Mountaineering Travel

When mountaineers recount their experiences...

Spectacular view   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

One of the first stories one hears as a child in India is how sage Agastya subdued the Vindhya mountains, which were growing recklessly tall. Numerous tales and myths encompass the Himalayas and for mountaineers, trekkers and pilgrims visiting the region, this experience provides an opportunity to connect with this rich cultural history.

“Mountaineering is not just an adventurous trip,” says Rahul Ogra, founder of Mystic Himalayan Trails that familiarises travellers with the topography as well as the spiritual landscape of the Himalayas. “The rationale behind introducing these facets is that our clients (climbers) form a deeper bond with the mountains, protect the eco-system and respect the purity of the place,” he elaborates.

The team during trip

The team during trip   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Two months ago, Shravan Kumar Poshetty, Venkat S Bojanapalli, Acharya Shriram Gudhimella and Nilangini Netrawalker from Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Goa respectively accompanied Rahul and Harsh Thakur of mountaineering school ABVIMAS in Manali on an expedition to climb Mt Deo Tibba, located on the Pir Panjal range in the Western Himalayas.

They set out with 13 mules, three porters and a cook, from Jagatsukh in Manali to Chikka which dates back to the time of Mahabharata. “Chikka is considered the tapobhoomi of rishi Dhaumya, one of the purohits of the guru clan in Mahabharata,” points out Rahul. Dhaumya it is believed, abandoned the Pandavas after the Mahabharata war as they had committed a sin, and went to the Himalayas to do penance for not preventing kul hatya (killing their clan). “He established a small hermitage on the banks of a river referred to as Dhaumya Ganga in ancient texts (current base is Duhangan nala), does penance to invoke Shiva, who then blessed him. A swayambhu linga is still there.”

Snowcapped mountain

Snowcapped mountain   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

The story continues that Yudhishtira before being coronated as emperor of Indraprastha sends one of his brothers to bring Rishi Dhaumya, who agrees to return only when the protector deity takes charge of the holy site. A yagna is performed to invoke the kshetrapaal, naga deity Takshaknath (son of Vasuki, king of the nagas). “That is why this place is considered the abode of Takshaknath and climbers can see a clear imprint of a snake on a boulder,” he shares. This is clearly evident as a gigantic, deep crevice on the boulder. For Rahul, a Kashmiri who has been living in Kulu for the past 20 years this pristine Himalayan valley is his favourite because of its energy and the undertext of spirituality. “This is undoubtedly a very powerful place and when people climb these mountains, they also experience it.”

Besides camping at Chikka, the group halted at Seri, Tenta, Chandrataal and Duhangan Col. This route is marked by unique flora and fauna. Shravan, who is a trained mountaineer and yoga instructor from the city was amazed at the natural scenery and the medicinal herbs and flowers widely used for therapy and well being. “We saw wild thyme flowers (antiseptic), bhoot keshi, daru haridra (used in Ayurveda) and Chestnut trees.” The terrain also introduced them to birds such as the white-capped water redstart, Royle’s pika, sunbirds and also the red fox.

Tales of yore (left) An imprint of a snake on a boulder; The members in a selfie mode

Tales of yore (left) An imprint of a snake on a boulder; The members in a selfie mode   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

As sustainable travellers the team and support staff made sure trash was carried back in their backpacks. “All of us are trained to manage litter during these expeditions. We also educate and train trekkers in waste/litter management to keep their surroundings clean,” shares Shravan, who has a certification in wildlife forensics and Nature conservation.

This trip was certainly more than about adventure, fitness and a trip back to Nature. It took the travellers back to their roots in terms of mythology and Ayurveda. The trip was also different in terms of the topography covered and the way the local stories were unravelled. With temples few and far between, travellers learnt stories of the locations from its topography and the natural habitat around.

During the trip

During the trip   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Rahul’s Himalayan Trails not only conducts such expeditions but also work in conservation outreach in the Western Himalayas. “We try to explain about herbs and their medicinal properties during our expeditions so that there is a deeper understanding of Nature and how valuable these plants that have been used in Ayurveda are.”

This team, set out for Mt Deo Tibba, couldn’t complete the trek as the weather conditions became unfavourable. Instead, they climbed Mt Norbu which is at an altitude of 5370 metres. “The team that was trying to climb the mountain before us almost got wiped out in an avalanche. Mountaineering is about being prudent and not taking the risk at certain times,” says Rahul. “We climbers are in love with these mighty mountains. My only wish is that the sanctity and natural beauty of these mountains remain for posterity.”


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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 11:18:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/mountaineers-share-fascinating-experiences-from-a-recent-expedition/article28722292.ece

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