Its been quite a few days since we came back from this trek (I did not put any adjective for this trek as I am sure none would convey what I am feeling) and ever since I have been thinking what exactly can I write about this trek. While in a trek, I have felt speechless before, but not this hopelessly, I have felt exhausted before, but not this painstakingly, I have loved reaching the summits, but not this purely, I have cried after witnessing great beauties, but not this joyfully!
Well, yes, that was Beas Kund trek for me in a nut-shell. I am still in a trance of whatever we went through during the three days of pure magic. And it is frustrating that there are so much to say, rather so much I want to say, but the best I can do is tearing up my eyes every time I try to overcome my speechlessness and get goosebumps!
I thought the images would convey what I am trying to say. But, alas! As if The mighty Himalayas are conquerable through a pair of lenses. So no help from that side either. And out of this frustrating hopelessness I am still having butterflies in my stomach as I write.
Day One: Manali to Solang valley (13 km) to Dhundi(7-8km) to Bakar Thatch (7km)
It’s been one year since we attempted this trek in may 2015 (for the other story, please refer to https://esotericperceptions.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/going-up-the-course-of-bustling-beas/) and now we were unable to suppress the excitation plummeting inside our heart as we were determined to complete it by any means. After reaching Manali bus stand, we quickly freshened up in the pay and use toilets just beside the bus stand and decided to head for Old Manali. Old manali is always alluring compared to the overcrowded new Manali and one of the main reason being amazing food in the cafes. Unfortunately, so early in the morning, none of the cafes were open and we decided to try a small dhaba right on the bank of raging Beas. We had coffee, egg-toast, paranthas sitting on the river rocks and dipping our feet in the icy chilly water. We could not comprehend if the starting of the day was so blissful, what else were we awaited for. After the breakfast, we shopped for food that we would need in next three days. We got plenty of chocolates, three packs of bread, cheese-spreads and some glucose tablets. And we thought that would be enough for four people and two days. Well, this story will continue further.
Meanwhile we came back to Manali to get a cab to Solang valley. We got one for 800 rupees which dropped us in front of a shortcut leading to the valley and the long awaited trek started. We were not allowed past the security check in Solang but were told to follow the jungle trail instead of the road and so did we willingly. This trail starts right behind the security in-charge’s cabin and gets elevated from the road quickly. Sometimes you can sea the road down below running parallel to the trail. Compared to the tar road, this trail provided with the immense joy of walking over a trail surrounded by pine trees and wild flowers and fruits, above all avoiding the sunlight.
The shortcut, at one point came down to the tar road again. Walking over the road also seemed peaceful as there was almost no honking of cars and one gets to behold the distant villages and gigantic mountains cut by the gurgling Beas.
After a few more kilometers of walk through an avalanche effected area and another shortcut, and then some more walk over the tar road, we came in front of a Tunnel recently made near Dhundi. Crossing that you will approach the construction area. We saw a bridge which was not there previous year dominating the landscape. the trail started beyond the bridge. We had our little lunch there sitting on the right bank of the river. We did not cross the bridge but started walking on the trail going upward from the bridge. Soon we had to cross a wooden makeshift bridge over the river to get to the other side. The gurgling water raging beneath and the swinging bridge surely would give you some chills down your spine!
The initial stretch of this trail was right out of some fantasy books. Velvety green grassy slopes bedecked with various flowers, numerous small water streams running playfully down and distant gigantic mountains made the whole place look like Tolkien’s Shire. After a short walk along the river, the trail suddenly took a right turn and we were in front of another large waterfall which we had to cross. This was the one which had a broken ice bridge last time. But now, we had to cross this just by hopping over boulders. But surprisingly this seemed easier than last time. after crossing the stream, the trail suddenly goes upward, but only shortly as it again came down to the river bed. The most fun part of this trek was its wavy pattern. It goes up only to come down and then goes up even higher!
The valley was absolutely stunning, with the river cutting it right in the middle and the giant slopes of Dhauladhar and pirpanjal right next to it. After another river crossing, the trail goes straight up to the meadows of Bakar thatch. From the river bed, you can notice a small bulging hill full of pine trees right in the middle of the landscape with Dhauladhars on one side and on the other, the Pir Panjals. bakar thatch lies just behind that hill which again looked like Lothlorien from Tolkien’s world.
Bakar thatch was out-of-this-worldly stunning with various flowers as if colors were plummeting from the high slopes of the seven sisters hills. Bright orange, red, yellow and white flowers decorated the pebbled trail like a fairy land. Cool breeze kept on playing with the swinging flowers welcoming you to this Utopia created by the elixir that flows down the numerous streams.
