being brown

She’ll Be Coming Down The Mountains When She Comes

Chadar Trek Jan 12th-19th 2014

There is something unstoppable about a river tumbling down the mountains. Its clear waters tripping over itself as it frantically makes its way to the plains. A river is helpless against the lure of gravity. I am reminded of that tale from mythology when Ganga, furious at being called down from the heavens by King Bhagiratha, descends with such great force that he fears for Mother Earth. He prays to Lord Shiva. And Lord Shiva comes down to take Bhagirathi (another name for the Ganga), in all her fury, and she gets lost in his locks. He then leaves her out through a strand of hair and that little sliver of water is what is now known as the Alakananda. It took divine intervention to stall a river coming down the mountains. The Zanskar too, similarly, comes down the mountains, tumbling over rocks and pebbles on its way- unstoppable. And yet, every winter it stops itself in its tracks, it would seem. It freezes over and if you listen closely, you can still hear the gush of the mighty river underneath the sheet of ice.

The Chadar from up-above. Photo Courtesy: Mahesh Nalli
The Chadar from up-above. Photo Courtesy: Mahesh Nalli

When Chi told me about the Chadar trek in late 2012, I was ecstatic at the thought of walking over a frozen river. The river Zanskar freezes and a sheet (chadar) of ice forms where once flowed water. But lack of finances ( the bane of my life) determined that I wouldn’t join Chi and CAP in their frozen river trek in Feb 2013. It so happened, CAP couldn’t go that time either and Chi came back with stories. Stories of ice cracking below the feet, of overnight snow being dusted off tent-tops etc. Stories that we listened to wide-eyed but CAP and I knew we had to do it to believe it. Finances improved, but January 2014 started looking like a transition period, with jobs coming to an end. Prospects of going to the Chadar trek dimmed and with that, so did I. So one evening in late October, after work, I went online and booked the Chadar trek. I sent CAP a message that I had done it and expected her to be by my side. She replied with a thumbs up. It was then that I was introduced to Gudiya, CAP’s friend from another life. The three of us prepared for what was going to be the wildest, most terrifying and funnest thing we had all ever done.

The following is a retrospective recounting of this trip and what it meant to me. It is in parts, and each of the link below will take you to each part. To protect the privacy of the characters, I have used monickers. While it may not be a very informative travelogue in the strictest sense of the word, its my reading of my travels. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. But to enjoy the trek itself, sign up for the Chadar trek now!

‘ Dying in the Himalayas is not a bad way to go at all’

“Hello, Ice!” or is it ‘ices’?

‘What you do with two hands, I can do one’

‘And we shall overcome’

The mighty mountains and a clear river

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