Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Technical Climbing

Climbing peaks around Manali, Himachal Pradesh India.

Friendship Peak- 5289m

Friendship peak is situated in Pir Panjal range with height of 5289m. Road head is Solang Nala which is main town in Solang Valley-15 km. from Manali.

Peak Type
Rock & Snow & Ice.
Knowledge Required
Knots, Ascending and Descending on Snow, Walking in a rope, Use of ice axe & Crampon.

Name of item and quantity required per person for climbing.
Climbing rope 1
Snow sack 2
Dead man or boy 1
Climbing helmet 1
Torch 1
Seat harness 1
Rope or tape sling 1
Gaiter 1
Crampons 1 pair
Mittens 1 pair
Pulley 1
Plain carrabineer 1 pair
Locking carabineer 3
Jumar 1
Ice tubular pitons 2
Rock pitons 3
Rain sheets 1
Climbing Shoes 1 Pair
Rucksack 1
Crampons 1Pair

Personal items

Wind proof suit 1

sun glasses 2

Monkey cap 1

Gloves 1 Pair

Nylon socks 2 Pair

Sun cream 1

Swiss knife 1

Mass tin 1

Dry fruits (cashew & almonds) 500 gm

Hat 1

Personal first aid box 1

Please note: All the items mentioned above are availabe on rental basis also.

Climb Itinerary

Like last year-again we are e booking climbing in Himalayas where you will be provided all infrastructures to climb this 17200 ft. peak. If you are having high altitude trekking experience- just contact us ASAP and get booked for climbing with us.

Duration: 11- 12 Days

Most frequent Climbing Plan:
Day1: Chandigarh/Delhi- Manali (1900 meters/6000ft)

Day2: A short trek around Manali

Day3: Manali –Dhundhi ( 2900mts, 10550ft) 15 km drive to Solang Nala, than after 7 km easy trek to Dhundhi, over night in alpine tent.
Climbing grade- easy.

Day4: Dhundhi – Bakarthach (12000ft, 3900mts- 6 km 3 hrs, through the land of shepherds)
Climbing grade- easy, moderate slopes.

Day 5:Bakerthatch- day for acclimatization/ techniques practice of ascending, descending or self arresting practice on snow, technique of cramponing.

Day 6: Bakarthach- camp 1 (14000ft 3900mts) 5 hrs climbing through slops, Glaciers moraines.
Climbing grade –easy, moderate.

Day 7: camp 1 – camp 2 - (16000ft, 5300mts- 6 hrs climbing.
Climbing grade slabs, glaciers

Day 8: Camp 2 / Summit attempt- (7 hrs climbing or descending on heard packed snow or glaciers.
Climbing grade- moderate, glaciers difficult.

Day9: Reserve for summit.

Day 10: Back to Dhundi.

Day 11: Back to Manali.

Day 12: Back to Delhi/ Chandigarh.

Experience required

You do not have to have any experience of climbing although exposure of high altitude trekking is necessary. Knowledge and use of climbing gear will enhance your enjoyment and comfort ability -although we will provide you resources and guidance to climb. Start jogging /running and work out for at least a month before you climb.

Mount Ladakhi / Chatidhar- 5500m,17900ft

Ladakhi Peak

Moderate level of peak which requires a little bit of climbing experience like use of mountaineering equipment and walking in snow and ice. This is certainly not for beginners. If you are first time climbing in Himalayas or climbing first time-choose Friendship peak.

Peak Type
Rock & Snow.

Name of item and quantity required per person for climbing would be same as mentioned above.

