A news item in the Tribune that Kamru Nag, the reigning deity of Mandi Shivratri, has descended down from his abode in the majestic top of the Kamrah village to bless his devotees at Mandi Shivratri reminded me of our visit to the Kamru Nag temple. A very recent visit i.e. on 12 February, 2011, is remarkable for many things as I sincerely could count my blessings rather than rue over my trials and tribulations!
Friday, 11 February, 2011
Trekking to Kamrunag in Winter…
“Can we trek to Kamru Nag during this time of the year?” was a query that my son had during his recent visit. I had no answer to it and asked one and all who had any idea about trekking to KamruNag durig winter months. The answers baffled me. Someone advised, “It is much risky, as there may be bears in the prowl!” Another one warned, “the snow on the slopes is tricky and dangerous!” The best advice, though, was, “if go you must, go in a group.” As my son would have gone back had we waited for the better times to trek to Kamrunag, we had no choice than to decide to go to Kamrunag in the month of February. And this year the prolonged winters in Himachal made our trekking decision too dicey and affair.So one fine morning on 11 February, 2011 we started in the morning for Rohanda, which is some 45 kilometers from Sundernagar. The trek to Kamrunag is difficult but the real pleasure of seking his blessings is when one treks through the rocky terrain passing the deep deodar forests to reach his temple at Kamru Nag.
We reached Rohanda at 10 a.m. The air was chilly. The sky was overcast with clouds though there seemed very less probability of rain but you can’t say anything as it is the abode of rain god that we wished to reach! We had slight heated discussion at Rohanda as I was not at all inclined to take along my husband KS to this trek. We had planned earlier that he would stay at Rohanda while all of us went trekking up Kamrunag! I had a very solid point. Ever since his hear injury, I had become very protective towards him. Taking him to this trek was nothing less than taking a big risk and I was not in any mood to risk his safety and health at all. But stubborn as he, too, is like me, he brought out two walking sticks from the rear of the car and said jokingly, There are to support the two oldies in the group.” He wanted to come. My son, too, wanted him to come, but he didn’t know much about the precarious condition that his Papa, after his mysterious head injury, had been in the Neurosurgery Emergency ward of PGI Chandigarh!
I had to give up and we started for Kamrunag with prayers in our heart. The local people looked at us with starange mix of feelings. They had seen young people taking a chance of trekking to Kamrunag at this tiem of the year but not persons like us! But we moved on.
To be continued…
I am just wondering what is so great about the day except perhaps for the numerals that are so unique by their numbers. Looking back at the day I am trying to find something great about this special day. So I tried to analyze what did I do that was uniquely different from my other days? Well, yes, it was different. Today we went for a very long drive. We went to Sandhole, a place some fifty kilometers from Hamirpur and the road was anything but smooth! But the pristine beauty of the nature all around did wonders and more than compensated for the bad road. I have taken some pretty shots of river Beas. And some other good shots of life in rural India. And above all I listened to wonderful stories of past. On the whole there was not something very special but I feel as if this magical number would herald some good phase in our life. Amen!
Purity in Stone
When I was showing some pictures to KN and this picture emerged, her response was simply: Shiva Shiva Oh Shiva! She was mesmerized by the plain and simple beauty of the Shiva Lingam and the serenity that surrounded the unadorned sculpture beside the water of river Beas! “Where is this sculptutre, I must see it before I say goodbye to HImachal” she sincerely entreated me with pure innocence of a childlike demand! “Please forward me this picture, I would make it the display picture on my desktop!” I could see the pure and unadulterated faith that was exuberating from her very being. And when I told her about a large number of Shiva temples in Mandi town, she was full of excitement. I wanted so much to take her to Mandi town and let her have a darshan of the Shiva temples with a rich variety of sculptures scattered in and around them. “I wish I could live at a place near a river which has this kind of Shiva Lingam nearby!” KN was weaving dream of a saint-like life and this place seemed the best bet for it.
I suddenly remembered my walk to this sculpture and a simple memory of the garbage that I walked upon, made me worry about KN’s visit to that place. KN, as we all knew, was a staunch champion for cleaning the Himalayas. A plastic bag or a piece of garbage would just piss her off! And God may help a person if he was ever seen spitting on a road by her. She would deliver a sermon to passers by if she ever saw them spoiling the pristine beauty of Himalayas. Here I mean HImachal by Himalayas as she always would treat Himachal with Himalayas! Such was her devotion to HImalayas and to maintain the clean environment of the sacred place! Then why didn’t I offer her a visit to Mandi?
