Thursday, February 16, 2017

Himalayan Diaries_9: Sirikola and Rimbhik

Day 6:
It was an early morning in Gurdhum and we had to walk around 13 km to reach Rimbhik. Previous day was a short trek of only 7 km and was wondering why we had to stay at Gurdham instead of continuing our journey to reach Rimbhik. But as 5 fingers are not the same, energy levels of all members in group was not same as well. So, walking 20 km(7+13) would not have been an easy choice and had to stay somewhere or somewhere else and Gurdham was the better choice.

Exploring the flora and Fauna:
We had to descend for almost 20 minutes to reach a jharna(waterfall) and get busy in photography :-) As i came from an area where waterfalls are un common, i was more interested in knowing about the flora and fauna over there. Shankar was saying that there is nothing on the way from Gurdham to Rimbhik. But it has so many varieties of plants that you might not have seen in previous 5 days of trek. We have seen "Japhra", a small variety of bamboo used to make "Dokho", a variety of Basket. Next to spot was "chap" whose wood is used for making tabes. Came to know about "Nashajhar" which is used as blood clotting medicine when the hands are cut. Have seen "katoosh" whose inside part is edible and localites call it "dhana". Could see lots of "Dhupi" pine which is shorter than the "tengdey" pine which we spotted in previous days. Could see Timbude village from our path, the last village to get electricity ! When ST was mentioning about that, we were so happy that finally we would be reaching a place where we can charge our cells or camera ! Could see lots of "Thotne", Amliso plants. "Amliso" is used to make "kuchso" a broom kind of thing used for cleaning the houses. Thotney is a small edible fruit. Bouke phool started to appear again in bunches and got to know that they would be consumed by cows. Could see a pink coloured flower by name "sadhu phool". Could see a flower by name "powder flower" as well which might have got its name by the colour of Ponds talcum powder bottle:-)

By this time we got into proper roads were the road widening was going on. We started seeing many houses and garden plants like Archids, Tea, Cycleman flowers. Could see Amboliso, Pippali in a while. Once we crossed the village we could see Wild straberries and the other himalayan plants mentioned before.

Lunch at Sirikola:
We reached Sirikola around 12 and that was the point of Lunch. The spikebuster brought by Harish and which i was carrieng since last few days came into use here as many friends enjoyed charging their cells/cam along with enjoying lunch. My camera woke up from sleep as well :-) After lunch and rest for a while,we continued our journey across various villages. We could see Christmas caroles as well across the way along with so many varieties of garden, local plants. Could see a war memorial built in memory of a local soldier who sacrificed his life for the country . Could also see lot of people in local attire as well as there was a marriage going on that day.

We reached Rimbhik around 4 and met the camp leader Sanjeevini from Mumbai. After putting our camera cells for charging and having tea, we went to explore Rimbhik.It is not a big place to explore and has one monastery and a small street to shop. Ganesh and Swaroop could find some porceline cups for their home. Some went out in search of Thomba (a local alcoholic drink made from Bamboo and other veggies). we did not have any plans for that night. Only plan was the validactory function around 8 that night. Swaroop and Me were planning to create a whatsapp group of all the members and Group leader Sharmaji was suggesting that we should collect some money and give to our guides NS(Norbu Sherpa) and ST(Shiva Tamang) as a a token of gratitude.

Agreed.but who would collect ? Deputy was out for the city rounds and the choice was..... ? Me !! I hesitated initially. But that would be the last chance to volunteer for anything for the group. So, i said yes. But this time i did not want any mistakes like the tea party last time :-) So, went ahead and made note of people who paid money so that nobody is missed from guys side. Ladies side would be taken care by Archana mam. Camp leader was suggesting that we can organize a DJ with the help of local
person who provides mike.But we may have to give some money to him. So, had to collect money for that as well. Dinner was grand dinner and that was the day where we could thank whoever we wanted and could give feedback to YHAI as well about what went well and what did not. Although feedback was positive about various factors like good guides, common complaint was about the base camp not being clean.I could remember Girish and Harish welcoming other people to Karnataka as well as well as saying thanks to everyone for the beautiful memories. I could remember the people calling me by the name "Parthasarathi", "Prasiddi" , "Pruthwi" when i rose to speak. First of all i had to thank YHAI and all the 41 members for being a part of such a wonderfull trek and it was the longest trek i had been so far and was the biggest group as well. Had been to a one day trek each with group of 53 people with Vismaya Pratistana and 70+ people with TCS Maitree group. But they were one day treks and was not as challenging as the current one. When i was mentioning about the names i got in the trip, many wanted to know the reason i got the name "Pranesh" and for whom i was "Pranesh". Second part was the difficult one to answer :-) There were so many memories from all of them and other memories to rejoice was the dance, Guitar by NS,ST.

