18th Day of Nanda Raj Jat: Shila Samundra to Hom Kund to Lata Khopari

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 wanted to start early to avoid crowded trail, to reach in time for puja, and then return early to avoid furious wet mood of the mountain in afternoon.

There I spotted some caves in high gray slopes at Shila Saumdra. These rooms with views are for those who can climb through the slippery scree and fast for a few days in tandem.

The long night ended. But YJ did not show up. I started the trek with porter who returned in the morning and told me YJ had reached Shila Samundra. The porter reluctantly joined me for the next section of the trek.

Like festivities and rituals almost disappeared from the trail, my porter also disappeared from the Hom Kund trail without any intimation. And he suddenly reappeared at Hom Kund for a while and told me that I should come down with his friend, a local man (Gulab Singh) who was with him. Gulab Singh showed a blank expression on hearing his friend’s suggestion. Gulab also vanished in the crowd in no time.

After the puja and a “fake” trance by a woman, the parasols from the natal region of the goddess were thrown in the air. The people ran to catch them and feel fortunate. The devotees pounced at the fallen parasols to collect parts of them as an auspicious gift or a souvenir of the hard journey. The parasols from the husband’s home region had a privilege to go back and avoid this disgrace. The ram dressed up for the occasion was sent to Kailash.

The porter was simply not interested to do his duty like his boss YJ. He left my rucksack somewhere on the trail. He met me when I was descending and approaching to the bridge where the trail split into two: one went down to Chandaniyaghat and other to north to Hom Kund. Infected intentions were written on his face but I needed him so I kept quiet and managed. From the bridge he tried to walk by my side probably because he also had to go back. And that was the only way to back home. But another blow awaited me at Chandinyaghat which was the night halt as per the schedule. Police personnel did not allow us to stay there. We were told next halt was at Lata Khopadi.

At the end of the long messy day when we reached at Lata Khopadi, another empty tent awaited me. And the “brother” of YJ told me that I have not paid him i.e. I did not hire him so why should he bother about my arrangements.  Both porter and the representative of YJ quickly vanished in the dark. I spent the whole night sitting in empty tent and mire soaked clothes. But I was not the VIP ram? There even the over-pampered ram was finally left to find his own way in the desolate land.

Everyone enjoyed going up. But the return journey was an extremely quick affair. Nobody had a minute to wait and look around and did not let others to wait. At Chandinyaghat the roaring icy stream of the Nandakini and a glacier by its side was a mesmerizing sight but there was no chance to enjoy it and capture it.

In the inaccessible vertical world of the Himalayas, a thrill seeker has to stretch his/her mental and physical limitations. S/he stretches them unconsciously if s/he keeps sipping homemade concoction of enthusiasm and passion otherwise inefficient travel managers and jealous team members derail the plans. That is what an adventure is all about.

For a pilgrim, faith does not let him/her falter and fumble. The roots of the faith lie in his/her fertile imagination that erupts from his/her inabilities and limitations. The patron goddess Nanda Devi is also an imagination like many other gods and goddess. Her devotees have imagined a story of her life and her journeys to husband’s house in desolate Kailash. They enact the story and try to evoke her powers once in every twelve years and seek her blessings for a smooth life.

At the end of the day, I was wondering when common persons like my travel agent could not serve just three clients with whom he entered into a contract for the travel services. Then why did people like him complain and abuse the state government who arranged the pilgrimage. We expect too much from others and even from gods and goddess. Isn’t?

You must be expecting a photo story from the 18th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014. It is here. Just click any image to browse.



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