Wednesday, 18 June 2014

When I was In Jim Corbett National Park – Part 2


I enter into Mahesh boundary where his family is doing household works. Mahesh introduce me to his mother and two sisters Geeta and Savita.  Both girls takes me into newly made cement house. Room is decorated with artificial decorative plastic flowers and garlands. Room is illuminating with CFL light. Two beds are in two corners and one table and chair is taking place in another corner. One remaining corner is engaged with small TV. As I took place in chair Geeta went to make tea and Savita remain there. Savita is pretty talkative and want to know about my work and why I am here in festival time ? I answered all her questions and just ask to start conversation with her - You have cable here ? She flicker her eyes and says - Yes ! But this is Tata Sky.  She is going to open TV but before that I ask one more question - You don’t go to collect water ? She reply standing in front of TV - No ! I don’t coz I have lots of work to do in home and field. Like prepare food, take care of cattle, feed them, cut fodder for them and so many. 

She keep on saying - Me and my sister both go to school and studying in 12th class. Our school is nearby. Though we are satisfied with our school and teachers but after school I would have to go out for higher studies. I want to study bio chemistry and work coz farming is very expensive and some time it becomes risky also. As you know elephants are big nuisance here. They come in group and destroy our agriculture badly. We don’t get any help from government for this loss so nobody wants to do agriculture. Everyone is interested to sell their land to hoteliers, who are building huge hotels and resorts to make money.
   

 She is talking nonstop but meanwhile Geeta and Mahesh both enter, Geeta arrange table in front of me and put cup of tea. It is suffocating inside so I come out in verandah in cool breeze. Opposite verandah there is beautifully architect mud hut. Sawita said – We like staying in hut because this is natural air conditioner. It becomes hot in winters and cool in summers. Sipping tea I asked – Then why you made this cement house ? Both girls looked each other strangely and then Geeta reply – In village everyone making new style house now so we also made this. Mahesh is silently listing and moving his head in yes or no sign.

It’s getting dark so I thank them for tea and move back to my room. Now it is cold, windy and dark. But I went to compound next to my tent where I saw big elephant. 19-20 years old guy, wearing jean and striped shirt, giving sugarcane too poor creature. He calls me up there and says – Her name is Ladli and I am her Mahout. Ladli is such a lovely name I think and asks – is she yours ?No ! I am caretaker only. Owner lives in Rampur and comes to collect money which she earns from safari. Money !!! Safari !!! She earns!!! I was confused. He clears – Everyday she go 5-6 times for elephant safari and for each safari she get 2500 rupees. Poor Ladli busy chewing sugarcane and staring me through her small eyes. How much she eat in a day ? I want to know. 40-45 kg. sugarcane and you know she is 45 years old from Rampur – Mahout replied give sugarcane to Ladli…

Sad to know about Ladli. She should have free in jungle but working like slave here. Mahout is also from Rampur and living here with his family. All in his family do the same work. Her mother lit wick lamp inside house and says – we don’t get much for our hardwork but what to do. We also have to survive. I am listing her but my interest is in Ladli who is taking and breaking sugarcane. Mahout ask me – would you like to cross between her leg ? I was again puzzled so I ask – why ? He said – it is lucky, your all wish will come true. Though I don’t trust in these superstitious but want to experience so I crossed between her legs. Not to say it is an amazing experience. I left Ladli and back to my tent…

Night was cold. I could hear perpetual sound of river in silence.  Next morning I woke up by 6 but it was dark, cold, and windy so I went into bed again.  Around 7 I came out took tea and went to Garjiya Devi Temple by walk which is almost 6 km…

It is chilly but pleasant walk which I am enjoying however vehicles moving abruptly on road are making walk spoil. Soon I reached a place from where one trail going up in jungle. I follow the trail and went upward. After little walk I saw a board showing one ancient temple is in distance of 300 meter but I walked much more than 300 meter between jungle. Anyhow with lots of turns and bends I reached in temple. It is ancient but reconstruction work has snatched out its ancient look…



