Glory

Image Courtesy Sabik Saby

In the harmonious eutaxy of heaven
delusion of plutocracy faded
afflatus surged through him
consciousness sunk into abeyance
and lucida was to set down;
nowhere but in his heart.

Borne upon the shaft of glory
consciousness hit his naivety
and he started carolling with birds
gliding with the wind;
when lodestone imbued affection
caressed his soul.

Liberated from all albatross
now he is riding the clouds
sailing through the sky
crossing the unseen boundaries
reaching for lofty limits
to touch the ecstasy of euphoria.

Wait and watch the whiz kid or follow your heart!

 

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Laddakh Tour

Following the Srinagar to Leh cycle trip, we(Poonam, Sunil and me) united with Jimmy in the heart of Leh city for the further exploration of Ladakh region. Before I get any details on the Ladakh trip, I have to thank Jimmy for having done his research well in advance as places to visit and eateries serving most sumptuous food. After 9 days of road trip, visiting all these awesome eatery in Leh was like an out of the world experience for me. Every food served world make me feel having achieved something great to have tasted something so delicious. Not to mention, I just hogged everything edible in front of me, all through the trip.  Well, just to mention a few awesome restaurants in Leh is Gesmo, Tibetian kitchen and there were many other I don’t remember name now.

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Well talking about the Ladakh tour, our very first destination was most sought after Pangong Tso Lake(which become very popular after Three Idiots famous scooter shot in the last scene). I want say much about the beauty of this place as pictures would say it all, but yes its a long ride from Leh and you get to see many beautiful rare species on the way. IMG_20140820_130520

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And after having all the fun along the lake, we found an awesome home stay to spend the night and then went on to splurge into exotic sight once again. We stayed there long watching the lake weave the ripples and waves and travel all the way to its bank to crash around us. Enigma of the moment shuddered our spines with evening chill  and yet we felt so calm inside, lost in the profound beauty of nature. IMG_20140820_172814IMG_20140820_181121

Sleep tight through the night and wake up to watch the sun emerge from behind the mountains above the lake to glorify the scene once again. Beauty of this lake is such that its purity allows you  to see through it to its heart; every stone and pebble twinkling through the sparks of water  and yet this lake holds the reflection of everything that surrounds it, mountains, sky, cloud and all the colors of nature. IMG_20140821_055828IMG_20140821_060524IMG_20140821_104100DSC01246IMG_20140821_104402

Virtual scooter ride along the lake puts an end to our basking in the beauty of Pangong Tso Lake and we head back to Leh stopping at places to have quick tour to places like “Druk White Lotus School” Shay(Mr. Kung Fu Wangdu school in Three Idiots), Thiksey Monastery.IMG_20140821_114430IMG_0098IMG_20140821_153533IMG_20140821_155150IMG_20140821_163600.jpgIMG_20140821_162932.jpg

Though I must admit here, I missed all the site seeing on return journey as something else kept me occupied during this time. Anyways journey does not end here, we reach Leh and more exploring and eating around the city and next day we head for Numra valley through most sought after highest motorable road “Khardungla Top”, Chamba Gompa, Diskit Monastery and beauty scattered all along the way.

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We had nice and cozy home stay in Nubra, met new people…. lot of chit chat and next morning headed back for Leh through Hunder. IMG_20140823_101442IMG_20140823_103403.jpgDSC01460DSC01487

And thats the end of our Ladakh road trip. Courtesy Jimmy Bhandari for chalking out the trip so beautifully and thanks to Poonam and Sunil for the awesome company all through the journey.

 

 

To the Himalayas – Sandakhpu to Gurdum

ImageMy second expedition in the Himalayan ranges. Must say eastern Himalayan range is very picturesque and lush green, unfolding a different kind of beauty at every step you walk. Summit of the expedition is Sandakphu (3636 m; 12,400 ft), highest peak in the state of West Bengal, India. Uncertainity of nature in the region makes every moment cherishable.

ImageIMG_0035This time we were three ladies; Swati, Poonam and me to join a group of other 45 people for this expedition with YHAI group. We had a plan to reach Darjeeling a day before we were supposed to report the base camp and explore the city on our own. But due to miscommunications, we ended up joining the group starting a day before, that is on 28th and mystery of unknown took over the planned journey and till the last moment of the journey everything was unplanned and a surprise …. some too beautiful to be engraved deep in memory and a few as a shock in the last minute.

