In the Lap of Mother Divine

Just two more days to go and the discomfort in my body with the fever and its associated symptoms were still going strong. The frantic visits to the doctor, the dengue scare, concerns from friends and family were making me nervous and adding to my stress. On D-day, I just took the leap of faith, trusted the doctor’s words and went ahead with my flight to Nepal. I was still unwell and here I was off to Annapurna Base Camp, on a trek to see the mighty Annapurna massif constituting some of the most dangerous peaks in the world.

I made a deal with myself. I am not going to push myself, if my health doesn’t permit at any point of time, I would just retrace my path. At least I am getting to visit Nepal, a place I hadn’t been to before. And, most importantly I wasn’t alone, my sister was with me. With all that uncertainty, and the Nepal Airlines flight being delayed by 5 hours, we reached Kathmandu at 1.00 AM. And, with a bus to catch at 7 AM there was hardly any time to rest.

However, as my mom had predicted, by the time I boarded the bus for Pokhara I had forgotten that I was ill.

In the following days we walked through scenic villages experiencing the local culture, through deep green valleys, and dense and damp jungles with the various peaks of Annapurna playing hide and seek till we reached our destination – Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).

It was the time of Durga Puja, the most important festival time for Bengalis. Five days of festivities to celebrate the Goddess’ arrival on earth (her paternal home) along with her children. On the 3rd day of Puja – Mahasthami, considered to be the most important of the five days, we arrived at ABC. Ideally, I should have been home with my near and dear ones celebrating the Mother Divine. Yet, I was far away from home, in the lap of the Himalayas. However, I did celebrate Mother Divine in the form of Annapurna – the Goddess of Harvest, who is just another form of Ma Durga.

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Pic 1: Everything was whitewashed when we arrived at ABC.
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Pic 2: At the same place as as the previous pic on the next day

When we reached ABC, late in the afternoon, we could see nothing. Everything was whitewashed by a thick layer of fog that lay between us and the mountains. We knew the mountains were just behind the thick white curtain but we saw nothing at all.

Was there any chance of the cloud clearing later on? “No”, said our guide, “Not until tomorrow morning.” We made peace, had lunch and headed to the viewpoint nevertheless, which was just a 5 min walk from the tea house. It was quite cold and nothing was visible with the clouds still forming a barrier between us and the mountains. We walked around marveling at the various memory stones and plaques commemorating fatalities of the climbers.

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Pic 3: This is what we saw when we went to the viewpoint.

The mighty Annapurna massif has some of the most dangerous peaks in the world. Annapurna – I stands at an elevation of 8,091 m (26,545 ft) and is the 10th highest peak in the world. This unforgiving mountain also carries the legacy of the first eight-thousander peak to have been scaled.

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Pic 4: Our first view of Annapurna-1 around 5 PM when the clouds decided to gave way.
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Pic 5: Machhapuchchhre or Fish Tail mountain in the evening with Gangapurna peeking on the left.

I looked at my watch and it was a little after 4.30 PM. With the cold getting worse, there were only very few people at the viewpoint. My sister and I decided to sit quietly with our eyes closed for a while and then leave.

After 15-20 min., we opened our eyes and were stunned by what we saw. The clouds had moved, the sky was blue, and the 360 degree panoramic view had miraculously opened up. This was unbelievable. We hadn’t expected this at all. Dumbfounded, we found ourselves desperately looking all around – what if the clouds decided to come back!

The peaks around us constituted Annapurna-I, Annapurna South, Annapurna-III, Machhapuchchhre, Hiunchuli, Peak 10, Gangapurna. The view remained for a good 20 mins before the clouds started taking their positions once again. The mountains seemed so close that I felt I could touch them if I extended my arm.

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Pic 6: Annapurna South and a part of Annapurna-I, seen from the Tea House just before dawn.

At night, just after dinner, the sky was clear studded with millions of stars. The moon was bright with full moon just a few days away. The mountains glittered in the soft iridescent rays of the moon. The view was nothing but ethereal. Never had I seen such tall mountains from such close quarters lit up by the moonlight. It was one of those times when I missed having a camera. My mobile phone could not capture a thing.

We didn’t stay out for long though as it was extremely cold and we wanted to get to bed early in order to wake up early for sunrise on the mountain. Assured of having a great view the next morning with the sky being clear, we went off to a blissful sleep for the night.

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Pic 7: The molten gold peak of Annapurna-I at sunrise.
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Pic 8: The molten gold peak of Annapurna-South at sunrise.

Sunrise was just as gorgeous as I had expected. The peaks of Annapurna-I and Annapurna South looked like molten gold. It was magical. The Sun seemed to be waking up with utmost delight, putting up a show of painting the peaks for all the curious onlookers. The peaks seemed to be indulging the Sun like a mother reveling in her child’s playful activities. No words can do justice to the breathtaking view. The moment lasted for 6-7 mins and this was one of the most beautiful sights I have witnessed in my life so far.

All along I found myself profoundly thanking the majestic Annapurna for all the divinity I was experiencing.

Click here for a more detailed post on my experience of the ABC Trek.

Note: Pictures are unedited raw photos, clicked by iPhone 6.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

49 thoughts on “In the Lap of Mother Divine”

    1. The trek was very good. In terms of remoteness, I would say it isn’t tough as there’s a proper trail all the way and you live in tea houses and villages so you’re with people. So though you’re in the wild, you aren’t totally disconnected from civilisation. But the route constitutes steep ascents and steep descents with only some sections of plain walk, this gets tiring taking a toll on your legs and knees.

      Thanks for reading, Parul 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a wonderful view. Some people I knew took their child with them, and have been telling me that even I should be able to do it 🙂

    I’m not so sure. I looked at the climb profile and it does look like you are climbing most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I also know and have seen children trekking. This is because there’s a well-defined trail and so ins’t as remote as other Himalayan treks. There is no chance of getting lost and also help can be reached easily, if required. There gradient is through very steep stairs in many places, which is the only challenge.

