Monday, August 28, 2006

Here I Come, Himalayas- Day 7

I get up early in the morning. But I make a mistake of not peeping out of my window. If I had done that, I would have seen the majestic Neelkant peak. Well, I hope to catch that next time.:)

Our guide informs us about the Mana village. This is supposed to be the last village of India as it is situated on the border of India and China. Most of them in our group are very tired. So few of us decide to take the bait. As it is a small group, we take a jeep.

First we see the birth place of River Saraswati. There are lots of stories about this river. It seems that Mahabharata was written in this place. When Vyasa was reciting the verses and Ganesha was writing them down, Saraswati was flowing with a roaring noise. Vyasa found this very disturbing and hence he cursed Saraswati to be visible only at the source and at Prayag.

I have never seen any other river flowing with such a force at its source. River Saraswati's source is a very gratifying sight.

We go through the Mana village to Vyas Gufa. The villagers belong to Bhutiya tribe and they are very shy. They make very beautiful carpets. I try to capture these people in my camera but they refuse to be photographed. So I take a picture from the rear end.

Vyas Gufa is the place where Vyas recited the verses of Mahabharata. And then we go to Ganesh Gufa. There is something very special about these two places. They are non-commercial and untouched yet.

Our final destination is "Bharat Ki Aakhiri Chai Ki Dukan" ( India's last tea stall).:)) I have a tulsi chai here. I being a tea lover absolutely fall in love with this chai.

We go back to Badrinath. It is a long bus journey from there to Pipalkoti. The guide informs us that we need to spend the night at Pipalkoti. So we make some phone calls, have our dinner and get back to our rooms at Pipalkoti.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Here I Come, Himalayas- Day 6

As we are behind schedule for a day, the guide gives us two options; either we can take a horse to Hemkund and then back to Govind Ghat or trek back to Govind Ghat. All of them decide to take a horse to Hemkund and then to Govind Ghat. We decide to trek down to Govind Ghat (14 kms) as we wanna enjoy the shades of nature. So we start off at 7:00 A.M. We walk at our own pace enjoying each and every creation of God. We stop by the river and spend an hour there. The water looks so pure and untouched. But it is damn freezing!

The last three kilometres seem a bit tiring, may be because of the scorching sun. I am thrilled when I reach Govind Ghat. We reach Govind Ghat at 1:15 P.M. Man, this has been my longest trek:)

We wait for the co-passengers in the bus. I then realize how actually tired I am. My feet are aching badly. But my happiness gets over the pain. Our team arrive at 3:00. The guide informs us that we will be leaving to Badrinath. All of us are so tired that we sleep all the way to Badrinath.

I am amazed at the beautiful mountains that surround the Badrinath temple. There is a small ashram on one of those mountains that attracts me. I shall be talking about it in a separate post.

We ask the hotel people for hot water as we wanna have a nice bath before we go for a darshan to the temple. We are thrilled when the hotel people get the hot water from the hot water spring. After the refreshing bath, we go to the temple. We get a special pooja done. There is an amazingly peaceful feeling in me. We visit the hot water spring. Again it is one of God's stupefying creations.

We have a very good Gujrati thali for dinner. After a long time, we are getting to eat rice. We then retire to our rooms wearily.

Here I Come, Himalayas- Day 5

We get ready at 6:30 and have our breakfast. We have been having parathas all the time.:) We start our trek to Valley of flowers finally. We are told that it is totally an 8kms trek. The paths are beautiful, untouched and remote. They do not allow horses there. You have to walk or take the help of a porter. We click lot of pictures and continue our journey. River Lakshman Ganga flows all along the track. We play in its waters and admire the force with which it flows.

We get to know that we are approaching the valley of flowers as our paths are strewn with flowers.

And I stand there and look at it. Man, it is awesome. I cannot express the beauty in mere words. People call it the heaven on earth. There are mountains, the river and the vast stretch of colorful flowers. I have never seen anything like this before. And it appears more beautiful because it is not a man-made garden. It is completely God's creation!!!

We sit on a rock and slowly try to observe the breathtaking environment that we are in. I can see the snow capped mountains far away. There are gigantic mountains all around me and I am so dwarfed. It is absolutely peaceful. You cannot really hear any sound there except may be the humming of bees and the flowing of water. I had been dreaming of going to such a place since so long. I sleep on that rock for some time. It is as if the nature is singing a lullaby. We dwell on those silent yet meaningful moments.

