Monday, May 27, 2013

Rudranath to Toli Bugyal – Rudranath Trek 5

Rudranath Trail Sitemap

1: Chopta to Mandal walk
2: Mandal to Anasuya Devi
3: Anasuya Devi to Hans Bugyal
4: Hans Bugyal to Rudranath
5: Rudranath to Toli Bugyal
6: Toli Bugyal – Dumak – Kalpeshwar

Next morning we walk back on the trail to a waterfall to take bath but water is too cold so we use minimum water.
Morning puja at Rudranath Temple begin at 9:00 am and we drag Trai and Company to the temple.
After temple visit, we all have breakfast of aalo-parothas. Madam is again given a cupful of goat ghee. Horse man is still here in Rudranath along with his both horses and Tari and Company are all set to return with him. We wonder how Memsab would mount the horse; she is even unable to walk. We suggest her to walk some distance and then mount the horse and she should again walk after the pass because then it is descend all the way. This time they will be going to Sagar, that way is a bit short and better with some more food stops.
We shake hands and as they are about to depart Harsh plays a cruel joke with them.
He says to Madam, “Did you eat goat meat at Panchganga bugyal yesterday?”
She cries, “Really, they had goat meat there? They didn’t tell us.”
“Since pilgrims don’t eat meat on their journey so they don’t tell these things to people. Otherwise people won’t even drink tea from that shop.”
First time we see smile on her face and now her eyes are beaming.
“They have goat meat, really?” – now she gets sad – “It might be finished by now.”
“Yeah, I saw them cooking goat meat in desi ghee tadka. How could it finish by now. Everybody comes here only and just two more people came here after us. They were cooking whole bakra there.”
Even Tari has a smile on his face now because she may enjoy her lunch and then may leave him alone for a while.
Priests relaxing at Rudranath temple

