Sunday, February 17, 2013

हम भी मिले थे कभी जमुना किनारे. (We met by the river Yamuna) Yamuna Odyssey 12 (Epilogue)

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)

My instincts wake me up at 4AM in Barkot. in the morning and she is snoring. She leaves all problems upon me.
Hotel main gate is still locked so I make my way from other roof and come down. One man is about to start his tea stall and I take his first cup of tea. A jeep arrives near the jeep booking stand and my friend tea stall owner helps me to negotiate for the jeep.
I book this jeep to Yamuna Bridge on the condition that we will be taking whole front seat along the driver and he can fill up rest of the jeep. My other condition to driver is to stop the jeep at Nainbagh because that village is famous for its authentic Garhwali cuisine and food. At Jamuna Bridge we will take our chance to find other transportation to Vikasnagar. I return to my hotel and bang hard on the gate to get it open by the Halwai. In the freezing April morning he is still wearing only a kuthca.
We leave behind Barkot and it is still a bit dark. Silvery Yamuna is shining in the valley.
On the way driver fills up the jeep with Dehradoon passengers. He will go via Mussoorie but make a 2 kilometer diversion to drop us at the scenic Yamuna Bridge. Road is empty and driver drives very fast. Whole way we follow out beautiful Yamuna.
We arrive at Nainbagh at 7 in the morning and we eat parothas there with famous cadhi of Nainbagh. Breakfast turns out heavenly. Driver still needs half hour to get the tire repaired and we both could not resist the temptation to go down to Yamuna. We sit at the pristine clear and bubbling waters till driver shouts us to return.
A new route from Nainbagh to Uttarkashi is being under construction what will reduce the distance to Uttarkashi for more that 50 kilometers. This route will pass thought the village of Banchaura. This route traverses thought the high ranges in the north of Nag Tibba area. Some daring jeep drivers are beginning to use this route but it is still not fit for vehicles.
We fly out from Nainbagh and drives drops at Yamuna Bridge at 9 AM.
So far so good.
I love Yamuna Bridge (name of this place is also Yamuna Bridge.

Barkot area
After a soda to relieve mountain travelling sickness we come down at the river. Near the way to Yamuna is just 4 shops and that much is Yamuna Bridge. Other side of mountain we can see road going to Mussoorie and a couple of villages in the green stepped farms.
Water of Yamuna is blue, crystal clear and gentle here. This place is beautiful beyond words. Amazingly water warms up as it arrives here whereas water of Ganges is still cold as it arrives in Haridwar at this time.
We take a bath in the river. We wade across the river several times but it is dangerous. One must avoid whirlpools near the water mill area at the other side and also getting hurt on the rocks could be mortal because current is very fast and rocks are always slippery. It seems like you are in the green cup of the valley. In front of us is the mountain where the village of Naagthat is. Once I walked from Yamuna Bridge to there and then to Chakrata. In those days I was with a friend of mine and we both stayed at Yanuman Bridge. One restaurant used to give us cots and bedding and we use to put cot in the middle of the road along with all others.
Those were good old days.
Three times I shout for cup of tea in three hours. Now it is noon and we must leave. We pull us together to leave and pack our belongings and come on the road.
We again get lucky; one goods jeep going to Vikasnagar, driver puts us in the back luggage area. We sit over the cardboard boxes.

Ancient village in Yamuna Valley
We see the last of the Yamuna in the mountains. Near Vikasnagar we as well Yamuna leave the mountains and it is hot now. Near Dakpatthar, Tons river meets Yamuna. This river brings water from the Rohru (Himachal side). This confluence is an exceptionally beautiful place on this earth.
Lichi orchards begin at the banks of Yamuna. We are lucky to be in the open jeep and road is all broken up so we shake a lot but all goes fine and at 1. 30 PM we arrive in Vikasnagar.
We eat grand lunch at Vikasnagar and then catch another bus to Paonta Sabhi. We are again with Yamuna for the most of the way. Near Paonta, Yamuna water is all emptied into canals.
Yamuna River starts dying here except some barrage escaped murky water.
Bus drops us at the Yamuna Bridge that serves the border between Himachal and Uttranchal. We walk across the bridge and arrive at the grand Gurudwara dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh Ji (10th Guru). We both wear scarves on our heads and enter in the Gurughar.
We are given a room for night stay and then we are directed to the Lungar Hall to have tea and snacks first because tea is ready.

Yamuna Bridge near Mussoorie
We have tea with pakodas and then search for our room. Luckily we are given a river facing large room with many beds. We arrange our belongings and walk to the prayer hall and sit there. Music is great and a treat to listen. I love Gurudwaras and music becomes an automatic prayer there. Whenever I listen to good music in a Gurudwara, I spend hours sitting there.
We return to our beloved Jamuna. It is very sad to see the murky, stagnant water full of dead moss. We walk in the river but only stir lots of black dirt in the water. Our feet are now dirty actually. We sit at the steps and wait till the sunset because a signboard says that aarti is done at Sunset.
At sunset we join Yamuna aarti and then we return. We explore the bazaars of the small town Paonta Sahib. After many days gap Briana finds ice-cream and makes her fill. I am not a fan of anything that is made of milk.
In dinner we eat in Langar Hall. Food is basic but healthy.

