We just went to Kedarnath
It was a gang of Haves and have nots : 6 married & and 3 unmarried. You can see it in two way : those who had wifes / husbands and those who did not ... or those who had no peace of mind and those who did ! It was a predominantly a gang of designers and probably the second biggest Joint Venture between IITD Designers and IITB Designers to date ( First of course was ... )
We started at 5.30 am sat by sumo . There were two issues to be solved. First one being : who will handle the finances of the trip and the second one : how will the nine sit inside the sumo without separating the husbands from their wife, without giving anyone a uncomfortable seat , without causing a .. well .. Lots of criteria were there .. but we kind of stuffed ourselves in shut the door and as the Sumo rumbled along we all fell in place ! Coming back to the finance thing .. there is a reason why I want this to be written. And that reason is : this is the only way I can introduce myself into the narration ! .. I was given the role. I always wonder why this finance thing in any group activity falls on my head .. is it because I am too smart and manage it without any complaints or is it because I am too dumb and never swindle any money ??
Our first stop was for food. (Infact, when I think of it now, whenever we stopped we ate .. irrespective of whether we stopped trekking or stopped driving or stopped sleeping ) We had breakfast near Meerut at Cheetal grand. Good place. Then we gave a small break at Rishikesh .. were people bought lot of things .. including baniyans !
Then it was the hills ... its always an uplifting experience to go into the hills .. and the route, which was hugging Ganga, was so picturesque. Well it was not Ganga all the way .. as we went deeper and deeper .. the river became wilder and slimmer and meaner ... ! and actually we were following Mandakini .. a tributary of Ganga .This was my second trip along the route. The first one was when all in the group were unmarried and a few of then went to valley of flowers .. well .. we talked a lot about that trip too .. ! And as we go deeper and deeper into the mountains we always get the feeling of how relative things are. The way of life back in our offices and homes and the life out there !! There was a mile stone saying "0 Km Narkota" .. and there were hardly eight constructions in that place. One keeps wondering as to what makes those eight or ten families to stick to that godforsaken place .. where there is no movie hall or TV or email access ( can you imagine THAT ? )or .. well then .. the thought immediately becomes .. how wonderful it would be if I were to have a small place there !! ( to what grand use is all these communication put to use anyway ? )
And then there were lots of songs and leg pullings and yakaty yaks through out the journey .. One or two vomits were also there !! And there were a couple of photo sessions .. no .. just one .. ! Then we stopped once to have some tea ( but of course ... what else it could be ) then finally reached Gaurikund at around 6.30 .. we were inside that vehicle for 13 hrs straight ! ( its becomes more interesting when the driver uses his steering wheel like a joystick on a 3 meter wide land slide cleared road ) At Gaurikund we took a entire floor ( with a double room exclusively for the driver ) of a lodge to ourselves - four double bed rooms and one three bed room. Well .. once in a while there is nothing wrong in being a little extravagant . I won't disclose how much we paid for it ! We relaxed a bit .. walked around a little. .. play acted in front of a police guy till he said ( with tears of pride in his eyes about the youth of our country ) " Aap log chatra ho .. isliye aapke gaadi ko yahan kada karne keliye permission detha hoon ...blah blah .. jai kedar" Then we had some lovely food .. then Gulab Jamuns .. Then we went to our "floor" and retired.
The next day .. I was given the honour of waking all up at 5 in the morning. ( this is one more honour that I get in any group activity ) !
We all then got ready went to "Tapt Kund" .. which was a hot water spring. Well it was such a wonderful place to soak in. Of course .. when one first get in contact with the water ..one wonders why these guys inside the pond are not boiled yet .. but then sooner one realizes that it gets better. But then that gave over confidence to a few of us ( including me ) who went and showed the head below the water that was coming out of the spring directly !! Fortunately it was the scalp that got burnt ..
After that we had our break fast ... Masala Dosai ( YESSSSSSSS ) .. maggi .. and Aloo Paratha !
Now it was time for what we had come there for .. trek to Kedarnath. The stretch was 14 Km .. and the first 7 km was supposed to be relatively easier than the second half ( though we .. or at least I ... found out that its all the same and its just a psychological ploy !). The midway was a place called Rambada. It was decided that all of us will start on foot .. with four horses ( well .. actually mules ) following us .. one was carrying our luggage .. and the rest were for the girls .. oops .. ladies .. whenever they wanted it .. . Then we armed ourselves with Dandas .. bamboo sticks.
