College is a wonderful place which truly allows you to know yourself better but only if you take out the time to do so. I firmly believe that it is what you do other than academics that counts and for me that other thing is trekking. One trek was all it took to get me hooked on to it. Kheerganga in the Parvati valley it was, the mandatory Kasol trip of every Delhi University student. For any first timer Kasol is a perfect place. The mini Israel is a beautiful town with an entirely different ambiance. The place has a lot of amazing cafes, local shops where you can get a lot of cool hippie stuff and finding a pocket friendly place to stay in is not a problem either. I loved the place so much the first time that I decided to pay a visit again. And that is where the Tale of my Lucky Trek begins.
With the end of my second year in college started the preparations of my second trek. Mantalai Lake is a high altitude lake which is on the way to Pin Parvati Pass. It is approximately a five day trek to this holy lake and for an adventure enthusiast like me it was absolutely perfect. After some proper research I realized that there were a couple of things which I didn’t have for this trek, experience being the most important of all. However the second campsite on the way to the lake named Tunda Bhuj which is after Kheerganga was an interesting one. The route is a little challenging but with a perfect reward in terms of scenic beauty. I had heard stories that there lived a Baba ji who’s been there for nearly 30 years and caters to small ration needs of the tourists. So it was decided. Let’s go to Tunda Bhuj and say namaste to the Baba ji ! Since I couldn’t find a companion for this trip I decided to go on my own. Being it my first solo trip my excitement was doubled and so was my mom’s tension.
As the big buffed Haryanvi bus driver started the engine my excitement rose. I think the tag of a solo trip added the boost to my adrenaline. It was an overnight journey from Delhi to Bhuntar from where I had to catch a local bus to Kasol. During the journey I spoke to a couple of groups in the bus. One group had come from Maharashtra and was going for a trek called Sar Pass, another was a group of college students who were going to Kasol to enjoy their vacations. I jelled in the most with a group of three South Korean girls who were going to Manali. J if you are reading this “yeoboseyo”( hello in korean ). I reached Kasol around 9 in the morning. It was a great feeling to be there again. I was surrounded with a charismatic vibe which can only be experienced and not described. I moved according to my plan and had breakfast in a cafe and then just went around talking to the locals. As I discussed my plan with them and enquired about the trek, I was told not to undertake this venture. Some said I don’t have a tent and food supplies while others said that the route was not safe due to the rain. The most interesting one was that there was a bear spotted up there. I was in a dilemma but still firm on my objective. I took a bus to Bershani which was the starting point of the trek. I was so pumped up to start my first solo trek. I was even ready to fight a bear at that point. But the moment we reached it started to rain. I got out of the bus and waited in a tea shop for the rain to stop. It was 2 PM and it was still pouring making my plan go south. I couldn’t hike up to Kheerganaga as the trail was all wet and it was already late too. Neither did I want to go back to Kasol and then come back again the next day. So seeing me in a fix the owner of the tea shop came and asked me what the problem was. I told him my scene and he guided me through it pretty well. There is a small village called Kalga near Bershani where one can stay. It was perfect for me. But with that bit of information he also told me that I should not go to Tunda Bhuj and gave the exact same reasons which I was given earlier. On reaching Kalga I met a group of boys from Mathura who were in the Parvati Valley for the first time. We interacted pretty well and had spent the evening sharing fun stories. My first day of my first solo trip went well. I guess I was lucky!
Next morning as I was getting ready to march out I was still confused about my plan. One of the locals came and asked me where I was going. I told him my plan and asked for advice hoping it will be in favor of my plan. But unfortunately even he said that I should not go there. Three strikes! Time to go back to the bench. With that bummer I started my trek. I was still a little excited to take a different route to Kheerganga and it did not disappoint. It was beautiful and since it was the route less chosen the calmness added to its beauty.
I was only 30 minutes from my destination when I saw black clouds rolling in. I could hear the rumbling thunder and knew that I better hurry up. With no poncho or umbrella I was in no mood to get drenched in the rain. Luckily I reached in time but I knew my friends from Mathura are going to have a tough time as they were way behind me. On reaching, I went to a café. Kheerganga is a beautiful place situated on top of a mountain and surrounded by a stunning view. There is a feeling of safety you get as there are tall mountains standing all around protecting you.
