January 4th, 2012. Muktinath, Nepal. I was here.
The panoramic view of the beautiful snow-capped mountains of the Mukti Kshetra. There was more snow than I had ever seen in my life. And it was cold. The partial trek to Muktinath from Jomsom had already given me a trailer of the winter life in Mustang. The wind had been relentless.
January 1st, 2012. It rained and my dream of seeing snow for the very first time in my life got fulfilled. But every wish has a price to pay. With snow come the shivers. And it was the biting cold that took the most amazing views of my life from my memory. I was so busy feeling cold that I don’t have a memory of seeing the view. I did not take the picture. One of my friends did. I saw it after I was back in Jomsom and and it was too late to be awed. I am awed by this view, don’t be mistaken, but to be actually at the place and breathe in the cold air and the sun too, and take in all the beauty that there is, is something else.
It might come out as a weird thing but before that trip to Mukti Kshetra, I had always dreamt of seeing snow, sea and train(and board it of course). Well, I did see snow. Loads of it. Now, sea and train (wherever you are, I will find you).
But it will be rather un-thankful of me if I just spent my account of the trip on what I did not get to see and what caused it. It was the trip of my life. The longest I had spent away from family. And it had been quite an adventure. Not only because I had gotten to travel as was my desire, but also because my trip had been full of misadventures. Nothing had worked out the way we had planned. The trip had glitches all over.
·We were held twice by strikes for hours on our way to Pokhara, had to walk for an hour with our trekking gear after abandoning our ride in the stoppage.
·It had rained which had kept us in Pokhara for a day extra.
·My bag had torn a seam so I had to buy needle and strong thread to sew it myself.
·Our jeep to Ghasa from Beni had flat tire on two occasions which had made us stop at Ghasa for the night.
·We were mis-communicated about the distance from Kagbeni to Muktinath. As a result we were stranded in snow for more than an hour till by good fortune a jeep had given us a ride to Muktinath. (the jeep had been there by sheer chance)
·We had to wait till 3 for a jeep to take us back to Jomsom the next day because there hadn’t been many passengers. By the time we had reached Jomsom at 5:15, the last buses to Beni had already left. Stranded in Jomsom.
·Next day had been a National Strike. Stranded in Jomsom still.
·Next day there were no buses. We had to bribe to get air tickets to Pokhara. The airplane hadn’t arrived until after 11 because of the bad weather.
·And the trek through Gandruk never could happen because we ran out of money and time.
If my trip had been without these lapses, then I don’t believe I would’ve been able to recount it as much fondness as I do now. Mis-happenstances aside, I cherished every moment of the trip; from the chance visit to Begnas Lake, to the first sighting of snow as we neared Ghasa, to the trek from Jomsom to the unknown snowy-cold place 3 hours away from Kagbeni, the beautiful Muktinath temple, the sparkling white snow, the clear blue sky, the barren lands that I had only seen either on TV or Internet and many many more.
Here are the pictures I took in this amazing trip of my life.
Word of advice if you’re planning on visiting the Mukti Kshetra this January: January is a dry season; don’t expect to see green and lush apple groves in Marpha, like I did (stupid me, I know), January is also off-season time for tourists, so much discounts on room and food, but also not much buses. Get a jeep from Jomsom to Muktinath; the jeep from Muktinath to Jomsom leaves either at 9 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon. Be prepared to face anything, keep calm and enjoy the view.