The camp nestled deep in the valley .. in an apple orchard.. the trees had just started to bloom.. A view from the back of the tent.. our tent was only about six feet away from the river..
A walk along the river bed.. note the millions of stones..
Ganga in the predawn darkness..
It was the sound of flowing water that woke me up... The quilt and the blankets felt soft and warm... Images of last night flashed across my sleepy mind..
The biting, bone chilling cold… Walking in faint light to our tents. Whisky was a must to heat up our bodies.. Even Taj was given half a peg.. Hot dinner.. Crawling under the blankets..
Peeps lay fast asleep..
Ooooh..! I was at Harsil..!
I felt so excited..!!
Then I heard a scampering noise. A head peeped into our tent..
I smiled to myself..
Gautam and I always got up early during holidays.. We were too excited to sleep..
Peeps and Taj always slept and slept..
I jumped out of the bed, snatched my camera and pulled on my shoes..
I wanted to explore..!
I zipped the door open and got out..
Oooh..! It looked ethereal..!
About ten tents stood facing each other in an apple orchard.. A faint mist hung all around..
Gosh..!! We were surrounded on all sides by huge mountains.. Most of them snow capped..!
The fresh cold air whooshed into my breath and filled my heart with exhilaration..!
Gautam's eyes glowed in the faint light.. Mist blew out from his breath as he spoke..
I followed him.. He was taking me to the back of the tent..
My heart stopped.. The visual splendor that lay out before me was spell binding..
She looked so pure and divine..
So Crystal clear that you could see millions of white rounded polished stones on the river bed.. She was milky white in areas as she flirted with the wind and silver grey as she danced along the bigger stones... . Her skirts seemed to be silver tipped as she rose in spray and foam here and there....
Pure soft silvery white beach stretched out on both sides.. Studded with the same amazing white stones..
Deep dark pine wooded mountains surrounded on both sides. Their peaks frosted with pure white virginal snow..
There was a pregnant silence all around..
My heart danced… I wanted to float ….. And gather all the loveliness around me..
I wanted to surrender myself to the glory… the splendor..
I walked as if in a trance. Wow..! There was a bridge.. ! I crossed to the other side.
Dark deep woods.. Huge pine trees.. Deodars.. Silver firs.. I walked on. There was only the sound of birds chirping.. And the musical sound of Ganga flowing..
I sat on a fallen bark.. And sipped in the silence the enchanting, bewitching, ravishing Mother Nature showered on me..
Ganga was beckoning me.. I started to walk along the beach.. Her dry river bed… Studded with millions of stones, she had polished out from the mountains..
I removed my shoes..
“Acupuncture walk..!” I told myself..
The camp was soon far off.
I was alone.. Not a soul to be seen.. Only the river, the mountains, the birds and the deep pregnant silence..
It was then I noticed the driftwoods. Lovely pieces.. Huge ones.. With hundreds of stories to tell if you cared to listen to them..
Some of them smelt so mysterious and sensuous..
I saw a temple ahead on the bank.. Over a piece of land jutting into the river..
There were steps leading up to it..
I walked up.. A local woman and her daughter were offering pooja..
On the east side of the temple,another set of steps lead down to the river.. An arch was seen over the topmost step from which hung a huge bell. The arch looked as if it was the frame of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in my life..
Dawn was breaking out on the eastern sky.. The view was spectacular.. Ganga was broad, deep, dark powerful, wild and majestic.. With mammoth mountains as backdrop.The mist gave mystic air to the whole scene..
I seemed to be floating..!!
Few log cabins set in an apple orchard formed a village near the temple.. Probably the families who looked after the temple ..The poverty was stricking..
I noticed something there..The local people seemed to be very spiritual.. Maybe the struggle against the harsh terrain, the climate and the stricking poverty made them seek spirituality as a comfort..
Few young women came out smiling.. Light skin, grey eyes, nubile bodies.. I wondered if Raj Kapoor had chosen Mandakini from this area.. They all seemed to resemble the pure heroine in his film..
I grinned at them..
“Main from kerala..”
My Hindi is horrible..
“Keral..?”.. They looked at me with wide eyes.. As if I was an alien
“Thumara jagah bahuth acha..” I smiled at them..
They giggled ..
I clicked their photos, they clicked mine.. With the mountains, the temple and the Ganga as the backdrop..
"Kal ayega main." I grinned at them as I waved goodbye.
I walked back slowly. Embracing, savoring and saving each tree, each stone, each driftwood and each drop of water in my heart. I filled the pocket of my sweater with the beautiful polished stones…to be used as paperweights. I would have collected some driftwood also, but I knew that I would be ragged terribly if I turned up at the camp carrying stones and twigs. besides i would need a lorry to take the huge ones home..
The camp was stirring awake... The generator was running
Peeps was sitting and sipping his tea. . I zipped open the door to the toilet. Thank god….! There was hot water!!
Gautam looked fresh after his bath. Taj was still sleeping….
It was time to get ready, have breakfast and visit Gangotri…
(To be contd…)
ps. plz click on the pixs for better view..