Sunday, April 30, 2017

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra via Lipulekh Pass (PART 7)

July 30, 2016 (Day 8) - Gala to Budhi (around 20-22 kms)

I got up in the morning and after having bournvita milk started my day at 5.30 am. I reached campsite by 3 pm. It takes 10 to 12 hours to reach Budhi from Gala. Last person from our batch reached by 5.30 pm. It was drizzling and I had my breakfast at 8 am. It is one of the longest days and also most beautiful. After starting from Gala, after 2 kms, one has to descend 4444 steps till the base of ferocious river Kali. Going down 4444 steps and narrow patches around river Kali has to be done on foot by all yatris.

Descending 4,444 steps

Along ferocious Kali River

After reaching base of river Kali I reached breakfast point. I had aloo nutree and pooris and ventured ahead with my porter. It was raining like crazy. One has to cross numerous waterfalls whose flow increases in rainy season and thankfully my porter was carrying an umbrella. It is not a bad idea to carry an umbrella during rainy season. Poncho also comes handy.

Breakfast point

Numerous waterfalls
After breakfast, I reached Malpa. Malpa is a village in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, which is known for the Malpa Tragedy of August 1998 in which massive landslides wiped away the entire village of Malpa in Kali Valley.  A total of 221 people died, including 60 pilgrims traveling to Kailash Manasarovar. It is very painful to imagine what those pilgrims and villagers must have gone through on that fateful night. 

Singing bhajans at Malpa

Lunch at Malpa

Location of Malpa Tragedy

Had lunch at 10 am at Malpa. Rain stopped for a while at Malpa and we all sang bhajans. We kept walking and rain and gorgeous waterfalls along ferocious Kali were our companions. On the other side of river Kali were green mountains of Nepal. There were few landslides on way. Fog,clouds and Sun kept playing peek a boo.

Mountains will never fail to inspire you and teach you lessons

  • Never run while crossing waterfalls as you might slip.
  • Never lean on railing side while crossing narrow patch enroute river Kali
  • An umbrella during rainy season is not a bad idea
  • Always walk towards mountain side
  • Whenever ponies cross, stop towards mountain side and let them pass
  • Those using pony, be careful to get down slowly and hold on the reins tightly. Many people fall and twist ankles, which you must avoid. 

Prakash (Guide)

Next stop was Lamari and we were served tea and snacks by ITBP. KMVN guest house is perched on top and absolutely beautiful. Towards last 2 kms, I had severe shooting pain in my ankle and with grit and determination was able to reach campsite. Budhi campsite was spectacular. Myraid flowers, fog and quaint village. I was finally able to talk with my mother, but couldn't reach my husband and missed him. I hoped that my legs would be better the next day and recovered for another long day.

Feeling happy at Budhi campsite

Stretching after a long trek 

Budhi village

Happy go lucky dog

Beautiful campsite of Budhi

Lost in the beauty of Budhi

IMPORTANT ADVICE: We should be blessed that we are chosen for this yatra and it is our responsibility to not litter and keep Devbhoomi clean. Carry your plastic wraps that you use with you and dispose them later. Try to clean the trail. Tell your porter not to litter. Gutka and chips packets lie everywhere. Particularly distressing was to see shores of Manasarovar littered with used underwear packets, ghee packets, used sanitary napkins etc. It was distressing and abominable. A place, which is so pious to us must be respected by all of us and deserves a conscious effort by all yatris to lead a cleaning drive as and when possible. Don't forget to do your bit, even if others are not doing it. 

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To be continued..

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra via Lipulekh Pass (PART 6) - Tribute to my Father

This part of my travelogue is about the reason why I undertook this yatra. It is about relationship of a father, the Mountain Goat and his daughter, two kindred spirits...

Isn't it unfair of God to bereft me of love and warmth of my dad...The brightest star of my constellation has faded away into oblivion..but yet I know little sparks will still fly as I yearn for him...that longing only increases with each passing day..pain hurts but it elevates also..opening horizons to intangible, unseen and indescribable. 

Why Kailash yatra...because I could not find closure, because tears would glide past my face and knowing the inevitable truth, I found myself abandoned and clueless because my father left us after fighting sickness and disease. I have always known him as a man of indomitable will and courage and when I saw life leaving his body, it made me numb. What made it more painful was that I was a Doctor and a Daughter. And when I would be overwhelmed as daughter, the doctor in me would tell me to hold on. Hospitals are not a great place to be in and when it's your own father swinging between life and death and you're witness to it, it makes you weak. Your colleagues, your one understands your pain. If you are vulnerable, you're doomed. I was everything I was not supposed to be. And then on April 2, 2015, he left amidst chanting of mantras and recitation of his favorite poem, Invictus, which used to lift my morale whenever I used to feel low
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
I am the master of my fate, 
I am the captain of my soul. 
Gadsar Lake, Kashmir

We both shared love for mountains, books, literature and traversing un-chartered paths. He gave me strength whenever I faltered and he was someone who taught me real meaning of life. Man who was free as a cloud, limitless as sky and who always taught us do what your heart tells you..

People will never understand your quest but as long as you do, nothing else matters. Mountains will have no meaning without you. Who shall guide me in my treks and be exalted as I finish them..

Way to Mani Mahesh Yatra

When he left, I could not continue to work in hospital and left it to find answers, some peace and closure. I knew mountains would be the only place where I could meet him, for he resided there. So, whenever I wish that he holds me and talks to me, I head to mountains. He wanted his ashes to be put in Gangbal lake in Kashmir where he used to trek often in his youth. But that wasn't enough. Gnawing pain just wouldn't go. I always wanted to do Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, but never had time. Now time had to wait as this yatra was my final journey to let my father free and allow him to soar in celestial realms and look at my life with renewed zeal and enthusiasm. And trudge on path, he envisioned for me and not care for what world may say and let not failures deter me. As he would say "one fall doesn't make one a fiasco."

Carefree Abandon

You weren't just a father. You were a force, mountain goat, ardent book lover whose soul was passionate and who gave me strength to follow what I wanted. He lived his life as a wanderer who had mountains as his home, books as his friends, and dreams to behold. You live in both me and my sister, Dad..and mountains connect us in astral realms beyond the confines of human mind..we shall keep coming back to them to hug you or just hold your hand to guide has become jaded, barren...but you are our eternal spring, the guiding force, our master our guide...

Kishansar Lake, Kashmir

Giving ice axe in my hand, you empowered me.You gave me confidence that I could be anything I wanted to be, you made me fall in love with mountains..

And when now I have more bones and years on me; I miss you holding my arm and egging me on, I miss you like elusive Yeti whose story you would tell us and how one day we would go in snow covered mountains to search for one..
You infused my childhood with nature and not gadgets and your absence makes me acutely aware of your everlasting presence.
Love galore..

Amarnath Cave

To be continued..

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