Thursday, July 24, 2008

This Day That Year - 24th July 2007

Day 10

Wake up at 6 am...time to get ready for the Amarnath Yatra, the walking shoes are on. The bosses will leave for Delhi in a few hours. By 7:00 am the whole jingbang is set to move - on foot, but with mules for backup. My horse is Soni and her owner - a cute, blue eyed Kashmiri boy - Riyaz. The trek begins...with stopovers at Army checkposts - we're greeted with warm water, tea & breakfast...then with warm water, tea & pakodas a few hours later and the saga continues till we reach the Amarnath caves. Army hospitality is just fabulous. The trek is tough & dangerous & it's drizzling as well. Sitting atop a horse you look down into the valley and can imagine lying there in a heap! D & Manmohan are the only ones who don't take mules even for a second. The rest of us just don't have the stamina. The distance is 13 kms one way. Soon we've reached the caves and we're given VIP darshan thanks to the Indian Army once more. We see the much talked about pair of pigeons - they say not everyone is fortunate enough to see them. We get our prasaad and soon are heading downhill. I walk back much of the way with D, Sid & Krrishh - that's what D calls Vidya - an Army jawaan because he saved D's life more than once. We're almost running downhill, it's raining now and we're looking out for landslides and flying stones. Deep bhaiya had warned us about them. About 10 people had died during the yatras because of stone hits. 12 hours, fatigue and a tub full of slush later, we're back at the base camp in Sonamarg. A hot water bath awaits me. Never felt better! Next we're off to eat bhandara food - tonight it's makki di roti te sarson da saag. Tonnes of shudh ghee and calories but who cares? And then it's back to bunk beds and I have the most blissful, dreamless sleep! :)

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