Barkot area
Then I spend some time volunteering at dish washing station and she leaves me alone and returns to the room and sits at the terrace. She watches at the distant mountains with tearful eyes. When I join her I find her crying.
She is crying for Yamuna’s condition.
She is crying for missing these bygone days.
A paradise is lost.
Then she gets into a fit of hysteria and screams at me, “You don’t commit.”
I have learned to stay silent as such moments. I am deeply worried for her and I understand her agony.
It was my entire fault anyway.
I should have bidden goodbye to her although forcibly; right where our trail ended in Hanumanchatti.
What I did; I gave a lollipop to a small child and then snatched it back.
My way of life suits me only.
I remember her telling me that her father worked two jobs and her mother worked long hours as a waitress to make her a surgeon.
I restrain myself committing, she cannot not decide alone.
“Briana – wait six months.”
She is a bit mallow now. “But you must try to make it happen.”
“I will do anything that you will order me.”
I am a master of postponement and I know that in six months, everything changes.
In six months everything changed.

Yamuna in Barkot area

Yamuna in Barkot area
From Paunta Sahib Gurudwara, we again walk to Yamuna at night.
She is crying. She touches the waters of Holy River at one last time.
Water is not same.
We return to our room.
But nobody is aware of my own sorrow.
My sorrow is greater and heavier than the massif of Bandarpooch.
Flutes are available in Paonta but Yamuna is terminally sick here.
She is not singing or talking from at this point.
Why bother about flute now.
Yamuna Odyssy ends here.

Children in Barkot old village
Next day we took a bus to Yanumanagar and then a passenger train to Ambala and then an express train to Delhi.
We arrived in Delhi at evening.
Briana wanted to touch the waters of Yamuna in Delhi.
Because Yamuna has become her Godess.
I didn’t let this happen.
Yamuuna is dead in Delhi.
Full song of the movie “Geet”
Namaskar to you all.
Jai Yamuna Mai.
Jai Ganga Mai.
हम भी मिले थे कभी जमुना किनारे.
Geet film was later remade into the Telugu film Aradhana casting N. T. Rama Rao and Vanisri. This was the longest running film in Sri Lanka’s history. I ran 604 days at Crown Cinema Colombo.
What happened to Mr. Naresh Samwal
On my last visit to Uttarkashi, we (I and my cousin Harsh) were at the city ghat.
A dark complexioned man, who looked like a skeleton came to us. He was drinking at noon and had a half bottle in his pocket. He gave us his visiting card saying if we are interested in any trekking expedition to Dodital or Dyara Bugyal etc. and he can take us there.
Name on his card was Naresh Samwal. Then I looked at him and indeed he was the same Naresh Semwal who met us in the mountains and mistreated us.
I asked him and he confirmed that he was the same Naresh.
“Man, what happened to you. Your color and your body?”
He said, he took a trekking expedition from Gangotri to Badrinath via Kedartal and things went seriously wrong on the route and somehow he made it back and somehow he is still alive.
I didn't ask him any further details of his mishap, neither I was interested in him.
I wrote this story very fast, in five hours; and as it happened; to the best of my memory.
She ordered me to change her name.
Our Beloved River Mother Yamuna the daughter of Sun God, Surya, and sister of Ganga and Yama, dies in Delhi while she is on the way to meet her sister Ganga at Prayagraj to make holiest confluence.
Your love cherishes over our lives till Paonta where you get terminally sick. The sound of your voice is a new music that brightens our days with you. Whenever we enfold you in our gaze, joy of life enriches. Your days here are brief and your spirit is live, awake, and total.
We need to weep our loss.
This whole series is dedicated to Mother Yamuna.


  1. प्रवीण जी.... ये पूरी कहानी पढ़ कर मै वास्तव में रो पड़ा... आप एक महान लेखक हो... कुछ न कहते हुए भी बहुत कुछ कह दिया...और बहुत कुछ कह कर भी छुपा लिया..

    आपसे मिलने की इच्छा और तीव्र हो गई है.. क्या वो अंग्रेजी कन्या अब भी आपके संपर्क मे है..और क्या आप दुबारा उससे मिले ???

  2. Hi Praveen!

    This is another saga of your travelogue which I read fully and got totally engrossed into it. You have mastered the art of story-telling, really awesome! The most interesting and best part of your trekking which I got attracted to is solo treks without any guides / porters and with your own maps n pictures of the trek routes. This sounds quite awfully scary white trekking at higher altitudes of Himalayas where weather n temperatures are misguiding and misleading most of the time…

    Relishing on authentic Garhwali homemade cuisine adding Himalayan spices and herbs made by local people is another point I have noted down and want to try out while trekking next.

    Your connect with local Garhwali populace, carefree attitude, your passion for flute playing and intense desire to get a new replacement, mischievous, humorous and funny comments by people made us laugh too simultaneously…your love for nature is seemingly admiring!

    Hope you will be exploring new trek routes in months to come and …please do drop a line in intimation about your next visit to this beautiful and lovely Himalayan country…

    …and do convey my ‘Hi’ to Briana who has been the most interesting and lovely person right from her intro in chap-4 till Gangotri – Kedarnath trek altogether…

    My best wishes to both of you…


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