Trekking & Astro-Camping At Kheerganga

29th Sep 2017

Trekking & AstroCamping at Kheerganga

Photo of Trekking & Astro-Camping At Kheerganga by nivedita1220

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Weekends are no more just two days in a week. Weekends are a refuge, weekends are rehab, weekends are when most people actually remember that they are 'alive'. Add an extra day of holiday to those weekends and corporate-robots lose their minds!

Last weekend was one such 'opportunity' which I was adamant not to let slip by. In my desperation to go somewhere far off and disconnect from my daily routine, I stumbled across the concept of Astro-Camping by SciComm. I was hooked! The idea of trekking and sky gazing seemed perfect & almost dreamy! I decided to go for it instantly! Came Friday morning and that's when I realized that I'd actually be trekking on my own with a bunch of strangers. I lost my nerve. Anxious. Panicked. Self-doubt overflowed my cup of sanity! However, Thank God for long distance friends who can talk you into believing in yourself in such times!️ I finally left my home to meet the group at ISBT. We left ISBT at 11:00 pm and soon after I realized that the journey wasn't going to be easy. The ENTIRE WORLD seemed to be on roads that night! We got delayed by 5 hours, however, as soon as we entered Himachal, I somehow lost track of time and was just hypnotized by the serenity around me! I had carried my kindle to read books, I had carried my diary to pen down my thoughts, but I just sat on my window seat the entire time, staring blankly into the wild. We took a short halt beside the Beas river in Oat.en we reached our camp (~1.5 kms before Kasol) I was charmed by the location and the setup of our camps. Everything was perfect. Calm. Welcoming. Magical! With the Parvati River flowing at a stone's throw distance, the vibes of the camp were nothing less than enchanting. Well, the show had just begun! The SciComm group set up the telescopes and took out the binoculars and in just a few minutes, the moon that I've been eyeing on from such a distance for years seemed within reach. And I was spellbound. Music, bonfire, good food, sky gazing, that was my first night of the three days trip.

Day 1

The next morning I woke up to the sound of birds chirping and the Parvati flowing in its full glory! Everyone got ready for the trek after a wholesome breakfast served at the camp. Our trek guide was named Shiva, he was a part of 'the little rebel' association. On our way to Barsheni, I checked out pictures on his DSLR and I was in awe of the places he had been to! We reached Barsheni & started our trek around 12:00 pm. I was nervous and the first 15 minutes were the hardest since my body was getting out of its comfort zone. The trail was all natural, wild, and moderately difficult, with some tricky patches along. The SciComm crew and some of the group members really ensured that I was doing fine. I got many tips on how to walk, breathe, & smile

Photo of Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, India by nivedita1220
Day 2

Kheerganga trek offers a whole lot of water bodies of all shapes and sizes which was an ultimate treat! There were kids eating and selling green and red apples at ₹5 each! And just when I thought things couldn't get any more special, I made friends with one of the SciComm members and amidst our conversations about a wide range of topics, didn't even realize when I reached the destination! My body was tired. My mind, however, was dancing like a maniac!

Photo of Kheerganga Camping, Shimla, India by nivedita1220
Day 3

The next morning was bright, and we all woke up in order to start our journey early. The descent took lesser time and effort, although the slippery tracks did make it difficult. I met few kids selling apples on the way and absolutely loved their innocence and simplicity! I was surprisingly one of the group members who completed the trek the soonest, thanks to the great conversations, support, & bits of advice I was offered!

Kheerganga is not exactly a peak, so after reaching the top, it doesn't feel like you have conquered the world. Instead, you feel as if you are resting in the Himalayan womb. With all the peaks around, some laden with snow, the place made me feel immensely small and pervasive in the universe! Standing there, absorbing the surroundings, I felt that maybe most of the humanity is in pain because it has forgotten its connection with the Source-the Universe while dealing with nuances of daily life!

I went inside my tent, did a bit of pranayama to relax my body. Snacks and tea were served. After that, the SciComm group set up the telescopes for another sky gazing session. This time, I saw Saturn! It felt truly magical to observe its rings. Soon after, dinner was served after a session on cosmic meditation. I cared more about the bonfire which was to be set up post-dinner because I was literally shivering with cold instead of all the layers I had put on! The sky wasn't as clear as we hoped it to be. So we started to talk about the sky even though not much was visible.Towards the end, I got lucky to see Betelgeuse! I went inside my tent in hope to catch on some sleep, but I failed to sleep due to the Cold night. I don't remember falling asleep, however, at around 3:00 am, one of the SciComm members woke me up and called me outside. The moment I stepped outside, I was left in a state of pure bliss! The sky was clear as a crystal & the celestial bodies appeared to be within an arm's distance! I was just spellbound and mesmerized. I saw constellations, meteors, constellations, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda Galaxy, Pleiades...I came back inside my tent only because it was too cold outside. I wrote my diary, plugged in my earphones, and tried to fall asleep.

The journey back home was full of memories and a pinch of sadness. The sadness of coming back to the planes, further distant from the stars, more involved in the chores! I to come back to the Himalayas soon, some other state maybe, some same people hopefully!

Thank you, life, for moments that took my breath away!