Trip to Uttarakhand – Pipalkoti to Joshimath


Day 6: 2nd Aug 2012 : I woke up early in the morning, the Bengali family was already awake and the guy was in meditation. They had an electric heater and helped me in having luke-warm water. I quickly had shower, did my morning chores, washed some of my clothes, etc. Since all the people where desperate to visit Badrinath, as it was auspicious day(Rakshabandhan), I discussed my plan with the Bengali family that we should keep our baggage in 1 room along with old people and rest of the group should climb the hill where landslide had happened and reach Badrinath and then come back hoping that the road would be cleared by then. They liked the plan, but I think it was never discussed with others. By the time I went to have breakfast. I had parathas along with tea, also I decided to pack a couple of parathas and also bought a couple of litres of water, as last night I had ran out of food and water. When I came in the room, there was no one, everyone had left and sat in the bus, I was shocked, as they didn’t inform me about leaving so early.
I talked to hotel in charge, he told me that it was decided to leave the room early in the morning, so I quickly packed my bag and took my wet clothes and sat in the bus. Here again there where only couple of Bengali women, the men where nowhere to be seen. Slowly, the bus filled up and still there was no sign of this Bengali mens. Even the bus attendant got pissed up by this behaviour, after say 30-40 mins they arrived. So we started our journey again, say at 8.00 am in the morning. We quickly reached the spot where there was landslide, the situation was pretty much same, though the rocks have stopped falling. People where optimistic that the roads would be cleared in couple of hours. I had decided that if the roads do not clear early, I would walk over the hill.
So, we all waited, my legs where still not in great shape, even after a day’s rest. At 10.00 am I decided I had enough and asked my Lonavala friend whether he would like to climb the mountain with me to goto other side of the landslide which he declined. The total length to be travelled was around 7/8 km. So all by myself with a backpack of 12 kg I decided to trek the mountain, I was not having the walking stick. The morning was very pleasant, there was no rain clouds insight. initially there where few steps leading to the hill, then there was step ascent, I was having trouble climbing, I used to climb for 5 mins and take rest for 10 mins. No one from the bus passengers where accompanying me.

Mountain Climb

Mountain Climb

The traffic was both ways, people from coming from Joshimath side and I was going towards Joshimath. While climbing, I looked back and found the family from Bihar following me, then they overtook me, they said that after I left a lot of others from the bus left and decided to climb, which was very encouraging to hear. Then the Russian duo (mother and son) they also overtook me, I asked them when they left, they said 15 mins after I left. The russian guy was some sort of linguist I think, he knew Bengali, Hindi, English and Russian. He was a student in some California State University. They have stayed in Bengal for sometime. I tried to keep pace with them but eventually with my heavy sack I just couldn’t keep pace. At one place I tried to take a shortcut and had to face a steep ascent which was so steep that it made me crawl, and I nearly could have fallen from the mountain. Somehow, I survived that ordeal and went at the top of the hill, here I was relived, had a tea in a makeshift stall. Came to know that the stones had started to fall again and one of the JCB machine had fallen into the river below, though no one was hurt. It was 12.30 am when I reached at the top.

Top from where landslilde is visible

Top from where landslide is visible

When I started my descent there was no water with me, I just had some packet of biscuit which I brought in the morning. While I was descending my shoe sole came off, so now I was walking with one proper shoe and the other with sole off. Then while I was busy with my shoes, I saw one of the most amazing moment in my life, the polio guy who was in my bus, he just came by my side, so he had also climbed this challenging hill all by himself, there was no one with him. Rest of the hill I got down with him. In the meantime while descending I saw a lemagaya locally know as bhind, it’s a pretty huge bird of prey. Also I was felling thirsty, met some village folks who were providing water free of charge, drank from them, gave them my biscuit packet. I descended the hill by 2:00 pm, still the road was closed, it didn’t opened till late in the evening.

My shoe

My shoe

Me and the guy from Bihar decided to travel together till Joshimath, he wanted to goto Badrinath, and I was heading towards VOF and Hemkund. I had some food and drink before I headed towards Joshimath. We were packed in a Trax, there where 12 people in that trax. It was a bit uncomfortable, but the distance was short, so my journey in trax ended in about 30 mins. I bid goodbye to the Bihari guy, then went to find a cobbler, found one near the bus stand and asked him to repair my shoes, which lasted for next 30 mins. He inquired about roads and I had descent chat with him. My shoe repair cost me Rs 60. By this time I was tired and hardly had any energy to walk, still I needed to find a hotel for night stay. Roamed a couple of hotel before zeroing on one. The room rent was Rs 300 per night. The hotel had views of Hathi and Ghoda Parvat, but by this time the rain had started and they where hardly visible. In fact this two mountain peaks are visible anywhere from in and around Joshimath area.
I was dead tired, had dinner early and went back to sleep, also brought some painkillers.

The travel cost Rs 30 from Pipalkoti, the room rent was Rs 300  and the food cost for the day was Rs 200.

© Pilankar

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