This is the the first part of my Nag Tibba trilogy.
“Dear Mr. Ibn Battuta” I said “you were
wrong when you said not speaking the complete truth when you said “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Parts of what you say may be true but let me fill the blanks.
“Go on” he replied and I finished with adding that traveling not just leave you speechless, it also make you breathless, in agony (especially in Himalayas), want you to quit, pushes you to persist, turns into ecstasy as you arrive and turns you into a storyteller as you look back on some of the absolutely amazing moments in your life that you spent.
Ah! Just some idle talks you see!
What matters is that finally I become one with Nag Tibba, one of the nearest treks in Himalayas from Delhi or shall I say one of the best weekend treks from Delhi that you could undertake during winters.
I have lost count of the times I have consistently proclaimed my love of being footloose in the Himalayas and the trek to Nag Tibba only reinforced that feeling of love, of oneness, of being whenever I return to the mentally and spiritually uplifting bosom of Himalayas.
So how it all started?
Well to tell you the truth, it all started with magi.
Come on! “This is what you’re thinking right now :-)”
You must be wondering I am exaggerating or having a fit of some tangential thought.
Ain’t I right?
No, I am not! It all did start with magi. I was having tête-à-tête with a friend of mine over magi one day when I sagely chuckled “Kuchh bhi bolo par magi khane ka maja to pahadon par hin hai” (Say what you wish, but the real taste of having magi is only on the mountains).
Enlightened by my epiphanic revelation, my friend ebulliently made the riposte “To phir sochna kya hai. Chalo pahado par magi kha kar aate hai”. (So why waste our time, let’s head to the mountains and have some magi).
After much discussion, research and calculating the leaves that we were left to spare with us this financial year (And honestly I don’t have a single one left), it was decided that it will be the second weekend of February.
These talks took place in early January and in between I roped in two of my colleagues – Gaurav and Deepak – to accompany me to this Himalayan expedition and they readily agreed.
I also managed to rope in my Big B who happens to be the most frequent travel companion of mine, whether be it motorcycle trips or extended weekend treks. As he got involved the dates of Nag Tibba trek was revised to 6th of February.
But was it all set? No it wasn’t.
It was like we were going we were not. One time it was my colleagues cancelling their plan and sometimes it was my brother. After days of reshuffling, trying to convince and finally leaving it all to chance, I decided that I’ll go even if it comes to going alone.
As it unfolded (as it does with so many plans) my friend – with whom this session of magi tasting was planned in the first place – could not make it in the end and even as I write we are finalizing yet another such savory session in Himalayas.
My brother’s plan got cancelled too and so was Gaurav’s and in the end it was Deepak and I all set to roll on 13th of February.
At around 9 O’ Clock in the evening we were at ISBT Kashmiri Gate and as soon as we made our way down the flight of stairs a bus with a last few seat for Mussoorie was about to take off.
Finally, the adventure began as the bus rolled off from the ISBT towards Uttarakhand where Nag Tibba awaited us 🙂
It was quite cold outside bus surprisingly the interiors of the bus were warm even though it was not a Volvo or air conditioned bus. It was in stark contrast to my winter trek to Parashar Lake last year when I had hitched a ride on a rattletrap HPTDC bus with almost deafening clunking of window pane and was feeling as cold inside as it was outside scampering for warm place – the bus was almost empty – despite wrapped in a quilt.
So, comfortable and warm, we were dropped at Mussoorie in the wee hour of a fine Saturday morning. It was 14th February, the Valentine’s Day and I was already in love as I opened up my eyes to undulating Himalayas burgeoning with Oak and Fir trees and distant snowcapped peaks. The morning sky was not surprisingly clear, azure and the sun was about to rise.
From here we were to hitch a ride to Pantwari, the base village from where our Nag Tibba trek would commence. Surprisingly as we asked a few bystanders about Nag Tibba, none of them had any clue. Many of them insisted that we are mistaken that we probably meant Lal Tibba. They didn’t even have any clue about Pantwari.
Unfazed we settled down to wait for the bus – the Mussoorie Chakrata route – for our onward journey. In the meanwhile sun was rising and I captured quite a few pictures on the beautiful morning with distant Himalayas as the backdrop.
A little later I was sitting on a slab and soon had company. Whereas the mother was calm as she approached and gently sat down beside me the pup was cautious. He barked, approached sniffed then wandered off soon…enough of curiosity 🙂
After spending quite a few moments chasing for sunlight and monkey through the camera, even Deepak had enough and we decided we better move along by foot and will catch the bus whenever it cathes up with us.
So we started along the Chakrata road and after walking for half an hour or so – in between we had some boiled eggs for breakfast – we heard a bus approaching. We held out our hand and the driver obliged and stopped the bus to let us aboard.
We asked the conductor about Pantwari and heaved a huge sigh of relief when he told us that yes we are on the right track. But he added that we’ll have to alight at Nainbagh and then wait for another shared cab of hire a cab for our onward journey to Pantwari.
After riding for half an hour or so and approximately 15 kilometers from Mussoorie, I saw a waterfall which is counted as the most beautiful spot in the Mussoorie, attracting loads of visitors every day. As opposed to the majestic waterfall gushing out of the mountains that I have read about during my researches, Kempty Falls turned out to be a modest one – It was déjà vu or shall I say Bhagsu Nag waterfalls redux. Kempty falls appeared more of a nullah to me – may be due to the season – that splits into five distinct falls one on top of the other. The highest I have read is over forty feet.
As the bus rambled along the sinuous mountain road, the sight I beheld was dazzling to say the least. One my left flowed a jade Yamuna still uncorrupted with chemicals and dirty discharges and on the right was mountain laden with fir, oak, deodar and rhododendron forest. In between I also spotted lush terraced fields and few signs of human settlements with typical thatched roofs that bestowed a postcard perfect aura the scenery.
After riding for an hour or so we eventually arrived in Nainbagh. The choice available to us here was to wait for a few hours for shared cab or hire one for 600 bucks. As the day was wearing on and I didn’t want to take any risk – we had a long trek ahead – we opted for the latter and made our way to Pantwari.
Whatever you have to buy, I recommend you do so in Pantwari or better in Nainbagh (There aren’t any thekas in Pantwari 🙂 You get what I mean.
From Pantwari, a well defined trail leads on to Nag Tibba. But that is another story full of hardships, adventure and finally ecstasy and not to mention another post.
So here ends my prelude to Nag Tibba trek. Feel free to leave some compliments or curses to let me know how I muddled through this one 🙂
- Shimla: Up Close & Personal
- Timing it Ah Well: Nag Tibba Trek