Most frequent Climbing Plan:
Day1: Chandigarh/Delhi- Manali (1900 meters, 6000ft)
Day2: A short trek around Manali.
Day3: Manali –Dhundhi (10550ft 3100mts) “15 km drive to Solang Nala, than after 7 km easy
trek to Dhundhi, over night in alpine tent.
Climbing grade- easy.
Day4: Dhundhi – Bakarthach (12000ft, 3600mts- 6 km 3 hrs, through the land of shepherds,)
Climbing grade- easy, moderate slopes.
Day 5:Bakerthatch- day for acclimatization/ techniques practice of ascending, descending or self arresting practice on snow, technique of cramponing.
Day 6: Bakarthach- Beas kund “saintly lay of sage Beas” (13000ft 3950mts) 3 hrs climbing through slops, Glaciers moraines.
Climbing grade- moderate, glaciers.
Day 7: Beas Kund / day reserve for acclimatization/ learn techniques of climbing, ascending, descending, self arresting practice on snow or cramponing.
Day 8: Beas kund – camp 1 (16500 ft 4900 mts Crossing Shitidhar col and establishing camp Incredible sight of Hanuman Tibba ,seven sisters peaks of Dhola Dhar range looks awesome.
Climbing grade- moderate or slabs.
Day 9: Camp1 / camp 2 -17500ft, 5225mts (camp on the top of the Raigarh glaciers
Climbing grade- moderate slabs (ice or hard packed snow)
Day 10 camp 2 / Summit Attempt/ Beas kund (18500ft, 5500mts)
Climbing grade- moderate, difficult (climbing on snow or rock)
Day 11: Back to Dhundi.
Day 12: Back to Solang Nala/Manali.
Day 13: Back to Chandigarh and on Day 15 you reach Delhi.

In case you encountered bad weather- we shall be providing you two spare days for climbing and you shall not be charged for these.

We can arrange everything you need for climbing, you are required to bring only your 'climbing shoes'.

SHITIDHAR can be climbed with good pair of snow shoes and we will provide you porters, tented accommodation, local mountain guide, equipment along with vegetarian food.
Your stay in hotel is also inclusive in quote and there are no hidden charges as all taxes and relevant levies are also inclusive of quote.

Seven Sisters - 15000ft-16250ft
Seven Sisters

Road Head: Manali / Solang Nala

Height: 15000 ft to 16250ft.

Peak Type: Rock & Snow Knowledge Required: Ascending and Descending in Snow.

Climbing Plan

Takeover Point Delhi/ Manali

Day 1: Travel from Delhi/Chandigarh to Manali).

Day 2: A short trek around Manali, evening free to explore market.

Day 3: Trek to Dhundi- after break fast 15 km drive to Solang than start trek to Dhundhi (10550ft, 3100mts (6 km. walk)

Day 4: Dhundhi/ Bakarthach (1200ft, 3900mts) 3 hrs trek to Bakarthatch through the shepherd Land.

Day 5-6: Bakarthctch/ Attempt/ Baker thatch. The beautiful summit of Dholadhar” 16350ft

Day 7: Back to Solang Nala/Manali.

Day 8: Back to Delhi/Chandigarh.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Through the Indian Trans-Himalaya

Parang-La trek

27th July – 03rd August, 2009

The land is so barren and the passes are so high that only the best friends or fiercest enemies would want to visit us.

- Ladakhi proverb

The barren Himalayan land of Ladakh, with its inhospitable terrain has been a stimulant for adventure lovers all around the world. The trek from Spiti to Ladakh over Parang-La is a voyage into heaven; also it is a test of fitness to march over 5,578mt (18,300ft). The waters of Tso-Moriri changes colors as the day progress and the barren, snow capped mountains resemble it with an imagination of an artist. Walking over the high mountain passes and revolving the prayer wheels of the fascinating monasteries, words cannot describe its all about experience.

Last month, I also took a remarkable voyage through this awestruck and highest mountain system of the world. Though the trek was to start on 27th July 2009 but we reached there one day in advance from Shimla.

Shimla to Kibber village (4,205mt), the starting point of the trek, is 15- 18 hours of drive through the rough Himalayan roads. Due to some unwanted delays we could make till Tabo for the first day. Tabo wraps up a 1200 years old rich Tibetan Buddhists culture and tradition in expanded complex of monasteries. Continuing further, to Rangreek, a small village at the bank of river Spiti, we met rest of the five Dutch nationals who were the guests for the trek with us. Later on we drove up to Kibber for overnight stay.

They all are members of a Dutch social organization, which adopts an area for five years. They organize medical camps in the villages around the area and distribute medicines to the public, they mainly emphasize for the welfare of the community especially children to these forgotten Land of northern India.

