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Dwell in Fearlessness – My Solo and Unsupported Trek to Annapurna Base Camp

June 7, 2016
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” And all she knew was exactly how to look at the brighter side of life”

IMG_0258The Map to ABC

I am not a mountaineer, I have not done the mountaineering course, neither do I belong to the mountains. I am city girl who was born in plains, who had no extra ordinary fitness, infact I suffered Asthma as a kid and I also have a backbone with no cartilage between my spine and my tail bone, I had to quit Food and Beverage and Kitchen while I was working for the Hospitality sector because I couldn’t carry heavy weights. I love the mountains and that’s all I knew – a kind of love that I never felt before and will never feel again, mountains drive me to be me, mountains drive me to go above my nerve, every time!

My life is not a bed of roses, nothing has been served to me on a platter, I have worked hard for every piece of happiness I own today, I have had dark times, we all do, and they never end, and sometimes you have to go through them alone. Mountains thought me one thing, and that is to keep going no matter what. Two months down starting my dream project – a travel company of my own, I was in loses, and its my baby, yes I can’t fail. Everything started going wrong and people who I thought would stand by me were the first one’s to back off. But I was alive with strength in my mind and my legs, and every time someone turns their back to you, few angels show up to save your grace, and that’s exactly what happens, we just need to learn how to count our blessings, the day we learn that, our lives will change, we will be happier and nothing else matters more in life, but to be happy!

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek was on my mind since long, and after a lot of thought and discussion I decided to take it in-spite of the fact I was running loses. I wanted to do it solo and unsupported. I knew I was going to really really have it hard, but I guess that’s what I liked, to survive through hardship, there is some sort of a pleasure in it.

Arrived at Kathmandu, spend a day there, prepared for the trek, and left the next day morning for Pokhara. The bus ride to Pokhara is almost 6-7 hour ride from Kathmandu. Reached Pokhara and decided to start the trek the same day. So here goes my day wise story to my journey to the ABC.

Day 1: Australian Base Camp
“Be open to new people and new experiences, without fear”

IMG_0249Me at the Australian Base Camp

This was the beginning of the much awaited trek, and I knew I was going to walk for the next 8 days at-least and that thought was really scary, however I decided to take each day and not count the no. of days. This was the first time I trekked in the dark, this was something new I was doing, and surprisingly I wasn’t feeling scared at all, infact I was quite fascinated observing the species in the forests which were very different from my experience of trekking in India. Since they trek began from a low altitude, it seemed more like a tropical rain forest. In an hour and a half I reached the Australian Base Camp – My first pit-stop. Found a pretty nice lodge and good food.

Day 2: Landruk
“Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst”

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The morning was quite cloudy as the Australian Base Camp, with no one going further up. Clearly it was going to rain, however I was high on energy and I had to keep going, so I did. The walk was a mix of ups and downs at a comparatively low altitude region. Just and hour short of Landruk, it started to rain and the rain was not rain it was a thunderstorm and everything I had including my shoes got completely drenched in the rain. I walked in them with water pumping out every time I took a step. When I reached Landruk I found all my clothes in my backpack were wet too, I usually pack them in a plastic, but this time I didn’t, I was cursing my self for not doing so, took out everything and put to it dry, the sun showed up for a bit, rest was luck.Prayed while I was sleeping for the weather to be good, I had to make it to the ABC, I just had to!

Day 3: Chhomrong
“You are stronger than you think you are”

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I woke up at 5:30 am and my prayers were answered, saw the first view of Annapurna Main and I couldn’t have been happier. This was a longer and harder day, I was in good spirits, but my shoes were still wet. So I decided to hike in my floaters, didn’t have a choice. The altitude started increasing and the terrain started getting demanding. The never ending climbs started to begin and then the descends and then the climb again. Reached Jhinu by lunch and it was a clear uphill climb to Chhomrong, Which I was scared of, but I did it like it was a cake walk. It wasn’t that hard or may be I was stronger. I had my backpack all this while. My confidence got a real boost, I started to believe I am going to make it.

Day 4: Himalaya
“A champion is someone who gets up and moves, when she can’t”

IMG_0350Morning view from Chhomrong of Annapurna and Machcha Puchhre

Woke up to clouds, another rainy day. The Annapurna Main and Machcha Puchchre did show up for a while and then disappeared. It rained through the day and true to God, this was the hardest day. The rain made the trail slippery, it was a constant climb and I was not in my best shape for some reason, the altitude kept increase, it was cold and damp, the moisture levels were high, everything wet would not dry, my shoes were still wet, and there did come a point were I thought I just couldn’t go any further. I was breaking down, I started feeling the weight, but did I have a choice, no! I had to keep going, so I just kept going, thinking that a miracle would happen and I would feel more energy. Made it to Himalaya, extremely tired and everything wet, it was cold. I immediately changed all my clothes which also seemed like an effort and just crashed. I was really unsure as the next day was the day I reach The ABC, I was hoping for good weather and a stronger me.

