Monday, February 18, 2013

Ancient Pilgrims Trail in Himalayas Part VII

I, Harish and Pehalwan arrived in Uttarkashi from Budha Kedar.
Once I was trekking in Uttarkashi area towards Yamunotry. On the way was the last village named Kavva. It was the last village before the pass that separates Yamuna and Ganges Valleys. There I met a learned Pundit Ji.
He told me that Uttarkashi has two meaning both are equally significant.
First: It is the Kashi of North (Uttar)
Second: It is the kashi where you get answer (uttar) to all of your wishes.
Uttarkashi View

One of the most famous temples in Uttarkashi, Lord Vishwanath (Shiva) temple bears a description in the Kedar Khanda or Skanda Puran. The temple is 300 mts away from the local bus stand at Uttarkashi but still it is located in serene surroundings.
The history of this temple dates back to centuries and is believed to have been constructed by Parashuram. The temple was renovated much later in 1857 by the wife of Sudarshan Shah, Maharani Khaneti.
ViewsGanges Valley
So we arrived in Uttarkashi that day from Kumud.
Pehalwan had just barely enough money to survive. His sister lived in some village on some mountain near Uttarkashi he wanted to go there. He was a very prudent man and we insisted him to stay with us. I knew he wanted to drink milk and I was also very concerned about his self vomiting. I tried to talk it over again with him but he said anyway he has no money to drink milk but if he can drink lots of milk then he must induce vomit; because he must win this dungal.
Indravati Valley view from Hydroelectric colony
His mind was a childlike and I felt myself responsible for him. It was cruel and senseless to deprive him from milk that he wanted so badly so I took him to diary and made arrangement that he can drink as much milk he wised.
“Master Ji, when I will have my own buffalo, everyday we will save homemade butter for us for what you are doing for me.”
At night we again sat at that happy ghat by the roaring and crashing Ganges. No matter how tired you are this place makes you fresh and very happy.

