The mountain’s call has been finally answered! The year long wait to endure is too much to ask for me, especially since the beauty of the Himalayas just cannot escape my mind especially when the season to visit the Himalayas begins. Yes, I’m probably a tad too late, considering I missed my Hampta Pass trek due to sickness! Nonetheless, I am hoping to make up for a journey that I lost out a couple of months ago. A visit to the Chandratal lake was due then and is even today, with sordid hopes and gut wrenching travails I shall keep my fingers crossed in lieu of meeting my beloved Himalayas and visiting the Chandratal lake to enjoy its serenity forever… Time may be less, but I hope for making the most out of it and hope the trip is worth it completely. Thanks to Harshil my colleague, who hooked us up with a really great guy, called Amit, who’s part of http://www.himalyanyatra.com/ but a true adventurer at heart! He’s fixed our journey and the ride into Spiti! Hopefully it should be great fun and the experience worth the wait!
For those who don’t know about it, The Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India
Not much for now, but would certainly be back with my tales and sojourns to hopefully enchant all of you and give you a visual delight in the beauty of the landscape as well as the stories that this forbidden valley has in its depth…
Until then, you guys have a good one.
Yes this is the same beautiful place which probably is not accessible to many because of the devastation in Uttarakhand. Truly a sad state currently, with probably the entire village of Govindghat below the Valley of Flowers existed. We still see pictures sometimes across news feeds showcasing the heavy water flowing across Govindghat and taking down the entire roads along with it, and some of the mountains being washed away due to do the downpour and devastation of the mighty force of the river.
The memories of us being in this beautiful national park, still remain strong and hope that this place is soon rebuilt so that people can actually get access to the beauty that they should visit, at least once in their lifetime. This is the enchanting valley, the valley of flowers. Some of the pictures from that trek.
As I said… Once in a lifetime experience for sure!!!
One of the most amazing places you would come across in the North Western Himalayas and the Indo-Tibet Border. Vasudhara falls is a short but amazingly quiet and serene trek before you actually touch the route to heaven or (Swarga Rohini) as it’s popularly known from the legend of the Mahabharata, where Yudhishthira and his four brothers along with a dog trekked the mountains in a bid to reach the gates of heaven, with only the eldest of the Pandava making it up there.
Your trek begins when you start walking across the last Indian village at the Indo-Tibet border across the village called Mana. The most beautiful part about this journey is the diverse experience of various landscapes and finally ending up with a beautiful snow capped mountain around a fallen glacier and some cold, really cold water trying to seep through it and at the same time provide some really fresh perspective to your journey. All you need to do is engulf the experience, sink it in and forget whatever you have in your mind and just walk along…
As you start the journey, with it’s peaceful and most enchanting trail, you’ll slowly unravel a different experience, much less one without much adventure, yet the serenity that’ll give you a sense of jostling breath, one that will make you believe in all the fantasies of nature that you’d have ever thought of. The terrain with geographic diversities with a bit of lush greenery, some water flowing by, and some ice or glacier that you’ll encounter makes for an experience that you shall relish of course.
On one of our trips in the Himalayas, I remember how lines across various borders fade away and depict a path that just goes on beyond just the territories hazed within the minds of people caught in a rut, one that fails to distinguish a beauty of the nature so vast, and enchanting that we always tend to look at terrains as boundaries keep blocking us and our minds.
Sometimes I wish for that as a traveler to do away with. Most often than none, whenever I take a trek to the Himalayas, an important thing that is always on my mind is to leave behind the clutter and the chaos that this urban mind has always carried around with it’s mundane inglorious life. I try to devise a plan and then I stop and tell myself that it’s not a strategy that I have to pitch to a client, I usually end up thinking twice about things when I’m out here in the city. Out there, I let the nature guide me by it’s own destiny and help me make a better choice with every step that I take in the wilderness of the mountains.
