The trekking starts at Mangti- Our batch members with local children
The normal itinerary of the yatra is as follows, on the second day the yatris reach Darchula and stay there for the night. Next day they travel to Mangti ( 35 Kms) by bus and from Mangti they trek upto Gala (8 Kms) stay there for the night. On the next day then they climb down to Malpa (11 Kms) by 4444 steep steps and then proceed to Budhi. This also served as an exercise in trekking for the yatris for proper acclamitatization. The luggage of the yatris were directly taken to Budhi while the yatris went to Gala and reached Budhi the next day. Now as things are improving the earlier mule route by which luggage were only transported has been converted into a trekking route along the course of Kali river which directly goes to Malpa and from there to Budhi. As we were behind schedule our L.O decided to use this route in consultation with the yatris who undertook the yatra in the earlier years. We trekked through this route, a trek of 21 Kms on the first day itself and skipped Gala . When it rains heavily Kali river’s water will be flowing over this path also and this route cannot be used as our group travelled after the monsoon we had the advantage of using this path.
Here I have to tell something about the ponies normally female ponies are used for transport of men and male ponies are used for transport of material. So the female ponies will be nicely dressed up the male ponies just have a bell tied to their necks so when they move in group the bell sound guides them the lead pony has a distinct bell. As we trek we can hear the clanging of the bells of group of ponies transporting material. One thing we should appreciate about these ponies they also understand the route and always travel nearer to the mountain lest they will fall into fierce flowing Kali river. One keeper manages the full group.
The panaromic trek route and the ponies lining the route
The Indian Government is now planning to convert this route into a motorable road and day is not far when yatris can travel upto Lipulekh Pass by jeep as now it is possible through the Nepal route. Mr Mudgal who got the opportunity to have the darshan of the Lord for four consecutive years undertook the yatara in 2007 and he told that the government is planning to cast the concrete roads else where and lay them comfortably. But definitely we will miss the thrill of trekking through roaring waterfalls which we all experienced. So rain coat is a must on this day. The goodness of the yatra through this route is this meticulous planning and spacing of the yatra with rests in between makes this yatra a better one , except for some unknown illness the yatris automatically become fit when they enter into China and they can confidently undertake the parikrama of Holy Kailash without much worry. Since in the other yatra as yatris travel mostly in jeeps many find it difficult to take up the parikrama.
The trek route is by the side of River Kali on one side it is a high mountain and the other side is a deep gorge ( 33 meters) in which fiercely flows the roaring Kali the other side is also mountain and many water falls on that side also and all of these mingle with Kali . Though there is a danger of land slide from mountains and falling into river when walking through narrow route slippery by rains and the constant movement of men and mules the journey was very thrilling especially when we passed through waterfalls it felt heavenly, the author thought the Lord is anointing His devotees who are tired by trekking to have His Holy Darshan . In many places the mountains have been cut in such a way so that just we will be able to walk and these places area called “Hanging Rocks” , and we have to walk over the boulders treading each step cautiously, as the walk way was just 3 feet wide with protruding edges of rocks forming varied and intimidating shapes and canopies. Passing by mules and herds of sheep cling to the mountain side meant we have to be extra careful. No doubt though it was thrilling it is definitely a adventurous trip also. The Nepali side mountains seemed to be greener than ours may be due to less population.
Kali river - hanging rock - waterfall (Three in one)
The trek started from Mangti we were escorted by ITBP personnel who provided water, tea and snacks also on the way when it was needed. A doctor of Uthharakhand Government also accompanied us. We had breakfast at Lakhanpur. We crossed a rubbles of an earlier land slide just ahead of Lakhanpur which has not been cleared so far as it is very difficult move machinery in these trek routes. . As this was the first day of trek the author decided to walk fully and not to use the pony, may be because of sleeplessness in the previous night or the first day of serious trekking the knees were paining a lot though the walking stick helped a lot the knees were breaking out and particularly at a down slope the author was really struggling at that time an old lady stood in the middle of the path and was looking at the struggling yatri with a kind look, she was attired in the native dress of the hill people only difference was that she stood in the middle of the road, normally the people we meet in the way give way to us and greet us with OM Namashivaya, but she stood there and gave a pleasing smile. As if by miracle the knee pain disappeared, the author felt may be Mother Parvati Herself came down to help Her son in distress She only knows the truth. But after that we trekked for about seven more days never the author faced any difficulty that is the Grace of the Mother who resides in the Holy Kailash.
We passed through many waterfalls reached Malpa (2080 m) at lunch time. Earlier Malpa was a camping site but because of a land slide which happened in 1998 the whole camp got destroyed and many yatirs also obtained Moksha ( attained the lotus feet of the Lord) so now the camp is not being set up here Still we can see the rubble covering the camp. . A memorial has been constructed at this place in remembrance of these yatris. We had lunch at Malpa and proceeded further and ITBP personnel provided refreshment at Lamari (2500 m).
Budhi mountains in the evening
The first day of trek was really eventful we passed under many waterfalls some big, some mighty, some flowing gently, some ferociously, some falling from the top, some just spraying water like a mist , milk like waterfalls and also we witnessed many confluence of rivers. The color of the water before confluence will be distinct and after the confluence it becomes one signifying the mingling of Jivatma with Paramatma and also passed through hanging rocks of all shapes and sizes. Thus the fourth day of the yatra was the day of Waterfalls of all shapes and sizes hanging rocks fierce flowing Kali and many confluences.