Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mysterious Roopkund..Hidden is more beautiful than obvious



"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life."
                                         
   Henry David Thoreau

                                               
These lines from Walden Pond by Thoreau have always summed up my zest for life,for my need to be in mountains and to live as close to mountains as i could.As you shall be with me on my journey to Roopkund which I couldn't reach due to inclement weather conditions and massive landslides at Uttrakhand, I realized nature doesn't reveal itself that easily.I saw fury of nature and and left with a promise that I shall return.This trip was enriching for I met so many amazing people.I came as a solo trekker on this trip but had three amazing friends at end of it.I received more than I could give..
pure undiluted love,vistas of nature and break from the monotony and cacophony into realms which were magical.I wrote a diary on trek with each days account and it somehow speaks how my mind and heart felt back then:)


14th and 15th June:
I booked my trek with Trek The Himalayas for 15th June2013.On night of 14th i left for Kathgodam via bus (never travel with Kalpana Travels). Bus promised to leave at 9.30 pm but it didn't leave before 12.10am.So it was massive chaos at Anand Vihar ISBT.Thank God I had my sister for company.So finally my bus left for Kathgodam and I was thrilled and skeptical too.Due to landslides on the way my bus reached Kathgodam at around 8 am.I alighted at Kathgodam Railway station where we all trekkers had to meet.I boarded the bus which was to take us to Lohagunj from Kathgodam.There were around 8 people who introduced themselves as Banglore group.I sat on the last seat not quite sure how journey of 12 hours would be. Bangalore group starting chit chatting in their regional language and to be honest,I started feeling bored.Finally a girl gets into a bus,says a hello and sits on seat before mine.After 4 minutes she introduces herself..Hi,I am Toolika and i am from Lucknow.I heave a sigh of relief.We both click instantly.We shared love for mountains among varied others.The girl was nothing short of extraordinary.She had climbed Mount Everest alone with two sherpas in summer of 2012 and had developed frostbite in her feet but she continued climbing.So our journey passed singing and hearing stories of her extraordinary mettle. We had our breakfast of aloo ka paranthas and roamed in orchids and delicious gulab jamuns.We reached lohajung at 10 pm at night.
                                                    on way to lohajung

 For me it was a I bone breaking bus ride first from Delhi to Kathgodam and then to Lohagunj.It was raining heavily.Toolika and me get into quaint little room.We met our fellow trekkers there.We had dinner with rajma,rice,pumpkin and chappatis.We meet our team leader Prakash who briefs us about the trip.W e have hot cup of tea to end the bludgeoning road trip. It was a foggy and dreamy day.Rain drenched soul,foggy realms and cool wind in my hair and lush greenery all around.No sun in sight,but in that rainy day i could see my free liberated soul.This trek was special in many ways mainly because we never knew what would happen next.So it was adventure in real sense.This was not sort of trip where Sun is shining and everything goes as per plan.It was different.Plans were laid bare.We were living life moment to moment,enjoying every bit of it,dangling in uncertainties and going on trails which people seldom followed.
 
                                 foggy realms

                                                      Toolika enjoying gulab jamuns
                                               on way to didina in rain


16th June

I got up early in morning and it is still raining,raining and nothing else.Torrential rains and complete white out. We all kept staring at sky hoping that rain would stop but it just didn't relent.We were supposed to leave for Didina at 8.30 am but it didnt happen due to rains.Finally our team leader Prakash said that we will leave at 11.45 am for Didina in spite of the rains.We were happy that at least our journey had started but were skeptical about our onward journey if rains continued.Thus began our rainy journey and failure of all rainproof stuff.Some important things i wish to share..always carry a backpack cover,put your stuff in polythene bags in rucksack,carry extra polythene,don't buy ponchos from lohajung,they are useless.
I was drenched to core,my Quechehua  shoes all wet(who said they are rainproof??all sham!!),and nasty poncho adding to my woes.Only Good thing were backpack covers and intelligent packing of clothes so my clothes in rucksack were not wet.It was walk through mud,slush,rains and landslides.12 km walk and we reached Didina at around 5 pm,really exhausted from steep climb and rain induced chaos and soggy clothes.We quickly shifted into our makeshift rooms and it was a cluster of rain drenched clothes hanging and dripping water.Rain hadn't stopped for even 1 second and we were all soggy.We changed into dry clothes and quickly ate food.I ate like a glutton.We had juice make from flowers of Baransh,a local flower.We kept sitting in the room,ordered maggi and kept discussing what to do next if weather doesnot clear.We had discussions with team leader and he said that we would stay in Didina if rains continued the next day and our trek would be aborted.That was the last thing we wanted to hear.It was the beginning of dangling good news and bad news which followed us till we would be back..In Hindi jargon as Kabhi Khushi Khabhi Gham.It reminded me of Zen way of life..Ying and Yang! We were unaware of situation in rest of Uttrakhand and were really annoyed that trek should not had been started if weather was bad.I had dinner with heavy heart and hoped that it would clear in morning.