      I think you could give it a shot. You can go slow and walk less distances breaking up by staying at the tea houses according to your suitability. A good trekking company can help you plan out a customised itinerary, though you can plan one on your own too. We came across elderly 70+ couples trekking too. Hence, I think this is one that you can definitely consider attempting 🙂

      Like

  2. I am so happy finally you made it against all odds. The shots are amazingly taken even with a phone. It is once in life time opportunity to behold a 360 degree view surrounded by those massive 8000ers . I am sure no camera would have justified that view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right. Even the most expensive camera can never replicate what you actually experience and see with the eyes. Thanks so much Asif, for reading and leaving behind your thought.

      Like

  3. OMGGGGGG……………………….. really OMGGGG can’t wait to go through every detail. I’m excited. ABC and Mardi have been on my wishlist for some time now. And it has been a year I haven’t been on an ACTUAL TREK. I’ll get back to you after I finish reading this on my bedtime. I’m excited.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is just what i experienced at ABC. I will write all the detail in separate posts 🙂
      The moonlight view of the mountain range was super special and the sunrise was out of the world 🙂
      You MUST go. She stands right there at your doorstep!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How long was the trek? You must have visited many of such places during this trek. This is the best time to be there. It was my pleasure going through every line. My heart beating faster. The clouds almost ruined my last trek but lucky the weather became clear for some hours. Did you experience the golden mountain in the morning. And you wrote of stars, did you get to see the milky way galaxy? It was almost midnight and freezing one of my friends went outside and informed us about the stars, that was the best thing, mountain as white as pearl and the view of milky way galaxy. Again you have described you journey in with such elegance. It was interesting and me so happy. I’m looking forward for more to come.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We trekked for 7 days. Sad that we had to miss Poon Hill due to time constraints. Our guide did tell us that we were there at the best time and perhaps the views we got would vouch for that. The mountain was indeed golden in the morning as you would have seen in the pics. We saw the mountains at around 9. 00 PM and then retired. There were zillions of stars and the mountain was pearl white indeed but the Milkyway wasn’t visible until then. Either it would have appeared later on towards midnight but chances are high it wasn’t as Milkyway is best seen in new moon and we were just 3-4 days away from full moon.
          I am happy to know the clouds had moved in your last trek giving you some view at least.
          And Ankit, thanks a bunch for reading with so much interest.

          Like

          1. I envy you. Maybe I should go alone. I was so excited to go treking on my own or with a small group no more than 3. But I have lost my excitement because I lost my camera recently. Only a few of my friends have been to ABC trek. I have heard their stories. I should go alone but idk.

            Anyway I want to hear more from you. We have a week off for Tihar, but I’m occupied. I’ve brought home a lot of.work. Tell me.more.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You definitely can go alone. It’s your home turf plus the well marked trail of ABC is easily doable alone. I am sorry to hear about your camera. But you know what, forget about camera, no camera can anyway capture what the eye witnesses and what the heart feels. And, you absolutely know that. 🙂
              I click with my mobile by the way. My plans of buying a camera has not materialized for far, most of the time I land up spending the money in travel 😀

              And you got work home for Tihar! That’s certainly not good news 😦

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Let me start with a good news, I found my camera, it was on my co-worker’s car. She missed it the first time. Lemme share the video I made after I found it, https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=470007960525927&id=221680505358675
                And I completed all the tasks before deadline and have been very productive. The photos you take with your phone, sometimes I can’t tell if it was really the phone. And you compose and arrange your post so neatly, cherry on top. 🙂
                I will be going somewhere Mustang maybe or maybe Mardi or ABC in December. I want to solo travel, let’s see. Dual would also be great, no more than that if it’s a trek. I can’t wait. 🙂 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                1. That’s great news!
                  Saw the video, nicely made. Tried to look for you in the group photo at the end, couldn’t find you 😀
                  Thank you for your kind words on my photos though I am not sure I deserve that. Mustang and Mardi – super exciting! Lucky you, so close to such great treks. I will wait eagerly to see the pictures once you’re back 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

  4. A picturesque read as always! It was heartening to know that you did make it despite the ill health. As I mentioned on Insta, those videos have “heaven” written all over them. I am surely going to do this trek one day, God willing, and I am going to trouble you for your expert tips then. Meanwhile I so look forward to reading more details of the entire 7 day trek!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must do it, you can reach the base of the magnificent Annapurna in such a short span of time. That’s truly amazing. Do feel free to connect with me, I can pass on all the learnings I’ve had 🙂
      Thank you, Narendra!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG, this is unreal and you made it look very simple in your post! I am craving for this but I think this needs lot of planning and the time. My current situation does not allow me. Thanks for posting such a great adventure, Neel. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. More than the planning bit, it is the time needed that is of concern for ABC. The planning can be taken care of by a trekking agency if you decide to go with one. If you go on your own, then definitely a little more time would go into planning. With competing priorities of jobs and other things it gets difficult to take that time out. I do hope someday when you have the required time, you can do this trek. Trekking in Nepal is something else altogether, especially with the mountains so close.
      Thank you, Raj for reading and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another good blog post. Besides the descriptions in general, what I like is some of the metaphors and similes you use – peaks indulging the sun like a mother her playful children, forest looking like freshly made up, just out of a beauty parlour (in another blog), etc. Your writing abilities are growing by the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful culmination! It’s a unique trek where one can reach right at the feet of her in a matter of no more than 4 days of walk from the plains! Once restrictions get lifted, try for Manaslu circuit – another trail worth going for.

    Liked by 1 person

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