Sunday, June 2, 2013


A Small Flash back :

            It was a brand new year, January 2013 and it was time for me to plan my this year's Himalayan Trek. Initially I was planning for a wild and wonderful trek to Rupkund Pass. It was in my radar from past three years and decided to do it this time with the same team that did Everest Base Camp(EBC) last time. But as always there were many who were not ready for this. At the same time my close friends started planning for Saurkundi Pass with YHAI(Youth Hostel Association of India) and when they plan believe me It's not easy to say NO directly. As I had heard that Saurkundi Pass was a very easy trail, I had reservations in doing this. But just the thought of spending 13 days with my close friends blew me away and I just asked them to count me in for the Saurkundi Pass trek organized by YHAI.

Time for an Imagination:

            Imagine a completely new way of leading life which, may seem like ridiculously indifferent for many Bangaloreans. Staying in a small tent with eight to ten close friends, Waking up at 5.30 am when the temperature is below 5 degrees Centigrade, touch ice chilled water and using the same ice chilled water for all other purposes, exhausting morning jogging and exercises, scheduled and timely intake of completely nutritious food , trying your hand at rock climbing, rappelling  and river crossing, showing your talent during the camp fire program, enjoying other's performances, everyday trekking around 6 to 10 Kms, enjoying the greenery all along the walk, having lunch at one of the most beautiful places  on Earth, witnessing the unique activities of Nature like Pollination, Snowing and lightning, enjoying while sipping a cup of hot tea or soup at scenic spots, walking on Snow, sliding on the Snow, helping each other during difficult times, sharing sweet and bitter things with the ones you love and believe,  knowing different cultures and learning the good things from team members, forgetting and relaxing from the busy bee life of ours, searching all the time for the different patterns in the clouds and mountains, playing silly and stupid games like kids, screaming our hearts out of sheer enjoyment  and finally capturing all the wonderful views, different moments and creating memories with our small cameras. How was it to Imagine this??? This was not just an imagination, this was how our trek was and this was just the brief summary of our Trek to Saurkundi Pass, in Himachal Pradesh organized by YHAI. It looks interesting isn't it. Believe me, it's one of the best places to relax during your holidays and I am sure YHAI makes your stay a pleasant one.
A View of Saurkundi Pass
Planning!!! Anything Required???

               Before going for any trek, a lot of planning goes in the background. But this time nothing as such was required as YHAI made everything easy for us. We just had to book our tickets to Delhi and arrange transport to 15th Mile(Bade Gram) which comes in Kulu-Manali road. The bookings for the Trek starts in January every year and it's always better to book as early as possible as there is a huge demand for these treks organised by YHAI. Everything looked good before this grand adventure happened in the Airport.

You can catch all the Photos in the below links:




Day 1- April 30, Tuesday:  Travel to Delhi and from there to Hrishikesh

                It was on April 30th, at around 5.30 PM,  we a group of six reached Bangalore Airport. Our flight to Delhi was at 8.30 PM. We all were very happy that no one came late that day as coming late and missing buses and flights is a usual habit for some of us in our group. After having some snacks we decided to check in. That's when this incident happened. If you are a frequent traveler in Flights, you will know that we have to submit our Credits Cards that we used for Flight ticket bookings. Unfortunately my friend who booked the tickets had brought all other credit cards except the one used for ticket booking. Then we were told to pay the entire ticket amount using other credit card. We were surprised at such a strict and rigid rule and we didn't find any other alternative. But after some inquiry we got to know that they would reimburse the additional amount in 15 days. This was a relief and entire 60,000 Rs we paid again praying God that it will be reimbursed. After this grand adventure we boarded our flight and off we went to Delhi. Learning from this, You may have hundreds of Credit Cards, but while travelling, never forget  the one you actually used for the flight Ticket Booking.
                It was around 11.30 PM when we collected our baggage in Delhi and just at the exit of the airport our Tavera cab was waiting for us. You may think, Tavera Cab from Delhi? Why so. We had planned a buffer day before going to YHAI base camp and that's the day when we had planned for Hrishikesh - The Land of River Ganga ji. You will definitely come to know about our plan in Hrishikesh. But for then, It was time for a eight long hour journey to Hrishikesh in a old Tavera Cab with a slow and steady driver. It was time for me to close my eyes and go to my ever green and ever interesting dreamy world.

