By Prashneel Nepal
Sometimes I wonder why I travel a lot.
Between all these jam-packed schedules, and despite having a little time to break free of all the busy life and spend some valuable time with my family, traveling far away has always been my first and foremost choice than staying home and relax. And I, somehow, have always been able to manage money for my journey from my little casket.
I went to Gosaikunda a few months ago. Gosaikunda, an alpine freshwater lake located in Langtang National Park of Rasuwa district at an altitude of 4,300 m (14,370 ft), is one of the best destinations for trekking. The water here remains frozen from October to June.
The water of Gosaikunda Lake is considered holy and the destination carries a special significance during the the Janai Purnima festival—which falls on the last day of Hindu lunar calendar (in the month of August)—when thousands of pilgrims from Nepal and India come to visit here. It is believed that taking a holy bath in the lake washes off pain, sorrows and sins.
Legend has it that Gosaikunda was created by Lord Shiva when he thrust his holy Trident (Trishul) into a mountain to extract water so that he could cool his burning throat after he swallowed the lethal poison released during Samundra Manthana to save the creation.
Well, I considered this holy occasion suitable and arranged a trek to the holy place. The trek to Gosaikunda begins from Dhunche village or Syabru Besi or Sundarijal. Since, Dunche is the most preferred place as starting point; I took a bus to reach the district headquarter which is located at an altitude of 2,030 meters (6,660 ft). It takes about 6 to 8 hours to reach there from Kathmandu via bus. Barun, a friend of mine had arranged a ticket for me.
I stayed at a guest house owned by Sonam dai, a local dweller of the district headquarters. Given that hundreds of pilgrims arrive at this place around this time of the year, I had to made peace with sharing a room with six strangers. In the morning I found out that almost all the inns were crammed with visitors. I also experienced some not want to share moments while using bathroom; but I would rather say these hotels and lodges opened at resting points should consider building clean toilets paying attention to the needs of travelers.
It normally takes a two-day trek to reach Gosaikunda from Dunche. If you start trekking in the early morning and want to shorten you trek, you can reach Laurebinayek, which is at an altitude of 3,700 m (12,100 ft), in the evening. Some travelers find it extremely challenging to ascend Laurebinayek on the same day. Thus, they choose to rest at Chandan Bari located at an altitude of about 3,200 m (10,500 ft), which also involves a long steady climb. Gosaikunda can be reached the next day after a four-hour walk.
Travelling itself can be challenging as it offers a path for everyone, regardless of experience, long ride, then days of ascend and descend, level of fitness and time availability—the journey can be flagging indeed. Sometimes all I feel is tiredness and severe body pain after I return back home. Nevertheless, if I put it correctly and honestly, the burden we carry while travelling to any faraway destination is worth forgetting provided we return with tons of memories and a changed perception.
I had to shorten the trip to three days. I, thus, descended from Goshaikunda the same day I reached there. It was perhaps I felt almost near to death escape after I returned back to Kathmandu. Later I learned that Barun had to queue up for two days to get a bus ticket from Dunche to Kathmandu. Apart from geographical challenge, I also witnessed the festival not well managed here. It would be much better if the local government and the stake holders would make effortful steps to make the festival a bit more organized.
Despite all these want to forget memories, trekking to Gosaikunda—an exotic 108 glacier lakes, small and big and scattered around the region– offers us spectacular and breathtaking scenic beauty including endless mountain views, listing it one of the best travelling destinations of the world.
Trailing through the challenging routes and stopping by to capture the awesome scenery are the best parts I say. Normally I choose to travel alone and to the rural areas—away from internets and mobile networks. It gives me time for self-reflection. For me, nature reflects my past like a mirror. It takes my experience deeper inside and gifts me time to self analyze to get the better understanding of myself. To sum up, travelling is like meditation for me which brings me closer to who I am.
Moreover, you get to be familiar with the culture and lifestyle of people living there. Knowing different people and hearing their stories are the blessings of traveling which can be real inspirations to many.
I must say this 22-year old woman, I met, was herself a story of never ending inspiration. She was eight months pregnant; and I wondered how would an expecting mother collect the heart to travel all day long by bus then trek for two days just to run a temporary lodge in Gosaikunda. She seemed kind and even offered free foods to guests. On the contrary, she also dared to kick the misbehaving guests out of the lodge in the chilling and freezing night. Sometimes she talked to herself and next moment she would keep quite lost in her own thoughts. I took a photograph of her.
Her family had tried to stop her coming here to run the temporary logde but she came from Kathmandu nonetheless, the Sherpa woman shared.
“The festive season brings a good opportunity to generate some income,” said the Sherpa woman who had been to Bahrain for for foreign employment and worked there for four years.
Born in Rasuwa, she had eloped with a Sherpa man from Namche some years ago. “We fell in love on facebook,” she added.
Listening to stories of different people and capturing their narratives in pictures is itself a beauty of travelling.
When I returned back home, my wife came to pick me at the door.
“You look so fresh,” she said.
I say, travelling is a like a putting a full stop to the hectic life so that we could start fresh and better, thinking big next morning. Like the sedimentation process, travelling offers me time to settle down my thoughts.
This is why perhaps, regardless of how much I get tired from the journey, I always return home fresh and with a pure heart. Then, after weeks of work and frantic life, I turn my checklist again, pack my bag pack and walk in search of me.
(Story and Photos by Prashneel Nepal, Edited by Dil Kumar Ale Magar)