Monthly Archives: June 2013

Traversing through Chang La pass

One of the most amazing destinations in Ladakh is the Pangong Tso Lake. The beauty of this huge multi-colored lake is that 30 percent of the lake is in India while the rest of the seventy percent is layered in China across the border that stretches from there. On our way to Pangong Tso, we encounter the Chang La pass.

It is certainly an enchanting place and something that would come very close to actually riding across Khardung la pass, (the highest motorable road in the world) and Chang La is the third highest. at  5,360 m or 17,590 ft)  The name literally means “Pass towards the South” or “Pass in the South” (Chang = south, La = Pass). It is falsely claimed that the pass is named after the supposed sadhu Changla Baba, a myth propagated by the dedication of a temple at the pass to the supposed Changla Baba. If any such sadhu exists or existed, he would have been named for the pass, rather than vice versa (since the name “changla baba” means the “baba of the southern pass”. The small town of Tangste is the nearest settlement. The Changla Pass is the main gateway for the Changthang Plateau situated in the Himalayas. The nomadic tribes of the region are collectively known as the Changpa or Chang-pa.

Pangong Tso, Ladakh, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India, travel, himalayas

Mountains on our road towards Pangong Tso

Snow covered mountains and greenery at the same time

Snow covered mountains and greenery at the same time

A frozen pond...

A frozen pond…

As we come close to Chang La

As we come close to Chang La

The Frozen Mountains of Chang La

The Frozen Mountains of Chang La

Chang La Pass

Chang La Pass

Route to Kalipokhri Village

Kala Pokhri (3186 m) is a small Himalayan village inside the Singalila National Park in the Darjeeling subdivision, Darjeeling district in the state of West Bengal, India. It lies on the trekking route from Mane Bhanjang to Sandakphu (the highest peak in West Bengal), and is roughly halfway between the steep final stretch of the trek from Gairibas to Sandakphu. “Pokhri” means “lake” and “kala” means “dark” in Nepali, and the village is named after a local lake with dark waters.

It is also the second camps en route the Sandakphu trek in the North Eastern Himalayas where you traverse across Darjeeling and get into some small villages of Nepal and head back into Darjeeling via Gurdum. And yes after you’ve crossed Tumling, you have entered for the first time in Nepal.

Now, for those who have done the trek, would know that the route to Kalapokhri has to be the steepest and one of the higher climbs as compared to any other, until of course you carve your feet out of the Himalayas from there on towards Sandakphu.

This journey is as beautiful as it could get. We started early in the morning, foggy and misty with a lot of silence across this journey. With ocassional rainfall, we did take some small stops before we decided to briskly climb up this route.  Some pictures from that trek.

Kalapokhri, West Bengal, Kanchenjunga, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Nepal, Himalayas

As soon as we left Tumling, we left behind these siblings

 

Nepal, Kalapokhri, Sandakphu, Darjeeling, HImalayas

Following the misty trail across Nepal border

 

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You can see the Indian villages down from up top in Nepal

 

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As you reach Kalapokhri, the ascend gets tougher

On the left side is India and on the right is Nepal

On the left side is India and on the right is Nepal

 

By the time you get to Kalapokhri, you’d be quite tired, but at the same time admire the fascinating and very quiet village, some of them playing Nepali songs on the radio and small huts with people sitting near the fireplace seeking some warmth that you’d end up getting relaxed all by yourself right there… One of the best routes on this trek for sure…

Seeking peace and serenity in Tumling

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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To the people of Uttarakhand

A couple of years ago, my travel trails took me here…

Rudraprayag

Rudraprayag

Badrinath

Badrinath

Near Badrinath

Astounded with the beauty of the mountains, coupled by the flowing multiple confluences  of the river Ganga along with other rivers such as Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Pindar this place has an aspiring sense of tranquility and most serene and yet roaring its guts out to engulf you into its madness. Every bit of the road that we traveled back then from Rishikesh to Joshimath to Govindghat to Ghagaria and later on towards Badrinath, we remember being surrounded by the mighty confluences and the flowing water all along. The gutso this river shows as it emerges from the Vishnu Prayag on the Alaknanda river covers a major part of Uttarakhand. We were of course during our journey told that there will be times when we might be in the midst of landslides and we will have all that is needed with the help of the Indian Army / BRO who keep a close watch on such landslides. In fact, there were a couple of occasions when we were stuck and had to make our way walking across the mountains and board another bus to move forward. Another occasion I distinctly remember is our bus swaying while the landslide commenced and narrowly escaping while I could see some rocks and smaller boulders fall down upon the mountains.

Landslide Landslide 2

Today when I look at all the devastation in the NEWS channels and all across the newspapers, my heart goes out to the people, who’re stranded, lived or who passed away in this enormous region of Uttarakhand! They live there knowing this is certain for sure and this is something they won’t be easily able to escape, come the time of such a natural calamity. Yet, to these people and their villages, they have no other way out.  Truly there are very few words to describe this wrath of nature that has happened. As much as possible, we can try to salvage the fact that the brave Indian Army and relief workers are trying their best to help folks out there. To many sitting on their couches or inside the comforts of their homes, it would be a trivial endeavor and of course many could just pray for the situation to be handled to its best. While some of us of course would try to help out in whatever way they could as we sit here and watch the devastation in horror.

 

Rishikesh

Reminds, me of how, such beauty that I encountered was always and will always be at the disposal of a world, a world that keeps deteriorating time and again all because of human need and that’s where nature decides  to give it back. It’s very sad, but us humans need to understand that this is just the beginning. Unless we strive towards making a better earth or a better planet this is going to keep on continuing.

Words fail me in that endeavor but as I sit here in front of my laptop, helpless to do much, I tell myself only this… Look for a better tomorrow, for the nature around you is just an encompassing mirror of what you do and how you show your beliefs, for it can come back real hard and bite you where it hurts the most…

P.S: If you want to contribute towards relief efforts of Uttarakhand, check out http://goonj.org/  Something I looked up and went ahead and contributed too. You can donate, food, clothes or if not, you can donate any sum of money if you’d like. The least you can do to help relief, rehabilitation ‘To the people of Uttarakhand.’

Mountains Calling

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The time to wander off in the valley is here. Every year, around this time there is a deep calling that rakes within my heart and reaches out to me saying, it’s time. I have a strong feeling to always go with the flow and decide to challenge myself to walk those huge mountainous paths and whisper to myself in an enchanting manner, “How I wish I’d always live here and never go back to the buzz of the world.” It’s time that I listened to my heart and gave in to the beauty of the wondrous Himalayas.

Somehow, for the last four years, I’ve always been pulled into it’s gazing destiny and hope to keep getting attracted time and again, for the fascination will never end. An amazing amount of solace and brilliance is always breathtaking in a literal sense, that I cannot forgo that attraction and cannot choose to ignore it. So, whenever the mountains call me, I’m there… I have to find my way, fix myself a ticket to go up north in India and take the same old routes across these mountains with my backpack treading towards what I’d like to call an eternal ritual towards redemption from the routine.

I’ve been thinking of doing the Himachal this year, hoping to get a break maybe sometime soon. Hopefully if I do, you’ll certainly get to read about my plans and once I come back, about the escapade that I encountered. In the meantime, here are some fantabulous pictures of my earlier treks.

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