“How in the hell am I going to complete the trek with this extremely heavy backpack” this was the only thought in my mind as I panted up the slopes towards Madhmaheshwar. The Sun was blazing with all its intensity and quite frankly, though I hated the sweat dripping down my forehead into my eyes, I preferred it to rains. Rains, which I somehow knew were going to be an integral part of this 8 day trek. Though we had trekked about 8 of the 17 Kms for the day, the destination seemed to be infinitely far away. The sun with all its intensity was not helping and the backpack only seemed to weigh me down.
Then, a butterfly floated right in front of my eyes. Now, I consider butterflies to be a good omen, and as it fluttered around, my eyes followed. It rose higher and higher towards the sky and then disappeared into the sun, blinding me momentarily. As my eyes adjusted to the intensity, I saw something which was beyond the limited perception I have for the wonders of nature. I thought I saw a rainbow, right in the middle of the day. A Rainbow surrounding the sun, at midday, defied any laws of refraction that I had studied in my optics class. But it was there, a perfect circle, surrounding the sun, and if I say it looked beautiful or wonderful or divine or amazing, it would be like denigrating the grandeur of nature. I stood there perplexed, in shock, in awe, in contentment and in gratefulness all at the same time.
My trek mate, Surya urged me to take out my camera and shoot this event, which all of us had experienced for the first time in our lives. Citing an excuse that the sun is blazing right overhead and blabbering something about how the Dynamic range of my camera won’t be able to capture it, I refused to shoot it. The truth is, I was really tired and did not want to take down my 15 Kilo backpack, also I was very sure, this is very temporary and by the time I remove my camera it would all be gone. We took some images with our mobile phones and moved on.
I was too focused on the trek and continued to ignore the promptings to shoot it. As we continued trekking, this 22 Degree halo (which I came to know later), seemed only to get brighter and more intense. When I again looked at the sun after an hour, it was still there, as bright and colourful as it could be. It was as if, it was screaming to me saying “Why don’t you shoot me, look at me, here I am, giving you an angelic spectacle and you continue to ignore me”. I felt a serious pang of guilt in my heart and throwing away my backpack, removed my camera. From then onwards I was determined that no matter how long this event lasts, I am going to shoot it.
This halo was present for around 2 to 3 hours and I shot various frames, against the trees, against protruding rocks and with mountains as the foreground. This was one of my favourite frames.
This was day one of our 8 day long trek, and in my soul and heart, I knew this was lord Shiva blessing our trip, and he did. The next 8 days, although most physically challenging and tiring, were the most fulfilling and joyous in all of my limited Himalayan experiences. It rained every day for the next 8 days and I got almost no shots, but the valleys, places and experiences we encountered in the later days were, as if we were transported straight to heaven and none other than Lord Shiva was our shepherd.
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