Way Back Home – A Himalayan Travelogue

Way Back Home is the first of its kind audio/visual content franchise in India that explores the original narratives of young, authentic, passionate travellers as they embark on a road to self-discovery. Covering an entire diaspora of activities steeped in travel, adventure, music, lifestyle, people, and fun, the Way Back Home series is crafted in rich, unscripted cinematic style with soulfully tailor-made background scores that capture the essence of life and diversity of Indian terrains.

Filmmaker Rohan Thakur, aka Ronnie, a young Himachali lad embarked on an introspective journey of self-discovery across the seven valleys of the Lower Himalayan ranges. With a mission to travel, not tour, Ronnie takes the audience on an unforgettable ride in true, authentic style.

 

Genre: Travel, Lifestyle, Culture
Language: English
Year: 2015

Duration: 12 Episodes x 30 Minutes
Territory/Rights available: Worldwide
Show Format: HD
Produced by: Shoelace Films

Episodic Details

Episode 1- Kullu and Manali:
The journey begins – Rohan travels from Delhi to Manali, to find his hometown covered in a blanket of snow. He explores the narrow alleyways of the bazaar eating thupka and momos, eventually making his way to the streets of Old Manali where children were sledging down the snowy slopes. An integral part of every pahadi’s life during the winter is keeping warm. Rohan discovers the process of “tandoor” making and the joys of bathing in hot Sulphur springs. He then shows us his favourite spots in and around Manali that include the local pine forest, a special picnic spot by the river and the ultimate chill spot – “Jogni Falls”.

Episode 2- Kullu Valley and Parvati Valley:
Having spent the formative years of his life in Manali, Rohan is extremely passionate about skiing. In this episode, he travels to Solang Nala to see locals and tourists enjoying themselves in the snow, and also to have a couple of runs down the slopes himself. He travels to the mysterious village of Malana in Parvati Valley to see how the villagers celebrate the festival of “Phaguli” – the local New Year. The episode ends with a short hike up to “Bijli Mahadev”, a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This marks the end of the time spent in Kullu, and beginning of the real journey into the winter wonderlands of his home – Himachal.

Episode 3- Mandi and Kangra Valley:
Rohan makes his way to the holy town of Rewalsar where the Buddhist community has come together to celebrate the birthday of the Great Master Padmasambhava. The main event of the day is the “Chham” or the “Deity’s Dance” where a group of monks adorns elaborate costumes and masks and dance in perfect synchrony with one another to depict tales of Great Buddhist Masters. The chham dance is a lively masked and costumed dance associated with some sects of Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhist festivals. The dance is accompanied by music played by monks using traditional Tibetan instruments. The dances often offer moral instruction relating to compassion for sentient beings and are held to bring merit to all who perceive them. Cham dances are considered a form of meditation and an offering to the gods. He then makes his way to the ancient Kangra Fort, which lies nestled in the foothills of the Dhauladar Range. From here he travels to the quaint town of Bir where he discovers the joys of village life and the thrill of jumping off a cliff and soaring in the sky!

Episode 4- Kangra Valley and Chamba Valley:
One of the main goals of this journey was to go off the beaten track and try and discover new places and experience new things. While travelling around Kangra, Rohan hears of a temple that remains submerged in the Maharana Pratap Sagar Lake for most of the year, and only emerges from the water during spring. He hops onto a boat to look for this hidden temple and finds a surreal sight waiting for him. He then drives deep into Chamba Valley to the remote town of Bharmour, from where he embarks on an action- packed journey to the village of Kugti – the last village in Chamba Valley. Back in Kangra, Rohan spends a relaxing few days in McLeodganj before trekking up to Triund where he pitches his tent under the starry night.

Episode 5- Sangla Valley (Lower Kinnaur):
Leaving the foothills of Kangra behind, Rohan starts climbing higher towards the Sangla Valley in Kinnaur. While exploring the stone paved pathways of Kamru Village, Rohan stumbles upon a procession in which the local deity is visiting different households to bring in the New Year. It is a day filled with various rituals and ceremonies that end in a party with a lot of singing, dancing and drinking! The party never ends in Sangla Valley as the New Year celebrations are followed by the festival of Holi. Rohan marches along with a parade from village to village as they perform skits and sing and dance while gathering an audience as they move along. After five whole days of making merry, the villagers bring out their deity to culminate the celebrations and to pray for a good year.

Episode 6- Kangra Valley & Chamba Valley:
In Kalpa, Rohan yet again witnesses the celebration of the New Year, but this time around things are a bit psychedelic! Bejeweled men and women dance to trippy beats as the “Mountain Fairies” watch on. From Kalpa, he drives further up the valley to the village of Nako. Everything changes along the way. The landscape flips completely from lush, green grass covered slopes to bear, brown gigantic jagged mountains. The way the people look and talk, what they eat and wear, even the religion changes as Rohan travels higher into the Himalayas.

Episode 7- Spiti Valley:
The vast panoramic views in whitewashed Spiti give one the feeling of being a tiny, insignificant speck floating in the Universe. The majestic Kee Gompa stands proudly on top of a hillock looking out at the vast valley below. Rohan travels to the Upper Belt of Spiti to one of the highest villages – Kibber, where he stays with a retired teacher and learns a thing or two about the harsh living conditions in the region. He then moves to a village called Dhankar where he gives high altitude organic farming with yaks a shot!

Episode 8- Spiti Valley:
Spiti Valley sizzles with mystic magic! One can actually feel the energy pulsating in the air. Rohan spends a day at the magnificent Tabo monastery. The pyramid-like structures enclose statues and paintings, which are in almost perfect condition and give one a glimpse into the past. He is then invited to spend a special “ladies-day-out” with the women of Lari. The last stop in Spiti takes the crown for being the most spellbinding place of them all – Langza, “the Home of the Gods”. It is one of the highest villages in the world and certainly the most mesmerizing! Out here people believe in the forgotten sect of Tantric Buddhism. Rohan was fortunate enough to witness a Tantric ritual that involved communication with the supernatural entities.

Episode 9- Lahaul Valley:
Rohan treks across the mighty Rohtang Pass to enter Lahaul where his family’s roots truly lie. He visits the village of Tholang where his grandfather was from, and is surprised to find that it is no longer a “village” but rather a collection of concrete blocks amidst potato fields. Even though Lahaul remains cut off from the rest of Himachal for almost half the year, it is probably one of the most affluent areas of the state. But most of the Lahauli’s have left the home behind in search of better opportunities. Rohan then heads out to the tiny little village of Teeling where his mother grew up. He meets two old aunts of his who take care of the family’s home and fields. Like everyone else, his family too has left Lahaul far behind in hopes of finding a brighter future.

Episode 10- Lahaul Valley:
The grand Mahakala Puja performed at the Shashur Gompa is a treat for all the senses. Monks draped in maroon robes chant verses in Tibetan accompanied by banging cymbals and bellowing horns. Hours pass by as one sits transfixed by the sounds. In Upper Keylong, Rohan explores an ancient Lahauli home to find out how people lived in the good old days. He ends his trip in Lahual at the Khangsar Khar, a long forgotten castle that lies sadly dilapidated in the heart of the valley. As is the case with most of Lahaul, empty rooms and corridors lie lined with cobwebs and no one to look after them.

Episode 11- Leh and Ladakh:
Rohan is in his closure mode as he recalls and reminisces his entire journey over the past few months all, he is just lost in the vastness of the Valley and takes on a bike ride across to clear his mind. He also explores the influence of religion in the valley and the why it’s become an international tourist destination. He is also intrigued by the architecture in the towns and gets inquisitive with an expert on the subject. In Episode 11, Rohan recalls and reminisces his entire journey over the past few months. Lost in the vastness of the Valley, he goes on a bike ride to clear his mind. He learns about religion, architecture and all things that make the valley a traveller’s delight.

Episode 12- Leh & Ladakh:
In Episode 12, the final episode of the Way Back Home, Rohan reveals how the journey has changed him. His travels and experiences lead Rohan down a trip of introspection and nostalgia. Towards the end he also experiences a traditional Leh funeral ceremony and wonders thoughts into mortality where his purpose is sort of defined as to what he needs to do with his life and what his calling is, at this juncture the shows flashes all the memorable moments in the journey and concludes.