THE LAND OF IMMORTALS
“For ages, they kept on showering the bliss on mankind without any demands”.
“We will not follow the normal route, instead, we will trek to that mountain to reach Tosh, it will consume less time as well”, Pranay told us while sucking the Maggi as if it was going to be a walk in the park.
We reached Barshaini after nearly fifteen hours of jading journey. We travelled all the way from ISBT Kashmiri Gate -New Delhi to Bhuntar and then through a local bus we reached Barshaini, the last point for connectivity. Mountains are the trademark of Himachal Pradesh. One can witness them as soon as one enters this state. Throughout our journey, the shape and texture of the mountains kept on changing as if mountains too knew the art of clothing. Our eyes were squinted right through the journey on the front glass of the bus because we desperately wanted to reach Tosh.
“No I am not following that route, I will follow the normal road”, I was literally in no mood for trekking. That mountain which he had pointed was quite steep and no signs of trails were present. But Pranay, an aficionado of trekking pushed us and forcefully took us to climb that mountain. It was the first time I got the taste of an alien term i.e. trekking.
Our little trek started. I barely had moved three or four feet up when I got butterflies in my stomach. But I like challenges, ate a chocolate and started again. On top of that mountain what we witnessed was just an introduction of the most delicious dish which we were about to have. A large snowfield welcomed us and without wasting a second I thanked Pranay for forcing us to follow that route. The scenic beauty was mesmerising. It looked like a giant bed of snow deep below which was Parvati River, it was surrounded all around by majestic mountains, some were enveloped by snow, and some were green. They were so majestic they could even hide the sun. We danced, we kicked, we jumped, we played and we ate the snow just like juveniles. The clock showed two O clock and we had few hours left to reach Tosh because the Sun sets early in these parts of the world. We moved ahead and reached a point from where the dam in Tosh could be seen deep down, it was astounding to watch the thin Blue, the glittering image of Parvati River which was flowing with a sweet sound.
I often wondered about who a real traveller is? Guess what! I got the answer.
The river is a true traveller. The moment she incepts, she starts flowing with her full breath. Even the giant rocks can’t block her passage; instead, they are thrashed away by her tenacity. The river keeps on flowing, mingling with different soils, giving birth to new life, crossing every barrier before it falls in the sea or ocean i.e. she reaches her destination.
After ninety minutes of trekking, we were welcomed by a milestone which said, ‘Tosh-0 KM’.
Tosh is a small village situated in the lap of mountains. We saw small houses; they were placed like small cards on the Domino made of mountains. It was the best place for the most scintillating view of majestic mountains. My fatigue evaporated after I witnessed the beauty of the place. For the first time in my life I admired the dogs, they had furs and unlike street dogs they barely barked and were friendly.
The Himalayan crows were majestic as well, their feathers were big. Pranay had already been here before so he told us to stay at Pinky Didi, the dormitory which provided the best view. We crossed a small bridge, below which was a trickle of a river. I saw all around, The only thing I saw was snow. We watched the Sun set and entered the dormitory where we were served food. It was the month of December and as the darkness started enveloping the arena; we were welcomed by chilling winds and dipping temperature. After the supper, I stood outside the dormitory and what I saw was beautiful. I saw the Milky Way, our galaxy. The sky was flooded with stars. Each one of them was staring me, I could easily see the constellations. It was mesmerising but the cold outside could kill me so went inside the dormitory and fell down to sleep.
It was twelve O’clock when my sleep was broken. I checked my cell phone, the temperature showed minus twelve degree Celsius. It was horrifying. I peeped outside from the left glass window, what I saw was a giant mountain smiling at me. I peeped outside from the right glass window; again what I saw was a huge mountain. As if this was not enough, the sweet sound of the small waterfall just below our dormitory was thumping my ear. I felt like sandwiched between two giant mountains who were tempting me to come out.
We woke up at Five O’clock sharp and immediately rushed outside because we wished to witness the Sunrise. We started walking up, the houses went past and we kept on moving up. We decided to trek to a small house which was right on top of a mountain.
