Fun Filled Treking and Adventurous Rock Climbing

Monday, September 26, 2011

The George Everest Bungalow is about 7000fts high, 6km from Mussoorie. “The place provides an enchanting view of Doon valley on one side and view of Yamuna valley & (snow bound) Himalayan ranges on the other.” It was named after the first Surveyor General of India Sir George Everest (World’s highest peak Mount everest is also named after him).

After successfully completing three relatively difficult treks earlier, Saturday’s George Everest Bungalow trek was nothing but a cake walk. May be we were acclimatized enough not to sweat much for this trek! Though our horse riding instructor had promised a ride on horse back, the PT (Physical Training) instructor refused and forced us to walk with 10-15KG rucksack so as to acclimatize ourselves for 10 days Himalayan trek starting from 1st October. Nevertheless, few officer trainees managed to ride on the way back, which unfortunately I missed out.

360 degree view from the highest mountain near Everest Bungalow is majestic and something to remember for a long time. Initially though the sun was bright and sky was clear, the clouds lost no time in covering the beautiful mountains and thus depriving us from clicking breathtaking pictures. The best part of the trek was the loud music at the Everest bungalow. LBSNAA managed to get a generator at 7000ft high mountain to entertain us! Tug of war, music, dance made the trek more of a picnic type and completely enjoyable.

On the same day we had a DJ party in the evening and yeah, the drinks were also served! One of the best part of LBSNAA is the officially recognized bar within the campus and that too in the officer’s lounge. Officer trainees can drink as much as they want, just that the money will be duly deducted from their salary! Trainees and faculty thoroughly enjoyed the DJ and of course the drinks. :)

On Sunday, Rock Climbing activity at ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) academy in Mussoorie was adventurous and exciting. There were quite a few adventurous people in the batch who managed to climb the rocks effortlessly. There were few brave lady officer trainees who managed to reach the top. There were few who needed some cheer and support. And yes, the kind of cheer and support which lady officers received while climbing the rocks was something phenomenal compared to what other guys got despite putting up a brave effort!

I had tried rock climbing before while I was in Singapore. It was just an artificial rock created in Universal Studios (Singapore). But here in ITBP academy, there are real rocks, the scary ones. Despite a (small) shoulder problem, I had no issues in reaching the top of the rock and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks to ITBP Jawans who made the rock climbing safe and enjoyable. What I realized was, making up your mind to climb the rock is half job done. The will to climb and physical strength will take care of the rest. It’s all about 50% will and 50% physical strength.

In the last four weeks, it was hard to notice how time just flies. Weekly trek on Saturday reminds us how quickly the week gets over. I must say, without any hesitation, the foundation course is just like a fun filled paid holiday! Long way to go before I even think about finishing it, the best is yet to come! :)

Here are some pictures clicked during trek and rock climbing:

On the way to George Everest bungalow
At the peak, when clouds covered the mountains.
Clouds engulfing mountains
Walking in the clouds!
Music, Dance, and fun at 7000ft!
On the way back.
Scaling the new heights!
Coming down from the top!

Lal Tibba: Blood, sweat and a summit to scale

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clouds were clear, sun was bright, route was green, and the summit was high enough to test our endurance. Leeches sucked our blood, heat of the sun made us sweat more than required, the steep uphill and the concrete road on the way back managed to spoil the knees. Many travel guides on the web advised not to visit Lal Tibba during rainy days or even during any of the mansoon days. But, we had to go, we had to reach the summit to mark our attendance!

The only sigh of relief for many of us was, we could take a taxi on the way back (and of course, only after marking the attendance!). Many officer trainees skipped the lunch at Lal Tibba and rushed to Mussoorie for sumptuous meal. I was already exhausted not to try any new plan which takes more time before i eat! The same daal, chanaa, rice, puris, pickles which i had in last two treks really disappointed me. Just hope they change the menu in the next trek. But, you know, when you are hungry, taste really doesn’t matter, just eat and eat to get back to life!

Lunch and yeah, the “Neembu paani” provided some sigh of relief and helped me realize that though trek was tiresome but it was like a pleasure in the pain! The summit of Lal Tibba Hill is no less than 7500ft high. The majestic mountains around Lal Tibba just watched us struggling to climb them, throwing away their smile when we were awestruck by their beauty. Mountains still humble me, as they always did.

Many of my batchmates took taxi to get back to academy, but I didn’t want to give up, I decided to walk back as long as I can. The return route took me through the narrow streets of Mussoorie and the the famous ‘Mall Road’, a place for (plenty of) shopping in Mussoorie. As we walked on mall road, the clouds engulfed the surrounding mountains and hit us with the cold wind. There was a time when I used to look up to the sky to see the clouds, but now in Mussoorie, I have to look down from the clouds to see the road ahead. It’s like living in the clouds! Lal Tibba trek was pretty hard, but just get a feeling that I had an eventful and memorable day.

