Saturday, August 9, 2008

Trek to “The Valley of Flowers"

Trek to “The Valley of Flowers"

It was a blessed day when I decided to take this journey, and blessed be 'Nisarg’-Nature and Adventure Club, a voluntary mountaineering organization, with whom we had gone. It was a trek to The Valley Of Flowers, in the Garhwal hills of The Himalayas and 30 excited hearts were rearing to go. Most of us were college students, with 4 odd couples, the group leaders and the cooks!

The route we were supposed to take was B'Bay-Delhi-Rishikesh-Joshimath-Auli-Govindghat by train/bus and from there trek to Ghangharia, Hemkund Sahib, Valley of Flowers, Vasundhara Falls n back to Badrinath-Haridwar-Delhi-B'bay in 15 days.

Joshimath to Auli was an enchanting trip, via the longest ropeway in Asia, displaying the awesome skiing grounds of Auli, which are deeply snow-covered Jan onwards. Our actual trek commenced from Govindghat from where we climbed 14 kms in 7 hours to reach Ghangharia, where we had our base camp for 3 days. It was drizzling the next day when we left for Hemkund Sahib, the holy shrine of the Sikhs, situated at 14,000 feet above sea level. It was freezing at 3 degrees, n the rain n the fog did not allow you to see anything farther than 10-15 meters! And yet, the indomitable Sikh kids took their clothes off and jumped into the freezing lake for a holy dip, among loud exclamations of ‘Jo kahe so nihal, Satsssssrriyakaaalll”!

The next day was the big day, our chief destination The Valley of Flowers (or Phoolon Ki Ghati) awaited us. Surrounded by the river Pushpavati and other small streams, at an elevation of 10,000 feet, The Valley of Flowers is nearly 10 km. in length and 2 km. in width and concave in shape. The best time to visit this world of flowers is during the rains (mid July to august) when the flowers are full in bloom, covering the hills in a thick carpet of flowers, and the gentle cold breeze spreading their infectious fragrance throughout the Valley, setting a majestic picturesque in front of these human eyes! It is a land ablaze with a bewildering variety of the richest and the rare-most flowers in the world - orchids, asters, Brahmkamals, bluebells, lillys, marigolds, sunflowers n many more. Beyond the realms of human imagination, away from the polluted commercialization of modern day life, lies this lush green valley, with white, ice-cold glaciers and beautiful waterfalls, snow clad peaks in the background, and a sea of multi-colored flowers, as if God took a fancy to colors n beauty and splashed these heavenly hues from his unearthly palette! Among the clicks of the cameras, I clicked with my eyes, and the impression registered permanently in my mind!

Other places we visited were extremely wonderful too. Badrinath, on the banks of Alaknanda, the Vasundhara Falls on the Indo-China border, where we saw the "last tea stall of India' before the Indo-Tibet border begins, and the origin of the mysterious holy "Sarasvati". Amazing too was the trip to our cook's native village, where we joined the beautiful Garhwali women in their traditional folk dance, dressed ourselves in their traditional attires!!

15 days flew away in no time, and sadly we took the train back home, but each of us a better person, carrying in our hearts the rich memories of the unforgettable walk through Mother Nature's divine paradise, and a continuous urge to return to the mountains again someday.

The magnificence of the glorious Garhwal hills, and the Valley of Flowers, can be truly summed up in an old Pharsi saying: “Gar firdaus bar rooh~e~zameenast, hameen-ast o hameena-ast o hameen-ast – loosely translated as ‘Agar zameen pein kahin jannat hain, yahin hain,yahin hain,yahin hain"!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Virat Waani aur Baarish

Pyaaren Doston,

Phir haazir hain aapka dost, Virat.
Shanivar ki suhaani subah hain aur aap sun rahen hain "Virat-Waani" ka seedha prasaran Bombay kendra se!

Today we'll talk about one of the best things in life..........RAIN!!

Baarish.......................sunte hee kya yaad aata hain..?? Garma-garam chai aur pakode....thandi hawa.....Chap chapak....koi purana kissa......springs up, in front of your eyes, the face of your loved one...the memory of that beautiful rainy day u spent with him/her..........grey skies.........Freedom.........Angdai.......Purane Hindi gaane.........hills and treks........( and if all you get reminded of is traffic jams, road blocks, sticky wet clothes and overflowing gutters, then you should stop reading this mail...)