As madam is away, I ask Tari he might had taken a vow or two to visit Kalpnath Temple also since we are also going that way tomorrow. With tearful eyes, Tari grabs his earlobes and mutters, “No more vows. Never ever.”
“Man, you must tell this to Baba Rudranath.”
Tari faces the temple and pulls his earlobes.
Harsh says to him, “You should do sit-ups also, like they do in South India.”
Facing Rudranath – Tari pulls his earlobes and does five sit-ups.
Harsh cries, “Ata boy!”
Madam takes our suggestion and starts walking along the horses. We keep looking at them but then she is loaded on the horse and sits in some strange agonizing impossible posture and they disappear from our sight.
This is the last time we ever saw them.
May God bless Tari.
His fate is in the hands of Baba Rudarnath.
तारी –
तेरा हाफिज खुदा.
तेरा बिस्मिल खुदा.
From the accounts of historian Mr. Umaprasad Mukherjee, I was aware of a 5 feet by 5 feet statue of Vishnu situated in a small temple about 1 km away, beside a natural spring known as Vaitrani Kunda. According to him this is an exquisitely carved statue with the deity reclininng on Shesha Nag. It has now been brought to the main temple. The priest showed us this statue by the light of a solar lantern held up. It has a lotus springing from Narayana’s navel with a deity on the lotus, believed to be Brahma. The details are breathtaking as we see in the temples of South India. It is carved out of a single piece of stone!
There is a small ledge in front of this temple where there are a few stone face-shaped statues like Zulu war-masks seen on the shields of African warriors.
These are regarded as the Vandevatas. In a cave beyond Rudranathji are a few enormous and menacing weapons including swords and maces, as well as precious ornaments. These are believed to belong to the Pandavas hence this cave is also called Pandava Cholas.
Wild beasts like bears, leopards etc. regularly visit this temple though they are not known to have harmed any pilgrim. On the mountainside above this temple are a few smaller rock temples, these remind us of Ajanta-Ellora. These are all Shiva temples.
Across the drop in front of this ledge is vast grassland with a pretty shepherd’s hut and a flock of sheep that appeared as ants from this height. Beyond this short stretch the forests begin, only to get lost in waves upon waves of mountains. The sunrise on a clear day reveals beautiful ice capped mountains in the horizon. This temple closes before any of the other Panch Kedars, and during the long winter months Pujas are offered to the Deity from Gopinath temple at Gopeshwar.
On the way to Dumak Village
Rudranath Temple and surrounding view
There are many holy Kunds (Tanks) near Rudranath temple namely Suryakund, Chandrakund, Tarakund etc. The Baitarini, the divine river flows pass behind the temple. We have a brief ‘Nasta’ at a Choti near Rudranath temple.
We spend two spectacular days at the Rudranath and enjoy every moment of it. We see several pilgrims visiting this place but not really a crowd in any sense. Many people arrived here and brought with them the ration and provisions for this temple after their some certain wishes came true.
The occasional devotee comes to Rudranath to offer ritual obeisance for his ancestors, because at the Vaitrani River here, it is believed that the dead cross to other shores when entering other worlds. This is the only temple in India where the image of Shiva is worshipped as a symbol of his face. The priest stripped the angry mask off Shiva’s face to reveal a sublime, tender aspect of Shiva, unusual, serene and beautiful.
Now it is the time to leave this extremely peaceful and rudimentary place. We decide to take other way towards Helang on the Joshimath Road. Our target for today is walking 20 kilometers downhill and reaching Dhumak village.
For one last time we visit Temple and say our farewell to happy and jolly Priests and others. With heavy heart we leave temple village and after a bend we walk through breathtaking ridge and flower sprinkled meadows. As we are descending, we could see many peaks from this place as Nanda Devi, Dunagiri, Trisul and Choukhamba. It takes us barely 3 hours of relaxed walk to reach Panar Bugyal. We have arrived 10 kilometers from Rudranath.
Panar offers the awe-inspiring vistas of a flowery meadows where every inch is an implausible and post card beauty that enthralls the eyes. The entire landscape is speckled with wild flowers and it looks just like a flowery carpet of silky flower buds. Apart from this, we saw two very simple and basic, lovely picturesque temples and a pictorial settings of a pretty waterfall.
Pandva Caves
Usually Panar serves as the resting place for the trekkers who are off to Rudranath from this route. The trek through the grassy curves is refreshing and exciting since there are no marked trekking trails except that of some marks made by the shepherds. Trekking through the odd paths of deep silent jungles is very refreshing, the memory of which would last for a whole life. Since we are descending but for people going upwards, after this lustrous scenic halting, one has to face severe climb to Rudranath Temple. Panar is one of the most beautiful Bugiyals I have ever seen. It’s a sea of wavy grass occasionally dotted with red flowers. Cows and horses graze along the slope that gradually leads to Panchaganga River bed. Mountains meditate on the other side. They look so near as if a run would take us to the tops.
Bugyals on the way
Bugyals on the way
