Sunday, January 01, 2017

When we got lost in Himalayan Forests- The Nag Tibba Trek

We began our trek to Nag Tibba and it was all going smoothly- the same endurance and strength and all of it in the middle of a forest. I was wondering what the different thing about this trek was that I would write on the blog. Guess what happened next? We got lost!

The Nag Tibba trek (3022 m) starts from the village of Pantwari and goes roughly 8 kms uphill. The highest point of the trek is a further 2 kms at a point called 'Jhandi'. We were at The Goat Village (Read about it here) having trekked till there the previous day. So half the route had already been covered. It was to be a half-day excursion to Nag Tibba and back.

After a healthy breakfast of mandwe-ke-roti ka sandwich, Amrit and I were headed for the trek. Mani, the TGV manager and Elita, a fellow blogger were to join us too. 

Panoramic view of the Garhwal region of Himalayas from the Nag Tibba trek, Uttarakhand. November 2016

Manita did tilak of all of us before we started. 'Go ahead with Nag devta's blessings', she told us.

We started from TGV around 10 and the plan was to be back by 2.30-3 for a late lunch. The trail starts off on flat land and slowly turns rocky and slippery. We were taking slight pauses as we walked up taking in the magical view of the valley at every turn.

After about an hour, we reached a small village that consisted of just 8-10 families. A young boy ‘Tikun’ and his elder sister sat there playing, and a mare grazed next to them. We sat there for some time to re-energise ourselves as Mani played with Tikun. I tried feeding some fresh peas to the mare, but then I have never been able to go close to any animal. Tikun at his 2 feet height, easily had control over the animal and was playing with her.

We had taken a detour from the main trail so as to avoid the steep and slippery climb. This detour, although a little lengthier, was easier to climb. Amidst random talks of porcupine spines and vulture feathers, we slowly made our way through the jungle following the minor trail and heading up.

Following age old traditions- it's considered important for the success of the trek. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand

Looking down at the valley on the way up to Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand

Trekkers on their way to Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand

'What's special about this trek that I shall write about?' I was wondering. It was as normal as any of the previous treks I had done.

We rested for a while, each one taking a spot somewhere peaceful- on a distant tree trunk, at the end of the ridge, on the grass. All four of us sat there, silently, looking into the valley far away, each one lost in our own thoughts, in our own different worlds, perhaps happy about what we were doing in the moment or thinking about what’s next in life.

From here following the trail seemed a little difficult due to the overgrown creepers and plants everywhere.

A few minutes later Mani asked us, 'Can you see a distinct trail anywhere?'

There were a few very scanty and minor trails and we followed one of them. It wasn’t the right way. We followed a second one and it took us along on a walk for sometime.

'Are we lost?' I asked Mani.

'I think we are,' he said calmly. 'But we will find a way, don't worry,’ the guide in him assured us.

'Follow the spiders,' I said laughing.

We could see the sky on top of the hill through the forest. 'That's where we need to reach,' he told us.

'Let's climb right up here, it's a little steep but not impossible,' I suggested in the hopes of finding a shortcut.

When it's just dark forests all around. We were lost in the jungle.
Nag Tibba Trek, Uttarakhand, November 2016

There were dried fallen leaves everywhere, a few inches of them at every feet we put down. We climbed up, holding trees and little plants, hoping our shoes keep gripping the ground without slipping. The higher we went, the further the top of the mountain seemed to go away.

There was no network on any of our phones. No GPS. No compass. It was around noon. Minutes passed and we kept struggling to locate the path.

'Let's go back,’ somebody suggested. But that sure wasn't an option any longer. We had no clue now where we had come from. We were absolutely lost. And as long as it was not dark, there shouldn’t be any reason to worry.

There were wild animals around, but thankfully we spotted only monkeys.

If one good thing getting lost had done to us it was that we were no longer concerned about how tired our legs were. All we wanted at that moment was to somehow reach Nag Tibba.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity (a full hour) we managed to climb our way higher and higher up and discover the actual trail path. We just stood there for a few minutes, relieved and smiling.