Day 01

The dawn broke behind the snow clad mountains and after breakfast the crew set ready for a week long march through some of the most stunning landscapes and highest passes on earth. I, along with my colleagues Kavi, Jawahar, the cook, and there were three other Horsemen and ten Horses with our five guests. From Kibber we descended into a deep gorge, Shilla Nullah, which pours the glacial deposits of Shilla peak. This is the highest peak in Himachal Pradesh.

Advancing gradually up, we came across small terrace farms loaded with green peas Dumle, a fertile patch of land with abundance of water for irrigation. The sound of the horse bells, walking uphill was in perfect harmony with the solitude of the place. Three hours of serious walk ended at a flat ground on the mountain ridge, 4,740mt, and this place hosted La-Darcha, a famous ancient trade fair held by Ladakh, Tibet and Spiti. Thus we were on the same trek which for centuries remained as a famous trade route.
Descending downhill to the other side soon we came to a flat meadow which concluded our first day walk. The camping ground framed the panorama of snowcapped mountain ranges enveloped with mist.

One of the guests was admiring the landscape with binoculars near his tent and he suddenly yelled that he located a herd of blue sheep that added the sites to be more beautiful. At dusk, the white snow on the mountains turned into golden and the atmosphere around was purely meditative.
From a distance one could senses the delicious aroma from the kitchen tent as our cook was busy to make a taste of the wilderness. The group came for the dinner in the kitchen tent as it was cozy and finally host at their respective tents.

Day 02

Early in the morning we prepared breakfast and lunch for the guests and at eight after breakfast Kavi along with the guests started for the base camp. We started after an hour down into a deep gorge with the river at the base.

This was Chor nullah (thieves gorge), named after the incidences of robbery which used to occur during the La-Darcha with the traders here. Following the river upstream for an hour, it opened into steep and a sharp uphill welcomed us. Kavi along with the team was visible from a long distance and very soon they disappeared high into the mountains.

Unfortunately for the second day of the trek also, we missed our lunch because it was being carried by Kavi who was now not visible behind the mountains. Jwahar (cook) and me had water, admired the landscape and continued towards the campsite. Now the trail become steeper and we could felt the thin air.

Suddenly behind the big rocks a dark face appeared, he was a Laddakhi (native of Ladakh), carrying nothing and slowly coming toward us. We said Julae (means hello) to him he smiled, after a brief conservation he revealed that he started two day before from Korzok (which will be ending point of our trek) along with his friend. And he said they had to reach at Kibber by evening. It was unbelievable; the trek which we are going to do in seven day these people could do it in three days.

Saying goodbye to him we continued and after an hour we were at the campsite. The group had also reached the base camp, Borojin (5,300mt) at the same time. As usual tents were pitched; tea and snacks were served to the group. The blue sky and the mountains above us were suddenly enveloped by thick clouds and it started snowing. The temperature dropped to zero. The entire team was briefed at dinner for the next day and soon everyone returned to the tents.

Day 03

This is going to be a big day, with some unknown reasons I was not able to sleep for the whole night. But still I was confident to make my day. After breakfast, at 730hrs along with the guests we (Kavi and me) left for the pass. But interestingly there were no signs of altitude sickness or fatigue to me; we all steadily advanced towards the pass. The Spanish group which has started an hour ahead of us was visible now. At wide chunk of glacier we all had rest for a while; two of the senior members were slow with the pace so we waited for them too.

The last stretch was almost a kilometer but now at an angle of eighty degrees, amount of oxygen in the air was very low. We all overtook the Spanish group, and in about another thirty minutes we all were at the pass.

In between Kavi assisted the senior lady doctor of our group with her daypack to the top of the pass. 5,570mt, from the mean sea level, at the top of pass there were celebrations, the team were overwhelming with the stunning panorama of the snow capped Himalayas.

I felt myself in a meditative mood; sat down quietly and gazed the mountains for a while, my eyes were moistened, and it was memorable for me and Kavi because we were together for the first time. I was carrying some prayer flags, I handed over to Kavi and with others he tied them as a mark to the holy mountains.