I was the only one in that café at that point. I thought of my earlier plan which was now a bust. But I was still having fun. Travelling solo has its own perks. Soon the café was filled with a lot of groups and the entire vibe of the place changed immediately. I enjoyed my time interacting with all the travelers. I would sit with one group for a while, have a casual chat and then go to some other group and do the same. Everyone was super friendly with me and once again I had a great evening. Not once did it come to my mind that this wasn’t my plan and it was all so impromptu. I did not feel alone. I guess I was just lucky! I woke up early next morning and stepped out of the café. The view outside was absolutely stunning! It had rained all night and so it snowed high up in the mountains which were in front of us. That moment called for a cup of tea. There was a lady sitting near me who was doing the same. I wished her good morning to start a conversation. A couple of minutes into the conversation and Swati, told me she was going to Mantalai Lake and they were three friends and a guide. Their that day’s destination was Tunda Bhuj. On hearing that I got really excited and told her all about my plan and how it blew. But I was kind of over my plan and was now enjoying the moment. As we both finished our tea, Swati invited me to join the trek with her and her friends. For a second I was speechless. I wanted to go to Tunda Bhuj, I had planned to go to Tunda Bhuj, and since it was not happening and was finally out of my mind a random lady whom I had met just five minutes ago invited me to come to Tunda Bhuj with her!!! I still remember her exact words “We have space in our tent. The more the merrier”. I guess I was just lucky! Without wasting any more time I quickly packed my bags and went to meet her friends. Sahil and KD the two guys from Bhopal were happy to have me on the trek with them. For them I was just a kid who was going ahead with them but for me it was something else. The joy of acceptance in their group and the fact that my initial plan somehow by lord Shiva’s grace fell in place was truly a magical moment.
We started with high spirit and energy. It was a bit chilly due to the rain and as we went higher on the mountain, clouds went by us wishing us on the adventure. The trail was a challenging one and had a number of steep ascents. But the scenic view that surrounded us gave us motivation to climb higher. The pictures that I have used in this blog just do not do justice to its breathtaking beauty. There are a number of waterfalls on the mountain that accompanies you throughout the trek on your left. It is as if crystals are falling from the sky.
The first half is mostly a jungle trail and then comes the meadows. You all will be surprised to know that in those high altitude meadows there is a small settlement of Gujars. They have cows, sheep and a few dogs. I was told that these Gujars come down every morning to Kheeranga to supply milk. The trek continued and finally my intelligent brain took control over my sensitive heart. I realized that I did not pay much attention to the route. Since my companions will be going ahead to the Holly Lake I’ll have to trace my way back to Kheerganga alone. But it was too late for this realization. We reached Tunda Bhuj around sundown. I was finally standing in front of the Baba’s hut. It was so mind boggling for me! We quickly pitched our tents and got some wood for camp fire. And then we went to see the Baba Ji. I bowed my head, folded my hands and said namaste to him. He reverted back and that was all the interaction I had with him. It was an unforgettable moment! There were some other people in his hut as well. A group who had just come back from Mantalai Lake. We all sat together and had dinner. In between a casual conversation our guide told about my problem to the guide of the other group. Without even thinking for a second he told me that they were all going down to Kheerganga the next morning and that I can join them. I was speechless again. I guess I was just lucky.
The sun hit our tent early next morning. We all packed our stuff and said goodbye to each other. It was a sad feeling and to be honest I got a little emotional. We took a picture together and with then parted ways. I joined my new group. Obviously it was not the same but I was happy to have found company. I got back to Kheerganga and expressed my gratitude to the guide. The plan now was to get back down to cellular network altitude ASAP. I had full faith in my mother’s tension taking tendencies and I knew that the scenes from 127 hours would surely be playing in her mind. So I had my lunch and started down for Bershani. I got back safe and sound but unfortunately I missed my bus for Kasol which was the last bus of the evening. Cabs are expensive in the mountains and I didn’t want spend a hefty amount to reach Kasol. So I decided to go straight to Bhuntar from where I could get a Volvo bus to Delhi. It was still a little heavy on my small pocket. As I was figuring a way out a guy came to me and asked me if I would like to pool in with his group who were going in the same direction. I got in the cab with them and thanked Shiv Ji for showering some luck upon me once again. The busses from Bhuntar to Delhi leave at 8 PM and we reached at 7:55 PM. Thanks to my cabbie. I had not pre booked a seat so I went looking around the busses. Most of them were full because people generally either pre book it or reach very early to grab whatever is left. Finally after running left and right I found one bus with just one seat left. My name was written on that seat, I like to call it. Well I think I was just lucky!
To be honest I don’t believe in luck. I find it very funny when people say things like good luck or bad luck. Good things happen to us and then we call it good luck. What if that bus was full and on finding that out I cursed my luck but later I get to know that that same bus met with an accident. Turns out my luck was good. So don’t rely on luck. Rely on opportunities and on seizing them. In life everyone will get opportunities. Not equal, because obviously life is not fair. But did you grab whatever you got is what matters!! Seize the opportunity that you get, seize the moment that you are in and make your own luck!