Seobagh camp site was in midst of flurry of activities. Tents put up on a huge ground on both sides. One side for ladies and other side for gents. Reporting camp was just inside the compound where we completed our formalities of registration. We were allotted our tents with 12 people in each tent. Instructions of do’s and don’t started flowing in moment we stepped in base camp. Some of our group members wanted to do river rafting on first day which is a no activities day but it turned out to be dampener for them as one of lady camp leader informed once you are registered, you will need to follow the rules of the book and first among them was no river rafting !!!! hahaha
Breakfast was ready, tea with bread butter, bread jam, idli sambhar and only “one egg”. First day was rest day where in we were told of what essentials are required on trek and if we didn't have that. We could do some last minute purchase and come back to base camp by 6.30pm. Hints of unprecedented snow on higher camps this year and that its been raining since last one week with Kullu climate cold enough that we Mumbaikers experience in prime winter months was enough to dampen the spirit.
My first raw look at snow peaked mountains was enough to make me spellbound. Narrow ascending road with small village huts with locals in their traditional attire passing by was all mesmerizing. Everything for me was like love at first sight !!!
We got glimpse of some exotic bird species on the way as well. One of them was Yellow billed blue Magpie ....wow, I wanted to say "that's a pretty big name baby" only if could !!!
|yellow billed blue Magpie|
We reached Naggar junction by bus which took around 45 minutes. From junction it’s a steep up hill climb on tar road to Naggar castle. Naggar is an ancient town on left bank of Beas river and provides amazing view of the mountains with small houses on its slope on right side of the river. It was former capital of Kullu. Famous for its wooden castle, Nicholas Roerich art gallery and few temples which has unique architecture and carvings. On the way to the castle there is this temple called Gauri Shankar temple dedicated to lord Shiva. The architecture and carvings of the temple are charming and quite unique. The temple is protected monument.
As we moved towards the castle, we came across two more temples which had intricate and delicate carvings on the wood. The temples depicted the Himalayan architecture. The first glance of the Naggar castle is feast to the eye and enough to make one fall in love. The intricate wooden carved walls, windows, doors were truly magnificent. The castle has been converted into heritage hotel with restaurants serving unique Himachali cuisine. The restaurant over looks Kullu valley and provides spectacular view.
From here Nanabhai Sir and his gang decided to go to Manali for some shopping while Shiv, Ajay, Shreya and me decided to walk back to base camp. But not before we had awesome lunch of Himachali Pulao and Khiru (type of kadhi).It had started to drizzle while we walked towards Kullu. The pleasure of getting wet in rains is enjoyable only in Mumbai whereas the rains in Kullu was cold enough to make one shiver in no time. I didn't want to take chances with 10 days more to go and was quickly wore my new poncho. We got the bus for Kullu but it took a different route and not the one for our base camp. The route was longer than we expected and bus dropped us near a bridge over Beas river from where it was 3 kms walk to base camp. It seems that we were getting trained for worst. Walking amidst drizzle and cold wind, we were the only four souls on most part of the road. Reaching base camp I moved in to get some warmth inside the tent. Nothing much to do we waited for others to come back. Flurry of activities continued outside the tent. Evening tea was followed by dinner. It was now time for camp fire and introductions. Some earlier group members performed and group which successfully completed the trek were handed out certificates. They provided insights of life in higher camps which was more discouraging then encouraging given the rough climatic conditions and fresh snow fall in higher regions. Teja ka gang had also reached in the evening. Teja was a surprise of the day as she turned out to be sweet, slim girl calling everyone Sir than a muscular guy with his gang !!!!!.
On the way down we moved to a waterfall site. We were told to only enjoy from far and not enter in it but none wanted to in such cold falling water. After lunch we had our orientation round with field director who instructed us on things to come in higher camp and the dreaded climatic conditions. It was more like we were going for a war and not a trek !!!!
Our day again started with bed tea at 5.30am. Sun god continued its good run of shining brightly from yesterday. Our guide also wanted us to make most of clear morning and made us run few kms on the road and back. It was followed by bending and stretching exercise which would help us in higher camps. It was turning out to be a tough day. Reaching the camp we did a see off for one more batch who left for higher camp and came closer to that day when it would be our turn. It was going to be tomorrow.
A quick breakfast and we were off to rappelling session. Again it was climb up the nearby hill. Instructions were given of how it works and how it will help us. This session is important for us to overcome the fear of heights. It was a fun session with everyone wanted to get a picture clicked while coming down and for few there were moments of anxiety when legs slipped, ropes got twisted but our guides were doing great job as our mentors. With pounding hearts and claps of cheers we all competed our turn. It was now back to base camp for lunch and then it would be rock climbing session. But come afternoon and Sun god decided to take rest of the day off. It started to drizzle and our rock climbing session was called off.
|waiting for rappelling to complete|
(contd : Part 3 )