 

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Himalaya from a distance

Day 5: Annapurna Base Camp
” Sometimes you just have to take the leap of faith, jump and trust yourself, because you are all that you got”

IMG_0421On the way to Deurali
IMG_0446The Himchuli Straight up

Woke up to a bright sunny day, and I decided I will take it easy and slow as the altitudes where increasing. So began walking quite early and made it to Deurali in 2 hours. The next stop was MBC( Machcha Pucchre Base Camp). As I kept walking the view started getting so so breath taking that it completely kept me distracted from everything else, it didn’t matter any more which part of my body was hurting, or the weight or anything else, I was coming closer to my love – the mountains and that is all that mattered. Stopped for lunch at MBC with a straight view of the Annapurna South, it was breath taking. Post lunch I started my trek to ABC, the last leg, a dream that was coming true, and within less than 2 hours, I was there! I had tears in my eyes, I made it! in one piece, inspite of all odds, these moments of life are what you love for. I forgot how tired I was, I dropped my bag and picked my camera and just left to click, It was magic! The night sky was clear and I saw the moon rise, It was a miracle!

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IMG_0477Machcha Pucchre from MBC
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IMG_0598Annapurna Main (8091 mts) at Dusk, the 10th highest mountain in the world

Day 6: Dovan
” You are on your own soul journey, not competing or racing with anything or anyone”

IMG_0457Hiking to Dovan

Sadly I had to leave The ABC next morning, I was happy I survived the night there as many couldn’t, they decided to go down due to altitude sickness, which I didn’t suffer from, I am a slow walker and thats what saved my life. The morning was bright and sunny, but as we crossed Deurali it started to rain again, and I had to stop before. It rained heavily and continuously, taking a stop was a good idea and I also decided to take some much needed rest, so all I did was sleep!

Day 7: Jhinu
” Energies make you or break you, choose wisely”

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Since walking back is not so much fun I decided to break some trekking rules and plug in my ear phones. It was also a walk the talk with myself, on my life reflecting upon my personal and professional goals and decisions. We all want friendship and love, we all thrive for it, break down in it and yet never give up. Because love makes this planet a better place to live, but trust you me, no relationship is as important as your relationship with yourself, because no one is ever going to respect you or value you like the way you would. And please start loving yourself first, you are all that you got. When you are in the worse times, yes there are few who help, but its you who pulls yourself out every-time out of that dark and bring yourself back on your feet. While I was lost in thoughts I happened to peep back just to get an amazing sight of the Maccha Puchhre ( Fish Tail literally). Love yourself enough to be happy, and choose happiness, everyday! On that thought and with music, I had happily made it to Chhomrong, I was quite fast. Jhinu was an hour away and so were the hot water springs 🙂

I made a friend, and we traveled together, those times are my favorite, strangers who become friends 🙂

Day 8: Siwai

“Be the best version of yourself, wherever you go, heal and spread the love”

IMG_0257On the way to Siwai

It was the last leg, and it was harder than I thought, may be I knew in my head it was the last leg. I just wanted to get done now. Reached Siwai in a few hours and I was done. Finally! I made it to THE ABC and was back in one piece. I had decided to get to Pokhara and shower first, then just treat myself and celebrate my little victory.

Why do I trek solo? because it gives me a feeling of freedom that nothing else does, I feel stronger and more of a survivor. We live in a country with women living under various conditions and societal pressures and I don’t ever want to be bonded, because I always have a choice, and thats the choice I make for myself, because I am all that I have.

Fear is nothing but a state of mind, being brave pays off, everything in life comes for a price and that price of often painful. Its the pain you choose to take, the pain of being conditioned and living a life dictated by others and yet never being appreciated for it or choosing freedom, which brings uncertainty and loneliness, but you live the life you choose, and you deal with the consequence. It is always the choice you make, pain in inevitable and pain is good 🙂

Solo Journeys Soul Search

Last Year This Time – 12 Months – 12 Soul Journeys

April 23, 2016
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“The best feeling is when you go beyond your fears and survive, happily”

This is a long pending blog that I have been waiting to compile. 2015 was a year of ends and beginnings, 2015 gave me alot and took away some real friendships. Traveling solo into my soul has always been my savior in life. Some people call it escapism, I call it loving yourself, because you are all that you got.

So here goes my travel journal for 2015:

January 2015:

Rann of Kachchh, Gujrat

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Reaching Rann of Kachchh is hardly a 6 hour drive from Ahmedabad and 1.5 hours from Bhuj. There are direct trains to Bhuj from all major cities. The best time to visit is Nov-Feb, for people who would like to explore the culture could visit during the Kachchh festival from December to February. It is a very safe place for women to travel. Kachchh has village homestays that only allow women travelers since they do not disturb the village culture and the women in the rural.

 

February 2015:

Sula Festival, Nashik, Maharashtra

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I didn’t even know something like this happens, thanks to a friend who booked this for me, who ultimately fell sick with dengue and I ended up going. I never had wine until Sula festival happened to me. A must must must experience, totally safe of solo women since its far away from Haryana 🙂 a crazy musical and wine experience.

March 2015

Tarkarli, Malvan, Maharashtra

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India is beautiful and unexplored, not many people know of Tarkarli exactly 95 kms before Goa on the Mumbai – Goa highway. For lovers of food, sea and peace, one can relish exquisite Konkan Cuisine for prices you cannot imagine. Tarkali also has beautifully beach homestays that are very affordable and offers beginner level scuba diving. If you are lucky you get to spot dolphins too.

April 2015

Kareri Lake Trek, Kangra,Himachal Pradesh

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Kareri lake is a beautiful Alpine lake trek in the Kangra dist. of Himachal Pardesh. This trek gave me the lesson of my life and made me realise that no matter what never challenge nature. Inspite of heavy rainfall predictions I still went head and got stuck, to our luck we found shelter, couldn’t complete the trek but soon again:)

 

May 2015

Chaderkhani Pass Trek, Kullu, Himachal Pardesh

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Did this trek with a group, a fairly easy trek ideal for first timers that follow a fitness regime. I went on my menstrual cycle on this trek, which was certainly effecting my stamina, drinking alot of hot liquids on a trek is the key to survive through when you start on your period. It might sound horrifying, it is not, you will survive. However, do not ever dispose used tampons in the mountains, carry them back, I did that.

 

June 2015

Beas Kund Trek, Manali, Himachal Pradesh

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This was the first time I was taking a group, as a trial. It was an experience, this is one of the most beautiful and recommended treks for all trekkers, the beauty of the valley just keeps getting better. Very doable by everyone, go for it!

July 2015

Deoriatal, Sari, Uttarakhand

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I always ended up going to Himachal and never Uttarakhand, so I decided to. Uttarakhand takes you to beauties with less physical effort in most treks. The beauty of the valley is raw and untouched. This was a solo trek, didn’t have a very good experience in terms of people but in terms of landscape, mind blowing!

 

August 2015

My Mini Tibet

Spiti Valley, Dist. Lahual Spiti, Himachal Pradeesh

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I would want you to read my blog – Lost trails are Beautiful, as this trip is very very close to my heart

 

September, 2015

Chandratal, Spiti Valley

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I missed chandratal in my first round in August, so I went back again, just to trek to the Moon Lake.

 

October 2015

Bhrigu Lake, Manali, Himachal Pradesh

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A not so easy trek with steep ascends, ideal for people who like to challenge themselves, the weather went bad again, so we couldn’t finish.

November, 2015

Puskar Festival, Rajasthan

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Read my blog on Pushkar here

 

December, 2015

Har Ki Dun Trek, Uttarakhand

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I wanted to do one multi-day trek unsupported and eco-friendly before the year ended, so I did 🙂 read my blog on Har-Ki-Dun.

 

Eco-Tourism Solo Journeys

A Walk the Talk with Myself – A No Footprint Trek To Har-Ki-Dun

April 21, 2016
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“Life is Either a Daring Adventure, Or Nothing”

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For some odd reason, I cannot get over the quote I mentioned above. It is hard to practice it, very very hard as we always feel insecure, about so many things in life. But letting go, is a really good space to be in.

It was the end of 2015, Har-ki-Dun had been on my list since long. Since it is a tea house trek, I could think of doing it unsupported, without a guide, so I did. But what was the challenge here? There was two actually – One I had to carry all my stuff myself, and second it was December end and that was the scary, challenging and exciting part.

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I was working full time, and had a very hard time to get my leaves approved. I realised that a boss probably doesn’t’ deserve to know the truth when an employee asks for a leave, my friend, a lie always gets you through better. I did manage to get away, as the Himalayas were calling me, and nothing comes in between me and the Himalayas 🙂

 

Left on the eve of Christmas for Dehradun, arrived there early morning and I cannot describe the cold I felt. Changed 4 local transports and finally made it to Sankri, the hot-spot for several treks in Uttarakhand. Taluka is from where the trek to Har Ki Dun begins, and I had also booked accommodation with dorms of Garwal Mandal Vikas Nigam at Taluka, these accommodations were cheap but questionable on hygiene. I knew I wasn’t going to bathe for the next 5 days so it didn’t bother me. Taluka, a very quite village with limited population. I decided I will not eat anything that is packaged, I only ate eggs and freshly cooked local food. I also was carrying nuts and dry fruits. Not to mention I was carrying my own water bottle and filling natural water.

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Day 1: Taluka to Seema:
Next day early morning, I began walking towards Seema- 16kms from Taluka, I had my rucksack on and as I kept walking the view kept getting better, the first half I survived happily, but the second half, the weight started to get to my back, I had to go on. As I kept walking I finally sight Osla on the other side, a sigh of relief, I knew Seema was almost there and made it to Seema after walking for 9-10 hours. By then it was evening and was getting cold. Snow was prevalent and I had crossed patches of frozen ice without crampons. As I reach there I met a few professors and a student from IIT Roorkee, they had decided not to go further and warned me too, I did get shaken for a while, I thought I’ll take a call next morning, again crashed in the GMVN post a locally cooked dinner by the local Chowkidar.

