Friday, 18 August 2017

Tapovan : A Life Time Experience - Part - 4

After almost half-n hour, I wake up and move towards Babaji’s Hut. There I saw a man wearing trek-suit, sunglass and covered his head with white cloth. His curly and knotted hairs are poking out from the head cloth. Babaji looks me when I greet him. He greets me back with hand gesture. Amit introduce me to Babaji and says – He is Mauni Baba (reticent hermit). He doesn’t speak to anybody. He explains his feelings through the hand gestures. I know him from many years so I understand his language. After introduction, I sit at verandah where Amit serve me tea in small steel glass. With the sip of tea, I saw the group of blue sheep moving in front of Babaji’s hut where a little creek is flowing. I ask about the creek to Amit. He tells me – This is Aakas Ganga comes from Peak Shivlinga and merge with River Bhagirathi in Gaumukh. River Aakash Ganga is a real source of River Ganga...


I am so much exhaust so I only watch them moving around with the sip of tea. After a while when I get my breath back I slowly went to near the place to observe them roaming freely. I am amaze to see that they are so confident that I am not gonna harm to them. One baby Blue Sheep comes in front of my camera lens and then his or her mother come and take him off from my camera. They are running and eating and drinking water and relaxing and enjoying warmth in frosty temperature. They show every possible drama in this open amphitheater of nature. Then suddenly all went far away from my eyes. I turn back after watching the refreshing show…


By the time, I back Amit call me for lunch. I went into the Babaji’s small but neat and clean corrugated roof hut made of stones. Mud floor has covered with woolen mats. Hut is warm and cozy. In one corner, Babaji’s kitchen existing where he makes food on kerosene stove. Babaji serves Khichdi, which is no doubt very tasty. After lunch Amit show me my hut which is same like Babaji’s hut. In one corner of this hut has temple and in other corner Babaji has stored bedding for the guests who stay here. I take my bedding place it on the floor and I lie down for some time…


In the evening I went for a long walk near to the River Akash Ganga. Suddenly weather become nasty and snow fall starts. I can see the snow flacks falling on my face and on my clothes. I am far from my hut which is scary because there is no any shelter where I can hide. It is a big relief to see one hut in distant. I walk towards hut to get shelter. One more Babaji (hermit) welcome me there. I am surprise to see him because I was thinking hut is deserted. Anyway, I greet to Babaji and went near to the hut. He lit the fire and asks me to come near it. He asks me after some time – am I here for trekking ? I nodded my head in yes…

Now when I am comfortable I saw the Babaji. Copper color face normal eyes long mated locks hair tie on head sweet spoken person is a Baba’ji. I ask him about him – he says with very soft voice – I am Sai Muni. Living here for Tapshya (meditation). He invites me inside the hut, which is same like Mauni Babaji’s hut. Burning kerosene stove to make herbal tea he said – I have cooking gas too but gas has been finished and its not easy to get gas cylinder here in this altitude so I use kerosene stove too. He offers me tea and says – Its herbal tea. It will give you warmth in this weather. I take a first sip and really, tea is very flavorsome. I can feel the flavor of different herbs. With the sip of tea he tells me about him and says – Life is very difficult here in winters. In coming winter, I might go somewhere else for meditation. After spend a good time with him I turn back. However Its not snow fall now but very chilly…

It is almost dark when I reach to my hut and Amit calls for dinner. Dinner is another delicacy in 5000 mt altitude. Babaji serves me delicious green vegetable with fried yellow lentil dal and rice. Amit Tell me that babaji is appreciating my efforts to reach in this height. After dinner he gives me boil water to drink with smiling face. I wash my pots and back to hut. Sky is crystal clear and stars are shining like a diamonds though chilly temperature is making it impossible to stay out...


I wake up early morning stars are still in the sky but soon it becomes sunrise.  Peak Bhagirathi, Peak Shivling, Peak Meru and other peaks are gleaming in the beauty of morning rays. I again go for a little walk. When I back Babaji gives me porridge for breakfast. After breakfast I pack my stuff and start return trek. This time trek would be steep descent. I cross this glacier patch fast before it gets hot and glacier start melting…


 From Goumukh trek is easy so I walk like a lazy girl. I can again feel the sound of River Bhagirathi, sound of cold chilly wind. I can be a part of huge mountains and snow peaks. I can again see the color of jungle. Now it’s time to leave everything behind, so not feeling good. I sit in a place to inhale this beauty inside me. I see the River which is bending between the valley here and sky is busy with nomad clouds. Everything is so pure and so beautiful. Yesterday when I was going to Tapovan all were coming near to me but now all are going away slowly slowly. This is the part of every trekking. With the very slow speed, I reach the campsite…