One such trips was on the way to Sandakphu, where our first pit-stop was a glorious beginning into the Nepal bordering, crossing over Darjeeling and Sikkim the Himalayan regions of Tumling. A small village would be very popular among trekkers who are treading slowly towards Sanadkphu and Phalut. Both destinations which on a clear day, give a peek at the Kanchenjunga and the Mt. Everest, if you’re lucky. One of the most interesting things that you’ll notice on this path is how serene everything is right from the time you start the trek from Mhanebhanjan, the base camp, usually for all the trekkers who head up to Sandakphu or Phalut.
The occassional villagers going about their tasks, once in a while the sunlight taking a peak through the dense forests with maple and deodar trees. The ocassional Land rovers shipping food and gas cylinders and other than that there is complete bliss and total serenity. One can only feel an underlying divinity in this path across nature that cannot be described unless you actually go and witness the same.
One beautiful thing about this place is that it has an arduous look about it the moment you reach the small village. As you settle down and look up at the mountains you will feel the ease of the mountains and the beautiful path that holds a great canvas in front of you, one as a trekker or a mountaineer, you’d be raring to have a go at, painting your journey across the beautiful terrains of these North Eastern Himalayas…
Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:
Trekking in the Himalayas
I’m an avid travel bloger and blog about my escapades regularlyhttp://www.srinistuff.com. I always enjoy trekking in the Himalayas, An experience in the Himalayas itself is something that classifies as one of the best activities to do in India… Of course there are local terrains, local treks, mostly Shayadaris since I live in Maharashtra… But Himalayas is something else… A complete transition into a world that takes you to the best state of mind let alone the whole physical and spiritual experience engulfing you out there.
So far I’ve been on the J&K side of Himalayas, Leh & Ladakh part… Uttarakhand/Uttaranchal (Valley of Flowers) and Been to certain territories of North Eastern Himalayas with the Sandakhpu trek and a bit of Nepal with the journey towards various villages across the India Nepal border. It’s very tough to choose between all of these three trips. So I’d give list down a couple of treks that I did which fall among the best activities I’ve done in India. with a few images to give you an idea of how amazing the himalayas are…
Trekking in the Valley of Flowers (Uttarakhand) (14000 feet above sea level)
Starting from Haridwar, Rishikesh, we began doing some local sight seeing and exploring various aspects of Uttarakhand slowly moving towards desolation and complete bliss amongst nature. Uttarakhand in itself is a beautiful place with spirtuality integrates well with nature and the amazing landscapes and terrains find themselves accompanied with various significant mythological / religious / spiritual references from the vast history of India… All the 5 confluences while on your way towards Joshimath are something to look forward too… The beautiful Ganga river flowing all the way on your side accompanying you along on the road side. But the best experience begins when you reach Ghagaria ghat… after a tiring trek of 13kms which is more like 30 kms cause of it’s steep level of climb… From there on an early morning trek to the Valley of flowers where you could see the Himalayas at a glance is what you should enjoy the best… Some pictures of how the trek looks like…
The best time to go here would be between June and September. Ideally flowers bloom during this period and as a matter of fact, every week you’ll get to see a whole range of flowerbeds across the valley. When we went, we had a possibility of viewing a new flower that had bloomed in the valley and we were also told that in a span of 5 years, first time there was a glacier that appeared enroute the Valley of flowers.
Now that is something that sounded really amazing as this would have been the first time I’d ever get to see glacier, though technically not snow, yet something worth experiencing.
Trekking across Villages in Nepal (Sandakphu Trek) 14200 feet above sea level..
This experience was simply stunning only because of the most amazing landscapes that we experienced on our way to the top, but also the amazing Nepalese culture that we got to encounter during our trip. One of the most interesting thing that amazes you on this trip is that constantly you are crossing borders between India and Nepal, but barring a few check posts, there’s hardly anything to distinguish whether you are in Nepal or India… Unless you have a trekking guide along with you. Which we had and a good one too. The whole aspect of the beautiful terrains and landscapes, no connectivity and total realm of realism sinking in to each pore of your skin is something that gives you a joy that you realize is something that we people take for granted. We went in November, hence the cold weather was something to enjoy as well… Some of these glimpses will give you a better idea.