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Day 2: Seema to Har-Ki-Dun:

Woke up next morning, and yes I decided to move ahead, had fresh aloo paranthas and took off. I started with great energy and speed, and was lucky to meet a good friend and Founder – Himalayan Shelter – Mr. Bachan Rana. Bachan is a true delight, full of positive energy, he had a group of few people and honestly what amazed me the most about him is the way he was handling first time trekker. There was a girl in his group who had a sprained leg, Bachan did not let her give up, he walked the whole trail with her at her speed ensuring she completes the trek and goes back with a feeling of accomplishment. Looking at that I thought I am not a first time trekker, hence I should certainly not even think of quitting. I moved on, and once I started gaining altitude I started feeling uneasy, there was something in my head that was not letting me breathe, I didn’t know what it was. I kept walking slower, took breaks and had a break down too. Yes! I did. I want to tell people that even strong people break down emotionally, but what makes them strong is that they face their fears and emotions, they break down, they cry but they get up again, and I did exactly that.

In no time, I had reached Har-ki-Dun and I cannot explain the beauty that was in front of my eyes. I kept looking and looking the white mountains so close to me. I felt like I was in the arms of my lover which I didn’t wish to leave, ever! I had made it there, completely Eco-Friendly and unsupported.
The temperatures at night went to negative 6-7, it was freezing cold.

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Day 3 Har-Ki-Dun to Osla:
Woke up next morning to a mesmerizing sunrise, I swear I didnt want to leave, but it was too cold! Started walking towards Osla, this was the easiest 15 kms of the trek, made it there before time and decided to stay in a villagers house. Olsa has no electricity and most people there are poverty struck. I thought this will be an excellent Eco-tourism project and I wish someday I can change the course of life for people in Osla.

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Day 4: Osla to Taluka:
And so, with that thought of doing something for Osla, I slept and when I woke up I found my Iphone missing, someone had stolen it, and people there were getting offended for me blaming them. Thats when I felt that for some strange reason I am way more comfortable traveling in Himachal, I had never had any sort of strange experiences there. I was sad, upset on not finding my phone and I left Osla, this was the last leg too. This is when I came back to thinking what was bothering me, I broke down my emotions to myself and I realised that being tied was bothering me, professionally and personally. It was time I quit and start working towards my dream, I had decided I wont let anything tie me anymore, my freedom was my most priced possession, I wanted professional freedom and personal freedom. Professional freedom was a clear, struggle-sum and no looking back path, which I have taken on now and every day is a new day! personal freedom was to stop expecting and stopping attaching to people, no matter how close they are to you, and this is the harder part of life, to detach. We can never detach ourselves from fellow humans, but we can always do our bit, give them love and move on.

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Today, 5 months post the trek, I am on the path that I decided to take while hiking Har-Ki-Dun. I urge who ever reads this blog, to if not anything decide on what path you want to be on and stick to it, life is not waiting, life is happening, right now! as long as you are alive, live it with all your heart and give as much love you can, and trust me the Universe will always love you back, even if fellow humans don’t 🙂

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Not to forget, this was an Eco-Trek, I left no plastic footprint, and gave all the money I had along with an Iphone to the locals 🙂

 

Solo Journeys

Parvati Valley – Beyond Kasol

February 10, 2016
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Parvati Valley rests on the other side of the Kullu district and has been popular for homing the holy Manikaran Gurudwara in the heart of the valley where millions of Hindu and Sikh pilgrims travel every year. Later, Parvati Valley became more popular when Kasol became the hippie destination of the mountains with several travelers across the globe traveling to Kasol to experience the magic of the mountains with the Parvati river flowing alongside and the cafe culture.

Not many know about the beauty and history of Parvati Valley, which can only be discovered if one has a true wanderlust gene in them. To explore Parvati Valley as a whole in itself one visit can never be enough. Here is a small tour through the hidden and gorgeous next door spots of Parvati Valley

 

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Malana:

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Malana is famously known the Hashish destination of this world, and believe it or not, Malana is sold for a premium in Amsterdam. Malana is also an anarchy because of its history of curing Emperor Akbar while he was very ill, since then Akbar made Malana a tax free state, also it is believed that a troupe of Alexanders Army decided to stay there during the conquer, hence all locals are believed to be direct descendants  of Alexander and trust me you will see that in the green eyes of the locals there. Malana is also a forbidden village for anyone who is not from Malana, however has opened to tourism over the last couple of years. The temple located in the middle of the village is still alien to all outsiders with a fine imposed.

