Little did I know that my short adventure trek to Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila will turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime! I could so much relate to a quote that I read recently by Lin Yutang, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow”. But for me it was more like an adventure which I survived and at that moment all I wanted to do was to go home and be warm and comfortable!
The only reason that this trek is so close to my heart and I will remember it forever is because I remember how I almost gave up! I gave up on walking further, to save myself from all the pain. It’s good to travel in a group sometimes. If I was on a solo trek I would have been stuck somewhere in the mountains. Not that I mind that, but I would have been surely hopelessly lost!
After much chaos and last minute cancellations, I somehow embarked on my journey to the Land of Llamas! It was more of a photographic journey than a road trip! I tried to capture every moment of the trip to avoid regretful moments later. This kind of backpacking and pre-booked trip turned out to be the best of all my travels! It was probably the first time that I pre-booked the hotels and the car; I can still reminisce the baffled voice of the driver when I was trying to explain to him a different and a new route to reach Ladakh, but somehow he understood.
“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” ― Freya Stark
This line pretty much sums up the kind of person Freya Stark was. She believed in travelling unimaginable distances, seeing endless possibilities, even when most could see none. For those of you, who don’t know who this wonderful woman was, she was a British-Italian traveller and explorer, renowned for her writings about the Middle East. Her parents are known to have been quite liberal, resulting in her knowing numerous languages as a child, even though she never went to school.
What comes to your mind when I say the word, ‘August’? Let me tell you what comes to my mind. As soon as I hear this word, I think of heavy rain showers, cool breeze and greenery. The idea of trekking in August, usually when the monsoon is at its peak, came to my mind when my friend commented in one of our conversations, “You don’t go for trekking during the monsoon!” My spontaneous reply to him was “Why not?”, and then he was silent.
The question sure may have got him thinking, but I was thinking a lot about it too. Why do people not go for trekking in August, which is only beautiful and soothing? That day, as soon as I reached home, I started researching on “trekking in the monsoon.” My search made me realise something.
Reading has always been my most favourite thing to do. I remember reading with a torch inside the sheet, way past my bedtime as a kid. Even today, no matter how busy I am in life, I never go to sleep without a book. And when someone reads as much as I do, it becomes impossible for them to not want to travel. In my experience, all my bookworm friends, (that is quite literally all my friends) are fond of travelling. The inverse might not be true; all travellers may not be readers, but trust me when I say that almost all readers are travellers and backpackers. When we read something, our mind creates images of those things side by side and therefore all these years of reading about faraway places has awakened a side of me that craves adventures in unknown places. Though I have not travelled as much as I would like to, owing to demands of school and work, whenever I can squeeze out a break of a few days, I totally go for it. And when I do get to travel, I almost always find myself planning a trip to the mountains.
One of my very first getaways to the mountains was in Manali. It was the second year of my college, and I was just getting used to my new-found freedom! So three of my buddies and I decided to spend a few days of our semester-end break doing nothing, but travelling. It is important to mention that since we were quite young and inexperienced, we chose a destination closer to home and Himachal Pradesh was as far as we could have gone from Delhi at that time. Nonetheless, it was a dream-come-true for all of us as this was our first vacation ever without the constant restrictions imposed by our parents! Upon reaching Manali and spending two days in sightseeing and clicking thousands of pictures, we started to look for something else, something more adventurous to do. And when you are in the mountains for the first time, there is nothing better than trekking to give you that sweet taste of adrenaline. Dev Roopa trek’s surreal beauty helped us zero in on the destination and what came then is still etched in my memory.
Read on to know more about this trek on which nature presents itself clad in its finest of attires.
I have always travelled with my close friends, but this time I wanted to explore the world from a different perspective and travel solo. At first, it felt like a challenge to me more than a dream come true, it was like some big mission I had to accomplish! The scepticism delayed my plans. I started to feel like travelling alone and that too being a woman was a taboo. But then I had to break the barriers and do what I felt was right.
