Gadheran 010

Nyagraan to Gronda (over starhsyo bridge over river Ravi)

Well….So, here I am…not refering to the piture(coz of course that’s supposed to be me otherwise what’s the point of my starting a blog if i’m nowhere to be seen,ryt????…What i mean is that i’ve got no business being here,writing a blog, for many reasons,good or bad,,,,,to begin with:

  1. I never had given starting a blog a serious thought because i’m too lazy a person and a habitual procastinator to keep updating a blog.
  2. I belong to a rare breed of ambiverts with DNA of introverts ,so sharing anything personal is nothing less than”original sin’ to them.(for it “gives them away“)
  3. I belong to a generation in India that saw a shift from audio cassettes to i-pods,Mario-Contra-Icelander-Gilli Danda to X-Box,DD1-Cable to DTH etc….and much of this advanced techno-geeky stuff just passed me by right under my nose though i gave my best to run along….and got stuck in books midway 😦 🙂
  4. Nor I’ve got no writing skills whatsoever and if the idea of “Division of Labour” even remotely holds true,then professionally also “writing” is the last thing my profession allows me to do or will allow to in the forseeable future 😉
  5. Finally,my unripe age does’nt allows me to even “think” authoritatively on any issue let alone “write‘,…..but…i like to take my chances 🙂
    Someone has once rightly said that a man has got only two reasons to do anything:
    a.) A good one
    b.) and, A real oneSo, my good one is…. I’m writing this because i want to share what was one of the great experiences of my life……and it was fun!!!!!!
    and ,my real one is/are…
    I want to get done with this “experience sharing” project ASAP and move on to attend for my current “materialistic” calling of the scheme of things…..and (perhaps the truest one is…) i want to see where those books/novels i have mugged ,things thought and seen ,in my life so far have gone.

May be i’ll write after another couple of days or months or years or may be never!!!!Who knws!!!! All this work is my personal observation/opinion ,with which some may differ.I’m open to such criticism and hold full responsibility for the same.

I dedicate this writing to the common “Gaddi Shepherd”Who , to say “THROUGH CHANCES VARIOUS and VICISSITUDES MANY ……HAS ALWAYS MADE HIS WAY…..So this writing is for “Gaddi Spirit”….Hope you enjoy it!!!!!!!

Since childhood i was intrigued by the funny sounding last name “Bharmouria” attached to my name.I was told by my parents that we belong to a tribe called “Gaddis” who used to ( and many of them still do) make their living by rearing herds of sheep and goat across the northern regions of country and who basically belong to a place called “Bharmour” in Chamba district in H.P.Gaddis call their herd as “Dhan” which obvisiouly meant wealth for them as it was their sole means of livelihood. As the time passed by i grew up not totally uninfluenced by Gaddi culture as language at home was strictly gaddi language( althugh i skipped on dat earlier but became quite fluent later), and also marriages,social functions and more importantly Gaddi folk music (We have our own version of Ramayana sung in Gaddi language!!!!) etc. kept me hooked to it.So hearing the interesting fables of Gaddis from my family and relatives….eg.How a lady scared a Pahadia (local ghost) with her wit and wisdom, glowing of mysterious lights( jaldhirs ) on the hills , tales of “Chaledaa(cunning&witty ghost)“, the gaddi who almost scaled Kailash Parvat but the last step, “Dain kund” and many such intriguing tales….I wanted to visit this mysterious sounding land since childhood but seemed like it was not in the scheme of things till last year,when,after so called completion of my higher studies i finally got the chance to visit the place.

16th July,2011:

The plan was to go to “Manimahesh” darshan first and then to Gadheran. So we started off from our home in Palampur in the early morning on 16th July,2011 towards bharmour and took a route of jot but due to heavy landslide enroute had to change the route but neverthless reached Chamba through Chuwari in the afternoon and saw it for the first time.The geographical setup of the place was clearly discernible from that of the lower himachal(mainly Kangra valley). Liked the beauty of Chamba with the Chaugan in the centre of this beautiful place and river Ravi flowing nearby but drizzle and fog kept me from capturing the real beauty.Anyway, got off the car and took some pictures and had stopped for lunch in a place known as “Chhatrari”. Moving on we reached “Kharamukh”.A place from where road to Nayagran(the last point where vehicle can go…) and Bharmour are seperated.So we headed to Bharmour through some risky roads and then finally reached Bharmour at around 3:00 P.M.The beauty of the place at once struck me and I suddenly found myself in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.(Though I run the risk of being inherently biased in my judgement but it surely was a masterpiece of nature).

