Kailash: Back in the country, Gunji days Part 2 and back to the city

This post is part of a travel recollection from Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2018 via Lipulekh. For a list of posts in their sequence please refer to the following link:

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra : The beginning…

Continued from the previous post…

The one and a half day at Qugu were spent watching the lake Mansarovar change colours while the sun changed its direction or the clouds parted, walking on the shore, enjoying some solo time and some more in group. Next we got back to Taklakot via Darchen.

The next day from Taklakot, we started for Lipulekh to cross in to India. After a few hours of journey by bus we crossed back into India via Lipulekh pass.dav We were greeted by our ITBP doctors and Jawans. Their familiar faces asking if we were well made us realise that finally we were home. 🙂 No outgoing batches to China were present for us as they were stuck in Pithoragarh due to heavy rains.

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Om Parvat on the way back

It was a sign.

Dhan Singh ji, my porter on the Indian side was present at the pass. Narender Bhiya had sent his nephew to pick me up this time. By this time, the swelling in the leg was gone and I could walk without pain.

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Road back to Gunji

So we started and found our way through Nabhidhang, where we had our breakfast and then proceeded towards Gunji via Kalapani.

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Soaking up the sun@Kalapani

At Kalapani, our passports were stamped with the arrival by the immigration officers.

We reached Gunji by 3 PM , traversing around 29 KM in a day. This seemed like a great achievement for the couch potato. 🙂 The weather was great, and we decided to spend some time resting.

A camp fire was arranged during the evening. Our two LOs were thanked by all of us. People, happy post a successful trip rejoiced and recounted the memories of the fabled land.

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Bonfire @ Gunji

A grand feast was arranged by ITBP in the evening and we thanked them for all their support for us during the yatra. We went to sleep knowing that there would be heli port the next day.

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Team meeting at evening @ Gunji

The next day, the weather was great, but due to some VIP movement, we could not be lifted to Pithoragarh. This would prove to be a mistake by the authorities in coming days…

This was the beginning of the second leg of prolonged stay at Gunji for us. The journey had almost come to an end but had not finished yet!

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Weather next morning @ Gunji

The next day onwards, there was a continuous spell of rains and the weather remained cloudy during early morning. The heliport kept getting delayed everyday for around a week due to the valley of Chialekh being packed with clouds, with zero visibility. This resulted in cancellation of flights by the IAF.

On one hand, I saw our LOs talking to all the concerned authorities numerous times every single day. On the other hand, people now away from their families for around a month were coming to the end of their reserve of patience. ITBP came to rescue again, filling our days with cricket matches, movie screening etc. They also had a library there. 🙂

Gunji had no network coverage. There was only one PCO inside the KMVN camp, the other was by ITBP. My days were programmed to be something like this: wake up really early in the morning and get prepared for the Heli sortie. Wait till the time the days flights were cancelled, go out for a short trek every single day to some place nearby. And though most were a bit worried, the people with whom I felt closest to turned out to have beautifully positive attitude.

Therefore while the others stayed put inside the camp waiting and getting disappointed in the process of getting a heli port, we ventured out into places we had never been to, to explore and enjoy every single day. And the days breezed passed turning into a week without much trouble to us. But the tension grew within the camp. It blasted into full flair when one of the yatris decided to move to Dharchula via the broken roads on his own. Then was some shouting and name calling but that felt perfect to get people to vent out their anger. And then some other people had another call with the higher authorities.

To be frank, I enjoyed my days stuck at Gunji very much, despite the leaves at work place being exhausted. And being at a pretty tight situation due to the same reason. 😀 We were accidental (but happy) Gunjiyals! 😀

We went to the village of Rongkong to explore the place more.

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Grand mom with grand daughter @ Rongkong

We were greeted by a gentleman who had come back to the village after staying at DehraDun for a long time and wanted to settle here to embrace the way of life of his ancestors.

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Drama queen…

We went back to the village of Nabi, to meet the people we met earlier.

On one of these days, we saw a huge boulder precariously balanced at the edge of the road and wanted to sit on it.

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Group on the chosen boulder 😀

While returning from there, we met a gentleman who had summited Mount Everest twice without oxygen, and was the national skiing champion for several years, a Gunjiyal.

A temple atop a hill on the opposite side?

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Temple atop a ridge

Lets go there for a spectacular view of the valley.

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The view

 

There was a familiarity with the people, the animals and the nature as a whole. We went for a cup of tea across the river to the village of Napalchu at a small hut most of the days. They had a tiny, and I mean tiny pup named Manni.

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Manni

He was the cutest furball you would see in your life, with the fur made of cloud. We used to watch him eat the biscuits.

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Village roads

Actually we took the biscuits because we wanted to feed him. 😀 He should understand Bengali really well, given that I had spoiled him with the sweet nothings on a daily basis.

On one occassion, we went to the village where we saw a small temple in middle of a lake, fed by the stream waters originating from Adi Kailash.

 

On one occassion, we went to the village where we saw a small temple in middle of a lake, fed by the stream waters originating from Adi Kailash.sdr

The water is from a stream originating at Adi Kailash as informed by the locals..

We went for a walk by the river and discovered the indigenous way of utilizing the kinetic energy of the stream for grinding the local grains.

 

My group, better travelled than me tells me that this is called as Gharat in the local language. And I see the flour made from the buckwheat. They inform me that this tastes different from the commercially grinded flour.

And then there was the lady in the shop who taught me a thing or two about attitude in life. She used to make the tastiest momos we had. She had a kitchen garden that had freshly grown herbs that were used in her cooking. And she worked on the fields. I had spoken her into allowing me to help her with the farming and she had after much consideration allowed me to accompany her to the field, which never materialised.

She was going to stay at Gunji during the winter months and was preparing for that, storing up the resources including food including dried veggies etc. I asked her about how she manages to do all the tasks and still look after her kitchen garden. All she had to say was that she knew if she did not do it herself, no one would do it for her. Guess the basic rules of life plays everywhere.

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Manmati in her garden

And then, there was the *Drumrolls* “Shruti ke Pathhar“, offcourse, named after my fellow yatri Shruti, from Chandigarh. A great friend and an amazing human being. 🙂 Also, a pahadi inside and out.

 

 

She once saw a huge rock in middle of the dried out portion of the riverbed. When she showed us the place, we all wanted to go there but due to some other engagements the  date kept getting pushed back.

On one fine afternoon we finally decided to go there. We climbed down onto the dried river bed and went up the giant rock and sat on it as we normally did discussing all things life. After a while we heard a sound, that of a chopper, for the first time in more than eight days!

A normal human being would sprint right from there to go back to the camp to find out what was happening. But we were in a state of bliss. None of us wanted to go away from this place so soon. So we stayed till it was late enough to go. I sat there almost falling asleep with the comfort of the rock. That was the best evening spent there. Hands down.

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The colourful texture of the rock

The next day we were airlifted from Gunji to the town of Pithoragarh. Guess life did save the best for last. 🙂

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Happy people @ Pithoragarh

Next part continued here…

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