                                            Our home away from home at didina

17th June:

Morning of June 17th.My mood is all low as rains are continuing without stopping so we might not be able to go any further if rains continued even tomorrow and our trek would be cancelled.
What did i learn? Nature doesn't reveal itself so easily. Nothing is above nature.We are tiny specks in grand plan of universe.We have to bow before nature.Humility,patience,understanding comes and HOPE is that four lettered word which is the most important thing we live for...To see a sunny day!But all said and done whatever has to happen will happen.So the whole day is spend in Didina village in most exhilarating manner amidst continuous rains.We all laughed,sang songs,played dumb charades. Bangalore group came up with quirky  pictures like Dayavan the humble man,howrah bridge par latki chudail,saleem langde ko mat maro etc...I was really amazed at their filmi sense.It was a laughter riot.Interspersed with that we had pakoras and chai and intermittent glimpses of clear weather in which we all would do some photography.
That night after we had our dinner Santanu came running and said sky is clearing, I can see moon and I saw three stars.Everyone was thrilled.We never had viewed sky with such keenness and love before.
                                                      Kaveri

                                                    oak forests


                                                    ali bugyal

                                         



                                                       madness maddened people...


                                                         defying gravity
Rohit in his elements
Silkworm farm

                            Sight of moon and two stars

I heard people saying saw one more star,two more...and with a hope we all slept that tomorrow we could continue our journey.
I had never valued moon,stars and clear sky so much before.Isn't that what life teaches us..valuing things which we don't consider important or we choose to carelessly ignore.




                                               didina in rain

                                                    beauty of didina
                                                girl power

                                               The fellow trekkers at Didina


18th June (day4):

We wake up to a clear sky with no rains so we are happy but it soon turns cloudy and starts to drizzle.We have our breakfast and leave for ali bugyal at 8.45 am.It is steep climb till we reach magnificent Bugyals.We eat boiled egg,potatoes and nutrela. which are absolutely delicious.Sight of bugyals verdant green is a feast for eyes.All my fatigue just vanished away.We were told as for always that we would go to Bhagwawasa tomorrow if weather permits.Meanwhile sleeping bags at Bhagwawasa camp are all wet so really don't know what is in store for us.
At the end of day 4,I had found three amazing friends Toolika,Priyanka and Rohit who were little more bohemian than rest.Our group was named the M square..madness maddened group.We roamed in Bugyals as if we owned them.We slept hoping that tomorrow weather would be fine.

 
                               ali bugyal




   me and priyanka at Ali bugyal


 
                ali bugyal





19thJune (day5) :

We wake up to slight drizzle and cloudy weather.I whole night keep peeping though small window in that hut to see that whether weather had cleared or not until I slept.We have our morning breakfast and we are told that we are going Bhagwawasa and we all are so thrilled.Amazing feeling and we are told to pack our bags. As soon as we pack there is another twist in story,we are told we cant go as all tents have uprooted and weather is bad.My heart sank and i felt like puppet in hands of weather. Felt shattered that we were not going Roopkund.It seems that Roopkund was not yet ready to reveal its mystique yet and we still will have to toil mebbe at re trek next year which TTH promised.
So,our Roopkund plans got shelved and we moved to Bedni bugyal from ali bugyal.Bedni Kund had clear pristine look and is invigorating to senses.This splendid greenery never moved me this much before.We came back from bedni to ali bugyal and moved back to didina from there which was clearer and brighter than what we left.It isnt easy to come back without completing what you intended to but we have to bow before natures will.and we didn't let it spoil our next few days.Our downride from Bugyal to Didina was fun filled with Prakash our team leader singing husn pahadon ka from ram teri ganga meli which had become viral on our trek and everyone humming it on their way.Prakash had nice voice and he would sing very soulfully but he never allowed me to record it for reasons best known to him.Since road was slippery we would count falls each trekker had and called them grand bugyal falls.We reached didina at 7pm after leaving ali bugyal at 3pm.No Roopkund this time for reasons i cant fathom.Weather was brighter but may be this wasnt our time.As they say Man proposes,God disposes.



