“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”
~Anonymous (Sometimes credited to Jack Kerouac, from his book The Dharma Bums)
Mind you, trek to Dodital was the first I ever undertaken and that was when the traveliing bug bit my a**. And mind you too that this is not the first accounting of my Dodital trek experience. It has previously appread in the very first blog I created.
I have just presented my experience in this new site of mine so if you are my loyal reader following me for last 4 years then please don’t mind 🙂
It was years ago I first heard a song covered by Rod Stewart which goes “first cut is the deepest”. As much as it is true in context of love, the same thing goes for travel/trek too. I am not sure if it is true in your case but every moment of my first trek of life – Dodital Trek – where I realized what it is to be footloose in Himalayas – keep coming back to me. Those were the days when all I wanted to do was ‘nothing’. Just sit back, immerse in surroundings and relax.
How those 10 day passed, nobody in our group has a clue even now. We never missed our cell phones, our college or lives that be, all we know is we felt a sense of ‘completeness’, of ‘unity’, spirituality at its best and life which is ripe and full of possibilities. And I have never ever felt the same on any other journeys/treks I have made since – such gay abandon, such joy…truly a state of bliss. That is why I guess they say ‘first cut is the deepest’.
What it is to be footloose in Himalayas I realized when I treaded this path. It was here that my bell tolled and it was here that I realized it’s no good studying Horace until and unless you ‘carpe diem’. Set amidst lofty heights at an elevation of 3,310m, Dodital is like an iridescent emerald set in the crest of Himalayas: mysterious, beckoning and divine.
There is always a base to start a trek and in case of Dodital (say us) it happened to be Uttarkashi. Although it is not from where your trek to Dodital begins, it is worth your time and bucks to spend a day here as we discovered to our delight. Staying at Kali Kamli is a cheap and comfortable option and it is by the Laxman Jhula which adds to the view and worth of the place.
We took a bus in the morning to take us to Sangam Chatti It’s a 15-km drive along the curves of the Asi Ganga Sangam Chatti, where the trek starts. We met with and later accompanied Peter from Canada to our trek to Dodital on the bus itself. It was a chance meeting but the later memories have left an indelible mark on me as a traveler. I was – and I guess we were – fortunate to have met him on the very first trek of our lives.
Sangamchatti is the last road head 15 km from Uttarkashi to which buses regularly ply. The direct trek to Agoda Village from here goes along a well cobbled path and takes around 2-3 hourrs. Climb is moderate with easy gradient and ponies could also be hired but walking is what trekking is all about.
Sangamchatti derives its name from the sangam (confluence) of river Dodigad (from Dodital) with the river Assi Ganga from Hanumanchatti. Assi Ganga joins Bhagirathi at Uttarkashi. Boarding and lodging facilities are available en-route at Agoda, Bebra and Manjhi enroute to Dodital. It was at Agoda that we made our fist camp and spent the night.
One could also explore trails around Agora. We took a goat trail and descended down to one of the stream man it was so tiring. And even as we arrived at the summit on the other side a lamb gave birth to her kid. Wasn’t that epiphanic? My trek did give me a new life, life of a traveler and I feel so much alive in each quest I had undertook since then. It’s like discovering myself anew, each time I hit the road and each time I am in transit till the moment I arrive.
Digressions apart, we returned to the guesthouse in the village and had our food by the bonfire. We ate; we sang and we felt warmth on our face amidst snowy envelope of rolling hills. There was a person from South India who was (according to his own narrative) working as a volunteer, teaching the village kids and working as a part time guide.
He claimed to have studied in Ramjas College (D.U) and even mentioned Devyani (who incidentally was the H.O.D. of English Department when we made that trip). He did recite Tennyson and Wordsworth whole and there was no doubting his literary skills. After a long conversation, poetry and song session by the bonfire, we retired in the comfort of our bed.
I woke up next day and azure skyline with white slashes greeted my eyes. Never had I seen anything like that except in movies. Such purity and lushness and fresh air and undulating mountain chains, the sight was magical to behold. After refreshments we bid adieu to Agora village and resumed our trek towards Dodital.
The porter that we hired said he will leave after 12 O Clock just as we left at 7 in the morning. Did you know that he overtook us even before we reached Manjhi Village! We arrived in Bhebra soon with our spirits high. There was a stream and on the name of bridge there was a log to cross over as the bridge had collapsed and was under construction.
The climb from there literally made some of us rethink continuing our journey. The gradient was very tough and we stopped more minutes than we walked. Somehow we managed to reach the top of that mountain. There was a tin shade with benches where we waited and let everyone arrive.
We took light snacks there which we had carried with ourselves and again resumed our expedition. From there the gradient was moderate and we had relatively easy walk till Dodital. We stopped once in our way at Manjhi village and ran for our lives once when Baboons gathered around us (which was a prank played by one of our friend).
We screamed ‘eureka’ and jumped with joy when we saw first signs of snow, we played with frozen water as would a 3 year old with his toy. To describe exactly how I felt would be very difficult, it was almost sublime experience. All along the way we beheld some incredible views of the distant snowcapped peaks, breathed unbelievably fresh air, drank from mountain stream (which believe me was really ‘tasty’), and rejoiced in each and every moment.
The lakes in upper reach of Himalayas ever surprise me. The long roads that you walk don’t prepare you for such breathtaking sight just as you curve around and arrive at a ‘tal’. It really is magical how in just 10 steps or so, the scenery changes completely as if somebody has transformed it with a magic wand.
It was a mesmerizing lake surrounded by snow covered mountains on three sides and full of ‘dodis’ (trouts). By the Lake Dodi, We Sat. No that’s not a book title it’s just what we did that evening and next day. It was so mystical, soothing, and divine. It won’t be surprising if you are speechless for hours letting the feeling sink in; taking in the bounties of nature and Himalayas.
By the time everyone arrived in Dodital, it was getting lighter shade of dark. Our porter cum cook prepared Maggi for us and hash for himself which he very reluctantly shared. It really helps you when it’s freezing cold though 🙂
After our meal we prepared a bonfire gathered around it and sang songs (we were college kids back then) Peter even mentioned that he could have brought guitar had he known and we took a promise from him that when he would come to Delhi he’ll meet us and play us some nice song a promise which he did keep.
Peter was a nice gentleman from Canada who taught us a very important lesson. While we came back he arrived later than us with two big bags both of them filled with plastic bags and empty Kurkure and chips wrappers.
Even though he was someone traveling from a foreign country and he could have complained that people of India excel in littering and harming the environment normally – we Indians to chi kitna ganda hai log kuchh dhyan bhi nahin rakhte kitne careless hai callous hain and blah blah (And not surprisingly neither will the person complaining would really care).
Peter took the initiative to clean up as much as he could. That is one thing I take care of when I travel somewhere and I am sure everyone in our group also do. That was one very important and useful lesson.
It was good being footloose in Himalayas. On the last day of our Dodital trek, we woke up to find the lake frozen, sat beside it some more in tranquility, tried our hand at angling using makeshift fishing tackle and failed miserably, threw snowballs at each other and with a heavy heart bid adieu to Dodital.
The same day we trekked till Sangamchatti and took a bus from there and were back to Uttarkashi. Next day we took a bus again to Haridwar and from there a state bus to Delhi and even stole gannas from khet where it halted for dinner. We arrived around 5 in the morning at Anand Vihar ISBT and from there I was back to my home by 7.
P.S. All the photos are taken from mobile phone so please don’t mind the quality 🙂
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