16th May 2015, Saturday…Day (2) First Shop to Adi Himani Chamunda and back, 12 km
Sleeping inside a makeshift shelter with a stranger was a new thing for me, yet had a very sound sleep that night. After eight hours of sleep, got up very fresh at 6am in the morning. When I peeped out of the shop, I saw beauty spread all around. Weather was clear and the sky was azure like ocean, heavenly breeze was blowing and snow clad mighty dhauladhar looked majestic in the morning light.
The boys were having nice time in nearby ‘tapris’. Ajay brought a hot glass of tea. Although it smelled of burnt wood smoke, yet it tasted so good in that invigorating environment. A little later after freshening up, I bade good bye to Ajay and was off to the next part of the trek. I was little apprehensive because of last evening’s experience but the sound sleep seemed to have sucked all the fatigue.
The initial part of the trek was on a slope through a meadow and like the previous evening, it was quite steep. To me the gradient looked like 75 degree. However, may be due to recharged body and morning freshness, I was not feeling it all that tough as the previous day.
I was walking slowly but steadily. It took me around two hours in reaching the second shop, which must be around three kilometers from the first shop. The temple was still around one kilometer from the second shop.
The two treks one from Jia and the other from Chamunda Devi temple merge here and the next one kilometer to the temple is on a common and almost level path.
View of the Kangra valley and Dhauladhar range was fantastic from the spot. The sky was perfectly clear, but I could see clouds building up. For having lived in the lap of Himalayas for the last one month we have noticed the sky gets cloudy after about 9am in the morning and remained so throughout the day until evening.
Sensing this and that the temple was still around a kilometer away, I took a little break in the little meadow, rested and clicked a number of pictures.
And wow, within minutes the entire range was covered with thick clouds and like a ghost the blue sky and snow-clad mountains disappeared not to be seen till evening that day.
Walking slowly and steadily on the last leg of the trek, I reached at the temple after about an hour or so. It was 10 am and the whole temple area and the mountain range was engulfed in thick fog. A large number of people were already at the temple. It was quite noisy as well.
But before paying my respects at the temple, I wanted to savour the moment and looked for a quieter place. There was a beautiful meadow beyond the temple, facing the mighty Dhauladhars. I walked down into the meadow and for some time sat quietly in silence.
Mist was kissing my cheeks. The air I was breathing was light and fresh. It was filled with an aroma of million plants and flowers. I was kind of lost for a moment. I lay down on the cool grass and gazed at the vast open sky. Clouds were hurrying through the open sky and were making various shapes. I was feeling like I was in heaven. It was sheer joy…a blissful moment, never to forget memory.
I don’t know for how long I stayed in that state. The time had stood still until I heard some boys talking and walking nearby. They sat in the same meadow closeby and started playing cards. Nothing wrong with it except that they were shouting full throat, using all those slangs we don’t like to hear.
I came down from heavens to earth. Looking for yet another quieter place, I walked down another half a kilometer and found another grassy plot. I thought how easy it was. Just half a mile and I was in heavenly zone again. I thought it was not very difficult to find and live in the kind of environment we are looking for.
Situated at Chandradhar ridge, at around 10000 ft ASL and flanked by Dhauladhars, Aadi Himani Chamunda temple or the Barfani Chamunda is a temple dedicated fearsome goddess Chamunda.
There are two trekking routes to reach the temple, the first route begins from Chamunda Devi temple and the second from the village Jia. Both the routes are around 12 kilometers long and are a steep and a constant climb.
The presiding deity chamunda lies in the original premises these days. The new and bigger temple was destroyed in a fire in 2014 and the deity had to shift to the original old but smaller premises. On the outer side of the same structure is Hanuman temple. There is another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva little away.
The temple opens in mid March every year depending upon weather conditions and closes down in November with the onset of first snowfall. The temple area lies on a ridge and is prone to sudden weather changes. Fierce winds have been reported to have blown away the temple and sarai roofs many times in the past.
The temple area faces acute water shortage as there is no regular source of potable water. Some local villagers were trying hard to lay a water pipeline to the temple from their own sources.
There are hardly any places to stay in the route. The route is lined up with ‘tapris’, abandoned shepherd huts, which the people use for night stay and shelter. The temple has two sarais, mattresses and blankets are provided to pilgrims for for night stay.
Food is not available and has to be carried or cooked by the pilgrims themselves. There is a shop at the entrance of the temple which can provide limited and basic food to the pilgrims.
Lately I have learned the Govt has approved a ropeway to reach the temple which still is in preliminary stage.
After paying my respect and a little walk around the temple, it was time for me to return back. It was still overcast and cloudy. At first walking back was very easy as not much effort was required, no breathlessness as well.
The progress till the first shop where I had slept for the night was quite easy. I collected my rucksack and sleeping bag from the shop, which I had left in the morning. The walk back thereafter became very tough. Since it was steep descent, all my body weight fell on knees and ankles. I became so tired and weak that at times It felt as if my knees and legs were shaking and I would fall anytime.
Walking on the last few kilometers became unbearable. I felt like a dead man walking. My knees got a real beating and I was kind of crawling for the last 2-3 kilometers. It took me hell lot of time in reaching Kharti school.
The caretaker at the school insisted me to have a cup of tea and only then he would hand me over bike keys. Being so tired I just wanted my motorbike back. Ultimately I had to give, he won, we had tea together and got my bike back.
Getting the bike back and riding I felt like a free bird again. It was like I have gotten my freedom back. My legs were so tired I knew I could not walk even few steps. Later I came to know that I had ‘Disc Extrusion’, the reason for this ordeal.
I was back in Rakkar, my home, for summers by 7pm evening. After resting a while I went to theka, bought a bottle of whisky and then rode to my favourite riverside restaurant Satyam. Narrated the whole story to my wife, enjoyed the dinner and drinks while sitting near the brook, rode back to my summer home and went to sleep.
Thank God For Blessing Me With Amazing Life………….!!!