Falling in love with the mountains | Milaap

Falling in love with the mountains

When we were little girls, we were dragged along to the remotest of villages in the mountains by our parents during our much cherished Durga Puja holidays. When we wished to spend the days having fun, eating, roaming around the city with friends and family. All we got to do was walk and walk for hours on tough mountain terrains. No proper food, no places to stay, no exciting humans to talk to, no new clothes to wear.

At Auli in Uttarakhand as kids. In the beginning years when the two of us were still trying to understand the need of travelling to such places.

This began when I was around five or six years of age and my sister was only five years older to me. We hardly had any idea why one needed to leave their comfortable homes and go to shabby huts in the mountains and call them holidays. Little did we know that one day these nearly forced tours would turn into a ritual in the coming years and into a habit and passion for all of us within a few years.

I actually did my first trek in life when I was 6 years old. We climbed to Tunganath and I literally had no clue why.

My father was my hero and his words were like God's command to me back then, so when he walked, I walked and there were no questions asked. We bonded so much through those mountains that there was no stopping from here.

We went on to climb Panchachulli base camp, Pindari base camp, Gomukh base camp, Har-ki-dun base camp, in all the upcoming years when me and my sister were little kids.

Chilling out at the Panchachulli basecamp with the family at the age of nine, the snowclad peak Arjun in the background.

By this time we had started to get a hang of the mountains and the amount of strain and days of the tough trek that we had to endure to reach these beautiful destinations. By now we didn’t mind missing out on the crowded Kolkata Pujas.

At a resting place on the way to Pindari glacier base camp in the year 2005. Picture by Sanchari Chatterjee.

When twisting a leg didn’t mean we were allowed to give up on the tour, we rather had to find our way around the problem. Like here I was put up on a goods carrying horse because of an injured leg, on the way to Gomukh in 2003.

Back then there was no concept of hotels, homestays, resorts in the trek routes, all we could depend on was fate and the extremely warm local people. Many a time we had no clue about our stay and we would just arrive at someplace and ask around. That has even landed us at the Panchayat Pradan’s home where he was kind enough to let us stay the night.

Oh! This was a regular phenomenon all through the Har-ki-dun trek when we kept meeting such amazing “bridges” which were built post multiple landslides. Picture by Sanchari Chatterjee.

We started getting older and more modern amenities started coming up in the mountains. But they can never equate to the adventures our parents have habituated us to. These days we generally tend to search for the remotest of the places and travel there. This is like an unsaid understanding where all of us know where the real beauty of the mountain lies.
This quest had led us to small hamlets which are somewhat untouched by the commercial tour companies.

A lonely Yuksom Valley in Sikkim which still gives one a chance to cherish the mountains at its best. Picture by Sanchari Chatterjee.

The sparsely populated Rinchingpong in Sikkim was also a treat to the eyes.

The beautiful snow-clad Indo-Tibet border doesn’t see many tourists due to the severe cold.

The magnificent Gurudongmar lake in Sikkim takes your breath away. Rarely is a mountain site so devoid of humans these days.

The sparsely populated Tsongmo Lake again in Sikkim boasts of an amazing site which is frozen in the morning and by the afternoon it melts down.

Though in the beginning years it felt like some form of torture, now we know that this gift our parents have given us will stay for a lifetime and take us on many more adventures.