Shepherd with million dolor smile – Kashmir Singh Rana

I have been visiting Chandrataal lake in Spiti for quite a few years now, and every time I visit this place, it throws more and more pleasant surprises on me. No doubt nature is always at its best in this region.

But what keeps me equally happy and amazed at chandrataal is my friend for last 3 years, a Shepherd by profession, caring and tending 450 sheep and goats, leading the pack and always smiling.

I met him in 2015, introduced by another friend Jamaica who runs camps there. First time when I met Rana ji, he invited us to his shack, typical known as “thatch”, but with walls made of stone and a plastic sheet on top. A wood stove inside, which kept that small hut really warm and cosy.

Tea made from fresh goat milk, endless discussion and stories of wild animals, leopard and crossing the high passes went on till late night.

Since then, I am meeting him every year, and he hasn’t changed a bit. What was most inspiring for me was that his two sons are very well settled with government jobs, he always had the option of staying at home and living a relaxed life. But he choose to continue his shepherd life.

I asked him

“Rana ji, why are you coming here every year, walking all the way, risking your life? You have grand sons, well settled home, you can live a relaxed life”

He said:

“Sir mae ghar bethta hoon to bimar ho jata hoon, mountains are my medicine” [ “I get sick when I stay at home too long, mountains are my medicines”]

If you are every visiting chandrataal, do say hello to him, a tea will always be complimentary 😀 . And his stories of crossing hampta pass so many times while coming up from mandi side and then going back will amaze you.