Friday, January 25, 2013

Uttarkashi and Thalan (Ganges/Yamuna trail 1)

Ganges Yamuna Trail

Uttarkashi and Thalan (Ganges/Yamuna trail 1)
Uttarkashi to Agoda (Ganges/Yamuna trail 2)
Agoda to Dodital (Ganges/Yamuna trail 3)
High altitude meadows of Himalayas (Ganges/Yamuna trail 4)
Lost in the leopard territory (Ganges/Yamuna trail 5)
Lost in the mountains again (Ganges/Yamuna trail 6)
Arrival in Hanumanchatti (Yamuna Odyssey 7)
Dinner in Hanumanchatti (Yamuna Odyssey 8)
Yanuma Dreams (Yamuna Odyssey 9)
Hanumanchatti to Kharadi Falls(Yamuna Odyssey 10)
Yamuna in Barkot (Yamuna Odyssey 11)
हम भी मिले थे कभी जमुना किनारे. (We met by the river Yamuna) (Yamuna Odyssey 12)

I am in Uttarkashi and I am single and I have lots of time on my hand because at the age of 45 I am already like a retiree.
Near Vishwanath temple I see a man selling flutes and this give me an idea. I must learn playing flute then I can spend my rest of the life sitting under the sun on a mountain slope and playing flute just like the Hero Rajendra Kumar does in the ‘Geet’ movie. Well, he gets into lots of troubles but I won’t. I will only mind my business ie: flute playing. Anyway at 45, no pretty girl will be attracted to me so the chances of mine going rodeo are nil.
I buy this flute and walk on the Ganges ghat and try playing it. Whereas I am trying putting all my efforts to play the tune of Geet movie’s song: Aaja tuz koo pukare mere geet rae …. O mere mitua. ” Unfortunately my flute is only making funny pu-pu sound.
This is quite frustrating. I try hard but result is still the same pu-pu-pu. A party from Gujarat is having a good time, they move away from me like I have some sort of contagious disease.
Thalan area
Thalan area

I conclude that I have given a bad flute and I go find the flute seller and find him near the famous Vishwanath temple.
“भाई मेरे, इस टूटी बुन्सुरी को बदल कर दो, यह मेरे जिन्दगी का सवाल है ”
He takes the flute from me and inspects it thoroughly and says, “Kकहाँ से टूटी हुई है ? ”
“यह बजती नहीं, बस पु पु की आवाज़ करती है.”
He puts it to his mouth – aur bazna shuru. Wow!
Anyway I ask him to change the god-dammed flute and he changes it. I ask him to play this Geet movie song.
He plays on the flute:
Mere Mitwa, Mere Meet Re
Aaj Tujko Pukare Mere Geet Re, Mere Geet Re,
Oh Mere Mitwa, Mere Meet Re
Aaja Tujko Pukare Mere Geet Re
He plays it so nicely that crowd gathers there and applauds.

Thalan Village
I take this flute and this time I am determined to learn the secrets to play it; no matter how hard it takes, I will learn fluting and then retire in some mountain village near a river. For the rest of my life, each and every day I will eat 3 square meals and ten cups of tea and rest of the time (14 hours a day) I will play my flute. What left is goes to sleep it off.
Well then may be this magic will only work on some realistic mountain slope or by some river. It is just 11 A.M. and I make my fill at Patiala restaurant and then walk to ghat and cross the footbridge. There I catch a jeep going towards Manpur, well actually I hang behind the fully loaded jeep and it shoots off. I tuck my flute in my pants on the tummy. As it crosses Indravati River Bridge, I gradually make up my way on the top of the jeep among the goods that includes one goat and 2 roosters.
Jeep climbs the mountain and then make a scenic girdle around the Uttarkashi and then city disappears after Kutati Devi temple. When the intersection to Thalan village appears, I shout to the jeep driver to stop, I pay my fare and begin my walk to the village.
I love this village on the top. It is just 3 kilometers from this point and you can catch a passing bye jeep if you are lucky but I keep walking because I am set upon to find some slope where I can play my song on the flute. Road is ascending steep incline. Last year I came to Uttarkashi with a friend and his wife. His wife was not very happy to be in India, she was having a permanent running nose due to pollution. She is Indian origin but she does not feel India healthy and safe enough. Some how we dragged her to this village and there she declared, “If we are again coming here tomorrow, only on this condition I will spend another day in Uttarkashi. ”
Now my friend was very jubilant and upbeat for another day of parole.
There is just one tea shop at the outskirts of Thalan; fellow will make just anything possible for him on demand.