After an hour of struggle we could get back to the trail. Nag Tibba trek, Uttarakhand

A short walk from here led us to Nag Tibba. It was close to 1 and we were absolutely exhausted. The snow clad Himalayas greeted us from behind clouds at a faraway distance. We clicked some photos and were happy we had made it to the top.

We sat there for sometime and visited the Nag Tibba temple. Here we met a couple who had been to Jhandi and back that morning.

'You must go there,' they told us. 'The climb is slightly steeper but the view from the top is worth it'.

We had just climbed a mountain on our knees. How much steeper could this be? I thought.

'I doubt we are going to come here again anytime soon, so let's just do it,' I said.

'I just have tea and some biscuits. Will you be okay to wait longer for lunch?' Mani asked us. He also informed us that he has never been to Jhandi.

Elita and I agreed. Amrit decided to stay back. He was happy his first trek was complete and he was satisfied. A wise decision perhaps.

View of the distant Bandarpoonch range of the Himalayas from Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand

The Nag Tibba temple at the end of the trek

The trek to Jhandi

We started the 2km trek and before we could lose sight of Nag Tibba, all 3 of us were panting. I am quite certain that we all had the thought of going back at that time but thankfully nobody said it. Slowly and very slowly, we climbed up.

The great thing about trekkers is you may or may not find many of them on your route, but anytime you find one trekking down while you are headed up, they are bound to encourage you. 'About half an hour more and you would see a view you would be proud of', said one of the foreign trekkers on his way down after about an hour of our climb.

We hadn't gone very far. Nag Tibba was visible. But we were already exhausted and were having second thoughts.

On the way to Jhandi, Nag Tibba, through the dense forests.

The three of us were hardly talking. We were physically exhausted to all limits. It simply was a strong will power that kept us going.

We finally reached a clearing in the land, a small hillock and a flag fluttering madly on top of it. We had reached. I couldn't walk anymore and sat there for a few minutes, barely a hundred metres short off the destination.

'The view from the top is amazing' I remembered the trekker's words and slowly walked up to the flag- the jhandi- literally in Hindi.

And then I saw it. The much talked about view. There facing us stood the entire Himalayan range of Bandarpoonch, snow covered and with no end on either side. There was a chill in the air and within seconds we were wrapped in our thickest jackets and mufflers.

There was no fourth soul in sight. We decided to celebrate the victory by feeding our hungry stomachs some tea and biscuits. We were overjoyed. I just wondered how much more beautiful the entire trek would be in a month's time when snow engulfs the entire area.

View of the Himalayan range from, Jhandi, Uttarakhand

Yeah, that's the 'jhandi' or flag. Someday someone decided to put up a flag here and so the place was named, or so goes the story.

We were hungry and those biscuits and tea were the best we ever had. Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand

After spending a good half hour on the top, we decided to head back.

'Let's just aim to reach before it gets dark,' Mani told us.

The trek down to Nag Tibba took us just half an hour and then to TGV another hour and half, this time straight on the trail path without detours. We saw the sun going down the mountains in the west just before we reached. Nature’s beauty was showcased in the most artistic of colours. The small joys you get after a day of toil.

As soon as we arrived at TGV, the kitchen sprang back to life and hot mint tea was prepared for us.

The view of the barren mountains on our way back from the Nag Tibba trek, Uttarakhand

That evening we saw the moon rising from behind a mountain. There is no other source of light for the photo. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, November 2016

That evening we saw the moon rising. Exactly like the sun. And it was a view to die for! The next day was the super moon and I could only wish to extend my stay for another night.

I was invited for a stay at The Goat Village, Nag Tibba in November 2016. The Nag Tibba trek was part of the itinerary and highlight of the trip. All views and opinions in the post are completely personal.

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4 comments :

  1. Sometimes getting lost is the best thing to happen. Loved the entire account antarik. Pics are superb too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hhahah -- 'What's special about this trek that I shall write about?' <<THAT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I recorded that line on the phone you gave me a look that said 'How weird is this guy'. Hahaha!

      Delete

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