Author: root

Due to my preordained fate of having to spend all of my childhood in Singapore, I had yet to experience my fascination for raw natural beauty in my ancestral land, Nepal.

I finally had the chance to travel a bit and Solukhumbu was an opportunity I could not forgo. My good friend Sadhana Rai’s hometown was in Salyan, Solukhumbu, where her village community of  ‘Thulung Rai’ live, and we had been planning this trip for a while. Together with another friend Ranju Darshana, we set out for a week-long trip.

On the first day, we head to Salyan, Solukhumbu.

One of the most scenic drives that I have encountered in Nepal was on this 10-hour jeep ride to Salyan, Solukhumbu. There were rare moments when we passed by hilltops with views on both sides of the same road. Toward Solukhumbu, the roads got dangerous with landslides. That evening, we stayed among a Rai community and it was the rice planting season. Hence, we got to experience the authentic rural culture amid the mountains under the dazzling starry summer sky after a delicious simple meal.

The next day, we hiked toward the headquarters of Solukhumbu, Salleri, and stayed there overnight at a teahouse in Ramitey Bazaar.

The morning of the third day, we reached Salleri. We saw the district police station, hospital, major banks and district offices. We were excited to find a nice little bakery shop selling fresh cream donuts. We were lucky to receive advice from veteran climber, writer and artist, DV Kirati Rai, on the trekking route to Lukla and Namche Bazaar. We found out that it was a four-day long trekking just to get to Namche Bazaar. We were also given instructions on preparing a salt handkerchief pack as leech repellants.

After four hours of hiking among the picturesque valleys, we took a halt at Ringmo for a tea break. It felt like we had landed somewhere in Europe. As we continued, darkness fell and we were caught in the rainy wilderness with little knowledge of the diverging roads ahead. We reached Taksindu amid fear and much difficulty, and with no lodge wanting to give us a room to stay. After much pleading, one of the lodge owners was nice enough to let us in upon learning that we were an all-girls team.

The next morning, after the harrowing night, we decided that we cannot make it to Lukla without a proper guide. We had a change of plan and after consulting with the lodge owner, we decided that we will deviate our plans to the sacred Dudhkunda (Milky Lake) instead.

The trails along the forest were mesmerizing with frequent uphill ascents into the high altitude. We were glad that as food and lodging were getting expensive up hills, one of us had packs of Oats and saatu for our tea breaks. The Red Cross medical personnel gave us instructions on trekking in high altitude along with some medications. As darkness started shroud, we decided to rest at a tent-lodge in Jaule Bazaar. That night, the temperature plummeted and we started to feel signs of altitude sickness with lightheadedness and nausea.

On day five, we continued our ascent. The trees and plantations started to change shape and form, while never seen before floras began to appear. We passed through chauri gai (Himalayan yaks and cows) as we crossed dangerous rocky roads with landslides all over.

We finally made it to the sacred Dudhkunda Lake at 4,600 meters above sea level among the rain and soft cool wind. It was where the mountains spoke a different language, in this land of pretty grasses, colorful flowers and mysterious boulders, gushing streams and misty river-falls. The enormous lake holds a secret and unpredictable beauty of both earth and spirituality. The long hard climb of sheer despair and determination finally felt like a destiny when we rested our eyes in the somber, yet peaceful lake.

From our experiences with the ‘hoteliers’ and the tent-lodge owner there, we learned that trekking to Dudhkunda was actually harder than trekking to Lukla due to the lack of lodging and sanitary amenities for visitors.

And the same time, we patted ourselves on the back for the feat. That evening, we stayed over in Beni, where we got to try some yak milk and buy some churpi to take back home.

On the last day of our trek, we returned to Salleri after a long hard walk of 13 hours in the monsoon weather. In the moments of raw hardship, walking non-stop under hours of continuous rain, we wondered how the locals would get help in emergencies. As we struggled in pain and patience, there were moments of self-realization of our otherwise fortunate state.

The next morning, we were Kathmandu bound with swollen and blistered feet. It was a solemn ride home looking forward to a good shower and a lots of rest. During my moments of contemplation, I truly ended with the feeling of having gone for a pilgrimage, the pilgrimage that you make to understand your own heart.

By the end of the seven-day trip, the three of us had incurred a total expense of approximately Rs 21,000, including transportation to Solukhumbu from Kathmandu.

In this particular trek, I realized that the persons who end up leading the rest always fare physically better than the others, not because they are physically stronger but because they are always looking far ahead, guiding the others, knowing how much there is still to overcome and how much to look forward to. Such people automatically become team leaders with a vision to reach the destination. We found this particular characteristic in each of us as we traveled on, thinking how it was a reflection of how we lead our life’s journey.

Thapa is PhD in Chemistry from University of Virginia.

The territory of Pashupatinath is coated by hundreds of people every evening, with anticipations finely running down their face, gleaming eyes with the sparkles of light set in the surrounding of the temple in the evening. The bagmati sets as a mirror for all the glazing light frames crossing their paths in it, it flows as a silent witness to the beautiful ambience surrounding the temple.

The mass gathers to experience the soul-stirring chant, ‘aarati’. Aarati is a contrast between the territory of culture and celebration; this alliance never fails in attracting a huge number of audiences. The loud jangles laying the foundation of comprising rhythms and addictive background scores; ‘arati’ makes the heart strings bubble up with intensity and devotion. The aarati holds the strength to serenade the audience with its poetic and soothing sensibilities. The atmosphere of the rendition remains ambient and acoustic, with the right fit of elements and laid-back effortless velvety vocals. Towards the end, the track is perfectly complemented with the majestic fiddles of bells and a hyper groove as the powerful ‘shiv tandav strotam’ chants are delivered with heartfelt emotion and melodic panache.