And then the magic happened! I found myself lying under the inky blue sky clustered with stars in the Spiti Valley. The solitaires of sky were shining bright above the snowy mountains! My luck took me there on a full moon night which made the mountains appear like silver. This is one experience I can never ever forget! Until now, I was scared of darkness. But out there under the starry sky which seemed like a painting of Van Gogh, I learned that there is more to night beyond darkness. The temperature was 8 degrees below zero, and I took out my warmest shawl which I had bought from Nagaland, and sat outside the tent for a few more minutes just to take in the exquisite beauty of the starry sky! I was lost deep in my thoughts and suddenly, I realized that I was all alone there and I had done it!
Blue, green and brown were my most used pastel colours all through my childhood not knowing that these colours will forever leave firm imprints on my life. I am a total hill person. I love anything and everything about mountains, clear blue skies, vast green meadows and dense forests. I don’t remember what kick started this love but it’s there now for a while and one thing that I am sure of is that it will last till my legs give away. I often venture out to high altitude terrains to move away from the dust and pollution of city life, sometimes to take a break from repetitive and boring life and mostly to have some private exclusive time with the mountains. Mountains have given more than have taken from me. Here are my five life lessons or the 5 things I learned from my trekking experiences –
1. You can’t succeed if you don’t try. You could only fail if you didn’t try I have been a reader and traveler since childhood and was automatically drawn towards mountains and their beauty. Often times reading several adventure series and travel books made me wonder if I could also embark on such journeys! What would it be like treading difficult paths like these amazing men did? I used to underestimate myself thinking I can never scale such heights till I made up my mind one day to give it a shot and there hasn’t been any stopping since then.
I’m going to be honest when I say that I had no idea what my father was getting me into. I had heard him talk about this project called Planet Harmony for really long and I knew he was really enthusiastic about it.
The plan was to get students (ages 15 – 18) and their teachers, from disturbed areas of India and to buddy them with a student from the National Capital region with whom they would stay for a few days. Students and teachers were coming from Shillong, Kashmir, Manipur and Chhattisgarh. My buddy’s name was Sonia and she was from Manipur. When I went to pick her up from the airport the first day, as soon as I met her, I knew we would both get along well. The first day we watched a movie and got to know each other. The second day we met all the other participants and went sightseeing in Delhi.
The day after that is when the real journey began. We all went to a camp called Camp Panther for ten days which is situated near the River Ganga in the Himalayas in Rishikesh. Thirty two of us students, our five teachers and the staff of Planet Harmony headed to the camp. The train ride was very enjoyable as everyone had already started bonding. We were all singing and having a lot of fun. The next ten days went in a jiffy. We did a lot of outdoor sports such a trekking, rafting and zip lining. I feel everyone enjoyed those activities immensely.
Born on 17th January 1959, , Wg Cdr Amit Chowdhury, VSM (Retd), developed an interest in adventure activities when he joined Jadavpur University in 1976 and went for a rock climbing course at Susunia Hills in West Bengal. Very soon he was climbing in the crags of Bankura and Purulia and pioneering some new routes in these areas. Besides doing a few trekking routes, he attended the Mountaineering Courses at HMI Darjeeling.
He went on to lead the very successful expedition to Mt. Jogin in Garhwal in 1980. In that expedition he climbed the hitherto virgin Mt. Jogin II. More interesting, however, was that the team managed to bag all three Jogin peaks (I, II and III), something that has never been done since then.
This marked the beginning of a very exciting and fulfilling adventure career. He trail-blazed several expeditions with the Jadavpur University Mountaineering and Hiking Club (JUMHC) and later after passing out and getting commissioned in the Indian Air Force in 1982. He went on to lead several expeditions from JUMHC and even mentored Baldev Kanwar who later went on to climb Everest and get the National Adventure Award.
Amit climbed extensively in the Himalayas to peaks such as Kamet (7756 m), Satopanth (7075 m), Jaonli (6632 m), Kedar Dome (6831m), and several other 5000 and 6000 m peaks such as Sudarshan Parbat, Deo Tibba, CB-53, CB-54, Manali, Ladakhi and Shitidhar. He has trekked and climbed in Nepal, French Alps, Avon and Dorset in England and the Caucasus mountains in Russia from 2010 to 2014.