Day 2 - May 1, Wednesday: An Adventurous day in the Land of Ganga ji

                When I decided to come back from my dream world and opened my eyes it was around 7 AM and I was told that we were in Haridwar. When I completely opened my eyes, our cab was parked on a Bridge and below that bridge I saw River Ganga ji flowing slowly. It was the first of the so many different Views that we saw of the River Ganga ji. From childhood we had heard so many stories about this great Goddess River and I was excited to click few Photos of the river. Then after lot of debates, we decided to go to Hrishikesh and book a small lodge so that we can dump our luggage and freshen up. Breakfast we had in a Dhaba was very good and the Parota that we had there was a delicious start for our two week long stay in North India. First it was time for us for famous River Rafting. It still creates an anger within me for the ridiculous driving of a cab driver, who took us from Hrishikesh to the starting point of the rafting. Then we had a wonderful River rafting for almost two and half hours. Some of the rapids were just as good as you get but it was in no way comparable to the one I did in Nepal an year back. That was just as wild as it could ever get. But still it was fun to Raft in some fast Rapids. There were NINE Rapids totally and Turn To Center, TOP, Keep To The End, Roller Coaster, Thank God were few memorable ones. Then it was time for Bungee Jumping. Because of last year's experience and due to some reservations from my sweet MOM, I kept out of the Bungee Jumping part. The dudes enjoyed that a lot and it was fun clicking some Photographs of them doing the Jump. It was a 82 m jump and they all did it without any difficulty. It was almost 5.30PM before we headed back to Hrishikesh and we just packed off quickly and we started our journey to Bade Gram or 15th Mile base camp which come near Manali. In all these we had completely forgotten that fact that we didn't have our Lunch on that day. But skipping one day's lunch for so much adventure won't matter much. The Journey to our base camp started and our greatest adventure of our trip started with that as well.
A View of Hrishikesh
Few Frames from Bungee Jumping

Day 3- May 2, Thursday: Adventure in Reaching YHAI Base Camp.

                The journey to YHAI Base camp near Manali started at 6 PM in the evening. We were told by the driver that it will be a 13 hour journey. But guess how much time it took for us to reach our destination. It was just 22 Hours. You can imagine our fate and our condition just when we reached the Bade Gram or 15th Mile YHAI base camp. It was a mix of wrong calculation in journey and driver's ineffectiveness that cost us nine to ten hours. But finally we somehow safely reached the YHAI base camp at around 4 PM in the evening. I still can't forget how my friend managed to save 3000 Rs with the cab driver with a heated argument. The camp was located just besides the main road which connect Kulu- Manali. Just besides the camp River Beas flowed with a roaring sound. Then it was time for completing the formalities, settling down in the new tents, savoring  the YHAI food and finally acclimatization:)

15th Mile YHAI Base Camp
Day 4- May 3, Friday: Relaxing Day in Bade Gram

                It was 5.30 am when I opened my eyes and it was time for morning exercises. It was a wonderful experience as I learnt so many good, new and effective exercises. It was a bit exhausting but I loved to be part of that. Then it was time for a small Acclimatization trek where there were Introductions about the group members and finally a group leader was elected for leading the group of 36. After Lunch we had a orientation class in which we were told about what all to do and what all not to do. We went for a small shopping session to Pathlikul which is around 3 KMs from the YHAI base camp. It was again time for Camp fire and we spent our first day of our trek without any adventures.

During Sun Rise
Early Morning Exercises
Early Morning Exercises
Our group SK8 giving Send off to group SK7
Day 5- May 4, Saturday: Boring Day to a Memorable day