Except for us and an Israeli group, 10-15 tents were put for a trekking agency coming from Delhi. Due to lack of space, we pitched our tent a little far from the main camping ground. The night was one of the nights that will remain etched in mind forever. We sat with the Israelis and talked and sung and jumped as the music from the Ukulele and the flute created a sublime rhythm with the gurgling sound coming from a nearby waterfall. The lullaby mesmerized everyone as we kept looking at one of the clearest skies we had ever seen.
Day two: Bakar thatch to Beas Kund and back to Bakar thatch
Next day, after a light breakfast, we started for the long-awaited Beas Kund trek. We left all our extra belongings inside the tent only and took only camera, water and ponchos. The trail looked challenging but we all were supremely high on adrenaline and set of for the kund with high spirit. The initial bubbling energy soon proved not to be sufficient as the slopes got steeper and we almost started fighting for a good breath. The slope was almost 60-70 degree at places and full of boulders, small and large. On top of that, various bushes and thorns made it harder to reach the top of the ridge. But as we kept climbing, the view got more and more stunning.
We thought, if we cross the ridge, we will get to see the kund, but what we got to see actually made us hopelessly frustrated. After almost 30 min of hopping through boulders and cutting through thorny bush, we came just to the starting of an unending boulder sea. And when I say boulders, I mean only boulders, and nothing else. Some small, some bigger that any human, some stable, others loose, falling and sliding. It was a terrifying site and we were to cross that. But we must keep going. The Kund was calling. As we were about to enter the boulders, we saw some huge boulders some distance away sliding down which produced a scary sound as if some bones were being crushed. We climbed up and down in that boulder field lacking any proper trail. We just could see a waterfall beyond and thought that to be the source of Beas Kund and kept going that side. Yes, it was crazy, it might have been stupid as well, as I see it now but it was thrilling, and extra-ordinary and utterly exhausting. Our legs as well as hands soon started to give up but we kept them pushing. At one point I was almost on the verge of quitting, and thought of telling others to go on and i would wait for them there. But then the more I stay in this boulder field, more is the probability of being crushed by plummeting boulders. So I pushed myself for the final stretch and then came that moment. After crossing the final ridge of boulders, we came to a trail which went down to a vast and absolutely plain piece of land cut by many water streams and surrounded by great great mountains all around. This was something beyond my apprehensive mind. Not understanding how I got in to this pure heaven, I broke down.
But still no sign of the Beas Kund. we saw two shepherds shaving wool from there sheep and asked for direction. The big water fall, unfortunately was not the source of the Kund, neither were the other prominent waterfalls around it. In middle of all this grand structures, the smallest waterfall down a rocky surface was IT. We crossed multiple small streams and started climbing up a gentle slope. As we approached the Kund, our joy knew no limits. Completely physically broken, exhausted, out of breath and hungry I just sat there for a moment gazing into the weird green water. It was sort of a trance that we might have went in until the activity of others, the cheers, the laughter brought us back. To describe the landscape opposite to the kund is beyond my ability and I would not even dare to give it a try. Most hopeless is that even the images are not sufficient to describe even a quarter of what we witnessed. What was that? A dream? I would like to believe that as nothing real can be so bizarrely surreal.
After spending some quality time sitting in front of the kund, we had some food and started the return journey. This time, we got to know that there is a safer trail through the boulder field and so tried to follow it. But suddenly it became too much cloudy and we got lost inside the boulder field. We kept on crawling and sliding up and down the boulders but finally reached a place which gave us a chilliest chill down our spine. It was one of the places where we saw boulder sliding while going up. We screamed for help. The thick cloud made it impossible to navigate the right direction and luckily we heard the other group answering. We followed there voices for almost two ours in that sea of boulders and finally found a trail which made the whole journey down to Bakar thatch comparatively easier. By the time we reached Bakar thatch, It started drizzling. By that time the cloud had dispersed.
Day three: Back to Manali
next day, around 9 am, we started for Dhundi. While coming down, we got to know that “The Hell Race” was organizing a 30 km and 60 km marathon up to Bakar thatch!!! Crazy, right. and men and women across the globe including Indian Army were participating. By the time we came almost half way down, we saw one woman going up and by the time we came to Dhundi, she went up and came down to Dhundi. Wow and how!!??
We also hitch-hiked on the back of one of the open gypsy cars plying on the road for this same reason and the ride was most welcome and amazing.
From Solang we got another cab to Manali for 500/-. We again came to Old Manali and visited the Cafe 1947. It was an amazing cafe with amazing food. A sip of beed and and a spoonful of trout: that was exactly what we needed at that moment. After cherishing the food sitting on the bank of Beas, we looked back to the past days events and raised a toast in the name of the Beas which flowed beside us, in its own playful mind.