A True Daughter to my father….

Come the summer vacations and my mind is full of devilish plans to get-set-and-go to the mountains! Every year I tell myself that next year I would rather go for a much easier trek but end up searching for a challenging trek to take. There sure is something wrong with the way I get ad reline rush while thinking of Himalayas and its myriad mystic folds up the mountains.I did some hard thinking as I wanted to find why these peaks have always enamored me so much…rather, to be true, not always, but since last few years. I tried to seek an answer to these “whys” and tried to rummage through the blind alleys of my mind for the first image of the snowy peaks that I still carried with me, lovingly and passionately, even today when I am about 59 years old!

Simla 1963

I could smell him. It had to be his body odor mixed with that of the diesel odor of the long bus journey that he might have taken. But my eyes sleepy with dreams would not open and it was in the morning that I finally saw my Bauji.  He had come back to Simla after spending about six months of official tour in Kinnaur district. I had missed him, missed him a lot during his absence from home. I had waited for him each day.  Or perhaps I waited more eagerly for all that his small trunk would carry from Kinnaur. So, finally he opened the box, the much awaited box. It had Chilgozas that I loved so much,  kala zeera that helped Amma to use as a much desired spice in her kitchen. There were some paper thin yellowish translucent and fragile leaves. Bauji said, “these are Bhojpatras and all our sages used to write on these when there was no paper”! It all seemed something belonging to a world that we never had heard of. I waited for some more precious jewels to tumble out of the humble box. But the box was nearly empty. There were none more gifts in it. But, no, there was something else. A thin packet which seemed to hold some papers! Perhaps it was a  big Bhojpatra, I thought. Bauji opened the packet much lovingly.

It was a black and while photograph of snowy peaks of Kinnaur Kailash that my father had carried in his tin trunk when he returned from an official tour of Kinnaur! He had painstakingly kept it folded in many layers of newspapers so that it may not crease and crumble during the long journey that entailed from Kinnaur to Simla way back in 1963. As his doting daughter of seven years, I remember watching intently the high peaks which Bauji claimed to be Kailash Parvat! I was mesmerized and my Bauji, in my eyes, rose to an herculean figure who had been to Kalash Parvat.

The pictures were large, very large, of the size of around 30” by 20” and I could see the minute details in the pictures. Perhaps it was not the enormity of the Kailash parvat  but that of the size of the pictures that impressed me more. They were big, very big, indeed, too big for the small house that we lived in, Bauji wanted to get them framed and be displayed on the wall.  But as the pictures were very big and the walls were already crowded with calendars and pictures, Kailash Parvat had no chance of getting displayed in our house. Or perhaps the cost of getting them framed was much more that my prudent Amma would have found to be a sheer wastage of money. Whatever may have been the reason but the pictures were destined to be put in a tin trunk…my Amma’s “locker”! Those pictures were, very lovingly, put inside another tin trunk which held Amma’s few valuable possessions. And whenever the trunk would be opened we would get an opportunity to relish a look at the Kailash parvat that lay hidden in a trunk in our small home in Simla.

Gradually everyone forgot about those black and white pictures of the Kailash Parvat and even when we had bigger home with plain walls; no one thought of getting those pictures framed and displayed. Why would anyone when there were pictures much lucrative and detailed available everywhere. A click to google Kailash and thousands of references would open up but to me the initiation was the day when I saw a black and white picture of Kailash Parvat brought by my Bauji!

Looking back, I honestly wonder how much in love he had been with the Himalayas that he carried, of all things from Kinnaur, some pictures of the Himalayas. Though the pictures were locked in a trunk but they had made an everlasting imprint on my mind about my father’s love for Himalayan peaks! And being a true daughter to my father, I stretch myself beyond my limits to wander in the Kailash parvat in search of those peaks that were in that picture.

It has been more than twenty-five years that my Bauji left for his heavenly journey but I am sure that his spirit roams in the Kailasha peaks that he so loved and the yearly ritual that I undertake to trek to some part of these mountains is the tribute that I pay to indomitable spirit of my Bauji. Perhaps he watches somewhere from behind the cloudy mist on the peaks at his daughter who carries that black and white picture of Kailash parvat  in the deepest abyss of her heart!

Visiting Kamru Nag…The Reigning Deity of Mandi—2

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!

Visiting Kamru Nag—The Reigning God of Mandi… 1

   A Panaromic View of the Road to Rohanda

01 July, 2008

Tuesday

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!