A translucent bead of emerald !


When the train dropped us in Haridwar, the last dawn of May wiped her half-shut eyes in deep surmise to greet us—stunned she was, perhaps, for all so humble punctuality of Doon Express. We too were. Before she could spread her wings to fly for the day, we were curled up under loads of sacks and rolled along to Bhalla Bus stand. The morning bus for Uttarkashi was snoring out its first breath of toxic fume, and we had nearly two hours time before it would run. We threw our luggage into its rear cabin and tossed ourselves off to Bilwakeswar temple.

The morning glow of sunshine had, in the meanwhile, flourished all over to let us dream of its devious face waiting to tear off mask of gentility—the summer day was about to step in. We were already floated in to soar up in the sky—in reality and in dream too—for to meander in the alleyways of painted nature.

The noon was horrid in Uttarkashi. We waited till the evening descends with darkness buried under her cloak. We carried a major share of packed items from Kolkata, but the regular items were to be procured. When we had almost completed our packing, the cell phone cried in its monotonous vibrating noise. It was Umed (the guide of our Nandikund trek) on the other side. He along with senior Umed (the other member of our team) had already reached Chamba from Ransi village and would be reaching Uttarkashi by the noon next day. We were happy to hear of them. It was time to sleep, wide and long, after fifty hours of gallop.

The morning was clear and shining. We set off for Gangotri as soon as Umed-duo had joined us. Kishen Singh of Uttarkashi also joined us. We actually planned to reach there a day after and had a booking in Birla guest house, but for all nice gesture of 9-up Doon, we had advanced more proudly than the Allied force on German-occupied French capital of Paris. We didn’t know before that the next day was Ganga Dashera. The small village of sacred shrine was stacked up in swelling pilgrims. We could manage a six-bedded room for 1200 bucks. It was already dusk when we could settle down in comfort.

I was a bit anxious about my counterpart’s injuries. She met with a car accident in December last year. We had other plans, but had to opt for a popular trek considering damages done to her left foot. Kedartal was not an easy choice on grade, but had advantages on its shorter length and frequency of flow of trekkers.  She prepared herself so passionately—taking up short treks in between to test strength and strain. It was all for piety inherent to the self—an unwavering candle of religiosity—she had always had blessings of the world around and above. Still I was worried as love had no ease in breathing out concern.

The next day, we teamed up by six in the morning to begin the dream journey. A few turns of steep climb tossed us up in moments to a lofty height. The trail was through deep forest on the western bank of Kedarganga. The gushing stream was slowly transformed into a silver ribbon sweetly fastened on a green package of surprises. The pathway ran narrow and narrower as it proceeded. Although the ascent was through out steep with average gradient of 60 to 70 degrees, and we knew it would be tougher to negotiate loose soil when descending, but the abundance of beauty if offered was more than what so forthcoming of nature in the wilderness. In the midway, we paused for a short break to prepare our breakfast. We saw another team of three—all of Delhi—assisted by two porters approaching. We chatted for a while before they moved on. It was already nine by the time we finished our recess. Soon we could glimpse partly hidden face of mighty Thalaysagar. It was of enough inspiration to run and haste, but we had enough time, in hand, for to reach the day’s destination, Bhujkharak. 

After a couple of hours’ gentle walk, we finally arrived those two stretches of difficult tracks—one of scaling a near-flat wall of around 15 mts of length and another, not so long, sliding zone. We were sure that Bhujkharak had almost been reached and soon the day’s trek ended. It was noon—warm and soothing—with perfectly blue sky hanging down a few bundles of white clouds, here and there. The tents were set up. The Delhi trekkers had already settled down beside sizzling pot of coffee. It was long togetherness amongst unknowns.

The twilight rays sprayed its great streaks of colours upon the vast canvass of sky when we all packed up and was ready for another day’s trek. The fellow trekkers had planned to reach Kedartal. We would be trekking just up to Kedarkharak. It would be comfortably shorter. The gradient was also not so inconvenient. Only annoying part was a long stretch of sliding zone with frequent rock-falling risk. That track was nearly half a mile long with insignificant spaces in between to judge and run while crossing. The weather was absolutely bright and pleasurable—a bit warmer in comparison to our expectations. By the time we had reached the tricky chapter of the day’s trek, we found ourselves in all amazement and joy for having perfectly tranquil face of the sliding zone. No evidence of disturbance by wind or animals could be observed. The scene was only horrifying with steep incline of loose soil with hanging giant rocks all above and a straight wall-like descent of nearly 200 mts would carry fluently to plunge into the roaring beauty, Kedarganga. But, for its unusual calmness, the entire patch of sliding zone was nicely covered by the team without much anxiety.

( The reverse trek experience was exactly opposite. We were scared to see giant rocks of tons rolling down wildly through long patches of sliding zone. They took everything on its way down to river and beyond leaving only gray smoke of soil floating unknowingly towards infinity. We had to wait and watch for an hour to cross, phase by phase, batch by batch, with all anxieties. It took us more than an hour to cross it while we took just a quarter of it while going up ).

The river had now fallen bare with numerous streams flowing down through diverse vales and channels to mingle into oneness. It was so full of passion for them to act and for us to admire. We slowly treaded onto Kedarkharak.

