voice that no one would venture near the pond. Those days none could argue with seniors but a mischief loaded boy like me decided to ask the question, why not mam? The answer was with the peculiar and customary shrill, ‘I knew you would be the first to express doubts’? I had to take the foot back because there was no point in arguing. But then I saw her and a couple of other seniors moving around the banks. We also followed them and had to face a snarl again, ‘not again I’m warning you’? Again there was no point arguing and suddenly there was a splash. We saw the senior slip and go down into the pond. ‘What are you guys watching, pull me out?’ The shrill had subsided. We did ease her out but again that mischief knocked my brian, ‘mam you should not be venturing here’! ‘You rascal!’ was the only comment but by the time we were packing off after lunch she did walk up to me and said, ’thanks guys, I just slipped and that’s the reason I told you not to venture near the banks’. I smiled and said, ‘Mam thank the God’s that we were just behind you’! Years later I did meet her in GMC where she was a top doctor and I was on the bed with my left arm fractured’ But the shrill was profound, ’I’m sure this brat must be venturing somewhere on the banks of Pari Talab’! My wife gave me a baffled look as she had no idea of the pond of the fairies in the lap of Pir Panjals. But she did ask me several times and only calmed off after I told her about this place.
Find a secret place and be unreachable! And then, in the silence of solitude, the things you cannot reach in the crowds will meet you there! Trust me this is one such kind of place. You just climb up from Mandi and up in the mountains surrounded by cliffs is this place. It is hidden from all the noises in the valley’s, plains, towns and cities. To the ones who are on a first time visit this looks to be a secret place hidden from the mirrors but all said and done its God’s secret place, there are enough rooms up there but you have to find them in the wilderness of the mountains. If you are on a summer trek just pitch up your tents, lie down supine and gaze at the twinkling stars. The whole splendor on a moonlit night is breathtaking. This is a kind of place which will force you to think twice, if I have found this beautiful secret place, I will think a thousand times to tell it to someone else because every great beauty has one big enemy: To be discovered! So just be there, enjoy and give a clue. Let the others discover it. Pari Talab, the pond of fairies is one such place.
I have visited it thrice, the first was the NCC trek, the second one was a friendly hiking trip and the third when I tried my hand at writing and this is what I could manufacture on the third venture, birds cheered overhead, insects burred, the pond in the in the silent gully chipped and chattered. Fragments of light and color jittered as my blood ran inside my body. The effect was kaleidoscopic. The bushes were alive: the trees spoke to one another in parched old voices; thousands of unseen eyes blinked from branches and fallen logs and all this with the sounds of silence in the Pir Panjals. If you do not believe me just take a trip to this ultimately beautiful pond. There is no history or myth available on this but whatever it is one has to explore it all by yourself. The only one available is the name of the place, Kantarnaag to be precise. Incidentally the word Naag that is suffixed with the place leads one to think all the way as regards many such ponds in Pir Panjals that all are full of calm and sanctity.
The place is a kingdom by itself where the crownless like you and me are the kings, a place that does not glitter but has plenty of gems around, a place where all those who wander never get lost, a place where the strong do not wither, instead get refreshed and a place where the deep roots are not reached by the frost of the winters. In a nutshell absolutely magical! So be there on your next trip and spread the message to others to explore it more! Remember the name, Pari Talab, Kanternaag!