After a couple of hours there, I am very reluctant to leave that place. But our guide warns us that we need to cross a certain point before 12 P.M. because of a possible landslide. So we force ourselves for the return trek. We walk very slowly and silently. May be each one of us are still mentally present in the Valley of Flowers.

We reach our guest house at 2:30 P.M. We spend the rest of the day lazing around and wandering in the Ghangaria lanes.

Here I Come, Himalayas- Day 4

In the morning, when I peep out from the cottage at Auli, I see a conspicuous snow capped mountain. I am very, very excited as this is my first clear view of snow. Later I get to know that the mountain I have been admiring is actually Nandadevi. Wow!

We reach Govind Ghat at 9:00 in the morning. We have our breakfast at a dhaba there. We meet two elderly Sikhs there. They warn us about a very hectic journey ahead. They ask us to take a horse to Ghangria at least as the slopes are too steep. We decide to check it out. Most of them in our group decide to take horses. The trek is for 14 kms. And this is my first major trekking expedition.:)

So we start off at 10:30. It is getting very sunny and I somehow manage to trek for 3 kms. I know that I will have to trek for 8 kms again the next day to valley of flowers. I decide that I should take a horse to conserve my energy.:)

Believe me when I say that trekking is much more easier than riding a horse on this cobbled, steep paths! The paths are so narrow and you always have to be very wary. The horse that I am sitting on looked very feeble and I am expecting it to collapse any moment. And as I expect, it fumbles over the steps twice. We stop in between for lunch. And continue our journey again.

I reach Ghangria at 4:30. It has been a very painful, strenuous ride. But yes, the pain is alleviated by the stupefying nature around.

We try calling up our folks. The phone booth guy tells us that for every minute, the charge is 15 Rs. as there are only 3 phone lines in that village. Everything is expensive here. We spend a very quiet evening, relax and get ready for the next day's trek.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Here I Come, Himalayas- Day 3

All of us get dressed up optimistically for the trek, that is supposed to take place as per schedule, hoping that the landslide has stopped. If it has, then we decide to walk through the mess of mud and stones on the road and find another bus of GMVN on the other side. So we get our backpacks and trekking shoes and walk towards the landslide.

As we approach the place, we see a huge crowd there. We hear the thumping sounds of the stones, And I witness the first landslide in my life. The rocks roll down majestically with a loud thundering noise. Then all of a sudden, everything seems to stop. There is silence. I start hoping that this is the end of it. But immediately there is a big boulder rolling down again. We stand there and watch nature's fury. Even in its time of wrath, nature is breathtaking.

We use this time to do a bit of trekking in lower hills out there. We wait for a couple of hours and then return back to the guest house. We try to take a nap in the dormitory provided to us for temporary accommodation. All of us know that we are helpless and we will have to patiently wait.

Finally there is good news that the landslide has stopped and the road has been cleared. So we enthusiastically continue our bus journey. After traveling for about 4-5 kms , we find ourselves stuck in another traffic jam due to another landslide. But the good news is that the land slide has stopped and the government authority is clearing the road. Nevertheless, we are stuck at that place for a couple of hours.

It is already night by the time we arrive at Joshimath. Due to some problems with the accommodation, we are taken to Auli. It is very dark out there. But I can see that we are going through some very steep, winding crude roads. It seems a bit scary. When we reach the place, the guide tells us that it is supposed to be one of the favorite spots for skiing. But since it is summer, we cannot see any snow at Auli. Besides it is very dark. We walk wearily towards our cottage. Man, it is freezing!

Here I Come, Himalayas- Day 2

We start early at seven in the morning. The guide tells us that it is going to be a long bus journey. We get introduced to the other groups in our bus. There is a bengali group of 8 members, a gujarati group of 5 members and a mumbai group of 7 members. I begin to see the gigantic mountains of Himalayas as we progress through our journey.

I learn a lot of new things in this journey. I had always believed that Ganga was the river that came from Gangotri. But then that is not completely true. We get to see some prayags ( sangam of two rivers) in this journey.

1) Deo Prayag: Sangam of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. This is the real place where Ganga is born.

2) Rudra Prayag: Sangam of Alaknanda and Mandakini.

