Morning came. But my soul did not want to open the door. So cold it was! I had to face another trouble in addition. Yesterday I was blaming the water for being too cold, probably that dismayed her so much that she decide not to come to my bathroom tap. I had to open the door – to find an early morning commotion in Kali-Kamli. There was no water in the rest-house when everyone needed it! I didn’t need that much – my food intake is too low to produce lot of waste. I found rest of my group unpacking water-bottles to survive the war-situation. Finally came the time of our auspicious start after the sun came out clear. I was placed on a mare, as planned. This mare was not supposed to gallop. It took small steps across boulders, ditches and muddy pits before stopping every now and then. Its owner started beating it from behind; and beating encouraged her to try to shake off the heavy object from its back. Understanding her mood, I grabbed its back tighter thinking – if I have to fell in the deep roadside pit, I would fell with you, my dear! Readers don’t need to worry much. There is another option to hire palanquins carried by four people avoiding these grumpy horses. Apart from overweight people eager to collect the rewards for own piety, many like me having health issues opt for these easy options avoiding walking. But the number of travellers walking miles on this rough rocky road to reach destination is remarkable. Colourful groups of old and young – men and women walking together through the steep Himalayan route catch attention here. Sight of amazingly green bushes besides the ice-formations here and there makes the journey pleasant. Dense forests in the neighbouring mountains, some stone-built and lesser number of brick-built small-houses beside the two-meter wide road catches attention. The traveller has to be prepared to cross numerous snow drifts trying to throw an unaware person into the Yamuna flowing far below dragging him off the trail. A route to heaven is always a difficult route.
I took the help of the four-legged one; hence reached earlier than my troupe mates who were depending on own two legs. I continued waiting for them standing in front of the stable. The young horse owner seemed hungry – I kept on telling him to wait – they reached after half an hour. I felt relieved.
The narrow path is crowded with innumerable people. We pushed them to reach an eatery. We found another companion to guide us in this stony route – a boy named Vijay Singh who would work as our porter. He told he is 23 but looks even younger. My group would trek some more kilometres. I am not supposed to cross my limit.
I walked till the temple, but did not enter. I am atheist by heart. Gods in form of icons irritate me. I saw some people sitting inside the hot spring, Suryakund they call it. Believers believe that this sacred spring washed their sins off along with their disease. I have doubt whether this unclean pond actually helps – does this hot water really heal?
I came back cutting my way through the crowd once again. Again that mare was waiting for me. But coming back riding became nightmare. Descending downward slope is always difficult, there is reason these poor animals don’t want humans on their back while coming down. I got down to save my life after four kilometres; started walking with the horse owner, heard the story of two people’s falling from horse last week. Both were thrown in the deep ditch inside which river Yamuna flows at her own pace. The dark Goddess Yamuna affectionately welcomed both in her womb. Storytelling skill of the boy made my last 1.5 kilometre walk to Jankichatti an amazing journey. I cannot remember stories even though I found them interesting yesterday – remembered my daughter who has immense thirst for these stories describing sacredness of the places, gods and goddesses whom none has seen. I cannot understand how adult people find relevance in these – for me these were good pastime while walking down the dangerously steep mountain path.
to be cont.