Sunday, March 3, 2013

Harsil Diaries 3

Harsil Diaries Sitemap

Harsil Diaries 1
Harsil Diaries 2
Harsil Diaries 3
Harsil Diaries 4

Bagori village is noted for illicit brewing and all people from surrounding few villages come here to buy homemade liquor made by sugar or gur. There are 3 or 4 tea shops serving porters and herders, tea and (liquor also but behind a curtain). They also serve aalo-gram curry and a soup of goat and sheep intestines and also sometimes Kharoda Soup (feet soup). Upon returning to my friend’s place in Jhala, I buy my supply from a Nepali Mr. Mangal Singh. His home is facing the meadow where Helipad is situated. Then from his home, I leave the village from outskirts amidst the apple trees and then cross the extremely scenic suspension bridge of Ganges. Then I climb to the main road and Jhala is barely 3 kilometers from there.
Harsil Area

Harsil is a beautiful valley situated in on the bank of river Bhagirathi, at the confluence of the Jalandhari Gad and the Bhagirathi, nestled in the shadow of the huge mountain that lies at the head of the Baspa Valley (Himachal Pradesh). Harsil is connected to the Baspa valley of Himachal Pradesh, by several passes such as the Lamkhaga Pass. Apart from Matri and Kailash mountains, on the right side there is the Shrikanth peak behind which lies Kedarnath and in the rear there is Banderpunch.
Jalandhari Gad in Harsil
This sylvan hamlet is well known for its natural beauty and delicious apples. The winding shady roads, tall deodars, green willows, huge mountains, the violent Bhagirathi, apple orchards, streams, waterfalls and green meadows—all add to Harsil’s charms. There are little streams, big streams, roaring ganges, willow tress, with delicate bridges and forest trails you can follow to your heart’s content. Harsil lay on the old caravan trail between Tibet and India, when trade and marriages flourished between the two countries. Harsil has a sizable Bhotia population – many of whom use Harsil as their winter base. Sitting among the several river, I can spend hours under the sun here.
Harsil Area
After passing a roaring crashing river, here comes the fairytale village of Harsil. Highway is across the river. Another reason for Harsil to be still a pristine is because it is a cantonment. After passing bridges on the streams to romantic meadows and apple trees, I pass the ‘Wilson Cottage’ of the Raja Wilson, the 1857 British Army deserter, entrepreneur, timber merchant, mercenary who even minted his own coins! The original cottage turned to ashes in a fire, a poor replica is now a government house.
Harsil Area
A narrow street winds within the village and farms without logic to the GMVN rest house, descending to the river across the hotel lobby and dining hall. The main village road climbs up beyond the market to a fork. The right is military zone.
After passing the violently roaring blue watered Jalandhari Gad, I order a cup of tea from the first tea shop. There as the water is boiling I ask the man to crush off the poppy fruit and add it into my tea. He touches his ears and refuses. I use his knife to make small pieces of opium fruits and as I find his attention diverted, I put these in the boiling water of my tea, just for the medicinal purpose. It must work on my face because it is boiled. Indeed it works but for half hour.
I am back to the square one. I dunk my face in the freezing waters of Jalahdhari god, It works for half hour only.
I give up and look for a barber in the small market square of Harsil. There is a barber shop but luckily barber has gone to his sasuraal.
I am saved by the bell.
Jai Ganga Mai.
Harsil Area
After I eat parothas and then have another cup of tea I again hit the trail to Mukhba village. Trail climbs on the steep cliff from the Harsil. It levels up a bit near the small one room powerhouse from where water emerges from the pipes and fall in the Ganges below like a big waterfall. It is usually unattended and you can go in there to have a look at the turbines running with the force of the water. I relax at the power house for half hour and see a boy and girl running towards Mukhba village, they are holding hands and it is strange.
After ten minutes a crowd of villagers coming, laced with hatchets and canes. They ask me if I have seen a boy and girl running. Yes I have seen them but I point to the other direction on the ridge, “They have gone there.”
Whole crowd now runs towards the ridge.
Harsil Area
I resume my walk towards Mukhba village and on the way I find several youths preparing ganja from cannabis leaves by rubbing their hands. They offer me it for 2000 rupee a kilo. They say it will fetch 6000 rupee in Uttarkashi, 12000 in Rishikesh and 100,000 in Delhi and so on. They offer me a little to try but I refuse. I have a bad experience with ganja. One I was with 4 friends and one Mr. Vikas had ganza, this fellow started washing his clothes at night and kept washing for whole night. He beat up his clothes brutally to shreds. He was chanting, “I got to go to the friend’s wedding and got no clean cloth to wear.”
Luckily my friend owned the hotel and we moved to other room because he was making a great noise while washing his clothes. My other friend gave him his new jeans so he will wash it too but then he regretted because in the morning nothing much was left of the jeans.
Mukhba Village
Now this other friend a fat man Mr. Yogesh thought Vikas was stupid and nothing will happen to himself with ganza. Other day, now Yogesh took ganza in the evening. At night he found a cane and begun beating bedding.
He was shouting, “There was a sand storm and all beddings are sand covered. I must shake the sand off the bedding.”
We tried to reason out with him but he was waving that cane viciously and we knew that he will damage all the bedding. We had no choice but to lock him in the room and in the morning all beds were beaten to shreds. Cotton was sticking and flying all over and this cartoon Yogesh was still busy.
Ganja may work on my face and I may forget the sensation of a beehive sticking on my both cheeks but I may create lots of other problems for myself or others. I won’t touch ganja even with a ten foot pole.
Harsil Area
From this stretch of the trail you can see Jogin-I and Gangotri-III peaks. An extremely difficult trek goes from Gangotri to Kedarnath and passes through a notch between these two peaks (Gangotri III and Jogin I). That pass is called Auden’s Col because J. B. Auden discovered it in 1939. He was an English geologist and explorer, and an official with the World Health Organization. This trek is so treacherous that India Army brings its Everest Expedition teams to do this trek for a practice run to Mt. Everest because it offers similar dangers and landscape. In Gangotri I have seen huge expedition teams equipped with huge mountaineering loads to do this trek. And last year I did this trek with my friend Briana with just our backpacks, sleeping bags and a tiny tent. She visited India after breaking a bad relationship. She said either she wants to die or reborn so I brought her here – either we die or reborn. 2 Weeks in the snows, both things occurred everyday simultaneously. We almost died several times and we almost reborn several times. That requires writing another huge story. I have many stories to tell but I am apprehensive to begin writing a long story. Long stories I always want to postpone but write story stories and sometimes those short stories too become long.

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