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An Everlasting Moment

We 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.

This 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 heart!

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…….



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