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!

………… be continued.

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Shrikhand Mahadev: Karsog to Rampur to Jeori

Sunday, 15 July, 2012

The bus journey to Rampur and Jeori, throughout,  was a treat to eye though a ache in the back! The road was truly serpentine with deadly descent and narrow U-line curves! I was awestruck at the driving skills of the HRTC driver who would maneuver blind curves with extreme ease. Though the more popular road to Rampur and beyond is from Shimla but the Karsog road is full of such panoramic beauty that I had no doubt that we were heading towards a place of pristine beauty!

We had tea at Chowki where the dhaba had a local touch and flavor. The steamy hot paranthas were really inviting but it was too early for me to take anything so I made a mental note of partaking paranthas at some other time.  But later after the Shrikhand trek I realized that deferring to-do-things is not a healthy attitude as the next chance does not always come your way!

River Sutlej flows parallel to the narrow road to Rampur and at times I would try not even to breather heavily for the fear that my effort to breather heavily might not tilt the bus towards the river. Such close the road is to the river!

The Karsog valley was, as usual, beautiful! But focusing on the journey ahead I was immersed in deep thoughts about the ensuing trek! At Karsog a number of Sadhus boarded our bus chanting the name of Shiva! The bare chested and bare footed sadhus grabbed all the available seats and put their big bundles, sticks and umbrellas on the bus floor! They were insensitive towards fellow passengers. I thought hard what is the point in donning ocher clothes if you are like an average worldly human being? Most of the sadhus put earphones of their mobiles in their ears and switched on their mobiles. I am sure that they were not listening to any religious discourse on their cells! And the fact that these would be my fellow pilgrims made me somewhat uneasy!

Though KS had stopped his initial grumbling about travelling in a crampy bus but now this heightened activity in the bus made his grumbling to recur with enhanced vigor! “And these are the people you would be keeping company with during the yatra!” Even I was having the same thoughts. I was a bit worried by now as  I had planned to trek alone. The Sadhus, oblivious to the commotion they had created in the hitherto peaceful bus, were arguing with the conductor for some concession in the fare if not a free ride to the servants of the god on an arduous yatra!

I was feeling uncomfortable by now but a look outside the window to the distant Himalayas reaffirmed my faith that everything will fall back in place and I started enjoying my bus ride.

We reached Jeori y 2-30p.m. and here from we had to go to Ganvi which is barely 12 Kms. from Jeori. My brother-in-law was waiting for us and it took 50 minutes to cover these 12 Kms, The road was a difficult one. By 4 p. m. we were sipping a cup of tea at Ganvi and chatting happily! The tiredness of the journey was gone in a jiffy. It seemed as if the clear wind of the Himalayas had done wonders to us. The khadd nearby called Nanti was flowing with a loud noice. Someone pointed oout to me, ” this Nanti Khadd comes from Nanti village and has water from the Shrikhand in it.” I looked at the distant high mountainous peaks behind whom lay Shrikhanf!

My heart gave up the hope of ever reaching that height. But shaking my head of any negativity, I back-grounded all such feelings and waited for the next morning. The certainty that I had about my resolve to trek to Shrikhand was overtaken by a sense of doubt! I wanted to have a good sleep. Perhaps a dream may indicate the course of things to happen, perhaps may be God would send me a signal, I thought and prayed. With prayer in heart I went to sleep listening to the gushing sound of Nanti Khadd that brought water from Shrikhand!

Tomorrow is a new day, I thought, and a new beginning.


Shrikhand Mahadev: Hamirpur to Sundernagar

Saturday, 14 July, 2012

As I have never been a very organized person so I had planned to keep all the things that  I wanted to take in the form of a heap on the bed so that I don’t forget anything! There were certain things that I had scuttled from the cupboard others that I had borrowed from friends! 🙂 One special item was a walking stick that was a parting gift to me from Mukta, a dear friend. I got some improvements made in the walking stick  by getting a metallic end fixed to it.

I had kept a quilted olive green jacket to be taken on the trip. While packing the things in the bag-pack, I would be careful about the weight as I knew that I would have to carry it all by myself. So I had to make a very judicious selection of what to take and what not to take. I was undergoing Hamlet’s dilemma of to take or not to take? But by afternoon I had packed a bag, kept my cameras in a water-proof small bag, the stick on the bag and all this I had put on the jacket! I wanted to carry the jacket in my arms so had not packed it in any bag.

KS was busy preparing our ever faithful Red Maruti 8oo ready for a journey. He made a sign to me to come out. I hurriedly dropped a mail to all my three kids, announcing my visit to Shrikhand, barely a line. I went to the gods occupying a small alcove in the kitchen and prayed to them for a safe journey. Hurriedly carrying a bottle of water in one of my hands, a stick in the other hand, the bag on my back, I sprightly went down!