Overall this trek was a mix of both nature trail, wild mountains, and most importantly a different culture altogether. However, there are many infamous terrains in the Himalayas that I’m planning to visit, and get more experiences as these. My list of places in Himalayas would be:
1 Everest Base Camp
2. Gomukh Gangotri trek
3. Kangra Valley trek
4. Parvati Valley
6. Trekking extensively in Ladakh, Spiti
7. Dalhousie trek
8. Saur Kund and Saur Pass trek.
9. Kailash Manasarovar
10. Har Ki Dhun.
As an avid traveler, travel blogger and trekker, I encourage a lot of people to try out experiences in Himalayas, for I can’t tell you how it is, you have to experience it yourself to know better. Hope this answer helps people travel to India and experience Himalayas themselves…
He stopped by the river looking up in the sky… He didn’t hesitate to randomly stare at the wilderness around the place! A gentle splash of water on his exerted face… And everything seemed all right!
So he had already realized that a lot of distance from the top of the mountain had been covered. He also thought about the parts that were up ahead of this tricky journey, one that hadn’t yet actually started. After many years of trying to understand what connected him to the magic of the mountains and why he kept seeing the beautiful images again and again during the slumber of the night he realized it now… He had always been a fan of the terrain, being an avid mountaineer and generally being fond of exploring Himalayas he knew that this was going to be something he would do for sure. This time around though he had taken a huge break, a break to backpack all the way to the daunting mountains and figure out how far could he go. He already had a history of a lot of ardouous journeys that he had covered up until now. Taking across this long and tiring journey was something he had prepared himself for.
He had to get all the way to the mountains called Tahilla. After crossing a lot of mountains enroute the top most part across this no man’s land in a terrain that had not been trodden upon for many years. A glimpse of a few nomads and some local wanderers is all you could get around this part of the world. Sometimes you would go for days and weeks without coming across any soul on the land of the lost. But he didn’t worry so much about the pitfalls of getting lost… For he knew what direction he had to follow. He had instincts, one of an avid mountaineer, he could capture trails, one similar to a hunter. He had all those qualities that he acquired sublimally over a period of a decade of traveling across such mountains. He knew that this quest of his was one of the most important. Why? he asked himself sometimes… An answer to which took him back… always to ask himself another question… ‘Why not??’
15 years ago his grandfather had died… He always was the reason for him to get inspired into hauling away across all these mountains. They always spoke in detail about the various terrains and the kind of forrests they were engulfed amongst. There were a lot of maps and epigraphs with charts that his grandfather always carried along with him. Shange, (meant Buddha) as he was named by his grandfather knew a lot of the secrets of various destinations across these terrains. Some tough, some rough and most of them always ordained with various different levels of challenge! The ones that called upon the most ardouous travellers to push the envelope and try and fight the harsh conditions to come across various hazards of a journey into the wilderness and into the unknown. Only to discover a secret and a very important key peice of puzzle that no one had solved before. Shange’s grandfather always knew that this quest was not one of the empty types. Many a times he told Shange to keep an eye on the odd things and certain trails that were easily spotted to take twists and turns. Yet, they challenged each other at points to figure out short cuts to different points. Tough, but faster to reach… Many a times when they went hiking, they always closely observed the nature around themselves. They always meticulously detailed out their plans to pick up peices of references or traces that could be useful in one of the future revelations on the journey as it traversed through these terrains. There were a lot of clues and a lot of references from various other places. One that were quite relevant to this journey of his. A treasure hunt of sorts, so to speak. And by the time he had reached the first river, he knew that the journey had now begun and it was going to be a completely different escapade from here on…
“This is where I’ll set up my tent tongiht…. Looks good enough to camp…” he said to himself with a sigh of exertion and tiredness that he could feel beyond his bones…
He stopped by the river looking up in the sky… He didn’t hesitate to randomly stare at the wilderness around the place! A gentle splash of water on his exerted face… And everything seemed all right!
He dug across the path which raked in between the crooked boulders on the mountain. There were trenches, ditches, twisted turns and slippery paths to walk. The trail was the most difficult at this part of the mountain. He looked beyond the broad horizon, one that was starkly glowing in his face. The sunset across the mountains penetrated the entire region with its golden rays and the entire valley. Because of its desert like terrain the sky gleamed with effervescence surrounding the entire mountain ranges. It was hard to not keep staring in the sky and ponder upon the journey… The journey that he had taken wandering about the trodden paths of the most adverse conditions on the trek of his.
He had begun the journey when there was no Sun… The entire terrain was covered in fog… But it was only a matter of time, before it showed up. In fact at one point it was up in the sky dolling out its scorching heat, which was unbearable to him. He held his hand across his eyes touching his forehead. He twisted his woolen cap to cover his face, away from the beaming rays striking at him with an acute sharpness of its penetrating aura. He knew that the trail he had left was quite a long one. One that let him do his soul searching on his journey across the terrain. One that let him think and introspect upon his past and his present. One that told him of the heights that needed to be conquered. One that showed him how a traversal like this will help him dig deep into his consciousness. A journey that made him realize how mystically important this learning of life meant to him. A journey that helped him become what he was today…
He couldn’t judge how humongous and widely spread this entire place was. As geographically vast and surmountable the terrain was it was nothing compared to the journey he had already finished, in order to finally reach the land which he lusted for many years. The land that he had thought about all his life. A place that was on his bucket list forever and this moment was something that he had always longed for.
But the real question was very tricky. As tricky as probably the slippery slopes he had overcome…
Why had he taken that journey? Why had he made this trek? Why?? What was he doing out there?
The quest to the soul within himself. The quest to the journey that was always in his mind…
This was his answer to that question… The answer to the question that he asked himself forever… Always, right from the time he had started traveling. Right from the time he had set upon himself the quest to wander the world, not just on the outside, but on the inside too. From the time that he had realized how his mind started reacting to the travel bug that had bit him…
An answer that changed his life …
“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.”
This was a few months back when we were trekking in the North Eastern Himalayas… The Sandakphu trek to be precise. Every once in a while you meet spirits that give you such great vision of your own life that you can’t even imagine what heights you can reach.
Buddhist Philosopher, educator & peace builder Daisaku Ikeda once said
“The human spirit is as expansive as the cosmos. This is why it is so tragic to belittle yourself or to question your worth. No matter what happens, continue to push back the boundaries of your inner life. The confidence to prevail over any problem, the strength to overcome adversity and unbound hope – all reside within you.”
This story is a true depiction of how this really applies. A lot of times we are so overwhelmed by the many tasks which we give utmost importance to, we tend to forget the real reason we are here on this planet. Many times we focus on the tasks which have no underlying purpose or very little importance, that we forget what we can do if we stop thinking in boundaries or shed the limits. This story tells us how we as adults have stopped imagining behind certain boundaries and stopped pushing the envelope when it comes to achieving something.
While trekking the Himalayas, we came across a small monastery in the Nepal side on the Indo-Nepal border. Jaobari village to be precise. We decided to visit the monastery and spend some time while catching our breath. We met the monk who lived there, Shange Norbu. Shange is another word for Buddha, he proudly told us. He gave us information about the monastery. He also told us that he teaches the kids there. We could see some kids playing outside eating some porridge in a small bowl. When we went inside, what was most striking was the utter peace and serenity which made the monastery quite blissful. Besides the striking calm, we realized that it was much warmer inside than it was outside. So that was quite a relief as we knew we had to trek a lot more and climb about 10 kms with a steep ascent.
While the others were resting, I decided to take a stroll around and click some pictures around. After getting a few shots of the breath-taking view I headed a little further, I met this kid. The kid was very playful and he was enjoying himself and doing just nothing. Generally this is probably the last point where civilization ends and the terrains start. A few houses here and there, otherwise the whole plateau after this is just mountain ranges. So most tourists who have come, would stop going further at this point while the trekkers move on to climb the magnificent Himalayas.
