Few walks to remember
The month of October, usually known for a succession of winter over summer, however, this time, adamant warmth of sun perpetuates showing no precursor of leaving. While I Ankush Sharma with two of my adventurous friends Gulshan Thakur and Devinder Sharma was busy in following cumbersome and perplexed walks of life, a mindboggling plan struck to my mind.
Soon, we three met at my place Kathua and trip to a picturesque place Dhaggar surfaced after my plan was unveiled. A very few people are acquainted with this place including me. I call it a real natural heaven against many artificial and altered so-called heavens in our State or even country. Inhabitants there have kept nature and its unparallel beauty untouched, totally away from machines and modern innovations. Same is expected from ecotourists like us.
Now follow us to know where this place actually is located. We started our journey on the bus from Kathua to Basohli on broad and curvy roads formed by rock cutting with deep gorges on one side. We also were lucky enough to have a glimpse of the scenic beauty of Ranjit Sagar Dam in journey before we reached Basohli bus stand. After staying for few hours there, we headed towards Bani again in a bus which in itself was reflecting a well-celebrated phrase ‘unity in diversity’. Hindus, Muslims, tribal Gujjars and even one Sikh having harmonious conversation devoid of any virtual boundaries, were enshrining ideals laid in our ?Constitution giving an acrimonious blow to hatred and the communal environment we witnessed in contemporary times. Also, we were no different from them.
Here also, roads running parallel with Deodar trees continued their wavy moves while welcoming the advent of chilly accent in weather, it seemed stubborn warmth of summer lost its ground to sobering winter. With driver gearing up speed on U-turn roads along the side of deep gorges of river Ravi, our hearts were at the acme of fear and frightenedness with a bit taste of adventure. This periodic motion of fear and adventure halted at Bani bus stand. This town is flourished along river Sewa with temperate and polar climate.
Totally enervated and almost starving for food which later on served in the hotel. Afterwards, we directly fell on the bed and next morning we left for Dhaggar located at an altitude of 12,000ft. Following one hour travel on a jeep, we reached Duggan, a place blanketed with Chirr, Deodar and shrubs. Not staying for long, we left for Dhaggar, 12 km away which we had to travel by foot.
Despite long distance, we were enlightened with comfort pressed upon us by encountering cool breeze. We also met many locals going to work and had brief chatting with them. Love for the place was clearly manifested in their words which were full of praise and admiration although complaints were not totally missing. They were unhappy with the underdevelopment and alleged administration for ignoring them despite mesmerising scenic beauty.
Some of the fellow travellers were pilgrims of famous Dhoula Mata. One of the passersby told us about inefficient management of temple and desired for a Shrine Board for proper utilisation of money and development of temple. Further, some demonstrated their strong aspirations of seeing Dhaggar a well-established eco-tourist spot soon from which they expected decent returns for the sustenance of their livelihood. Few of them had apprehensions that more outsiders might threaten virginity of nature. With these unstoppable talks, we covered non-ending long walk and eventually reached Dhaggar.
A cursory look at its natural beauty was enough to substitute my tiredness with priceless peace and solace which entwined me with this place forever. It was endowed with hefty temperate grasslands embracing large pastoralists imitating a large chess board with pawns standing in it. Moreover, undulating landforms including meadows, coniferous forest, waterfalls, rapids etc were the cynosure of all eyes even of animals I bet. The euphonic sounds of cattle, the chirping of birds and also the voice of pastoralists especially tribal Bakarwals while calling their cattle sounds a lot better than cacophonic sounds of cities especially vehicle horns. People are saturated with compassion which reflected through their respectful and welcoming attitude towards us. They offered us a delicious food and served us as if we were their guests. With this first hour getting over, we were capable of envisaging how much we were going to enjoy in coming time and so it happened also. At evening we reached a small guest house, took rest for some time and then came out to see the same night sky as we saw in the city but with altogether different and miraculous appearance. I watched moonlight slowly painting faces of mountains silver, sensing a flood of memories made me just a little more alive.
The joy of moonlight, something never understood in cities but here with no artificial lights, allowed me to understand true joy of a moonlight night. Waterfall, far down in gorge was looking ever brightening as it was burning like a bon fire. All these events made us aware of adventures shrouded in impeccable nature which people ignore by just calling it wild and uncivilised. The first time I felt a close relationship with nature after all we humans are its creation only.
Next morning, we started with a defeat in the cricket match with local boys; however, it paid us in form of scrumptious meal served at one of the player’s home. Later they guided us to watch a land of stunningly diverse and achingly beautiful landscapes. Tracts of land were covered with patches of evergreen coniferous forests and also the foggy environment.
This place is also endowed with diverse cattle like a cow, buffalo, goat and especially sheep which have attractive alignment and economic uses as well and were almost new to us as they are absent in plains. At evening, we reached at waterfall digging out huge sponge pools in which we were swimming and enjoying the exposure of waterfall directly over us which felt no less than meditation. The freshness and purity of its freezing water washed down all memories of burning heat of prolonged summer. Even a single drop of water on my naked body was enough to make me feel fresh and charge every cell of my body.
However sooner, Sun started disappearing and fog started enveloping us compelling us to come out of the water, otherwise, we would have to walk in the blind dark. After reaching guest house we all were silent as we were one night away from our return. I slept that night reminding all my newly gained memories and imprinting them forever.
Next morning arrived within an eye blink, after an hour we all were prepared to leave this place but not the experience, adventure, love and lot more which can’t be described in words. We had smiles on our faces but everyone knew the reluctance inside our hearts shouting with a deafening cry saying not to go. But we had to walk forward with few unforgettable walks. Sooner we will again get mingled with the mechanised and clock sensitive world becoming robots and fighting in prevailed lumps of competition for survival.
But this time, we would surely be different as now we would always have a reference line of a real life which earlier we were totally unaware of. Now at least I would try hard to reach closer to this reference line rather than winning the virtual race which doesn’t have peace in its either means or ends.
(The author is an engineer and presently a civil aspirant)