Sunday, November 18, 2012

Camping In Abbott Mount With Nights In Mayavati Ashram

View from Abbott Mount

Solo traveling is fun but it requires a special attitude. Neither everybody can travel alone, nor everyone can enjoy solo wandering through strange places. Sharing holds a special place in human bonding and traveling is not an exception. I started my solo traveling 5 years back accidentally when I had an intention to travel around Himalayas for a few days and no one was there to accompany me. The journey was a sort of religious experience, though not traveled far, but that experience and my empty nest both together conspired for me to begin solo traveling in Himalayas.

As typical of me, I started my day without much preparation, but I had in my mind to travel and already applied for the leaves in the office. So, in the evening, I backpacked all the necessities (tent, sleeping bag, chocolates, boots, lamp, knife etc.) and went to New Delhi station to board a train to Kathgodam.

As the train reached in the middle of the night, I had to spend the night at the railway station guest house (filthy bathroom) and woke up early morning and headed towards bus stand. I didn't have any plan as such but was thinking of pitch my tent in Munshiyari, though I wasn't sure because it was February winter and chilling wave already started to give me warmth of thrill. Incidentally, I hadn't got any shared taxi so rode a bus and reached a place called Lohaghat.

Mayavati Ashram, spent couple of days in Advaitya aura

Mother Sevier's House in Mayavati Ashram
I heard about this Ashram founded by Swami Vivekanada for the sole purpose of spreading Advaitya philosophy and practicing it. A small and quaint ashram (with all facilities) is surrounded by forests. One of the sadhus in the Ashram warned me not pitch my tent in forest, as it “invited danger”. I generally ignore all those warnings in the course of travel. However, this time I couldn't ignore the invitation of head monk who asked me to stay in the ashram. For the record, I would like to say staying in the Ashram is not easy because you need a letter from Belur Math (headquarter of Ramakrishna Mission) to stay there for one week or so.

Gray langurs or Hanuman had the surveillance 

Snow Path meandering through forests
I enjoyed the ambiance, so did I enjoy the dinner, sharp at 8:30 PM. Next day I went for a hike with Monks to view the Himalayas from the top of the forests. The short hike meandered through forests with a little discourse of spiritualism and some reminiscences of earlier monks of Ramakrishna Math made the hike quite a fun. The road through the forests was punctuated by snow falls and some strange chirping of birds and langurs watched from the top of the trees. I spent another night in the ashram and next day ignoring the insistence of the head monk, I ventured to Abott Mount.

Camping at Abbott Mount
Abbott Mount - A beautiful yet unexploited place in India

A dilapidated church, small cemetery, dense forest hill s surrounded by some of the mighty peaks of Himalayas, Abbott Mount is arguably a beautiful place and an unexploited hiking place in India. The name is after a British officer who inherited the whole place. I also saw later on the cemetery where Mount Abbott with his heirs and family rest in peace. Some curious guys came to me when I pitched the tent, asking me routine questions like “from where I've come?”, “why I am traveling alone?” etc. Later on one of the guys became a friend and we went to the deep forest to hunt for rabbit and other small animals.

Highest flame ever
Beware in the graveyard
The first time I experienced a chill (literally), the temperature dropped to zero to minus and my sleeping bag was not capable to hold me inside heated. Moreover, I was cautious about wild animals, so time to time looked after the camp fire. With experience I know where to camp fire, what type of woods burn longer, and which one burns instantly. I can survive in the wild with minimum of food, so I generally carry a little rice and pulses, some pulses, instant noodles and chocolates.

I spent two nights in Abbott Mount and returned back with an unfulfilled heart. I don’t know why every time I go for hiking or wandering in Himalayas, I return back with some unfulfilled desires in the heart. I always have this feeling that I miss something, or I could spent some more days. It is probably the spiritual quest of my travels is always incomplete, so I wait for the next opportunity.

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