Not really very happy actually because raging fires were clearly visible on the mountains in the dark of the night; all around us and valley smelled of smoke.
ViewsIndravathi River
Next day (Saturday) Pehalwan went to see his sister. He asked us to join but we declined. Suddenly it rained very heavy at noon. River Ganges became black and angry with the burned soot from the mountains. I was stunned to see the black water of Ganges. Inderavathi was also very black.
After several hours of rain, water color gradually returned to the normal.
Uttarkashi View from Hydroelectric colony
Pehalwan returned at 2 PM. He was drinking milk like crazy and was self vomiting. He looked pale and I was deeply concerned. He insisted that he was well. From his sister’s home he brought Mandua-ki-roti and homemade butter for all of us for our dinner.
Mandua is a verity of red millet (also called Finger Millet and in South India it is called ragi that is a slightly different species and contains more gluten) grows on the mountains. When ground is wet after rains, it is sown and rest depends upon further rains and luck. In mountains, people are able to grow it barely enough for their own use for some months. It tastes heavenly.
ViewsGanges just after the Uttarkashi, towards Gangotri
At Sunday morning, the Inmi-Dungal day. Pehalwan again missed his alarm. We woke him up and he again cursed his cell phone. Last day’s rain had quenched all the fires on the surrounding mountains so day was clear and water was also clear. We went to ghat first and then had tea in the market on our return. On the way Pehalwan drank more milk and did more vomits. We returned and Pehalwan did his last pushups on the hotel terrace.
He was all set to go to Inami-Dungal to win his buffalo.
“Pehalwan Ji Saab,” I said, “Now whole Uttarkashi knows that we are associated with you, so you must win or we will lose our face here.”
“Master Ji, Today; I will move heavens, I will move hell. I WILL.” Pehalwan replied.
“You should. You would, You Must and you Can.”
“You are coming to watch me fighting like a tiger?”
ViewsKashi Vishwanath Temple, Uttarkashi
He dressed up and ran to the venue because he was already late for the final registrations. We also left the room and had breakfast in the market and then went to the venue of Inami-Dungal but it was big crowd there. Whole town was filled with thousands of people and hundreds of pehalwans but none seemed fitter than Our Rustam-E-Hind Gama-Pehalwan. We spent some time in the grounds and watched some of the first wrestlings but then we left because we hated crowd. We were in the mountains to get away from the crowds so we went to have our walks on the mountain trails. On the road, vehicle after vehicle were going to Uttarkashi full of wrestling spectators. Many local pehalwans were also coming on the vehicles with their fanfare and accomplices.
We returned to Uttarkashi in the evening. Since our hotel was about the outside of the city, at the other-side river and also off the mainstream area so we didn’t meet anyone who could provide us the outcome of the wrestling competitions.
Ganges after Uttarkashi
We arrived at our hotel and outside tea shop was crowded with people discussing about the wrestling. As they saw us from above, coming down the hairpin bend of the road, they began clapping and we knew that Our Pehalwan won. Our chests swelled up and we were full of pride and glory.
But as we reached at the tea shop, they gave us the reverse of the news. Our Pehalwan was brutally beaten in the very first round by some least known local pehalwan who was half his size.
Uttarkashi view from Kutati Devi Temple
“Tumhare Pehalwan nae maar bhoot khai, bechara pitttha raha, maar khata raha, pur haar nahi maan kar raji tha. Aakhir mai to who bus dher ho gaya.”
We had a cup of tea there and asked the boy at the shop to sent tea and pakodas to Pehalwan who was probably mortified and without food. More people gathered there to tell more sad stories that our Pehalwan was brutally beaten because he was not giving up his fight. He was repeatedly falling like he was dead and then rising again and again and again. People said that it was quite a scene his returning to hotel in tears. He was bruised, swollen, all black and blue.
“ViewsView of Uttarkashi
We went to our room. Pehalwan Ji was lying on the bed. He greeted us with a faint smile.
He said, “You heard …….”
“Yeah, we heard. You fought like a tiger.”
“It all happened because I didn’t listen to you about self vomiting. Master Ji, I was very week there. When fight begun, I was about to faint, I was seeing black circles in front of my eyes even before the fight began.”
“Don’t worry. Man! it was just a game.”
He sighed and sobbed.
His phone rang. He said, “It is my wife. She is calling me today several times and I am not answering her, you please talk with her and give her the news or whatever. I have no face to tell this to her.”
I answered the phone.
“Namaskar Bhabhiji.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Pehalwan Ji’s friend. I am from America.” (To impress here)
“Where is he?”
“He is attending the party; they are throwing a grand party after the tournament is over.”
“Did he win?”
“Everybody won here. It was just a game.”
“So he didn’t win.”
“Well, there were several other pehalwans. Some rich fellows, who were raised on the diet of Kaju and Baadams and one of them took away the trophy. This competition was just a formality to give away the trophy to one of them.”
“Oh! But where is he now?”
“I told you that he is in the party. They are all singing and dancing.”
“Oh!, is he ok, is he happy?”
“Oh yeah, he is very happy, he made many friends.”
“Oh! I am so relieve to hear this. Tell him to give me a call. We were worried about him. This wrestling are is very dangerous and we are poor people. He does not give up his wrestling.”
ViewsIndravathi Valley, where I love to walk when I am in Uttarkashi
Pehalwan Ji was laughing now.
I suggested, “Man let’s go to Ganga ghat, there we will give you a grand massage at the happiest place on this earth.”
Foot bridge just above the city ghat
Yes, Uttarkashi ghat is the happiest place on this earth. Holy River, Mother Ganges comes running form the high mountains, crashing, roaring and bubbling. On the ghat you will never feel that you are in the midst of a town but far far away from some town and far far away from your worries and stresses.
This ghat heals.
End of this series.
And this is the true story.
Did Pehalwan win his buffalo ………………
More to come in next post including Pehalwan’s buffalo, Punarnava etc.
About this travel there are some final notes by the author in the next and last post.

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