After he got commissioned in the IAF, Amit earned his para wings and took to Skydiving. He was one of the chief organisers of the 1st National Skydiving Championship. Besides Skydiving he was also active in the IAF Mountaineering Expeditions and went on to participate in mountaineering expeditions to Mt Satopanth, Mt Kamet from the West route, which was a joint expedition with the Royal Air Force. On this expedition, he was involved in the rescue of three colleagues from the top of the ridge which involved some 4000 feet of climbing on rock and ice. It took 16 hours to carry out this rescue.
So you know how when normal fathers feel that they want some bonding time with their daughters they take them for a movie or something? My father takes me to climb a mountain.
We were going to climb a mountain called Choor peak which is located in Barog, Himachal Pradesh. Its highest peak is located at a height of 12,000 feet. The entire trek took close to 2 days. We started at 7 in the morning on day 1. It was a bit chilly. We walked for 3 hours before reaching the first tea shop and when we reached it started raining. The walk till there was slightly steep at places. The first tea shop was located on flat land, with lots of green meadows. While we waited for the rain to stop, we ate some yummy daal-chawal. Then after about 45 minutes we were ready to go.
One of our adventure enthusiasts, Jagdish Kumar Lohar, working as a Teacher in Central School in Jodhpur (Air Force area), Rajasthan, took an extraordinary trip – one that spells grit and passion.
He completed an 1800 km “Inspiriting Tour” from Jodhpur to Srinagar via Sonamarg Zojila Pass. He organized it all on his own and did it solely for the motivation of “People with Special Needs”, residing in northern India. The trip started on June 8, 2013 and concluded on June 19, 2013. This journey was completed on a single tri-scooter (RJ24 M 5147) and Mr. Lohar was accompanied by Mr. Laxman Kumar who was an assistant as well as a pillion rider (Mr. Kumar is differently abled).
They made their way through Bikaner, Shri Ganga Nagar, Amritsar and Udhampur. Between Udhampur and Srinagar, he continuously drove for 14 hours (4 AM to 8 PM), only taking 2 hours’ break in between for food!
There is a special driving license number issued for him, which is RJ-19/DLC/2002/99256 Dt. 6-8-2002.
Adventure Nation salutes this spirit of true adventure and compassion.
See the images below:
“I have no fear of losing my life – if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it.” – Steve Irwin
Born on 22nd February, 1962 to nature lovers and animal naturalists, Lyn and Bob Irwin, Steve Irwin spent his entire life living and working for and with animals. While growing up on the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, his father taught him about reptiles, and also guided him on caring for animals, feeding them and getting to understand them better. So it wasn’t really a surprise when at the age of 9, Steve began handling crocodiles.
Watch this video to see how Steve worked with the crocs!
He soon became an expert on reptiles and associated himself with the Queensland government in the country’s Crocodile Relocation Program. Steve became established as one of the most successful participants in this government -sponsored program, safely catching and relocating dozens of crocs in the most humane (and non-tranquilizing) manner.
Adventure Nation is thrilled to share with you all that our Mountaineering GuruDebabrata Mukherjee along with his team, has recently been chosen to be awarded with the prestigious Himalayan Club Award for excellence in Mountaineering for the best Indian Himalayan Expedition – 2013. This is for opening a new route to the Himalayas during the historical exploration from Badrinath to Gangotri over Chaukhamba col.
At the end of the 19th century, when many countries and avid explorers in Western Europe were resolute to head south to the Antarctic, the German South Polar Commission also suggested a national expedition to Antarctica. For his experience in the field of geophysics and geography at the University of Berlin, Drygalski was chosen to be a part of the expedition along with 31 others (22 crew members, 5 naval officers, 5 scientists).
This was the first German expedition to the Antarctic, led by Drygalski in the ship Gauss.
The Gauss Expedition started from Kiel (Northern Germany) on August 11, 1901 and reached Kerguelen Islands in the Southern Indian Ocean on January 2, 1902. After some very difficult navigation through the Ocean, the crew first sighted land on February 21 1902. But as luck would have it, later that day their ship was trapped while trying to enter a gap between two ice ridges.
Amelia Earhart’s pioneering efforts in aviation brought her international respect and fame – and not just in her own lifetime.