Day 7:
It was the day to depart from Rimbhik and we had to get in Jeeps to reach Darjelling. There was a galatta at Dhotre and probaby its not a worthy moment to mention here. We reached Darjelling around 10:20 , thanks to the horrible driving skills of our driver who had committed to someone that he would reach Darjelling by 9:30 ! had to wait for almost 40 minutes for the last jeep to arrive and almost 15 minutes for the jeep next to us ! There was lunch as well in the base camp . But the ones who did not explore Kunga restaurant,went in search of it. We were in the wait of Mr Pintso who would take us to our trip of Sikkim.

Last words from the Himalayan Diaries:
Was knowing only 3 of my friends before i headed for Himalayas and ended up knowing 38 more people + camp leaders+"gada gada" Swami ,Tanmay ,Ramphal of the base camp. There is a sea of memories out of which i could gather a handfull of it here. There are so many of memories i would like to cherish and are not part of it here. Heartfelt thanks to all the friends who have been part of the series and those who motivated me to write so long. Hope to catch up with you guys someday and sometime.. Till then ,take care and

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Himalayan Diaries_8: Day of star gazers

Antyakshari at Skandaphu
Antyakshari was part of Sandakphu and "Rukkamma" was the lady of the night  :-) All thanks to Somesh , our self pro-claimed cultural leader. Wondering who is this Rukkamma and how she became famous ? Rukkamma is neither a nickname of any of our members nor the real name of any one in the trip. It was during the Antyakhari of kannada and hindi songs, one of the kannada songs containing the word "Rukkamma" came into picture and Somesh liked it so much that it became his ending lines for all Kannada songs for that night. The way he, Surya, Yo yo, Himanshu and party said it created huge waves of
laughter each time they did it.

Next event to remember that night was stargazing. Although we could get a clear sky in Kalapokhari, the sky in Skandaphu was damm clear. Its height and that day's climate being the contributing factors, we were interested to enjoy the view as well. I could recall my highschool mate Vishwajith who was very much interested in Astronomy in during those days and Harish could recall about his ex-room mate Harish who could identify multiple constellations as well. Unfortunately my knowledge was limited and could
identify few like Saptarshi Mandala, Mahavyadha(Great boar) , the shape of Milky way galaxy etc. We started start gazing late , after 8 pm, so could not spot any planets like venus, mercury. But would have been definitely able to spot them earlier if we have tried earlier. Anyhow, for few people who did not notice those shapes of constellations , it was a real fun and they were recalling the multiple names i got so far like Prasiddi, Pranesh, Prithwi and Parthasarathi :-)

Water scarcity was there in Skandapkhu which was more severe than other places we visited. and power off used to be there at 9 pm. But the rooms were very good similar to  other places and was definitely better than the base camp. Me, Girish got a room of 2 and Harish and Shailesh got a room of 2 as well. There were bigger rooms of 4, 6 and 7 as well.It was a 3 storied hotel and one toilet in each floor. Although people were cautious to use less water, i was always feared about water getting empty by the next morning as the Landlord was telling that the water source has dried up and there is no water at all. We need to manage with the existing water. But we requested him to refill the water few times and he was monitoring the water
levels of lavatories as well. In the previous night we could see the frozen layers of ice where water is supposed to flow and his warning was logical enough to prevent the next batches of people from facing the water shortages. But the water source draining out completely appeared to be a hoax as we could see multiple batches coming there every day as usual and the food, water being prepared for them as usual. Anyhow We had tissue papers for the worst case in almost all rooms , thanks to the advance thinking by Harish in our group and other experienced trekkers and their friends.