3) Karan Prayag: Sangam of Alaknanda and Pindari

4) Nand Prayag: Sangam of Alaknanda and Nandakini

Our whole journey is along river Alaknanda. This river takes birth at a place called Alakpuri. It flows very aggressively and forcefully. So the journey amidst Himalayas and Alaknanda is beautiful.

We stop at a river rafting camp for our breakfast. And then we continue our jouney. Though the journey is perfectly scenic, it is a bit exhausting. At 4:30 in the evening, we reach Pipalkoti. We are supposed to proceed to Joshimath. But the road is blocked due to a landslide. We can see a long queue of vehicles ahead us. We wait for a couple of hours but we are informed that the landslide is still happenning. It is 15th August. So the government people who are supposed to help are not in office. So our guide informs us that we will be staying at Pipal koti that night. Since Pipalkoti is a small village, all the people who are stuck in the traffic jam are not able to get the accomodation. Luckily, there is a guesthouse of GMVN. So we manage to get some rooms there.

We take an evening walk exploring some shops in Pipalkoti and also trying to see the landslide. But then we see that the traffic jam there is so bad that we decide to walk back to our room.
I am a little apprehensive now because we are behind our schedule. We do not know when the landslide will stop. It seems that landslides have become quite frequent there mostly because people have messed up nature's balance while installing electric ploes in the mountains. Sigh! When will man learn that he can never outpower nature??

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Here I Come, Himalayas- Day 1

After a couple of days' stay in the scorching heat of Delhi, I start off at an early morning in Shatabdhi Express to Haridwar. The journey reveals the dumped garbage and slums on either sides of the railway track. I am depressed when I see Yamuna being reduced to a drainage place.

After arriving at Haridwar, we take a phatphati ( a three wheeler with an engine of a bike) to Rishikesh. I enjoy the ride as I am exposed to fresh air and greenery. We get to see lot of ashrams and temples on the way.

Finally we reach the guest house of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) at Rishikesh. Even though there is a nagging tiredness, both of us decide to pay a visit to the banks of River Ganga. So we walk through the narrow lanes to an ashram on the banks of Ganges. And then, I see Ganga. Al my weariness disappears as I look at the powerful, majestic river. There is a group of people out there performing a puja. So with their recitation of shlokas in the background, both of us sit on the banks and watch Ganga dumbfounded. I have never seen such a magnanimous river ever before.

I see a sadhu meditating on the banks of the river. The view of the mountains, the river and the meditating sadhu all together make me very spiritual and philosophical. In front of other creations of God, we are midgets.

We start finding our way back to the guest house as the sun sets.

Just a note on 22nd August, 2006

I am at Delhi now, just back from a great vacation at the mountains. I will be leaving to Bangalore in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I thought that I should put together my experiences that I had in these eight days. It may not be an exact travelogue. I am just penning down all the random thoughts and experiences. I will try to divulge the details as I go on. So I shall post each day's experience.:)

We had gone on a package trip to Valley of Flowers and Badrinath in Uttaranchal. This trip was organized by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), a government organization.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I am off to an exciting vacation far in the mountains. I will let you know the details once I am back. Meanwhile you take care and have lots of fun.:))))) Adios.:)

Monday, August 07, 2006


We had been to rangantittu a couple of weeks back. It was my first visit to the bird sanctuary. I think our timing for this visit was very good because we heard that they closed the sanctuary the next day, for some time.:)) I found the visit quite interesting. There were not many visitor birds because it was almost the end of the season. But I must honestly confess that the wild crocodiles there caught my attention, especially the one which was lying on a rock at the centre. Our boats went so near by to that crocodile that I was almost expecting it to jump on us any time.:))) The funny part was that a lady in our boat was not convinced that it was a live crocodile. She somehow went on justifying that it was a statue. Look at the snap and you will understand why.:))Here are some of the snaps that I clicked while we were there:


They were there with me when I was broke and shattered. They corrected me when I went wrong. They applauded my efforts when success came on my way. They were there to pay my bills when I stood there penniless and unemployed. They cried with me when they caught me shedding tears. They were there for the silly jokes, banter and laughter. They sang all those nostalgic songs with me everyday.

Most of them are still my fellow travellers and the rest have taken different paths. But they form a major chunk of my life. Yep, I am talking about FRIENDS. Life has been a joyful, fun-filled ride with them.

Wish you all a happy friendship day.:))))