Photo Stories from Himalayas

The folk artists dressed as five Pandav brothers, characters from Mahabharata, present the dance drama on the 19th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014.

Enthusiasm and Trail Go Downhill September 4, 2014 Thursday The 10-kilometer-long trail connecting Lata Khopadi and Sutol was still miry. But it was bright and the sky was blue. The pilgrims’ mood was a mix of cheer and despair. The thought of going back home safely created cheerful vibes. Separation from the dear daughter cast a shadow over successful completion of the pilgrimage. A number of steep ascents and mire

The 4-horn ram specially selected to lead the Nanda Raj Jat 2014 awaits to be released in wild after the puja.

A Downpour of Anxieties and Affections September 3, 2014 Wednesday Both anxiety and affection were infectious at Shila Saumdra in the morning of the Wednesday. Anxiety ascribed to desire to reach Hom Kund, the goodbye spot at 5,000 meter, at the earliest. Almost everyone, believer and non-believer, had developed an affection for the ram, the goddess, and the trail.  Bidding adieu was therefore an overwhelming experience for many. So everybody

A parasol carrier from Kumaon Himalayas

The Walk in Wilderness that Required Will Power September 2, 2014 Tuesday The Tuesday posed a tough challenge, climbing more than 1,500 meters while walking the 16-kilometer long trail connecting Pathar Nachauniya and Shila Samudra. But the high altitude trail had side attractions that provided perfect escape opportunities for fear (if any) and enough time for pilgrims to rest, rejoice, and proceed safely. The first attraction was one-wall temple. The

Himalayas from Pathar Nachauniya

September 1, 2014 Monday The morning sky was clear for a while. Then it turned grey and a brief spell of drizzle followed. The moody meadow suddenly changed into the costume crafted from the mountain mist that limited the visibility. This transition from a sheer dress to an almost opaque dress checked the speed of the pilgrims but the enthusiasm was on peak.  The rain also tried to play a

The shepherd’s wife cook dinner in her Sutol home in Garhwal Himalayas.

  On September 4, 2014, reluctance bruised expectations. Sutol was reluctant to spare a bed or a room for visitors because the Himalayan village was expecting the relatives who wanted to experience Nanda Raj Jat. My expectations of getting a bed for a night in one of local establishments- a house, dhaba, or lodge- therefore fell flat. I stopped looking for a bed for a while. Then my porter and

(L to R) A parasol carrier blows conch at Vedni. A 4-horn ram at Vedni.

Revelries, Returns, Wrongs, and Rights August 31, 2014 Sunday It was the third Sunday of the pilgrimage. But because of space shortage at the small campsite on a wooded slope in Garoli Patal, happiness of the pilgrims ran out by the morning. A number of pilgrims who slept hungry and in open yesterday flied off the handle easily in the morning conversations. It was mildly cold. Some of the pilgrims

The palanquin of goddess Nanda Devi from Dasholi (Kurad) in Wan on the 14th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014

2 Rules of Thumb for Survival in High Mountains: Self-reliance, Self-sufficiency August 30, 2014 Saturday And the music died beyond Wan. But the trail showed us temperate forest. Delicate dwarf ferns successfully competed with tall hardy conifers, rhododendrons, and surai (Himalyan cypress) for attention of the passersby. New parasols, palanquins, and rams further divided passersby’s already divided attention. The trail showed us a bird-eye view of the multi-colored snake of

The 4-horn ram in Mundoli

Lifetime Penalty for Liquor August 29, 2014 Friday Mossy stones settled on the wide ascending trail were slippery when we left Mundoli for Wan. But the trail soon merged into the road leading to Lohaganj. The public square in Lohaganj experienced frenzy of priest community who possessed palanquins, parasols, and religious symbols like Kohinoor and people who sought blessings of the rare rams.  Lohaganj was the settlement that accommodated probably

A local woman from wears both bulaki and natola.

Pageantry for Faith in Togetherness August 28, 2016 Thursday Although it was mainly a brisk walk along the tar road under a sunny umbrella, the procession moved through the mosaic of green fields intermittently. It took short trails exiting from the road and climbing up and down the verdure slopes to reach tiny hamlets that were not the night halts. Many visitors huffed and puffed along these trails. They were

Puja at the temple in Salekhola on the 11th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014

An Easy Road Walk August 27, 2014 Wednesday Religious signs taller than the parasols added a new dimension to the procession that started around 11 am. The path laden with tar made walking easier even under hot sun. The path stuck to the foot of rocky slopes holding roots of grass and upright pines. But at many places, the rocks bared their hard ochre or grey chests with occasional dash