The Prologue: A call to ShrikhandYear 2011
It was the year 2011 when I saw a poster of Shrikhand Mahadev. I had gone to the market and somewhere at a prominently visible landmark, I saw it. I was hooked. All that I had read in the book Blink worked for me. I knew this was the place I wanted to go. Where this place was, what all this place was all about seemed irrelevant to me at that point in time. So novice I was that I was stupid enough to think that you have to scale this mountain and reach the top! I had fallen in love with the place!
Subsequent inquiries and search on the NET made me aware of the rugged and difficult level of the terrain that you have to traverse to reach at the foot of the rock which signifies the all powerful Shiva!
This was a time when I was restless on account of so many not-so-good things taking place in my life and perhaps running away to a secluded place, even if for some days, was the driving force behind my stubborn decision to go visiting Shrikhand Mahadev.
My brother, ten years younger to me, reacted with disbelief when I shared my dream with him, I had thought that he would help me plan the visit but all that he said was, “Are you mad?” and further added, “one of my friends told me how someone fell before his eyes and he could do nothing to save him.” He dissuaded me and my resolve to go to Shrikhand in the year 2011 met with an opposition from all quarters! In fact, I was relying on my brother to help me plan the visit but no such luck. By the time the scheduled yatra time was over and I was left with mo option but to drop the idea.
But Shrikhand never got off my mind and I would often think of the magnificent rock that stood like a crown in the great Himalayan ranges.
Once again I saw the same poster and read about the details of the pilgrimage. This year I had done my home work quietly! I knew that I had to be in good physical shape to take this arduous trekking so I had taken to getting up at 5 a.m. and going to the sports ground and jog for 3 kms.! In the evening I would, once again, go to the ground and again take five rounds of the field without break. I was trying to develop stamina which I needed badly during the ensuing trip. When others would inquire why had I taken to this strenuous regimen, I would laugh away their comments saying, “I am preparing myself for Shrikhand trek!” And soon, very soon, it became the talk of the campus that I was planning to trek to Shrikhand though at home no one had any idea about what I had in mind.
As soon as the date for the trek was announced, I made my announcement at home to my dear KS, “I would be going to Shrikhand!” Knowing well how smitten I was with Shrikhand, KS started planning the trip. We both complement each other. I go by heart and he goes by mind. I am emotional but he is rational. He thought about all that this trip would entail and started thinking and planning rationally. The toughest part was to keep it a secret from our kids who would be acting like “parents” to stop me from taking this trip!:) I would act very normal while chatting with my kids and would hide all my paraphernalia if it was a web-chat so that none of my kids could notice the raincoat, jacket, torch etc. haphazardly lying in a heap behind me. I would not have been in a position to answer their poking questions. God what eagle-eyed they were so I would hide everything before I would start web-chat! But my Little one could sense something and was very inquisitive, Somehow we kept it all a well hidden secret.
I wanted to surprise everyone. I wanted to prove my mettle and let them know only when the desired was done. I was mad, totally mad. It was adrenalin rushing in my body that made me so excited. But the good part was that instead of hopping in a bus for Rampur, I had my husband with me to plan the trip!
I started preparing on my own about the essential paraphernalia that I would be needing for the trip whereas KS started preparing for how to reach the destination! We were at Hamirpur. We had to reach Rampur. There were two ways to reach Rampur–one was via Shimla and the other was via Mandi Karsog! We decided to take the Karsog route.
I was excited, rather it would be an understatement to say that I was excited. I was euphoric!
But during all this excitement I had taken special care not to reveal a word about it to my brothers as I knew that both of them would dissuade me, once again, from taking the trip, With all the preparation finalized both of us one fine day left for Sundernagar en-route to Shrikhand!
…..to be continued.
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