“That point would be great to witness the sunrise”, Pranay shouted.
The trek started, I walked carefully on the slippery steep trails. It’s amazing when you walk through the trails, one can easily witness thousands of footmarks, the trails are never straight so you never know what is coming up, and the trails never give you any idea about how much time will take to reach the destination.
It took nearly an hour to reach the house at the top of the mountain. I felt a warm touch on my shoulder. I turned back and then what I saw was a thing of beauty, something which I will never forget. The god of light, the destructor of the darkness, the hope of billions of the billions, the Sun opened its gates and allowed the rays to illuminate the mountains in Tosh. It was the most beautiful Sunrise I have ever seen.
I went up and sat on a chair and kept on staring the beautiful mountains from there, the houses in Tosh deep down looked like small boxes, the people in that house were rejuvenated to see us. According to them, travellers coming this early in the morning was a rare sight. They offered us tea.
I have never been to the heaven but what I definitely know is the heaven would have the amalgamation of the peace, greatness like the mountains, beauty, soothing winds, the noble residents and the pithy trails of Tosh. For me, it was heaven, the feelings which were in my heart can’t be explained in words. I can rush through the dictionary to find a suitable word but won’t find it. Pranay had the desire to trek for some more time so he went up. I sat on the top, took out a piece of paper and ran the pen for one of the most beautiful things gifted to us by the literature, yes i wrote a poem.
“I sit on the top,
With the sun smiling on my face,
Pleased to see the mighty mountains,
They are the monuments of nature.”
“I sit on the top,
With the cold icy wind rubbing my hair,
The Parvati River singing the ballad of freedom,
With its sweet music echoing in the surroundings.”
“I sit on the top,
Where the mountains are bridging the sky,
Painted on a blue canvas and covered by ice,
With their greatness personified.”
“I sit on the top,
With a blissful heart,
And the adrenaline rushing through the nerves,
Pushing me hard to touch the heights.”
Our next destination was Rasol (nearly four and half hours trek from Kasol); we took a local bus and reached Kasol in two hours. It was already dark in the evening so we decided to stay in Chalal, a small village near Kasol. To reach Chalal we had to cross a small forest, our flashlights were on and we started walking. Firstly we had to cross a bridge. It was horrifying with no street light around and a river flowing below the bridge with the unique sound created due to the mingling of the water and the rocks. The bridge too was a bit shaky because of its design. I shifted my torch towards the river; the thrill I got is unmatched. After crossing the bridge, the forest started. Adarsh already had recited a story regarding ghosts in the forest and his victim was Anil. We asked Anil to walk in the centre. We crossed the forest in twenty minutes and reached a hotel near the hot water spring.
It was a bright sunny morning when I woke up and came out of the room. It was a normal morning with everything happening around as it usually happens but it was not just another day for us. Four hours trek and we would be standing in Rasol, some 2500-2800 m from the sea level.
We started our trek with all the requisites and perquisites. We crossed the village and the trails started. It was not going to be easy because we had our travelling bags on our backs and steep road to walk on. Sometimes we saw the shepherds with their sheep’s and a small trickle of water flowing around us. With every foot I climbed, I felt the pressure on my knees and the rush of adrenaline complemented with faster heart beats. This is the beauty of trekking. You already know that the walking on the trails will be one hell of a job, it will need a lot of stamina, a slight disturbance in the fulcrum and you are out of the game, but the temptation to climb up eats up all these glitches and threats. The mountains soak up your energy but in return, they will provide you with the energy in the form of its beauty and majesty.
I used to climb up for ten to fifteen minutes and then stop to take some random pictures, catch my breath and move ahead. Throughout the journey, I kept on lamenting on a simple question.
Why did I come here?
The first reason which tops the list could be, I was bored by college and city life so needed a break. But for refreshment, I could have gone back to my home, why to bother myself on mountains. The second reason could be the temptation for the world famous Marijuana of Himachal Pradesh. Hell no, because I will smoke only when all the gods come down and force me to do so. Later on, I realised everything does not occur because of a reason. Sometimes it’s good to do something without a purpose, who knows you might learn something.
The mountains presented me the real image of nature, the mountains introduced me to new challenges and above all, they taught me the art of writing poems. They say that you need to have a broken heart to become a poet, well here is what I propose, come to the land of immortals, the mountains will take you on a ride of the lifetime and to express your euphoria you will be needing a medium and who knows you might write something.
The trek was on; I kept on watching the new faces of nature. Some of them were beautiful, some of them were hard, some were bright, and some were dark.
With all hiccups and awe, I finished the trek within three hours. A small village called Rasol and its people welcomed us. We sipped tea and ate some food. We already had planned to stay there for the night. Rasol was yet to receive a snowfall so the snow was not present there, in the evening we talked to one of the locals and he told us to climb for two to three hours up where we could find snow, the place was Warem. Next morning was the one last gasp for us. Our last trekking adventure was on the cards. We along with Lenin (a dog who accompanied us throughout the Rasol trek) embarked on the trek of Warem. It was situated perfectly on top of a mountain. I was slowest amongst all of my friends so I enjoyed my own company and moved slowly through the rocks which were jig jag in orientation. This was the most difficult trek of the trip. The path was a bit rocky, narrow and completely steep. During the trek I met with many locals, talked to them and tried to know about their daily challenges and hardships. They never talk to you like strangers, I just wondered about the city life.
I walked for an hour or so when I reached a point where two trails diverged. My friends were quite ahead so I had no idea which road to follow. The narrow trail towards my right side was quite clear and easy to walk on. I thought, it would be the correct path. I followed it and after ten minutes I found myself stuck at the end. The trail ended and all I could see was a completely steep mountain face on my left side and on my right side was a deep abyss with a river. The scene was astonishing but my situation was perplexing. A foot wrong and I could be swallowed by the abyss. I carefully turned back without looking down and repented on not remembering the Robert Frosts poem, the road not taken. I returned back and followed the trail which I had left. The trails were quite drier as compared to that of Tosh but I was excited about the prospects of availability of snow at the top.
After an hour’s trekking, I went past a deserted house made of woods and behind it was the top of the mountain. The image which I witnessed down there was like an elixir for me. Two hours of a jading trek and what I saw was an ocean of snow. There was nothing but snow. It was like a dream, I have heard of utopia, I also know that it can only be achieved in dreams. Well, it was the utopia because everything was perfect. The place was alienated from all the technology connoisseurs. The place was beautiful because of the lack of human interventions. I walked through the thick cover snow and reached the centre of the area. I jotted down few lines related to that place later on.
“I am lost in a dream,
Standing in the lap of great Himalayas,
Surrounded by the walls of greatness,
Allured by the scenic beauty,
“Try to wake me up,
I am lost in the ocean of ice,
Watching the mingling of the rays of the Sun and cool breeze,
With white glittering light enveloping me".
“Don’t wake me up,
Because the story is being deciphered by nature itself,
And the temptation is eternal,
To cross the walls of greatness.”
“I snapped out of the dream,
The walls replaced by concrete,
A world filled with sorrows and excuses around,
Oh! God bring back the dream.”
I was standing on top of a mountain, surrounded all around with the snow. There was nothing more to climb, this was Mount Everest for me. I saw layers and layers of mountains around, all connected with one another arousing the curiosity about where would they lead to? I felt like standing inside a lotus flower. You peel off a layer you will get another. You peel off that layer too you will again be welcomed by another. The mountains presented the similar image; they had trapped the rays of the Sun, the rich greenery, flora and fauna and above all my curiosity.
We boarded a bus to return back to Delhi after a journey of a lifetime experience. Everyone had a satisfactory look with a promise in their eyes to come back once again. The bus started and all the mountains started going past. They say that one must not look back and strive hard to move ahead, well I looked back for once and what I saw was the mountains bidding me goodbye along with their trails.
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