28th December 2013, we start from Pune at 2 a.m in the morning for Mumbai airport. Cab driver was witty and pro in his driving skills to drive at a speed of 120 Km/hr and above. Punchline of the day was his remark on the passing van full of chicken, “most of them are going to die of cold/wind and they will end up being lollypop”. Reaching Mumbai domestic airport much earlier than expected, had enough time to savor breakfast and besan laddus we carried; before we flew to bagdora. You fly and the awesomeness of clouds outlined with beaming sunrays overwhelms and before you get bored with that view; at the far ends of the view, highest peaks of world including Mount Everest emerge above the clouds. ImageSite was simply marvelous and I was already feeling every penny invested for the trip is worth this beauty. DSC01044Finally we land in Bagdora, savor lunch in the airport Canteen which is very cheap as per airport standards. Cab ride again from Bagdora to darjelling, and the scenic beauty spread across this land unveils its splendor as we drive past it. Endless tea gardens on the plain land, hazy darkness in the distance emerging as gaint mountains approaching us fast and beauty of valleys as the cab crosses the zig-zag paths through these endless mountains, travelling side by side to the track of Darjeeling Himalyan railways. Finally we hit Darjeeling city at around 6 p.m, right there at the reporting point base camp. Formalities, check-in and done for the day-1.

Day-2 starts with morning exercise at the heart of M.G road, followed by first glimpse of Kanchenjunga and Sandakhpu summit in the far end. ImageWe cheer for the group starting their trek, have breakfast and start for the acclaimatization trek. This turns out to be a site seeing trip around the city, with visists to Japanese monastery “Peace Pagoda”; Japanese temple, St. Paul’s School (school where Main Hoon Naa is shooted); walking through the lanes of the city, fanatically clicking here and there and then back to hotel for lunch. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageAfter lunch, three of us went out to venture on our own around the city through local market, M.G road, park and then Darjeeling tea festival enjoying the local snacks like momo, pani puri etc. on the way.

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Image courtesy Abhilash Ravindranath

Day-3, we gear up with our back-packs to start our trek through Sandakhpu-Gurdum route. Jeep takes us to Dhotrey, where we had the delight of savoring hot momo before we meet our front and rear guide Pimba and Nima.

Image courtesy Abhilash Ravindranath

Image courtesy Abhilash Ravindranath

Image courtesy Abhilash Ravindranath

Image courtesy Abhilash Ravindranath

Cheering up for the journey ahead, we start marching with Pimba leading us, followed by Swati. Within half an hour, all the extra clothing goes off and we keep walking enjoying the greenaries all across this route. DSC01179Scattered in the group, walking along new people, knowing them, their whereabouts and chattering over other things of interest, we all assemble at one point to enjoy our packed lunch and some fanatic clicks :). IMG_6819We start marching again, a bit steeper climb, enjoying the view of lush green mountains around us and snow clad ones in the distance standing tall over rest all. IMG_6825IMG_6834Last few miles of this day, photographer in both Poonam and me was suddenly on high and we walked together taking a long time to cover this short distance, clicking everything in the beautiful bliss. DSC01186DSC01194DSC01207DSC01213DSC01214DSC01223DSC01234IMG_6849IMG_6851DSC01241DSC01242DSC01245IMG_6854Finally we reach the camp site of the day at Inida-Nepal border, with our abode in Nepal. DSC01254DSC01259We fanatically click some awesome pictures flipping between India and Nepal and also with the “Land Rover”, mechanical roaring lion in the area. IMG_6862Finally we find Swati, who had injured herself showing us the cozy room in Nepal. We settle down for a while, get our soup and go out to explore the surrounding area. DSC01266DSC01269DSC01274Finally fun loaded bonfire, dinner and then bed time 🙂DSC01289

Day-4, Swati and me get up early to witness the spectacular panoramic view of sunrise. DSC01298DSC01309DSC01304DSC01312DSC01317DSC01326DSC01328 DSC01330There had already been some people to the nearby sunrise/senset point, we clicked some awesome snaps, enjoyed the chill and came back to enjoy the hot Napali breakfast. Back-packed and we marched ahead to Kalipokhari. We were warned of not touching the bushes and shrubs on this route as many were poisionous. This day turned out to be easy as we had been mostly either descending or walking on the leveled path. Most of the time, I walked alone without sight of anyone from the group ahead or behind me. I pretty much enjoyed the me time and finally reached the Kalipokhari (black lake) near the camp site and sat alone there for quite sometime before quietness of the moment was disruptured by Poonam.

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Ah! the ever changing clouds, one moment rising high to the limit of our vision and next moment sweeping down to the valley in front of us, spectacularly dramatized the beauty of the place. IMG_6906IMG_6907

Image courtesy Abhilash Ravindranath

Image courtesy Abhilash Ravindranath

As the sunset approached, they seemed to pacify their motion and settled at a level, just a liitle below where we stood; appearing soft as foam, stagnant in their position – much like bundle of cotton layered – waiting for us to jump and bounce on them. IMG_6917IMG_6920IMG_6922

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

As it darkened, we moved to our alloted rooms, settled down for a while and then up for the next round of fun around the bonfire, followed by dinner of the year 2013.