I met a saint wearing saffron loincloth and head cover with light saffron scarf. On his copper color face his white beard is shining and falling on his chest. I greet him. He also greets me and calls me to sit in front of hearth where some other items are also taking place. Perhaps this is his kitchen. He told me moving to sunny area – I live here alone. Villagers come here and they give me food and other stuff to survive. I don’t go anywhere. He is busy in mixing tobacco and marijuana on his palm and talking to me also – I saw tigers many times. They often come to the temple but Shiva’s blessings are with me so I don’t scare. They basically don’t attack if you won’t hurt them. Now he starts filling mixture into cigarette and says - This area is chilled in winter but in summer it is pleasant here. He asked me then – Have you seen any village upside ? And without waiting reply he told – Its only jungle upside. Village could be seen only in downside area. This is the reason this jungle is still very rich. He has finished his work and looking for match box which I gave him. He lit cigarette and said – Now temple is under archaeological department who are renovating it. He keeps silent and takes long puff of cigarette. Smoke hovered on both of us. I left him with his enjoyable moment and roam around temple… 




This is god Shiva temple. One Shivlinga is in center of temple and many other ancient statues are outside for renovating work. I see towards saint who is still enjoying long puff of cigarette. I back to him and say goodbye. He smiled at me and return match box which I offer him and back. He told me shortcut route which is going to road. I crossed a stream and reached to road. Now shops have been open and bustle starting. Here I noticed that everything is on the name of CORBETT like Corbett Chicken Shop, Corbett Hair Saloon, Corbett Tailors and many hotels also…


Continued…

Monday, 9 June 2014

When I was in Jim Corbett National Park - Part 1



I am strolling in bus stand to find bus for Ramnagar as I want to go Jim Corbett Park. Though I know Corbett Park is close nowadays but outskirt area of the park has still open and my intention is only to spend some time in wilderness with peace because next day is Diwali Festival and it becomes chaotic in cities…
Few young taxi drivers are moving around me and giving me good offer but I ignored them. I can’t take risk for my life to go with these inexperienced louts who don’t follow any rules and they don’t have any fix rate. Bus stand was free from any bustle only few flower wanders and sugarcane wanders are moving around. I wait for 10 mints and get Uttarakhand Roadways bus till Haldwani. I entered into bus which is almost empty. Only 4-5 passengers are there...

After 1.30 hrs bus dropped me at Haldwani bus stand. Like always this bus stand is bustling with lots of activities but today station is bit more bustling. I can feel the essence of festival. I roam one end to other but no bus is going to Ramnagar. I went to inquiry where a middle aged women wearing squire frame spectacle with boy cut hair looked me offended and told rudely -one and half hours later one bus will go to Ramnagar. I went off suspiciously and back to station where buses, rickshaws, motorcycles, cows and  baggers sprinting in narrow place and making conditions more adverse… 

A ramshackle bus was there and conductor is shouting – Kaladhungi!!! Ramangar!!! Haridwar!!! Ramangar echoed into my ears and I almost ran to bus and jumped on seat. Roadways buses are generally overcrowded and ofcourse grimy. Travelling by these buses is an ordeal decision but I had no other choice. Bus has been almost full and ready to move. 27-28 years old man wearing Jean and black T-shirt came and asked for ticket. I got ticket and open window. Outside it is noisy and streets are cramped with shops selling festival paraphernalia and bus is sticking in this jam…

When everything settled inside I indulge in pandemonium of bus which is like Live Nautanki. Newly married couple sitting behind me is engaged in verbal fighting. Woman wants to celebrate festival in city but man wants to go village and celebrate with his family. Family sitting next to me is planning to buy a LCD TV on Dewali. Two kids has plan to crack  firecracker… 

At Kaladhungi passengers shuffled and bus move again. After this atleast outside scenario became pleasant coz this road moves between thick jungle though the bus is bumping in every 5 minutes. I reached Ramangar by noon where bus dropped me at bus stand. I asked for jim Corbett office which is next to stand so I walked there and ask for accommodation. An old man, moving his spectacle up from his nose, told – Park is not yet open so we can not provide you any accommodation inside. You may try out. There are so many hotels. I came out where touts and guides grabbed me and start giving me offer for safari and hotels in which obviously I am not interested...

