Tag Archives: Trekking

Mountains Calling

20130614-084808.jpg

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.

20130614-085652.jpg

20130614-085732.jpg

20130614-085751.jpg

20130614-085706.jpg

20130614-090011.jpg

20130614-090029.jpg

Advertisements

Wandering Thinker & a Pondering Writer – Travelogues – 3

The river, it gently strode across the path… a path along which he walked. An indication of the ever changing life around him… An indication of the grotesque way his memories surrounded him…

He had already cleared the tougher parts of the first mountain on this trek… He was on top of the mountain and could get a clear view. A clear view of the entire valley. A valley that amassed a humongous stretch of the beautiful Indus River! A river that engulfed the terrain with its misty eyed stoned somber look. One could just flow into the serenity that this river had to offer. Serenity that you see when you look at the most beautiful girl you have ever seen. That look of awe and that of a crush you have for the look in her eyes, for that beautiful smile on her face. For a moment your entire life with her flashes in front of you. That’s the exact look he had in his eyes when he gazed across the horizon to find the beauty stretching across the valley and numbingly staring back at him.

He knew he had to walk many a miles further from that point on… But he also knew that the journey had truly begun now. At the pinnacle of the first mountain he climbed, the one of many more to come on this not so expectant trail of his. A trail that he had to take to surmount all the odds. And the odds that he was up against weren’t small. Certainly not by a mile. He looked at certain aspects of this journey as a triumph yet he knew this was a very small milestone that he had achieved in the grander scheme of things. His inspiration was not just the mountains, but the journey towards a destination to unravel a mystery of the enchanted mountains… One that had so much more to reveal.

He had set foot not just to conquer the mountains and search for his soul within but also the mystery the mountains held behind its gazing eyes. A travelogue that he was ready to write once he conquered the fear within. He had sketched out a plan to ensure that his destination was reached come hell or high water. He didn’t know what journey he was on… But he knew he enjoyed it a lot up until this point… A lot more than the benevolent lifestyle he had lived under the comforts of his four walls and the general rut of life. It was time that this journey helped him overcome his fear, a fear of stagnation and total annihilation from the constant bond of the comforts attached with the meager perks of a menial life.

He had decided that if he was successful in this venture of his it would attain significant value to his much denied existence of a wanderer. His life of a relic had to begin sooner than he thought… That was the true beginning of his life… One that he had thought would never come… Going back and introspecting on the life he had been living for days, weeks, months and years till today. He had to do it… Break the rut and get on to a path of the unknown. Unknown it was, yet it had a depth… A depth of the river like he walked by…

The river, it gently strode across the path… a path along which he walked. An indication of the ever changing life around him… An indication of the grotesque way his memories surrounded him…

 

 

 

Wandering Thinker & a Pondering writer – Travelogues – 2

Without the sound of the wind in my face I’ll never know how far I have to go…Without it on my back, I’ll never know how far I could have gone…

He knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that he would give up before the destination arrived. He knew the tricky paths were going to be the most challenging ones to conquer. But it had to be done. No matter what time it took or how much of his energy went into this ordeal. He had taken this upon himself to ensure that the cumbersome path of the mountains had to be climbed. He took along his kit with himself. Packed a little ligher than usual… this way he knew he’d be able to push himself much harder than he actually could with a heavier backpack. He checked that he brought along the most essential items, like a jacket, sleeping bag, accesories and a small portable stove, some food, fruits, a trekkers knife and some water to help him with his parched throat from time to time. Not to forget a small medical kit that could come handy for the rough rides or downfalls he would be up against. Without a lot of thought put in, he had quickly made a decision to climb the mountains and endure the worst that he had ever experienced.

When he started the trek it wasn’t that bright. There was no Sun… The entire terrain was covered in fog… But it was only a matter of time, before it showed up. He looked around after a while, there was a break of light. He could see the sun hiding beneath the clouds shedding rays of light across the mountains. He could see the beautiful mountains all across. He could take a slight peek at the corner of the eye, staring into the sun which was rising up fast and then look away to the snow covered peaks that shone right up in his face. He had an expression on his face that could tell easily how much bliss he was experiencing when he saw those mountains. He knew that despite the challenge, the very fact that he’d be up there sometime was something that gave him a lot of joy… Something that told him that everything was going to be worth it. A definitive moment of confidence and exuberance showed up on his face, slowly girnning, looking up in the sky, sighing and smiling to himself he realized that it was time for the journey to begin. Slowly pacing himself and  briskly walknig across the crooked paths he started humming to himself… To control his breathing and to make sure that he doesn’t exert himself mentally. He started taking longer and slower steps as he walked on the tracks that became steeper at parts. His humming subsiding and some panting that began increasing. He hadn’t done this for a long time… Even though he had got some practice before he began ths journey, it was the first time he faced a track like this… after a long time. Nonetheless he knew this was going to get edgier and more challenging as he went further… All he could do is smile to himself and say, “It needs to be done…” There were times when he did give up… before getting up after a bit of rest and some water, to speak to himself in his mind, “It needs to be done…”  Sometimes foggy, sometimes sunny and suddenly cloudy, he got all bits of the weather, right up untill he reached the open space and the mountains curving into give a straight path without the covering mountains nearby. Suddenly it had become all clear. Suddenly there was a lot more for him to see and to experience. He loved the beautiful mountains staring right at his face. He loved the smell of the green at places and the breeze blowing into his face. He looked up in the clear blue sky and thought to himself,

“How far do I have to go? How far have I already gone?” 