Day-5, we woke up to a new year 2014, cheering up for the new begining and greeting each other. Another year, another day and same group of people to cherish the experience of journey with.

Image courtesy Bhargav

Image courtesy Bhargav

Biding adieu to the year 2013 and our hosts at Kalipokhari, we start marching ahead. IMG_6934

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

We were warned, it being toughest part of our journey, steep climb all along the way from Kalipokhari to Sandakhpu. DSC01409DSC01416 DSC01426Some of us took most of the shortcuts we could figure out, some of which were steep slipary way, some steep rocky steps and other on the edge of the valley through India-Nepal border line. DSC01429

DSC01433 DSC01435 DSC01438DSC01445Beauty of these short-cuts were so much that we reached last to the common meeting point midway of the route. DSC01447From here on – to Sandakhpu, walked pretty much through regular route (without shortcut) with a halting gait taking a step forward, gasping harder for breathe and wiping the ever flowing nose. DSC01461

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

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Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Finally we made it there to the peak of  route, to be welcomed by the wind ready to blow us all.

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

IMG_0026Settled down, put on all the clothes, enjoyed the hot soup and was ready to go around the place. We followed Pimba to local temple and then back to the camp.

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

On the way back, there was a not so tall cliff, few of us climbed to. Well yes, we rock climbed it as there was no way we could hike it. Poonam and me had lagged behind while walking up from the temple and jumping to different directions to peep into the valleys. When we reached bottom of this not so tall cliff, it din’t appear so daunting but once you start climbing, there was no way to turn back and barely any scope to look up to check how much more to go. Keeping all my limbs fixed, moving one at a time, finally I reached there. Gasping hard for oxygen, letting the racing blood stream pacify, recollecting myself I rose to check the view and suddenly it felt I had not climbed just the highest summit at Sandakhpu but felt like having climbed to the valut of heaven. DSC01501 DSC01486360 degree sweeping view of mountains including Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu etc, clouds changing forms below us and wind racing past us welcomed our beings to fly with them.

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Simply out of the world moment! Wanted to stay till sunset but skin piercing wind and bone shuddering chill din’t allow us to stay there for long and we came back to the cozy cabins of the camp and slipped into our blankets until dinner. Enjoyed hot dinner at around 8 and then back to bed. Rooms were cozy, blankets were warm but this turned out to be the most restless night of my trip. Lights went off and we had nothing to do than sleep or keep tossing in your bed until day break. All night I struggled hard to keep breathing, breathlessness barely allowed me any sleep.

Day-6, I jumped to the next room the moment Poonam called for me, suddenly problem of breathlessness disappeared as we started chatting. It was still dark when we went out to witness sunrise. But trust me, getting up so early and going out in that dark monstrous chill din’t appear like a problem at all but instead it was an escape from the struggle to breath. We were there in the out to see the sky line change from black to blue – to purple – to pink – to green and slowly horizon turned orange and red with a yellow ball rising above the blanket of clouds.

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

It was marvellous to watch the sun cast its bright shadow over the mountains and everything starting to glaze under its glory.

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

We returned to our rooms, hurriedly packed our bags, had breakfast and were ready for the next march to Gurdum. It was a pleasant decend, with lush greenary all around us. IMG_0090 IMG_0095 IMG_0096 IMG_0107We were warmly welcomed to this place with very pleasant and fresh atmosphere. Oh! We had the previlage of ordering food of our choice and we spent most of our pleasant time in the cafeteria savoring everything of our delight available.

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

Image courtesy Poonam Kumari

After sunset, this time a fun loaded call for laddu count went across the circumference of people for them to choose truth/dare if they missed the laddu. Followed with dinner and then time to bed.

Day-7, get ready and start for the final destination Rimbik. This turns out to most pleasant route of all. A stream of water flowing along the route, uproaring the glory of mountains and nature, tapping its way through rocks clapped for our arrival at every corner, washed off everyone’s weariness stopping by its stream and took it all to a far land unseen. ZSC01600 (1) ZSC01600 (8) ZSC01600 (14) ZSC01600 (19) ZSC01600 (20) ZSC01600 (26) ZSC01600 (27) ZSC01600 (28) ZSC01600 (29) ZSC01600 (35) ZSC01600 (37) ZSC01600 (48)Suddenly I felt a boost of energy and walked as fast as I could without missing to notice its beauty; and at the end of the journey was feeling totally fresh to go for a round trip may be.

With all that finally finished this trek walking with Swati in the last part of it, who had been leading on all the days this time. But this was only end of our Sandakhpu-Gurdum trek, our journey continued further to Sikkim; which needs a separate accounting altogether.