Trek to Kuari – A story of making merry, being wary and B-n-W Fairy

This might sound a little incredible but I have been craving to see the Himalayas since the time I witnessed the Scottish Highlands in my last trip to United Kingdom in March this year. May Day falling on a Monday created a perfect long weekend to escape to my comfort zone – the lap of Mother Nature! In fact, close proximity with the mountains, jungles, streams and other natural elements fosters a feeling of extreme content and gratefulness towards my cosmic journey and that makes living worthwhile.

On 27th April, an assorted ad-hoc group of five people were ready to conquer Kuari Pass and get back to the plains in five days to get conquered by routine! Errr.. A last moment dropout left only four to embark on the trek. Kuari Pass being an easy-to-moderate Himalayan trek, these trekkers hadn’t expected anything but a smooth trekking experience. But then, life surprises you in unexpected ways!

I took an evening flight from Mumbai to Delhi and then scampered to Kashmiri Gate to catch the 11:00 pm Volvo to Rishikesh with my co-trekkers. – Pramit, Manish and Arijit. The bus reached the destination on time at 5 am the next day. Thereafter began the perilous 10 hour journey to Joshimath, where we had to rest for the night before starting the trek on the next morning.  Our guide was Sohan Singh Bisht  whom we respectfully christened “Sohanji”. Apart from exemplary guiding skills, he had a quirky a sense of humour which we used on people from time to time,  including me!

The next morning after a quick breakfast of wholesome and delicious Aloo Paratha from a roadside hotel we boarded a vehicle arranged by Sohanji and got dropped off at Dhak village. The trek started from Dhak with the mesmerising views of the Garhwal mountain ranges. I am really poor at identifying names of mountains. Nevertheless, with help from Pramit and Sohanji and by observing their shapes, I gathered that the snow-capped ridges of the Pangarchula, Hathi-Ghoda and Drona Giri all lay right there to feast my eyes on. It was a gradual ascend without much drama and we first stopped at Tugasi village. A glimpse into local life, a click here and there with the kids and a refreshing tea later we proceeded towards Gulling. Our first camp was to be at Kulhara which was a steady up-climb via the oak and rhododendron forest of Gulling. We had our lunch at Gulling under the forest trees and by the flowing stream ( so awesome right!!) and managed to reach Kulhara by 3 pm. Even Sohanji was impressed by our performance!

The next day was the famed “Pass Day” and the plan was to start at 4 am, reach Kuari Pass and trek further up towards Pangarchula Peak mini ( Don’t go by the word “mini”; it stand at 4300 m!!). The climb to Kuari Pass was pretty much manageable and we were at the Kuari top by 9 am. We knew the next leg to Pangarchula is a steep climb and we braced ourselves for the same. The 10 Kg backpack made things twice as difficult. The body complained incessantly but the mind was unrelenting. After ascending for about a kilometre we noticed dark clouds hovering over our heads, probably with disapproval. The weather changed within minutes and snowfall accompanied by rebellious wind hit us. This soon catapulted into a snowstorm. Sohanji said we must descend as quickly as possible. Because, if the snow starts accumulating at gargantuan speed, we might lose our way altogether. Panic ensued. Sohanji held my hand firmly and started descending with me. Unable to keep balance (blame it on the anxiety and unsuitable shoes), I grazed the ground every now and then. The unforgiving cold bit into my hands(I had removed my gloves to get better grip), the snow blinded me and slippery ground made every step difficult. Notwithstanding the circumstances, we continued our descend towards Kulhara. By the time Kulhara was in sight, I had slipped and plunged into the snow ten times, though none of it was fatal! (thanks to the cushion in the derriere! :P) . The snowstorm continued raging for the next 2 hours, almost sweeping away the tents. We were dripping with water from head to toe but managed to keep a grip on ourselves. The stove in the ‘Kitchen Tent’ provided some warmth while Sohanji’s stories on black-and-white fairies raised my temperature more. As per Sohanji, the black fairy of the Garhwal mountains pays a visit to people who sleep alone in their tents for some unearthly purpose. By the virtue of being the only woman in the group, I had an entire tent to myself and no prize for guessing that the story was directed at me! Only by evening the snowfall reduced a little, leaving us relieved, but still apprehensive. Without much ado, we quickly finished our dinner and retired for the night.

