Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 05

CONTINUED FROM: Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 04

Day 05: 18-April-2023

Route: Cheludgad  (2575m / 9770ft) to Taluka (2109m / 6919ft)

Distance/Time: 13km/4.5H

From paradise to a mess

I slept so well that I did not wake up until 6:45 AM. After freshening up, I went to the kitchen and tipped Radhe and Hrithik. We thanked them for their service. 

The three women from Pawani village (who we had met the previous evening) were also near the campsite. They had come down to collect the wooden logs and carry them back to their village. I had a box of special chikki that I always carry for treks. I decided to give it to the women. They were extremely happy to receive it. The lady I gave it to had tied a cloth around her waist that acted like a pouch. She dropped it into it and the two women went behind the concrete building next to our campsite and ate a few of them. They were continuously smiling. I wish I had more things to share with them. Next time, I shall make sure to carry something for the villagers I meet on the way. 

We had poori and sabji for breakfast. At around 9AM, we bid farewell to Radhe and Hrithik. The trek back was relatively easy. We were tracing the same path again, so there were no surprises. It was therefore a little boring too. 

We had more Rhododendron juice on our way back. We saw a few langurs playing on a tree. Some of them hid behind the branches and kept peeping at us until we left. A little boy walking with his mother came right at me and touched my shoe and sought my blessings. I found that really funny. 

By the time we reached Taluka, it was 1:30PM. Vijay had not made a telephone call (using his satellite phone) and informed  about our arrival time. He made a call to the office from Taluka and asked them to send a jeep. There was some confusion. He was also supposed to pack lunch for us. For some reason, he assumed that we would eat at the lodge. Finally, he arranged for some food at the only restaurant in Taluka. The restaurant is run by a middle-aged couple. The woman scolded Vijay for his carelessness - “How long have you been a guide? Don’t you know that you have to pack lunch on this day?” She said, as she placed a pressure cooker filled with rice, dal and potatoes on the burner.

As Divyesh does not eat onion and garlic, the kichdi was made without them and it therefore did not taste very good. But it was hot, so we managed to finish our food without any issue. 

The restaurant owner allowed us to make phone calls from his cellphone with BSNL network. Vijay discussed something with he owner and together, they prepared a bill for the meal. I realised that this was the reimbursement. 

In front of the restaurant, a few men from the village sat on the roof top, playing cards. 

This was a common sight throughout this trek - The men played cards and the women toiled. 

It appears to me that most of the villagers do not take a shower for several days; just like how we had not taken one for 5 continuous days. The weather is pleasant, and the night's are cold. Therefore, one may not feel the need for a shower. I also realised that we learn to value things when there is a scarcity of them. Here, people have learnt to live without hot water baths because water has to be carried from the river to their villages on top of the hills. Electricity might be unavailable for days. On the contrary, many from the cities, waste a lot of resources, including food. 

Vijay had to arrange a ride with a local jeep. The middle seat was offered to the three of us. Due to our presence, some villagers had to sit on top of the jeep. They did not mind it though. Vijay sat between the driver and a woman with an infant. All along the ride, Vijay spoke non-stop. Occasionally, he would turn to the lady and look at her with his eyebrows raised, waiting for a reaction. She would nod her head and smile back with an agreement to what he had said. He would then continue his jabbering. 

An Ayurvedic doctor was visiting the village that day. He too was traveling back with us. He was probably in his early thirties. The young man looked less of a doctor and more of a gangster. He hardly smiled. At one point, I even heard him speak bad language with the restaurant owner. He was chewing a pan (Made of Betel leaves and tobacco) which he occasionally spat out on to the road. 

Back at the hotel, we met the caretaker. He was still dressed in the same clothes - Yellow and black t-shirt. For some reason, he appeared extremely happy to see us back. He wouldn't stop smiling as he spoke. He gave us the keys, came up to the first floor and showed us the rooms. He spoke a lot but we understood only half of what he said. He told us that there was no power in the village but he had switched on the geyser or something. The point was that we had hot water. I got a room for myself while the other two shared one. A hot water bath was a must. It felt really good. 

Shera somehow had found out that I had returned. He was sitting outside my room when I came out. 

We walked to Sankri market as we had to return the rented gears. The owner had locked the shop and was roaming around on his scooter along with his friends. We had to call and ask him to stop by. The entire town had a relaxed mood. There were no other trekkers or tourists except us. The villagers sat at the junction and chatted.

At Himalayan Hikers office, we met Pravesh. He told us that he had taken his third vaccine (for dog bite). I asked him why the office and the lodge had so many pictures of Osho. Pravesh told us that the owner was a follower of Osho. He too has been attending sessions at their commune and seems to enjoy it.  

We were able to connect to a weak wifi network at the office. That helped us reconnect with the rest of the world for a while, not that it was anything important. A brief connectivity was enough, as I happily wished to remain in isolation for another day. 

Back at the lodge, we had a new cook. (Remember the terrible cook when we left?) This new cook was excellent. Upon request, he made a delicious black tea for me. He had added ginger, pepper and cloves to it. For dinner, he cooked Paneer butter masala, Chapati, rice and dal. The food was extremely delicious. He made separate dishes for Divyesh - without onion and garlic. 

At the dinner table, I met one of the most experienced trek guides of Himalayan Hikers. During our conversation, he expressed his concern about the lack of civic sense among villagers. He told me that during the month of December and January, about 3000 trekkers visit the Kedarkantha peak every day. Once the snow melts, it discloses the dirty side of the business. The mountain is covered in trash. Due to this, the trekkers visiting the peak during other seasons have reduced. He said that for quick gain, the villagers are exploiting this opportunity. In the long run, this would lead to reduced visitors. According to him, one of the ways to ensure sorting and collection of trash is by paying some money in exchange of plastic. But even with that, the Government had no proper plan to dispose waste. I think it would be better if "the informed" among the villagers can find a suitable solution to save their environment. 

As a closing ceremony, Vijay distributed certificates to us. He had something funny to say about each one of us. Despite his sometimes-irresponsible nature and careless behaviour, he was a lot of fun to be with. He kept the atmosphere light with his jokes and funny stories. 

That night, sleeping on a soft bed, was a welcome change. I slept undisturbed till 3AM. When I woke up, there was a haunting silence outside, and then Shera barked loudly. I went out to the balcony to see why he was barking. From a distance, I could hear another dog bark back at him. They were communicating.

Day 06: 19-April -2023 (Leaving Sankri)


When I woke at 6AM and opened the door, I saw Shera and another female dog outside my room. Shera had invited his girlfriend over to meet me. She was affectionate and adorable. We fed them some biscuits and chikki. 

For breakfast, the cook had prepared some Paratha and Channa masala. There was scrambled eggs too. Vijay was very happy with the food. We tipped Vijay and thanked him for his service. He was delighted. 

At around 9 AM, we left Sankri in a tempo traveller. The clouds began to hurriedly pour into the valley and it drizzled as we walked up to the vehicle. We left the village of Sankri, bathing in light showers. 

I have been eating so much during the trek that I decided to eat an apple for lunch that day. We passed via Mussoorie and reached Dehradun at around 5PM. As soon as we entered Dehradun, we were welcomed by a heavy traffic. Leaving the paradise behind, I had returned to a mess that man has created. 

However, the beautiful images of the mountains remained with me. Someday soon, I shall return back to the Himalayas. Not here, but maybe in some other part of the mountain range. I never get bored of the mountain. I am addicted to the Himalayas. Who wouldn't be?

Checkout My Vlog On This Trek: