Monday, September 18, 2017

Beautiful Mana Village

Mana is the last Indian village from the border of India and Tibet in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. It is located in the district of Chamoli at an elevation of 3219 meters and is designated as the tourist village by the Government of Uttarakhand. Most of the tourists visiting Badrinath visits Mana as it is 3 Kms away from Badrinath.

Early morning after the darshan of Badrinath two of companions Mr. & Mrs Varma left back to Hyderabad due to their prior commitments. Kamesh, Mani, Virupaksha, Tulsi and I visited Mana village the same day around 10 A.M. It is a small beautiful village with around 150-180 houses in the village. It is surrounded by some of these beautiful snow mountains. 

Mana is famous for its woollen garments and materials likes blankets, sweaters, shawls, mufflers, caps etc. mostly of sheep wool. For visitors I would advise them not to buy warmers in the cities but rather buy them here in Mana village. City warmers are not going to survive in these conditions and more over the warmers sold here are very economical and sustain the weather conditions very well. We have seen some fields of potatoes and kidney beans in the village. They must have been their main crop. The locals are called Bhotias and they move down to the valley during winters due to snow.

Apart from these, Mana village is famous for this ancient cave called Vyas Gufa which is around 5,321 years old.
It  is believed that Ved Vyas lived here in this cave while composing the four vedas.
Distinct feature of this cave is that the roof resembles the bundle of ancient scriptures popularly known as Pothi in Hindi.
Another attraction of Mana Village is the Ganesh Gufa. It is a cave of huge rock formation belonging to the era of Mahabharata. According to a popular belief it is here that Ganesha dictated Mahabharata to Ved Vyas.
Mana village is situated at the banks of river Saraswati. It is a tributary to Alaknanda.
It joins Alaknanda river here in Mana village which is known as Keshav Prayag.
The rock formation in the image below is popularly known as Bheem pul. It is believed that Bheem laid this huge rock formation to cross the river Saraswati on their way to Swargarohan.
 There are some beautiful rock formations here. 
Look at the rock formations below. Don't they look like two lions kissing?
 The river Saraswati flows through a cave here at the Bheem pul. 
The scenic beauty of Saraswati river flowing through the caves will bind you. 
 The gushing sound of the river hitting the rocks will mesmerize you.
You can see how forcibly the water is passing through these giant rocks.
Do you remember I once explained how rocks embrace the water in my Kedarnath blog. This is evident here as well.
It is believed the mark on the rock is the feet of Bheem while crossing the river.
Image below again resembles some sort of massive beasts.
All the images of rocks and Saraswati river are at the foot hill of this giant rock hill formation.
Many end their journey here. Our friend Kamesh wished to stay here while four of us decided to go ahead to Vasudhara. Vasudhara is 6 kilometers from Mana Village. 
The climate appeared perfect for trekking. So we moved on the trails alongside the foothill of the mountains to Vasudhara.
On our way to Vasudhara we encountered some of these beautiful mountains.
Since we visited the place in the peak Summer of May, the snow almost melted.
Every mountain has its own beauty. It was amazing feeling passing through these mountains.
The path to Vasudhara is beautiful with plenty of rock mountains on one side and the snow mountains on the other.
On the way, we come across some of these wonderful rock formations as if someone has carved it.
This rock resembles the wheels of a giant cart. Looking at this, I feel the rock must have rolled down from top of the mount and split into pieces on hitting some other rock. What do you say?
You will find plenty of these waterfalls from melting snow on top of the mountains around here. 
Trek to Vasudhara is not very difficult but since we have being trekking continuously for the past two weeks, the body got tired. 
The first three kilometers were not very difficult as you go on a mild height. 
The path goes through up and down terrains alongside these beautiful rock mountains on one side and the snow on the other.
The last three kilometers were really difficult as we ran out of water. You don't find any shop here. 
Trekking a kilometer on mountains might consumes thrice the volume of time and energy to walk.
You can see Mani relaxing here just after crossing half way. 
After crossing four kilometers we sensed some change in the weather condition.
We sensed cool breeze flowing across the mountains. It was the feeling of chilling touch you get on opening the door of the refrigerator. 
We have come closer to the freezing snow mountains and sensed the arrival of Vasudhara.
Every time after climbing a height we were expecting to see the waterfalls of Vasudhara.
No trace of Vasudhara yet as we were walking and walking with a hope to find soon.
We used to ask few pedestrians that were returning from Vasudhara. They would say just behind that pointing a peak.
On climbing that another peak appears.
I was enjoying these beautiful sights and capturing them with great joy.
We were living every moment enjoying the beauty of these mountains as if that was our last trip.
And was true also. We never know whether we go again to this place. And therefore enjoyed every bit of it.
It's the afternoon again and the clouds started garnering over the mountains.
Weather is very unpredictable in these regions in the afternoon and evenings. You can see the clouds completely surfacing some of these mountains and is about to garner on the other.