Thus began our expedition into the hills !
Exactly 1.75 km ahead .. the ladies decide that they'll save their legs for the trek on the way back ( a wise decision indeed ).
Then our fun began .. ( well I am not suggesting here that it was no fun before the ladies were packed off ) .. the trek became more exciting because of the water , air , and the hills ! The only problem was the air was getting thinner ( though sweeter ) some of us had breathing problem ( some realized it at that time only .. some like Anshu .. thought their rib cage was broken and realized it was just chest congestion much later !).. We kept going along. Then just before Rambada ( the midway point ) we found a lovely little falls .. and saw a good opportunity to turn the regular trek into "slightly" more exciting stuff ... So we went into a rock climbing exercise and climbed up few rocks for a closer higher view of the falls ! ( and of course took some photographs ). Then we finally met up .. I mean the girls and the boys ... at Rambada ! Then ate ( but of course ... ) An amusing thing was our bills were going down as we climbed up !Then off went the ladies on their horses
Then began the second part of the trek .. which is supposedly harder than the first. Fortunately for us .. it was more enjoyable .. as there were numerous short cuts. Actually they were crude paths .. real trekking routes .. which cuts through the laid out route .. these are actually used by the Goats .. or the Locals at the best .. so it was pretty good fun to trek along that route ! "Clambering over piles of rocks" as put by Captain Haddock ! Once we went though a herd of Goats .. the expression on their face was so amusing .. they sit there on those slopes enjoying the wind and the smell and they were bothered the least about the panting and sweating guys desperately going around looking for a foot hold ! We had some lovely views of the valley were this thin teeny weeny Mandakini .. cuts right through those Grand mountains ! Finally we reached the place called GarudChatti .. and quiet appropriately enough watched for a long time a Grand Garud gliding so gracefully through the entire stretch of the valley ( well at least .. as far as we could distinguish it from the green of the forests ). It did not flap its wing once .. !
Soon Beyond GarudChati we could see the snow peak of Sumeroo and then suddenly we realized that we were above the tree line ( Kedarnath is at a height of 3540 m above MSL ) The mountains were in various shades of green gray .. violet .. white ...Once the entire township o Kedarnath came into picture our pace really slowed down even though the trek had become almost flat by now !
And by now people had started getting feedback from their bodies .. Anshus and my chest congestion being the more obvious once .Once we were at the border of the Kedarnath we all came to a dead stop and sat at the dabhas. Partly because the guys met their girls .. and flowers were exchanged ( between the most recent couple ) .. words of leg pulling were exchanged ( between the not so recent couple ) and nothing got exchanged ( between the old timers ). Then gallons of tea were gulped down .. along with biscuits and chips .. I have to mention that this bill was more than our breakfast bill !
I have to say a something here about the pony ride of the girls. The pitiable thing was .. it was not very enjoyable for them ! The only difference was .. everything above hips was paining for them .. and for us .. it was everything below hips ! And its not altogether fun if Raja and Rani ( the mules ) decide to romance on the way too ! Add to this some galloping moments to find who is faster ! They do claim that they walked the last 2 Km and that they waited 3 hours for us (actually they reached at 1.30 and we at 3.45 .. that's like 2.15 hrs)
Then we set of to look for rooms .. and took over an entire cottage of a Government guest house ( remember the play acting in front of the policeman .. we gave a refined performance here .. and the girls are definitely more persuasive) .. with three double rooms and one three bed room ! We had the grandest Lunch + Dinner combo ( that's a statement in retrospect .. as though we had planned to have dinner that night .. we didn't get around to do it ) Then we went to the temple .. enjoyed the view there .. it was pretty breathtaking .. as the snow capped mountains were lit by the evening sun and the toppings were glowing like a vanilla ice creams topped with butter scotch !
But on the other side the drama between Anshuman and Aneesha was unfolding .. well it was not a big one but notable any way .. Anshuman the great was in pain .. But too proud to accept it .. so typical of So many guys !!! ( sic ) On one side Aneesha was getting over excited and bundling the guy like a Egyptian mummy and on the other side Anshuman was saying ( unsuccessfully though ) that he is all right and that he'll be fine and all that ! Oh yess .. he did accept that he was having chest congestion and all that .. but ( may be its just a way of doing it ) was not accepting any kind of medication. Of course Aneesha would hear none of it. Infact .. when half of a bottle of Tiger Balm suddenly vanished when the bottle came out of their room, I did ensure that Anshu was not getting cooked in it ! Because .. the kind of things like boiling water .. several tablets .. and all that .. were all just going inside that room and nothing coming out ! Well .. finally Something came out. After careful scrutiny I found out that it was Anshuman packed in wool !
Then we set off to the temple. Actually we had a scheduled Puja in the morning next day ! So that day it was kinda reconnaissance trip. The temple in the back drop of the mountain Sumeroo ( some where I also read it as Kedardome ) .. is simply wonderful .. And to think the temple has been sitting there for say 1000 years. The legend is that The pandavas after having won over the kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own brothers & sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them repeatedly & while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. ( The Shiv ling here is in the form of a Pyramid ) On being followed he dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four places and are worshipped there as his manifestations. The arms appeared at Tunganath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar & his locks at Kalpeshwar. Kedarnath including these four shrines is treated as Panch Kedar. Well .. so much for legend .. or purana.
Then we went back to the cottage at 7.00. Then we the three free souls stayed back .. did some shopping .. and went to a Filmy type mandir (.. you know the kind where the hero and heroine go together in a very senti song ) !! By the time we came back all were sleeping. Given the fact that the power was to go off at 10 and the dinner will be served till 10 we guys assumed that some one will wake us up for dinner .. Finally Anshu did wake us up .. at 10.48 .. the poor guy was sent out of his warm cocoon because some one could not stay in the dark ! All that packing .. and Tiger balm and boiling water ... what a waste !
The next day all were woken up at 4 am .. we got ready .. went to the temple ..and we found that some VVIP was inside for Pooja ..We were sitting around one of those coal heaters .. warming up slightly Then we went inside.
The temple itself had a very distinct south Indian accent from inside .. The Sculpture .. the detailing. There were even some Tamil Scriptures. How on earth did that appear there !!
The pooja was amazing . I have not seen or done anything like that before. We went inside the sanctum sanctorum. The place was so warm and fragrant with amazing things .. like gee, flowers, incense sticks. We did everything .. and the priests were just guiding us. We even touched the deity. I was really happy .. thrilled and all. It went on for some 10 to 15 minutes. We did the aarti .. and all. Put tilak to the deity. It was very nice !
Then we came out and it was all bright and lit and this time the mountains were pure Vanilla and no Butter Scotch .. more vanilla than the previous day. We had a good break fast at a local food joint ! Poori, Paratha , Maggi .. and then some did shopping .. then we came back to the cottage .. packed .. settled the bills .. and we had a pretty long Photo session with the peak in the back drop !
Now surprisingly .. all were in good shape and all excited to start the trek back. It Ws sure no no to mules this time ! But the bags went of course on the back of a mule !
The trek down was better .. because we were very very fast .. almost half the time. And we took some amazing short cuts .. Hope the photographs comes out as well as it looked then !!
Some of us who were faster than the other .. came down had a good hot water bath in the tapt Kund .. while the others had to settle down for a half bucket hot water treatment for their soles !
Then we started our drive back at 1.30. To reuse a statement made earlier "And then there were lots of songs and leg pullings and yakaty yaks through out the journey .. One or two vomits were also there !! ". And then ...I guess .. that's it .. !! Coz .. driving out of the mountains is a sort of depressing experience .. and that too when you are tired ( suddenly it dawns upon you that every muscle in your body is paining ) Some were feeling sick .. the vehicle tyre got punctured ( we changed it in 13 minutes flat ) .. no place to take proper lunch .. !!! ... then there was this car whose wheel was shaking on all the wrong directions on our tail and our driver was driving like a man possed to keep ahead .. and then .. we reached Rishekesh .. had dinner and slept off ..
When we woke up for some tea it was outskirts of Delhi .. then it was like sleep walking .. people getting dropped off at their places ..
I came to room at 2.15 am. I had a working day ahead .. had to go to office at 6 am .. clients meeting , deliverables .. sighhhhhhh .. in the two hours I slept .. I dreamed of the mile stone at Narkota !