Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mystery of Shilajit; Kedarnath Valley Part III

As I wrote in my last posts that along with others I harvested and purified shilajit in the Kalimath temple premises. My share was one third, and I lost that shilajit. But a priest gave me a small bottle of it that was from the same batch that we made. I walked to Guptkashi but it was a historic traffic jam there and all rooms there and on the roads were full. In the hope of obtaining a room I walked further 9 Km there a gentleman gave me a ride on his motorbike to Sonprayag. Sonprayag was the worse traffic jam scene I ever seen in my life on the mountains. I had no choice but to walk further.
I began my walk again from Sonprayag in the direction of Gaurikund.
Now valley became narrow and Mandakini river was a kind of a thousands of feet high waterfall. Water was crashing and thundering along the road.
Mandakini near Gaurikund
Mandakini River near Gaurikund

Road was very steep and I was extremely tired. My backpack now weighted double because it was all wet. My feet were in pain. Finally I reached Gaurikund in 2 very long and torturous hours.
Gaurikund is a very small place, sandwiched in a narrow valley, and it was full of people. Thousands of people were stranded there in confusion. People were fighting for just everything; fighting for food, for tea, for milk for their small children, for water and for medicine at medical stores. Everything was in shortage. No room for most of people. Tea was made without sugar or milk. No food was available because for the last 3 days no vehicle moved on the road to or from here. There was a hot-water spring but that spring tank was drained off and a crowd was struggling to have some hot water dripping from the springs.
I made a way rubbing shoulders with crowd in Gaurikund’s narrow lightless streets and it took barely 10 minutes to come across it. I was in bad shape, very tired, cold and wearing a thin night suit because whole of my backpack including all my belongings were wet. I felt like I was carrying a sack full of bricks. Each step was a Herculean step. My legs were paining and feet swollen.
Near Triyugi Narayan temple.
Near Triyuginarayan Temple
I started my walk on the trail to Kedarnath along with other hundreds of people, mules and dolies. It was extreme steep and dangerous path; some serious climb. Above my head the village of Rambara was visible at very high and everybody was wondering how they will climb that high in the cold night.
On way I had a couple of cups of tea. Tea was tasteless because of some cheap milk powder they were using so I asked for black tea but still they used the pot without washing it. Snow begun to fall and temperature went below freezing and now it was night. All tea vendors offer sleeping beds to people but all beds were taken. I could not get a place to sleep.
Kedarnath temple in Kedarnath
Kedarnath Temple in Kedarnath
It was some ordeal to keep walking not just for me but all others. People had great esteem and excitement towards their pilgrimage. It is a very demanding walk and I was already in the worse of my shape when I begun this walk. My shoes were also wet because I was not carrying any flashlight and I stepped into many puddles of snow and mud. I was still wearing a thin night-suit.
Begining of Alpine Meadow; 2 km before Kedarnath
Begining of Alpine Meadow; 2 km before Kedarnath
Finally I reached this hanging village of Rambara. It was total dark at this time. Lower portion of Rambara is a kind of strange temporary village. Poles were dug on the sides of cliffs and shops-cum-hotel-cum-restaurants were hanging in the air above the crashing river. I have been to many continents and many countries but this Rambara village is beyond hanging gardens of Babylon because handing gardens of Babylon does not exist now but this Rambara exists.
Before Rambara
Before Rambara
Village is 1 km long on the severe steep incline and it is a bazaar and was full of people at that time. Lanterns on the shops were the sole source of the light here. I kept asking for the bed at each hanging shack but none had it. Finally one restaurant said that only one bed was available for 300 rupee but I didn’t like it. I heard there were 2 Govt. guest houses. So I went to guest houses; they were located on the top of the village, but no room was available.
After Rambara
After Rambara
So at 10PM I walked back 1 km to the very place that offered me the bed. But that bed was gone or rather 3 people were fighting for it. So I made another circle of that village and I was near collapse state. Luckily someone was vacating a bed in a hanging restaurant and I jumped over the opportunity and took it. It was a long restaurant, and long side was hanging on the poles in the gorge and roaring Mandakini was under us. One needed to be careful where one placed foot because there were large holes in the floor and whole structure shook with the gusts of whistling wind. I made my way to the last bed in the faint light of kerosene lantern that was hung in the front of the restaurant.
Just after Gaurikund
Just after Gaurikund
Then I discovered why that bed was vacated. It was next to the toilet. Toilet, what toilet. It was just a curtain next to my bed. Each bed was about 20 inch wide, 24 beds in two rows and a 15 inch narrow passage in between. I was at the last bed touching the toilet curtain. Toilet was a hole in the wood planks. People had to go to the front to bring a water bottle.
Well Sir, I was in no shape to complain. When I paid for the bed, I paid for the food also. I fell on the bed and wore a smelly cover over me and tried to sleep. I was too tired to sleep and my whole body was in pain. I walked 40 Kilometers that day and climbed 6000 feet. Shop-owner came to me and asked for food and I had no strength to eat the food so I declined.
Guess what ….. it was a nasty shock to me when I discovered that the same Bengal party who took away my shilajit was also in that shed-cum-hotel-cum-restaurant. They took most of the cots in the opposite row from me and were making lots of noise. When they discovered that I was there they all laughed at me and made fun of me. Gang Leader shouted to me while dancing his eyebrows, “Nice Shilajit”.
Neither I had any strength nor was I capable to fight with them. Their ring leader tried to provoke me several times but when he saw I am not reacting he gave up.
Finally I fell to sleep and luckily nobody used toilet while I was awake because it was too cold to get out of bed. Last thing I remembered was that whole restaurant was shaking violently with the wind gust.
Shilajit sequence is not over yet.
To be continued.

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