Experiencing Heaven at Churdhar
The lure of being at the top of Churdhar was perhaps the guiding force which made me climb the treacherous terrain of this mountain peak which is considered to be the highest in District Sirmaur and offers a panoramic view of holy ranges of Badrinath and Kaidarnath on a clear day. I reached Nauradhar late in the evening and decided to rest at home of Amar Singh, one of my old classmates. It was an early evening of September and the chill in the air was already heavy. Nauradhar at 2100 meters was cold and I had a hint of how it would be at the top of the peak, the following day.
After a nostalgic discussion over the college days, I called it a day as we had to start early the next morning. It was a frantic call from Amar Singh at 6:00 am the next day which broke the slumber of my sleep. We were ready in a while and by the first ray of light, the ascend to the top had already begun. The initial few Km were steep and barren hills greeted us. However, the belief that the ascend to the summit will bring comfort motivated me to drag my feet.
Soon, we were past the initial dry patch and rhododendron forests greeted us. It was September though and I could not witness the bloom of flowers which have made the forests of teesri famous with the trekkers. The meadows for teesri are a perfect place for camping and since we had reached teesri by noon, it was time for lunch. A small make shift dhaba at 3000 meters was a blessing in disguise and Amar Singh and I had the best lunch of our lives with hot Daal and Rajmah being served with care and affection.
The climb to the top was still a challenge and Amar Singh being a local pulled me along. Noticeably, the vegetation cover changes when one leaves the comfort zone of Teesri. The harshness of Himalayas is amply visible as rocks and tough terrain gets replaced by green of the mid Himalayas. It was indeed a treacherous climb of 3 hours before we could finally reach the temple. The evening was fast dwelling and we headed to the famous Shirgul temple to seek the blessings of a yogi who has been meditating here since long. The experience of being at 3650 meters was unique and amazing since it felt as if we were back in early 1960s with only basic amenities being available.
The night was extremely cold and after a hot water bath the next morning (thanks to Acchar Singh) at the make shift guest house, we decided to head to the top. It seemed as if it was close enough but when we climbed, it proved to be a tough trail.
Luckily, the weather was on our side and we sought blessings from Lord Shirgul who sits atop this Holy Peak. The view was awesome and I for the first time saw Raw Himalayas, up and close. The experience was unforgettable and today as I write the nostalgia of that cold September evening is haunting me again.