Some information about Lal Tibba:
  • The highest point in Mussoorie, over 7500ft high.
  • Located in Landhour area -- the oldest inhabited place in Mussoorie.
  • The buildings, the architecture everything tells a saga of an English past. After India gained it's independence, many Britishers settled here.
  • In 1967, the Municipal Corporation of Mussoorie ordered a Japanese Telescope which is placed on Lal Tibba. Through this telescope one can have a lovely view of many peaks in the Himalayan range like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Banderpunch, etc. [External Link]
Here are some pictures clicked:

Rashomon: "truth is relative, fragile, fleeting and uncertain"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese crime mystery film directed by Akira Kurosawa. A masterpiece and a landmark in the history of films. Though, at the end of the movie, i found it extremely difficult to understand the overall philosophy behind, a bit of thinking and extra reading opened many doors for understanding. I have heard people saying, “This is my perspective”, “That’s his perspective, he may be wrong, it depends on the way you look at it”, “He is giving an altered perspective, that’s not the truth!”, etc.. the most famous one is, “If you put everything in perspective, you will understand the ground reality”. What Rashomon try to achieve is, “Perspective distorts reality and makes the absolute truth unknowable.”

There are four different perceptions/stories in the movie, all trying to explain, convincingly, how the samurai was killed. At the end of the bandit's version of the incident, he admits to the rape of a woman and the murder of the woman's husband (Samurai). In the trial court, the women (samurai’s wife) claims that she did not instruct the bandit to kill her husband. Samurai’s version (though he is dead, his version is heard by a ‘medium’) is altogether different. He (through the medium of a women in ghostly voice) claims that after the woman is raped and the bandit runs off after a furious fight with him and he commits suicide because he is ashamed that his wife had been raped and wants to abandon him for the rapist. Finally, there is a version from a woodcutter, a witness to the incident and his version seems reasonable though he try to cover the fact that he stole the dragger from the scene of murder. In the climax, the priest who lost faith in humanity after hearing all these “versions/perspectives”, finally see the humanity existed in the heart of that woodcutter, when he compassionately agree to take care of the unattended baby.

The message of the film seems that, "truth is relative, fragile, fleeting and uncertain. The movie is not about culpability or innocence. Instead, it focuses on something far more profound and thought-provoking: the inability of any one man to know the truth, no matter how clearly he thinks he sees things. Perspective distorts reality and makes the absolute truth unknowable [Read More]".

What I understand is, perspectives on “something” may differ, we may be forced to compassionately accept the divergent perspectives. It is only when we try to obviate the “self-serving” element in various perspectives, we may have a chance to walk on the path towards absolute reality/truth.

Rashomon is a great movie. Please do watch! :)

Binog hills, Chengez and I: An experience of lifetime!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

With a cloudy sky above, lush green mountains around and a wonderful horse to ride, the experience of trekking in the mountains of Himalayas is something I never imagined in the wildest of my dreams. Just before leaving for the trek to Binog Hills, the horses of LBSNAA were lined up near the gate. I was quick to find my horse Chengez and the instructor. The moment i came to know that at least for the first 4-5kms the horses will accompany us, i lost no time in asking if I can ride on Chengez. Just after two horse riding classes, I never thought my instructor would allow me to ride on risky mountains. He did and I thanked him with that “Yes!” feeling!

Chengez and I, just before leaving for the trek
As I mounted on Chengez, for a moment, I did realize that its not going to be a cow pasture ride, it’s a Himalayan ride and the terrain is not flat! The only encouragement was the presence of riding instructors and many of my batch mates who were walking with me. A no-nonsense horse Chengez beneath, a cloudy sky above and a spectacular beauty of lush green mountains around, the experience of Binog trek is something i will cherish for a long time to come.

Binog hills is one of the high peaks around Mussoorie. There is a small temple of Jwala Devi at the peak. A very beautiful place with a spectacular view, just 4-5kms from Clouds End. Clouds End is a resort situated at the extreme west of Mussoorie hill, around 4kms from the academy. “The resort is surrounded by thick forest, offers a wide variety of flora and fauna besides a panoramic view of (snow clad) mountains of Himalayas and Yamuna river.

After the breakfast at Clouds end, I had to leave Chengez behind and walk towards the Jwala Devi temple at the peak. 4-5kms path wasn’t that difficult to walk and the heavy rain on the way made the trek even more exciting. I decided to walk without an umbrella and a jacket, it had been a long time since i walked in the rain. The view of clouds engulfing the green mountains, the sky turning black, and the rain bringing the chilling cold, the experience was amazingly great!