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Kheerganga:

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Kheerganga is a small village set up through out the summers in Himachal Pradesh. It is open for 7 months in a year from March thru October. It is only accessible by foot. It is a beautiful day trek on a narrow cliff side path going by numerous waterfalls and few isolated villages. There is usually about 30-50 people at the village site during the high season. Kheerganga homes a natural hot water spring which is the highlight of this day trek, Kheerganga also homes the mighty Pin Parvati Pass trek which is considered one of the difficult high altitude treks in the higher Himalayan Ranges. The night sky is something that one cannot miss.

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Tosh:

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A village at the far end of the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh, the village of Tosh is situated at a height of 7874 feet above sea-level (2400 m). Tosh is now accessible by road and had become a popular destination for backpackers and young travelers. Tosh is located in the lap of the mountains and provides spectacular views of the mountains. Accommodation is provided by the villagers is basic yet clean at Tosh.

 

Chalal:

Chalal is a small village at a 30 minutes walking distance from Kasol not many know of. Chalal like Tosh having home stays and affordable lodges, is a perfect getaway for a break from the regular.

So are you still waiting 🙂

Solo Journeys

Mystery of the Green Eyes – Malana (Parvati Valley)

February 7, 2016
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“Embrace the Glorious Mess that you are”

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Me after spending a night at Malana and going back

 

The first time I touched Parvati Valley was in 2011, the second time I made it to the Forbidden Village – Malana. It was September, 2012, I was in a hospitality sales job, fried in the head as all of us feel of our jobs, I was 25 something and was also under going what we will call as a major turmoil of our lives – a breakup. Whenever, you are in the most uncomfortable space, tired of both your personal and professional life, nothing really seems to interest you, what do you do? You want to run, far away to a beach, chill and sip on a beer, and for a bit forget what your daily life is like, take a break, take it easy. Well in my case it was always mountains. Without much planning I took off to my favorite place, Manali.

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Vashisht; Manali

 

To my good luck or bad luck, I see a poster or a moonlight party happening in Kasol the moment I reach Manali. “What???, a moon light party??? this is something I always wanted to experience, since I had heard so much”, I thought. Hence, there I was – Kasol. I had heard almost every youth over hyping about these cool hippie parties and wondered like how this would be. However, as I should have known, the party wasn’t cool. I went there, checked it out and just walked out. I didn’t feel like being there, something wasn’t right, I was there for peace, not loud noises and people going crazy. In utter disappointment I walked from Chonch to Kasol with two more days and I had no clue what to do.

 

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Streets of Kasol

 

As I was talking to people and thinking what is it that I could to, I see a poster on the glass door of a CD shop in Kasol, a movie called Bom, The Forbidden village – Malana, and I knew where I had to go. No local buses go there directly, so I had to book a taxi the next morning, I didn’t even have a backpack during those days, I was a jhola traveler, I also had no idea I had to walk, no climb. After a drive of about, 2 hours from Kasol, I reached to the starting point of the trek, and my jaw dropped right there, Malana was on the mountain on the opposite side, which meant I had to go down and then climb further up. and with a history of bad health and no physical activity for the longest time, first, Asthma as a child, then a deformed back, I had no idea what I was in for.

 

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Malana Village from the bottom of the climb

 

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On the way up to Malana

 

I actually exchanged my bag with the driver since I didn’t have a shoulder bag and started walking upwards, it was so so hard, I was walking for 5 minutes then resting for 10 minutes while I watched the locals hopped skipped and jumped, I had a Redbull with me which literally saved my life. The breathtaking views kept me busy and motivated nonetheless. As I go further, a local started walking with me and as I finally made it, he started guiding me through the village and helped me find a place to stay.

It still had not sunk in that I actually did something that I never thought I could, but I did. I was feeling like I had climbed Mount Everest, we under estimate ourselves so much, because rarely do we find givers, people who push you forward to cross your limits, in that case you have to be your own hero. A sudden gush of energy started flowing through my mind and body and I started feeling like I was floating, like all my problems just got over, at least for then.

 

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Malana: The Forbidden Village

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The Forbidden Temple

 

Malana is known as the Hash destination of this world, and believe it or not, Malana is sold for a premium in Amsterdam. Malana is also an anarchy because of its history of curing Emperor Akbar while he was very ill, since then Akbar made it a tax free state, also it is believed that a troupe of Alexanders Army decided to stay there, hence all locals are believed to be direct descendants  of Alexander and trust me you will see that in the green eyes of the locals there. Malana is also a forbidden village for anyone who is not from Malana, however has opened to tourism over the last couple of years. The temple located in the middle of the village is still alien to all outsiders with a fine imposed.

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Home of the Panchayat Head; Malana

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Sign for a fine 🙂

 

An adventure of a life time, mystic, surreal and peaceful, Malana was the flag off for me to fall in love with climbing the mountains.

 

 

Solo Journeys

The Ones Who Miss All the Fun Are Those Who Say, “It can’t be done.”: Trek to Beas Kund

December 21, 2015
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“All the birds have flown up and gone
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by
We never tire of looking at each other-
Only the Mountain and I”
PS: pictures are not necessarily in order of the events. Do not miss the video at the end of the blog!

