Deo Tibba Moments!

 

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Quick Downpour:

As we live, there are things that happen to us! As we travel, there are places that happen to us!

An octave down this philosophical tone, I was really excited for this one. I brushed and bath, for the big day!

When four strangers pack their bags for a Delhi-Manali road trip followed by a trek, you know you are at the brink of epic stuff! So here are some facts:

Region: Himachal Pradesh

Location: Manali

Altitude: 4800 meters

Best Time: June to October

Duration: 7 days

Grade: Moderate

Here’s what happened:

Day 01:  Manali (2050m) Rest & Acclimatise

After Rohit baba drove for an insane Five-Hundred-and-thirty-six km, all on his own, from Delhi to Manali, we thought rest & acclimatisation would be good. All nice and cozy! But that would be too boring for us!

We were staying in Jagatsukh, a tad farther from the hurly-burly Manali. To be truthful, no one fancies Manali mall road. No-One! It is the Colaba Causeway of Mumbai and Sarojini of Dilli, if you know what I mean!

But the moment anyone says Old Manali, I am sold! I have a history there, which you will find in my personal diary (page: whatever)! Not that you care, of course!

So we decided to hit Old Manali, as soon as we could. If you are my kind, you’d love it! If you are not my kind, well God save you then! Love having coffee next to the rasping Beas or a refreshing mug of beer? The place is a hub of free spirits. Live music, good food, greater shopping, hot firangs and hotter pancakes, need I say more?

 

Dear child, if you go there, don’t miss:

-Hot Chocolate at cafe 1947

-The singer in his pyjamas

– All the pyjamas

 

Day 02: Manali (2050m) – Jobra Naala (2707m) – Chikka (3100m) {Drive: 1 hour and Trek: 2- 3 hours}

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En route Chikka

The night before a trek lives in the wake of a looming adventure! You never know what tomorrow holds for you, literally.

We started at ease around 9 in the morning from Manali to Jobra Naala. It is quite a rickety one. The road has been under construction, yes, has been! But the drive, it made us feel like  men-on-a-mission! The trek starts from Jobra Naala, with rebellious Dhohangan river being your flowing companion. It speaks a lot, if you listen!

Dumping most of the load of our existence on tragic mules, we started heading towards Chikka. It is an easy hike unfolding every moment in a wonderland. Lush green meadows, boulders with inexplicable expressions on their  timeless face, and thousands of goats, keep the traveller’s heart humming.

Chikka, for sure, is an anti-depressant . I rushed to the ancient snake fossil, engraved in the heart of a rock! An old Sheppard there, explained the meaning of the name of the place. Quite surprisingly, “Chikka” is a strap tied on the muzzle of an animal. It has been a grazing ground and hence to stop excessive grazing a “chikka” was tied on an animal’s face. Kind of retard, I know.

Nonetheless, you will fall in love with this place. That’s destined!

Day 03: Chikka (3100m) – Pandorupa (3500m) {Trek: 3-4 hours}

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Pandorupa

You know that feeling… when your wake up call in the mountains, says “chai piyogi?” I was taken, that very moment! This is when I woke up with a smile!

We packed our essentials and left at ease around 9.

Making our  way crossing little rivulets, old wooden bridges, humming along with the loud Dhohangan, walking next to a hanging glacier, amidst a mixed forest, we reached Pandorupa. Setting a few steep patches aside, it was an easy hike.

Now, here’s a little mythology. They say once upon a time, Panadavas planted rice here. The paddies are flooded with water, till date. The huge boulder on the campsite, as huge as a mountain, wearing a strange expression of history, written all over its face.  Almost, making imaginative souls believe that it has something to say. No, I am not schizophreniac, just a dreamer!

Moving to my favorite part of camping, we lit a bonfire in the evening, played bengali-punjabi songs, did exactly what you are thinking and slept snug in our tents.

Day 04- Pandoupa (3500m)- Seri (3900m) {Trek: 4 to 5 hours}

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En route Seri

By now we were all sun kissed, we were all children of the wild! We were all singing Himachali folk songs, kissing goats, patting horses… we were all, of the mountains. We were different people, once again!

It was around 8 in the morning when I lifted my tripod to head towards Seri. The sun was as bright as last night’s bonfire. Not that comforting, though! I still remember becoming a zombie dipped in sunscreen.

When Samik dada, smiled and said, “take whatever the mountains give you, even if it’s harsh!”

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En route Seri

Thus, we started another day, another adventure! Amidst we met a melting glacier, pouring river Dhohangan, straight from its heart. Melting bit by bit and unbecoming itself to flow. Damn, the mountains always do this to me, make me a philosophical sucker! Anyway, the trail kick starts as a mix of beautiful wild flowers: purple, yellow, pink, and little rivulets. But as we dived deeper in this exploration, I found myself in the middle of an unending moraine zone. Mighty boulders!

To add a hint of drama to this tale, the weather drastically turned into a misty storm, Dhohangan became calmer: closer to the source , and boulders become larger than life!

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En route Seri, the moraine zone

When I was practically preparing myself to spend the rest of my life in this moraine zone, the unexpected happened.

 

 

After crossing a stretch of silt and sand, a flat lush greenland, surrounded by snow mountains welcomed us. Yes, Seri welcomes wanderers! It was still raining cats and dogs but we were in mood to pet, so we rushed to a trekker’s hut. The damp cave made me feel like an ancient sadhu, there to pay homage to the unknown.

