Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Into The Wild

 “You have to get lost before you can be found.”


The story of my journey began on a contemplative note. You might agree that at some point in our lives, we begin to introspect. I asked myself if I would dare try out something radically different or break away from my conditioned, comfortable and secure lifestyle.
Months later I got my answer thanks to my college friends. Since a long time, we had been planning a filmy style reunion, clearly inspired by the popular Hindi film ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ which loosely translated means ‘You Live Just Once!’
A close friend suggested we get together and share some of the profound moments of our life in a totally fresh and inspiring environment. We decided to head for the pristine Himalayas.
Our tour was a combination of jeep safari and high altitude trekking. Barlachala Pass in the Himalayas was to be our final destination, but with weather playing spoilsport, we had to cut short our adventure and instead camped at Chandartaal, in Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. 

The beautiful hill station of Manali - located at an altitude of 6,726 ft (above sea level) - was our base camp. We had scheduled a stop-over in Manali for two days which helped us get acclimatized to the high altitude and low temperature. We made the most of this halt, taking in the picture-postcard-like scenery and visiting popular tourist spots like the Hadimba Devi temple, Manu Temple and the Tibetan monastery.
On day three, we started out early as we drove across the famous Rohtang Pass which was covered in snow. As we crossed over from Rohtang Pass, we saw the geography transform from a lush green valley to dry, arid land.
The treacherous road after Rohtang Pass was bumpy and tiring all the way. We took a much-needed break on an inviting grassy patch at Chatru, better known as the oasis of the high altitudes. It was here we took a mouthwatering lunch break at a roadside dhaba . The place was buzzing with tourists from different countries, digging into the local, spicy delicacies. 

Post lunch, our trek continued amidst the majestic setting of glaciers, towering mountains and water streams. Batal was our next stop and from here on we had to walk through the rugged terrain to reach our wonder-land.
After trekking for what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to our dream destination - Chandartaal. One look at the sprawling lake and the surrounding mountains revitalized our weary bodies and senses, erasing the exhaustion in one dramatic stroke.


Since it was quite dark, we decided to pitch up our tents and explore the place the next morning. We all had a great time cooking in the tent and catching up on old times. Though the best part of the trip was the sharing of our experiences, thoughts and feelings which brought us closer than before, and cemented our friendship. The clear night sky accentuated by innumerable stars, and the snow capped mountains gleaming in the moonlight was a divine experience that was made even more special as we were all together drinking in this beauty and sharing the sharp, unexpected joy it brought us.

The next morning was just as spectacular when we discovered the real treasure - Chandrataal (moon lake). The stunning sweet water lake, situated at an altitude of about 14,000 feet, took our breath away. The crystal clear sparkling lake is also known for its medicinal value, and is frequented by many wildlife species including snow leopards and deer.
A small meadow on either side of the lake makes it a perfect camping location to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of this jewel of Spiti. This is accompanied by a magnificent view of Himalayan Chandra Bhaga region. We spent the next two days mostly trekking, and before we realised, it was time to pack-up!


 
"Walk till eternity"

Through this memoir, I wanted to share my experiences with anyone who wishes to take a break from the routine and refresh the senses in the company of Mother Nature. To conclude, in the words of Jon Krakauer , “Happiness is only real when shared.”

No comments: