From Phanchkanda to Sapava
7: 35 a.m.——-11:45 a.m. 18 July, 2012
The tea at Phanchkanda had further energized us, And the best was that Shaunka Ram and Ram Rattan, the two godsend friends had assured us to walk along us till the place of night halt. So we had nothing to worry about. Although honestly speaking at that point we never could imagine how could the journey be possible had these two persons not been with us. We welcomes company as we three were feeling quite lonely after Phanchkanda when there was no human habitation in sight. We came across a woman who was taking her sheep for grazing and wondered at her stamina to take sheep everyday to places where we would not dare to put our foot on!
Shaunka Ram was more talkative of the duo and all that I learnt about the Yatra is from him as both of us had become best of the friends by the time we parted company. There was steep forest path sometimes going us and sometimes going down. We wanted to fill our bottles with water but Shaunka Ram advised us to wait till Gaishav Nallah that would be the last water source till Sapava. “The water of this nallah is very good” Shaunka Ram informed us, “even scientists from Italy had checked it!” he added proudly. We drank water to our fill and filled our bottles as well and geared up for the upward ascent.
“Now there is straight ascent till Sapava” he forewarned us. “How long would it take for us to reach Sapava?” I asked him. By this time I had underestimated the distance and the ascent. “Four hours!” said he. Period. We walked on and on. The forest was deep and thick.
The path was narrow, very narrow. If you look down, you would feel as if your head was spinning, such was the deep gorges down, full of forest growths. The trees seemed to be thousands of years old. They were thick and large. Sometimes it would be difficult to look towards their top. It seemed like a virgin forest where no one had ever come. There was silence all around, the only sound would be of five pair of feet walking upwards. The dry leaves under our feet would make a strange sound as they, too, were not accustomed of letting anyone pound them under their shoes!
A multitude of tropical plants had their own world under these trees. It was as if the big trees had sheltered small plants under them and the small plants, in turn, had sheltered still smaller shrubs, ferns and mosses under them. I was wonder-struck at the plant kingdom and the way it helped each other to grow and survive. Each plant exhibited a unique form. The plants of one type grouped together in the form of a colony. The big deodar trees were host to a number of small plants that encircled them or grew upon them and down at their feet were many small fern-like plants in their colonies, not to forget the moss beneathe them! Peaceful coexistence at its best!
I thought of the animal life where the bigger one would try to annihilate the smaller one or the worst was the human life where bigger a person was more would be his destructive power! This jungle had so many lessons to learn from but all these thoughts would be interrupted by the more important thought, “how far is Sapava?”
We were tired. Really tired. The backpack seemed to weigh a ton to me. I would sip in some drops of water and would sit at any place which was wide enough to accommodate me. I was not even afraid of tumbling down the mountainous forest. We had been walking for some two hours and still there was no sight of any place that could be called a plain land. It was the forest path–narrow, dark and steep!
Sometimes we would come across wild rose bushes with pink roses on them. These were just five petaled roses. I would put these petals in my mouth and chew them. I wanted to take a lot may pictures of this jungle but didn’t want to spend the memory card and the battery till the return journey.
We went up and up. It was an ascent at the angle of 85 degree angle. Whole of our body would slump down to balance itself on the steep chase to Spava. After about four hours we reached a place where was a leveled path. It was as level as you can call in those circumstances. There was a board mentioning the right side to be the path towards Shrikhand! I was walking ahead of the group. I was astonished to see a big black snake gliding towards Shrikhand path. Though I was not afraid of the snake but I called loudly, “snake!” Shaunka Ram came running and said to the snake, “go away!” but as the snake kept on moving ahead of us, he shooed the snake away with his stick towards the jungle. And said,”I would have killed the snake had he crossed our path!” We took it as a good omen to be guided by a snake on way to Shrikhand and moved further.
Heaving a sigh of relief at some solace we walked further as we were assured that Spava was very near. And imagine how happy we were when Shaunks Ram pointed towards a tent in the open saying, “here is Spava the Parbati Baag where we will get food!”
Suddenly we started walking fast and reached the tent. There was a wooden bench and we sat on that putting all our bags on the ground. We had seen some more human faces after more than four hours. There were some young boys waiting for the food and we were glad to learn that they, too, were going to Shrikhand. The two small boys were busy preparing rice on one stove and daal on another chullah! The aroma of daal filled our nostrils with desire for food, We started feeling very hungry.
I looked at the boy who was cooking rice. He was wearing only a shirt as his upper garment. The shirt was old and torn. I felt ashamed of taking so much care for covering myself in woolens to save myself from cold droughts at this height when this young boy, in a torn shirt, was preparing food for us, the so called pilgrims!
They don;t charge anythig for the food but there is a box wherein you may put some amount if you want to. Looking at the pressure cooker full of rice I wondered would they be able to finish it as I was not sure of anyone else coming from this route that day!
We had a full meal which was rice and daal. It was so good, felt good at that point of time and place. I thanked the people who organize such service for the pilgrims otherwise there was no way to find anything to eat on this route.
Shaunka Ram and Ram Rattan were languishingly relaxing with beeri in their hands. We had relaxed and now were ready for further journey. They motioned us to restart our trek. We got up from the wooden bench that had given some relief to our bodies and moved up.
The scene had changed absolutely. There was no tree in sight. it seemed as if the whole picture of the jungle was erased by some invisible hand. In a sudden change, The boulders and rocks had taken place of trees and plants but there was some greenery on both the sides of big boulders!
The scene was amazingly out of the world, the world that I was familiar with!