Soon the rain stopped to take a deep breath, until it rained again soon. And again. And again. We knew it, either the rain God was way too impressed or just downright pissed off.

So we all snug tight in the kitchen tent together, singing sagas of the mountains. Indranil kar, the founder of Ongoz Escapades and a dear friend, is a man of humour. It would be hard to imagine what would we do without his whicked-bitchy humour! His love for the mountains is beyond reverence  and so are his stories.

 

Day 05: Seri (3900m) – Tenta (4200m) NO?

Seri-Seri, yes!

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Towards the water fall in Seri

As much as we wanted to go Tenta, the rain wouldn’t let us! Just wouldn’t! So we got other things going. Interesting stuff like, two bongs by the river side discussing what would be the diameter of the outermost ripple credited if we throw a stone in the rivulet! Ahem! ***Smiles****

Dumb charades, oh yes, loads of Dumb charades! From “Being Cyrus” to “Finding Nemo” and much more! Playing Dumb charades with Rohit is once in a life “woh” experience: Arey wahi… wahi wala! In minutes he can run you through the script of the entire movie, but not the name! Sheer fun!

In the evening, when rain took a deep silent breath, we rushed to the waterfall. It was a quick 30 minute walk from our campsite in Seri. The calm Dhohangan, green pastures oozing of water, the left shoulder of Deo Tibba peak, fresh snow on Jagatsukh peak and the hike up to the waterfall, stirred the adventurous souls again.

 

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Day 06: Seri (3900m) to Chika (3100m) {Trek 4 to 5 hours}

When we climb down from Chika to Seri, it was hard to believe that we ever climbed up! It was raining softly when we started but sun kissed us soon!

Day 07: Chika (3100m) to Manali (2050m)

And this was it!

 

Concluding, I always say this, the essence of a place can never be captured. Neither in words nor in photographers. It can only be experienced! And that’s what Ongoz Escapades aces at, helping one experience the mountains!

Special Thanks to:

Group leader: Harsh Thakur

Host in Manali: Deepak Thakur

Wonderful Cook of all times: Rohit

The guy who does it all: Yashwant Bhai

The man who introduces Himalayas like no one else: Indranil Kar

I’ve also created a short video about our experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEWSo6IVN1M&t=366s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sarchu Syndrome!

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If a place could be marked as “the edge of a realisation”, of how “achingly” beautiful Ladakh is, it would be Sarchu. This is where it started sinking in, the feeling called: This is Ladakh!

Technically, located in Himachal Pradesh, Sarchu is a gateway to Ladakh. It is at an altitude of 14,300 ft, making it a tab higher than Leh. And if you are guessing it right, this place is notorious for acute High Altitude Sickness. Hence, it is important that we acclimatize well.

Tip: It is advisable to halt at Jispa for a night and then head towards Sarchu, purely for acclimatisation.

Manali (6726 ft) —>> Jispa (10,500 ft) {distance: 138 km/drive: 4-5 hours}

Jispa—>> Sarchu (14,070 ft) {Distance: 113 km, drive: 3-4 hours}

Here’s what happened: 

In spite of knowing the pro tip, we couldn’t stop at Jispa. With a dizzy head and a possessed nape, I reached Sarchu. The winds were wild, wild enough to rip mountains apart (I know I am prone to, but this time, I am not exaggerating!)

Drinking gallons of water and garlic soup, helped. But the mild scatterbrained, Sarchu Syndrome, stayed!

Being from the mountains, I’d never experienced anything of this sort. I was in my cozy tent, trying to calm the fuck down, when the distant voice of Indranil da exclaimed, “You should get your camera outside”!

In no mood for movement, yet curious, I went outside.

That moment, everything else faded, but the fiery sky of Sarchu! I’ve bookmarked this split second, in the collage of my memories and flashbacks!

 

 

 

 

When the mountain, smiled!

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Quick Downpour:

Thousands of feet above the tree line. Less of oxygen and more of  enthusiasm. Difficult to gauge if it’s a travellers paradise or pilgrimage.They call it the land of high passes!

Where winds are wild,

and wilder is the desert.

The land of fluttering prayer flags, arid secrets, where sunsets and sunrises write on the mountains with a blue ink of clouds (care less, about my bizarre poetic expressions)!

It is beautiful. It is treacherous. Treacherous.

Ladakh, is what we are talking!

Here’s What Happened: 

As an instinct, it was going to be about “rampant photography”, on account of my first ever pilgrimage.

So,

whenever we stopped,

wherever we stopped,

however we stopped,

I would pounce with my camera and break into a thousand pictures.

A rubbernecker, who is an amazing, like

fucking-really-amazing cinematographer, was travelling with us. Eavesdrop on our conversation:

Him: Hey, would you take a picture of me?

Me : Sure.

Him: ***Grim face on***

Setting the camera aside, I look at him. Grim face on, still!

Me: Why that face? Wouldn’t you smile?

Him: Ask that to the mountains too. Even they should smile before a picture. Even they should be “ready” before the picture. The light, the clouds, the reflections, should make the mountain smile.

Why do you think, eccentrics, wait for hours, sitting in front of a mountain? The wait for the mountain to say, “NOW”!

Me: ***Smiled***