Maine Baarish ko ek naye roop mein dekha hain, uski shakseeyat ko ek nayi roshni mein jaana hain, n today i wanna share my feelings with u......lets go for a "Walk in the Rains".......

Tumne kabhi socha hain ki paani ka rang kya hota hain? Saagar neela hain, Raqt lal aur doodh shwet; lekin baarish ka kya rang?

Rang hain.....lekin barsaat ke paani ka yeh rang dekha nahi ja sakta; kewal mehsoos kiya ja sakta hain...haan, rangon ka bhi ehsaas hota hain...ek netraheen manav baarish ko is ehsaas dwara hee dekhta hain....

Aur baarish ka sur kya hain?

Baarish bhagwan ke geet hain...aur yadi tum is geet ko nahi sun paate; to tumhe sangeet ki parakh nahi bandhu. Baarish prakrati ka tabalchee hain...alag alag cheezon ko chookar, bhin bhin prakar ke taal janmtee hain. Teen ki chat pe barsaat ki boondein "Teen-Taal" main sunai deti hain, peepal ke ped ke patton se takrakar "ped-pat malhar" banti hain, aur ghar ke aangan ki bhoomi se milkar "Bhoomi-Bhairav" see jaan padti hain!!Aur baarish ka yeh sangeet uski har ek boond mein itna jaagrat hain; ke koi behra vyakti uske sparsh matra se is geet ko sun sakta hain!!

Aur Baarish ki sugandh kya hain?

Ek gehri saans mein kheechi gayi hawa ki khushboo baarish ki asli sugandh hain!Kai saalon ke bichade do premiyon ke milan ki tarah; jab baarish aur mitti gale milte hain; to dharti se uthti saundhi khushboo baarish ka mehakta vastra hain!!

That is the true smell of the rain; and once it creeps into a man's blood; it shall make his life fragrant forever!!

Aur Baarish ki aawaz kya hain?

Kya tumne kabhi boondon se baaten kee hain? Agar kee hoti, to jaante, ki baarish kitni meethi aawaz mein kitni pyaari baaten karti hain! Agar baarish ko apna dost mankar kabhi Chai pe apne ghar bulaya hota, to pehchante baarish kaunsi bhaasha bolti hain!

Yadi ek diin achanak, Bhagwan tumse kuch baat karna chahen; to kya tum Ishwar ki aawaz pehchaan paoge? Baarish Bhagwan ki aawaz hain; barsaat ki dhwani Prabhu ke bol hain.....Dekho, tumse paani kuch keh raha hain! Itne saalon se Bhagwan tumhari sookhi, pyaasi aatma ke darwazen pe baarish ki dastaq de rahe hain......darwaza kholo pyaare!!

And when you can sing like an intoxicated devotee, or an innocent child, one with the voice of nature, you shall sing in the voice of rain, and the whole creation shall celebrate your song!!

and last of your 5 senses;

Baarish ka sparsh kya hain?

Is your skin sensitive enough to differenciate between the touch of ordinary water and the touch of rain?

Agar barsaat mein bheeg kar, sirf tumhara jism hee geela hua, to tumne baarish ko chua hee nahi dost. Kabhi anjali bhar bheegta pani ikatha karke apne chehre pe chidakna...tumhari palkon se aankhri boond tapakne ke baad; jo thanda geelapan aankhon mein mehsoos hoga...vo baarish ka ehsaas hain!

Kabhi gali ke bachon ke saath; with child-like enthusiasm, sadak pe jama baarish ke paani mein koodna; jo khushi ki tarang tumhare man ko choo jayegi; usse baarish ka sparsha jaanana!

And on a rainy moon~lit night; when you embrace the rain and dance with it; and your heart fills with the warmth of love, and the atmosphere echoes the ring of your laughter; you would've touched, and been touched, by the Divine that resides in every single drop of rain!!

That is, the touch of rain!!

And when you are matured enough to completely comprehend; with the limited capabilities of your 5 senses of perception; the phenomenon we call "Rain", you will forever be in a state of bliss!

Aur haan, baarish ki ek bejod saathi hain; ek bachpan ki saheli; jiske bina, baarish, mere liye, aksar adhoori se reh jaati hain....uska naam hain "Chai"!! dar~asal, baarish ka doosra naam hain chai.

Next time we shall explore the intricacies of this phenomenon called "CHAI"!!!

"Baarish se jo rishta hain, Paani pe man khichta hain,

Pichli koi pehchaan hain" - The Blue Umbrella