A View to die for (day 5)

Day 5: (Phurkiya – Zero point – Dwali 19Km) Zero point – 12007 ft.
It’s a beautiful morning, after having porridge and some eggs for breakfast, we head towards zero point, its 5km to baba’s ashram and another 2km before we reach zero point.
We are in the company of Simon and Aksu (from Finland), Dean and Sophia (from U.S.) and James (Frenchman) and two guides Eshwar Singh and Pratap Singh.
James has a gift for languages and speaks fluent Hindi, I introduce him to some Urdu words viz. behtereen (marvelous). For the first time in my life, I got to see a Hasselblad medium format film camera; James carries just enough film to shoot just 5 shots per day, on an average, signs of a mature photographer. The two guides borrow our ice-axe and move ahead to cut the ice and make a trail for us. We cross some 35 odd glaciers on the way that day, ranging from 20 ft to about 200-300 mts. wide. Crossing the first few seems really difficult, but James gives us some tips and then it’s like a “walk in the park”.

Just about 1km before Baba’s ashram we see fresh remains of the skull of an Ibex (antelope) in ice, most likely a snow leopard’s prey. We reach Baba’s ashram where he serves us hot tea. Baba Dharmanand is an interesting person, he has built a house for himself just near the slope to zero point. His ashram is made of stone with a wooden floor, has a solar powered lamp, and an LPG stove with supplies that will last him for the next two years. Baba serves food to everyone and all are welcome, trekkers are supposed to donate money when they leave.

The view of snow capped peaks, from Baba’s ashram is simply breathtaking. Another walk for 2 km takes you to Zero point that offers a magnificent and clear view of the Himalayan peaks of Changuchh, Trails pass, Pindhari glacier, Nanda Khat etc. The sight is truly overwhelming. Reaching zero point at a time when the weather is clear is very important. For this to happen, the earlier you start from Phurkiya the better. If the weather is clear, you can witness these magnificent Himalayan peaks against a backdrop of clear deep blue skies. It’s an out of the world experience to be at zero point, time and space take on an altogether different meaning. It’s a view to die for and I go on a shooting spree, shot some 40 frames and that isn’t enough. We celebrate a date with zero point with dry dates, the dates melted in the mouth and left the foreigners asking for more. Its time to leave, but this experience is worth every effort that we have put into.

We climbed down 2km back to Baba’s ashram. James sits in meditation at the temple of Nanda Devi that Baba has built in his ashram. I am not a very religious person, but I offer prayers in gratitude for being fortunate enough to have experienced such a journey.
Baba serves us khichari (spicy preparation of rice and lentils) and it tastes heavenly, one the best I have ever had. Babaji tells us that we are the first Indians to make it to Pindhari this season, by no means a big deal, but still makes us feel proud. We now move back towards Phurkiya. Since morning until midday the weather was clear and temperature was warm, but it suddenly starts to get cloudy. The skies turned dark in a matter of moments and it’s about to rain. As we hurry back there are many scenic views to be enjoyed, as we are crossing a particularly long glacier we see a huge cloud of fog approaching us and it covers an entire mountain and everything in its way. It is such a mystery that how weather changes drastically in a matter of minutes. After reaching phurkiya, we decide to move along to Dwali. Phurkiya to Dwali is a downhill route 5km which we cover in around 2.5 hrs. At Dwali we light up a campfire and have conversation with Aksu and Simon (from Finland). The topics ranged from food, traveling in India to genetically modified food and monopolies of Monsanto. It is surprising to know that both Aksu and Simon enjoyed traveling in public transport all over India and they think it as very convenient. next page >>

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