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

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