Title- An Unforgettable experience in the mountains!
Since time immemorial, mountains have always intrigued man. As an old saying goes ‘THE MOUNTAINS BECKON YOU.’ The more you are away from these peaks; greater is the urge to visit them. These beautiful mountains secretly whisper their innermost feelings into your ears. It appears as if Gods carve these enchanting heights for soul searching, only to settle us in nature’s lap forever harmoniously.
As a diehard lover of mountains, similar were the feelings in my mind too. I had laid my foot, in almost all hill stations of India. Be it Shimla, Srinagar, Nainital, Darjeeling and much more. Now was the time to drive into some wilderness. Hence, I thought of choosing a remote place far away from the usual tourist attraction. A “place” where my soul and I could have a mystical conversation. And much afterthought I chose a beautiful place called Dharchula in Kumaon district of Uttarakhand.
Dharchula is a sleepy little town situated in Pithoragarh District in Kumaun and borders Nepal and Tibet. It is approximately 280 km from Nainital. This place is also a stopover for tourists traveling to Kailash Mansarovar. A bit excited, I stepped into my walking shoes, stuffed my travel bag with the usual necessities including foldable camp chair and flask. To avoid sweltering day heat of the summers, I boarded an early morning bus from Delhi to Tanakpur Town, situated at the foothills of Himalayas. After passing a night in Tanakpur in one of the budget hotels, I left for Dharchula on the morning bus. As I passed through Champawat and Pithoragarh, the scenic view of the snow clad mountains took my breath away. I reached Dharchula in the afternoon. Though it was a hectic bus trip, the fresh air around was inspiring enough to rejuvenate my mind. I got down from the bus and started walking along the ravaging “River Kali”. Green mountains and Pine trees surrounded the valley. The weather was cool and unlike plains, I felt like putting on a jacket. It was a relaxing experience as I was unable to move my eyes away from the crystal clear blue sky.
In the evening I reached Kumaon Vikas Mandal Rest house and enjoyed a hot and relaxing cup of tea. Exhausted from last two days trip, I went to sleep early. The gurgling of the river flowing next to the rest house was music to my ears all through the night. Somehow it also mystified the environment.
Next morning, while on my tour around the town, I heard about Narayan Ashram through the locals. The Ashram was set up in 1936 by Sri Narayan Swami and located approximately 90 km from Dharchula next to Tibet Border. It experienced heavy snowfall in winters and closed September onwards. I rented a jeep and left for the Narayan Ashram via Chirkala town, which was 30 km from Dharchula. The fast moving River Kali ran alongside the road throughout the journey. The road was narrow and rough and at times curved dangerously. I could see many people traveling towards Mount Kailash.
Upon reaching Chirkala, I found the roads shut down due to a landslide caused by rain in that area. The locals informed that the army was on its way to clear up the landslide. So I bid the jeep driver goodbye and began my journey to “Narayan Ashram” on foot crossing every small path and village connecting the mountains.
The path was full of Oak and Deodar trees as I walked joyously. After a hectic climbing and walking of nearly four hours between the mountains, I finally arrived at the Ashram. The delight of reaching the ashram felt like conquering the Himalayas. I spent nearly an hour in the ashram thoroughly enthralled by the peaceful and serene atmosphere. Later I started my trek back to Chirkala. This time I came down by a different route and reached the famous Chirkala Dam located on Dhauliganga River. I was told that this hydroelectric dam was constructed in collaboration with Samsung and Daewoo Company. It was late evening, and now I began walking fast towards a local stand to catch transport to Dharchula. It was a bit dark, and I could see millions of stars in the sky along the Milky Way shining like diamonds. The moon was so bright and clear as if I could just mount on it through the hills. It seemed like a dream indeed. With a heavy heart, I took a local jeep back to the Resthouse. I even spotted a musk deer behind trees during my ride.
I got up early next day and visited the twin village in Nepal region named Darchula, which was only 5 minutes’ walk. This village was located very near to rest house and connected by a small suspension bridge of only about 50 meters over River Kali. It was a bit scary to walk on this bridge, as the river current was furious enough to send shivers down my spine. Though there was a small custom checkpoint but meant only for people carrying heavy goods. People of both the towns have freedom to move freely without any strict formalities. I enjoyed a cup of masala tea in Nepal and collected some souvenirs from the local market. Finally, I packed my luggage and bid adieu to this beautiful town only to visit again sometime.
It was indeed one of the most unforgettable experiences in the mountains and would advise the adventurous ones to visit Dharchula at least once in their lifetime.