Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Thing That Was Not / The Chakrata Chapter

The problem that often surround me is whenever I have had a good trip in the Himalayas, I long for more; but whenever its a trip-in-disguise (whose chances are rare), I try to wipe it out immediately with yet another trip. But Barnala Taala small trek of 5 km from Barsu village in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand that I did in Feb '12 was rather a joyous trip by all means. Fairy snow, mighty peaks, a shy guide, children hurrying to catch up school morning prayer, and windy town of Pala, reminded me of the pictures that I often graze on the ground called 'internet'. In April, though, I took my office group to Jageshwar; it was not satisfying for me. You need like-minded fellow travellers and above all the ones who don't just travel to 'touch the place' but rather stay and 'absorb the place'. So, I started to plan. Binsar Mahadev in Pauri Garhwal region was the choice I zeroed in for a quick, weekend trip. The date was set and just when we were to leave - the things started to get all wrong. First with the cab driver (we sent him back for his unfriendly attitude and arrogance), then with bus at the ISBT (no bus to Ramnagar). At ISBT, we waited till 1 am in the morning for the bus to Ramnagar, that never came. And finally after some thinking, we decided to go to Dehradun. We just managed to get two seats at rear back of the bus, after racing along with the crowd. Me and Hukum - two of us in the bus to Dehradun, with no plan in mind. 

At 6 a.m we reached Dehradun. During our journey all through the night, i was thinking of Chakrata - it was long pending in my list. I added Ponta Shahib to it as well. I remember giving the same itinerary to Sanjay and Ranjan who were planning a trip for themselves. I called them and found that they have already started from Delhi as per their plans. With a promise to meet at Ponta Shahib; me and Hukum started looking for bus to Ponta. A Himachal Roadways bus was all set to go. It will drop us at Ponta in an hour from Dehradun which is some 56kms in distance. About 11 am we reached Gurudwara Ponta Shahib. We freshened up, paid our homage and ate langar heartly. About 5 pm arrived Sanjay and Ranjan in a car. We exchanged greetings!

Sanjay is my office colleague and Ranjan, I knew through him - we have met earlier as well when duo came to meet me at my place. Ranjan share the same passion and of same level as I had. It felt like I know Ranjan better than my own friend-cum-colleague, Sanjay - I never have seen him discussing hills or planning any travel. But he is certainly a hill enthusiast, perhaps, in the same league where me and Ranjan were. Just that he never showed or talked of it before. So our assumption about Sanjay beginning to prove wrong. The trip began soon after. They quickly had darshan. And we started our journey to Chakrata. 

Chakrata some 55 kms from here is a small hill town on a ridge with a small market. Only Indian nationals are allowed to enter into Chakrata. Its a cantonment area with special force's training ground. It offers sheer silence. And we started to look-out for a hotel. After a while we started to feel the cold shiver but by now we have had two rooms booked already. Sanjay and Ranjan brought their own stuff - frozen meat semi-cooked, beer cans in an ice-box, a lamp to cook over - which was a sheer delight to see. All that remained was - a tent - and we were ready to camp anyplace. A round of chilled beers, cooked meat snack and roti - good enough for us to keep hooked to conversations and laughs. Soon after we retired to bed. 

Morning we left early for Tiger Falls. But before that I stacked up some sweetmeat from the tea shop - so fresh it was. Tiger falls were some 18 kms through road but a 3kms trek from Chakrata. But we were a bunch of lazy bumps. In a while, we were marching down towards the falls. The roaring sound it has earned it this name. We were delighted to see the falls. Just the four of us - far away from the civilization of civil people who has nothing civil in them. We bathed here for about 2 hours - chilled water on a warm sun combo - soothed us. Sanjay, Ranjan, Hukum - gave all sort of shots to appear "in their best", and i was enjoying "the beer" making its way up in my mind. I rarely consume liquor. 

After, we were through with our adventure and island feel. I proposed to extend this trip by one more day and see Lakhamandal. Ranjan unarguably accepted but Sanjay protested with critics. It was adamant Sanjay versus three of us. Though he gave in but he had a sense of fear about his job. There was no one back-up, to look after his job and no seniors were around - so he was in a maze of confusion. The present tense was happy and nice with scenery, fun around it; while future tense was giving tensions. Anyway, he agreed. 

Lakamandal was some 70 kms from Chakrata and the road condition was awful. Nonetheless, the scenic beauty it offered were exemplary in comparison to returning route to Dehradun. We reached Lakhamandal around 6 pm. Quickly paid homage to the age-old temple of Lord Shiva. Lakhamandal is the place where conspiracy against Pandavas was hatched by Kauravas. The wax-palace was burnt with Pandavas inside, however they escaped. Shiva's temple stands here is even older than this story itself. I found solace here. 

Sanjay was red with anger, by now. He has his own mood swings. But he was right as well. No way we could make it to Mussorie or Vikasnagar now. The office tension bug was out. Usually, it happens during the night with each one of us - we find it hard to hold onto things during the nights because during the daytime, the sight-seeing keeps us busy. Probably, he was having time with himself - and troubling himself. I don't say he is right or wrong - but he was impatient to go to Delhi to attend his office work. Later, after collecting holy water from Yamuna, we made night halt at Damta. It was almost pitch dark on the highway but Damta was lightened with tourist movement going to Yumnotri. We got 2 rooms for 400 bucks and came out for dinner. Sanjay all this through didn't spoke much and not to me at least. 

Next day, he was a different man. Cool and clam, self-composed, enjoying tea and bread pakoras. I liked his this nature - switch on and switch off and then again on. He was in a great mood today - no fear. God saved us from his wrath. Ranjan whispered to me, he is like this only, and now we will take Mussorie route, the route which Sanjay was protesting last night. We giggled. 

The drive to Mussorie was like one of the great gigs - shining, swift and smooth. We reached Mussorie in a royal way. It was clearly us - in the lap of nature. Happy and blissful. 

(c) Himanshu


Gaurav Nawani said...

Nice read, I have been to Chakrata before but Lakhmandal some how remained out of my sight till now, will be making a trip to this place may be during rains ;) The temples are authentic old and loved the beautiful sheetmetal work on the door a must see for me.

Munlite redefined said...

last waale sentence me lap of nature hoga .... edit edit .... ! !

Himanshu said...

Thanks Gaurav, Lakhmandal has nothing much to offer except of the temple... but yes, it has a great relevance.

@ Moonlite: Thanks Chandrima for noticing the mistake... I have edited the same. Request you to review more pages and edit them on word document, if you get time.

anjali gupta said...

Wow..it was worth reading your blog, carefully crafted with words and pictures. I'm planning to go to Chakrata soon and have heard hotels in Chakrata offers genuine hospitality.

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