Thursday, December 7, 2006

Our Himalayan Trip

Deciding to stay in India meant we had to do at least one trip to the Indian Himalayas. What better place to visit here than the 'Valley of Flowers' So did the research and decided to undertake a trip to Uttaranchal in late June. This would ensure that the monsoon would have just started and the pilgrim crowd will start to dwindle (or so we thought)
As per plan reached Haridwar let evening of June 26th 2006 Booked a ticket in the bus to Govindghat the little shack town from where the trek to 'valley of flowers' starts. The bus ride was an experience which would save you a trip to the chiro! Given the ways of the driver and the road condition, all your bones get well and truely realligned. Mind you this gives you a chance to parctice your faith in the gods and sit back. After 14 long hours reached Govindghat. The place was full of 'Sikh' pilgrims that were heading towards 'Hem kund Sahib' the holy lake above the Valley of flowers where Guru Gobind Singh is supposed to have spent time in meditation and doing his penance. The rooms were small and basic and had to pay Rs1000 for these. The good news was that there were buckets of hot water supplied so could have a shower. Food was the standard punjabi dhaba offering of Aloo parata, dhal etc .

Next morning hired a porter to carry our backpacks, that was carried in a bamboo basket hung on their back via a rope over the head/forehead. Guess it did make it a sort of backpack! Initialy felt bad as it was a really old man, but after seeing guys carring your average punjabi woman weighing 70kgs the same way, thought our bags weighiing just 25Kgs was not too much of an ask!

The walk to Gangaria is shared with the pilgrims. It was a bit of a dissapointment, in that the serenity of the palce was lost in the noise and crowd, but despite that it did not deter the scenery. The one major drwaback was the fact that the pilgrims tend to use mules, these clever animals take care of themselves and hence stay to the path, but forget to take into account the three feet overhanging on either side of them (what with the fat pigrims and their bags... Guess the mules get a lot of 'puniya - or blessings', as they are the ones who are alking) So beware if you are walking next to them, as you can very well get pushed off the track! Be sure to stay on the hill side of the track :-)
The good news about the crowd is the number of shops enroute. Feels like a high street in London, with your standard Parattas and lassis (if you are game for it) We stuck to the bottled water for which you pay a premium in this walk
The walk from Gangria to the start of the Valley is shared with the pilgrims. It is very steep and quite narrow. Also, the day we started this it was drizzling, this makes it almost hazardous with all the ponies on track. Fortunately you only share the path for about a kilometer and half, then its BLISS. We saw thousands of pilgrims going to hem kund sahib, however, I counted all of 13 people on the track to Valley of flowers including us.
Now where do we start describing the Valley.... It was a cloudy day and hence the peaks were playing hide and seek with us. When the cloud lifted for those brief moments (usually for about a minute or so, you felt great and insignificant at the same time. With the awesome peaks and the beauty of the valley, you can believ all those stories about the great saints meditating here! Its such a serene atmosphere, that even my mind quitened down. The rain did finally pick up, and the little streams began to flow like rivers, and we had to turn back...
The next day was back to gangria, and govindghat, as the rain did not relent. The way back was quite slippery and one of the old punjabi woman decided that I was a fit person to hang on to. that was tough walking down the steep huill with this old woman hanging on to my arms. Well managed to reach Govinghta and take a jeep to badrinath

This was a sensational little place. Loved the little temple town It is set in the best possible area and with the weather clearing up the views were sensational. Went to the temple on day one, along with the hot springs right next to the temple. Its considerd HOLY The next day went for a long walk, after paying respects to our anscestors, in the true hindu way! Spent three wonderful days up here, and the walk to almost the border of Tibet (about 27KMs) was a highlight. It was lovely to see the gentle hill folk working on their potato farms and the army barracks near the border area. there was absolutely nothing else to spoil teh beauty of the place.

1 comment:

Preethi said...

I need to do this trip... the description is so vivid!! I fell in love with the valley of flowers!!