Mountains in ancient days were considered to be holy and often refer as god. There is an old saying that mountains are true divine structure that never moves. I wonder if my faith could move this mountain. For many ages these mountains were remained untouched and largely resembled the purest form of holiness. And some folk reveals that this is the place where sky and mountain meet.

In Buddhism, it is believed that tying the prayer flags on the mountain passes and the places with high winds, the prayers written on them will travel along the winds far.
Soon everybody got indulged in photography and then horses also reached. They also got warm welcome from all of us.
The view on the other side of the pass was equally stunning; it was a long, wide and seems endless. Semi-circular glaciers going deep down the valley. The snow has becoming loose by the heat of the blazing sun.

The next step from the pass was on to a glacier, which provides main source to a fascinating river called Parchu, it goes like a story as one describes about this River. More than a kilometer long glacier, down the valley is being fed by almost eight other glaciers on the adjoining sides. So, the interesting story of Parchu starts from Parang glacier in Ladakh, finds its way down and flow across 45kms long through Tibetan plateau. Again enters India at Sumdo check post, on the way to Tabo from Nako.

As the glacier melted, it was a bit tricky to walk on such surface; it made us to take each step very carefully. Otherwise, these crevasses can turn into frozen graveyards. We all proceeded down but just few meters below, the horses got struck in the deep snow. The horse-shoe injured their hind legs badly, the snow turned red as it bleeds and continue walking. This was serious concern; with the help of other horseman we decided to shift the loads till the end of glacier. Everyone felt pity for the poor animals.

The terrain turned into a loose rocky field as we descended into the valley. From either side of the valley, rattling of the rocks brought by the strong flow of the water left us confused. Leaving the group behind I rushed down to find a safe passage on the other side of the river, which now turned quiet fast with the glacial melting. A glacier made it easy for all of us to cross the river.

Within an hour of walk we all were on the plain by the bank of Parchu River where we decided to host the night. A hot cup of tea along with the some snacks refreshed each one of us. Soon, the sun hides behind the mountains and ended our third day.

Day 04

A glorious morning wakes us up to prepare for the day; we left the camp around eight in the morning and crossed the icy River of Parchu. Leaving the mountainous terrains behind, a lengthy flat ground shaped by Parchu welcomed us to march on its plains.

In the afternoon we had our packed lunch, and continued to descend into a funnel shaped valleys, the cliff was miraculously created by the movement of glaciers. As we walk up on its steep trail later in the evening the valley started to converge again.

On the way we met few groups, some ready to camp while others setting up their camps. Suddenly we saw a herd of yak escorted by a father and a son. The boy disclosed that they were going to sell these yaks in Kibber.

Little worried, I inquired Kavi about the campsite as it was going to be dark after an hour. “An hour” he replied, tiredness was clearly visible among our guests. Crossing a fast flowing glacial stream, we stuck because our trail was thrashed by the river.

There was no way except a steep climb which seemed endless as sky at that time. Surprisingly, I noticed a partly ruined passage not far away from where we were gazing. As the sand was difficult to hold the step, I led the team to follow my steps, and finally we all made it to the campsite.

At dinner, we discussed the day and everyone was delighted with their effort. Departure at seven was decided for the next morning.

Day 05

Everyone was curious to cross Parchu River in morning and it took four hours to reach Norbu Sumdo, where Parchu River makes a flat ground and thus easier to cross it.

Following the same trail further sixteen kilometers will leads us into Tibet but our destination was Changtang (Korzok). We all took off our shoes and changed to slippers, Kavi instructed the group about crossing of the river.

Though the water was less and the river was divided by small scattered islands that made us easy to cross.

From the other side we saw a pair of Kayang (wild Tibetan ass) as we were entering Changtang wildlife area.
Now we could see the green patches laid by Tso-moriri Lake but the lake was still in distance. We passed few settlements that have been deserted by nomadic tribe on the way. The day ended by the bank of Tso-Moriri Lake.

As the sun was setting behind the snow capped mountains, deep blue waters of the fresh lake sparkling into golden surface, Oh Lord! Teach us how to make thy creation more beautiful, words cannot describe such a stunning panorama. We camped near the lake for the night.

