Breaking Barriers & Solo Trek to Sandakphu – Rahul SarkarApril 21, 2016
I quote from a very famous movie, we all must have seen ,
“ Life is like a box of chocolate,you never know what you are gonna get.”
More of me
Where I have come from is a goody middle class Bengali family where I got to know everything of art as well as the importance having a stable, secure life which is so common. From childhood I have a zeal for uncommon, less popular ways of life. Situations made me stronger but that core I had for unknown, it remained same in me, and I do nourish it.
Its more of a like schooldays time, when the idea came that I could be an explorer, not having 9 to 5 jobs and no strings attached. Everytime I started then, things held me back again and again. Around 2012 my college days started, but having a soul of wanderer has never been easy, why I always have to answer, why the “stable” people don’t have to answer for their choices, am I less anyway or not a greater anyway too. One issue remained there the finances of wandering about, I guess things get managed eventually. I never take it from parents who are reluctant about my getaways and they are right within them. But that doesn’t make me wrong too, I do not necessarily need to justify it to others. According to social practices I need to have a decent job plan then a retirement plan. But why will I retire where my life excites me every moment.
Walks of life
I won’t say the journey starts here, it had started when I landed on earth two decades back. It is another chapter I had made possible to attach to my book of life.
Trekking is my life;if I can put it correctly it gives me the most joy I can ever imagine. I started just one year back in Uttarakhand, at the famous Roopkund and Ronti saddle expedition. But this chapter which I will share is very dear to me because I did it only by my own.
Primarily I broke out the news to my parents after the railway ticket confirmation. Now the usual things have started, emotional blackmail and other scoldings, although these seem to be funny. I have never made any clarification to anybody, why I would do because the people who have to understand, have no wish to do so.
Finally on 10 th march 2016 I took my train and went to New Jalpaiguri station, reached there next day 8 o’clock in the morning. Then there I had managed a shared car to Ghoom station through the tea gardens and hairpin roads of Darjeeling. At that sunny day I felt like I was living and dying in same moment.
From Ghoom then I got another shared car upto Manebhanjan. Quite a way, the first morning in Manebhanjan , the border town of India and Nepal, where interestingly if someone’s house is in Nepal but his owned land must be in India , was worth roaming.Though I had rushed to start my first walk in the Singalila National Park, I got some time to scribble among that harmonious shrine where the Hindu temple is embedded with Buddha imagery, I mean literally it does not happen in big cities generally because the city size does not matter but what does matter is the heart and soul. I must not deviate certainly . People of this town largely depend up on the trekkers business and around it. Gazen , my guide,gave me some crucial information which supported my inference of the economic structure.Actually the shops are not general shops but bouquets for travelers, I saw so many faces even with bursting expectations that their life is not much of an independent but dependable to the roamers. When I started off by that steep road up to Chitrey , I saw some school kids coming downwards to attend the school and they were collecting Magnolia , a magnificent flower that looked like an unearth object. These small happiness are I guess foe to another parallel upgraded life style. I was amazed that they walk with rhododendrons every season, they listen to the silence of the hills every second, though I took the full opportunity, but it was never fulfilling. Talking about that strangely beautiful flower , my guide told me that it starts blooming from the lower altitudes to the higher, and perfectly I witnessed that. I am not saying that I was the only one but I can say I was the lonely observer. after mounted up to Chitrey , we came to that small village of Nepal , named Meghma. Here is another story of it, my guide told me that some years ago one Bengali engineer came to this place quite often and he was seasoned to this very place. Whenever he came he only saw the clouds everytime here, that’s why after that precision this village got the name Meghma or the Mother of Clouds. And when I entered here I felt like swimming among them. Too much non transparent every bit of it was , like somebody created this maze to offer peace to the fellow walkers. Rather than the noodle soup , the clouds filled my appetite quite well.
Acquiring fogs, mists and that free breeze I learned to live in a new way among those u turns to Jaubari, a vibrant rural existence in Nepal. Every passing people must enlist their names in that Nepali police station, my guide was talking with that inspector in native dialect , it seemed like an unknown world which stays with contradiction, division but they know where they get united. Again we did enter to India, a tiny village but equipped with all things Gairibas, it was quite a late in the afternoon, I had to search for my GTA accomodation, I was very excited of staying in that hut which was in the lap of the national forest.
Everywhere you gaze, you will see some new trees , atleast I haven’t seen those.When I reached there, I set my backpack and off to see the jungle alleys which were so dark that thousand sun will be defeated to this beauty. Mists were mixing into it like some shadow plays with its existence and remains so unattainable. I got some fellow travellers who were coming by Land Rovers which are now trendy according to my own census of visitors. if somebody asks which question have you faced so far most, I would say the question would be of me being a lone traveler, heeee isn’t it funny, by the end of of everything we all are loners, contemplating is the very private and solo matter, humans never include anybody.
From lakes to mountains
On the second day of the hike, after waking up at that empty long dormitory of the jungle hut of Gairibas, I had to start by 8 a.m between the clarity of clouds, among the commotion of silence and most prominently the left parts in self centering things.
Going out with every bit of myself, crossing the jungle domain, I felt that I was leaving the Shivalik and entering to the Lesser Himalayas but what seemed was only the emotion non-motivated by mind. Me and my guide Gazen did look out for Red Pandas, I thought that I would be the only person to witness them but they did not try me, I suppose I am more intolerable creature. Even we waited at some typical spots but all went otherwise.
