Saturday, November 22, 2014

Awake & Alive- A day in Spiti Valley

I truly believe that we underestimate our lives.

My experience in Spiti was life changing. It was a place that opened me in a new way. It was a place where I believe I truly experienced different facets of life.

I remember that one day very distinctively. I think it is one of my MOST cherished days till now. That day, I felt alive and I truly LIVED to feel something beautiful.

It was towards the end of my stint in Spiti with Ecosphere.

It happened to be my first Sunday in Kaza, which meant that the Ecosphere office was technically shut and I had the day to myself. At the onset, it felt strange because I was unsure of what to do for the entire day. My fellow friends and travellers had left for a day trek that I had already been to before.

And so I went looking for Sunil (co-owner of Ecosphere) and one of the most interesting and humble human beings I have ever met. He is someone with whom you can have any discussion in the world and he will always have something interesting to share. I grilled him for some options of places around that I could explore. With his help I finally settled on Rangrik, a nearby village that I could hike up to.

I started my hike by early afternoon crossing Kaza. I reached the point from where I had been told that I could either walk through the main road crossing over a bridge, or explore some paddy fields, streams, rivers and do some climbing. The view from this point was mesmerizing. I obviously chose the latter and that was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The view from the bridge
I thought of that saying- ‘we need to enjoy our journey and not worry about the destination’.
This is exactly what I experienced that day.

I made my way through stone walkways, smaller streams, and wet paddy fields. I was in awe of the view and simply taken in by how beautiful our country and nature really is. The mountains, the streams, the lush green trees… it was all a dream.

The bridge and the path I walked
Whilst I walked alone, fell into the water, got up again, felt the joy of being alone; I experienced inner happiness, a joy that is beyond bliss, a sort of inner peace that we lose out in our daily hectic schedules.

I thought I had lost my sanity: I was smiling away, singing, and jumping around.

I was the only soul in the entire stretch.

I was ALIVE in a way that I had not yet experienced in my life.

I sat by the streams and soaked in the spectacular surroundings – the silence, the sound of water gushing… I gazed out into the distance and I could see Rangrik at the other extreme end of the mountains. It did not matter how and when I would get to where I had set out for because that present moment was perfect.

I spent some more time by the water and then decided to start the climb which would hopefully get me at least somewhere if not to Rangrik, before it got too late for me to able to trace my way back.

I chose a peak that I thought was the closest, but it was deceptive as all the peaks were actually way farther away than they appeared. I climbed in circles for a while, hoping that it would lead me to some place from where I could identify my way back.

from where I started my climb and the river bed
I was lucky, it all ended very well. I reached an open green pasture of land from where I could see Rangrik Village at a far end and the road that would lead me back to Kaza.

pasture land and Rangrik village at the far end
I walked for a bit longer still absorbing the magnitude of this vast space, the mighty peaks and the silence they brought with them.

I finally hit the main road and made my way upwards back to Kaza. It was a slight climb and I wanted to make it back before it got too dark.

While I made this 7 km walk a lot of thoughts crossed my mind. Memories passed by. I had several conversations with myself and at the end I only had gratitude for this wonderful experience which left me humbled.

We occupy such a tiny place in this world, and yet we give importance to things and issues that are not even worth that much.

This day taught me many things. I know words won’t do justice to what I experienced and felt, but I have tried to share as best as possible. The joy is in the smallest of things which are around us, we just need to be open and let the love they hold flow through us.

(I couldn’t help but sing: I walk a lonely road, the only one I have ever known. Don’t know where it goes, but its only me and I walk alone… )

About the author: Sonali Gupta volunteered with Ecosphere in 2013 as one of 2 volunteers that ventured onto a program called Inner Space Adventures. This piece was written post her time on the program but the adventures obviously continued !

Sonali thrives on travelling and exploring new places. An event consultant by profession and a wanderer and photographer by passion.24 something, free spirited and a firm believer that this world is a beautiful place.

She loves the mountains, and believes nature is her calling and continues to seek unexplored and explored destinations. You can read more about her journeys on her blog where she shares the world through her eyes and lens. This particular post can also be found at her blog Awake & Alive- A day in Spiti Valley .

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