It was June of 2015, when the snow was yet to melt from, I had been wanting to start my own travel company, as much as I was in a rush to do so, I wanted to create something different. Try and test before I take the plunge, fail, struggle, get hurt, lose confidence, its all a part of the game called life.

It was the first time I was organising a trek, which means people pay me and I arrange everything. Nimmat Thakur, an ace mountaineer from Rumsu which is very close to Manali was my operations CEO and I was banking on him, without any doubts.

DAY 1:

We were six including me, four young boys, all with some trekking experience, and a friend of mine – a forty something lady whose physical stamina could not have been challenged by the toughest. We reached Manali later than we thought, and hence we all just kept getting late, the traffic, the preparations. Nevertheless we made it to Dhundi, the starting point of the trek and started our trek to the base camp of Beas Kund. We were taking it totally easy, we all were extremely excited. However as bad luck had to strike, something went terribly wrong.

Since this was an organised trek, porters along with horses were required to carry our tents, sleeping bags and food, we were all carrying only our stuff. Nimmat had organised for horses whose owner decided to ditch us after we climbed for an hour which meant we didn’t have food, tents and sleeping bags, it was already 6pm!

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Nimmat did not know how to break this bad news to us as this meant we had to go back to where we started, and the moment he did, obviously we all were extremely disappointed, “what will happen now?” we all went completely blank. Since all customers are not the same, the lady didn’t take it too well, she reacted with anger which left all of us shut and handicapped to think of solution. She was right as a customer, she had paid for a service which she wasn’t receiving, but when you are outdoors you literally do not have a control over circumstances, how do you explain that to a customer? The boys were in a situation they didn’t want to be in, and I? I was feeling completely screwed, torn into three, like I could just kill myself, jump in the river or just jump of the cliff or just vanish in thin air.

 

The lady decided to go back to Manali, all of us made an attempt to calm her, we failed, the boys just told Nimmat to go and drop her safely there as there wasn’t a choice, it was dark. The rest of us decided to camp the night at Dhundi. Prashant was very clear from the beginning that he has to make it to the summit, by hook or by crook, his confidence gave me some confidence too and amidst all this stress and tension, all I could see in my mind was Beas Kund, the Kund that I had seen images of, the source of the holy Beas River.

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I was scared to sleep alone in the tent, not because of anything but the cold.

DAY 2:

I survived the night and woke up to this at 4:45 am!

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The next morning was bright and clear at Dhundi, with fresh hopes and the clean and pure mountain air, mountains never betray, at least I like to believe so. However again to our bad luck we didn’t get the horses! So what do we do now? with only one and a half days left to a three day trek?

I was angry now, really angry, at everything not at anyone. I asked Nimmat, who I trusted that if we could do this in a day, since he had seen me trekking before and knew my speed and with 100% confidence he said “aap toh kar loge”, Prashant backed my decision and the others supported it too. So we had our breakfast, packed our lunch and took of at 7:30 am, towards Beas Kund! in the name of lord!

 

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We crossed streams, meadows and reached Bakarthach, which is also a base camp for mountaineers studying at ABVIMAS (Atal Bihari Vajpai Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports). We reached this place in 3 hours from when we started and we had two more hours to go, the weather was bright and clear and I was walking along the mountains, I love love love mountains. We made it to the summit at 12pm sharp, covering a distance of 8kms in less than 5 hours. The morrains that came our way towards the last stretch was tricky, and that were I was thanking god for having Nimmat, someone who knew mountains.

 

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Spent an hour at the summit, had some hot tea which we were carrying and made it back to our base camp at Dhuni by 4:30pm, so it all worked, yaaeee! We were all so so so happy. 16 kms in the mountains in 9 hours.

A three day trek which we all happily and healthily completed in a day! Euphoric!

 

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My learning from this trek, energy! always and always pull the energy that connects with your energy, you will know!

We really need to teach people that outdoors is not luxury, if you are willing to be adventuress then you have to break inhibitions and forget about security and luxury.

 

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It was the most memorable trek of my life! And those four fellow trekkers Inshank, Nitin, Prashant and Saurabh now come in the list of some of my closest budds 🙂

 

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And something that will never die, my love affair with the mountains <3

DAY 3: Headed back to come back again !

Watch it here, a really fun video compiled by Ishank Ahuja

 

Solo Journeys

The Energy Culture & #tourism in India; Pushkar

December 10, 2015
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I am not young, I am not too old, its the curiosity that takes me to places and I might get killed someday (as they say ‘curiosity killed the cat’), but I guess its alright because being curious is also a blessing, you are in constant search of answers, even when you don’t know what the question is.

I had been trying to make a visit to Pushkar for almost the past 4 years and it had to be during the historical Pashu Mela. 2015 being the year, I made it there, during the festival!