To linger around more, we make tea and after relaxing for an hour we leave this beautiful place. In another hour of steep descent in the emerald green terrian we reach Toli Bugyal. A few steps more, and the highland now slopes to a misty Lake called Toli Tal. A huge grassland sprawls before us The forest begins all of a sudden.
So much mis the other side of the Tal cannot be seen. Toil Lake seems like a pearl dropping from white blanket.
We sit on the wet grass to enjoy the scene. Suddenly it starts raining and then it stops. We are surrounded by a impenetrable mist. After half an hour, the veil of mist lifts and we can see what lies ahead. A forest rest house in ruins, in the distance is visible. At the backdrop of Toli Bugiyal are shadowy mountain ranges. The horses and cattle grazing look like a fairy-tale land. The play of mist, cloud, and sunshine offers us some fabulous drama of nature.
Bugyals on the way
Bugyals on the way
We descend to the Lakeside and a passage leads us to a shepherd huts. We see an old man outside. He is an always smiling old shepherd – Bakhtwar Singh. He says he might be 73 years old. He stoops as he walks, yet he is full of energy. He invites us inside. The hut is constructed stone on stone. Another adjacent hut is for his cows and buffaloes. There are three more shepherd-huts. We are surprised two of the owners are old women. They stay alone. We almost creep into the room. The little door is placed high and window-shaped. The room is partitioned by a low array of stones. The smaller part is for a new born calves. Bakhtwar serves us tea. As we sip sitting at the door, rain comes yet again.
It is the time for lunch, he asks ‘Khichri or Payasa?’ We opt for Payasa. Never have we eaten before Payasa in Garhwal in a shepherd hut at such altitudes.
Bugyals on the way
Bugyals on the way
He prepares Payasa with small grains and buffalo-milk. We request him to be easy on sugar.
It tastes heavenly. I have never eaten such Payasa before. So after the desert he prepares potato-spice. We are over-stuffed. We eat sitting at the door. He says it is prohibited to eat beside the oven fire.
We decide to spend our night here at this scenic place, he has sleeping arrangements for the travelers in his hut. Now weather is clear and we want to go out in this greenest meadow I ever saw in India. Bakhtwar Singh again give us a choice of just two things for dinner: potato subzi or toor-daal but we ask him to cook some meadow herbs. He is skeptical about it saying not many people like these things. But we insist and he said if he will find some time then he will go out to find those herb leaves. Anyway he gives us some sample leaves to find if we can. He doubts if we can identify these leaves. One is watercress and other I have no idea but it tastes pungent as some plant belonging to cruciferae family.
Bugyals on the way
Bugyals on the way
It is 2 PM, we wonder around in the meadows among the buffaloes, sheep and goats. We see many many flowers growing wild. Sun and clouds are playing hide and seek and suddenly sun goes behind the mountains and it is evening. We find many of those leafy herbs that Bakhtwar gave us as sample, we load up my day-pack.
Dumak Village
Toli Bugyal
We are at-least 2 kilometers away from the Bakhtwar Singh’s hut. As cattle begins to return, we too follow them. We all arrive at the huts at the same time. We hand the herbs to Bakhtwar and he is very happy about it. He never expected if we would ever find these.
Night is clear and cold. Bakhtwar Singh makes roties and saag of the herbs. He says he didn’t put any salt in the saag because these herbs carried their own salt. He serves us supper with homemade butter. Food is disbelievingly great. Bakhtwar Singh is a ware house of stories. He tells us many stories when he saw ghosts, wild beasts and heard Gods saying the praise to Lord Rudra.
On the way to Dumak Village
Bugyal near Rudarnath Temple
Lord Rudra is the most ancient God. Rudra symbols were discovered from Mohenjo Daro and Harappa diggings. In the ancient time there was only one God, lord Rudra, the protector of all animals. Then his second name as Pashupatinath emerged. Later on India subcontinents saw lots of immigration, it absorbed exoduses from many other parts of Central Asia. Every tribe brought their Gods in various shapes and decorations. Generous land adopted all people and all of their Gods here.
We have a sound sleep in the narrow dingy but warm hut of Bakhtwar Singh.
Lily of the Valley
Grows in the high altitude meadows of Himalayas in abundance
All parts of the plant are highly poisonous.
Christian legend
The flower is also known as Mary’s tears from Christian legends that it sprang from the weeping of the Virgin Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus.
Medicinal use:
Lily of the Valley is widely recognized as a cardiac tonic and diuretic. It is used in cases of valvular heart disease, cardiac debility and dropsy (it is usually recommended as a Digitalis substitute). It has strong diuretic properties, reducing blood volume and lowering blood pressure. It is also useful in treatment of chronic lung problems such as emphysema. A decoction of the flowers is useful in removing obstructions in the urinary canal, and it has been also recommended as a substitute for aloes, due to its purgative quality.
On the way to Dumak Village
Lily of the Valley – CONVALLARIA MAJALIS
by William BOERICKE, M.D.
Presented by Médi-T
Lily of the Valley
A heart remedy. Increases energy of hearts’ action, renders it more regular. Of use when the ventricles are overdistended and dilatation begins, and when there is an absence of compensatory hypertrophy, and when venous stasis is marked. Dyspnœa, dropsy, aneuric tendency. Anasarca.

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