Day 3: Trek from Nako to Tashigong, four tramps, one purpose: Bliss!
I wanted to visit the village of Tashigong by trekking- the last Indian village before Tibet, 12 kms from Nako, but did not plan about it till the day before. When I visited the Nako monastery the last evening the Lama and his junior trainee told me about Tashigong and showed me the way to it. I was a bit skeptical to go alone on a 12kms trek because I did not know how the route will be. But I guess He listened to my prayers last evening at the monastery and the Lamas suddenly got an idea in their mind to visit Tashigong since they had been planning about it for quite some time. I told them I would meet them early in the morning and start. Meanwhile while I was exploring the village, I came across another solo traveller, a guest to our country from Israel, Gil Zissin, who has come for a year long trip to India and now he was in Nako. While talking to him I got to know that he has also heard about Tashigong and wants to visit it. So the four of us planned to start our journey together the next morning.
7:30am: DOCTOR SHAKSHUKA CAFE, So I went to this strange sounding cafe to have my breakfast and met the owner cum cook cum guide of this cafe, Dipender Ji. When he came to know that I am a bong, he started talking to me in Bengali and kept talking about delicious Bengali food which he could make. I was overwhelmed. By then Gil joined us and ordered the Tunisian/Israeli dish Shakshuka. This is when Dipender Ji told us the story behind the name of his cafe. The story goes like this, in 2007 a group of Israeli travellers came to Nako and one of them fell quite ill because of the food. That time, Dipender cooked Shakshuka for him every day for a week and everyday he kept recovering. The Israeli was fit after a week and this gave Dipender the idea to name his cafe DOCTOR SHAKSHUKA CAFE.
10:00am: After breakfast, Gil, the two Lamas and me started on our trek to Tashigong. I carried a big rucksack on my back with a few warm clothes in case we get stuck somewhere or had to stay back there in Tashigong. As we climbed the mountains I was finding it quite difficult mainly because of the extra kilos I had put on in the last two months of internship. I was so wishing I had not eaten so much when Gil offered me to exchange bags as his was lighter than mine. I was a bit hesitant but he insisted so I happily gave my bag to him and continued comfortably. We continued to climb for quite sometime till we reached a point from where we had to keep walking on the edge of mountains. This was also the point from where we saw the highest peak in Himachal, the Reo Purgyil at 22362feet.
1:00pm: While on the trek my three companions were quite ahead of me since all three of them had that ‘mountain genes’ in them. The Lamas were from Kinnaur having made so many treks like this. Gil fresh returned from his compulsory 3 year army stint in Israel was very active and always led us. So I was the one lagging behind and at times I could not find the three of them even far far ahead of me which is when I used to get demotivated and a bit scared of the wild fauna which I expected, but fortunately was missing. I was panting for breath at a point of time because of the steepness and a lot of perspiration. This is when I recalled my previous trek by TSAF and the trek to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi. I kept chanting ‘Jay Mata Di’ in a sort of dual voice, one is was speaking out and one in mind, this boosted my confidence and I could feel the divinity. I was able to walk now for much longer distances without taking rest.
3:30pm: After trekking for 12kms through the edge of the 12000feet+ mountains with dangerous unstable routes at times mostly alone, we reached Tashigong village. We took some rest of the rocks outside the monastery there and then went inside. We were very hungry since we had our breakfast quite early in the morning. So the Lamas tried to arrange some food for us in the village. This is when I got an oppurtunity to go inside a village house. A village woman Sonam Didi became our host and offered us tea at her home. She lived in a small hut, it seemed to be a poor household but it was self sufficient. She offered to cook lunch for us but we insisted not to since Gil and me wanted to return to Nako that day itself. But we all were actually very hungry, so when she insisted further, we agreed and she cooked ‘Kadhi Chawal’ for us. She cooked the food within 20-25 minutes and it tasted much much delicious than a buffet dinner in an elite restaurant. This was because of the warmth of the person who cooked and the way she served us I felt quite at home.
4:30pm: Me and Gil finished our lunch soon and we planned to climb down the mountain through a shortcut suggested by another villager, Palden Negi. This route was supposed to be 8kms long until we could reach NH22 from where we could get a vehicle for Nako if we reach by 6:30/7pm. With so many if conditions, we started climbing down. Climbing down was much easier and the route was much less risky. We came across pitch black horses, sheeps and heard drill shelling from the mountains of Tibet probably by their army just in front of Tashigong. By 6:30pm we reached the base of the mountain and by 7:30pm we got to NH22, completing the 22kms trek in just 7.5 hours. It gave an immense feeling of joy, achievement and fulfillment on reaching the highway.
7:50pm: After waiting for a while we got to hitchhike in a private cab coming from Chandigarh. The awesomeness of the day was yet to be over because we met these two young adventure freaks who were out for their first camping trip to Kinnaur. One of them was a lawyer, (cant recall his name) and the other a journalist,Himanshu but no one can probably predict their profession by their attitude and coolness. Which I am saying this is because the lawyer was a musician and they had put a camera on top of their car to record the path they were traversing to use the video in his music video. There was one more instance which was amazing that night. While the two played the famous number “Animals’ by Martin Garrex in the car and we were discussing philosophical stuff like there is an animal in every one of us, we came across a Himalayan fox crossing the road while approaching Nako. Its glistening eyes and long tail is a sight I would remember for a long long time.