Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pathibhara Blues

The plan was set. We were to hike from Pakhribas to Pathibhara Temple. Everyone, including me, opted for the hiking plan because of two reasons; lack of resources and the longing to feel life on the way. So we set out late, quite unsure where our journey would end. Our plan was to lodge wherever night fell, wherever we could pitch our little tent and cook whatever we had carried ourselves. Having successfully carried out one such low-budget-cook-yourself tour, where we had mapped the Muga Khola, blended with the Arun River and climbed a treacherous hill towards Chintang, we had presumed that this trek to Pathibhara would be lot easier because we would have civilisation all around us. Not until the rain beat us and thrashed our moral spirits to a nil.
Gupha Pokhari
Gupha Pokhari (2890m)

The newly built cement factory near Sindhuwa intrigued us. People, excited with the prospects of employment opportunities by the hundreds, promoted it with enthusiasm at first but when the smoke and dust had an adverse effect in their crop production ( mainly potatoes and cabbage), they have been fighting a legal battle to lessen the amount of pollutants being emitted from the chimneys. What about the health hazards they haven't faced at the moment but which may surface after some years or generations?

We reached Basantapur late in the night which is just two hours' drive from Hile. Luckily we found a shack of a lodge which fitted the standard of our tour guidelines. The owners were surprised when we told them that we were cooking ourselves and they needn't worry about washing the dishes late in the night. The beds at the lodge were awesome......we had to bend our knees throughout the night because of the baby-size beds.
Cement Factory Sidhuwa
Cement Factory at Sindhuwa

We believe a tour taken in luxury does not yield much. We had to believe that and there was no other way not to believe that:P

Next morning born in us a feeling of gratitude for letting us be born in Nepal. Once you walk the serene road from Tute Deurali, you will understand what I mean. Wide road in the middle of thick rhododendron trees (that area is known as the Capital City of all Rhododendrons), not a single person in sight. You walk with yourself, content within yourself. Such are usually the moments when we actually be in the present and hence get filled with a hitherto unknown serenity and joy.

It was then, we saw the cows with GPRS fitted on them! Walking along that serene path, we were constantly hearing a bell chiming softly in the bushes. Our eyes explored the jungle and green opening below the road but the source of the heavenly chime was nowhere to be seen. The revelation only struck us when we noticed some cows grazing placidly in the meadow. Zooming our eyes, we found that the cow had a big bell fixed to its neck that chimed every time it made the slightest movement during the process of feeding itself.

"That's the GPRS-tracker," one of my friends blurted. And that was really one! The ingenious farmer had planted a tracker on the cow so that in the evening when he would come to collect the cattle, he would instantly track the position of his cow in that deep jungle.:D

Along the way we observed one of the failed projects experimented in Nepal. Huge nets were hoisted on top of hills, supported with iron framework and we found that they were rain gatherers. The mist would be trapped within the nets and trickle down into the pipes at the bottom. From there, they would flow down to the luxuriously constructed dome shaped reservoirs and we felt whoever made those things truly believed that these nets would satisfy the thirst of the local villagers.

Ironically, the village where the cloud gatherers are built is known as Paanch Pokhari ( Five Lakes!). Sadly, the lakes have dried and the cloud gatherers turned to rags.

But the zen like contemplation about the state of our villages was disturbed when we were pelted again with raindrops as large as fists. Then we understood that our desire to camp in the jungle like Bear Grylls from Man vs Wild was about to be an impossible feat. Nature was quite against us; though we had the means and tips from the survival show we didn't have a single calorie to search for a dry twig to churn out fire from.:(
The Weird Trekkers
The Weird Trekkers

So we decided to walk on until we reach the faintest light that we had seen. The faint light could have been a star but it was worthwhile hoping that it was the light from the cottage that Hansel and Gretel had seen. Nothing mattered more than reaching that faint light and everyone's surety had grown about not spending the night in that wet and wild place. Though our veins felt like being loaded with lead and we regretted not traveling light, we continued to push on towards that faint star, stumbling and staggering.

As I was leading everyone, I was quite surprised when I saw the lights from a village just some metres below me. The faint light we had been following was exactly the light from the other hill and we would probably have reached there the next day.:D

We had reached Gupha Pokhari, drained out of all energy and we broke the tour guideline again- we decided that letting the hoteliers do the cooking would be an immense relief. Gupha Pokhari (2890masl), when we looked around in the morning, was a beautiful place with a beautiful pond near the village. The pond is a holy shrine which constantly receives pilgrims and tourists.

Our desire to reach Pathibhara Temple had faded by the time we reached Gupha Pokhari. There were also two reasons for this; i) we were out of resources ii) we were out of energy. Since, reaching Pathibhara from Gupha Pokhari would take us two more days, we decided that we would climb that above 3000 metre dwelling of Pathibhara Devi in the near future with proper resources and more tips and tricks from Bear. We returned homewards from Gupha - lost.
Pathibhara Temple above Basantapur
Pathibhara Temple at Basantapur

We satisfied ourselves by visiting the branch of Pathibhara Temple above Basantapur. Folks say that since the other Pathibhara is too faraway for most pilgrims, a shaman with some of his friends brought a part of her to Basantapur so that it would be accessible to every dejected pilgrims-- like us!:D

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