August 26, 2008

A Journey called Life

Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way..

At the Valley of Flowers

To [stand] on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, 'tis but to hold
Converse with Nature's charms, and view her stores unrolled.



George Gordon, Lord Byron


I have been away from 'blogworld' for a while. I had to travel again at short notice to deal with an urgent personal matter. What was intended to be a weekend trip took longer than expected.

On the return journey I grabbed the opportunity for some more travels. More details to follow.

Thank you for your visits to my blog and leaving behind such lovely words. I shall be over to yours shortly. Have a nice day!

August 16, 2008

Journey to Garhwal

Highlights of the Journey

July - August, 2008

  • While on the way from the airport to the residential parts of Delhi early morning, an interesting sight of the water-carrying, orange-clad kanwarias carrying decorated paraphernalia on their shoulders.

Kanwarias of Haridwar

  • Alighting from the Mussorie Express early morning, a walk on the streets of Haridwar towards the banks of the river Ganga amongst more Kanwarias, and many pilgrims, young and old, and when compared to those, a few tourists. Surprise at the sight of the huge number of pilgrims at the Hari-Ki-Pauri, most of whom seeking absolution early morning with a dip in the sacred river, The Ganges.

Pilgrims at Hari-Ki-Pauri at 7:20 am

  • After a walk up to the great Shiva statue, onwards to Rishikesh, the Yoga capital of the world, for a leisure walk to Ram Jhula, the ghats and beyond to discover the charm of the place to end up with a hearty breakfast at Chotiwal.

Ram Jhula, the bridge over River Ganges

  • A journey through the foothills of the Himalayas passing through scenic Devprayag, where lies one of the five sacred confluences when the Bhagirathi River joins the Alaknanda River to form The Ganges.

On the way to Devprayag shot from a moving bus

  • The journey for the day to continue right up to Rudraprayag, another confluence where the Mandakini River originating from Kedarnath joins the Alaknanda that originates from Badrinath.

The confluence as seen from the balcony of the GMVN

  • The mostly uphill journey to Karnaprayag, the place of confluence of the Alaknanda and Pindar Rivers, another important pilgrimage spot for many.

From moving cab, on the way to Karnaprayag

  • Roadblock lasting hours due to landslide between Nandaprayag and Chamoli and an unexpected mini-trek with the backpack to the base of valley, and then to cross a mountain stream - with gushing waters with fairly strong currents - with the help of locals and other travellers who ventured to undertake the difficult route through the wilderness. This was followed by a steep climb in the noon sun to emerge panting at the other end of the road for onward journey to Chamoli and was undertaken to avoid a long wait for hours for the roadblock to be cleared.

Unusual traffic on the road to Chamoli

  • Journey through beautiful scenery, where quite often the mountain road showed signs of recent landslides and cleared paths right up to Joshimath.
View of a road in Joshimath from cable car

  • A cable car ride to enjoy majestic and serene Auli and the joy of watching the change in hue of the mountain peaks at dawn for hours together till it was time to move on after an open air breakfast at sunrise.

A peek at Nanda Devi peak from Auli at dawn

  • The ropeway ride again to enjoy the morning vista up to Joshimath for onward journey to pass through more awesome mountain scenery till Govindghat.

A pause before the long trek from Govindghat

  • The thrill of setting out on the first planned long trek from Govindghat, passing through Bhyundhar village to end up hours later at the small mountain village of Ghangaria (also referred as Govind Dham).


  • Rested and reinvigorated next morning, setting out on the much anticipated trek to the Valley of Flowers.

A small section of the almost 90 sq km of Valley of Flowers

  • Setting out on another trek - unplanned but certainly worth it - to Hemkund, a holy place for Sikhs, the valley having the most exotic mountain flora including the Brahm Kamal and the Blue Himalayan Poppy.

A glacier on a misty day on the way to Hemkund

  • Yet another trek returning from Ghangharia to Govindghat and then the beautiful scenery of the Himalayan landscape during the journey from Govindghat to Badrinath via Pandukeshwar and Hanuman Chatti.

Badrinath Temple

  • A final trek begun at dawn from Badrinath to the beautiful village of Mana at the borders with Tibet, and return to Badrinath.

On the way to Mana village

Return journey over the next few days from Badrinath to Govindghat – Joshimath – Chamoli – Rudraprayag – Rishikesh – Haridwar – Delhi – Mumbai and to my final destination.


August 13, 2008

A Tryst with the Himalayas

Someone rightly described: The more remote and inaccessible a place is, the greater is its magic!

I'm back after a bit of travelling to some distant parts of the Himalayas. My travels involved two flights, three train journeys, quite a few bus and cab journeys, around 2 hours of horseback riding and about 60 kilometers of trekking (mountain hiking).

No doubt the most interesting part has been the trekking, because it's the best way that I enjoy nature. The environment to trek has been remarkably beautiful. So often I've stopped on my tracks, stood in silence, gazed at the magnificent mountains and taken in its beauty. Nature has so much on display and I felt it's a shame that I have been so busy, sometimes with petty cares, instead of being there to appreciate and enjoy what it offers. Towards the end, the mountains have appeared nearby, yet not close enough not to be in awe of them.

Having returned, I sense right now what I could call is the feeling of re-entry – a feeling that occurs after returning to place of work after a fabulous holiday. It's like how one feels homesick. When I see the pictures that I've shot, I am filled with a strange sense of melancholy. I miss the mountains. As usual, for a few days, I'll have a bit of trouble settling into a normal routine, and that's kind of expected, since nothing can replace the fresh and exotic feeling I've enjoyed the past weeks.

The travel to mountainous Garhwal has been an exhilarating experience. I have enjoyed the majestic beauty of nature where I've taken utmost delight in the picturesque narrow mountain roads, the scenic Himalayan landscape, the ephemeral clouds wrapping the mountains, some green, some bare and a few snow-clad.

I can still picture the scenes of the mist on the trails, with a transitory tone of its own, and also the awesome valleys and ravines, the intriguing melting glaciers, the gushing mountain streams some of which I've waded through, the interesting and at times challenging trek paths, the green meadows, some dotted with wild flowers, the rich vegetation and forests interspersed with craggy rocks, the meandering rivers shifting their shape in the valleys, sometimes serene, other times turbulent and with the fury of the monsoon waters, the gusts of winds, the drizzle and the persistent rains. I've watched the life of the fauna blooming up being nourished with those rains.

As usual, the Himalayan mountains have had an impact on me, rather, on my psyche. I've been captivated by the valleys, meadows, trees, streams, rivers, glaciers, peaks – nature in its unsurpassed splendor! Just a bit of travels for a few days and I can sense it has altered something within me. And I can't help reflecting on just how each of my trips to the Himalayas does that.

I am certainly richer with experience, but I find it hard to accept that a short tryst with the Himalayan mountains gives me a feeling as if there has been a change in direction of my life!

Related post: Garhwali Bears with Tiny Bells.