A telling in reverse – Moving Upstream: Ganga

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This is a guest blog by Alisha Pathak. She had joined our Moving Upstream: Ganga project andwalked with us for almost300kms along the Ganga fromKaudiala toGangotri as we documented the river (2017).[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3792″][vc_column_text]Over 25 days of both walk and rest, moving upstream, I saw changing landscapes, foliage, food, culture, ebb and flow of the river. I write about flashes of the places I saw on the drive back to Uttarkashi from Gangotri, the same places where we had taken days to reach and hours were spent.

One can find a daily photo diary of the walk on Instagram done during the walk under the hashtag – #gangamovingupstreamxalisha. And keeping up with the format of pictures, stories and a choice of song with each update, a note is attached below.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”A telling in reverse”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]4 April 2017: the day we drove back from Gangotri to Uttarkashi after having moved upstream on foot.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3800″][vc_column_text]A quick goodbye to the Isha Ashram, our abode in Gangotri, and we were on our way back to the plains. Driving on the widening roads under construction till Bharonghati, over the bridge hung high over the narrow gorge of Jadh Ganga, near Lanka – we had crossed the high obstacle which has created the idea of the seasonal stay of Goddess Ganga in the upper regions. Lanka, where too we stayed a night with an acquaintance we had made in lower regions – why are you walking, he had mused?[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3816″][vc_column_text]Then, a steep descend to Jangla and onto the motorable road along the bank of river Bhagirathi, shaded by Deodar trees. Across the river was the old foot-path from Mukhba, the ancient maternal home of Ganga, to Gangotri which was taken by pilgrims for centuries, and only two days ago by me. We stopped short of Dharali to fill water from taps; Himalayan spring water on tap is a privilege hard to come by. Only yesterday we had freshwater springs along the walking path for a little refill.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3802″][vc_column_text]We then climbed to “Sukhi Top” over the bends, spotting the red house which made for a landmark in no connectivity times, had a glimpse of the shaded-spot where we had sat for half an hour and heard the wind whistle through leaves. Then a quick panoramic sight of the Himalayas from Sukhi Top. Not even a week ago were we directed to Sukhi by the sight of blooming trees of spring and had been guests for spring festivities, heard tales of wildlife roaming free on the mountain we faced.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3803″][vc_column_text]After driving down the winding roads from the top, we were back at level with the river and deep in the gorge. “Doggie”- a black shaggy mountain dog- we had befriended near Gangnani had parted ways with us at the forest conservatory near Songad. A lookout for “Doggie” till Gangnani showed no signs of him. Perhaps he found another to cheer and to keep heel.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3804″][vc_column_text]After a customary dip at the hot water springs in Gagnani, while having chai at our familiar haunt, we watched uniformed men de-weeding flowers from the wall in anticipation of a prominent politician’s visit; instant makeovers, we wondered? Not far from Gangnani was Helgugad, where also was a tea shop boasting of the best tea in the region, and we concur! Dharmayaan Singh at the tea stall had spoken of the beauty of buraansh (rhododendrons) and generosity of stones, given shelter, a meal and cool water on a rather hot day for someone on foot only a week ago. A brief hello to him was due. Kindness and wisdom are undermined but highly valued currencies in forlorn times.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3805″][vc_column_text]A drive on the parched road, ghosts of the abandoned projects (Lohari Nag Pala), changing foliage on trees took us to Bhatwadi, which we quickly zoomed by. A gush at Maneri Bhali, the ghosted village from the earthquake on the other side, a whiff of the temple which was home for a night, the stretch of rocks at the confluence of Assi Ganga and Bhagirathi which made excellent stools to watch the sun go by, and then we were at Uttarkashi.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3806″][vc_column_text]A journey which took 7 days on foot, took 7 hours in a car. But our views had changed.


Song: Aao baccho tumhe dikhyayein jhaanki hindustaan ki[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”A re-telling”][vc_empty_space][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAqJTr18HRM”%5D%5Bvc_column_text%5DA video essay. Views from the walk, and words from Herman Hesse’s ‘Wandering’.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Alisha Pathak is a researcher and a mountaineer, taking interest in mountain communities and development. She enjoys finding connections between unrelated topics and building narratives around them, keyword being interdisciplinary. She can be best reached at alishapathak23@gmail.com

Moving Upstreamis our flagship project, the first edition saw uswalking 3000kms along the Ganga from the sea to source. We are working to create a multifaceted experience revolving around the river. To support and learn more about the project, visit:www.veditum.org/crowdfunding.

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