Monday, September 5, 2016

(Manimahesh Yatra 2016) part-1. Reaching Chamba Jot


It seems like a long time since I took a hike along the hills and told you its yummy experience. In the last post, I introduced you with the trek from Maigal to Murah Mata temple, located on one of the peaks of the Janitri Dhar in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. 

The tough trek went through the dense oak trees jungle, and moreover it is explored by very few people. Almost after five months, I finally went on to another but very important trek of my life till now. 

Quick info about Manimahesh 

Kailash yatras to the five Kailash of lord Shiva are among the most famous pilgrimages which are taken by the most daring and faithful people, mostly Hindus. Manimahesh lake located at the base of the Manimahesh Kailash peak, is at an elevation of about 4115 m from mean sea level while the peak itself is at 5775 m.

As per the locals and my overall knowledge, nobody has reached this peak due to the difficulty involved in climbing. It is said that this Kailash was discovered by the Gaddis, the shepherd tribe that is found mostly in the Chamba and Kangra region. The Peak remains covered with white ice for whole of the year, and therefore the yatra  up to the lake is feasible  in the month of the July and August each year. 

Though the trek gets open earlier for trekking, but the official yatra dates are chosen on the religious as well as weather basis. This year it started on Janmashtmi(25 Aug) and yet to end on the Radha Ashtmi(9th September). The advantages of following these dates- first is linked with the religious beliefs of maximum blessings from lord, and second is the free food and accommodation facilities.

With the help of Khachar(mule), various rich people and committees, mostly from Himachal and Punjab take all the necessary items for cooking and night stay to the different locations of this 15 kilometers long trek. 

This facility is called 'Langar.'  Therefore Langars are available at almost every 2 kilometers of a stretch along the trek. Others who don't get the spot at these heights, set up their Langars along the road up to Hadsar. This way, Langars starts a long way back, from Nurpur or Chamba. 

Blessed with such facilities, a person doesn't need to spend a single penny to take the blessings from lord Shiva, all you need is, to reach Chamba and Hadsar and then the determination and strength to reach the Manimahesh lake. 

I even saw few physically handicapped people, with crippled legs or arms, but their hearts are stronger than gold. That is all you need. Few people ride on the mule's back, and few take the helicopter services, but that doesn't seem like a proper yatra to me. 

I think if you really want to  have the blessings and joy of the trek then you should reach the lake on your own feet. I assure you that it will benefit you. 

Personal Story - Chamba Manimahesh Yatra 2016

It was twenty days earlier that I had left for my village. It rained days and nights, and therefore plan got postponed. It was the trip to Manimahesh that Ghosh(Shankar Ghosh) and I were planning since past few weeks. Second obstacle was the final viva for the degree, that I would take at NIT Hamirpur on 26th of August. 

On the evening of 26th a plan was made and Ashu Bhai(as Shankar calls him ) might join us the next day. Ashu bhai would tell us that he already have the three times  experience of trekking up to the Manimahesh lake. Second most important thing that he had was his Alto car, which would prove to be very comforting and necessary in the rainy season. 

Ashu Bhai, Shankar and I are friends, met due to our jobs at different times and locations. With few intermediate communication gaps in last two three years, this trip would be my only one trip of its kind with all three of us. 

It was a pleasure to go together on such a blessed journey. Next day Govinda, a carpenter who worked at Ashu bhai's home, was seated in Ashu's car that approached the dedh gate(three gates of NIT Hamirpur are name as 1st gate(main gate), 1.5(dedh) gate and 2nd Gate)  in front of the Himgiri hostel at NIT Hamirpur. It was about fifteen minutes since we stood there waiting for them. Guitar and sleeping bag were other things that I carried on this trip, though they were not the absolute necessities.

Road Journey from Hamirpur to Jot at Chamba

Ashu bhai drove while Ghosh sat on the adjacent seat. Guitar was kept in the lap, while all other things were in the luggage box. Hamirpur to Jwala Mukhi temple, was a quick ride, and was full of discussions about each other and the place we were going to visit. 
It was the first time for Govinda, so we showed him the gate to the Jwala Ji temple, and told him the story of Akbar's gold umbrella. 

Mostly, stories are told to refresh our memories, and learn some more, so bigger the number of the persons in a car, better it is. Govinda shared his experience about Bol Bam Yatra(Kanvar yatra) that he had completed with a bare feet walk of 100 kilometers from Sultanganj in Bihar to Baidyanath temple at Deoghar in Jharkhand. 

The aim of this yatra is to fetch some holy Ganga water from Sultanganj and take it to the lord Shiva temple Baidyanath at Deogarh in Jharkhand. This was his main source of confidence which showed itself while tirelessly he would climb the fifteen kilometers Manimahesh trek. Shankar also had few trekking experiences such as the Kheerganga , Kamrunaag, Bijli Mahadev, Sarahan(Bhima Kali), Sareolsar lake and Murari Devi treketc. so he was confident too. 

By the time we crossed Kangra and reached Shahpur, sky got overcasted with darkness, and it was the time to eat the dinner meal in the dhaba. Shankar had switched to the driver's seat, and our next stop would be over the mountain ridge at Jot. It was already around midnight, so we thought to take few hours sleep in the car itself. 

Night at Chamba Jot

Road crosses the mountain ridge at Jot, leaving the Kangra's plains and entering into the more zig zag and steepy roads towards Chamba. At jot, it could be cold in nights even in the months of July and August. Our jackets and caps were of very much help. On the right of the road there was  a two storey concrete building that looked like a home, but lights were already off. 

Another one was just  few meters down the ridge, but its lights were off too. Ground floors were shuttered, so not even a tea shop was open.While making the arrangements and turning the car to the right stable spot, we chatted loudly. Lights got on for a while, but again everything went silent. 

Ashu bhai took the sleeping bags and spotted an empty carriage van, with open roof, but under the rain shelter. He is the one with the longest legs and height among us and it was not comfortable for him to sleep in the car in a single seat. Remaining three of us managed to close our eyes and get subconscious till the morning. 

Clouded morning at Chamba Jot, Manimahesh Yatra August 2016

Green Roof at Chamba Jot, Manimahesh Yatra August 2016

From right - Ashu Bhai, Govinda, Shankar and I.

A view of Kangra valley from Chamba Jot, Manimahesh Yatra August 2016

to be contd in part 2......