In midst of Ahobilam – Jwaala Narasimha Swami

12.12.2016:

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The path which we chose runs along the mountain side and the other side is the valley which is full of breath-taking views. Though the views offered by this route are awesome, the path is a dangerous one! One wrong step, we will be down by a few hundred feet! So, watch carefully for your steps. We came across a small cavern formed naturally into the mountain and small ponds formed by the river. Most of the times we were alone, as this path is less frequented. At one point of time, we were even doubtful whether we are going in the right way 🙂

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After an hour and a half trek, we were able to see some other pilgrims who are making their way up and we joined them. Half the way is just a wild path while the other half has steps. We started ascending the steps which are steep and draining the energy out of us. Half way through, Bilal was down, he told me to carry on as he can’t make it anymore. I told him to wait till I return and continued to ascend. It was here when I got to see few people trying to scale a steep hill. I heard from the devotees that there is the Ugra-Stambha up. It is a steep hill to climb and full of rocks. Though I wanted to ascend it, I don’t know how much would it take to reach the place and come back and adding to that it started to rain!

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The hill which I was ascending is called the ‘Achalachaya Meru’ where the Jwaala Narasimha Swami temple is located. I need to speed up as we have to return back to Anantapur by evening, so that we can make our return journeys. So I dropped the plan of visiting the Ugra Stambha 😦 . From here, I got the first glimpse of the Jwaala Narasimha Swami temple. After ascending the steps, it was again a rugged path and the path leading to this temple goes under an overhanging rock. At the same time, a waterfall runs down from somewhere above this rock and one should walk under this waterfall to reach the temple. I saw few devotees filling up their water-bottles with this water and the feeling of walking under the waterfall with the water splashing on you after a tiring trek is truly refreshing and rejuvenating!

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While I was nearing the temple, towards the right of the path is a small pond called Rakta Kundam. The legend behind this is that Lord Narasimha had washed the blood off his hands after killing Hiranyakashipu. The pond has a red shade and hence the name I suppose. I proceeded into the temple which is again located in a small cave like that of the other temples here and it has some 3-4 idols. The main idol is that of Shri Narasimha Swami holding Hiranyakashipu on his lap and ripping him apart. It is believed that this the exact spot where Lord Narasimha had killed the demon king Hiranyakashipu. After having the darshan, I joined Bilal and we started descending down the hill.

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This time we took the other route and as always this route is quite easy to walk except that it’s a bit more rocky. On the way down, we came across a old saint and we were amazed by his power. After seeking blessings from him too we quickened our pace and reached the base of the hill from where we have to take a bus to get down to Lower Ahobilam. But we couldn’t find one and opted a free-hanging journey on the back of a 7-seat auto-rickshaw and this too is one of my most memorable journeys as I never tried one such before 🙂

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From Lower Ahobilam, we took a bus back to Aallagadda and then to Tadipatri, from where I took a bus to Bangalore and Bilal to Anantapur. Thus ended my three days wild road trip and

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The Quest begins…

Day 3:

It was another sunny day. Today’s plan was made out by Sahil. He just knows that there is an unseen place which we should explore. Though he is also not sure what exactly is out there, he was somehow so much interested to go out there. So, it’s decided. We are going to begin our quest; quest for the unseen place.

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Most come to Andaman for its beaches, but few explore the hidden beauty of these islands. We are in one such quest now. We weren’t even sure where to go and how to find out that hidden treasure! All that we know are we needed to reach Bamboo flat. One can get a ferry from Port Blair or a boat to reach Bamboo flat. Instead of opting for a ferry, uncle hired us a speed boat so that we can reach the other end in less than 20 minutes or so. On the way to bamboo flat, don’t forget to see the floating dockyard. We can also see the Ross Island from the middle of the channel.

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Sahil quickly made an inquiry with a jeep driver and asked if he can guide us to the place we were searching for. Luckily, the driver who is also a local guide told us that he knew the place and was ready to take us over there. We passed through few settlements, which typically reminds us a small village (paraschatan) and in less than another 30 minutes, we reached a place at which our driver stopped the jeep and asked us to follow the foot track on the right side of the road.

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Soon we were out of the jeep with our stuff, and asked if the driver is also going to accompany us. He said he would in sometime. We weren’t still sure of what we were behind 🙂 . We were on the track, the track was slippery with mosses and the shrubs that covered the path; and the broken pipes probably supplying water to the settlements were leaking at some places making it more difficult for us to walk. But, we were moving on. The forest was quite calm except for the chirps of the birds and us.

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The foot track is narrow and offers an amazing glimpse of the deep forests. After some 200 mts we were at a stream which we have to cross to reach the other end. The cool waters of the stream were so soothing and there were few rocks around where on which we can sit and relax. The next crossing came pretty sooner and then the third and the fourth. The fourth is a bit deeper; I mean it’s up to our knees.

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Everyone is eager to find out what is going to be there and what are we searching for. After another 45 mins trek up hill, we reached a place, which is the end point of the quest. The trek finally culminated at a water fall. The water fall called Wimberly Gunj waterfalls, which is located so deep in the forests and the lake which is formed below it in which we can swim is simply enchanting. Looking at the scene, we forgot our tiredness and soon were into the waters.

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The experience was so thrilling. This quest turned out to be the best part of the entire trip. The trek through the deep forests, the stream crossings, the water fall and the serenity of the surroundings is truly a lifetime experience. Thanks to Sahil for taking us to this hidden beauty 🙂

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The quest ended, but not my day! Wait and watch 😉

Lachung – the Zumsa governed!!

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The night was very cold. But probably for the locals, it might be relatively warm. Usually it snows in Lachung till the month of March, but not this time 😀  Seven of us occupied a small room and it was pretty warm, might be because of the abnormal population which occupied it 😀 Yet another sound sleeps 🙂

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Hurrah! It’s a sunny day again. The day started with more like a poll. The poll was about whether we would like to trek to Yumthang on the same day or the next. As we hail from a democratic country, everyone has their own right to say what they feel and ultimately there will be a hung, the same happened there too. Half of us wanted to trek on the same day, while the other half wanted to do it the next. The deadlock got resolved with the intervention of our instructors and it was decided to continue the trek the next day.

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And what we gonna do all the day? Well, we’re going on a hike, not a long one though. We quickly finished off the puri sabji that has been served to us and got ready to go on a walk around the beautiful mountain village Lachung. Lachung, situated at an altitude of 9000 ft is about 115 kms from Gangtok and is the last village in North Sikkim before Yumthang. The village, spread out on either side of the river Lachung Chu, is surrounded by mighty mountains of which some are covered with snow and some not. And the beautiful waterfalls on almost all the mountains add to the charm of this little village.

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There are lots of hotels and lodges in this village; I think there is a 3-star hotel too. So accommodation is not a problem here and hence became an important tourist spot. There are small shops all along the roads; which sells all kinds of eateries and liquor, which the state is so famous for ;). We followed a road just beside the helipad located in Lachung. The narrow road bifurcates just after crossing the helipad. While the left one leads to Yumthang, the right one leads to the remote parts of this village.

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We took the right one, and this is one of the best so far. One can see that the nature is so beautiful as well as feel the wrath of it. Probably this is one the biggest marks of an Avalanche I have seen so far. Perhaps after 5 or 6 kms of walk, we reached a small monastery, sorry for not remembering it’s name (something like Chhuwa). It was so simple, yet very beautiful.. so peaceful with the positive vibes spreading throughout its premises. To my surprise, there was no one in the monastery as well as the premises. The sanctum was on an elevated platform and there were no lights inside except for some flickering butter lamps. I could see a statue of Buddha along with some statues of others, probably of Guru Padmasambava. 

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We were back by 2 pm and went on to a small walk to the helipad in the evening. It was rightly said that the weather is so unpredictable here. The day was so sunny, but by 4 pm the temperatures dropped so drastically and in a while it started to drizzle. We returned to our rooms and started the fun part of dancing and singing, as well as packing for the next days’ as it is going to be tougher.

Wait.. Wait.. Many of you might be thinking that I left something unsaid. The title of the post, right? Well, that is the most important feature of this little beautiful village. Lachung has a unique local and traditional self-government body called the Zumsa, a part of their rich tradition and culture. The Zumsa takes care of all the local disputes and are settled by a totally representative body of the village which is headed by an elected Pipon.

The best is yet to come! Stay tuned!!!