                Again it was 5.30 am when I opened my eyes hearing the whistle sound. Early morning exercises kept us in good mood. We did Rappelling and Rock Climbing. But this time it was so boring that we thought twice before going for the second session. But all the while we were planning for our skit that we were supposed to perform  for that night's camp fire. The dinner was fantastic and we felt like we were given a farewell. But later realized that SK1, that first YHAI group of this year returned to the Base camp after successfully conquering the Saurkundi Pass. We just thanked them for helping us in getting such a nice dinner.  After one or two rehearsals of our skit, we performed our Skit called "Engineers Life in Namma Bengalooru". Wow. What a successful performance it was. All we could hear were claps, whistles, appreciations and congratulations. A special mention of our Performance by our YHAI field director was an icing on the cake. After clicking few Long exposure Photos of our 15th Mile Base Camp, we started dreaming about the Trek that was supposed to start the next day. Saurkundi pass started to occupy my dreams completely.
Camp Fire in our Base Camp
Day 6 - May 5, Sunday: Elections in Karnataka, Trekking to Segli Village, Himachal Pradesh - 7100 ft
                There were no early morning exercises this day, but I made sure I captured few photos of people doing the early morning exercises amidst the snow cap mountains. After completing the breakfast we packed our bags and assembled for a small talk from the Field Director Swami sir. We were on our way to Segli village, our first higher camp. We were given a wonderful send off by the other groups and finally we were on our way to Segli Village. It was a 8 KM trek. No so difficult stretch. It took 6 hours including the breaks and Lunch. Segli base camp was set up under a canopy of trees. You can imagine how cold it will be as there was no place for Sun to come and help us. Due to heavy rains, the entire camp was slippery and as always many including me fell many times. Schedule in higher camps was the same. As soon as we reached we were offered a welcome drink followed by Soup. We were then provided with a Sleeping bag and two blankets. Then dinner and finally Bournvita. The next day morning, the optional bed tea at 5.30 am, breakfast at around 8 am, packed lunch at 8.30 am and returning the sleeping bags and blankets at 8.45 am and departure at 9 am. In the mean time we realized it was May 5th and it was the D-Day in Karnataka. I just scolded myself that I was not there to vote this time. I just smiled realizing that I will have no right to oppose Government on anything for next five years. It was a Not so tiring day, but there was no one who could stop me from entering into my dream world.

Twins - Ishika and Rishika
A View seen on the way to Segli
Isolated Segli Base Camp
Another View of Segli Base Camp
Granny and Her Grandson
Day 7 - May 6, Monday: Slippery Segli to Isolated Hora Thatch - 9000 ft

                After following the schedule, we left Segli at 9 am. It was a Rainy day and we all trekked with our Rain sheets on. The trek was very steep and it continued to be steep till we reached Hora Higher Camp. It was a 10 KM trek and took almost 7 hours. A tiring day for many in our group and we reached Hora thatch at around 4.30 PM amidst heavy rains. Another base camp located at an isolated place. There was no view whatsoever. I was disappointed seeing the base camps at such places. The schedule again was the same, but surprisingly we were served with finger chips. It won't be a very big deal to have it every day in Mc D or KFC in Bangalore, but you just have to eat it there in that cold to experience the feeling and to know the value of it. A Good Trek, but still no good views to capture in my Camera. At this time I was told by my camp leader that the next base camp is the best of all the base camps. It suddenly generated a glimmer of Hope.
Hora Thatch Base Camp
In Hora Base Camp
Day 8 - May 7, Tuesday: Hora Thatch to beautiful Maylee Thatch - 10500 ft

                This is the shortest of all the treks. We left the camp at 11 am and in one hour we reached the Lunch Point. The Trek was some 5 Kms and it took some 5 hours totally. Even though it was a very short trek it was in many ways a memorable day. This was the day when I experienced Snowing for the second time in my life. Even though it was for a short time it was fun, as it made me to remember the Snowing that I saw for the first time in Nepal during my EBC trek. But the highlight of the day was seeing the Pollination in forest. What a scene to witness!!! As it was airborne Pollination, It will be like a green smoke coming out of the forest. You can see some green dust deposited on your T shirts as well. First time I witnessed this in my life and after that suddenly it started raining heavily. In 10 minutes again Sun took over. Such a contrasting weather conditions you witness in Himalayas. We reached the camp at 3 PM and it was wonderful meeting our camp leader Sunil ji. What an enthusiastic person he was. He made us play few games and never ever I had seen a person who could involve with strangers like him. As I was told, this base camp was just amazing. Finally I clicked few Photos and the one with the Golden Light falling on the Snow Peak during Sun Set stood out from the rest. After a fun filled Tent Fire(without fire of course) we again went into our respective dreams.

Contrasting Expressions
Maylee Base Camp
Team SK8 Jump
During a Game 
Silhouetted Jump
During Sun Set in Maylee

