Sunday, March 3, 2013

Harsil Diaries 4

Harsil Diaries Sitemap

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

I walk from Harsil. I am on the way to Mukhba village where Deity of Ganges rests in the winter months when Gangotri temple is closed. Trail makes a dip in a waterfall and then rises again to the ancient village of Mukhba. First I pay my respect to the Gangotri temple where Deity of Ganges is brought in the winter. This village is marvelous with abandoned and ruined, huge wooden buildings. They say in the l991 Earthquake, most of these buildings became unstable. Square around the temple has a maze of these wonder buildings. Last year when we (I and Briana) came here, Holy Deity was here in the temple and two gentlemen priests told us to spend as much time with the goddess for as much we wish. They also presented us dried out Bhramkamal flowers. Not even that, they also brought us tea and food from their homes.\
Dharali Area

I leave the maze of the streets of this village and descend down. At the outskirt of this village are several trees of wild khurmanies (Apricots). They are bitter-sweet so not many people eat these fruits and it lies rotting under the trees. Anyway I love to eat these fruits and eat as many ripe ones I can find. Children help me to get these fruits by their catapults. In local language it is called Pappaopuppe. Some these trees are growing in the Sri Krishna Ashram in Gangotri. After the fruit is rotten, villagers gather its seeds to squeeze oil. This seeds oil is called bitter almond. Bitter almond oil contains Hydrocyanic acid and in short quantities it is considered as a tonic and in injected more then a spoonful, it is mortal. It contains hydrogen cyanide. People use this oil to add into other oils for massage to the babies and they make facial creams with it. In South America it is used to flavor cakes and ice-creams.
Dharali Area
Wow! Bitter Apricots’s oil reminds me to use this thing on my face.
At a water tap in the village I find a girl washing her hairs, I show her some apricot pits and ask her, “Iskaa tel milega?”
She yells, “Go away.”
Well it is not that she is impolite but I look like a hooligan in my under construction beard, so she treats me like a hooligan. After some days I will be looking a different gentleman. I must try this oil, and cyanide in it may sooth that bitchy feeling.
I return to the village and find some people near the temple square. I ask them for some drops of the oil and one man goes in his home and brings me a spoonful that I apply on my cheeks. Burning feeling and cyanide smell diverts my attention. I am ready to leave, but this man asks me to wait because his daughter is making tea for me.
She brings tea with some steel glasses, we are 5 people share that tea. When she returns to pick up glasses, she gives me a small bottle full of this oil as a gift.
I say thanks and unfortunately I don’t have camera otherwise I pay off for their gratitude by taking their pictures and then I mail them their pictures.
Potentized oil is a homeopathy remedy called Hydrocyanic Acidum.
Prussic Acid
One of the most toxic agents known. Convulsions and paralysis express the action of this remedy. Spasmodic constriction in larynx, feeling of suffocation, pain and tightness in chest, palpitation; pulse weak, irregular. Singing sensation at the epigastrium. Hysterical and epileptic convulsions. Cyanosis. Collapse, due to some pulmonary condition not a cardiac collapse. Catalepsy. Cholera. Stage of collapse. Coldness. Tetanus narcolepsy.
From here trail makes a steep descend to the river Ganges and then after passing a suspension bridge and a short walk through apple orchards I again hit the road at Dharali Village. There are seven small lakes on the top of Dharali village and that area is called Sat Tal. Whosoever visited that area returns mesmerized. I never did that trek so far. On the way itchy bitchy feeling at the peak and I walk to the Holy Ganges and dunk my face again in the sandy waters and this works for the time being.
Ganges deity returning to Mukhba to spend winters
I have lunch at Dharali village. Across the river Ganges is the Mukhba village on the mountain. It is also called Maika of Godess Ganges; it is where the deity arrives at the day of Diwali to spend winter months.
Yak in Dharali Area
This used to be Yak area but most of the Yaks are gone. As now this valley is 9000 feet high but it is still rich and fertile. Rajmah or this area are famous and fetch as high as 200 rupee per kg in Uttarkashi. This area grows prized rajmah and potatoes. Yaks are to be left alone for grazing but then they destroy crops so they became pestilence. They were sold to Tibetans for meat. If you are lucky you may see one or two yaks here in the village. Mukhba is the last village in the valley and after this is all temporary. During winter ways close. Military keeps the road open year around till the middle of Sukhi Mountain where Military fuel depot is situated. People of Mukhba, Dhrali and a couple of other villages above Harshi, they all walk to Sukhi to fetch the transportation in winter months. In winter’s road stayed closed after Harsil. Even in Harsil I have seen 10+ feet of snow in April.
Dharali Area
If you arrive in Dharali village at the end of June or close to the Monsoon, you can witness a spectacular phenomenon of cloud making. Suddenly you see the azure sky in the south of the valley (down the river) and then suddenly you find clouds taking birth in the thin air and then suddenly they thicken up and blacken up and then thunders. Then suddenly they vanish as they move back to low pressure warm area and sky is again azure. I spend hours witnessing this scene.
Well Sir, I give myself a couple of slaps because I thought some bee is there. Enough is enough I must find a barber.
Again by the grace of Ganga Mai, there is no barber. Good for me then. God is creating all the circumstances for me to have a beard.
Dharali Area
No Sir, I must find a barber. People say at Bhairon Ghati, there is one Army Nai who gives haircuts and shaving to local people to make extra money.
One suggests me to apply Yak’s fresh dung on my face because they do it on their itchy skin. I don’t like this idea but brace myself to walk to Bharon Ghati.
From Dharali village I walk and road begins steep ascend under the deodar woods till Bhairon Ghati and no tea shop or anything till Bhairon Ghati. Near Lanka Chatti which is about 10 kms from Dharali I cross the spectacular bridge over the Bhagirathi. From this bridge the prettiest colors of Ganges are seen at the Bhairon ghati where it is joined by a blue river Jadganga from Neelong range and Tiber just 30 kms from Tibet border. This bridge is a marvel over a very high and narrow ravine. Probably it is 500 feet high from the river. Way below the river one can see the broken and abandoned old steel pedestrian bridge for pilgrims built be Frederic Wilson.
Name of Frederic Wilson reminds me of the history of this place.
Frederick Wilson escaped from the British army during the Afghan war in 1842 and arrived in Mussoorie to escape capital punishment.
He visited Raja of Tehri and asked him for refuge.
Dharali Area
But Raja refused to accommodate Wilson because he was himself under the protection of British. Wilson escaped to the mountains and ended up in Harsil, a remote beautiful village on the banks of the Ganges. He married a very beautiful local pahari girl by the name of Gulabi. He built a fortune out of the export of skins, fur and musk. This was the time the British were building the Railways in India and there was great demand for quality wooden sleepers for the rails. He married one other village women and built a lumber empire for himself in order to supply the British with sleepers for the new railways being built in all over India Subcontinent. In doing so he became one of the richest men in India. It is said that Rudyard Kipling based his book The Man Who Would be King on Wilson.

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