I reach ashram by lunch. After lunch, I pitch my tent. In dusk, I went for short walk near River Bhagirathi. Peaks are blazing in evening light however chilly winds are making temperature freezing. When I back entertaining and hilarious gully cricket match has been start but soon all went to the Ashram as it was seriously cold. I too went to Ashram for dinner. Sky is shining with lots of stars and galaxies but temperature is killing so I went into tent… 



Whole night I struggle with cold. When I wake up in the morning my tent had layered with frost. When I saw all around, it was frosty everywhere. Night must be chilly no doubt. Due to frost, my fingers get numb even inside the gloves. I try to fold my sleeping bag and remove my tent but my hands are still numb. I went to Ashram for the breakfast. When I back, sun has spread rays over the valley and white layer of frost has start melting slowly. I roam around in sun light to warm myself, then pack up everything, and get ready for trek…



 I am walking slowly as if I want to make distance longer. Its tough to get back from such places. With my every forward step, everything is leaving behind and I am going near to civilization again. Colorful jungle, huge peaks of Himalaya, River Bhagirathi everything is leaving behind. Though River Bhagirathi will be with me till Uttarakshi but yes this is the most beautiful part of River Bhagirathi with roaring voice. I am walking walking walking and just thinking of all these only. I am in my own when Amit stop me from behind and says _ we reached Chirbasa. Now take little rest then will move forward. I wanna tell him that I don’t wanna move but I know I have to go…

I stop in Chirbasa and I start getting the sign of civilization. In a small hut-restaurant I wanna drink tea and eat something but due to price issue I haven’t eat anything though I am badly hungry. I saw Maggi’s Noodle packets here, which have been banned in all over India. Anyway I walk further and get away from the place. Trek is easy now and I am near to the Gangotri.  Soon leaving everything behind I reach Gangotri… 

In Gangotri I ate lunch and then after lots of struggle get taxi for Uttarakashi. I will stay in a same place at Uttarakhsi and next morning I will go to Dehradoon and then to Nainital. Bus and taxi journey is more tiresome then the trekking... 

After all struggles I spend, a beautiful and memorable time in trekking and now its time for rest at home…

End 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Tapovan : A Life Time experience - Part - 3

Weather was clear but cold when I wake up in the morning. I move straight to Ashram for tea and breakfast. Then pack-up my tent and sleeping bag dump them in the Ashram coz Amit told me I can get everything in another ashram at Tapovan. After done all packing I start trek. Today’s trek would be straight till Goumukh but after Gaumukh it will be difficult. I start trek in sunny and bright weather. Few small and naughty clouds are playing with deep blue sky. Though trek is plain but whole path is rocky, on which I have to be careful with balance otherwise my feet can be bend between rocks…



 Anyway keep the road aside but scenario is still beautiful. River Bhagirathi is flowing like serpent with roaring voice colorful jungle is giving the essence of springtime. Above all huge Himalayan peaks are showing their strong presences. Till the Goumukh many devotees are walking in groups. As I like walking alone, so I am trying to walk fast so that no one can bother me.  After three hours of trekking, I reach Gaumukh…


 It says Goumukh is a source of River Ganga. Shape of this source is like cow’s mouth so it’s called Goumukh. Goumukh Glacier is the largest glacier of Asia too. I want to go to near to the source but Amit told me in warning tone- it is dangerous so better not to go near. Stones fall every time from upward and melting snow pieces are making it more dangerous. Then I went near to the River Bhagirathi to touch the water, which is chilled and few saints are bathing in this chilled water. Strange…


I sit silently in one place and gaze around. Whole valley surrounded with stunning Himalayan Peaks. Deep blue sky is adding more charm in the beauty with small naughty clouds. I can hear slow rhythmic sound of river Bhagirathi. This is the only sound, which is breaking the silence of the place. I am indulging deep and deep into the spell of nature.  I am here to feel the voice of my inner, to search myself, to listen my inner sole…

 I am still in this spell when suddenly Amit comes and tell me to start trek for Tapovan, which is straight up from here. He takes me to the place from where we will start. I look upward where no any path exists. Only I can see the brown heap of mud. I confirm again but Amit says - this is the path. I place my first step on this heap and I almost shout – oh!!!  this is slippery!!!  Then I scrutinize the path intensely and find that the path is a mixture of mud and melting snow. Actually I am walking on glacier and in hot weather snow is melting and making slippery mixture with mud. Small rolling stones are making this more strenuous…

