Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Himalayan Trek - Part 2

Delhi, I hate this city. It has always cheated me.

And this time too, it held to its devious past.

Treachery 1 : Took me all the way to Gurgoan's Rajeev Chowk instead of Connaught place Rajiv Chowk from airport that too at wee hours.

Treachery 2: Sold overpriced ticket from Delhi-Manali in the worst ever bus that I got into of my life.

But thats fine, I expected more from this city. I was happy that it got over with just those incidents.

Delhi to Manali is a 17hrs trip. The mercury was at its peak. The whole of Northern India was burning and because of my friends insistence, we were trapped in a 1960 Leyland transport. The only respite was the Sikh conductor who entertained us with stories about cities that we passed on the way.

It was around 12 in the midnight when we reached Manali. It was freezing out there. Without looking out for finer details we settled ourselves at a shady Hotel. The most entertaining fact that I noticed over there was just one thing - There was no fan and there was no mosquitoes

Our next day started with drizzle. We saw how much commercialized Manali was. As we hadn't equipped ourself with the proper winter clothes, we started our hunt for them. After lingering around in local stores for 2-3 hrs, we retraced our way back to a place called Bhunter. Bhunter is a small town before Kullu. Kasol, the base camp, is around 2 hrs from Bhunter.

Road to Kasol is one of the best scenic roads you could ever see in your life. You meanders through the sides of river Parbati and its a real joy to watch the river dancing below, following you like teasing you all the way. At that moment itself we decided to go for rafting across it.

Kasol is a small village on the banks of Parbati. The mainstay of the economy may be , I guess, foreigners and YHAI trekkers :P. One of the surprising fact that caught my eyes over here is the sign boards in Hebrew. Yes, its an Israeli getaway place. There is throng of them here and may be with foot not on the ground but with sense of immortal elation. Yes, kasol is also the mecca of “you know what”. All vagabonds would like Kasol, its just paradise on earth and cheaper paradise too.

The camp was on the banks of Parbati. There were separate tents for men and women. There were around 15 out of them. And like a luxury, there was a separate tent for the Camp Leader. was 60+ fellow who had climbed Mt Everest. The first day went fine. Everyday there was a camp fire organized by people from the previous batch. The people somehow shed their shyness in cold and misty air to show their cultural prowess. One particular aspect of life that I had forgotten when I left my school days was reminded to me when lights were put off at sharp 10. The camp was maintained under a strict military discipline. We also were convinced regarding the utilities of each and everything mentioned in the itinerary list. We had forgot to bring the torch and we were groping in the darkness to get place to bunk.

A typical day at camp starts at 5 in the morning. Oh god, I had forgotten when I had last seen 5 in the morning. And soon after a cup of coffee, we were off for morning exercise. I hated this part. By the time it was over, everybody had their body warmed up and lost a few unwanted pounds :). But soon it was made up for by a fantastic breakfast thereafter.

On the second day, an acclimatization trip was conducted. During this time, we were taken to a small hill near by the camp. It was around 1500 ft higher than the camp site. The hill was covered with pine trees and other flora which I tried to decipher from my old botanical days. But senility had spread my hairs grey, everything were stuck at the tip of my tongue. This was the time when we got acquainted with our tour mates. The crowd was a uniform mix. Some kids, some professionals, some oldies and some who apparently were old but forgot to grow old. Then and there I got the vibe of the forthcoming days.

That night, it was our turn to orchestrate the camp fire. I don't know how the other fellows managed to give an awesome performance. The camp leader was impressed to exalting heights. The day after we were finally going off to see the snow peaks that we could see now in the horizon.

To be continued.