We were right at the steps leading to the main temple of Tungnath. Above us was the temple, quiet witnessing as it always, witnessing centuries of human folly, triumph and spirit. We took a tiny break, breathing in and out, taking it all in.
We were again before scheduled time in Tungnath. We saw some people, lone trekkers moving their way towards Chandrashila. Even though most were insisting to get a Darshan of the temple, Tirth said we could do that on our way back, right now the focus was the summit.
And off we started towards Chandrashila. Leaving the temple behind, it was rocky terrain. It was all rocky with grasslands. Chandrashila literally means ‘Moon Rock’. Legend has it that lord Sri Rama meditated on this summit to atone for his sin of killing Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka in the battle.
So we started, it was closer towards 4.30 am and we were continuously walking since 1.30 am. Let me tell you here, a break means a couple of minutes with sipping water and standing, no one sits and it’s not encouraged either. As long as the body has movement it is better, sitting even for a few minutes makes it worse.
We could see others, not from our trek group, going and surging ahead trying to reach the top as soon as possible. We were all maintaining that pace, same walk, same step by step, no hurry but to keep going. And now it was getting difficult. Thin air, really cold, windy, breathless and the feeling, ‘ So near and yet so far’. Tirth was with us throughout, now we could switch off our head lamps as we could see the night turning to dawn, not there yet, lingering in between.
We didn’t want to look at the top, no way, it would make it seem impossible, so only the path ahead is what we saw and moved. I saw our group getting scattered making their own trail to reach slowly up there. Bhim and I looked at each other and smiled, Easy trek? Seriously? We must have a word with Indiahikes on this! 😊
We were all struggling, for real, the body, mind and heart wanting to give up to wanting to push forward. We were encouraging each other, Come on Navadeep, we can do it, Come on Showmik let’s keep going whenever he felt like sitting and taking a break. And then the sentence hit me, ‘ The Hardest Mountain to climb is the one within’. This is what I got as a welcome message from Tirth as part of the treasure hunt he made us all do on the first day at Sari base camp. It was all coming together.
Pankajji was so happy, he kept on saying, see how you all are moving ahead, bas aage jao ji( keep moving forward) Tirth told me don’t take the usual trail just keep going up the way you feel comfortable and Bhim and I did, zigzagging going from one end to the other, we were slowly inching forward.
I saw Dharmik below sitting on the rock, there was a helplessness about him, He was reaching the end of his tether. It was exactly like a marathon, the finishing line is the toughest. The last mile is where it all counts. The urge to give up becomes strong but that’s where your will power also starts kicking in, it’s a tussle and a game play happens within you. Pankajji told Tirth about Dharmik sitting alone, so Tirth sprinted towards him and got him up and going. No way was anyone going to be left out. We walked into this together and we will be at the top together. Period.
Acceptance- that key word is what I experienced, truly experienced as I was struggling towards Chandrashila. One of the facilitators from the last meditation workshop I attended who is a close friend spoke to me a day before I was travelling for the trek. He said, ‘Swapna one has to accept oneself wholly, the dark part, the fun part but also the shameful part as well as the part where you were your worst’ everything is you. That is not something you say, ‘Oh this is not me, and looking at it like an outsider, every bit is a part of you’. you don’t have to act on it or rectify it immediately, you should be aware of it, that’s it. And all you need to do is fill it with LOVE. Let love completely take over your being. Because in the end, it’s only love, and it’s always Love.’
Slowly Bhim and I started inching forward, closer and closer and everything blurred around me, everything became like this dream I was walking into, and there it was the summit, moving up narrowly and the first thing I saw was the temple on the summit. I broke down, I broke down so badly, sobbed my heart out, without shame, it was all me. Tirth gently said Yes.. Bhim held me as I kept on sobbing. No I was not sad, how can anyone be? I was bursting with love and happiness. I bowed to the temple and the tears kept flowing. Bhim was ecstatic, his eyes were dancing with life, joy, happiness, love, his energy was pulsating. We were finally here.
Behind I heard Tirth’s happy voice talking to Sari base camp almost euphoric saying ‘We did it’. Showmik who came in last had reached the summit. It was 5.50 am. It was a record! No other trek group of Indiahikes had clocked it at that time. Tirth and Pankajji were beaming. It was natural because each trek lead and guides would compete with other trek teams, in a healthy way and here we all were. Reached before 6 am.
I was still sobbing like a child, there was no more trying to control my tears, maintain a decorum, it was just flowing, this is me, this is all me. Bhim and I rushed towards each other and I sobbed harder and hugged him. Navadeep came rushing emotionally and said, Swapna I need a hug, and I hugged him hard with Bhim saying, Navadeep don’t hold back, hug properly! This was a moment.
After the euphoria, we all took our individual spaces to watch the sunrise.. The peaks were magnificent, it would probably be the best sunrise I have seen in my life. It was so cold my whole body was shivering with my teeth chattering and as I stood and saw the sunrise with tears, my chest was bursting with happiness. How can I describe how each one of us was feeling? It was an experience to be cherished for a lifetime.
Bhim went off to the corner most rock, Riddhi was in her space, Tirth went to the farthest end, each one of us were so far gone away and yet very present. As I sat fascinated watching the sunrise, Jo the photographer came and sat with me for sometime, He smiled and said, Look at the brilliance, every moment is to be enjoyed’.
Tirth quietly gave each one of us a postcard, to write anything that came from the heart and he told to write our address on it after we finished or just keep the card. He would make sure it would reach us if we wrote our address. It was in the moment, to put in words what we were feeling that time. ♥️
Until tomorrow 🏔 🏔