Sometimes even in our so-called very busy schedule, a small tickle of change which you let in can make a lot of difference. For me it was one of my friends asking me to join him for a cycling expedition. My first reaction to him for the moment was, “Dude let me check my leave balance and upcoming schedule”. As the saying goes when its right, ITS RIGHT!!!
PS: This is a long travelogue of sort and I hope you will enjoy it as I try to pour my heart and mind in it. 🙂
Being an IT professional and to the best of my so-called googling skills, I started exploring the expedition through Google which showed be beautiful pictures of great Himalayan ranges and tall trees surrounded all over. In reality I had never visited such place and I was completely amazed with the virtual tour already.
This cycling expedition is organized on an annual basis by Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) and consists of batches of approx 15-30 people. This was a 5 days cycling trek which included 3 days of upward journey and 2 days of downward return course. I was nowhere concerned about what the complete logistics was but the fact that first time in my life I was going to travel far place from my comfort zone and that I could get to see snow-covered mountains (which I could not).
So like my personality of to get in perfectionist shoes, all the calculations started in my mind:
1. 15 Days leave request including weekends (An Impossible request to just 6 months old employer)
2. Cost of the complete journey and expedition. (This was minimal, thanks to YHAI)
3. squeezing in couple of other places to visit on the same route. (Golden Temple, Wagah Border (indo-pak) and Jalianwala Bagh, Amritsar)
4. Train ticket reservation.
5. Sad face of my gf as I would be away from her for so long.
You may have noticed that sometimes even though you think of doing something good but if it’s the first time, generates a lot of fear and negativity inside as you don’t know whats coming your way. I have done lot of treks but all of them were one day treks with known friends but this was a monster.
Two of my friends and I started from Mumbai in Train to reach Chandigarh which was the nearest Train Junction to our base camp. I would like to keep the readers informed that 2 Days train journey is not a joke at all and specially in Indian Railways wherein even though you have a Reserved Seat, you cannot own it as you are blackmailed by innocent and pitiful looking ladies holding young babies or old senior citizens standing in-front of you and make you feel so much guilty that you are obliged to share you seat with them with no choice. Keeping such incidents aside, the travel was full of fun and Train tour of India’s countryside. The Second factor which kept us motivated was “YES WE MADE IT” and several of heartiest thanks to Prashant for this expedition Idea.
After the hectic travel, we reached Chandigarh and started for next part of journey to Base Camp Aut through State Transport Bus. Would like to mention that Chandigarh is very beautiful city and very well-organized. The by-lanes and footpaths were well done and small grass lawns and gardens besides road made it such a feast for eyes.
PS: The travel from Chandigarh to Aut (base camp) was a life time thrill ride and so much adventurous which I will never forget in my whole life and will write another article for that adrenaline packed scary night.
We reached the base camp Aut early in the morning while I was snoozing in the Bus and as we got down while I was still in hibernate mode, what stood in front of me was huge mountain covered with tall pine trees and Beas river flowing deep down in the valley. We were standing at one side of the landscape and the view was awfully jaw dropping. For that moment I was really thankful to god to let me experience such natural beauty and of-course number of thankful gestures to Prashant for the whole idea of the trip.
We reported in the base camp and were staying in tents with a sight of riverfront and tall mountain ranges. Got to meet lot of new guys who came from various parts of country for the expedition and quickly we all jelled together with lots of fun and frolic. The Second day of the trip was of acclimatization with the new environment which included small trek to a nearby hill and lot of photo sessions in various cool looking poses along with refreshing drink made of Rhododendron flower (A kind of locally found flower extract). The third day of the trip was important wherein we were educated with complete tour details and riding techniques using Firefox and Btwin mountain bicycles with 10-12 gears and their adjustments for uphill and downhill applications. The day ended with small cycling trip to nearby village. Would like to mention that all these days the evening ended with lot of fun-filled gathering and YHAI signature campfire.
Day 3 of the trip was pretty nice as we all were ready to rock and roll on the roads. The distance to cover was from Base Camp Aut to Banjar (22 Kms) at 4000ft and was not much of uphill but long route. The Day 4 from Banjar to Jibhi was 10Kms with inclination at 6000ft and the giant Day 5 from Jibhi to Soja at 10500ft wherein the road inclination was around 40 to 45 Degree and sometimes the bike would automatically get wheelies if you try to paddle faster due to inclination and body weight.
The 6th Day was trek to Jalori Pass as we were on the height of around 11000ft where we covered few places on the mountain top full of grass lawns and tall trees. All the pain of past few days just vanished with heart changing views of nature and once in a life time experience of such beauty of nature. Some memories in life are always to be cherished and this was truly one of them.
The next two days of expedition was downhill and fairly easy and we reached the base camp as per the schedule after which all of us parted for our home with heavy heart and promises of meeting again and keeping in touch through WhatsApp and Facebook.
Our secondary plan with the trip was to visit Amritsar and couple of more guys from the trip joined us. We stayed at one of the friends relatives place and got to visit historical city of Amritsar which has one of the main pilgrim places of Sikhs, the Golden Temple. We also visited Jalianwala bagh the horrific Garden and Meeting Place where more than thousands of people were cruelly gunned down by ruling colonial times English Governor Michael O’Dwyer along with his men.
The evening ended with visit to Indo-Pak Wagah Border where border gates are shut in fashionable manner by each of the countries armed forces and exhibition of Jaw dropping and eye-popping Parade with each country side people shouting national slogan on top of their voices to showcase respect and Power.
Overall, the trip was really amazing and made me realize that there is a lot to achieve in life apart from usual friends and family and 9 to 6 Job schedule. The journey of lifetime which I will always cherish. We often make friends in office or bar or through friends but the ones with whom you share such beautiful moments of life remain forever.
I have decided to go on such escapade every year which will show me new ways of life apart from crowded skyscrapers and bustling traffic and pollution.
What about you?