Story Of A Small Village On Har Ki Dun Trek
When will we reach that place? Asked one of our fellow travelers out of sheer exhaustion.
In fact, that was the most frequently asked question (FAQ) during that journey. You can hear it coming out of different mouths at different intervals. The only point of differentiation was that who would be the first to utter that eternal question. And I think this settles the dispute forever: who is the best trekker? Speaking mathematically, the quality of trekking is inversely proportional to the amount of energy spent per kilometer in raising that question. Well, returning to the task in hand i.e to say or not to say when faced with that dreaded question on a pitiful face. Some preferred to ignore it just like you ignore someone’s fart in a gathering to make it less embarrassing. Others more generous (including me and those who knew the route) chose a very innocent way to reply, resembling what mothers do while feeding their children: Ek kaur aur khaaoge to chanda mama (pari) aayenge aur dher saare chocolate laayenge. It was paraphrased with a slight variation: Ek kilometre aur chaloge to Gangarh aayega aur phir bada maza aayega.
And then comes Gangarh, a tiny village en route Har ki Doon. It’s easily said than done. Its importance and significance cannot be judged merely from its appearance. It was a beautiful village no doubt, like most of the villages situated in the Himalayas. But there was something else which gave this village its peculiarity and its charm. Perhaps one of the reasons would be the built-up it achieves from the moment you start walking for Har ki Doon. It becomes the focal point of the trek and the discussion. You have to cross it before sunset upwards and do the night stay downwards. Well, it’s not mandatory for anybody to follow this time table. These are just wisdom words and not strict rules. It's only that hills become a haunting place in the night. From sublime poetry to the ghost story, the transformation is very smooth and that also at no extra cost. While going up towards the valley, it acts as a milestone for the day’s end, that we are about to reach the Seema camp and this feeling of ‘ about to reach’ gives the last push, the much needed Nitro to our legs. We saw it only in the passing, halted for the lunch on the periphery of the village, accumulated our store of sunlight and then made a move with a somewhat less agitated mind.
We got the chance to see the village from inside while returning from the valley as it was our venue for the night stay. We had to climb a certain height to reach Gangarh, situated on the other side of the river. After a while, we reached the house of a local where we had to stay. By the way, the idea of house stay was something new which we had not done before. Not to mention the stories which were told about things that could happen to you in Gangarh if you do certain things. We did all the things that were supposed to be not done and nothing happened. They even encouraged us to enjoy ourselves without any fear. Was it their generosity, or pure luck or something else? That night, we partied till late at night, had our dinner and were completely exhausted but couldn’t cross 9.00 pm. Somebody said on a lighter note that since it was their auspicious month of the calendar, human sacrifices were prohibited. Next morning we woke up to the sounds of the drum, which was a kind of alarm for the local people for the entire month of their festival.
There was another thing which was unique to the village. It had a temple of Duryodhana situated in the middle of the village. You can only wonder, how come these generous people have smiles on their faces, can worship Duryodhana, the symbol of ferocity (as per the standard Mahabharata edition). There was this village surrounded by predators( snow leopard and bears) from the top, the torrential river from below, having unpredictable mountains everywhere and to top it all, a Duryodhana temple in the middle and yet can afford to appear generous with smiling faces (even when they are killing). Perhaps our senses are not trained enough to make sense of all this chaos or perhaps they have become numb to reality.
Somebody can ask, why do you trek if it’s so mind-boggling and tiring? The answer is crude and to the point. When you loose sense of reality, when you think you can fly, when you talk only in terms of choice and freedom, when you believe in My life- My choice, then sometimes a tight slap on the face by your well wisher can bring you to ground again, to regain a sense of reality. Most people don’t prefer this way either out of its directness or because there’s no one left to slap them. Trekking (the way Bikats do) is the second best way since it can throw you at places totally unexpected and uncontrolled, where normal ways of discourse simply don’t matter.
When we were leaving the village in the morning, the atmosphere was heavy with grey clouds. There was a full possibility of snowfall. When we started, it began to drizzle and by the time we reached Taluka, it started raining heavily. It seems that rain washed our outgoing trails from the village just as a precautionary measure to avoid tracing since the auspicious month was for a month only. You may never know, they could have traced us for defiling their space. But that would be the plot of a different story, maybe the sequel of Badlapur.
Disclaimer : The statement about human sacrifice was said in a lighter note and it should be read like that only.
Watch Trek Video