The words flow around in all its forms portraying the religious sentiments, together with music adding the depth and the infectious mass running as the chorus throughout. The tunes are irresistibly catchy, majorly because it is carved as a devotional; piece that greets every soul with immaculate clarity, the melodies unfold the heart’s rhythms from the very onset. The powerful tunes convey the emotions that transcend lyrically that strikes right at the heart– taking a centre stage, and that’s ever so poignant. The audience follows up seamlessly together, gracing the track of the aarati.With the precise and decisive contribution of the lustres around the temple, people’s face glows both eternally and externally, the aarati at its finest truly embraces the very essence of the spirituality and captures the soul of everyone that comes within its aural range.

People go there to experience peace, with the enigmatic sound, with words coming together effortlessly, and the enthralling beauty of ‘arati’ opens up their hearts. After a long day of hectic schedule, aarati turns out to be the finest way of abandoning stress and getting strayed into the infectious melodies that pairs with collective strength and beautiful combination of influences.

 

No wonder why mountains are the favorite subjects of many artists- writers, painters, photographers. The beauty of mountains allures you so much that you can’t stop yourself from capturing the serenity of that beauty. They might not always look friendly, in fact sometimes a bit bossy and proud. At one moment, they’re quite unwelcoming and next moment, inviting everyone towards the shimmering curves and majestic ranges of mountains.

The lumps of snow sprinkled on the mountains, fills the void with such powerful emotions of wonder and beauty. The land extruded thousands of feet into the air creates an expansion of the satisfaction in admiring the beauty of nature. It holds a pure mystery that inspires people to have the ultimate dream of reaching Mt.Everest.

Mt. Everest is the largest and highest mountain on the earth. It resides in the beauty of Himalayas. Every year thousands of people are lured to experience the thrill of climbing atop of this mountain.
It is no easy feat to challenge the admiration, the mountains stand with. The beauty almost deceives you at times, very low oxygen levels, extremely cold temperatures and unpredictable weathers. But what is most beautiful about it is that despite all trouble she offers, people strive to reach an impressive height of 29,029 feet.

There have been several attempts to ascent, to kiss this ‘forehead of the sky’. Many a times, attempts were distorted because of unfeasible routes, weather dynamics, raging storms, but the enthusiasm of getting to the top never declined instead stretched while people started considering it a book of challenge, of adventure, of love and life and death Several more unsuccessful summit attempts were made via different open routes. Little did they know, getting to Mount Everest isn’t just about having a strong interest but requires a lot of determination, strong preparations, effortless team work and a confidence in oneself.
After a long anticipation of reaching the top, On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal, become the first rovers to step in the summit of the silent and bold beauty, Mount Everest, which stands 29029 above the sea level amidst those beautiful clouds and untold sunrises.
They both were a part of British Expedition led by John hunt, which turned out to lead the first ever successful climb. The expedition happened only after a proper study and planning of the setup, the leader would have a regular assessment about how the climbers were performing; they made nine camps before they could kiss the height. They faced the toughest of the challenges, to rejoice the beauty of a towering mountain, finally when they succeeded; they shared hugs, enough photographs at the vicinity of ever-looming Everest.

They fought every potential of death, from huge snowfalls to dangerous storms. Luckily, the members of the expedition were supplied with tons of proper materials; specially insulated boots, good clothing and fooding, proper oxygen systems and portable radio equipment. This made their journey a bit less tough, no wonder they had sleepless nights, freezing atmosphere, sleeper rocks, but their determination stood upright and took them to their destination. The partnership between Hillary and Tenzing symbolized that no matter where you belong to, you can always collaborate, have respect for each other and that’s how they made it to the top.”

The conquest of Everest was purely a product of selfless teamwork between Edmund and Tenzing.
The success of the story upholds a journey of hospitality of Nepalese people as well. The well-executed journey of Edmund and Tenzing raised so many questions, about who stepped first on the top, while it is believed that as an honor Tenzing let Edmund step first on the summit. Nepalese culture is considered to be reflection of hospitality since ages; once again Tenzing assured it with his open- heartedness and sincerity towards the guest.

People still raise eyebrows at the milestone they two could create, people praise their achievement, they learn. It wasn’t an easy journey, It was an unprecedented success story that floated above after the very first successful climb to the top of the world’s highest peak, it sparked some laid back enthusiasm, it became an example of friendship and courage and what it takes to dream of something big and actually achieve it.

Today, as men and women continue to test their fate on mountains, they’re vulnerable to many troubles, at times, losing toes, noses, fingers and even lives in the process, but there are also proven examples that the risks, unquestionably, are worth it. It also hints that you need to have a strong foundation that consists of strength; good equipment, effective preparations, and belief in teamwork to reach the summit and safely head back.

The magic of mountains continues and still attracts a hefty number of explorers to its beauty, Since Hillary and Norgay’s historic climb; numerous expeditions have made their way up to Everest’s summit.
It’s so obvious that these numbers are going to increase more in the days to come. Who would want to set back from the thrilling adventure and emotional upheavals that run in accord while you are on the top? None. The swift kisses of the breeze on the top would definitely give goose bumps. No doubt, it’s the wildest dream one would ever have. People still today continue having this wildest dream of staring at the beauty from nearest, wandering in the magic it waves, stumbling in the admonishing roar of the mountains.