Then he just looked at his compass, look up straight ahead… grin a little bit and adjust his backpack. Quickly he’d start walking again and the smile giving away his secret… A secret that kept him going always, especially in the windy mountains like these…

Without the sound of the wind in my face I’ll never know how far I have to go…Without it on my back, I’ll never know how far I could have gone…

 

 

 

Wandering Thinker & a Pondering Writer – Travelogues – 1

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.” 

The Tiger Kid of Himalayas…

Himalayas, Nepal, Jaobari, India, Travel, Mountains, Trekking,

Jaobari Terrains of HiImalayas

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.

Buddhism, Monastery, Dalai Lama, Monk, Spirituality, Himalayas

Shange Norbu of Jaobari Monastery

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.

The Tiger Kid of Himalayas

The Tiger Kid of 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?

Mhane Chandra – What Future Holds??

Freezing cold at Sandakphu base camp was something we managed to get acclimatized to. After climbing 14000 feet from the other side of Nepal and feeling on top of the world we had embraced the joy of the cold weather and at the same time the soreness of climbing such heights was quite a battle. Having said that, we had also embraced one downhill descent from Sandakphu to Gurdum. That was a bit of an ordeal, especially for those weak in their knees… No pun intended 😉

During our entire duration of the trek, Gurdum base camp was one of the best ones as most of us managed to climb down quite easily, though nurturing some levels of knees and joints pain, time taken and the stress plus energy burnt was much lesser than earlier ones. The flipside of it was since there was no ascent, most places we had to be careful of our stepping and ensure that we didn’t lose our balance at certain stages.

We stayed in Gurdum overnight, enjoyed delicious soup and fantastic veg momos for snacks! Even the dinner was one of the best and it really felt like we had a sumptuous meal after our arduous journey had been completed. Now we just had to alight Gurdum and reach our final destination (Rimbick) This was again a descent and there was hardly anything that we thought would bother us during this trek. Having said that, sometimes it’s just not your body but also your mind that takes a toll during this trek. It’s something that we think we can manage, but a lot of times struggle doing the same… I guess that’s why trekking is not just a physical but a mental challenge too.

Nonetheless, once we woke up in Gurdum, early in the morning, we decided to go down soon and camp at the final destination. Since it was the last destination of the trek, we wanted to make the best out of it. At least that was the plan. So we quickly started descending the mountain and the terrains called for some really amazing and breathtaking views. Although we did stop at places to ensure we got to enjoy the view, we didn’t wait for a long while…

After trekking for about a couple of hours we could hear a few sounds. We were surprised as mostly very few people came on top from this route… But nonetheless, we thought there might be some locals who wander off here or come to cut trees… We imagined it could be a wood cutter. Someone who has come on top and probably climbs day in and day out to cut wood. So we didn’t think about it as much. We told ourselves in a joking manner, imagine how much weight the person would be losing everyday and how many calories he would be burning. As it is most of the times we go on a trek, we end up losing a few pounds, and once we resume our sedimentary lifestyle, we end up getting all that back. I wonder how fit that person would be who would come to cut wood here climbing at least 11 kms everyday, I said…

As I said that, I just saw someone climb on the hairpin bend across the mountain below… I was looking elsewhere and slowly my glance went towards him… What I saw was something that made me think, ‘What did I say?’ I felt so bad that I even thought about something like this… Although not my fault, I really felt guilty at making assumptions about something or someone whom I didn’t even know. And what I saw wasn’t something that pleased my eyes as much.

Rather this is who I saw.

Sikkim, Darjeeling, Sandakphu, Gurdum, Rimbick

Mhane Chandra

Meet, Mhane Chandra! 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…

I felt so bad, that I promptly removed a packet of biscuits that the camp leader had given earlier and handed it over to him. At that time, that was the best I could do for him. I tried talking to him for a bit, but he wasn’t the kind who would speak a lot. Must be that his dad was behind or maybe not. Couldn’t really talk to him for he didn’t know our language. He just said, that he’s going up to get some wood to take home. Then he smiled and walked away…

Rimbick Basecamp

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.

Himalayas, Sandakphu, Darjeeling
The final journey begins…

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.

Villager Farmboy
Mhane Chandra

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 there was descent, we had to walk through some of these paths, where we had to carefully tread along the sides and worry about not slipping down the cliff…
Norgyal Sherpa Memorial

Norgyal Sherpa Memorial

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.

Srikhola River
Srikhola River

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.

Bridge over Srikhola River
Bridge over Srikhola River
Nishing Leng
Nishing Leng
Nishing Leng
Nishing Leng

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…