Day 4:
Had to wake up around 5 Am and hurry towards the sunrise point to enjoy the same view or enjoy the view of sunrays hitting the kanchanaganga from the point near our hotel. But we preferred to enjoy the previous eve's view and hurried. But by the time we could come to the ground floor, there were no one except me, Yo Yo and Shailesh. Few had gone earlier and few more wanted to enjoy the sleep in the highest point of their trek . We could not get a clear point from where we could see the sunrise and its surrounding. By the
time we walked towards sunset point, could see the color of sky and could sense the sunrise happening in next 10-15 minutes. So, we did not have time to reach the sunset point. So, we climbed one more small peak midway . It was the place used by our camp leader Abhinav in the evenings before we came and he was mentioning about it in the previous eve as well. There were multiple paths to reach its top and one with few steps was the easiest. Of course, one has to be very careful not to fall from the peak . There was a depth of valleys in one side and  getting down the peak was tough as well due to the loose slipping soil. Battery of my camera was dead already and my cam was peacefully resting under a blanket while i had come out in a shivering cold in the search of sun :-) For the time being I  had to manage with my Lenovo
vibe k5 plus for any pics of that day.

Himalayan ranges, First rays of sun falling on Kanchanaganga

Sunrise at Skandapkhu

Our gang waiting for the sunrise @ skandakphu
  When i switched on the cell, could see that there is a bsnl network !! Wow. First person or the only person i could think of calling that time was my mom. Yo,yo was not getting signal in his vodafone.So, i offered him my phone for a call . Even he could think of his mom only. But he has to try several times to finally reach his mom :-) Probably it was the first time i had come so far from my home and was in such an area without networks. So, it was almost 3 days after which i was calling her.Although , there was an STD booth in
Skandakphu, signal used to be less over the evening and somehow the feel of STD booth is different from the feel of using your own cell :-) Of course there were friends like Anhita, Suresh and Kiran who tried to use the facilities of STD booth. They were telling its around 10 Rs per call or something like that

While we were still waiting for sunrise, Shailesh pointed about Everest ranges being clearly visible and asked me to zoom me there with my cell. Although it's having 13 MP cam, zoom is only 3x. yo yo tried with his 4x
zoom.But was not clear enough compared to the cam. But we could enjoy the beauty of sunset and few selfies against the backdrop of Himalayas. 
View of Sleeping buddha during sunrise
Selfie against the sleeping budha

Downhill journey:
We came back and after our breakfast, it was time to bid farewell to the highest point in our trek . We had to start our downhill journey towards Gurdhum around 8 am.

Dhoi and Shovan in the downill journey towards Gurdham

From the right: Anhita, Kiran, Ramesh, Faizan, NS, Swaroop, Shailesh, Girish, Harish
  We had to walk across grasslands, bamboo groves, amidst lot of unknown trees like Bente. People at the front like Harish, Girish, Archana, Sudhir Sir were walking fast compared to the ones at the back and we had to give some pit stops so that the ones at the back could catch up with us

Anusha asking Anhia:Are we going in the correct path or did we loose our way in the grasslands ?

Identify the people hidden in the bamboo groves :-)
 In one such pit stop, we spotted a hi-fi baba named Swaroopanand Baba , doing tapasya with his camera. Probably he was waiting for some Menaka to come that way and spoil his tapasya. Seeing the group of girls in our batch, Baba agreed to come with us and become our photographer ;-)
Camera Baba, alias Swaroopanad Baba alias Cave man alias hi-fi baba of SG06
Tortoise shell butterfly appeared once again it was the only butterfly i had seen thought our trip apart from our famous Titli, Tushar Sir. Would reserve further details about titli for the Gurdhum part. While we were
walking, we came to a place called Ramam from where we could see the villages of Gurdhum. NS was showing a valley across which it is sikkim. So, we could see a river which seperates the states ! That river is having different names across the long path it takes. In Ramam they call it as Ramam river, in Gurdham to Rimbhik route they call it with different name.