I went to KMVN office and asked them for a room in jungle area. They gave me idea to stay in tent colony which is in Dhikuli, a small village bit far from city. It’s very hot and messy here. I went to a shop and bought some stuff and wait for auto. Everybody wants to make money so no one is going in share base. I had to book auto in 200 Rs. This 15-16 years young boy, I am sure he even would not have driving license, driving very roughly. All the time I was bumping onto my seat and keep saying – Slowly slowly slowly but he haven’t listened me...



I reached tent colony which is in peaceful place. This is swish style tent attached with bathroom. I got bath take lunch and want to rest for while but it’s too hot inside. I came out where cold breeze blowing and making atmosphere relaxed. Later, I went to river side which is only few meter away. I heard river sound and walked fast…

At the river side two young guys catching fishes though it’s illegal.


I told – its illegal ? 
They looked me perplexed – it is but we do catch fishes.
 
What if anybody will see you ? - They only shout. What else they will do ?  Boys then giggled and ignored me. I leaved them and sit in a silence place. Two elephants are coming far from jungle. These elephants do elephant-safari work and source of huge money.  Two guys were crossing river and going to middle part of river. And after a while I rolled my jean up remove my shoes and went to river. However water force is not much but in few places it was high. I walked on and reached the middle part which is dry. I set dipped me feet into cool water and enjoyed sun set. River looks like blue curved ribbon. Verdant valley filled with sun set colors and echoing with the roar of river and chirping birds nothing is here to disturb.  After this refreshment I moved down where villagers are collecting wood and other stuff...




My feet were filled with sand and irritating me. Anyways I reached down side and there I talk with young man who is local here. His name is Mahesh. 

Mahesh says – I have a land here and I rented it to camp site. I do work as a guide also.
Is this your work ? – No, I do work at Kashipur in Hotel.

Why ? – Because they are giving me enough money.
Two girls are here to get drinking water in Copper vessel. Both study in same school and same class. We often do not come here – one girl told me.

Why ?
This is dangerous place. We have seen tiger many times. Other girl said with scarred voice –  I heard his voice once which was very scary. I could not sleep for 2-3 nights after that.  Her eyes opened fully. 

Then only I saw two women crossing river with bundle of woods carrying on their head. This is such a thing which hurts me but here more heart breaking thing is two guys sitting at the bank drinking Alcohol and laughing at the women. I waited for them to cross. Both are mother and daughter. 




Where from you getting these woods ?
Girl smiled and shied – From jungle.

Everyday you go there to collect wood – Yes, her mother replied

For what ?
For kitchen fire. We used to make food on fire only.

Why don’t you use gas or stove ?
These are very expensive. We can’t afford.

What else you do ?
We have land here and do farming but it’s very expensive now so my husband do work in a shop – woman reply adjusting wood bundle on her head.

I asked to girl now. You studying – yes ! in 12th class. She giggled and her tooth shined in dark.

And you get time for all these works along with your school ?
My school has closed for Diwali. In my school days I only do inside works.

You saw tiger ?
This time I received answer from Mahesh – so many times. They come for water. Elephants and other jungle animal also come for water. 



It was almost dark and an old man holding wood stick went to river and crossed it in full speed. Mahesh told me that he will back in half n hour with bundle of wood. They were in hurry to go home so I did not stop them. I also made my way back to hotel but Mahesh offered me to have tea with his family…

Continued…

Friday, 21 March 2014

Chadar Trek 2014

After long time back I am updating my blog. Actually I went for Chadar Trek which was my dream trek and I completed it this year. Now all I can say this was one of the most adventures experiences of my life. Chadar trek is a very adventures trek in the Laddakh. Actually the meaning of Chadar is a sheet of snow. In winter temperature go down almost -30 degree celsius and Zanskar river freeze and covered with snow and become highway for Zanskaris in winter. They use this route for their trade and other purpose. Meaning of  Zanskar is Land of Copper…

Chadar Trek is also known as Khado sanglam in Zanskari language which Zanskari use as the last way to with the outside world. This trek is one of the top ten treks in the world. Trek gives different colors of water in a single river and different shade of mountains. I came across with different life style and culture and tradition here which I will share later but uploading some pictures of this trek…

Confluence of River Zanskar and River Indus