“Himalayas – the very word conjures an ethereal image in my mind- the image of a range of towering mountains steadfastly standing tall against the distant horizon since centuries………..They have been standing like that long before I tread the Earth, and they will continue to stand long after my footsteps have ceased to sound on the Earth.” – Sriparna Saha
(Image – Bhagirathi twin peaks turning golden at sunset. The Bhagirathi twin peaks are located near Gomukh, mouth of the Gangotri glacier in the state of Uttarakhand. India. Sriparna Saha is an architect and a travel-writer. She has made extensive trips to the Uttarakhand Himalayas.)
Memories from School Days
My memories go back to my school days (1970 – 1980s) at Mount Carmel in Durgapur, West Bengal. The summer vacation after the final exams meant a chance to get to the mountains (Himalayas especially).
During those school days, I hardly knew what the future had in store for me. ( Now, I work as an architect into pahadi home architecture, homestays, home renovations, retaining walls.) Today, while in the car taking the long winding himalayan roads or trekking up a hill, as I make my visits to the Himalayan sites and destinations, I wonder at my good fortune at having been able to merge my career with my passion. I feel humbled and grateful to the mountain god to make a life’s long awaited dream come true.
Fantasizing and Planning the Trips to Uttarakhand Himalayas
Every summer vacation at the school, it was a chance to be at a new location – Mussoorie, Nainital, Dhanaulti, Chakrata, Ranikhet, Almora, Kausani, Chopta for the snow views; Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Nandprayag for the prayags (river confluences); Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath and Yamunotri for the treks and the darshan. Being there and experiencing it in the full at every time of the day and night.
I had a visual map in my mind of all these locations and the nearest GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) and KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) Tourist Lodges and the time it took to get to these locations. Over the last few decades, I have made trips to Ranikhet, Chopta, Ramnagar, Pithoragarh, Chaukori, Munsiyari, Sitlakhet, Mukteswar, Jeolikot, Pangot, Lansdowne, Deoria Tal, Tungnath, Kotibanal, Harsil, Mukhwa, Dharali, Cholmi, Pauri, Khirsu, Jageshwar, Madhmaheshwar, Peora and many more. Each location has been unique in bringing a different and a fresh perspective to the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Not to forget, the trip to each of these locations had their own charm and the memories.
My typical day in the Uttarakhand Himalayas
Waking up before the sunrise in the dark to experience the sunrise breaking over the mountains and the valley and into the river below. And, then walking all day, meeting villagers and locals and then, again stopping at a point somewhere in the quiet to see the sun set, showing all its colours in its different hues and disappear into the dark.
Slowly, the stars used to start showing up in the sky. And, we used to get busy spotting the constellations.
And, then, the nights used to present a different view of lights coming across from the hamlets and the huts from the villages on the tops and the edges of these mountains. As, if the stars have descended below you.
On-board the Doon Express from Howrah
Getting on to the Doon Express at the Howrah Station in the evening. Those were the days of the trains and the steam engines pulling them. Another day in the train and the next day, the morning used to arrive with the train reaching Haridwar and we knew we were close, but yet not there.
Finally, the steam engine led train chugging into the Dehradun Railway station and finally slowing down along the railway platform, my patience used to hold no further. The walk to the railway overbridge and the very sight of the Mussoorie hills from the overbridge itself gave me a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Yes, I am there. Then, booking a taxi (the robust and sturdy Ambassador) with my parents, younger brother and cousins, all into it. Another 20 minutes, and we had left the plains behind and were into hills.
The Himalayas – Welcoming in all seasons
The Himalayas have been always been fresh, new and welcoming to me. In the summer, respite from the hot plains. In the winter, clear star-studded skies and light, crispy air. In the monsoons, they turned a different kind of green and had rivers with their water gushing and rushing to get to the plains. And in the spring, they had flowers of different hues blooming all over. The Uttarakhand Himalayas have always made sense to me in all seasons.
In the near future, I shall be writing on the following General Blog Topics: Uttarakhand Himalaya trips – Travelling in the Himalayas – Himalayan adventures – Uttarakhand trip plan – Uttarakhand holidays, Vacations – My earlier travel blogs from Outlook Traveler and The Hans India
And, also on the following specific location trips: Trip to Mussoorie – Nainital – Chopta – Raini – Parasari – Joshimath – Gangotri – Kedarnath – Badrinath – Trip to Yamunotri – Deoria Tal – Almora – Ramnagar – Ranikhet – Chaukori – Pithoragarh -Trip to Munsiyari – Sitlakhet – Trip to Mukteswar – Jeolikot – Pangot – Lansdowne – Deoria Tal – Tungnath – Koti banal – Trip to Harsil – Mukhwa – Dharali – Cholmi – Trip to Pauri – Khirsu – Jageshwar – Madhmaheshwar – Peora
My Landscape Architecture Blogs: Landscape Architect – Garden Design; – Buransh, Buranskhanda and Burans Mahotsav-Rhododendron Arboreum; My Homestay Architecture Blog – Pahadi Ghar Homestays; My Home Renovation Blog – Home Renovation and Home Remodeling
About Sriparna Saha
Sriparna Saha is an architect and travel-writer.
She started traveling to the Himalayas since she was a child. Her travel and work has taken her to the Himalayas in Sikkim, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. She has finally made Dehradun, Uttarakhand her home.
Architect Sriparna Saha – Detailed Profile