Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Mesmerizing Garhwal - Part I :My first summit climb

Hello everyone,

The year is coming to an end and I’m so behind in everything: blogging, journaling, crafting. As much as I feel guilty about this, I think the only way to act on this is to pull up my socks and try and catch up. I don’t have any crafting update for now, but I thought I will write about one of my travels this year.

Its month of May, hot here in Kuwait and temperatures are touching 50 deg C (122 deg F). I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before but Hubby and I work in same company and same department… I can imagine your reaction after reading this … Are you crazy? Being together 24 hrs? How come one of you haven’t killed the other? Ha ha. Ok, so the point of telling you this is we can get leave from work at same time (most of the times) and that’s what happened when we finished some big projects in early May.

Hubby hadn’t had a break since long and we wanted to take a quick one which didn’t involve much planning and specially no visa requirement. The obvious choice was India, my sweet home land.

One of the family members had mentioned Foliage Outdoors a few time as he had taken short trips with them. So we checked their website to see whether they had any tours that matched our interest.

As we knew it would be summer in India too, we chose a trek to Himalayan Garhwal region to keep away from the heat. With no mood to plan an itinerary I left everything to Hubby, though I had my apprehensions as we haven’t used services of a tour company in India before.

Hubby tells me the booking process was easy and the tour company representatives were helpful with our queries. We received instructions for things to carry for the trek. One of them was to carry woolen clothes along with socks and gloves. If you have been following my blog since sometime you may know how I love winters and hubby doesn’t. While discussing what to pack Hubby kept telling me he will pack his winter jackets and I kept laughing at him that why are you scared of winters? It can’t be cold when Delhi, which is some 250 km away from Garhwal ,is experiencing temps as high as 48 degC (118 deg F). You see, I like to travel light and didn’t want to carry stuff which won’t be used.

My limited knowledge of Indian weather was proved wrong when a day before boarding the flight we started checking temperatures for the places we were supposed to stay. Out went summer clothes and the bag was full of winter clothes.

We took a flight to New Delhi, nearest connecting airport to Dehradun from where our tour started. We stayed in New Delhi for few days and spent quality time with my brother and his family.

On 21st we took an overnight train to Dehradun, meeting our tour guide on Delhi railway station. I’m always excited about train journeys as it reminds me of my childhood and teenage when we used to travel by train to reach cities where my grandparents lived. Our reservation was waitlisted but it was upgraded to RAC (Reservation against Cancellation -  a common term used by Indian Railways). Me and Hubby were allotted 1 sleeping birth, and we had no problems with that!

The tour started on 22nd May with a bus drive to Kund. The journey was long with some scenic stop. We were provided accommodation at Himalayan Eco Lodge in Kund near Rudra Prayag with the river Mandikini flowing nearby.
Picture taken at Himalayan Eco Lodge
Next morning after an early breakfast we started our bus journey to base of Deoriatal. We were told it is an easy trek and the distance will be covered in no time. No kidding… after months of sitting in anair-conditioned office, my lazy body found the trek difficult. But as always it’s always tough initially and once you get the hang of the terrain and re learn to control your breath, it becomes easier.

This was the view after 1.5 hrs of trekking… We had fun here with some group activities, listening to myths about the lake.

On the way back to the cottages, we stopped at an ancient Hindu Temple. Though I’m not religious, I’m always intrigued by old style architecture, folklore and stories behind why places of worship were built.
Omkareshwar Temple, Ukhimath

After the visit to the temple, we changed into pyjamas and went to dip our feet in ice cold river water.

Day 3 : After an early hearty breakfast at the cottage , we left for Chopta by bus . I slept thru the 2 hour journey, a combined effect of pleasant climate and altitude. When we stepped down from our bus at Chopta, which is base for Tungnath, I started feeling nostalgic. While growing up, my parents often took us to nearby hill stations. As a child I was so amused by the different life style in the hills. People always wearing jackets and caps, mules being used to carry heavy loads, absence of cars and two wheelers… Chopta reminded me of those days.

We started our trek from Chopta for Tungnath with enthusiasm, ready to soak in the Himalayan beauty. Tungnath is a famous Hindu Shrine so the route was never lonely. The path to Tungnath is mostly paved with bars and appropriate arrangements to sit at intervals. When our tour guide told us that Day 2 trek was a warm up, she was right!
On the way to Tunganath

The 4km trek to Tungnath covering an elevation of 2473 ft took us 3.5 hours. It started getting cold at the temple and the view was just breathtaking. Hundreds of devotees lined up to visit the temple and we had a good rest there for 30 mins.
Tunganath Temple

View from Tungnath

“Now is the real test”, said the tour guide when we started to move towards our final destination Chandrashila.I thought how bad it can be, I just trekked for 3.5 hours …boy was I wrong…

Steep turns around the temple took us to base of Chandrashila from where couldn’t see the peak. The group started moving north with guidance from an experienced trekker, locals who were hired for the trek to help us in situations when we were tired or felt lost.
Steep slope to Chandrashila Peak

As I started climbing, I realized why the guide said this was the real test. With steep slopes, no paved steps, it became difficult to climb. I started feeling tired and breathless further we went. 400-500 m away from the peak, I decided not to continue as I seemed to be my limit. The group and guides encouraged me not to give up so close to the peak. However, my mind said I’m not here to prove anything or compete, I should trek until I enjoy. So I and another trekker with a hurt knee stayed back while the group move forward, waving and smiling at us.
10 mins pass by and I look up and see Hubby smiling at me and gesturing at me “You can do it”. The look on his face told me he will not be able to enjoy conquering the peak without me. So, I decided to try and walk until my body allows to. Before you know it, I’m the second last person in the group to reach the peak. It took me a while to realize I had done it….MY FIRST EVER SUMMIT CLIMB AT 13240 FT….
Chandrashila Summit

I can’t explain what I felt at that moment. I wasn’t trekking as part of an expedition or compete with anyone still it felt so empowering. You see it’s special for me as I didn’t know a thing about trekking until I met my husband. The first time I trekked, I was 27 years old. With no background of sports, never moved a leg for exercising, I had never imagined climbing a summit in my life.
But as they say “The things you do for love” and “You’ll never know what you are capable of until you try”.

On the way back
The journey back to the base is a haze now and all I remember was looking for the bus at the base and my legs at the verge of breaking….

While I describe my mental and physical state, I don’t want to give an impression that the trek organisers weren’t helpful. I must mention that the tour guide and others were supporting, carrying our bags at time and paid full attention to our well being.

Will continue about the trip in my next post...


  1. Beautifully written Bharati :-) nice n simple :-)

  2. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos, what amazing views and interesting temple. DH had a look at your post as he is a keen walker and loves summit climbing. well done.

  3. So great to read about your adventure in these high mountains. And congratulations on reaching the summit!

  4. My sister would have loved this trip! She really enjoys hiking although she prefers the heat to the cold!

  5. This looks like a fantastic time! Having both pages open at the same time, my favorite overall picture is the one on this page, where you're on the way to Tunganath. I can just imagine the green contrasting with that glorious blue sky!

  6. How lucky are you to be able to say you did it! Congrats Mini! I don't think I could have done it :) And the views are breathtaking!

  7. Sorry to be late commenting, but thank you for sharing your photos. I really enjoyed reading about your trek, and the photos are amazing.
    Well done! Rather you than me, I like short walks, although I would have enjoyed this trip when I was younger!
    Barbara xx

  8. Totally loved your travelogue... I almost climbed the peak with you!!! Pls keep writing, it's really inspriing!!


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