In all that hub I forgot that the jacket lay behind waiting to be carried. I had forgotten to carry the most important thing with me. Luckily I didn’t notice it till we reached Sundernagar otherwise I would have sullenly spoiled my mood as well that of KS!

It was at Sundrenagar, at my younger sister’s place, that I noticed that I had left the jacket behind. My sister, magnanimously, opened her almirah and pointed towards well stacked cupboard where neat and clean winter wears were stacked neatly! She asked me to take whatever pleased me. But I wanted something rugged, worn-out and old as  I knew that for some days that jacket would be serving me day and night. Finally I opted for the one that she had discarded! It fitted me well, comfortably and smugly.

All prepared we went to bed as early in the morning we had planned to get the first bus to Jeori from Sundernagar. The bus started at 5-30 a.m. and would drop us at jeori at 2-30p.m. My sister had packed lunch for us and we walked to the bus-stand in the morning. I had expected that it being a Sunday there would not be much rush in the bus but I was shocked to find the bus almost full and we were lucky to have a two-seater seat at the rear end of the bus.

Here, too, I noticed a point of difference between me and KS. I am more of a nomad and hop in buses feeling very comfortable but KS avoids buses if he can! 🙂 Though he wanted to drive to Jeori but I was against it so we fell for the bus journey but now sitting at the rear end of the bus I had to tolerate his grumbling! But after a while the grumbling paved way to resilience and we had a nice journey sitting together in a bus seat where the rear door of the bus opened!  It was after years that we were travelling together in a bus and it reminded us of the good old days when we had no car and we used to travel by buses and loved it too!

I thought how easily human mind adapts to all circumstances. We were happy and eager to visit a new place and to have a new experience.

… be continued

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Shrikhand Mahadev Kailash Yatra——–Part I

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.

Year 2012

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!

… be continued.

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Trekking to Shikari Ma Temple in Mandi

Trekking is on my mind these days so brought out the account of our trek to Shikari Ma temple in June, 2008 from my diary

Janjelhi, a virtual paradise on earth

A visit to Shikari Ma was on our agenda. It was after a very long time that the whole family was together and we wanted to make the best use of this opportunity. We started for Janjelhi which is about at a distance of 67 k.m. from Mandi. Janjehli is a paradise for hikers, offering treks up to a height of 3,300 metres. The nearest airport is at Bhuntar and from there one has to come to Mandi and from Mandi to Janjelhi.

The drive to Janjelhi is through the  green pastures, high mountains in the distance, and lush green forest that provide a relief to the eyes and the soul. The urban eyes accustomed to watch tarred roads and high-rise buildings get a relief on watching a still pristine life around the road. Though we had come from Hamirpur yet the panoramic beauty of Janjelhi mesmerized our scorched eyes as well. The drive was re freshening.

We reached Janjelhi in t

I, along with both of my daughters, tried to explore a little of the place outside. The golden rays of the setting Sun covered everything in golden hue and the place looked majestic. The pristine beauty of the surroundings and the coziness of the small houses on both sides of the road made it like any other small hamlet In Himachal but the only difference lay in the fact that Janjelhi still seemed so virgin, untouched and ravaged by the tourists. Its beauty lay in its raw charm.

The winds had become icy and cold and the locals sitting around fire in their small houses that I could peep inside, made us rush back to the place where we were to stay. We stayed at the residence of the local veterinary officer and I loved the feel of the house. It was a very old residence and built in British style with wooden work surpassing the concrete that we were accustomed to see. The bright and burning fire in the hearth looked so temping in the room when we entered it. We covered ourselves with whatever we could find as it was cold and a shawl would have been a welcome. But as we were not prepared to face such cold in the month of June we had not brought any woolens with us. The aroma of the food being cooked in the kitchen made me feel hungry. I never knew how and why could I feel so hungry. Perhaps it was the climate and the fresh air that was so appetizing to us. After a sumptuous dinner we retired for the night and started dreaming of the much awaited dream of visiting the temple of Shikari Ma.

Early in the morning we were disheartened to find the sky overcast with clouds. The rain was in the air. But how could we cancel the visit to the temple howsoever hard it might be in that inclement weather. Though there were many debates but we decided to move on  as reaching so near to Shikari Ma and not going there was something which we could not do. And early in the morning, after having hearty breakfast, we started for the temple. someone handed me a bedcoveras it was the only big cloth to cover myself if I felt cold. The veterinary officer being a bachelor had no womanly covers for us. After much hesitation and simply because I did not want to offend the well meaning elderly person who gave me that bedcover, I took it, deciding there and then that I won’t use it come what may! 🙂 But on the way to Shikari Ma when it started raining heavily and the cold was biting and chilling, this bedcover seemed like a godsend to me and all my pictures show me draped in that bedcover! 🙂

Shikari Mata is 21Kilometers from Janjelhi. The road is kutcha and very narrow, One has to be extremely proficient driver to steer the vehicle on this road. We decided to take our vehicle to a place that is some 9 Kms from Janjelhi and walk there from.  In fact that day the Chief Minister of Himachal Mr Dhumal was visiting Shikari Mata so all other vehicles were not allowed to ply on that road! J We reached the spot where the vehicle had to drop us and started our ascent towards the top of the hill where from the anecdotes and folktales about Shikari Mata beckoned us!

