had been trekking all day in the challenging yet glorious
routes that wind their way through the Garhwal Himalayas.
Even though we were almost a group of 40 people, there were
only around 10 of us doing this trek mainly because it was
strenuous and there could’ve been no hitch hiking half
way if we wanted to give up….so the organisers made
sure that it was only the serious trekkers who would go on.
We had been camping in Harsil for some days and were shifting
base to a lesser known place called Lanka (technically an
Army base) very close to the Tibetan border and en route to
Gangotri. The rest of the gang was going to travel by a coach
with most of the equipment while we were to set off early
in the morning so that we reached our destination before nightfall
as it was around a 10 hour trek.
was my first time anywhere in the Garhwal…and whatever
I’d read about it in the books did no justice to what
I was experiencing. We’d already done some great treks
from the Harsil base camp…which I think lives up to
its reputation for being the most scenic spot in the Garhwal
Himalayas, but this trail really beat them all. Not only did
our guide take us through the most intrepid routes….the
steep mountains on one side with the river flowing powerfully
below us, but also got us to cross a little hamlet that was
literally totally cut off.
The locals were really welcoming and warm and we decided to
make a brief chai stop….which was welcome not only for
the sake of resting but also to take in the transparency and
genuineness of these locals. None of us could understand what
they spoke and yet we were able to have an amazing conversation.
They had so little (materially) but so much to offer and share
as humans!! And the setting seemed so surreal…..the
majestic snow capped peaks acting as a perfect backdrop….the
powerful Ganges, which though could not be seen from where
we were, made its presence felt by the thundering roar…and
this little village of perhaps 15 huts nestled right in the
Ruefully, we all made our way onwards….and due to the
treacherous paths in the mountains, had to trek in a single
file. Somewhere in the bargain, I realised that I had fallen
behind the guys who were in front of me, and the lot that
was supposed to be behind me had obviously stopped to take
some snapshots. So here I was with absolutely no one in sight
except for a ravine and a breathtaking view, though with not
much to worry about as the path is marked so one knows which
direction to go in. I stopped to breathe in the silence and
felt that overpowering sensation that the mountains can inspire!!!
My blissful reverie was broken when I heard the cacophony
of noise and knew that the guys behind had caught up.
When we realised that the toughest part of the day was over
(we’d been trekking for almost 7hours), the moods seemed
to get merrier and the spirits were high and the whole lot
was literally dancing on the road (the last7kms were on the
main road) singing ‘Kallu Mama’ (a big hit those
days) at the top of our lungs. Another bit of fun arrived
in the form of our bus load of comrades who happened to pass
us somewhere around then…falling out of the windows
waving out to us!
About one km away from the campsite, we decided to take one
last break, a great setting to see the sunset right on an
outcrop in the mountain…..and a hush fell over the whole
group. It was as if everyone suddenly felt the need to pay
reverence to something that is so pure, so sacred and so inspiring……the
Mountains!!!!! I think that sunset stirred something in all
of us…. If it was difficult to get people moving from
that cosy hamlet, you should have seen the effort our guide
had to make to get us moving from here. The last kilometer
was the quietest….everyone seemed pensive and thoughtful…..
as if we were headed towards an end to something beautiful
even though till an hour back most of the gang couldn’t
wait to get to the camp. When we arrived we had this great
reception committee and bajjis and chai ready for us to devour,
but somewhere somehow all of us were in unspoken agreement
that we’d been a part of something that truly belonged
to another world….. It’s hard to describe, but
I can safely say that that moment was when I decided and knew
that this is where
my heart belongs…..what makes me truly happy!
As for the moods…well, some of us incorrigible ones
decided to set off on a night hike, and found ourselves sprawled
in the middle of the road staring at the silhouette of the
range, star gazing and just wishing that we could live in
that moment forever…….