Shrikhand Mahadev: The Uncertainty Preceding the Yatra

Monday, 16 July, 2012                                                           Ganvi (Jeori)

From Ganvi to Phancha

The two days that I spent at Ganvi were full of hope and despair. One moment I would be full of hope that my dream to visit Shrikhand would be realized but the other moment I would be full of despair as uncertainty loomed large over my plans!

The more number of people we would talk to, the more confused we would be! When I had started, I had one thing clear in my mind that I would have to trek 37 Kms. and that the terrain would be difficult. I was prepared for the same. I had come to Ganvi as my brother-in-law was serving there and I had hoped to fit myself in any local group starting from Ganvi! Inquiries on Monday produced no results as no one from Ganvi was going. The land lady had a word of advice for me, “you should have come in a group!” And further explained, “the snow is deep and heavy this year and it might be difficult for you to walk!” She had put in very politely her disapproval for my plan to travel alone. Another point may be would have been her plain under-appreciation in the capabilities of  someone from lower region  to trek in such a rough terrain. Looking back I find that she was so right!

I was uncertain of myself by now! All my self-confidence and months of training on the ground was shattered! KS was more concerned about me when another person had a tale to share. According to him last year some three four boys decided to trek to Shrikhand from Ganvi. The group included his own son and also a friend of his son who had come from Chandigarh! On way back, the Chandigarh boy lost in the trails because of heavy fog that surrounds the mountains bring down the visibility to almost zero level. The poor Chandigarh boy could not be found by the friends though they tried as hard as they could, and they returned without him. The matter was reported to the police and the administration but even police could not locate him. Later on the boy returned on his own after 4-6 days. The local people owe it to the benevolence and  protection  of the local deity who guarded the boy throughout the ordeal! The boy was found by some local villager in the trails. “The boy walked following the Nanti rivulet as he knew that this flows by Ganvi and was able to reach some habitable place!

The story was a real incident and not a mere hearsay! It was not to scare away the pilgrims but to forewarn them of the dangers that lurked in the forests and mountains.  I was uncertain of the trails and was afraid of getting lost but was unable to find any local group going to Shrikhand. I decided to go back to Rampur and from there to Bagipul and join the pilgrims from there as I knew that Bagipul route was a busy route where one cannot be alone at any point of time! I discussed it with KS and after some ifs and buts decided for the Bagipul route.

But Shiva had different plans. My brother called me up in the evening as a routine matter. As by now I was fully prepared to go to Shrikhand and had reached the foothills of the trek, so I lent out my little secret and said to him, “Do you know where I am right now?” When he failed to guess, I blurted out my secret, “I am on my way to Shrikhand and plan to go tomorrow to Bagipul.”  When he came out of the initial shock, my brother asked me, “who else is going with you?” “I am going alone” I said, “but I would get many people on way to Shrikhand.”  I added. It was Monday evening. My brother must have felt concern for me. He said, “Wait for me. I would reach Ganvi tomorrow evening and both of us will go together!”

Honestly, I got so much of relief. I was happy that now nothing can change my plan to visit Shrikhand as I would have my brother with me. I told KS about this development and he, too, was much relieved. With Monday over, Tuesday was a day of wait for my brother but the plan to take up Bagipul route was still intact, But Shiva had another plan for me!

Tuesday, 17 July, 2012

The day was, as usual, not very happening. We planned to make the best use of the day in exploring places nearby. We went to Jeori and from there to Sarahan to pay obeisance at Bhimakali temple. While coming back from Sarahan, I could see Ganvi in the distance and felt like walking to Ganvi, it seemed so near though it was some 30 kms away. It was later that I learnt how distant goals appear so near in the mountains!

In the evening Tarun Goel called me up. He had read a post on my blog about my Shrikhand Yatra and he put me to Arun who had gone to Shrikhand both from the Jeori side and from Bagipul side. Arun’s call was the message that perhaps I needed at that time. “Ma’am let people say what they want to, but you can go!” He said to me. He wanted me to have faith in myself and not to be swayed by what others say about the trek. And after this call, I decided that now we would take the Jeori route as this was what we had decided in the beginning. I shook my head of all discouraging inputs that my little brain had been fed upon during the last two days. I let my mind ravel in the pleasant trek from the Phancha side.

But the final decision was to be taken when my brother would reach Ganvi. I had prepared rice. daal and a vegetable for the dinner. My brother, accompanied by one his friends, reached Ganvi at 11 p.m. It was quite late. We hurriedly had our dinner. Decided the Phancha route and packed our bags. It was decided that early in the morning we would start at 3 a.m. to Phancha by my my brother-in-law’s car and from there would start the journey!

With packed bags lying nearby, I went to sleep. I could not sleep despite my best efforts as all those negative thoughts came back to me and I was once again filled with doubt over my decision to trek to Shrikhand.

I was unable to decide. There was no point in debating over the pros and cons before the advent of the journey but I thought about KS and my three kids staying abroad. The thought of “what if …” would erupt its head and drive away all efforts to have a wink of sleep.

I tossed in the bed making as little noise as I could though the beds creeked every time I would as much as try to breathe heavily! I don’t know when, at last, I fell asleep. I had barely closed my eyes when there was sound of heavy rain thrashing the tin roof.  I thought of my childhood days when Amma would make us sit with book in hand when all that we wanted was to go to bed. And if perchance there would be power breakdown we would be so happy that now we can go to sleep!🙂 I had a similar kind of euphoria when the heavy rain lashed the region!

I was relieved. The relief was such that I cuddled myself in the blanket, tightly holding it close to me and thought of not coming out of this comfort zone. A part of my mind and heart was happy that it was raining as my brother-in-law would not be able to take his car to Phancha as the kuchha road would be full of mud! And we would not go to Shrikhand tomorrow!

Surprisingly I didn’t feel regret at our plans coming tumbling sown but I was feeling relieved! I could sleep now. Sleep peacefully. But suddenly there was a knock at the door and I found my brother and his friend ready to take on the journey! I, too, had to get up, though not very willingly and I straight way went to the kitchen to prepare tea. We all waited for the rain to stop and start the journey. By this time I made some chapattis and we had one chapatti each with the leftover vegetable of the previous night, Though none of us was interested in gulping chapatti at that deadly hour but the feeling that where and when the next meal would come from, made us gulp it down.

The rain stopped. It was 5 a.m. by now and we all were ready to go. I looked at KS. I held him close to myself and could feel energy from  his body transferring to me. All the feeling of uncertainly, doubt and fear vanished from my mind. I knew that I was given an opportunity of once-in-lifetime by Shiva and I had to come true on His test!

We walked by the bank of Nanti rivulet to the car which took us to Phancha! The drive from Gabvi to Phancha took almost an hour for a distance of barely 10 Kms.

And by 6-20 a.m. we were at Phancha!

…………..to be continued.

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