With a really nice winter cap covering his ears and a denim jacket to keep him warm, he looked very comfortable and was in his own world. His smile was innocent and his brown eyes were like deep ocean. He had a stick with him, which he held on to very closely. I took a few pictures of his and tried to initate conversation. But communication in a common language was a mystery to the both of us. We resorted to our body language and yes, eye contact… He smiled at me, I smiled back… Then he put his hands to his head.. A gesture to tell me something. Probably, to show me that he had great imagination. Imagination that made his mind greater than the regular one. To me it looked pretty much like the thing Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory does when he stares at you and tries to get your brain to explode… But obviously this gesture had a different meaning altogether.
Nonetheless, after a few exchange of glances and communication through our eyes, he said something… something which I didn’t understand but I asked Shange to translate, who was standing nearby. He laughed when he heard what the kid said. That made me even more curious as to what was this kid saying. I asked him to translate it to me and this is what he said.
“If you go on top, the tiger will come and kill you… But don’t worry, I’ll help you and fight him off with this stick.”
I’m not kidding, that’s exactly what he said, according to the monk. Hence the laugh. But I was blown away, blown away by the astronomical level of thinking and ultimate confidence within himself. Now, I’m pretty sure, he was told stories of great white tigers in the Singalila National Park stretch of Sandakphu. One that ‘we’ know do not exist, stories of great ‘dragon warriors’, which we think are myths and kings who have slayed tigers with their bare hands. Considering that, using a stick to kill a tiger is definitely something which is easy for him, now isn’t it?? Something he believes in and in his world, that’s how the ending of this story is. Him emerging victorious and a saviour to my life. The great hero of Jaobari as I’d like to call him. Come to think of it, it could be achieved scientifically if you hit the right spots, but that’s a different point altogether.
Do you remember as kids we had so many dreams and for us boundaries meant nothing. Do you remember as kids we wanted to go to space as astronauts, we wanted to become actors, we wanted to become cricketers and a lot more… What happened to those dreams? All that was possible and for some it became a reality. For a those who couldn’t get there, well, it’s never too late…
We have to stop putting boundaries to our thoughts, limitations, and stop compromising by just saying, life is a compromise. Actually when I recollect this story, I truly feel it isn’t… As Daisaku Ikeda says, The confidence to prevail over any problem, the strength to overcome adversity and unbound hope – all reside within you. How many of you have realized this?
After having spent more than a week wandering across mountains of Himalayas, with a hope to witness the beauty of the Kanchenjunga we had hoped for a better ending especially when we had reached Sandakphu. Bearing the freezing cold of Sandakphu at 14000 feet was all worth it and could have been a complete experience, had we witnessed to see the Kanchenjunga peaks up close and personal especially from the top most point of that beautiful location. Nonetheless, we salvaged some of the situation after our alighting to Gurdum was truly enchanted by the stay there. Since we got down sooner than on other days, we had a lot more time to spend in Gurdum and we had made the most of it with the beautiful, serene and silent cottage at that camp.
While we did that, we were really hopeful that there was a lot more to the Himalayan trek than just this… Sadly, the time for the trek was about to come to an end. We were to alight to the final destination on this trek after Gurdum camp. Yes, of course, there would be civilization, local markets, hot water to shower, lesser cold and very little clenching of teeth… But that was all worth it when you come up to these heights. A world of it’s own, you began to be enchanted and somewhere deep in your mind make up a world of your own… Something that you would always want to enjoy without having to let go of the experiences that you underwent. We all had that kind of a feeling. The place was much more relaxed, by this time all of us had began to understand each other a lot more. Some had drifted from their regular group and joined others… We had bonded very well in a span of this week… Once we reach the basecamp, we knew all that was going to be over… With our goodbyes and farewells, we knew we may not be able to spend much time later. So I guess, this was that one last trip as they say… One last shot at making the most of our entire journey.
With that thought in our mind, we set off on a journey towards civilization, a last descend downwards to the chaos of life. One that we all had missed for days, but never complained. Such was this journey and such are treks of these kinds, especially in the Himalayan terrains, terrains where there is peace and redemption.