 

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Picture credit: Saurabh Mehta https://www.facebook.com/PoisedLens/?fref=ts

 

So, coming back to curiosity, one of the things that I learned about myself is I am a very energy responsive person, infact all of us are, some of us either don’t realise it or are just oblivion to this concept. Pushkar was very different from any other place I have visited in India, any landscape, any town, Pushkar has an energy of its own, in its people, in the culture and you feel it the moment you get there, the air, the vibe is euphoric!

And what added on to the vibe, the place were I camped and the people I met. Every journey is always about that, and that’s what makes every journey an imprint on the mind.

 

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I couldn’t have asked for a better place to park my self, Zostel is what I picked this time around (I decided to get a little luxurious), and the moment you walk in there you feel like you are in a home away from home, and it didn’t take me long to find my spot, on the rooftop! The energy, the vibe was so so so good, for people who just don’t like to be bothered, disturbed, seen or judged and do believe in the “energy culture”, you might not find a stay better that this, and sometimes its not about anything else, not the price you paid and if it was value for money, not the services because you cannot expect a five star service everywhere, but just about the vibe. I met some great people and had amazing conversations on this very rooftop. I was super happy.

 

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Picture from: https://www.facebook.com/Zostel/?fref=ts

 

I loved the vibe so much that I gave up the Indian Ocean concert happening there, and just chilled on the rooftop. I love the energy culture that just creates itself on its own, everywhere! we are all energies, some good some bad.

“Trust your vibe, Your energies don’t lie” 🙂

Here are a few things you should definitely do in Pushkar:

  • Watch the sunset by the Ghat, and listen to the aarti.
  • Have Kachoris, Malpua, Jalebis from the local market, they are heaven!
  • Have a glass of the strong ‘special lassi’ at any cafe that has a special lassi on the menu. Caution: At your own risk 🙂

 

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My short visit to Pushkar got me think about cultures and traditions in rural India compared to urban, gosh we actually have so much to learn and go back to basics, we certainly need to. India is possibly the only country in the world that doesn’t promote #tourism, rather people from around the world come here and just sniff it. So may be its already there and it just needs a #tag :p. So should we call it #tourism in India?

 

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Picture credit: Saurabh Mehta https://www.facebook.com/PoisedLens/?fref=ts

 

I am wandering off again to the mountains soon, and this time with a purpose. keep yourself on this space 🙂

 

Solo Journeys

Lost Trails are Beautiful; My Solo Journey Into the Highlands of Spiti

November 26, 2015
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As humans no matter how adventurous we get in our own definitions of adventure, we still crave for security, security in relationships, financial security and all sorts of luxurious securities. We end up getting caught in this whirlpool of securities one after another and then on every little thing we get insecure, things that don’t really matter, we get insecure looking at other people’s lives, their success, get happy on their failures, do we question ourselves and our morals ever!?

I lost my friend, she died at 27, I heard many famous singers and rockstars died at 27 calling it The Club 27, she is a rockstar no doubts on that, we had a series of make ups and break ups, and agreements and disagreements, hating each other and loving each other that we couldn’t live without each other, but one thing was sure, we ‘are’ soul mates, not sure if you might want to call it ‘best friends’ but it was truly beyond that. Three days after her birthday, 20th July 2015, she decided to fall of the top floor of a building never to return. It was the first time in my life I was experiencing losing a soul mate. We were talking about taking a trek Kareri lake that afternoon. My mind opened to a series of questions it never had.

I quit my job soon a couple of days after, things don’t ever go as you plan, what you think is a great plan fails like it was nothing, you get back to square one, and suddenly you are a no body, in a world full of humans only with labels attached to them. I always felt withdrawn from urban humans, this time, I didn’t want to see anyone’s face! So somehow carrying all that baggage on my back and my mind I decided to take off to Spiti, live minimal and let off every piece of security tying me, I felt like I had nothing to lose.

Got to Shimla on 14th morning and got onto a bus to Rekong Peo, yes, Highway was shot here, my body started giving up after 6 hours and I still had 7 more hours to go before I got to Kalpa, and landslides on the way making the traffic worse. I prayed to god, please help! and out of nowhere I strike a conversation with a 25-year-old local boy from Kalpa, and again out of nowhere he bumps into a friend who had a vacant top model Innova going to Kalpa, without thinking how safe it is I just got off the bus and got into the Innova with two ‘unknown’ men and was driven to Kalpa accompanied with a great meal and a peaceful nap. The evening passed having some local rum with these guys knowing each other, I felt great! Thats what mountains always did to me!

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The whole of next day I spent roaming around Kalpa, met some young travelers also traveling to Spiti, spend some great time with them. All this while my lost friend was on my mind, I decided to pray for her. I felt like while I was alone, she was my guardian angel protecting me. I was looking for answers, all the time.

