Himalayas have left me an addiction. Every visit strengthens my bond and my thirst seems not easy to quench. This was my 3rd visit within a year, and this time it was Uttarakhand, unlike my last two visits to Himachal.
An easy trail, a bunch of new friends and lots of moments to cherish
We were a gang of 9: Gagan, Harwinder, Ishita, Prerna, Akhil, Vaibhav, Ashutosh, Ankita and Navdeep.
Our plan was as follows
Day1: Trek from Binsar to zero point to TRC to Dhaulchina
Day2: Trek to Jageshwar, exploration trek and lodged back at Jageshwar
Day3: Visit to temple and return Journey
There were so many moments worth taking note of.. I’ve penned some of them in brief. Hope they make you experience what I felt.
It All Started With Tea
It was dark, around 5.30 am, when we started our journey from Kathgodham. Soon dawn broke. After about a 50 km drive we took our first stop – it couldn’t have been more perfect. There was a polite stream flowing on one side along the road, and an almost isolated tea shop on the other. There was hardly any traffic owing to early morning hours. The weather was cloudy. I could observe lush green peaks around us cloaked in clouds.
Our clatter broke the pin drop silence. The sips of our first hot tea tasted great at this unique halt. The cold breeze added more flavor to it.
The Lake Of Clouds
Post our tea break, we gained altitude really fast, leaving the cloud cover below. We mounted our way up the mountains, where we saw views of valley I had never experienced before. The entire valley, including the roads and people all vanished beneath this never ending lake of clouds that sat calmly over it, giving us a feeling of a world left below and ourselves rising above from the oblivion of these dimensions.
The Snowy Slide
Hours later we were now inside Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. This was an entirely forested area with a small road leading us to the temple from where we were to start our trek. But just before the temple we hit a snow laden patch on the road that too on the steeper side. With 10 people onboard our Tavera couldn’t manage to climb it and it slid for a few seconds.
This was it, the maximum we could have driven. We were now on our feet for rest of the journey.
The unsuccessful shortcuts and spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges in backdrop were now our compasnions.
We had sufficient time to trek to Dhaulchina, and thought why not conquer a local peak Jhandi Dhari (or zero point, 2412mtrs) en route as well.
The trail being not very well defined, and our tendency to take shortcuts, we kept losing our way, at times receding back fully due to an unsuccessful attempt. Eventually we took the broader route till the end and reached zero point in about an hour. The view was completely worth with mount Trishul (7120mtrs) distinctly visible along with a long range of other snow laden peaks.
A mysterious cloud of black smoke now and then from behind the mountain kept us guessing.
We were the only ones there and the untouched patch of snow beneath also waiting for us where we left our marks.
The Maggi and Bread
It took us long and it was already 1pm. Our eco-camp at Dhaulchina had our lunch ready, but that seemed another 2-3 hrs away. We were all hungry since morning attacked on whatever the TRC guest house offered us, Maggi, bread, omlete etc.
The Pine Fruit Collection
The downhill trail towards dhaulchina sounded pretty smooth for all and without any serious stop we had a continuous 2.5hr descend. Most interesting was collecting the fallen and dried fruits of pine tree, which served as the best souvenir from this Himalayan trip. They were so many that I kept exchanging with the next best I found.
The Star Gaze
We had our dinner, the long chatting session and little bit of dumb cherades. But the best part of the night was yet to unveil. The star gaze on 24th Jan 2014 is the best I’ve ever had. It was me and Prerna curious enough to check out the dense sky spanned above. Thanks to Ashu, I got hold of a small notebook to make some notes this time. What all we observed, I verified later. The constellations of Orion, Taurus, Ariga; the planet Jupiter and the star Sirius.
That distant star near the horizon glittering green, yellow, red, blue and white colors was amazing. And the best part, the Milky Way: Near Orion’s head we observed as a hazy cloud of light with good density of stars. I just guessed it was our Galaxy but could verify it only when I reached back Hyderabad.
I continued with my sky gazing the next night too. We witness few more constellations and the longest trail of meteor of my life (most others caught a snap as well).
Early morning at around 6 we climbed a small peak close by to witness the first rays hitting the Trishul that was clearly visible on the other side. We waited patiently for about half an hour with our chats and photo session.
We enjoyed the view of sun rays overtaking the span of Himalayas. It was totally worth waking early in the morning.
The Language Switch
A broad road (in fact we called it highway for trekkers) when we started for Jageshwar. We climbed a non-stop trail for almost 2 hrs talking and chatting. Me, Ishita and Prerna were leading the pack. Little anyone had a clue what kept us going. It was my first multi-lingual bakar that lasted for long. I took an African slang, while Ishita practiced the European, and Prerna Latin. We were continuously talking all nonsense possible in this world and hardly realized the trail that we covered during that. Memorable.
5 Route Point
The route became narrow after we crossed a tar road intersection. After a climb of 15-20 minutes we were at a junction of 5 different trails to choose from. Never did I have so many options in my life before. My inclination was towards a snowy track, which was nothing but a loop ending to other option. It was the downhill trail we were supposed to take as we confirmed from the villagers.
Finally a place worth taking a pause. Everyone took a sip of the treasure stream that we found after almost 4 hrs of continuous trekking. Worth was to check out the seclusion and click some photos.
Entry to Jageshwar
Trail ended to a tar road. It was the end of our trek. In excitement we had a small performance on ‘balam pichkari’:P . The sight of Jageshwar was quite welcoming.
Advantage of off season, we owned that place literally. We could spot no other tourists there. Disadvantage – no operational dhaba or restaurant. We just sat at one that offered a really fresh and homely meal, though it took its leisure time for preparation. The tea that followed relaxed us more.
Search For The Lodge
Though a small city, we all wanted to stay amidst the woods rather than among the people. We started exploring options. As suggested by a local, a bamboo hut option 2kms away sounded really interesting. Leaving few tired souls behind, Me, Harwinder, Ashu and Prerna went ahead to check it out. The trail was itself interesting and the location of the bamboo huts in fact mesmerized from a distance. Though we already made our mind to stay there, a closer investigation disappointed as they were not completely developed yet. We trekked back till Jageshwar and then trekked another 3Km to finally stay at a lodge amidst the forest.
The mahaul was set. There was a decent bonfire already burning and cane chairs surrounding it as we reached the lodge. I don’t even check the rooms, just threw my bag and took a seat. We all sat there for our never ending interesting talks. All stories being shared about thefts, horror, lucky escapes and childhood. It all just kept going on and on and on.
The Jageshwar Temple
The last day i.e.26th Jan, after our luxurious morning and breakfast we trekked back to Jageshwar to visit the temple and take our return cab.
Now how should I describe this temple? I would say unquestionably one the rarest temple where I found so much peace and calmness. The temple is architecturally very beautiful with numerous shivlings residing in small chambers spread all over the site as if Shiva waiting for the true followers to search each corner for these spiritual marks and go back in content. At least I was really content, especially visiting the section of the temple little away from any human interference.
The silence was occasional broken from the clinging of bells from a distance and the calls of beautiful jungle birds. I had a glance at almost each shivling inside there. Some areas of temple still had snow that fell few days ago, giving us an idea of how only a few visited this place in recent times. The entire experience was containing and I felt so blessed with these moments.
Bakar at Kathgodham
No clue what suddenly hit to everyone, we were continuously laughing during the last few hours of our trip. The PJs kept flowing and a different sense of humor deeply connected everyone during those last moments.
Couldn’t have been a better ending for this amazing trip.