Iddylic ‘Bharmour

One of the main attractions of Bharmour is the “Chauraasi Temple”, dedicated to Ganesh, Lakshmi Devi, Manimahesh and Nar Singh gods in Bharmour.According to legend, 84 (chaurasi) yogi’s visited Bharmaur, capital of King Sahil Varma. They were so pleased with the king’s humility and hospitality that they blessed him with ten sons and a daughter, Champavati.

Chaurassi Temple

It is a common practice to visit “Mata Bharmaani” temple before going to visit manimahesh.So after resting for a while we started uphill to the temple almost 1 km from the base.On the way were the houses built in old setting with “gharaals”(cowsheds) in the basement and residences above it.Children playing,apple and khumaani trees.The way to the temple is filled with a vantage point view of Bharmour city and the beautiful hills surrounding it.After sometime we reached the temple and again as the common practice we were supposed to take bath in that blood chilling water.In my 7th attempt finally I managed to dive into the pool and believe me those were the worst 3 seconds of my entre life under that cold water (even ‘cold’ is a cold word to use for that water).

Taking a dip in “holy cum Chilly waters“….

Anyways I enjoyed the experience and after offering flowers etc inside the temple headed back down to Bharmour.On the way down interacted with some people who told us that there is a”Jaatar”i.e holy pilgrimage(originated from hindi word Yatra) in the evening in the temple and the asked us to join them but as we were tired from a day long journey and also next day we had to wake up early to begin with Manimahesh Yatra,we had to decline the offer.On our way back I capture some of the local beauty through my lens.

Village Kids(Nikke-Chhuke….)
At first she was reluctant to be phographed ……….”Gaddan in Lawanchadi(Traditional Gaddi female outfit)
Gaddans in Lawanchadi on way to Bharmaani temple for Jaatar.

Finally in the evening we checked into the hotel and after a light dinner went to bed with a day full of ardous yet even more adventurous journey awaiting us.

17th July:

We woke up early at around 4:00 am and headed to “Hadsar”on car, the base from where the journey starts.Started the journey uphill exactly at around 5:00 am.The Manimahesh lake is around14-15 kms from Hadsar.Usually the yatra season begins in Mid August but still in mid july sufficient people were going for the Yatra.Our first stop was to be a place called “Dhancho”, which was around 6 kms from Hadsar.As we kept going the beauty of the trek kept us enchanted with a number of small tent-shops on the way where we halted for a break.The weather was chilly and on top of it has already started drizzling.It cant be called drizzling exactly as it was more like a barber’s water spray kind of drizzling which kept on wetting us till we reached the lake.The trek offered us with great chance to view nature’s various masterpieces and reminded us how superior are the works of nature to the works of mankind.Foggy snow cladded mountains,cattle grazing,fountains and large blocks of ice frozen over the river flowing by us was an amazing view.After taking our time we reached Dhancho.It was nice to see an almost plain area after some time of beginning the track in the morning.We halted into one of the tent shops to freshen up.Met a Saadhu-Baba there with long locks(jataayein) and he shared with us his thoughts on religion and stuff which i found quite revolutionary and opposite to the message of Peace and universal Brotherhood usually portrayed by so called “Religious Teachers(If that means anything)”.I could infer that he was not in favour of strict “Secularism” which solidified my belief in useless existence of such pretenders of “messengers of God”(another achievement of mankind)”. Anyways we had to keep moving on.On our way i came across many herbs and natural plants/flowers that are supposed to have medicinal qualities but only a few have the right eye to separate the medicinal from the poisionous ones.Also as the altitude rises one can experience difficulty in breathing due to lack of oxygen and smell of various herbs can give u a “mild high” but don’t go crazy!!!coz dear !!!U r going to the home Lord Shiva also known as Vaidyanath(The healer of Healers).So natural herbs/drugs and stuff is supposed to be commonplace there ,Is’nt??? ”

Another place of attraction was a place on the way known as “Shiv ka Gharaat”(Flour mill of lord Shiva).It’s that when you listen carefully you feel water flowing inside the rocky hill where there is no source of water and thus it is a folklore that Shiva ji had a flour mill inside this mountain.After a while we reached a place where I could see a lots of small hand made house type of structures made by the pilgrimages.It is thought that after one dies one again has to follow this path to enter the heavenly abode ,so it is a common practice to make houses for the after-death journey(Why can’t there be direct lifts instead to heaven or hell,one wonders!!!!!) So,after making our way through the scenic track,slippery Glacier and almost never ending track we finally made it to the Gauri Kund(Religious pond named after Godess Parvati ).