Day 9: May 8, Wednesday: Maylee to Doura Thatch - 11300 ft

                As the views in Maylee were mesmerizing, It was time for me to do a early morning Photo shoot after some time. Also it was time to enjoy the Sun bath, as last two base camps were Isolated in Jungle. The trek was a short and steep one. It was very steep actually. But the Views that we were witnessing, blew away all the tiredness. It was a 8 KM trek and the heavy wind didn't help us either. It was so cold that we had to wear our sweaters, jackets and gloves for the first time. That was when we first observed the huge chunk of Ice deposited just besides the trekking path. We tried our hand at Sliding on Snow for the first time in this trek and Oh boy what a fun it was. We reached the Doura camp at around 4 PM. We walked to the Uphill and WOW. What a place it was. Sipping hot Soup with the fried Groundnuts in that Cold was a feeling that you should experience. It was time for Photo shoots and after that It was time for total relaxation. Deep inside my heart, I already saw an Imagination in which we all were jumping in joy on the Saurkundi Pass.
A View on the Way to Doura Camp
A View on the Way to Doura Camp
Beautiful Doura Camp
Jumping in Joy
Sipping a Cup of Hot Tea in Himalayas
Pollination Process in Progress
One more view of Pollination Process in Progress
During Sun Rise in Doura
Day 10: S Stands for Snow, S for  Scenic, S for Sliding and S also stands for SAURKUNDI PASS - 12900 ft

                Some times words are just not enough to describe the feelings about the Trek. The views of the Snow cap Mountains was just mesmerizing. Far away from Saurkundi Pass we saw, Amta pass, Singor Pass, Chandrakeni Pass, Rohtang pass. It was a pleasure clicking those views with my camera. The Slides that we did, totally 5 was the best experience I had in this trek. One slide was of almost One and half kilometer distance. I don't think I will get such an experience anywhere and anytime in my life. It was steep ascent and then walk on Saurkundi Pass for a while and then a steep descent to Longa Thatch. The total trekking distance was almost 14 Kms and time we took to reach Longa was almost 9 hours. We reached 12900 ft altitude and it was a normal sunny day which helped us to get wonderful 360 degree view. As we had huge distance to cover we didn't get to spend too much time in Saurkundi Pass.  I heard from our guide that the water starts appearing in the lake sometime later in the year and people come there to take the Holy bath. They all consider Saurkundi pass as a very holy place. After some memorable slides, we reached Longa Thatch which is at 10800 ft at around 5 PM and to my surprise everyone from our group was totally fit and fine. Then the same schedule again followed and the beautiful horses in the camp gave me enough opportunities to click some wonderful Photographs. Finally the expectations that I had about the Saurkundi Pass Trek got fulfilled and surprisingly both my camera batteries still had some charge left in them. Then it was time to close my eyes and dream about the memories of walking on Saurkundi Pass.
A Steep Ascent
First Sliding Point
Himalayas in a Fish Eye Lens
Just Before Saurkundi Pass

Walk On Saurkundi Pass
Memorable Jump in Saurkundi Pass
Our Guides with the Indian Flag
That Memorable Tough Walk On Snow
On Saurkundi Pass
Second Sliding Point
We Six on Saurkundi Pass

Day 11: Longa Thatch to Lekhni Village - 8100 ft

                I was actually fed up of clicking Photos that day. Sometimes you do feel like sitting alone somewhere and just staring at whatever you see in front of you. What better!!! I had beautiful and magnificent Himalayas in front of me. It was a relaxing day and we had to cover very less distance to reach Lekhni Village. It was around 8 KMs trek but it was a complete descent. Our job was to help the older trekkers and help them reach the lower camp safely. We reached Lekhni camp at around 3 PM and it was a treat to see a single wooden house situated alongside an Apple Orchard and finally we were happy that we came back to Civilization. Other than the Incident, in which one of our team member getting his leg fractured, It was a good experience spending a night in a Big Wooden house instead of usual tents. The penultimate days Camp fire was just amazing and I felt it was a grand musical end to our beautiful and adventurous trek.

During Descent
Longa Thatch
Longa Thatch Base Camp
Horses seen in Longa Thatch
Some where Some One was enjoying Para Gliding
Bird - Mag Pie Robin
Horses seen in Longa Thatch
Day 12: Back to YHAI Base camp and It was time for Hugs and Hi fives.

                Our trek to YHAI base camp started at 9.30 am. On the way it was time to enjoy the delicious Cherries and Strawberries. How fresh and How tasty they were. I don't know how many I ate, but even after eating so much, I felt like eating more. The Himachal Special Giccha Sweet, hot Saddu were very tasty and still, I feel like tasting them again. After a 5 Kms trek which hardly took 2 hours we reached Kulu- Manali Highway, Manali Resorts to be precise. From there it was time to catch a bus and travel back to 15th Mile YHAI base camp. We were received with smiling faces and after all the formalities and repacking our bags, it was time for us to leave such a wonderful place and group. We collected our Saurkundi Pass Completion Certificate and bid a adieu to each and everyone. YHAI  successfully helped us in witnessing something which we ourselves would not have done it so easily. Hats off of to the service they are doing and I am sure I will be part of them some time in my life for sure.
                Later we took a Room in Pathlikul and finally it was time for all of us to take Hot Water Bath after 10 long days. We finally saw a TV as well and to my luck I saw Mumbai Indians playing wonderfully and winning comprehensively on that day. Tasting Himachal Special Sweets was the special highlight of the day. After dinner it was time to sleep on mattresses for the first time in 12 days and just imagine how we might have slept.