Knowing well her penchant for the cleanliness that she considered next to godliness, I was sure of the hell befalling all had she paid a visit to this fine sculpture of Lord Shiva! I had to walk through garbage on all sides and the pipe seen in the background emitted water or god-knows-what, must have put off any devotee, the way it had offended me. I felt so bad but like an irresponsible citizen, who passes off without doing anything, I, too, walked past. Perhaps, like many others, I too believed that someone else would take up the responsibility of cleaning the surroundings! I shirked my responsibility of being a responsible citizen but looking back I see with a clarity that KN would never have allowed herself to remain a passive visitor. She mush have done everything that she could do to clean up the surrounding or at the best shout herself in the corridors of the powers that be! But I am raising my feeble voice to write about the casual approach that we have developed when it comes to cleaning our surroundings. No wonder we need someone else to come and show us the way. We surely wait for some “garbage girl” to come and show us the way to clear garbage!
Up above the world so high, Like a cloud in the sky! …
Moving up the hilly trek we would feel to have reached the highest point and our destination but it would meandour into another hillock which would raise its head from nowhere. Though we would be disappointed but the challenge that nature put before us would make us accept it. To compensate and to more than make up for the tiredness was the pristine and seemingly untouched nature’s splendour opening up its coffers before us.
Every scene was more beautiful than the other.
We felt like having been transported to an altogether different world where the mundane problems, of the world that we had left behind, simply evaporated. The delicate meandouring path among the greens would suddenly give rise to solid and rocky path and we would be transforming ourself to face the changes. Is it not what the life as well does to us?
My Maa, in her early seventies, surprised us all by her mental and physical strength. She walked all the way despite her weak heart! I could see where I have got this physical and mental strength. Its all in genes. The Lake was nowhere in sight and we were dead tired but up we treaded like a pack of excited small kids on their first outing! Every new step heralded a step towards the goal, howsoever far that may be!
The Verdant Green–Mystifying, Enigmatic and Daunting…
Walking along the deep green meadows we talked about all that anyone of us would share about the deep jungle around us. The anecdotes, though hard to believe, added to the feeling of awe that ruled our hearts. The verdant green seemed enigmatic, daunting and mystic. Yes, these are the feelings that the verdant green surroundings filled our hearts with when we looked around the dense pine jungles with thick vegetation sprouted with big solid rocks in between! Was it not this very jungle that saw the aircraft carrying the then Governor of Punjab going down. In 1994, Punjab governor Surendra Nath — who was also officiating as governor of Himachal — and nine members of his family were killed in a plane crash on the Kamrunag mountains, bordering Kullu and Mandi districts. Call it a coincidence, but Surendra Nath was going to Kullu from Chandigarh and accompanying him was his younger son, Vikram Malhotra, who was then the deputy commissioner, Kullu. The accident occurred on July 9. The unfortunate mishap took the lives of three generations of the 68-year-old governor’s family.
I tried to imagine a complete family in a happy mood going down in flames amid these very trees. These trees seemed to have watched it all. The tragic death of the twelve members of his family and also the crew made headlines in almost all the newspapers at that point of time. The rumours by the local people that the jungle was littered with cash and ornaments added to the mysticism of the accident. The local people have a tale to tell about the unfortunate incident. The hearsay is that the Governor wanted to purchase some land in the adjoining area and was on a visit to pay for the land. The local deity had not assented to such a deal and this was the way to stop the deal. The tale justified the scattered cash and ornaments in the jungle. Enigmatic godly interference! No one would ever know the truth of the tale. We looked at the deep thick jungle and the verdant green around us fand the sight filled us with enigmatic, mystic and daunting feeling.
Interestingly since my mom, too, had decided to trek with us, the three generations of our family were represented in this trip! I shuddered to think.“Can gods be so ruthless?” shaken to her core, asked my little one. “Yes, they are, but only to those who transgress the boundaries made by the gods” I added thinking of so many persons who try to play god in the lives of others. Is it not that Kamrunag always sides with the party that is losing? The local people might have been on the losing side when it came to put a stop to a land deal where high and mighty were interested and the deity showed his wrath. The tales about the large forest area littered with cash further substantiated the myth of the Kamru Nag where devotees throw ornaments and coins in the lake as an offering to the god. The excitement in the mood had given place to somberness. Everyone was deeply immersed in thoughts about the tragic incident.
If there was deep forest on one side the other side had rocks whereon feet of innumerable people might have treaded to pay obeisance to Dev Kamru Nag. We, too, marched ahead leaving the past behind, literally as well as psychologically!
A Panaromic View of the Road to Rohanda
01 July, 2008
The first thing that I did on the morning of 1st July, 2008 was to look at the sky. The sky, blue and shining, seseemed to smile at me. It was clear of the clouds that filled it last evening. The sun peeping from behind the mountains seemed to rejoice at the childlike enthusiasm that filled my mind with. I was excited and shouted aloud to everyone in the family to get up. Suddenly the silent and sleeping home came to life and was filled with commotion as everyone was up and about. And why would they not be as today we were going to trek all the way to Lake Kamru Nag, but only if the sky would not be cloudy! The only stumbling block would had been an overcast sky with impending rain following it!
