The year gone by was not so great. However, when I read this, I feel that it wasn’t that bad either. A Year round up is important because I didn’t update this website recently. To keep myself busy, I had to write this post.
I didn’t make much money but I did make a lot better sense than the last year.
So, just to motivate myself to do better in 2013, to travel more, and learn more, I write this post.
The year started on a good note. I shifted from Blogspot to a personalized website.
The Loop Whole gets a new home!
January 2012 – Travel Mania!
I traveled to my hometown because I wanted to meet a wonder lady. Sarita Vaidya, teaching in the slums of Mandi for the last 7 years, 2013 will make it 8. And she works on her own, a single school teacher. Sarita Vadiya – A Slum Teacher. Also published at Hill Post
In January itself, I got to know about Akram Feroze, a school dropout who decided to venture on a Cycle Journey across the nation. He wanted to see India, the one that lives in villages and wanted to learn cinema. A long time has passed since then, and Akram Feroze is a popular man, with more than 5000 kilometers under his belt, a couple of accidents, and few homeless nights. Akram Feroze – The Cycle Natak.
January 2012 was one of the most unusual months of my life, weather wise. It snowed at places where summer temperature goes as high as 45 Degree Celsius. As it snowed across the state, I got to know about Khaans in Shimla. Shimla without Khans is unimaginable. They walk with heavy loads on their back (as much as 50-60-70 KG or even more), on frozen roads, with ropes tied on their shoes for a better grip in snow. Khaan Sahab in Shimla.
Traveled to Tattapani and enjoyed one of the biggest religious festivals of the state, the Makar Sankranti at Tattapani. This was my first visit to Tattapani hot water springs and probably the last. With Kol Dam at the verge of completion, 2014 onward Kol Dam reservoir will engulf the Hot Water springs at Tattapaani. Although they have promised to revive the natural hot water springs elsewhere in Tattapaani but I highly doubt that. Read: Kol Dam to engulf Tattapani Hot Water Springs by 2014.
February 2012 – Meeting Personalities
Then an IITian decided to teach math by asking kids to Unlearn Formulae. This one is for you Khandu! I am glad that I know you.
Because I wanted to spend an entire winter in a snow desert, I decided to undergo a trial run. I wanted to stay for a week in snowbound Bharmour. If only reaching Bharmour was that easy. Bharmour – A Failed Attempt. Because I couldn’t reach Bharmour, and I desperately desperately wanted to be in the Himalayas, I relied on a newspaper cutting lying on the ground. It showed hundreds of trucks lined up at Ramban-Banihal-Jawahar Tunnel.
So I walked 32 kilometers in snow, from Nauganv to Jawahar Tunnel to Banihal
March 2012 – Love from Kangra Valley
Kangra is a poem, it is a painting. Colorful, musical, soulful. However, amidst all this there is a village in Kangra where till date there is no electricity. It stands in the middle of the Pong Dam, which produces 360MW of electricity. Yet it fails to light 28 houses. Kuthera – The Curse of Pong Dam.
The Pong Dam is close to the Kangra Heritage Railway line. Nagrota Surian, the main wetland area is one of the starting points of the Kangra Heritage Rail Line. And surprisingly, it is just not a joy ride, it actually serves as a major transportation medium in the valley.
April 2012 – The Rohtang Shiva!
The month of Shiva it was. I crossed over the mighty Rohtang in April, one foot. Hundreds of Lahaulis and government officials cross Rohtang on foot every year. I have been told that when it starts snowing at the top, 4-5 feet in an hour is just normal. A firangi pitched his tent at the top that day. I will do the same this year. While you stand in front of the Rohtang with nothing but snow all around, you realize why nature is considered God in India. You might like reading this as well, being too adventurous is risky sometimes.
Nohra Pass, Bhubhu Pass, Chota Banghal, and Chinna Pass, all this happened in April. Chota Banghal is one of the remotest regions of our state. And arguably the most beautiful. Chota Bhangal is close to Barot, by far one of the most beautiful villages I have seen in my life. Read Travel Guide to Barot and Chota Bhangal.
May 2012 – The Pangi Kishtwar Ride!
Pangi Kishtwar finally happened in May. A long cherished dream. I skipped Leh this year again because nothing beats Pangi Kishtwar, not even Leh. It is one of the finest riding circuits of the country, add Sach Pass to it and it becomes a Once in a Lifetime Experience.
June 2012 – The Land of Passes, Ladakh
Ladakh, the word itself explains it all. And as they say in Ladakh, “The land is so barren and the passes so high that only our best friends or worst enemies would want to visit us“, and rightly so! Ladakh – A Photo Journey
A secret visit to Chand Baori in Rajasthan and Manimahesh also happened in between. Chand Baori was successful whereas Manimahesh ended up being an incomplete journey but a life enriching one nonetheless.
August 2012 – Enchanting Kali Cho Pass
The Kali Cho Pass is arguably one of the toughest mountain passes of Himachal Pradesh. I don’t know if it was tough or easy but for sure, it was one of the longest and mind-numbing walks of my life. I had to write two long posts for it, imagine how demanding trek would it be.
December 2012 – Pakistan Diaries
It was a dream, a boyish dream with no practical strings attached to it. I had a wish to travel to Pakistan, cross the border on foot. It was just a wish. All of it happened. I traveled to Pakistan, walked across the border on foot, alone. Dreams, they do come true. A Visit to Pakistan
And as I have finished writing this nonsense, I actually feel better. There are people who still live in the dark. There are people who haven’t seen pucca roads. There are people who walk 20 kilometers for a medical checkup. There are people who are actually working for good. They don’t mind working alone.
And 2013 will be more interesting. Why? Because this has finally arrived on the scene.
And as someone once asked me, “Why do you travel? What purpose does it serve? There are better ways to impress people.”
Here is the answer, “Travel! It will make you a better human being. It will dispel all your illusions.”
P.S. Sandeep Kashyap you will be missed badly.