We reached Gurdhum around 12:10 PM with plant like Dhotishadow welcoming us.
Dhotishadow at the Gurdhum camp. Avik, Datta, Surya, Kavya at the backdrop
 There are so many varieties of plants in a single area of Gurdhum that i was often lost in observing them while Girish, Harish were walking fast. I had to hurry up downhill to catch them again :-) when we reached the camp,we met the camp leader Shankar who was an employee in IT sector. He was a cool guy and was informing us that there is abundant of water in Gurdhum. For the first time in the trip,we could hear about abundance of water !

Gurdhum being a lowland area at an height of 2910 meters and presence of river nearby were the contributing factors. Anyhow we had to wait for the other guys to come and thought to take shower in the meanwhile. There were seperate set of bathrooms for ladies and men here and Me, Harish, Girish,
Joshi, Praful , Archana mam, Kavya were the few set of people reaching early.

It had been almost 4 days  since we took shower in cold waters in darjelling. Alhough there was no hot water , thought of taking bath anyway. Only thing running in my mind was that this won't be as cold as Darjelling as it is still around 12:30. Archana mam was the first one from the ladies side to take that cold water challenge. Although few mugs of cold water were forcing me to change my decision, it was a very good experience indeed .

We had whole day to enjoy over there. So that day and eve were filled with fun filled interactions, dare acts conducted by Shankar and Monika and ending the day with ghost stories narrated by Yo you, Surya,Himanshu, Sharmaji. Although we thought of sleeping , our room was the one above and
we were all ears through out the night :-)
Time for some snaps yar...Don, Himanshu, Surya, Yadgnesh, Girish and Harish
Madam ji, its not like that. What happened actually is..... Datta bhai explaining to Manjusha man under the supervision of Ghosh bhai ;-)

Monika ka pair ko patti lagana hai yar..
Highlights of the day were Archana mam and party visiting the farms nearby, Songs by Shampa mam.Abro , Avik, Ghosh bhai,Dhoi bhai , Dutta, Shovan and Anupam joined her to sing the bangla song composed by Ravindranath tagore.   While Prity was happy to read her poetry , Kavya was using the oppurtunity to thank everyone. We, Shankar had to pull Magendra to sing a tamil song and had to search the babaji in all the places to get his internet to download the song lyrics and make him part of the play. All were superb performers like Pole dancers(leaving the name for the fun of group only), Ramp walk by Swamiji accompanied by Prity and Priya, Harish attempting to teach the "Gudugudiya sedi nodu" song to the whole group and our whole kannada group trying to sing "Kuladalli keelyavudo hucchappa, kuladalli melyavudo". Me , Yo yo playing the role of Snake charmer(Sapera), Nagin , Sharmaji playing the role of Lightman from the windows of our room, Girih and Praveen's songs were good as well. As it would take whole episode to narrate the acts by individual members, let me skip to the next important part of the day, which is titli.
Hot tea kept hot with the use of silver foils !

Shovan, Monika, Yashaswini, Prity had injured their legs on the previous days and were somehow managing to walk. But their energy levels were not down and they were enjoying the eve similar to or more than others :-)  While our deputy was interested in the landlords daughter and taking a pic of her, everyone else was interested in the gathering called by Shankar to brief about the next day's plan . It was the camp fire without fire as well. Tushar sir had to sing his titli song and Dhoi had to dance for it. Both were brilliant and we could not control our laughter for that combination. The smartness shown by bangla boys to send Tushar sir to different room was the intention for calling Dhoi on behalf of them for the dance. I am leaving the reason why Tushar sir is called as titli to the camp members only :-) The Dhoha , small poems mentioned by Tushar sir and sharmaji later were other highlihts of that campfire. Food , tea were good as well and that day we had the opportunity to get our camera,mobile charged for a fee of 50 Rs per cell. My cell was having battery and was not in a hurry to recharge my cam as there were so many photographers and i wanted to enjoy the beauty of the nature for some time.

Coming up next: Sayonara to Sanjeevini and group at Rimbhik