Gomukh is now leaving behind and I am moving up. Jungle has vanished and brown dry mountains have taken place in scenario. In many places, I saw deep crevasses. If anyone will slip inside these crevasses, no one can save them. These are the killer cracks. I remember what Amit told me about his friends who died in such type of crevasses in Kalinidikhal trek…

 Anyway, trek is getting tough and scorching sun is no mood of mercy. The only charm in this struggle is beautiful Himalaya and Deep blue sky with naughty clouds. I take rest for a while and then start walking again. It is too steep up and now I am struggling for every step and want to sit after every step but Amit not letting me rest. When I have trekked much then Amit told me near small water fall – You can rest here. This place is cold too. Before Amit completes his sentence I already put my rucksack down. Amit look at me with giggle and says – you may take long rest here because after this final ascend is difficult though it’s not very long…

When I sit near water I notice few black birds hovering over me. These birds are not crow. After a while birds start coming to me and trying to snatch food from my hand. This is Yellow Billed Choug bird. This is smellier to the crow but size of the bird is small and beak color is yellow. In the higher altitude they don’t get food easily so they come to humans for the search of food. Anyway I ask to Amit – Amit do you know the bird? Which bird is this? Answer he gives is the funniest answer. He innocently replied like an expert – Ma’am this is Chinese crow. In winters when china’s weather becomes cold they come here for warmth. I didn’t say anything just smile…   

After this short break I again start trekking. Though I am only few steps ahead but every step is becoming heavier. My breaths are going abnormal and I am drenched in sweat. I struggle for each step. I want to take long rest after every step. I saw upward from where Amit shouting – Madam just two more steps and you will be in Tapovan. I hear his voice and want to run but my steps are not moving. I sit down for a while and when I stand up I finish my trek in four or five steps…


 I put my last step and I was on Tapovan. I saw a huge field covered with dry yellow brown grass and huge Himalaya peaks. I sign with relief and lie down on earth. There is nothing between me and sky. Though sky has been covered by the grey clouds but still I keep watching sky and then close my eyes. I was feeling so light and relax that I fall asleep for a while…

#tapovan
#adventure

Friday, 19 May 2017

Tapovan : A Life Time Experience - Part 2

When I wake up in morning, it was chilly. I get ready for trek and come to the market where Amit is waiting for me. Market is still close so I find out a small restaurant finish breakfast there and start trekking. After a while sun come out and valley get life again. After crossing long stairs through the narrow market my trek starts with steep ascend which is not very long. Now it’s plain walk along with roaring River Bhagirathi. Huge deodar trees making valley green. Sunlight coming through the leaves and giving pleasant feel of warmth. I can see many trekkers actually devotees who are going to Gaumukh but no one is going Tapovan…


Soon we reach to Forest Office where we paid rent for our stay in jungle. They alert us not to keep any plastic material with us because it is punishable offense.  I fulfill all the formalities and went off… 

Amit is walking fast but I am walking slow and inhaling every bit of this beauty. Many tributaries are flowing through the mountains and emerging into River Bhagirathi. I reach to ramshackle wooden bridge, which is lifeline here. When I put my first step on bridge whole valley echoed with creaky voice. It is late October and I am witnessing autumn here. Tree leaves are turning yellow and red and making valley paradise. Below the path, River Bhagirathi is flowing and in front of me, great mighty Himalaya is showing its presence... 




Amit in only 24 yet and he has done many expeditions like Kamet, Mount Bhagirathi expedition, Kalindikhal Expedition and many more. He joined these expeditions as a porter. His family lives in village near Harsil and does farming. Amit support them financially by doing trekking as a porter and some time as a guide too. Really Courageous guy…

He becomes emotional when he talks about Kalindikhal Expedition. His two friends died there and their dead bodies disappeared into deep crevasse. He says with moist eyes – I don’t want to go there again and I never went there. This place is nightmare for me. I saw my two friends dying there in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything. He says – when my other friends go there they offer head cloth and shoes to them for their remembrance…

Bhagirathi is still with us roaring voice of Bhagirathi is echoing the valley. By now, we reach Chirbasa, a small resting point. One small shop is here but extremely expensive. One devotee family, two women, two men and a two months old baby, are going to Gaumukh to pay their votive offerings. Ladies are going by mules and men are walking. Women are wearing sari and cover their face completely. They are from Bihar. Man told me –my wife and me wished to Maa Ganga if we would have grandchild we will go to Gaumukh with baby to fulfill their votive. As they are from Bihar, which is plain and hot area so they are facing many troubles in hill. They never have been into hills before. I turn around to explore the place when I saw a man hanging on pole and doing some exercises. He dose exercises around 15 mintues. When he come down from pole I asked him why he is doing this ? he says cleaning sweat from brow – to keep body warm in this cold... and went off…   


