Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ghangaria: Above 9000 ft

This is a series of my two weeks of tryst with the Garhwal Himalayas:

Day 1&2 : Secunderabad to Delhi
Day 3: Delhi to Haridwar bus ride
Day 3: Meerut Road
Day 3: Har Ki pauri- Haridwar
Day 4: Impressions from Haridwar
Day 4: Through Rajaji national Park
Day 4: Devaprayag-Srinagar-Rudraprayag-Karnaprayag
Day 5: Pipalkoti-Joshimath-Badrinath
Day 6: Mana: The last Indian village
Day 6: Adventure in Badrinath-Govindghat Road
Day 7: The Boys from Rishikesh
Day 7: Trek to Ghangaria

(Click on pictures to see better)

25th September, '08:
After a gut wrenching walk of 14 kms and reaching dizzying height of 9147 feet, (more so with a ruined knee), I felt at ease. Ghangaria turned out to be a hamlet more developed than I had imagined.

Multitude of ponies in Ghangaria to carry piligrims

But since it was the fag end of the season, the inhabitants were less. Within a week, the whole village would be moving to the base below to Joshimath.
Local theatre. I went in and saw a little hovel with a TV set and VCR set. Tickets were for Rs 5
And this beautiful place would be draped with snow for the next six months. My mind couldn't imagine the greenery and civilization dissapear into 8 feet snow from next month.

I hogged these gulab jamuns. They were tasty.
The first thing I did was get a cheap accommodation to park myself and get some rest. Though my heart was racing to explore Ghangaria, my body needed rest badly. I got a room for 150 Rs. Since this was end of season, rooms were dirt cheap.

The same rooms spike to 1500 Rs during summers. I couldn't get warm water here. So settled to freshen up without a bath. Soon it was dusk, and I walked (limped. I had aggravated my knee seriously) around this small village and clicked a lot of pictures.

The locals favourite pass time: carrom

Ghangaria is a busy base for all Pilgrims to Hemkund sahib and visitors to Valley of Flowers. And reasonably so, there were all sorts of basic facilities available for such tourists. The village should be having not more than 20 houses including little shops.

Locals playing cards

Gurudwara at Ghangaria. See the snow peaks.

This is how big Ghangaria is. View from top.

And then I spotted this unique shop glittering with colorfull paraphernalia. This shop caught my attention. Looked like a lot of attention and effort had gone to set this up at this godforsaken place. I ogled inside it. I was going to be pleasantly surprised meeting the shop owner.

This was the door to the shop. The door had a message pinned up which read.
"I am going for trekkking. I will come back in the evening. Thanks, Rajnish"
It was Rajnish who was to become my company for the next 24 hours at Ghangaria. I was glued to him. Next post is dedicated to the amazing man.

Soon it was dark and settled in my room snuggling into my damp blanket. The electricity is a problem at this god forsaken place. They dont have it after 7 pm. It was the first time since I set out of home alone, did pangs of home sickness struck me.
I felt lonely. I wasn't able to imagine that I was so far away from my family
in this dark, lonely and frigid place, 9000 ft above somewhere amidst mountains. I started writing my feelings to assuage my nerves.
Next Post: Rajnish, a little known celebrity at Ghangaria