I remember my first sighting of Everest so vividly, even though I’m writing this after a few months. That morning we started from Namche towards Tengbouche and after the short climb out of Namche and onto the main hill about 1hour into the trek, we spotted Everest. There she was – in reality and not dreams, with her pyramidal top smoking!
It was an overwhelming moment for me. Never in my dreams or my growing years had I ever imagined, I’d see this Goddess of a mountain in reality. Yes, she inspired awe even when I had read about her in my geography text books, but I had never thought I’d witness her grandeur in person. Even when I had signed up for the trek (more to give company to my husband who was keen on undertaking the trek), I’d never once thought of the summit and maybe that’s why this sudden vision was so important, this moment so big!
It was an amazing sight. There at a distance, across a few hills, stood the world’s tallest mountain. She had inspired so many climbers in such different ways. Far, yet so near (as never before). It took me a moment to realise the enormity of this moment. And she looked beautiful, there behind the Lhotse peak, with her unmistakable pyramid peak. Adding to her beauty was the stream of clouds that gave her the look of having a smoking top – almost like a mountain alive, beckoning us into her folds. Just like a house with a smoking chimney beckons to weary travellers in the cold.
Here’s an impromptu poem that’s just gushing out on its own –
If any of you can take 15 days off from your busy schedules, the EBC trek is worth undertaking. For me, it was the start of my love affair with mountains and hills; a different way of life for sure. My holidays are mostly treks as against the touristy ones I only did earlier. I’m fitter, more in touch with nature and spirituality I think. Life beckoned and I heard it
The first night at Dayara Bugyal was turning difficult. I had been debating for the past 10 minutes or so whether to get out in the cold and pee. After a glance at my watch, my mind reasoned and won over my complaining body, that I would need to get up as it was only 4 am, and that since it was 2 hours to daylight, it made sense to get some more sleep which was possible only after relieving myself. So I struggled out of my sleeping bag, wore my gloves, zipped up my jacket – cursing my age and the related physiological needs, (watching the rest of the family cozy in their sleeping bags made me more miserable) and opened the zip of the tent. My grumbling mind was stunned into silence – there in front of me, were the Earth and heaven in splendor. The calmness of the moment – is impossible to describe, but I shall make an attempt.
Day was breaking and while there were no rays of the sun, it wasn’t dark either. The wind was blowing gently and silently across the meadows of Dayara Buygal. A blanket of stillness engulfed the whole universe – the stars were still visible, but the sky was now slightly alight – and the silhouette of the mountain range in front of me was striking. It was a moment like no other. It was as if I had been given the opportunity to watch quietly the interactions of nature – as it stretched and shook herself out of slumber. Slowly, flowingly, gracefully – like a little girl still asleep, stretching out her arms above her head, smiling gently to herself – in the midst of a beautiful dream. I walked out enchanted and somewhat hurriedly with my camera to ensure I didn’t miss another moment of this beauty. And when I stood up silently gazing at the mountain range, and feeling the wind grazing my cheek, I felt PEACE. A moment of calm, stillness like no other – yet not solitude but of oneness with nature and infinite peace.
The call of nature forgotten, I reached for my camera and tried to capture what was possible or was this the real call of nature? Take a look at the pic I took.
If you’re looking for a trek that’s challenging but with great views and beautiful campsites with personality, then the Bagini trek is for you. What’s more you can claim to have trekked up to a glacier & at a fair altitude too.
We undertook the Bagini trek, the year after our trek to EBC i.e in May 2015. For all of us in the group, Bagini would be a new route and destination altogether.
We didn’t expect the trek to be a tough one, but let me let the cat out of the bag right away that we were in for a surprise. Bagini is a moderate to tough trek with daily 7-8 hours of walking required and not on easy terrain.
So here’s what makes bagini a great trek to undertake –
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to read further and complete this lengthy but informative blog now.
We were a group of 7, equally divided between first time trekkers and experienced ones. Vikas, myself and Rahul had trekked earlier; while Poonam, Sushant, Basav and Girija were first timers. Vikas had undertaken numerous treks before this one – Gangotri, Pangarchulla, Dodti Tal etc to name a few.
So as goes for most treks in Uttarakhand, we drove the whole day from Rishikesh to reach Joshimath around evening. We checked into a basic but comfy hotel and relaxed. It was slightly chilly and we needed light jackets to keep out the cold. After we freshened up, we went to the nearby dhaba for chai and snacks and called it a day.
We woke up at 6 am and departed by our mini van around 7 am. About 20 mins into the drive, we saw the beautiful Nanda Devi loom up and stopped for pictures. We knew it would be a long day with numerous stops given the sights around. However, suddenly about an hour into the drive, we had to necessarily stop as there had been a landslide a little further down and the road was being paved. No one knew how long it would take and so we disembarked. Luckily for us, an Army unit was on its way to the last village near the China border called Mana, and they had to stop as well. The next couple of hours were spent chatting away with the commander of the group, a Capt Rana as young as 27 (younger than all of us). The road was cleared and another hour later, we reached the road head – called Jhumma, from where we had a light trek (of about an hour to Ruing village). We reached Ruing around 3 pm. We’d had packed lunch on the way, so everyone including the staff was free. Luckily for us, we had fun setting up tents and helping the staff. My first hand at tent setting.
Ruing village was 200 mts further and we camped on the open ground just before the village. It was just across the river and on the other side was the road leading to the last village near the China border – to where the Army unit was headed. The clearing was peaceful and picturesque with mountains around, a river flowing down and pine trees everywhere. In fact, to me Ruing was one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve stayed in. There were no villagers in the village here & it was a different feeling all together.
To see a tiger is to love it!
The emotion of seeing an animal in the wild is completely different from seeing it in captivity or in an enclosed sanctuary.
I learnt this when I spotted my first tiger in the wild on a safari at the Bandhavgarh National Park (BNP). It was in 2008 and my husband and a friend joined me post a work trip to Madhya Pradesh (MP – the central state of India), for a visit to BNP.
We arrived in the afternoon at the M P Tourism property there and were lazing post a heavy lunch when the manager suggested the afternoon safari. He said we should do as many as possible if we were keen on spotting the elusive tiger. We agreed excitedly as we’d thought of doing the early morning safari the next morning and had so much time to kill – and thus after quick arrangements of a vehicle and permit we were off. About an hour and half into the safari and after having seen the caves on the little hill inside the forest, plus a tad disappointed, our experienced driver heard a deer call!! And the rest as they say is history and will always be cherished in my memory.
On the edge of our seats we looked about for about 20 minutes before we spotted this beauty – tigress ‘Bandhavi’ in the bushes right next to our vehicle. Completely camouflaged we spotted her only because of the movement of the tall grass there. Refer the featured pic. And what a day it turned out to be thereafter. She kept us company for the rest of the afternoon. After crossing the road ( as in pic 2) she lay on the edge of the grassland for a long while, before walking into the sunset. It’s an image imprinted in all our minds and hearts and we discuss it often – in the dim light of dusk, the orange hue of the setting sun reflected on the golden grass of the forest as the tigress walked in slowly and gracefully getting lost in the bushes – only her swishing tail seen for a while. We stood there for a few more minutes and sighing deeply returned back to the hotel – a long standing wish fulfilled with happiness in our hearts.
My love for tigers blossomed that day and I eagerly read up everything about them. Jim Corbett remains a favorite author and his books give an insight into the intelligent minds and lives of this superb animal.
We went on many safaris to see tigers in Pench and Kanha and Tadoba national parks in the following years but the first experience remains most cherished and etched in my memory.