Nag Tibba

Nag Tibba-A Serpents Abode

On a smoggy Monday morning, the rush hour already consumes the sense of freedom I had hours before. As I board a crowded coach of Delhi Metro, the monotonicity returns. I peek out of the window but fail to get a clear glimpse of anything amidst persistent smog, as my sight goes on to discover how the might of the river Yamuna is reduced to that of a drain laden with the pitiful exploits of the masses, perhaps unconscious of the damage. Unable to fathom the sight of what became of the might and graciousness of Bandarpunch Glacier, source of the river Yamuna, the sight of which I blissfully cherished not long ago, I bow my head in despair. Living in the national capital, “dil walo ki dilli”, the heart seems long lost. Although a city where one can find whatever one seeks, peace has become increasingly unattainable. Yet my soul rejoices as I rediscover the pleasant memory, of the mountain breeze and a sheer sublime sight that I adored in the preceding days, at Nag Tibba or the serpents peak.

All good things are wild, and free. – Henry David Thoreau

Of the three principal ranges of the lesser Himalayas or the Mahabharata range, which comprise the Pir Panjal, the magnificent Dhauladhar and the Nag Tibba range, the latter is rendered its name by the Nag Tibba peak, the highest in the region, rising above the neighbouring hills at slightly under 10000 feet.

The region remains rather undiscovered despite its proximity to major towns, such as Dehradun and writer’s capital, the queen of the hills, Mussoorie. To add to its perks are the magnificent views that the place has to offer, at the end of a not so strenuous trek. The welcome sight of the ascent concludes in the astounding views of the Bandarpunch Peaks, Swargarohini, the Kalanag and Kedarnath. What renders it perfect for the residents of the northern plains especially the national capital Delhi is, its proximity and accessibility throughout the year and an ability to do the trek over the weekend. For the enthusiasts, rather far off or not well accustomed to the altitude, it is a perfect trek for an intimate introductory experience to the Himalayas.
Snowfall in winters is an added delight for the lovers of a white carpet.

Heinrich Harrer, the acclaimed Austrian mountaineer, while his successful attempt to escape to Tibet, from a British detention camp in Dehradun during World War II, traversed through after climbing the Nag Tibba, where he had his first encounter with a leopard, sitting 15 feet above the ground on a tree branch, as he has mentioned in his book “Seven Years in Tibet”.

The region is now a forest reserve and it isn’t uncommon to wake up at night to the howling of wild foxes at the camp sight, only to be mesmerized by the shimmering distant village lights before your eyes, even as one goes on to be enthralled by the overhead sky, embedded with countless dazzling stars, as if precious jewels were sewed into a thick black robe.

An overnight journey to Dehradun followed by a drive to village Pantwari, via Mussoorie-Nainbagh, and finally a few hours spent traversing on foot through a thick forest leads to a sublime destination, offering an unparalleled serenity and solitude.

Nag Tibba peak comes nothing short of a perfect introductory Himalayan Trek, easy on your feet, yet with all the magnificence and great mountain splendour attached to it. The strenuous march of the first hour and a half upon a path with a steep gradient concludes, soon after you have crossed the last of the human dwellings, in the soothing aroma of wild mint that the base camp is encompassed in. Care for a cup of tea brewed with some freshly plucked mint leaves and later on rejoice at the astounding sight of mountain light as the day ripens and the dusk approaches. But as it is about the mountain light, which appears rather omnipresent, even though the night caves in the dance of the divine continues. As the silence that lingers, growing heavy on your senses, about the time that you are more than willing to retire to the comfort of your tents and the warmth of sleeping bags, there is much left-to be seen and felt in the dark.

The occult of the preceding dusk is embellished with the divine of a new dawn. As we set out from the campsite to pay a visit to Lord Naga’s abode, our path under an autumn sway is rendered a colour, as if cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon by the countless sparkling rays of the morning light. The march hereon gradually tends to take form of a pilgrimage as each of our steps, however taking us farther from the comfort and safety of the world that we have created, yet bring us closer to our true being, and the spirit begins to dance to the rhythm of surrounding nature.

After two hours into the walk, the otherwise trembling feet find relief, when we finally find ourselves under the refuge of Lord Naga. Whether it is a sense of fulfilment or that of accomplishment, I do not know, but there remains a persistent awe, I realize, when I gaze at the grandeur of the distant peaks to which much folklore has been attached. Whether the Pandavas did actually climb the Swargarohini on their way to the heaven, I am not certain or if I may get a glimpse of the monkey on its annual pilgrimage to Bandarpunch, I am doubtful, but the magnanimity and audacity of this great spectacle least it does is bewilder.

Bemused, flood in a million thoughts of inspiration, waiting to be penned down in countless words and yet it is silence that I choose as I express my gratitude to whoever, the creator of this path that I walked upon, bringing me closer to perhaps heaven itself.

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