In those days we visited this village 3 times in succession and ate almost all eggs, Maggie noodles etc, he had.
So this way ascends steep towards the Uttarkashi side first and on the hairpin bend you can see the Uttarkashi and Ganges and then it turns to other way and here you can see the route towards Nachiketa Tal, and whole of Indravati River valley. Whole views from where Indravati is born and then its confluence with Ganges in Uttarkashi. It is April and noon is a bit hot already but as I am ascending, air is getting gentle due to height. Just before the village comes to sight, meadow slopes begin at all the sides. This used to be a green village, it is still green but water that fed to agriculture dried up due to over harvesting of the trees and grass. Rain water is soaked in the mosses and groundcover and trees and foliate protect the water to be evaporated. This same water seeps in the earth and comes out in the forms of springs below the mountains. So no more ground cover and not enough trees dried up the mountain so the water springs dried up. Village slopes have turned into scenic meadows. Some people do farming here after rains but yield is not even enough for the survival of any one family.
Thalan means the wide open space, so it this village. It is a wide open ground on the slope amidst the dwindling farmlands.
Just before the village I take up a place on the slope that is overlooking at Indravati valley and I begin my flute song singing. 2 donkeys are grazing near me they too begin singing. I am not here to do duets so I standup to move away but donkeys walk away. I resume my flute practice and in half hour I believe I am getting a catch on it then someone hits me with a stone. I look back on the road, school children are throwing rocks at me so I run further to stay out of their range.
Now I start my practice and then notice a cow on the slope because she also begins singing with me.

Way to Thalan
Well, I keep practicing my flute for another hour, sitting on the perfect slope, under the perfect sunlight and perfect surrounding. After 2 PM. My throat is all dry and perched. My cheeks are paining and it is time for a cup of tea. I return to road that is now totally empty because all school kids are gone now. I come to the shop and everybody is staring at me.
Tea shop owner says, “खूब धुन बजाई आपने ?”
“मैं तो अभी सीख रहा हूँ. आपको कैसे पता चला??”
“सारे गाँव को पता चला गया ? आवाज़ यहाँ तक आ रही थी.”
“कैसी लगी.?”
Shop owner don’t say any thing but a boy says, “यह बांसुरी आपके बस की नहीं ?”
“अरे भइ ,अभी कुछ टाइम लगेगा, आज पहला दिन है?”
“Tठीक है, लगे रहो. पर यह आपके बस की नहीं है.”
All people sitting around laugh to affirm their agreement. Neither I like their attitude nor do I agree to it. I mind my cup of tea and 6 eggs omelet and walk away towards some other place where these fellows cannot hear my practice that is now largely improving. The best place was to walk back towards Uttarkashi and then find some place by the road where only some occasional vehicle may bother me.
I take a vow – I will return to Thalan in a week to show them that they were wrong.
After one kilometer I found the best spot in the oak jungle. There edible ferns are growing and escaped the eyes of all others. I decide to harvest the fern later on, so begin my flute practice.
After 25 tries, I successfully play the whole song “mere mitua …”
Wow! I could do that although my cheeks were now worse. I guess I need some rest and also it is 4 PM. Sun is about to set behind the mountains. Soon it will be cold so I begin harvesting edible fern.