It was a vast field—as flat and wide as possible in nearly 4km height. We chanced upon a flock of blue sheep; they ran, and played and fought before it was almost evening. The colours of another dusk was unfurling its soft shades, one after another, to paint benign faces of great range of peak Manda, Bhrigupanth, Thalaysagar and Jogins. As soon the days had wiped all its colours, the blue drew her veil adorn with tiny winking stars and silvery radiance of solitary moon of the twelfth night. It was an unforgettable moment of our life when our dreams fell to outshine events of reality.

Lopa whispered, “Do you believe they are real?”

I paused for a moment and uttered, “Unsure, I am. Perhaps, they are unseen characters of another stage of illusions. The real is more elusive than its virtual presence. Who knows where the wand HE keeps and when it swings in pleasure to transform the whole treasure of creation into unmatchable beauty!”

No more words were spoken. It was another delicate night when dreams evenly played with all its emotions and pleasure.

The next morning was as striking as the night before. The azure steppe of vast sky was perfect hung above with shaft of morning rays stretched so widely.

It was time for another short but strenuous trek to commence. Before we had smacked our lips to wipe last sweet taste of black coffee, the gentle tunes of our footsteps were already heard. Within a few minutes the team had to cross a wild stream—we were sure that it would be tougher to cross it during daytime. It was followed by a long narrow ridge walk through moraine zone. We could see the main source of Kedarganga flowing long down while another stream from Jogins accompanied us till it was time for us to attempt a steep ascent along boulder zone of nearly 50 mts height. Although the trek was completely running through glacial zone with crevasses staring agape everywhere, yet we found it comfortable as it was well contoured and abundantly painted with beauty all around. All the way of uphill walk and cautious negotiating of moraine texture, we looked up to get blessed by showering smiles of all majestic peaks. It was almost noon when we stood in front of a sharp blade of loose boulders.

It was around 50 mts of height with no curvilinear pathway. Only ease was to see its short height unlike what once would face in the last lap of Tapovan trek.

Slowly we all climbed atop to find a long last leg of trail finely crafted through a vast ocean of crevasses wide open with green snaring souls of glacial pools to swallow. We ended in a point where another steep descent on the other side was waiting for us.

But, our minds murmured in amazement, “What a translucent bead of emerald!”

It was spectacular presence of Kedartal—wide and long lake surrounded by a narrow strip of glacial moraine all around followed by lofty rise of the finest series of majestic Himalayan mountains. It had longer mouth towards its northern corner. Garlanded by white snowy beautiful Thalaysagar, Bhrigupanth, Jogin, Hanuman Tekri and Manda, it was smoothly asleep on that midsummer noon. A northern cold wave was streaming in through the passageway of crevasse zone. It was bitter cold wave and I checked the temperature already sub-zero during daytime. On its bank had only limited space for setting up of tents.

One should not settle too close to the lake as water level would rise in late night. We set it all just a few meters away on its northern mouth. It was full of beauty and pleasure that we would dream of heaven’s treasure. After lunch, we moved on to explore towards base of Thalaysagar and ABC of Jogin. It was pleasant walk through glacial moraine of raised platform along north-east face of Kedartal. It was full of delight and divinity so superbly showered all around.

We had settled down back to our tents when with strokes of invisible brush sacred faces of the Himalayan beauty had painted themselves in countless variety of twilight colours. Gentle reflections of silvery images fell immaculately upon the rippled mirror of Kedartal. The images danced upon those small waves of joy. Closer to the bank the water had already begun to freeze. The moon elegantly showed her face over the colossal wall of Bhrigupanth. The bliss of solitude impregnated the souls of a few wanderers still sitting by the poolside. 

The crest of royal Thalaysagar was enjoying its last tryst with the fading rays of the satiated soul of the sun. We sat motionless, speechless as if hypnotized beneath a vast world of fantasy. When the silence was broken, it was long into the night. The lake shone in dazzling silvery moonshine and the atmosphere offered us another different night for our life to keep in treasure for ever. Before we enter into tents, I checked again the temperature. It was minus eight. It was another elegant night where dreams, imaginations, expressions and truth had its subtle integration for to offer faith in further pursuit of life.

We were awake before it was time to shine. Together we remained seated within, holding hands, with none saying. The first sound of another day came of sweet tweets of a pair of wild Moyna.

I unzipped the tent-door facing Kedartal. An emerald, still shining half in darkness, was laid before us. Holding within its serene self was a flawless impression of sacredness—an image of Thalaysagar. Together we looked up and it was glowing at the top with a tender touch of morning rays.

She again asked me, “Do you believe it is real, or even its image upon this mirroring pool?”

I paused for a while and uttered, “Sure, I am. They are all real to us—in our dreams, in our consciousness, in our expectations, in our fallibility, in our appreciation and in our pursuit of life. They are real for to nourish the seeds of faith—in our failings, successes, knowledge, ignorance, and in our being in this fascinating journey of life. Sure, I am. They are real for to sow seeds of faith in our consciousness, for to nourish tender saplings of dreams and for to offer peace of mind in finality.”

No more words were uttered till the dawn had its graceful descent to paint us with all shines from above and within.

The interested readers may turn pages of my partner’s photo album to enjoy rest of the images at

http://flickr.com/photos/lopamudrabarman/

[ Published under the author’s permission ]

[ Original publication at www.saibarman.wordpress.com on July 07, 2009–the readers are requested to express their comments on the original Blog as mentioned above ]

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