2014 has been a great travel filled year for all the people associated with Razalpat. We did lots of weekend treks like Sandhan valley, Rajmachi, Shirota, Chinchoti, Thakurwadi, Kalsubai, Visapur, Ratanwadi etc. Highlight of the year was our Ladakh trip. Tosh went to his “namesake” village (Tosh village) in Himachal. Shabbir got his first tent. All of us matured in some way or the other thanks to all this travelling.
Presenting my top 7 mesmerizing moments from 2014. These moments shall be etched forever in my memory.
1. Unexpected snowfall enroute Leh
People living in the plains have an enormous attraction for snow. I am no exception. It had been cloudy for over 30 minutes while we were nearing TangLang-La enroute Leh in a bus. I don’t remember when did it start snowing but the bus stopped soon after. I was among those few people who got down to enjoy fresh snow. Those 5 minutes that I was out in the open, my body was working hard to keep warm but bloodstreams were filled with adrenaline and heart was filled with child like joy. In the picture above, excitement is evident on Neha’s face and snow on my nose.
2. Learning to ride bike on the worst possible road
Riding on world’s highest motorable road is every biker’s dream. But what about non-bikers like me? When we decided to go to Nubra Valley crossing Khardung-La on bike, I was a bit uncomfortable, if not downright nervous. I had ridden a bike only once before and that too just for half an hour on a smooth highway. After testing out a well worn Pulsar-150 in Leh we set out for mighty Khardung-La. It is just 40km from Leh but the road is so steep that it takes you from 11,500 feet to 18,380 feet in a short distance. The road is nonexistent through most of the ride. There are many small streams that you need to cross. The bike was not fully co-operating with me to maneuver through the tricky hairpin bends. Luckily, with the rising altitude and cold, I found my confidence also rising. And somehow managed to reach highest pass in one piece. After that ride, now I am confident about riding on any damned road in the world.
3. Dip in icy cold Indus
We were walking along this strong looking rivulet which in fact was just a tiny tributary of the mammoth river Indus when put in perspective. The gushing stream seemed so alluring that we went off the road near its banks. I decided to take a dip, while my partners just sat on a nearby tree trunk which was stooping over the water. Although it was summer, the water was awfully cold. I stayed in the water for a mere 30 seconds, twice dunking my head underwater and feeling the chill taking over my spine and bones. Those 30 seconds felt like 5 minutes to me and I quickly ran out of the water and nicely dried myself. Later, we sat there for over an hour listening to the meditative sound of the flowing water.
4. Taking lift in an open train
Any lift is good on the road. But ever heard of a train giving you lift? Sounds crazy but we got one! And it was on an open train. This seemingly uneventful video says it all.
5. Walking through a railway tunnel against the direction of an incoming train
You are walking in a dark, damp railway tunnel. You know that a train can come any time speeding towards you. What you don’t know is that it will be such an intense experience. First comes the faint light, then comes a strong breeze – which is your signal to get off the tracks – then comes the screeching siren. Then you cling to the side walls of tunnel for your life and within 30 seconds it’s gone. Also gone forever is your fear of tunnel walking.
6. Being (semi) nudist for 16 hours in a vast grazing field
There are so many places still left in this country where you can feel disconnected from the civilization. Shirota lake is one such place. One fine weekend, we planned a camping trip to this unexplored lake. Due to “unforeseen circumstances” we could not reach the lake and had to camp in the middle of a vast cattle grazing field atop a hill, where there was nothing to obstruct your view for almost a kilometer on all sides. There were just us 3 boys. No other human being lived within 2km vicinity. No one was expected to come there either before the next morning. After the sun set that evening, we spent the next 16 hours only in our boxers to feel the cold and oneness with nature.
7. Fantasy land right out of Nolan’s movie
On my 2nd visit to Kalsubai (highest peak of Maharashtra) this year, I was not very excited about “adventure” part of the trek. Luckily, the weather was cloudy since early morning and light drizzles made it a pleasant climb. But my mind was blown away by the spectacle that unfolded before us on top. It was again a vast grassland – not as vast as Shirota – and with relatively shorter, sparser grass. But the entire landscape was dotted by tiny yellow flowers. And there was a thick layer of fog restricting your vision to only a few feet. It was so windy that we could see the fog flying along the grassy plains and on the surrounding slopes. Fog was allowing the sunlight to pass through only partially. It was all looking very much fairyland-ish or like some visual Nolan might have created for Inception. I have no pictures to validate this moment. It’s captured just in my mind. And who knows, after a few years I may actually start believing that it was indeed a dream.
This is the last post of 2014. Hope 2015 may be filled with more travel and I have at least 12 such moments – one for each month – to share. Wishing everyone a happy new year 🙂