Day 06

A relaxed day beside Tso-Moriri and a short walk with option to decide the campsite was the itinerary for the day. The area of Changtang (Korzok) around Tso-Moriri Lake is a reserved wildlife sanctuary. The wildlife includes Kayang (Tibetan wild donkey), marmot, blue sheep, and ibex with some rare species of aquatic birds like Siberian crane, a migratory bird that travel thousands of mile and use this lake as their breeding grounds.

After a late breakfast we decided to move further, admiring the never ending blue waters of the lake as if an ocean locked between the Himalayan Mountains. We got enough chances to spot many beautiful birds including bold headed geese and black necked crane. Time fled fast like the shadows of clouds over the mountains and after five hours we decided to camp by the bank of the Tso-Moriri.

Later in the evening, winds were fast, noise of the waves broke the silence around. We decided an early dinner.

Day 07

The trek was going to end after five hours of a walk; this was the discussion at the breakfast. Few of our guests were getting sentimental about our memorable trip, as we continued walking by the lake, there were many travelers coming to see the lake that can never be imagined. Some are here to witness the Lake for a day while others to test their fitness over the Parang-La to reach Kibber.
Our trek ends as the lake ended and from a distance I could see a little mark of the road that shall lead me home. It was a delightful moment as we saw the terraces of the barley fields near a small village Changtang after a week long journey through the wilderness.

The place was so calm and people were so gracious, if I were sent as a soldier to demolish this mighty yet magnificent, powerful yet peaceful and uninterrupted settlement I shall chose to live with them as a warrior to protect them. There’s no enemy other than the gentle noise of the waves that opens your sense to admire them more and more. We pitched our tents on a flat ground near the village and stayed there overnight.

Day 08

Now the trek has e over, we packed our things in the cars, and left Changtang village and drive towards Leh over Tanglang-la (5,300mt).

It was quite a luxury to be in the car after a week long trek through meadows, gorges, cliff, passes, rivers and glaciers. We sang, shout, laughed and shared our joyous experience as we travel on the way home.
We reached Leh at 9 in the evening, we bid goodbye to our esteem guests to leave next morning for a non-stop 32hrs drive home to Shimla.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pare Chu - Story of a fascinating river in the western Himalaya.

Pare Chu - Story of a fascinating river in the western Himalaya.

The Himalayan germ, once caught, works inside like a relapsing fever, it is ever binding its time before breaking out again with increased virulence.
____ Marco Pallio.

The Pare Chu is a fascinating river that originates just outside the Spiti valley. The river runs northeast of Parang la to Norbu Sumdo in southeast Ladakh. It flows about 30km in Ladakh, turns southward towards Chumar and enters Tibetan territory at Lemarle. The river crosses another 85km until blocked by the Drongmar range, then re-enter Indian Territory south of Kaurik village. From here it converts another 12km before it joins the Spiti River near Sumdo. Strategically Pare Chu makes a complete circle east of the Spiti valley and provides all access routes to India from Tibet, via small tributaries along narrow valleys; the approach routes are difficult. It is not possible to ford the river at any time of the year as it is very fast flowing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009



The two components of nature, viz. organisms and the environment are not only complex and dynamic, but also interdependent, mutually reactive and inter-related. Ecology deals with the various principles which govern such relationship between organisms and their environment.

The various communities of living organisms like plants and animals along with soil, air and water of that region form a self-sustaining or functional ambient of the living world. This functional unit or system made up of living and non-living components which is capable of independent existence is called an ecosystem.

