Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The God of the Himalaya

It was a summer of our college days of JNU. While other guys went home in vacations, my entire class headed towards Himachal for the academic tour. And we have to study the physical geography.

All of us were very excited as we were going to mighty Himalayas for the first time. Class was divided into several committees and I was convenor of academic committee, as I loved briefing my folks every morning about the tasks of the day.

The tour was under supervision of our guru ji Prof Milap Chand Sharma, a world famous glaciers expert and our coolest professor. It was fun-learning experience as we learn geological history of the Himalayas along with the environmental importance of the mountains.

We tracked up to the mouth of Beas river and also walked over the parent glacier of this river.  The natural beauty near Beas kund was amazing. Tough and rocky vertical tracking made it very adventurous.

On due course, we met many mountaineering groups most on them were defence personnel. We also met a group of college student who were on fun tour at lower heights.

Songs, Bonfire and joke were shared with them, as we all are good friends. I still remember a guy from the group singing 'Purani Jeans aur Guitar' song and one girl from our lot almost fell for him!

Alas! Those were the days, we dint care about the frequent rain... And I even dared for skinny-dipping into glacial ice water at height of 5000 meters. Needless to say it was the most chilling bath I ever took.

Our camp was near the Snow Avalanche observatory established by Indian army. O! how we loved sleeping in our sleeping bags while dew condensed dripping through our polyester tent roof.

Being a fearless rowdy guy is not always good, as you might get to assign the toughest job. And similar situation happen when Prof send me to sample collection at further height along with a senior researcher.

As we climbed up further weather got worsen. After crossing two summits, we climbed further and measured the samples with their skylines. In search of samples we had already crossed 6000 meters of height. There we met shepherds who offered us 'ghee' of mountain sheep and goats.

I was not in favor of climbing further as a fresh gale had arrived and it was intensified with icy rain. Even those shepherds supported my idea and suggested that we should return back from there.

But the guy with whom I went for sample collection, insisted for climbing further. Ahead was a very narrow vertical cliff, any small slip could have cost our lives... And the guy was adamant to go further.

Suddenly someone from lower summit called both of us by name. I felt delighted as it was getting intolerable to continue, and it was forbidden to desert the partner. This call was very timely I thought. We observed, it was our local cook. I wondered that time how it is possible to listen from someone who is below 1000 meters.

The cook shouted again and asked us to come back on base camp as guru ji had called back. I was more than happy to return and that other guy had to option but to follow me.

After two hour of descending journey we reached our camps and I started saying 'how tough it was, it had been more tougher if cook had not called us back!'

However the cook said, he never left the camp and dint got to call us back. We were shocked and started wondering how did it happen!? It was certainly not an illusion as we both had different mind set on tracking but we saw same guy, heard same voice. We were told it was a god of mountain who saved us from ascertain death.

Prof Sharma is from Himachal only, he later told us about the Gods of Himalaya. He said, you guys did a great thing by obeying that omen, else there have been several disappearance among those snow covered peaks.

It was a great experience to tour and camp in Himalaya as it breaked many myths and rationalities of theoretical life. I could never forget that particular trekking!

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