We started our last trekking bit on this expedition with a stride in our step and a heavy heart… Nonetheless, we had to make sure that this last journey was going to be full of great memories and beautiful pictures. We were hoping this terrain to be a bit different.
On our way we met Mhane Chandra. He was going up to cut firewood. To him, this sickle is going to be a life, a life full of what his parents told him about… A life full of dreams and a life that will provide him and his family what they need… But who will guarantee that these forests and the trees will last long? A question that I wonder for his future…
While alighting, we found a few small villages within the mountains. There we also found this. And this was something which took my breath away and held my head high and hands close to my forehead, to salute the heroism of this small village within the descents of the great eastern Himalayas. This is a great story of a local lad, who gave his life for our Country… It’s a War Memorial in this Sherpa’s name… of the Gorkha regiment… A salute to Norgyal Sherpa.
This was one of the popular landmarks on this route. Once you know you’ve reached the Srikhola River, you know you’re 5 kms away from Rimbick.
That’s Nishengleng, cute kid… we were walking past her school and she saw my camera.. She said, take my picture… We did and she said Namaste to us… besides the picture, she enjoyed some great candies which we dished out
From then on, it was just a little bit for us to walk to the base camp… And that would mark the end of a journey, beginning of a cherished memoirs something to remember for…
After having conquered the great heights, our next two days of trekking was all about the descent. As much as people would love to say that I like to descend down on treks of these scales, I’d have to say, it’s easy for the ones with strong knees. You might get exhausted and find it tiring to climb up, but as long as your thighs and calves are strong, you won’t have to worry at all… But no matter how resistant and enduring your fitness is, there’s little you can do to work those tiring knees when you come down.
Having said that, the journey becomes all the more enjoyable as there is no fatigue and there is very little amount of time you keep thinking… ‘Are we there yet?’ Also you feel a lot more relaxed when you do stop by whenever you want to take a break, which again is reduced as compared to the number of times you take a break while climbing up.
Our descent started early in the morning around 8 AM. The sky was not yet as clear as we hoped it to be. If it was, we’d have given another shot to go to the top, just for the breathtaking view of Kanchenjunga and Mt. Everest from the highest point. Sadly, that was not something we could manage… Nonetheless, our journey was going to be great anyways and I’d made up my mind that I’d stay far ahead so that we reach soon and relax at Gurdum. I was told Gurdum had a really peaceful and serene basecamp… It was pleasant and really cozy… One of our fellow trekkers had done this trek before and from what I heard, I really wanted to reach there soon.
The day began with a walk down the woods… Before crossing a couple of valleys we had to cross through these woods… Brilliant weather for a brilliant start of the day…
Doesn’t this make for a perfect picture for those trekker’s calendar?? My friends, Sanjay and Twisha, gazing across the horizon while we stopped to take some rest after a while…
After a few hours, we reached the Gurdum camp, and I wasn’t surprised, for Twisha had told me about the beauty of this camp.. Here is my first view to an amazing Rose blooming outside our camp cottage.
While roses and other flowers attracted our attention, apparently we attracted this beautiful dog’s attention… We met him just about a few kms before we reached the camp and he lead us through till the end…
That’s Balram, our guide, washing his shoes, his livelihood, with sheer intensity… This must have been his 63rd trek to Sandakphu and he just doesn’t seem get tired of it… I can imagine why..
While Gurdum wasn’t so cold, we certainly enjoyed the beautiful view and the most amazing serenity that spread across the camp. Most importantly as soon as we touched down, we got amazing soup and some really nice veg momos… Truly tasty I tell ya… But the best thing about this camp had to be this bench from where I took this picture… A place to sit and ponder across the horizon.. A horizon as beautiful as it gets… Wonder about the mystery of nature without worrying about the worldly pursuits that keep bothering your otherwise idyllic minds…
As much as I didn’t want to think about it, the thought already creeped into my mind… Tomorrow’s the last day of the trek and the final descent of this beautiful journey… Sigh…