I finish my food here, which I am carrying from Gangotri, and after this short break, I start trekking again. Amit has already left. After this break, trekking becomes strenuous. Scorching sun makes it more difficult. Due to landslide path is almost vanish and stones are falling from upward. Path becomes narrow and dangerous now. Here I saw few Blue sheep in group. They are running from one place to another to hide. River Bhagirathi is flowing with full volume and making landscape more alive. Two Nepali porters give me apple, which I wanted to buy in Harsil too. I am so glad and oblige to have them now. When I take first bite, it was so crispy and sweet…




By the time, I reach Bhojbasa, weather become strangely horrific and cold. Quick blizzard making it more horrible but luckily it stops soon but temperature is still cold. I pitch tent and put my bag inside. Bhagirathi is flowing near to my tent and from my tent window I can gaze the huge Bhagirathi Peak. Amit gets me tea from Ashram. I was drinking tea sitting into tent when suddenly I hear some voices. I come outside with curiosity where few locals are playing gully cricket in a field. I stand there to watch…

This cricket match is amazingly funny and extra ordinary. I have never seen cricket match in such funny way. There are different rules in this match, which is too unique, and the commentator is again a funny guy. He is comentrating in a hilarious way and implementing new rules in between the over according to his choice and mood. Political satires are also part of his commentary. Not only he but batsman, fielders and bowlers are equally funny. I was just laughing laughing and laughing. Two hours long this match is full of entrainment only… 


Temperature is freezing now. Amit calls me for Dinner at Ashram where everybody is coming for dinner. All sit on earth in a row and have food.  After dinner when I come to the tent, I saw huge galaxies in the sky. Sky is so clear and full of stars. I stand there for some time but cannot stand for long coz it is bone chilled cold. I enjoy this peace and beauty for a while then come to tent and sleep…

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Tapovan : A Life Time Experience – Part 1

After much confusion, I am finally packing my rucksack for adventures trek of Tapovan. It’s too dark when I wake up 3 ‘o clock and there are two reasons for this too dark. First, its night and second is no electricity since night. I somehow manage my works and off to station in wintry dark. Station is busy with buses so I struggle to find out bus for Haridwar and 6.30 am I starts journey. Bus is almost empty. In Rudrapur bus had an accident. Actually, driver left bus without lock. Suddenly bus starts moving forward but luckily, driver see and manages to jump inside and stop the bus. It could be a serious accident coz road was engage with paddlers. Bus reaches Haridwar by 2.30 and I went to Rishikesh from where I can get bus for Uttarkashi. Getting bus for Uttarkashi is another expedition coz no bus is going there and taxies are asking for high charges. After lots of struggles, I get taxi. Rishikesh is very hot but it becomes cold when taxi reaches upward. Taxi driver is less talkative short height chubby man. Road is stunning with beautiful valleys. On the way, I saw groups of nomads who are walking with their families, cattle and dogs. Nomad has always been my favorite. They walk in huge groups and every group has many buffalo. Local people always become happy to see them coz they are very lovable and trouble-free people. They sale milk and other milk products, which is only source of their income…  

Soon it become dark and villages are showing their presence through the light. Villages are blinking like stars in dark valley. Tihri Dam Reservoir is also showing presence through reflection in water. In Chamiyashoud village, I saw beautiful reflection of Tihri Dam Rservoir. I finish dinner on way and by the time, I reach my rest house in Uttarkashi it was 11.30…



I wake up 7’o clock in the morning. Temperature is pleasant yet. I went for short walk to the bank of River Bhagirathi, which is flowing, near to my rest house. River bank is dry and mining work is going on there. Far from this, I hear the prayer sound of primary school students who are singing national anthem with drumbeats. This made me nostalgic. When I was student, I used to do all these too. Hearing it again is good experience. After breakfast I off to shopping for trek in sultry weather but unfortunately, I could not get anything in Uttarakhshi’s unmanaged market. In this heat, getting taxi for Gangotri is another struggle. Though I get share taxi but taxi driver starts after 2 hours when taxi become full with passengers. Man sitting next to me is blind follower of RSS and spewing so much poison for others. This is sad to see that where we are going. What the fake reality is incubating in the brain of people on the name of patriotism and religion. Disgusting! He keeps talking about Hinduism and other topics. He is from Uttar Pradesh and going to Gaumukh…