First View of Gauri Kund…..A sigh of relief & Joy

Gauri Kund is where you get the first Darshan of shiv-ling shaped “Kailash Parbat” but we could not yet see it due to heavy fog .Gauri kund is where women are supposed to take the holy dip, but, as generally is the case, non-following of the basic instructions by the pilgrimages like “Not littering,not throwing clothes etc in the pond” has made it a bit unhygenic.Neverthless it was very cold there and drizzling had made me wet, I was shivering with cold and “checked-into” one of the tent-shops there .After having lunch there we headed on to our final destination i.e Manimahesh Lake, where it is said that taking a dip during a particular time provides you with a one way ticket to God’s own abode.So after around 1/2 an hour we reached the lake and also by that time the fog has gone off and thus we had our first “Darshan” of the “Kailash Parbat”.

Kailash Parbat.

So after taking thee holy dip in the lake we headed back down to Hadsar,athough it is advised to stay there for a night once u go but i was not in favour of this decision and started my journey back down.Reached Hadsar back around 7:00 PM in the evening and again checked into the hotel and took a good night’s sleep as the “real journey” was yet to begin…

July 18th

Said “goodbye,c ya” to Bharmour in the morning and headed to “Nayagran” .The road seemed dangerous and adventurous at the same tyime.Neverthless reached Nayagran in the afternoon.So, i was thinking”This is Gadheran” The place seemed beautifully situated with large hills showing nearby across river Ravi. Nayagran seemed to me like any other remote village in the lower Himachal as the basic facilities of Road,water,shops and a Thekka (Liquor shop-essential in those parts ) were there.Trees were mainly of ‘Apple’ and ‘Apricot’.Anyways stayed for night there in a relative’s house.I took naps during night with “Makh“(a mosquito type of thing) giving me company throughout night.Neverthless,woke up in the morning and after managing my morning affairs and believe me management skills are tested there due to lack of basic ameneties as mention the word “Washroom” and your belonging to this planet is being doubted at.Anyways got ready to go to my Bua ji’s place ,”Chanehar”, from where i had to go to my ancestral village”Thanetar“(The main purpose behind planning the whole trip).So started on to bua ji’s village and enroute was “Laake wali maata’s” temple.There also a function of Jatar was going on with people whirling and shaking (Khela)under the influence of Godess.After offerings , we started our journey to “Chanehar”,uphill on foot,this “on foot” journey combined with my loss of appetite for next couple of days was to make me a live example of how to go from 70 to 60 on a weighing machine in 7 days.Anyways started my journey uphill and as i kept going up through various grassy fields and narrow tracks i started to get a clear and awesome view of villages situated in the opossite hills.

Villages: Helaan(left) and Bajol(Right)

After around 2 hours i reached Chanehar.Just at the beginning of the village were large apricot trees and a few apple trees .The village consisted of 6-7 houses with houses made of mud and roof covered with wood, so as to help during heavy snowfall .The village seemed quite sleepy in apperance. Already tired of the journey ,after having light lunch, i made myself comfortable on the bedding on the floor near a window outside from where i could see beautiful trees n grassy fields and also was visible a primary school about which i came to know that it only remained opened for few days in the year due to snowfall in the winters and lower student-teacher turnover throughout the year.Anyways , after having a refreshing nap,

woke up to a chilly evening with a little drizzling.The evenings in such places can turn out to be quite melancholic.Although basic facilities like Light and water are now being provided here,

its very common for light-cuts of long duration even during night making oil-lamps a necessity .During daytime light is not much needed as people are not much fond of T.V here and prefer

being busy working in the fields.Although it is a difficult task for many ,not in good health, to go work in fileds as all the work is done manually ,from cutting of crop to carrying it back up to

the house.Life,it seems,was and is hard in these parts…..anyways had a candle-light dinner and after a long chit-chat with relatives went to bed with a hope of heading off to my ancestral

village “Thanetar” next morning.