A clear sky greeted us on the morning of  Day 3. The decision to descend to Auli via Tali was taken and we started the downhill trek at 8:30 am. I cannot describe in words the beauty of nature that unfolded in front of our eyes during the day. The cursed snowstorm was a blessing in disguise because its culmination had spawned an immaculate bright day. The majestic snowy peaks of the Garhwal mountains revealed against the backdrop of a vast blue sky with puffy white clouds dotting it’s infinite form. At Tali Lake, the most splendid view unfurled itself through a panorama of tall mountains, dark jungles, snowy peaks, drifting clouds and their reflection on the crystal-clear water! Next came the 1.5 Km ridge walk to reach Gorson Bugyal where the copious Rhododendrons in full bloom reddened the white-n-blue canvas. Being able to watch Mother Nature in Her full glory made me feel blessed! It’s a rare privilege which probably only Her truest loyalists get to experience and we had been granted that. The trek ended at Auli from where we opted for an exclusive mode of transportation – the Chairlift  to get to GMVN and packed up for the night in their dormitory.

From Auli we had to catch the 4:30 am bus to Rishikesh the following morning. By the time we reached Rishikesh, exhaustion had crossed normal levels. Nevertheless, we managed to explore Beatles Ashram admiring the quirky and spiritual graffiti all around the place. The evening was spent by the sacred Ganges watching the holy river engulf the big blinding blaze. We took a local bus to Haridwar to catch the Nanda Devi Express to Delhi at 12:50 am.

The four days of myriad life experiences were over in what seemed like a jiffy, leaving an insatiable desire to go back to the mountains again.

Here’s the photo story:


The four of us at the start of the trek in Dhak village. Introducing from front to back – the un-trekker Debasmita, the pro-trekker (ya, the guy with the goofy hat) Manish, the semi-trekker Pramit and the non-trekker Arijit.


Me having fun with the Tugasi kids – Ayusha and Sneha


The view at Kulhara campsite\


The climb to Kuari Pass


A click taken during the snowstorm at Pangarchula Base Camp


This is how Kulhara looked after the snowfall ended


This is Tali Lake. The beauty is surreal.


My co-trekkers and the guide resting at Tali Lake


Oh the heavenly 1.5 Km ridge walk to reach Gorson Bugyal from Tali!!! If you look closely you will be able to make out the path. Also, if you happen to be a little careless on this path it can be the first and last bungee jumping experience of your life. ๐Ÿ˜›


It is sights like these that make you believe that life is worth living!


A stunning graffiti at Beatles Ashram, Rishikesh


In Nature and in You

I like the cool winds kissing my face and the warmth of your hands clasping my breas’,
I like the greenery in my eyes and the redness of your skin carrying my playful bites,
I like the scent of the flowers and the smell of your body rubbing mine for hours.

I like the shadows of the mountains and light of your eyes piercing my servile veins,
I like the music of clouds rolling over and the sound of your breath trapping my soul forever.
I love Nature in its fullest and i love Us making love in all our emptiness…

Dance – The Moving Poetry

Is there a word which makes you feel alive? A word which evokes a lot of love in you? A word which surpasses semantics and becomes one with you? For some it’s a name, for some it’s fame or money, for me it’s dance. As a kid i wanted to be a dancer and a teacher. Eventually i decided to be a dance teacher to make peace with the two sides of my heart. Probably because the mind was louder than the heart, I ended up not pursuing any of the two.

Decades later i find myself dancing again…this time to the tunes of my heart. ๐Ÿ™‚ It happens that I have joined dance classes to learn a form called “Contemporary”. To me, contemporary is poetry in motion. I like poetry and I like it more when you create it with just your body movements. The dance form allows you to express your deepest emotions in unprecedented ways – be it happiness, pain, anger, love or lust. The one-hour I spend in the dance class trying to replicate the body movements of my teacher isย the most blissful hour of the day. So blissful that I lose track of time altogether.

Dance is something I really enjoy. It makes me forget the vagaries of daily life, the usual stress, the ups and downs and helps me become one with myself. It’s an hour of unadulterated happiness. It’s freedom. It’s fun. It’s life.

As I learn to become oblivious of getting the technicalities right, I enjoy dancing more. I have realised that dancing is about learning to be free with your body and emotions. Hence the phrase – “Dance like no one’s watching!”. I dance because it helps me find myself while i am lost in it. Ironical but true.

P.S. : Is it possible to suck at something you really love to do? History says no. Hopefully I will be able to prove her right. ๐Ÿ˜‰