Dried out farmlands at Thalan
After I fill my pockets, I make a sack of my front part of shirt and fill the rest in it. When cooked they taste a combination of Bhindi (okara) and mushrooms. Locally it is called Lonkra and sometimes it is also sold in the market. In English it is called: The coy and edible sprout of the fiddlehead fern. They grow around shaded moist areas. Its season is very short and harvesting time is also very short. Just 2 days and then it develops into inedible fibery leaves.
Edible Fern also called as Lonkra, sold in the market.[/caption]
Well, as I am descending down and it is still sunlight so why waste time. I again start playing flute and now I am doing full songs.
A jeep comes at the bend and almost hits to the mountainside and driver shouts at me, “kahi aur jaa kar shoor machao.”
Well actually he is correct, I am now playing a new song that I haven’t become master yet so driver got distracted, so I walk away in embarrassment.
Not to take the chance I again start playing the same “mere mitua” song.
3 men are coming from below and they stop me. One asks me, “What are you doing?”
“Well, I am playing my flute, Why?”
“We were taking a shortcut but we got distracted by your fluting. We though some vehicle broke down and is rubbing and screeching on the road, and we took the road to offer our help.”
“Sorry that I distracted you?”
“Look Sir, this is jungle area and you may provoke wild animals.”
And then they see a jeep coming from Thalan, they stop it and ask the driver to take me to Uttarkashi.
“But I can walk to Uttarkashi.”
One man says, “No you should not, you must not.”

Road to Thalan and Indravati Valley
“You may create some serious trouble with your this broken bansuri. ’
“This is not broken. ”
“Yeah, yeah, this is broken. ”
Jeep driver looking at me says to them, “He was making noise at Thalan also. ”
They all force me into the jeep.
In ten minutes jeep passes Kutati Devi temple, it is evening now and whole Uttarkashi now looks like fireworks from this height. Ganges is still shining in the crimson twilight. Jeep makes 3 hairpin bends and comes near the valley bottom. After it passes Inderavati Bridge, I ask the driver to stop at my hotel.
I am staying at my friend’s hotel. As I enter in the gate I hand all the lonkra vegetables to my friend’s son.
At night over the bottle, owner of the Hotel and my best friend in Uttarkashi is with me and I show him my newly gained fluting skills. I sing the whole song – “mere mitua, mere geet” song as I am on the other song my friend stands up saying that he got to see someone.
“But you said you are free tonight. ”
“No I am not. ” He leaves.
Next morning, his wife comes to me and tells me that I cannot play flute in their hotel. Last night her husband got home, very disturbed and took to bottle and got very drunk and also 2 customers threatened to vacate the room. They rooms were changed to other room that was farthest from me.

Thalan village from the shortcut trail
“But I must play flute. ”
“Go play in the mountains, there are vast mountains around here. ” She ordered.
“But I played in the mountains also …..”
“Go play somewhere else.” She left, she is very angry.
Then my friend came to me and embarrassingly he told me that I cannot play flute. Friendship is one thing but playing flute is other.

Indravati Valley
As he was leaving he turned back and said, “You can go to Agoda near Dodital, my friend Dharma there will give you place to stay. And there you can do all the fluting you want. Dharma loves to sing so you can do duets there. ”
Idea was very appealing because I always wanted to trek to Dodital and then to Yamuna Valley behind the mountain pass. And also I discovered that people in Ganges valley are not even a bit inclined towards quality music. Also going towards Yamuna valley was very tempting now because that valley might love my fluting. Krishna was associated with Yamuna and he fluted.
But I pretend that I didn’t like the idea. I say, “I will close my doors and windows and flute in very low tone tonight. ”
My friend jumped and shoted, “No, you cannot do fluting here. My customers are mad, my wife is mad and my children are mad even our Goldy (dog) is mad. You can stay here only if you don’t do fluting. ”
“I will rather leave then. ”
“Thank you very much.”
I start packing.


  1. Hi Praveen,

    It is quite refreshing to read your articles, one of my friend introduced me "" and I started reading your Aduden's Col. I really enjoyed reading that.

    You a very good writer, you know how to keep readers on the same page :) which is a very difficult task.

    I work in a publishing house and after reading all the time in office I don't feel like reading any other thing, but now I have started enjoying reading :)

    On more thing why there is an error "error 404" coming in all the links of your articles while clicking on the links....on

    Keep it up.......good luck.


    1. Hello Ruchi,

      I was told to leave Ghumakkar because they said my stories are a work of fiction and Ghumakkar is no ground for the fiction.

      Well anyway. You can read my stories here on my blog. I possible would be drop me your email address.



  2. Uttarkashi is one the oldest city in India and is a famous pilgrimage centre. Also, the city offer various sports for adventure lovers such as ice climbing and mountaineering. Check out numerous hotels in Uttarkashi and have a memorable trip.


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