It was raining incessant since yesterday. In this rainy morning, we had to walk approximately 1 kilometre to reach the bus-stand with our load of luggage. Saying goodbye to Uttarkashi did not seem overwhelming despite the fact that we loved the place a lot. Mr. Dutta is elected to be our guide – hence everyone has to follow his order though everyone is not always happy with his decisions. We had to come down from the third floor rooms taking those steep stairs with loads on our shoulder and cross the muddy roads while being drenched in rain. The stretch where there was a landslide last year is obviously worst. However we crossed that with extreme caution. Time doesn’t wait for anyone. We too walk competing with time. Sending the luggage on the roof of the bus, we entered the cavity inside. The rain stooped. Our bus started.
It took the old familiar road in the beginning. We reached Urrarkashi crossing Tehri dam through this route. The Ganga flows deep down in our left. The local bus was moving in an elephant-like motion – slow and swaying. But it didn’t jerk. Road is also good here. We took a small brake reaching Dharasu. The name “Dharasu” enchanted me – so many travelogues I’ve read introduced me with the name! This is a junction of many roads towards different directions. So many human imaginations fail to take off; so many plans go void; like flowers in the forest, so many die unknown. At the same time, many dreams come true. My meeting Dharasu is one of those successful dreams – also having a cup of tea in a roadside stall here. Chewing local gathia made me feel inexplicably happy here.
Instead of leading towards Tehri this time we took a different route towards Barkot. Ganga looked at us like a helpless mother watching her children going away leaving her shelter. No other stream escorted us in this route. Only a deep ditch at one side of the road remained constant. The bus was almost crawling upwards. In fact it crawled up and down of the mountains one after another. Did that journey of crossing so many upward and downward slopes became tiring to the bus? It seemed that the driver was forcing it to move by frequently changing gears and rotating the steering. It was protesting at every curve of the road. Once in a while a vehicle coming from opposite side brought it to a sudden halt as if it was to fall headlong. But no collision happened. If it did, I would not be writing this Song of my little road now! “Song of the little road” is the translated version of Bibhutibabu’s Pather Panchali. I tried to imagine how he would have penned down his experiences if he could become as daring as Saratchandra and travelled beyond the boundaries of own known Bengal-Bihar region? Perhaps he could give Bengali readers some more precious gifts. Perhaps he could leave more priceless treasure for our kind of starving Bengali travelogue-readers. We insanely hungry travellers are running around from one place to another in search of the some revelations. How many of us find that – even if we find, how much can we express what we see?
The dense forest on this route attracted me. None in our secured cities had ever given me such an assurance, “कोई खतरा नहीं – जाइए जितनी दूर जाना है .” (There is nothing to be afraid of – go as far as you want). I don’t know what I saw in the mysterious and alluring chiaroscuro on the road near Taluka that scared me so much that day. It did not harm me. There was no aggression in its gesture. Possible that it came to invite me – walking alone on the road. Perhaps it wanted to tell me the same line, “कोई खतरा नहीं – come without fear. The soothing Death is waiting for you with open arms. Come in good spirit!” My existence in this earth seems too small, too insignificant when I stand here facing all these giant trees. How long shall I exist with this aged ailing body? How is the value of the bubble-like lifetime of us humans before this large fraternity of age-old vegetations standing here from times immemorial? This is what happens when you face the anonymity of the big world far from the comfort of your home – you know. The tall trees on the strong mountain walls teach you to open your eyes, see yourself in the midst of the wonders created by the mother earth, realise the limitations of human knowledge and effort.
By afternoon we reached Barkot – a beautiful hill-station with a population not more than ten or twelve thousand. But in the serenity of the Himalayas, that few numbers of people made the area crowded. The bus needed an afternoon nap. We entered a good eatery. They served sumptuous lunch for 35 rupees only! My team looked happy. Nothing matters to me – my choice of food is restricted.
The driver woke up the tired bus. It was still drowsy – started growling again while the he went on playing with its gear, not paying attention to its loud protest. The bus had no other option but to move.
If the distance was measured in straight line, we haven’t crossed a great distance in this mountain region. The hairpin routes on the mountains make the roads longer. Once in a while I look downwards to see how long we have already crossed. The curvy road far below in these areas brings another thought in my mind – we have to cross the same distance while going back home. Of course rolling down could have made our downwards journey much shorter!
Unbelievable number of vehicles had almost blocked the mouth of Hanuman Chatti. Same happened in Gangotri. Is this bus ride in these areas environment friendly? I have doubt. Also true that I could not come this far without a vehicle. Our bus dropped us long before the destination – near the road to Jankichatti. We could not spend the night in Hanumanchatti as planned. This was good in a way. We reached Jankichatti directly hiring a cab. Paying a little amount we reserved our space in Kalikamli – a pilgrim-accommodation chain providing cheap accommodation to common pilgrims of India. The rooms are not bad. I realised the trouble only when I tried to clean myself. Hot water is not available. And using the ice-cold water is unthinkable – in fact not an idea suitable for our kind of tourists from cities. Visiting the hot spring here could be good option but my group was not ready after that long bud ride. One needs to carry own food or go to some eatery little far for meals – Kalikamli provides only lodging.
I didn’t miss the chance of roaming around a little before the evening’s spreading darkness over the hills. The snow clad mountain little far between the two mountains standing nearby mesmerised me. That is where Yamunotri lies. We would have to cross another five or six kilometres to reach there. I would need a vehicle – but no diesel-run one any longer. I would ride a horse.