Two pairs of loving eyes watch three pairs of feet on a rainy day…

When my eldest born wrote on Facebook to my youngest born that it was more that four years that both of them had met, my middle born daughter put this picture to overcome the nostalgic feeling that overwhelmed her.   I, sitting miles away from my kids, was watching all this interaction taking place among my three musketeers!

But this picture revived a surge of memories of good days that we had spent together, trekking to various places in Mandi and around. This picture was taken on the bank of lake Parashara where we were walking barefoot in mud, water and grass. It was the month of June and it had rained heavily that day turning the whole path into a deep muddy pothole. All of us were covered in mud as almost everyone had had a fall in the slippery mud but the ecstasy of togetherness would put all these petty handicaps to backstage.

When the mud was washed off the feet, all three of them cried, “Oh, how clean our feet look!” All three of them stood together looking at their feet and I found it to be a right moment to click a picture of three pairs of feet when two pairs of eyes lovingly watched the little but sturdy pairs of feet that had miles to go in the world beyond our small nest!

And today when these three pairs of feet are trotting the globe, I sit here in my empty nest watching the great strides that all three of them had taken. I am still looking at the picture of the lovely time that we had together, the time that we all cherish and value even today. I am happy that despite many compulsions we had the good luck to spend time together and enjoy small joys of life!

Perhaps it is this strong bond of being together that holds us connected to one another while we are thousands of miles away from one another!


Trekking to Kamru Nag in Winter: A rare experience to cherish

The trek to Kamrunag in Winter months is worth all the troubles as the sight of the snow covered Kamrunag lake and the simple wooden temple of Kamrunag beside it dissipates all the troubles that one might experience during the trek. Te experience is worth giving a try.

Saturday, 12 February, 2011

The Sun was covered midst overcast sky. The wind was fresh and chilly. We all were suitably dressed to face the chill during the trek but unfortunately were not guarded against rain! The nuzzles of grass on the slopes around us and the slopy fields being prepared reiterated that Spring was not far behind. The sight of women carrying Kiltas full of manure was a pleasant change from the distant snow covered mountains. We reveled in the sight of these women knowing well that very soon all remnants of human population would vanish from our sight. The women folks were pleasant looking and smiling. They had quite big loads on their back but  still some of them had knitting needles in their hands and were busy knitting, even wile plying through the capricious sidelines of the slopey hilly terraced fields. They exchanged smiles with us. Wished us a pleasant journey though added cautiously, “you should have come after a month when the weather would have become pleasant.” Then added as an afterword, “Go on and have the darshana of the deo.”

Gradually as we started the ascent, the air became chillier and was biting coldly at our faces and the overcast sky became darker. We had a worried look at one another but moved on. I was so worried about KS as he was taking a big chance of undertaking this arduous trek. We had decided to walk at a slow pace and to sit after short intervals to catch breath. As some well wishers had forewarned us about the wild animals that we may come across, we were walking in a group. We might have trekked one third of the ascent when we saw the snow at dark and shady portions of the trail. We all were excited. I looked up at the distant top which seemed to be covered with snow but I thought that the path would be clear though the tops and slants may be covered with snow. We moved on.

During the last one third of the ascent we were surprised to see snow all around. There was no path to speak of, the white snow had covered all the traces of the trail! We moved on but found that the snow had become hard at the parts where we could find some track and was very slippery. Everybody would slip once in a while. I was much worried about KS as his shoes were very slippery. The sole of the old shoes had no grooves left  and was absolutely plain. We were at a point where from neither we could get back nor could dare to move forward. We decided to move forward. Ashu, my son, would help his Papa holding is hand and supporting him.

We walked and walked amidst snow and suddenly my sister’s son shouted, “Ah the lake is covered in snow!” We had reached Kamrunag and the mere look at the divine lake covered in snow made us forget all the troubles that we had faced. The small wooden temple of Kamrunag with snow covered top beside the snow layered lake was a divine and blissful scene out of the ordinary world! We had seen and felt what we never could dream of!

The real pleasure of seeking the blessings of Kamrunag is when one treks through the rocky terrain, through the deep deodar forests to reach his temple at Kamru Nag. The sight of a simple temple beside Kamru lake is simple blissful and the devotees are immersed in a divine experience of a lifetime!

To be continued…

Counting my Blessings….

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…

Is there something great about 10-10-10…



10 p.m.

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!

Mandi Temples: Shiva Shiva Oh! Shiva…

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!