Being a small town boy from Agartala in the northeast; hills, mountains and green forests had always fascinated me. And rightly so nature was and will always be the love of my life and it is also from here where travelling became an integral part of me. A passion for the rest of my life.
Going through old family photo albums i see that i was not even a toddler when my mom and dad took me to puri beach, it was not even etched in my memory until my eyes saw the photo, A Travelling Toddler😜!!!!! Until class 5, my parents took me mainly to Guwahati during the summer and winter vacations, mainly by bus; no complains from me as i thought bus would have been the only option then. Now when i look back to those days i feel so happy and lucky to have travelled in bus for 24 hours back then without having to catch the boring flights. Unknowingly my dad was planting the seeds in me to become adventurous. And giving the red pulsar 180 in 2009 he fueled my passion to travel. I still smile when i think of the day back in 2009 when i planned an entire day for my first long ride of 25 kms. Sounds funny right seeing the distance but yes that was the spur. It was an achievement for me to ride to a place where i previously had to go by bus with my family. From then on there was no stopping. The rides never stopped and came in thick.
I will not bore you guys now talking about my rides here, you all can feel my journey and experience it on my instagram page. Just a few clicks will get you to ami.jajabor_thetraveller.
So yeah coming back to what i call "The Start". It was june in 2016. I was just back from Ladakh after a 2 week bike ride and was having lunch with my dad in my rented flat in kolkata. I used to work in TCS in kolkata then. I still am an IT professional but now i have shifted base to Bangalore....
....My mom was serving and my eyes were glued to the tv. Why??? It was the movie EVEREST. The very sound of it still gives me goosebumps. I can still recall clearly the scene, Beck Wethers crossing one of the crevaces in the Khumbu glacier by ladder, a huge chunk of ice cracked apart and i uttered out "I WILL GO THERE SOME DAY". Blatantly my dad said "no need at all, theres so many other places to travel to, why risk your life going there". And i kept on saying let it be risky i will reach the top of the world someday. "Life is not worth if you are afraid of the outcome even before you take a step" and from that day EVEREST has been inside me and continues to grow.
But so naive i was that i had never done a trek nor a hike when i was uttering out all those to my father. To add on to it, i initially thought that it would cost 3/4 lacs to reach the top. Hahaha what a mockery i made of myself.
A few days later seating inside security check while i was flying to guwahati to drop off my girlfriend to IIM Shillong, i was browsing the internet only to find myself what i fool i was in thinking that it takes 3 lacs to summit. A bare minimum of 25 lacs!!! are you kidding me google. I recounted the zeros mentioned in that page with the slightest hope that my eyes tricked me but no, the other sites reaffirmed the same. Shattered to pieces.
For a middle class family shelling out 25/30 lacs of hard earned money that too for climbing a mountain, the very thought of it is a syntax error. I tried thinking over it but my mind was just blank. Nothing, zero, nada...
May be some places were only meant for the riches. Disheartened i was as this much amount was not something i can ask from my parents, neither could i save it all alone as i was in my initial phase of job, and with this i decided not to think about it.
A month later my girlfriend planned for a hike to Vaishno Devi and we without giving it a second thought booked the train tickets and off we went. Reached Jammu in the morning, took a bus and by 11 am we were in Katra. Back then we used GoIbibo to book hotels and so booked one through it. Checked in, freshened up and in no time we were in the streets. Having digested a scrumptios veg thali we went to the tourism office to gather every bit of information about the hike. We dint have any knowledge about it, niether did we bother doing any research before coming. We planned, we booked and reached... come what may we will go and have darshan of the holy shrine.
A 13 kms one way hike through paved ways also gives you alternates in the form of donkey/horse rides, palki or pitthu to the temple gates. A casual paced walk generally takes 5 to 6 hours to the top, the way back down is generally a bit quicker. Since we dint have much time and had already planned to leave the following day our main concern was the bhavan timings but the word from tourism office about it staying open for 24 hours cleared the air. So we both decided to start somewhere in the afternoon after a quick rest.
Up in the lap of mountains the weather changes way too fast and yet again we were experiencing one right before our eyes. A bright sunny day changed to a cloudy one in a span of 2 hours while we dozed off in our hotel room.
With no time to loose we took our bottles in rucksack and started off. The condition was overcast and we dint have our only saviour... "The raincoat". Also no proper warmers which we might need up top in night, how foolish of us. But there was indian jugad atleast to cater to the rains if it pours and it did start to drizzle within the 1st 500 metres, what luck!!! There were quite a few hawkers selling white plastics;"lelo bhaiya raincoat lelo" and that is what saved us to an extent when the clouds opened up.
The path leading to the temple is well paved and has quite a few snack stalls, one could rest and recoup. But personally theres not a single moment one will feel tired as the chants of "Jai Mata Di, Saare bolo Jai Mata Di, Jor se bolo Jai Mata Di" from the devotees resonates the air lifting the spirits up.
Our plan was to start by 3, reach bhavan by 7 pm and reach back by 12 am. Things seldom go as per plan. We started by 3, but were slowed down by the rains. Half way up by 5 pm, it had now started to pour heavily. The indian jugad somewhat saved the upper body but the backpack, shoes had no saviour. Completely soaked, we thought resting would not be a good idea as it would delay making us wear these drenched clothes for longer time. Luckily after 2 3 kms it stopped raining, phewww!!!!
The valley below offered a soothing sight to our eyes. All green with the clouds above made us forget the pain we were in for the wet clothes.
We can find positive energy everywhere if we keep ourselves open and looking around we could see small kids, gray haired elderly people who were in the same plight as us but were happily chanting "Jai Mata Di" and inching ahead. So never give up and never complain.
Soaking in the mesmerizing beauty we reached the top at around 7:30 pm only to find a huge motionless queue.
The gates to bhavan had been temporarily closed due to Aarti. A daily routine it was, but that meant we had to brace ourselves from the cold winds for atleast 2 hours which had picked up pace as the sun went behind the mountains.
Finally when the queue started to move it was already 10 pm but it hardly took one hour to reach the main cave. The holy cave enshrines the stone images of goddesses Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. One can barely stay 15 secs to have darshan before being pushed off. Thats understandable as there are countless piligrims waiting for this auspicious glance. Let all the prayers be heard....
We turned around and trudged back in the cold of the night. The downward movement is always fast and less tiring but what i came to know is that it gives more pressure to your knees and by the time we reached base by 2:30 am my ACL's felt as if to tear off but deep down i knew that pain is temporary and what we just did might not be a big deal but it was THE START.
When i look back to that night, it gives me hope, it gives me strength and positives vibes making me believe its all in the head. Theres power in our dreams and thought that we cant comprehend and when alligned in the right direction it leads them to us. Smitten by the rains and cold weather me and my girlfriend dint give up that night and on reaching back we were overwhelmed on how a simple thought can do wonders. Ma Vaishno Devi again imbibed in me not to give up on my dreams; the money is huge, the process will test my patience and the path agonizing but BADHE CHALO....
IT HAS JUST STARTED AND WHAT I SAID TO MY DAD WILL BE MET....
OTHER JOURNEYS TO BE CONTINUED...