My most memorable Images of year 2018 (Blog 2 of 2)
I distinctly remember the opening scene of the recently released movie Kedarnath. The scene was of river Mandakini, flowing through the valley of Kedarnath, with temple bells ringing ever so softly in the distance. That scene was less than 15 seconds long, and I remember how in less than 5 seconds I had welled up in tears. A surge of gratitude, of bliss, of determination, of how insignificant I was raced within me, and in that moment I realised how these mountains have made me their own. That, how extremely lucky and fortunate I have been, to be aware of the blessings Shiva has bestowed upon me. That, a hundred of my life times would be insufficient to pay back for the unconditional love Himalaya have showered upon me. Every image of mine is but an expression of the love and blessings these mountains have inundated my heart and soul with.
Speaking of which, let’s continue with part 2 of “My most memorable images 2018” blog series. As before, every image here may not be the most beautiful, but is definitely very close to my heart. If you haven’t yet do check out the first part here
A Nature’s symphony, just for me
There are moments in your life, these moment, these seraphic moments which make life absolutely worthwhile. These moments, when everything that is going on in your life seems insignificant. Moments, which make you feel, as if everything that has ever happened to you, happened because it had to lead to this particular moment. Moments, that bring you down to your knees, not in pain or sorrow, but in bliss, in uncontrollable ecstasy, when tears flow freely and you don’t give a damn about any moment, but this moment. This is exactly what i experienced this particular moment on a cold January evening. Trekking for more than 15 Kilometre with a 15 kilo backpack, mostly in knee deep snow, utterly exhausted and then this.
If I use divine, or beautiful, or blissful, or golden or any other adjective we humans have come up with, to describe this experience, I would fail terribly at it. I was the lone soul to experience this symphony, that god had, I believe specially orchestrated just for me. In this moment I felt, I was the luckiest person to be alive. In the valley below, I could hear the commotion, the honking of vehicles winding along snake-like mountain roads. I imagined people fighting over what was theirs and what was not theirs, and though I would be a part of the same commotion tomorrow, in this moment, this piece of paradise, this piece of heaven, belonged to me and only me.
The call of Maa Nandadevi
You see Nandadevi once and without even having to say a word, you realise why it’s called Maa Nandadevi or simply Maa (Mother). To shoot Maa in golden light is a desire that had been at the core of my soul for years and for some reasons it always failed. Then one fine January morning, my friend called me to his village, I went, stayed there for 2 days, shot some birds and visited him in Joshimath. Here, as we were casually chatting, it struck me, as to whether I could trek to Auli from Joshimath, shoot the sunset and then trek back to Joshimath the same day. An idea that at first, scared the hell out of me. Joshimath to Auli is a 4 to 5 kilometre trek and passes through forests, which are permanently home to Himalayan Black bears. Trekking back to Joshimath from Auli post sunset was nothing less than suicidal.
But when Maa calls, you have to go. So despite being absolutely sure, that this probably might be the last photo I will ever take and that I was sure to die today, around 2 clock in the afternoon I picked up my camera bag and started trekking to Auli. The thought of how I would come back was all the while a constant in my head. Luckily half way up the trek, this bike waala gave me a lift. One part of the journey sorted 😁.
This was the day, I had been preparing for years I believe. The weather was absolutely clear and I made a number of shots of Maa Nanda and the surrounding peaks. As the sun began to set on the Himalayan Peaks I was reminded, that the most difficult and scary part of my journey was about to begin. But then, I had to go, so as soon as the sun had set on the peaks, I packed and left.
As darkness engulfed the mountains and valleys below me, I left everything to fate and was like, if I make it to Joshimath, I do, if I don’t, then I don’t. It was already dark and to avoid facing bears, I started to trek on the road. Out of the blue a bike waala going to Joshimath, stopped me and the following conversation ensued
Bikewala: “Where are you going at this time alone?”
Me: “I came to Auli and now I am going back to Joshimath”
Bikewala: (Looking at me like crazy) “How will you go?”
Me: “I will go walking”
Bikewala: “There are bears here, they may attack you”
Me: “I know, but I have to go to Joshimath”
Bikewala: (Thinking I was crazy): “Hop on to my bike, I will drop you”
Me: (So relieved) : Thank you
That bike already had 2 people in it, still they managed to squeeze me and my bag in, and I finally reached Joshimath safe and sound.
An Indelible Trip
Some trips just happen, for no reasons they just happen. These trips are beyond any logic and the experiences which one has on these trips proves beyond shadow of a doubt, that there is someone or something out there, which made this happen. You may call it god, nature, energy or whatever else you may choose to name it. But such trips are beyond what the human mind can conceive or plan of. This was one such trip, when a group of us 5, ventured on a 10 days trek, in the peak of Monsoon.
A trek which started at 1500 Meters, ascended to 5000 Meters and descended again to 1500 Meters. A trip in which we had inclement weather for 9 days straight. Every time we were either walking towards rain or getting out of rain, sunshine was a luxury we never had. My backpack which normally weighs 15 Kgs , seemed to weigh around 30 Kgs!!!! We slept at 5000 Meters, slept on rocks, slept on nights when the deluge was so strong, we didn’t know if our tent would make it through the night.
We trekked some 80 to 90 Kilometres, were drenched almost every second. Crossed streams which any sane person would consider suicidal (I did), crossed hand-made bridges. Bridges which we were sure would collapse when we walked. Crossed boulders, huge boulders, made ways where there were no ways. Climbed up cliffs where one slip of leg would result in a free fall to the valley 100’s of meters below.
But then we also experienced a spectacle of the Himalaya, which we could never have imagined existed. Valley upon valley filled with flowers, not in thousands, or hundred of thousands but in millions. A carpet of flowers welcomed us wherever we went. Landscapes so beautiful, it was like we had ventured to an alien planet. For 8 days straight, we were the only living souls treading the path, where only gods exist. In those 8 days, irrespective of the hardships we faced, we formed bonds that will last a lifetime and beyond. In-spite of me carrying all my camera gear, in those 10 days I could manage only this one shot, a shot worth the entire trip.
Light straight from Heaven
This shot makes the list for no other reason other than the fact that I find this image to be so divinely beautiful. This shot was made post sunset from right outside my house in Mansoona. The light this evening was as if ,it was send straight from heaven. Though to the eye this after-glow on the peak and sky was not visible, the camera in this long exposure shot, was able to capture this divine light on the peak of Chaukhamba. It was late September and Monsoon was leaving the Himalaya. One could, more often then not find these dark clouds enveloping the majestic Himalayan peaks late in the evenings. So I just put on my tripod, fired a couple of shots and made this image, which is one of my personal favourites.
This concludes the “My most memorable Images of year 2018” series. There are a lots of other shots with stories that would fill pages. But for this blog, I leave it here. If you have some stories, I would love to hear them in the comment section below.
Do check out my other blogs here and if you like the blog please do share 🙂
May you have the most beautiful day ever and may the Himalaya bless your life.