The month of July is the month of heavy rains in Himachal and curiously the legendary Kamru Nag is the god of the rain for the believers. I had prayed hard to the god the previous night to save us from rain in the mornig and the god had listened to my prayers. I was filled with gratitude and hoped that it will surely listen to my other prayers and bless me with his benevolence. With a heart filled with rekindled hope, I started making preparations—preparations to trek to Lake kamru Nag. I packed some Paranthas, fried potatoes and some pickle as working lunch as I had been told that there is no shop at Kamru Nag lake.
Starting early we travelled by vehicle from Mandi to Sundernagar a distance of about 24 Kms. And from there we took Mandi—Karsog road. The trek would start from Rohanda that is about 50 Kms. from Sundernagar. We started the trek from Rohanda and when we looked down; the panoramic view of the valley looked majestic. I marvelled at the look of the road that seemed like a serpent from this place. I marvelled at enigma of the nature and also at man’s ability to reach the unreachable! The undying spirit of can-do attitude!The verdant surroundings added to our enthusiasm and we moved ahead with a thrill in our heart and with a can-do attitude we started the ascent!
22 March, 2008
Mute Animals at Mela Ground
I had heard so much about the Nalwar mela that I could not contain my excitement when I got a chance to actually see the mela on 22 March, 2008. It was a news to me that there are three Nalwar melas i.e. Nalwar Bilaspur, Nalwar Bhangrotu and Nalwar Sundernagar. Among all these three Nalwar Melas the one at Sundernagar is the most famous one. It was a treat to my eyes to watch hilly bullocks all decorated in red ribbons and other fineries, heading for the mela. No, they were not going there out of their own sweet will but their owners literally dragged them to the mela ground. They were to be sold! I felt sorry for them as their wish had no value for the owners. Many of these young pairs of bullock, it must have been their first visit to a town and many of them might have seen and experienced the vehicular traffic for the first time in their young life as fear was writ large on some of the countenances, if I could read the expressions well.
Eager to collect as much information as I could from the bystanders, I interacted with many a people and collected a lot of interesting information. There were many breeds of bullocks as Punjab, J & K, U.P. and the local area farmers actively participate in the fair. I saw a number of pairs of bullocks that had red ribbons tied on their foreheads and some even had a red tikka mark as well. I could see the love and care that was showered on these mute animals by the persons who had reared them, especially the women accompanying the pair were more compassionate towards the stubborn animals!
With camera in hands I wanted to click a few pictures that would capture the true expressions on the countenances of the bullocks but when some bullocks came running towards us, I literally forgot about everything else and ran to same myself from some injury. The bullocks were not comfortable for being led to the mela ground as it was something that was happening for the first time in their life. Like human beings, they too seemed to resist change in all forms. I saw a pair that was so adamant that the owners had to pull the bullock with such a strength that their was bleeding from the nostril of one of the animals. I felt so sorry for the animals. My accompanist told me that there are veterinary doctors camping at the mela ground to provide all possible medical aid to the animals. I was a bit relieved t0 learn of this angle of the management. Talking to the vets made me appreciate the hard work that goes behind the scene to make such melas possible. The Animal Husbandry department vaccinates all animals at the Mela against Foot and Mouth disease that some of them might have contacted through the long and arduous journeys that they have to undertake to reach this place. The department has made this service available to the bullocks free of cost so that the owners may not shy away from getting their bullocks vaccinated. Every owner has to get his bullocks registered at the Veterinary stall and get a certificate. I was all praise for the stalwarts of the department who were providing such a service when I just ran for my life when a pair of uncontrolled bullocks charged towards me!
Another interesting fact that came to my notice was that the manual for of ploughing was still the feasible and practical way of farming in some areas of the hilly state as the terraced fields could be ploughed with the help of bullocks only. But the sad part of the story was that the rearing of male calf was on a decline and the number of bullocks had declined considerably. Someone chipped in another startling information that some persons leave their incurable animals at the Mela ground as they find no reason to feed a useless animal. I was at a loss of words as how could someone do this to a mute and suffering animal but then have we not become so progressive that carrying a dead weight is the last thing that we would do.
Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister inaugurated the week long State Level Nalwari Fair of Sundernagar in district Mandi by nailing the stake at Nagaun Khad and worshipping a pair of oxen, symbol of hilly agriculture. He said that the cattle fair were directly linked with the agro-economy since trading of oxen had been taking place during such fairs and every farmer visits the mela to buy best pair for ploughing their fields. He said that the significance of domestic animals was still of utmost importance with the hilly farmers where scientific farming was not practical. He emphasized the need to rear best species of the domestic animals to carry their agricultural activities more effectively besides adopting the modern scientific modes of farming.
I wish that the Chief Minister initiates some plans so that the farmers are encouraged to take care of the male animal rearing in the right spirit and the symbolic worshipping of the pair of oxen turns into the real worshipping of the oxen in the everyday life of hilly areas.