                             Bedni kund
                                                         bidding others bye bye...


                                                            me and kaveri:)
                                                               masti time
                                               campfire at didina
                                                mahavir,amar singh ji,prakash and rohit

                                                      
                                                          Prakash..our team leader
20th June (day6):

We all get up in morning to go from didina to lohajung  and from there trek till dewal as road connecting had massive landslides and was all washed away.We 4 friends decide that we are not going lohajung today as days in our trek are not complete yet.So we four (me,toolika,rohit and priyanka) stayed at didina and while rest all left for lohajung.We bid them adieu.So one more day at didina and it already feels home.Prancing around is kaveri,amazing girl full of nerve and verve,always smiling with carefree abandon and as pure as snow.She was exactly how nature intended children to be.I stayed back at village as i had blisters in my food while rest three went with kaveri exploring village.I sit in quiet solitude with my diary,cup of tea and soulful rafi music..Dil ka bavar kare pukar..
What could be more blissful..silence,dancing clouds.chirping birds,Sun playing hide and seek,Green terrains,Women working in fields with a smile,men lazying around,Smiling Kaveri and eternal satisfaction in faces of people.Here people were so kind and jovial and i already had formed bond with them.I discussed local issues with them,difficulties they faced and getting to know the fact that I am Doctor so many people came to me with their ailments.I was happy that i could help.
I remembered the day when leeches attacked me and i started screaming and everyone was laughing as they said doctors suck patients blood and leeches suck doctors blood...Poor corollary i must say;P
With rest all trekkers having left,there is an eerie silence,music of parting and bliss.I dnt think i want to go back yet.I am happy oblivious of day,date,time,free of facebook,emails,phone,internet.
Isn't simplicity the best and prized possession.We have made our lives so complicated that we have forgotten to enjoy simple things which life offers.I feel blissfully happy.Scum of my mind has washed away.I can see life with afresh perspective where i have to be selfish to pursue happiness relentlessly.We enjoy local life in village,eat local vegetables and Kaveri takes us to silkform farm and little streams and rivulets.We all kept hoping that night shouldn't descend but it did.We had campfire and amazing dinner by Amar Singh jee.He was amazing cook and hard taskmaster at least for Priyanka for she never used to get up early.That black dog Kallu sitting and guarding didina village.Tomorrow all the way to Lohajung and back.Hope roads are cleared so that we can go by bus.

21st June:
Finally we start our journey from didina to lohajung at 9 am and reach lohajung at 1pm.It wasnt easy bidding farewell to didina.It was emotional farewell.We promised them that we would be back again.When we went to kiss Kaveri she just ran away..She said jana hain to ja and ran into her room hiding her face benath acloth.She was amazing.She was attached to us a day before and yet was so detached.She was meant to be happy at all costs and that happiness didnt depend on people or things which was such a great lesson.It was she who had given us so many important life lessons.Since i love Photography and it was treat to click Kaveri for she was never short of poses.Finally left didina and on arrival at lohajung met Prakash and warm sunshine welcomed us.We had bath after 7 days and ate food.While on our way back from didina to lohajung,Toolika said that if we pick up stone we will have to come back again to that place according to local myth.We all readily picked stone for we all wanted to come back to Roopkund which eluded us.
At 4pm,sitting and overlooking the vale,Toolika and Rohit go for last trek to Arjan Top and me and priyanka soak in Sun reflecting at amazing time we had and that we were yet not ready to go home.So when Rohit and Toolika returned we all made a plan of going to Nanital and Jjim corbett park to spread the wings of madness further.People were rushing towards plains and i was in search of Mountains for i always felt i would prefer to die in mountains than anywhere else. So on the morning of 22nd June we left for lohajung but not before Prakash gave us box full of Rasgullas for we always pestered him to give us gulab jamuns.That was not yet the final surprise in offing.There were many more which i shall write some other time.
 
       bye bye lohajung


As Toolika said;"Purpose of this trip was not to reach somewhere but to meet people and blend in the aura" and that is what happened.I was head to toe dipping in sweet memories,amazing times,uncertainties,vagaries of weather and was carrying bountiful of amazing friends with whom i shall come back to unravel mystery of MYSTERIOUS ROOPKUND...

Adios!!

 “All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither, 
Deep roots are not reached by the frost"

J. R. R .Tolkien


For some pictures of Roopkund trek u can go to

 https://www.facebook.com/varunaraina