Crossing some terrains of vegetation in small scale and I was quite overwhelmed to see how they prevent land slide in some areas. On those long roads which did never become lonely with assistance of mother nature. Seeing some mixed breed of yak and cow, I was quite startled by their looks and attitude in a sense, my guide told me that these are for the better production of milk, I guess they know farming better than me, although it looked different. We hang the wind chimes which I am fascinated with, to break the estranged sound of emptiness, native people of that region do tie the bell to the cattle to identify but I think what I said earlier that is the sublime reason of all. After all we all do belong to this vast diversity and we are connected to the core.
Lunch was great in Kalpokhri, but my heart bells were ringing to start again, otherwise extra rest will kill my stamina any way. Now the Sandakphu ridge was peeping out to me. Later a bit, we sat at a place called Bikheybhanjan, which had two three houses with tea stall and a Buddhist shrine at a height, and only there was pine which dominated the entire existence. Dominance is a complicated issue for humans, we presume so many things without understanding, but natural dominance is rather like a dance of harmony where there is only goodness not any bad omen. As usual I reached the top in the late afternoon, when I got there, it was elsewhere, the tyrannical last steep walk was melted away and the pleasure and peace were left only.
Sandakphu: The land of poisons
The land of poison which was coined in Greek as “Sandakphu” and the most interesting fact about this that in 1882 Dr Hooker a British botanist discovered this path to the heaven , sorry I think its more beautiful than any unseen heaven. Lately Bengal’s highest point is in Greek, the legend ultimately crossed the Mediterranean and set in the Himalayas. Though he named it for all the medicinal and poisonous plants around it but the car off loaders recently for few years destructing those predetermined pillars on which Sandakphu must stand for further years to inspire new explorers who will seek refuge into it.
Previously I did hiking only once , but I was desperate to find this natural identity by myself, I wanted to breathe with those pines, I wanted to bloom with those rhododendrons but in solitude. On the way I knew many unnoticed facts about this hideaway from my guide Gazen Mukhia . He never hesitated to tell me and I became an amateur of Himalayas within some seconds .
It was a random plan to move out to the heart of mountains for a week, taking a break from pollution and those stagnant coinages. This urge has ever been subjective , this rhetoric has shaken me by core. Being in a so called society every time its about getting aware of things and reacting to your conscience. I can not expect people to understand what I have stood for myself and how have I carried those instincts in this unbalanced being. No matter what always you are subjected to your duties and its not always like that, it is more of following some sect norms. Like astronauts transmits through gravity, I overcame my gravity , I know it sounds very funny but damn true.
Every second you are told not to do this and not to take this, but why not. Who am I, I have made that identity, nobody should make such remarks even not parents. Its true I am writing this sitting to a digital screen but does it minimize anything or even maximize. My heart is in nature and it will remain there for the rest of myself. To me measurement is very regressive and it never counts to our existence. Yesterday my friend reminded me of Karma, so we are all predetermined in minds and acceptable in terms of consequences. And does it cost our present always , no I don’t believe so. For now , I will pull out some extract of my diary of that windy night in Sandakphu. I wasn’t alone in that hut , but systematically my mind was on that verge that every household discussion of a couple was escaping naturally , even I was confronted with some stupidity, I think they have their own explanations though .
“For now , I am sitting by a window pane; the chilly , pierced wind is acting through my hand, for us like lowlanders its very dangerously thrilling situation but I am feeling quite lucky to have these roaring gusty sounds penetrating the ears like uv waves . Taking up this lonely exploration I thought some revelations would cross me, but I have to admit that I learned patience more and it helps me to dwell on these wind cries. Today when I was on my last lap of climbing up to Sandakphu , I was almost ready to give up. It was self inspiration obviously which came through worshipping the nature. To be honest I wanted to be lonely here, when I have got it , I wish for differences , don’t know why. The loners do not sit on a roof top or on a mountain, its the crowd in the name of connection make people lonely within the souls of their own kind. When I see these trees, far away snow pinnacles my rational goes some where deep down the belly , even those distant monasteries of Chitrey, Meghma were wailing like a universal sound goes beyond our mundane auditory mechanism.Unknown places give me feeling of vague relativity but when I entered in to the Singalila National Park , I knew its the nature’;s dome where everyone is known to every being. ”
Next day at 4.30 am I woke up and saw some magical spell in the sky , when the first sun ray of the day came up to the Kangchenjunga I felt like I have enough lived , and my existence was bursting out of my cage.
Last descent from Sandakphu to Sepi
Travelling is not at all a serious thing to me where I need to put my unprecedented efforts but it comes naturally like the sailor goes to ocean, astronauts go to space.
At around 9 a.m. me and my guide by saying goodbye to the snow clad of Hiamalayas, began the trek for the last destination Srikhola. We entered in to the bamboo forest of Red Pandas and Bears, I hoped to get a glimpse but I think it was the nature’s call that I need to come again for them, I would love to by the way. Those terrains took us to Gurdum, a small hilly village, where I ate my wonderful lunch in a very welcoming household. Another interesting thing was that I also ate a red Rhododendron flower as dessert as my guide suggested. I need to say to all, only some are edible only and others are dangerous for our body. After an hour of descent , we reached a river village consisted of very few houses, Timburay. There was the most expressive melody of a river named Sri khola ( In Nepali ‘Khola’ means river ). As the road goes, we crossed a very known bridge over Sri river. Weather went cloudy and temperature did rise and we reached the destination Sepi, an organic village beautiful as any other famous hill stations in India. I wished that if I could spend a couple of days more there but time damned me. But I have promised myself to get that melody of Sri river I will visit again and again.
My three day trek was completed, at the end I was not alone I was with every bit of nature around me. They just became of whole existence and I thank my guide and all my people of hills and valleys.
Day 1- Manebhanjan to Gairibas
Day 2- Gairibas to Sandakphu
Day 3- Sandakphu to Sepi
Journey never ends ….
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