On May 20, 1932, Earhart, 34, set off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland (Canada), in a Lockheed Vega 5B. Some 14 hours and 56 minutes later, and tested to the hilt by challenges both meteorological and mechanical, Earhart touched down in a meadow in Culmore, a hamlet just north of Londonderry town, in Northern Ireland, to become the first woman to fly solo – and non-stop – across the Atlantic Ocean (earlier, in 1928, she had become the first woman to cross the Atlantic as a passenger).
2. Making of an Aviator
Amelia Earhart was destined to stand out, to be different, after her mother determined not to bring her daughters up as “nice little girls”.
A 10-minute plane ride in Long Beach (California) convinced Earhart (aged 23 at the time) that flying would be her life’s calling. This persevering and plucky young lady saved $1000 by taking up odd jobs so that she could take flying lessons, and give wings to her dreams. Being a woman, Earhart had to battle extra (male) expectations and try that much harder to fulfill her hopes and realize her ambitions. Little, however, would faze this extraordinary woman in a life replete with achievement and adventure.
3. Appetite for Altitude
In 1922, aged 25, Amelia Earhart bought a resplendently yellow Kinner Airster – a two-seat single-engine biplane made in the USA – which she called “The Canary”.
A few months after buying “The Canary”, Earhart would take the plane to an altitude of 14,000 feet (4300m), creating a new mark for a female aviator. She would proceed to fly even higher in 1931, piloting a Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro to 18,415 feet (5613m). A couple of months before her 26th birthday, Earhart received her pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (the 16th woman to be issued one) – she was on her way to adventure celebrityhood.
Ernest Shackleton is the ultimate personification of a time at the beginning of the 20th century that is now regarded as the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration”. An Irishman by birth, Shackleton put behind him the disappointment of his first foray into the frozen wastes of Antarctica – poor health led him to return home from the 1901-04 Discovery Expedition (also known as the National Antarctic Expedition) – to become one of history’s most storied polar explorers. His epic, though ultimately futile, attempt at crossing the continent of Antarctica would become a feat of “Endurance” for the ages.
2. Pull of the Ocean
It was through books that Shackleton got his taste for adventure. But such was his restiveness as a teen that his school (Dulwich College London) let the boy leave to seek a life out at sea. With the (reluctant) encouragement of his doctor-father, Shackleton became an apprentice aboard the Hoghton Tower, a sailing boat, and spent the next four years living the life of a seaman, learning the tools of the seafaring trade. Shackleton travelled around the world, sailing with men from all walks of life. These experiences would prove invaluable as he turned his gaze towards Antarctica.
3. “The Great Southern Journey”
Shackleton’s second journey to the South Pole was as part of the four-member Nimrod Expedition, which he led. During this trip, Shackleton and his fellow explorers reached as far south as anyone had ever done at that point in time – a latitude of 88° 23’ S, the equivalent of 97 geographical miles (that’s 112 statute miles, or 180km) from the South Pole. The party also reached the summit of Mount Erebus (3794 m/12,448ft), the first men to do so. Shackleton proved to be a fine, as well as an empathetic, leader of men. For his Nimrod exploits, he was knighted by King Edward VII.
It was a day event starting at 8 AM and concluding at 3 PM.
The schedule included pick up from HUDA City Centre Metro station, Gurgaon, snacks after reaching the destination, introduction to Rock climbing by our Guru Wing Commander Amit Chowdhury, followed by a demonstration by the Guru and the instructors. Post that all the attendees attempted and successfully climbed the rocks, the workshop ended with a lunch and then a drop back to the Metro station in Gurgaon.
Here are some moments from the day. Even young children were seen enjoying the activity:
On May 19, 1975, Junko Tabei, a Japanese mountain climber, became the first woman to summit Mount Everest – world’s highest peak. But that isn’t her only accomplishment. Read here to know more about this true adventurer:
Born in 1919, Sir Edmund Hillary, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first climber to conquer Everest in the year 1953. In addition to this, he also climbed many peaks in his home country New Zealand and till date is the only man to have reached both poles and climbed the tallest peak in the world!
Here are some of the landmark moments of his life:
An Italian Renaissance painter, architect, sculptor, mathematician, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, musician, botanist, writer, inventor and much more, Leonardo da Vinci was a true adventurer and a legend in every sense of the word! Read more about the Maestro here and his inventions on this link.
Here are some of his greatest inventions, his gifts to the mankind –