You see the peak below was visible from the starting point of our journey at Mana village. We approached close to it now.
We were getting closer to the snow mountains. This time we were really going close to the snow.
It was an amazing experience. We were so lost in the beauty of this region that we forgot about food. We had our lunch only after returning to Badrinath in the evening.
We sensed the weather is going to get worse in few hours as it started to get scary dark.
It is scary because it becomes so dark in the mid afternoon that you can't see the path. And there is no shelter available in any form.
I don't know whether I am right, I feel this peak is the very same Neelkanth parvat seen from Badrinath.
I felt we were just behind that Neelkanth peak this time.
Finally from a far distance, I could see the glimpse of Vasudhara through my lens.
I think we still had one more kilometer to go close to it.
The mountain peaks were playing hide and seek with clouds.

The nature was at its best to enjoy. 
This is a landslide zone.
You can see determined Tulsi passing through the rocks.
These mountains were helping us from being dehydrated.
I would have never walked so much if the snow was not present on those mountains.
At no point in this trip I found strength-less. Thanks to these mountains. Else where I would have got dehydrated and tired as I sweat a lot.
All the snow mountains you see are on the left hand side and on the right hand side you find some of these beautiful rocky mountains.
These mountains are towering tall as if they are touching the sky.
So tall that you can't see the peak if you stand at the foot hill.
There was a cave in the middle of this mountain just near the Vasudhara.
I Shot this lying down up the path to the foot hill of the mountain. Grass burnt with fire never knew whether it was an accidental fire or the authorities have burnt it.
This is downwards from where I stood. You can see the stones sliding from the top of the mountain.
Here you might understand how I shot the picture. One up and the other down. You can also see some of the pedestrians walking towards Vasudhara.
Far down the valley I saw this beautiful pond and captured in my lens.
Straight far across you will find some of these beautiful snow mountains again.

These mountains are just after crossing Vasudhara falls.

Here we go. Finally we could see the full view of Vasudhara. It is 500 meters away from the place I shot this picture. You can understand how big and how far is this waterfall by looking at the size of people standing on the rock at the bottom of waterfall.
Mani returned back from this temple as three of us continued our way to Vasudhara. My heart would never agree to return back without having a feel of the waterfall for which we have come so far taking all the pain.
It is a tall huge waterfall. Very difficult to capture going close to it. One has to go through the glaciers to reach the waterfall. There was a stream of water passing under the glacier. We could here the sound of water flowing underneath. At some places we could even see through the holes formed around the edges. It was risky to walk on these glaciers without proper equipment. One may fall in the pit if the glacier breaks. We though took the chances and walk through it. I even fell and slid on glaciers as I was walking with my sandals. I, Tulsi and Virupaksha spent around half an hour playing on the glaciers near Vasudhara. We had great time together at Vasudhara that we'll cherish for long. We were completely satisfied with our trip to char-dham and felt that Vasudhara was the ultimate ending to our trip. We haven't expected an end better than this.
This is the end to Vasudhara and the beginning of the way to Swargarohan. It is said that Draupadi and four of the Pandavas left their lives up to this point at Vasudhara and only Yudhisthir went ahead to Swargarohan from here.
You see the path in the above picture amidst glaciers and snow mountains ahead leads to Swargarohan. Swargarohan is the place from where Yudhisthir lead to Heaven as per the legend.
Trek to Swargarohan is actually conducted in the month of September and should go with the permission of authorities at Badrinath temple. It is not possible and not recommended to go without the help from local guides.
Within few minutes the sky turned absolutely dark and we decided to walk down the track to Mana Village.
The feet that started walking from Vasudhara stopped only at the Saraswathi temple at Mana Village. We walked briskly non-stop for one hour and half to reach Mana. It took 4 hours to reach Vasudhara from here but returned back only in one and half hour. Thanks to the clouds and loud thunder shouts, we walked non-stop.
Joined Kamesh and Mani at Mana village, and drove back to Badrinath. It began to rain the moment we reached our vehicle.
By the time we reached our Ashram at Badrinath, the rain intensified.
It rained heavily for almost four hours non-stop. In cities we experience drops of rain but here we experienced the real rainfall with loud thunder shouts. 
We had some fruits, tea and biscuits as lunch and slept for few hours. There must be some snow fall also after we slept. The temperature got really cold and my hand exposed out of the blanket got frozen and became senseless in few seconds. I had to drag my hand inside the blanket and put it in between the thighs to warm it up. It was terribly cold and the whole body shook as the blankets provided by the Ashram were not sufficient to beat that cold. Virupaksha was in terrible condition as his sinuses were blocked completely and finding difficulty in breathing.
We got some nap once the rain stopped. We had an early dinner that night and gone to bed early as it was really cold outside.
After a good night sleep we woke up to a misty morning. The mountains around the ashram were filled with snow as it must have fallen during the night.
With this we have completed our char-dham yatra and began our journey back home. 
Though we have ended the char-dham yatra, but is not the end for updates on this journey as we explored few other interesting places on return. So my dear friends, keep watching the space for more updates.