Bua Ji’s home

July 19th

Woke up to a bad weather and slight rain at around 6:00 next morning.As the journey to thanetar on foot was to take somewhere around 3-4 hours , going there in a rain was not advisable as the terrain could be slippery and we did’nt had much idea about the condition of the terrain.So , had to cancel the plans going there.Spent the whole day exploring the village after the rain stopped.In the evening a we were apprised by a villager who was coming from Thanetar’s side that the terrain is not in that bad a condition and that we can make it tomorrow morning if weather is on our side.With a positive hope i went to bed.

July 20th

As i woke up next morning it was still drizzling,bu after waiting for an hour or two weather started to get clear and we started off our journey uphill to “Thanetar“.This was in real sense an “Uphill” journey as the hill was almost straight and it took us around 45 mins to reach halfway of the top,from where we had to take a route in slanting direction.There was a small temple of local deity “Naarsingh”(half man-half lion) made of mud-bricks and wood there.After taking rest there,we continued with our journey through one of the beautiful and unexplored terrain i’d ever seen or will see in my life.

Making our way through such a beautiful place, we came across a herd of some deer like animals .They were quick in running and disappeared behind the trees after they heard our footsteps.Some places were very dense with trees and bushes etc. Saw various plants and their uses as food or medicine.Although animals like “bear” are a common sight around these areas we did’nt came across any,although here’s something i almost stepped over…….. 😉

It seemed like a never ending journey,till i first saw the glimpse of Thanetar village.The houses were barely visible.But the scenery was mesmerising.

Taking some rest en route….The hills seen are known as “Paandav ban”

Being There: Journey is the Reward.

So finally after after half an hour,i reached my “Destination”,…”Thanetar” village.After crossing the brook we entered the village .The path was covered with long grass(Tilfar), so had to make use of sticks to make way .The village was made of six houses,that’s it!!!!!!and those too were in debilitating condition.Now nobody lived there.Only Shepherds passing bye make it there halting place(Dera) for a night or two. Mom told me that long ago there used to be more than 20 houses in the village and more than 250 people residing there,although I found it hard to believe.

So,anyways ,finally, ‘Thanetar “,There it was…. lying sleepily, like an old person,whose existence, long forgotten by its children whom it has nurtured so dearly when it was young and full of vigour.Provided them with shelter,a place to play together,grow up together, learn to live together so that they could cherish those memories later together…..although knowing well somewhere deep inside its heart that it’ll have to let go of them at some point of time,as parents usually have to…..but for their own good.So called Laws of nature are cruel and imperative at the same time.There are no compromises there.None.

Being there….”Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto” (If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here)

Channi Bhagwati (Kul Devi)

On the top of the village lies the temple of Kul Devi-Channi Mata.First thing we did was to visit the temple.Offered flowers and parsad and prayed.

Waqt Rehta nahi kahin tik kar……………Iski Aadat Bhi Aadmi si hai

It is so hard to believe that life bloomed here once.People lived there.Did farming.Families grew up.Sang songs.Weaved dreams.Cried.Laughed .Thought things.Saw things.Helped each other.Danced.Had ideas about life.Shared.Fought.Loved…Lost….………..and all this while…..time moved on.….doing what it does the best…..Destroying and Recreating things………..

Surprisingly,after such a long and labourious journey i was’nt hungry a bit.Anyways we had lunch nearby under an apricot tree and chatted for a while.While having lunch a bird came and sat on rooftop of one of the houses.May be it had seen people coming there after a long time.I was reminded of one very beautiful couplet of Bahadur Shah Jafar:

Ik Shakh-E-Gul Pe Baith Ke Bulbul He Shadman
Kante Bicha Diye He Dil-E-Lalazar Mein,
Umr-E-Daraz Mang Ke Laye The Char Din
Do Arzu Men Kat Gaye Do Intezar Mein,
Din Zindagi Ke Khatm Hue Sham Ho Gayi
P’haila Ke Paon Soyen-Ge Kunj-E-Mazaar Mein ….”

After resting for sometime,it was now time to say goodbye to the place as it was getting cloudy and usually the evenings set in quite fast in these places and getting stuck here during night was not a good idea,believe me!!!!!!