All ecosystems are made up of two components i.e. abiotic components and biotic components. Abiotic components of an ecosystem includes the physical environment like soil, water and air along with the inorganic substances like carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, water and elements present in them. The physical factors or climatic factors like light, temperature, pressure and humidity are considered abiotic component of ecosystem.
The biotic component of ecosystem is a community of organisms (like plants, animals, microbes) which is made up of many different inter-dependent populations. The biotic community of ecosystem includes three types of organisms:
1) Producer organisms (or Autotrophs), which synthesize their own food. All the green plants are producers.
2) Consumer organisms (or Hetrotrophs), which are dependent on others of food. All the animals are consumers.
3) Decomposer organisms (or saprophytes), which consumes the dead remains of the other organisms. Certain bacteria, fungi and blue green algae are decomposers.
Thus, producers trap the solar energy and then provide the basic food or energy for all other life in ecosystem. The consumers (animals) derive their energy needs, directly or indirectly, from producers (plants). When the producers (plants) and consumers (animals) die, then the decomposer organisms act on their dead bodies to return the various elements back to the nutrient pool (soil, water, air), etc.
The natural ecological grouping of the plants and animals on the basis of climates are called “biomes”. The examples of biomes are: deserts, grasslands, tropical forests, temperate forests, etc. a biome is a very large ecosystem, having same type of climate, same type of plants and animals throughout. So, biomes are also termed as major ecosystems of the world.
A zone consisting of land, water and air, where life exists is called a “biosphere”. Biosphere includes all the living organisms of earth and all the life supporting regions of the earth.
Thus the biosphere consists of four parts: Lithosphere (land surface or soil); Hydrosphere (water bodies); Atmosphere (air); and living organisms (like animals and plants).
Food chains and food webs: the sequence of food from producers (green plants) to the ultimate consumer (human being) to transfer food energy unidirectionally is called food chain. A number of food chains are interconnected by organisms which occur in more than one food chain.
Biodiversity is the number of species of different organisms present in an area including all plants, animals and micro-organisms.
The aim of this aritcle is to create awareness for environment and to introspect that:
“Human activities are the root cause of global environment change. Unless we change many of our lifestyle patterns, the world will face unacceptable level of environment damage and human sufferings.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Living with the Himalayan Masters.

His Holiness Dalai Lama

The state of Himachal Pradesh, in the north of India, shares its international borders with Tibet/China in the east. There are few scarcely populated pockets in the western Himalayas from where Buddhism prospered down in the whole Indian-sub-continent. Thought the deep roots of Buddhism dates back to 531 BC, when Siddhartha Gautama got enlightenment.

886 AD witnessed civil war in Tibet and forced Buddhist into exile in Laddakh, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur. Since then, the deep valleys in the Himalayas, with the highest mountain system of the world echoed with ‘Om Mane Padme Hum’.

Spiti valley is dotted with monasteries like Tabo, enfolding 1013 glorious years of its existence. Dhankar, Lha-Lun, Tangyud (Komic), Kye, Kza, Kungri and Mud are the other noteworthy seats of Buddhist learning in the Himalayan region, where time seems to be mediating with the sacred mountains since ages.

This month from 9th July 2009 to 15th July 2009, His Holiness Dalai Lama will be on the tour of Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh.

You all are cordially invited to be a part of this meditative meet in the Himal
You all are cordially invited.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Om Mane Padme Hum

Living with the Himalayan Masters

Monastery (Gompa)

Gompa or Monastery as defined in classical Tibetan texts, means a solitary place, somewhat removed or isolated from social settlements. Earlier Gompas were built on flat ground and laid out like a Mandala – representing the cosmos in miniature, with a sacred centre and cardinal points at the four directions. Later gompas especially in Spiti, were built at greater heights due to fear of invasions.

Method of construction

With the topography of the land, the local architects have only one material to use –mud. Of this they make bricks. The process is painstaking and involved kneading mud like dough, compressing it to eliminate air bubbles, shaping the bricks and then drying them for a fortnight in the sun. the Gompas have massive and wide walls at their base, strong enough to take the load of successive stories, which tend to become thin, higher up and have window like-opening.


Chorten in Tibetan stands for Stupa is a reliquary structure that commemorates an auspicious occasion or ceremony, or is a repository of the relics of important monks and saints. Each part of chorten has a special symbolism, representing the elements of earth, fire, water, air and space. Often chorten on high passes and pilgrimage routes are simple heap of conical heaps of stones, with prayer flags and offering scarves. From time to time travelers add a stone to the pile, making their own contribution to the construction of the chorten.

Mane stones

Large Mane stones carved with the sacred chant Om Mani Padme Hum are stacked on the top of other to form walls. Often the Mani walls ends at the entrance to the village, where there is royal entrance called the Kankani, reminiscent to the torna at Sanchi.