On our way back from the peak, the clouds around us were so thick that the visibility was reduced to less than 10 meters. We had to be little careful due to the rain and slippery path. Leeches made it even worse. Reaching the bottom of that mountain was quite difficult but it was worth the pain. Soon after our lunch, we had to climb another mountain to reach the academy. Pushing ourself up the steep hill was really tough and the slippery concrete path on the way made our life even more difficult. After reaching the academy, a strong coffee at “Ganga Dhabha” near the hostels provided a sigh of relief!

“The experience of Binog trek, especially riding on Chengez, lasted a short while but the memories will last a lifetime!”.

Here are some pics clicked on the way.

Chengez and I
Single file!
Spectacular mountains.
Thick clouds in the b/g
With PK Gera sir
Lush green canopy.
OOOTAaaa (lunch) :)
Clouds engulfing mountains.

Kempty Falls Trek: The mountains always humble me

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On my way from Dehradun to LBSNAA Mussoorie, the lush green Himalayan (Shivalik) hills made me feel I am on top of the world. I thought i am really blessed to be here in Mussoorie, especially in LBSNAA. As a part of our foundation course, today (3rd Sept, 2011), academy had arranged for a short trek to Kempty Falls near Mussourie. Having spent 5 years in the concrete jungles of Bangalore, nature always provided me the much needed sigh of relief. The mountains and their lush green canopy always humble me. They are always there and have stood the test of time. They have seen thousands of generations, stood there as mighty bastions of god’s creations, thrown away beautiful smiles when every man was awestruck by their beauty, they humble the mortals as nature always do.

I am (i should say, i was) not a trekkoholic as many of my friends in college and office (Bangalore). Many a times, i found one or other reason to take the road rather than trek route to enjoy the beauty of mountains. But today, compulsory trek for OTs (officer trainees) made me realize that there is a pleasure in the pain of trekking!

The trekking group wasn’t small. All the 260+ OTs were made to trek down to Kempty falls and climb the shivalik hills to reach the academy. This was being the first outing and the first trekking for 86th FC (Foundation Course) batch, all the “officers” were trying to woo each other, especially ladies, and rightly so! After all, though it’s officially called “Short Trek”, it was long enough to exhaust all the energy and enthusiasm.

We were asked to assemble at around 8.30AM, but we could leave the academy only at 9AM, after the mundane instructions were given. The Director of LBSNAA formally flagged off to mark the beginning of the trek. Unlike all the treks which usually starts with going uphill, reaching the top and coming down, our trek was quite opposite. We had to walk down the hill since academy was at a higher position than the trekking destination - Kempty Falls!

There were no risky places to cross and the route we chose to reach Kempty was well known. There were couple of settlements/villages on the way. But what was really fascinating was the scenic beauty of Himalayas. We were already at such a height that it was like walking “in the cloud”. The clouds kissing the mountains were at the same level as our path. It was a treat to watch clouds coming down towards the valley through the green canopy on the mountains. The water streams between the hills made those majestic spots even more beautiful.

There were plenty of photographic enthusiasts who were excited to photograph every beautiful spot they found. I never missed a chance to get myself photographed from others’ cameras since I didn’t have a good camera. All that I have is 5 mega pixel camera that came with my Nokia phone.

Our trekking group was so large that (260+ OTs), we covered 1 - 2 KM path at any given point of time. There was no need of any guides to lead us since our training instructors were with us and they traced the same path a day before to make sure “all izz well”, they even marked directions on the way. On our way, there was a tree plantation event coordinated by Ecological Task Force and LBSNAA. I too, planted couple of saplings just as everyone else did. The Kempty falls wasn’t too far from the event location, so we reached the falls without much of effort.

About the falls, i don’t think there is any need to copy paste from wikipedia, you can read all about Kempty Falls here (wiki).The water was really chilled and it falls from such a good height that you feel like some chilled ice crystals are falling on you. We spent some time in the water and had to start back soon.

The real test of endurance started from the Kempty Falls. I still had some energy and enthusiasm to scale the heights of Himalayas to get back to academy. We had chosen different route on our way back and it was again a treat to watch those beautiful mountains from different locations.  Since couple of us had spent more time in the waters, I was again one of those last few OTs who were lagging behind. So, couple of times I chose some risky short cuts to cut short my path and it was worth the risk! It gave a sense of achievement to overtake many OTs who were far ahead of me!

When I reached the top, out of exhaustion or may be out of little sense of achievement I thought, I conquered the mountains around LBSNAA, but it was short lived. The mountains conquered me. Looking at those giant structures, I realized that, I overcame my weakness and gained a sense of determination and accomplishment. This trek did challenge my limits and crossing those limits and scaling the new heights is always fun. Nine days long trek (in October) is a part of our foundation course and I am looking forward to challenge this new limit and scale the new heights in Himalayan mountains!

Here are some pictures clicked (Will upload rest of them soon).

On the way
Shivalik hills in the b/g.
Shivalik hills
On the way back
Near the falls
With Rawatjee, instructor
Tired and finally reached!
Majestic Shivaliks!


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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.