Friday, September 01, 2006

Kalindikhal - Part 3

(The big delay between parts 2 and 3 was because I spent 3-4 useless days shopping for an used car. The thingummy has been bought (a black '98 Volkswagen Jetta), so back to blogging again.)

17 July (Gangotri to Bhojbasa, 14km): Breakfast in the city, returned to find Panda was down with a wonky tummy. Vishnoi would start out with him a couple of hours after us. So we divided up the kerosene...

... and set out, past the temple (where Vishnu, our guide, offered a brief puja).

The route runs up the right bank (looking downstream) of the Bhagirathi. After a kilometre or so, there's a little checkpost where a guard checks your permits and levies a fee based on how many days you're going to camp higher up. Dialogue ensues:

Guard: Aap kahan ja rahein hain? (Where are you going?)
Us: [innocently] Tapovan.
Guard: [suspiciously, looking at our massive backpacks] Tapovan?
Us: Haan. (Yes.)
Guard: Sach bataiye, aap Kalindi Pass ja rahe hain na? (Tell me the truth, you're going to Kalindi Pass, aren't you?)
Us: Nahi bhaisaab, hum Tapovan ja rahe hain. Teen din ka rasta. (No Boss, we're going to Tapovan. Three days' journey.)
Guard: Hmmm.

Well, in the end I think he did charge us only three days' fee, since he had no way of disproving our claim that we were going to Tapovan, which is just one day's march beyond Gaumukh. But my memory is a little rusty in my old age.

Here are a few pics from the route. It's pretty much like this throughout upto Bhojbasa, the camp before Gaumukh. The peak in the distance in the second picture is Bhagirathi II. Clouds made it impossible (from my position at least) to see Shivling.

Plenty of saffron, too :P.

Nice guys, this lot. We must've hit the height of the kavde season -- there were hordes and hordes of them off to Gaumukh with their two little jerrycans to collect the holy water.

After a rather landslidey stretch, we made it to Bhojbasa, at about 3650m. Vladlen promptly started doing some weird stretching exercises which he'd no doubt picked up from his hobby: dancing. I don't know whether this had a "come hither" effect or not, but he did manage to attract the attention of another firang, Yaniv, who turned out to be Israeli too, and had spent time in India and picked up "thoda thoda" Hindi. A very sweet chap. He was going to Tapovan. The two started jabbering in Hebrew...

... while we attacked the tea and pitched camp a short distance downhill and upstream from the line of teastalls, beyond the GMVN and the ashram. We were getting a little worried about Panda and Vishnoi, since it was almost dark and they were about a couple of hours behind us, so we sent some staff members back to look for them with torches. We were relieved when they turned up after some time.

(Part 4)


olidhar said...

i was getting a little worried if the part 3 would ever appear.

gangotri to bhojwasa looks rather cloud-filled. but correspondingly green, too. mellow really must be the word.
ok, so tapovan is what one tells them, ok.

expiring_frog said...

Yes. Where exactly are you headed in pujo, btw?

olidhar said...

but won't they stop you at gastoli, or somehwere on the other side? what is the strategy there?

we are headed right here. like i said, this came up while i was reading and thinking about it, and i graciously answered in the affirmative.

our proposed route: bhojwasa, nandanvan, basuki, suralaya (or, at least, i think that's the spelling), sweta, kalindi base, arwa tal, gastoli, and mana (badri).
now, we are planning all of this based on the c. 1973 contour maps of the area, so we don't know if this is quite right. how does it sound to you?

expiring_frog said...

Ouch, and here I am spoiling it all by giving away pics of the whole route. Oh well, I can only hope it whets the appetite.

Ghastoli is essentially a security checkpoint and not a tourism depot (though it's so lovely it needs to be saved from random promoters). I suspect the toll papers are not checked again there, but I will confirm this before you leave and let you know.

Your route is pretty much what we followed, except that we put in a stop at Rajparav after Kalindi and before Arwa. You'll probably need it after (literally) ploughing through the immense icesheet right after the pass. If your knees are in good shape you probably won't need to spend a night at Ghastoli but can make it to Mana in a day (it's all downhill after Arwa Tal). We put in a rest + acclimatization day at Vasuki. The Suralaya stop is also called Khada Patthar. Your guide will (should) know all about it.

Also, at the last couple of stops before the pass, there are a number of choices for camping, one after the other. If you're feeling good when you reach the first of those, push ahead to the last one :)... the effort saved next morning is worth it, especially on pass day.

You'll probably find a lot more snow and colder temps than we did.

olidhar said...

right. will remember.

and yes, we have a rest day built in, too, after the pass. that gives us, as things stand now, nine trekking days in all.

i think it will be colder too, but if other post monsoon stats are to be believed, the snow should be quite a bit different, if not actually lesser. winter, i am told, is the time for the snowup, and the monsoon (summer) actually melts things quite a bit. one thing i do know, though. when we go, it will be autumn in the mountains, and we will not have them nearly as lovely green as you did. but to compensate, we might have those views peculiar to this time of the year.

and don't worry, you haven't given anything away yet -- the last i went to this area, i went to gomukh-tapovan.
as for hereonwards, well, amlanda daily threatens to show me all and anything relating to this route he can lay his hands on, and although i don't know just what that consists of, you can hardly do worse.
and it does whet the appetite, there's that, there's that.

write on.

olidhar said...

and i like the photographs.

expiring_frog said...

If you're carrying heavy loads (and on the first few days we were carrying 21-28 kgs each), the Gaumukh-Nandanvan stretch is a killer (moraine, rockslide, glacier, very steep last km or so). Also, you reach 5000m very fast (around Vasuki). You might retain the possibility, at least, of shifting your rest day to the approach rather than the descent.

You'll probly have fantastic views in Sep-Oct. Damn!

As for giving away stuff, what the nuncle has in ample quantities are our pics, which are getting posted here anyway :P. And I'll deviate from the G-T route from the next post onwards :P.

olidhar said...

hm, i suspect as much myself. and no, i see no miracle by which our own loads will be any lighter than what you say. for the first few days, at least, until we eat the stuff up, or something. sighs upon more sighs. will keep the provision-of-rest-day in mind. but i dare say the good leader has already made such a provision in his plans.

soyez calme. will mail you the pics.

that figures. he talks about your trek (i first heard about it from him; he never can wait with things he considers important) in what can only be described as a gentle fever of excitement.
you deviate right on.

Rapid I Movement said...

Why not upload the snaps on Flickr alongside too?

Thiru said...

Hey Siddhartha,

It is nice to read your blog about himalayan expedition. It must have been a great experience as I felt great reading and viewing the pictures on the blog. Are you , by any chance, a graduate of IIT Kanpur?