Mandala is a representation of universe and is usually made of stand or wood and then destroyed after the ritual. The four gates of the Mandala are the homes of the four deities: Kubera, the lord of wealth, in the north, Vimdhaka, in the south, Dhritarashtra in the east and Virupaksha in the west.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fairs and festivals in Himachal Pradesh

Dancing with Gods and Goddesses

Fairs and festivals in Himachal Pradesh

During the year, there are as many festivals in Himachal as there are villages, and on any given night there is a chance that one can pick up the strains of verses being exchanged between men and women in some distant villages down in the valley. The culmination of each cycle of events gives the Himachalis an opportunity to express their cheer and gratitude. Such an occasion might me structured around a formal gesture of reverence towards the presiding presence, but invariably it transforms itself into a one-day free zone for self expression. An alpine blossom adorns braided hair, and Himachali topis assume a rakish angle. The local ensemble pick rakish angle. The local ensemble picks up a lilting pahari melody, and it is time to link hands and swing to the community dance steps –the naati. Even the devtas are made to join, supported on the shoulders of their devotees. Over the evening, the human chain acquires a special flourish, aided by swigs of the celebrated local wine made from apricots, plums, apples or barley. Some of it is young and heady, brewed just for the occasion, but, some sipped delicately by the elders as they watch from balconies, is actually a vintage liquor to match the best in the world.

Some religious occasions have, of course transcended mere village celebrations to attract just not hundred of villagers, but also scores of deities from all parts of the valley. During such festivals, the local village gods congregate to pay homage to the presiding deity of the valley, and the proceedings of the fair last beyond the auspicious day, sometimes for as long as a week. Perhaps the best known is Dusshera at Kullu, which unlike in the other parts of the country begins on Vijayadashmi, the day it culminates elsewhere. Over hundred local deities gather to salute Shri Raghunathji, whose image is pulled across the Dhalpur maidan in a chariot, symbolizing the march of Lord Rama to battle Ravana.

Minjar, held sometime in August, is a similar occasion for the gods to congregate, this time in the Chowgan at Chamba. Thronged by Gaddis and pangwals adorned with minjars, caplets made to stimulate the silky golden fronds of the maize plant, this fair is held to appease the rain god Varuna. The minjars are immersed in the Ravi River on the concluding day.

Shivratri, in February or March, is the day for all to pray at the temple of the supreme Lord Bhutnath, after which the fair continues in a week-long exposition of local talent in a folk theatre such as Kairala or Bainthra.

The unique Manimahesh yatra is more than a festival, on the 15th day after Janmashtami, the birthday of Krishna, thousands climbs up from Bharmour to the sacred Manimahesh lake at 3,800 meters (12467 feet), for a ritual dip in its holy waters. Above the lake towers Manimahesh Kailash, 5,575 meters (18,290 feet) high, also considered by local people to be the abode of Lord Shiva.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Into Kinnaur valley - April 2006

Himalayan journeys April 2006

Christ Church, Shimla.

One of the oldest church in north India.

The Mall, Shimla.

The British nostalgia.

Kufri hills.

View of Shali peak, one of the highest in Shimla.

Hatu peak, Narkanda.

Crested with temple dedicated to local goddess and 360 degrees of panorama.

Kotgarh, from Hatu peak (3400mts.)

One of the major apple growing belt of India.

Admiring a stunning panorama of Himalayan ranges.

Hansbeshan range, is the closest Himalayan range visible from Hatu peak

A knowledgeable guide is recommended to make your Himalayan voyage a memorable one.

Being a part of middle Himalayan range, it snows till April also.

Sutlej river, carving its way down to the plains of Punjab.

A pre-Himalayan river originating form Tibet.

Sarahan, known for its Bhimakali temple complex.

Enroute Old Hindustan Tibet Road.

Local vegetarian cuisines delicious in the Himalayan countrysides.

A temple on a cliff top and below flows Sutlej River.

The course of Sutlej river has been diverted for hydro-electric projects in the valley.

River crossing to reach school!

A bridge on Sutlej river.

Lunch break.

A hydro-electric project on Sutlej river at Karcham, a bifurication to the left opens into Baspa valley