Har Ki Dun Winter Trek

“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”

As my good friends have told me of late, I have been onto a rather prolonged writer’s block. Well, part of the reason might be that. And a part be my return to the Himalayas this new year – The Har Ki Dun Expedition. When Time was gearing up to celebrate its yet another birthday, a group of trekkers set forth for 8 days of awesomeness in the Garhwal Himalayan ranges of Uttarakhand.

Har Ki Dun – The Valley of Gods. Legends say that this is the valley that Pandavas passed through, in an attempt to reach heaven (Swarg). Mount Swargarohini (20,819 ft) at the end of the valley was the final point which laid way to heaven. While all the Panadavas died in the attempt to cross it, Yudhishthir and his dog were the only survivors who could make it to heaven. The locals of Osla, Gangad and Seema village still believe in this legend and consider themselves to be descendants of Pandavas and Kauravas.

So here we were – With an aim to cover 75 kms and reach an altitude of 12,500 ft over the course of next 6 days, we sure were looking to get a closer look of heaven, if not reach it.

That's where the inspiration for all the sceneries comes from. Absolute classic.

That’s where the inspiration for all the sceneries comes from. Absolute classic.

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Kothaligad Fort Trek

Know that feeling when you just can’t let your life halt. You just want to keep running. Keep exploring. Keep ticking out the items from your “to do” list.

Well !! I know that feeling. Earlier this year, I had gifted myself with a promise and list of treks for the upcoming monsoon season. Though I was not able to sweep the list completely clean, I still managed to explore most of the places from that list. Or should I say “we” rather than “I” – coz “I” stands tall but alone, but “we” always stick together to the very end, even though it has to lie a little low. I find pride in having few awesome friends who have always stood up to chose a rough outing in hills over lying warm and cozy in their bed on a lazy weekend morning. We have somehow managed to continue being in NITIE even after passing out (Passing out as in getting our degree and stuff, and not “PASSING OUT” :P)

Anyways, monsoons have gone away now – Much to my dismay, but one can only wait. Kothaligad Fort Trek was our last trek this monsoons. A small fort (just over 3000 feet) situated near Karjat – A relatively easier trek compared to what we had experienced earlier in the season – Still, somehow, it marked a perfect goodbye to the Rain Gods.

Let me take you through a photo tour of this trek.

The pinnacle you see at the top - That was our destination

The pinnacle you see at the top – That was our destination

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Oh My God

Chhote Chhote Sehro Me Badi Badi Baatein Hoti Rehti Hain …Vaishno Devi

This blog post could have easily been about a sweet little family trip across the beautiful cities of Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan. But that is not how these places ended up in my memory. Though marked by some awesome moments of the place, the overall impression still remains negative.

Anyways, this trip was never meant to be, at the start. It all materialized when the visit to Vaishno Devi was cancelled due to Jammu floods, and when Spicejet informed me that flight cancellation amount would be more than the booking amount, I decided to fly to Delhi anyways.

Delhi – The city where my heart dwells. I landed there on a sunny Thursday afternoon and amidst the tour back into the memory lane and home bound emotions, I was interrupted by the very familiar voice – “Next stop is Anand Vihar ISBT. Doors will open to the left. Please mind the Gap”

Everyone had already ganged up at my uncle’s place in Ghaziabad, which happens to be at a walking distance from my engineering college. Bag packed, camera and phones fully charged – We set out for Agra – Taj Mahal being our first stop. Freaky Friday. Of course it was freaky Friday, and so were we for not doing some proper research. Taj remains closed on Friday. No “Waah Taj” for us as we had to change the plans to postpone Agra for the next day.

Prem Mandir

 

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Kaala Patthar – The Leech Forest Trek

“So you mean Havelock is not happening?”

“Naah !! The entire week is booked and they won’t even agree to include us as crew members”

This news struck us halfway through the first day on our Andaman Trip and that’s when Mount Harriet National Park came into the picture.  Mount Harriet happens to be a part of Bambooflat Island and the third highest peak in Andamans. This place is known for its wild pigs, saltwater crocodiles, turtles, crabs and …. And the protagonist of our story – The Leeches.

A half an hour ferry ride from Port Blair, followed by about an hour of uphill drive to the entrance of the National Park, we met this guard at campsite.

“So is the Kala Patthar trek still on?”, we asked.

“Yeah. Only if you want to run upside down trying to protect your bloody legs. It’s raining and the forest is festering with snakes and leeches. I suggest you guys sit here, have a drink and go back from where you came from”, this reply came from an obviously irritated guard waiting for his shift to end

We had the answer to our question. The trail was open and we didn’t need to trespass to reach our destination – Kala Patthar.

Campsite - Mount Harriet National Park

Campsite – Mount Harriet National Park

 

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Malshej Ghat – The Land of Waterfalls

Pack your bags. Leave the world behind. Let the clouds show you the trail. And in no time you will find yourself surrounded by a million waterfalls. That is Malshej Ghat for you.

Clouds blocking the rays of the Sun. Blue sky turning gray. Cold water and breeze rushing across your face. And the weather turning you into a poet.

Malshej Ghat is at a 2 hour drive from Mumbai, and the best time to visit this place is – No points for guessing – Monsoons. We left for the place sharp at 6 in the morning. Accompanied by light drizzle and morning radio songs, we started our journey.

What’s so special about this place? Scenes like these, which makes you wonder if you really long to go back to hills, or stick with the Monsoons here. May be you just need to live in the moment. And follow your bliss.

Waterfall - Malshej Ghat

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