Hence, for me it’s better to enjoy the beauty of mother nature. Bhagirathi is with us all the time. Somewhere it is broad and somewhere it’s narrow. Somewhere it is jumping through the high hills and somewhere it is flowing through the deep gorges. Somewhere color of water is bluish, somewhere it’s greenish, somewhere it is flowing like ribbon but every appearance of Bhagirathi is beautiful and gorgeous. Driver is insolent young guy. He is not stopping taxi anywhere. This valley is famous for apples. I see many apple orchards on the way and want to buy some but driver is not ready to stop. When I ask him to stop, he badly replies – I will not stop taxi anywhere. When taxi reaches Harsil, one more passenger, from Mumbai, wants to get out and see the open valley of Harsil for a while only but driver didn’t stop. Now it was height of his rudeness so I tell him – Is this the way you behave with tourists ? They are the source of your earning. You should pay some respect to them. They are not coming here again and again. But driver again rudely reply – I don’t want them to come here. You go back. We don’t need outsiders here in our area. This is unbelievable for me. I still remember the Kedarnath catastrophe when tourists stopped coming here. That time, these were the people, who were saying - We will die hungry if tourist will not come coz we have nothing else to do. How will we survive if tourist will stop coming. Now when tourists are coming they are behaving like this. Selfish people though I am not saying this to all... 




No doubt, scenario is beautiful but roads are not good. In every 5 minutes, roads are bumping like hell. However, the good part is now I can see the Himalaya. RSS follower says after watching the Himalaya first time – It’s not real, it’s not snow, mountain has been whitewashed in white color that’s why this is looking beautiful. Taxi reaches Gangotri by 5’oclock and I went to hotel, which I have already booked. I searched hotel with the help of locals, put my stuff there, and went to permit office to get permit for Tapovan... 




I also met my guide there and went into the office. When I entered, I saw huge pictures of blue sheep, which is, I can say the specialty of the Tapovan.  Permit officer is a nice person. He gives me form and asks about my guide because I cannot go without any guide. I introduce my guide to him and then he gave me permission with few important advices…

After finishing this I stroll in the small market of Gangotri. Worship paraphernalia, warm clothes, shoes, and food products are available here but prices!!! Price is what shopkeeper wants to take. They sell 10 rupees Maggi in 40 to 50 rupees. 15 rupees chocolate is around 50-60 rupees. Reason behind this loot is that it becomes very expensive due to transportation. I can understand the logic but cannot believe that it could be that expensive. Anyway strolling through the market, I reach to Gangotri Temple...


Constructed with white tiles Gangotri temple is far away from my imagination. When I reach, only few people were here but slowly devotees are increasing. Arti will start in a while. Main temple has covered with curtain before arti starts. Priest will do the arti in honor of River Bhagirathi. When arti starts, one more priest starts beating drum in rhythmic high volume and other priest holding huge wick lamp in his hand and moving it into circular movement. He is doing this with the drumbeats. All temple campus is echoing with this sound and it was so soothing that I sit peacefully until 45 minutes when arti stop.  Now I come to market again and finish dinner for which I paid two times more money… 

River Bhagirathi flowing just next to my hotel with gushing and roaring sound. Flow of the water is amazingly speedy. I spend whole night with this roaring sound…


Monday, 17 April 2017

Fine Winter Morning

It’s a fine winter morning when I was strolling around the Sattal Lake with my friend Muni, who is here in hills to cover the election news. Sattal is a beautiful place near Nainital…

After crossing few restaurants which are close in off season we reach near the lake. In winter morning lake was so calm and peaceful. Layer of fog was hovering over it and making it more attractive…

We took a long walk and enjoy the beauty of this beautiful lake in winter morning…

Few pictures of this lovely morning… 









Saturday, 25 March 2017

Brahmtaal Trek Through my Camera

I already had many most challenging and adventures experiences in Himalayas, but going into Himalaya again and again is not only challenge or experience or adventure for me. Himalaya is a place where I can unload all my brain-garbage and reconnect with me and my soul...
So I suddenly planned Brahmtaal trek and I proud my decision coz the trek was incredibly beautiful, pleasant and relaxing. Later on due to heavy snow fall trek became adventures too...
Situated at Chamoli district of Uttarakhand in altitude of 4000 meter, Brahmtaal offers a beautiful scenario of vast Himalayan peaks like Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, dense forest of Rhododendrons and huge meadows, locally know as Bugyal…
Here I am posting few pictures of my unforgettable trek. I Will write detail treklogue soon…