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On the morning of 16th August I flagged of my journey to Spiti on a local HRTC bus. A little while later I see a really tall and white girl alone, like me. At the breakfast stop we just get drawn towards each other, we speak to each other about our plans and that’s it, we are together now! we were not solo anymore! We get off at Tabo, go to the monastery, pray, climb up the mountain, at perfect peace with each other. How often do you come across souls you hit it off so well with? Keep them! Always! And suddenly I find my mind blank, no thoughts, no despair, no anxiety, no stress, nothing, just peace. We again drink the local rum in the evening and make merry.

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Next day we leave for Dhankar, and I get sick! the dust and the hitch hiking gets to me real bad, but in-spite of that I felt so present in the moment, so alive, so there, the feeling was priceless, I decided to pop in a medicine and get some sleep, but I did wake up before the sunset and felt like this is it! This is where I want to live for the rest of my life!

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Woke up to sunrise next morning, magic was an understatement, went to the Dhankar old monastery, said prayers to world peace, had aloo paranthas and took of for our next destination, Kaza. We hiked down from Dhankar to the Spiti road, found a Bolero Camper to take us on its back, Oksana loves these bumpy filmy rides, and I just enjoyed watching her going crazy.

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Kaza was much disappointing, some festival going on there made it way to crowded for me to deal with. Found a place to stay and then we just wanted to get out of there, neither me nor Oksana could take so many humans, we both had similar feelings when it came to humans in general. Getting fried in the heat and dust with my nose flowing and throat gone for a toss, we walked up and down Kaza in that crowd to figure things out, but nothing was working out as such. Then I hear a driver telling a shopkeeper he is going to Komic and Langza. Thats it! He was my “hukkum ka ikka”, speaking to him I found he is driving a back up vehicle for 3 couples who were riding through Spiti on Enfields, hence the backup vehicle was obviously empty! and thats how we saw Langza and Komic 🙂

 

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It was time for Oksana to head back and I was on my own again, didn’t like the feeling of her going but I told myself, this is life! I was extremely unwell by now, my body demanded rest, So I decided to take complete rest at Kaza for two days. When you travel alone you meet all sorts of people, good, bad and ugly. My homestay owner took it light, thinking I was alone, started troubling me in ways I couldn’t deal with, and through the day it became bad to worse, that I finally lost my temper. I didn’t get a rest for two days but one day was good enough, and I had decided no matter what I am not staying here, my adrenaline rush started to peep in at the same time, and suddenly I felt a gush of energy in my mind with faith to take the leap.

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Left the next day on the first ray of the Sun, towards Chandratal! and this very guy who was troubling me had told me of a hike from Kunzumla to Chandratal, thats when I told myself, we need to tell ourselves to look at the good of every situation. The HRTC bus gets a flat tire 4 Kms before Kunzumla and my hike becomes 14 kms from 10 kms with a 14 kg rucksack on my back, but nevertheless, I just wanted to hike, Hiking and solo hiking is my most favorite feeling. I start my hike and the moment I go off-road passing a bunch of bullet riders in glory, I asked myself what is the difference between me and them? The difference was I had given up the fear of insecurity, I was on my own, I was not afraid anymore and whatever I was doing, I was doing it to myself and for myself. I was really happy and I was fearless. As I climbed up after a couple of hours I had the Chandrabagha peak on my face. This! this was the feeling I craved almost all the time. I told myself, if I need help I shall find it. Gunjan was not in this world anymore, but that one thing that she taught me was to live your life queen size, live with no fear, no regrets and no rules, and that echoed in my mind all the time. 

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And then, I realised I lost the trail! I went up the wrong way and landed up nowhere. Descend has always been my weak point, most climbers die while descend. I just told myself to calm down. After a while I see someone at a distance, I start waving both my arms frantically, it was a shepherd, ‘thank god’ I told myself! He helped my find way and got me to his shepherd home, served me hot tea and took care of me. He asked me if I had a place to stay at the camp, I said no! He said he shall sort that out for me too.

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I find a place at the camp, the camp owner and his friends take care of me like a princess, I look at the night sky as I sip on to Old Monk and tell myself “Lost trails are beautiful”, I met some of the most beautiful souls only because I lost my way!

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It was time to head back, but I knew I would be back soon, I start looking for a lift to Manali so desperately with not many to willingly help, and in despair of not finding one, I come across an angel, who offers me a lift with three of her friends, a little 25 year girl from the US, traveling alone across India almost at the end of her solo Journey, Lindsey was more enlightened that people who are 60! and here I find another soul mate. What more could I have asked for? We spend great time in Manali and I send her off to Malana while I head back to Delhi, only to come back again. 

I spent nothing, only because I trusted, I loved and I gave all I had and took nothing. wrong people happen, all the time, sometimes your closest friends and family treat you wrong, how could you expect strangers to be good, but remember the right ones, the world is full of people who show you light, tell you who you are, only give. Let go of security, be a true adventurer, because less is always more. Be a giver and you shall receive in ten folds.

I shall soon publish a series of quotes I wrote through my journey, and this is not the end yet! Oh and also, I met the most beautiful dogs through my journey, sometimes they are the right people you meet 🙂  

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Hope you enjoyed the story!