2nd March 2015
It was 2am morning. The white snowflakes falling from heavenly skies was a once a lifetime experience. I was alone on the road. I felt like dancing. And dancing I did. It was one of those moments of life when time stood still. It was so beautiful out there. It was a moment of sheer joy. Gradually the intensity of snowfall increased and I started getting wet. It was time to slip INSIDE the safety of the car.
I tried to sleep but the excitement of the situation was overwhelming. I could not stay inside the car for long and came out at around 5am. Snowing had stopped but before stopping it had painted everything white. The road was like a white carpet. The trees wore white sheet and the branches seemed to have white leaves. Mountains wore white look as if freshly painted with white colour. Rooftops of the wooden structures were full with white layers. Every visible object looked bathed with white snow.
Walking on that virgin snow white road was like walking in heaven. It was amazing looking at those foot marks left behind as I knew these were mine since no one was awake. It was amazing to behold those beautiful sights at that time which in Punjab we call if amritvela (Dawn). This was the kind of setting which was a food for the whole life. I knew these amazing scenes would forever be with me. Whenever I would feel low, the mind would reenact these scene and would bring the spirit alive again. It was blissful.
After spending about two hours in that heaven, walking, watching silently, clicking pictures and bliss, it was time to move on. Putting going to Chopta,Tungnath in the bucket list again, I drove back to Ukhimath for onwards journey to Gwaldam . As always, early morning drive through the mountains was very refreshing. It was even more refreshing that day due to fresh snow and rain. The entire surrounding, trees, earth, birds, plants and everything looked freshly bathed. At Kund I was back on the main Kedarnath Rudraprayag highway (NH 109).
The traffic on the road increased and scenery became little boring. It continued raining in between. I stopped for a while at the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers and went down to the place where the waters of these holy rivers meet. I witnessed burning of a human body on the banks of the river. Some people sat on the rocks nearby to bid farewell to the departed soul. I also sat among the group reflecting on the predicament of human life.
We believe that amongst all living beings, humans are the only ones who know about death. In a way, it is good, as we know, some day we are going to go and that our stay on this beautiful planet earth is brief. That there is an opportunity to live the life the way we want. At the same time it brings fear and suffering. Suffering when we lose someone we love and fear that one day we are going to go too.
Auli was also on my mind when I began this trip. But I had had enough of snow so far. It was drizzling and chances of snow at Auli were bright. I also learnt that Joshimath to Auli is a four wheel drive. So I put Auli back to my bucket list and turned right from Karnprayag towards Gwaldam. The road to Gwaldam was very bad and remote.
There was dramatic reduction in traffic in comparison to Badrinath road from where I had turned on this road. The road was along the Pindar River about which I had memories since childhood. Going on trek to Pindari glacier and Roopkund has played on my mind since long.
Driving along the Pindar River brought forth all those dormant memories back to life. When I first came to Uttarakhand in 1987 I learnt about the treks to Pindari glacier and Roopkund. These places have eluded me so far and are still in my bucket list. It was still drizzling. The landscape was very different too. The clouds playing hide and seek were presenting a very beautiful sight. The colourful trees lined on the road also presented a wonderful spectacle.
Reached Gwaldam at around 6 pm. Liked the place instantly. It was pretty dark and muddy in Gwaldam. The market and the eating joints were giving a good look though. I sat inside the car and enjoyed few drinks listening to fm radio. There were a number of dhabas available. Following my gut feeling I went to Chandan Dhaba and had one of the best mutton curries of the trip. Then I parked the car under the lights, right in the middle of the bazaar, where I felt it was safe to sleep inside. Pulled the cover over, slipped into the car, locked the door from inside, pushed into the sleeping bag and zipped.
What an amazing life!!!
Sleeping IN THE CAR at strange new place every day. I have started feeling as if I were a nomad!!!