So , with heavy hearts we bid bye to the village and started our journey back.

On this brook lied a Flour Mill(Gharaat) ,once run by Daada ji

Last Panoramic view of Thanetar

So that’s almost it!!!!!

After returning back i headed to see rest of the Gadheran .Went back to Nyagran.From there to Kharudu.It was a also a beautiful place set near River Ravi furiously flowing nearby.Spent 2 days here and headed to next destination. i.e Grondaa village.

Kharudu…Mamaji’s shop and house…The road leads to ‘Bara Bhangaal”Village….The origin of River Ravi

Ropeway over Ravi(Would’nt suggest this ..for the heavyweighted and light hearted)…. Although two ropes should be used instead of one, but despite of a casualty once, the administration could’nt care less…

View of village Gronda from Dangi-MaataTemple….On the Hill across is Village”Dhaarar“…The road ahead of Dhaarar leads to Village “Khanaar” and then to “Baraa Bhangaal”….behind which lies “Kullu Valley..

 Dangi Maata temple

Would like to add the folklore behind this temple.”Dangi” is name of a dance type performed by women(Gaddans) here.It is like they they dance in a circle rotating and revolving and singing along as they dance.As the story goes, once in some function during “Dangi” as the women were dancing and singing,they were forgetting the stanzas of the folk songs and one lady dancing among them started reminding them wherever they forgot the lines.This happened many times and just as the “Dangi” was about to finish, the lady had dissappeared.Hence,the name”Dangi-Wali maata“.

Some more pics:

After coming back from Gronda,Last stop of the trip was village “Bajol” ,in maama ji’s home.Everywhere we went some things were common like great hospitality,apple and apricot trees,desi liquor(jhol,chatki & sur) and non-veg food,….and believe me if u are a pure-vegetarian and a Teetotaler (just like me) u’ve got no business whatsoever here (or Nowhere,if some experts are to be believed 🙂 )

So,friends thats it!!!!!!! That was all about one of the most exciting,remarkable and unforgetful experiences of my life.All of it has been like a dream of some distant past.

On an ending note,I want to confess that i was trying to keep myself from writing an “ending note”, because ending notes are supposed to have a ‘melancholic’,’advisory’ and ‘goodbye’ kind of undertones…and i’m not sure i’m ready for either of it.Still, I could’nt stop myself from writing one,,,, for reasons unknown to even my own self…..I’d like to venture a little on two extremes I found prevalant there…that is,,” Underfocused education and Overemphasised religious practices“. I know this writing,for obvious reasons of inaccesibility, may not reach for a long-long time to come…. “to a farmer working in the some remote hilly field in Bharmour’ or “a kid in Bajol’s school who has just began to learn to read and write” or “a Gaddi Shepherd sitting alone in some distant mountain-top along with his herd”,,,,but i want this writing to reach to the common Gaddi people who now have the means,, administration related people who are in a position to bring change by providing basic infrastructure,subsidies,farming implements,fair wool prices etc to that farmer and shepherd,,,,or to the teacher teaching that school kid, who , the least he can do is make that child understand and realise the importance of dreams and give wings to his dreams and not cut them instead.What’s the importance and meaning of the success and progress that is’nt shared and which is unable to uplift others.Such success is fundamentally bound to be transitory.History of mankind stands witness to that.

On second extreme,,,Ignorance is bliss…..but being ignorant/unaware for long may let darkness to prevail for so long that it may turn you blind to even a hint of light coming your way.Our faith is symbolic and it is very easy and obvious to get stuck in the symbols and miss the underlying point.As it would have been very difficult for early humans to verbally explain and make other person understand what “hate”,”love”,”power”,”proud”, etc. are, these were transformed in human like figures so as to make people associate,understand and inculcate such concepts for good….hence,the gods we worship are Anthropomorphisation” of such qualities ,good or bad,inherent in us which gave rise to the Vedic concept of “That art Thou” (“Tat twam Asi“). I’d like to conclude this writing with these wordings of a famous Gaddi folk song,which is dedicated to the Shivji in everyone of you :

Ak araj meri hor hunne,Andhyaan jo Lochan Laayein……Bholeya bo Saamiya”.( O innocent lord Shiva!!! Please listen to one more request of mine ” Give light to the eyes of the blind….So that they can see…………again”!!!!!!!!!!)

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