The Samsung Flower
Close Up of a Flower
Our Team - SK8
Day 13: Shopping in Manali and Off to Delhi

                It was time for us to shop something for our respective families and what better place can we get than Manali.  I have lot of memories with Manali and as soon as we put our leg in Manali, the same streets reminded our fate two years back. We all remembered it and checked our pockets whether we had enough cash this time. We all smiled after all these and bought enough stuffs so that our parents won't complain about us not getting anything for them from such places. The thing that we most enjoyed in Manali was the Lunch at German Bakery. The ambiance, the service, the food quality, the price just amazed us. Imagine six hungry people eating whatever they see in menu, like dogs and seeing a bill of 700 Rs, that too in a place like Manali. I am sure next time when I go to this place I will surely go to this Restaurant. It was finally our time to pack our stuffs and board our bus to Delhi. 13 Hours was the estimated time and I closed my  eyes hoping that we need not have to sit and travel for 22 hours.

Day 14: On Time in Delhi and back to Home Sweet Home

                Bus was surprisingly on time and Temperature in Delhi was shockingly normal. Waiting in Airport without having anything to do is just annoying. Finally news papers came to my rescue. We got to know Mr. Siddaraamaiah from Congress became Karnataka's Chief Minister. Felt good hearing that we finally got a capable CM to do something constructive in Bangalore. We boarded our flight at 11. 30 AM and at exactly 2.15 PM, we were there at Bangalore Airport. Mom made Rice, Bhendi saambar and Curd Rice were waiting for me at home and with that we were done with our 2013's Wonderful Himalayan Adventure.

Things which you must carry:

            Photo ID proof, YHAI membership card and registration form, medical certificate, Flight tickets, Tooth brush, tooth paste, Mouth wash, face wash, hand sanitizer, tissue papers(wet and dry roll), slippers(sandals preferred),liquid soap, shampoo, sun cream, moisturizer, cold cream, anti fungal powder, 2 set gloves, sun glass(anti UV), hat, 3 pairs of dresses and socks, one set thermals, torch, knife, lighter, nail cutter, plate, glass, spoon, shoes(preferably water proof), energy bars, chocolates, glucose, at least 2 water bottles, playing cards, sweater, Poncho(Rain sheet), jacket, credit card(don't forget the one you used for booking flight tickets) and debit card, Money(as much as you want), first aid kit, basic medicines, a water proof rucksack and most importantly your uncluttered MIND.

Before Wrapping it Up:

                Saurkundi Pass with YHAI is a Wonderfully Organized, Disciplined, Easy to do, simple  challenges to tackle, Amazingly Scenic and absolutely relaxing and once in a Life Time experience. Views during the stretch just blows you away and Slides are the most fun filled and adventurous part of this trek. For me it was a Wonderful experience leading a group of 36 people.  Oh ya, I never mentioned, I was the one who was selected as the Leader of our SK-8 group during the acclimatization Trek on the first day and It was a pleasure and privilege leading  them all through the Trek. It was complete learning experience and the most important thing that I learnt from this trek was, to have patience all through the life and to have control over my temper even though the situation is in a completely opposite state than the way you expected it to be. The Mafia game which became so famous during the trek, Bluff, Anthyakshari, Scaring people with some bloody scary stories, running for Sun rise and Sun set Photos with my camera, conversations with the elders about their experiences and finally the Jumping Photos which we clicked are just unforgettable. If I see all the Photos now, they just takes me to Saurkundi Pass again and creates a satisfying smile on my face.  If I have to compare this with Saarpass, which we completed in 2011 and which is another range in Himachal Pradesh Himalayan Range, Saarpass is Scenic all through the trek and it's a bit tougher than Saurkundi Pass, but when it comes to Snow, Saurkundi Pass just stands above Saarpass. YHAI rocks, Saurkundi Pass rocks and finally My Group SK-8 just completely Rocked.
This Sums Up Everything

Click here to get More details about YHAI 's plan:

YHAI Website

If you have missed the link at the top, here are some links where you can catch all the Photos :