“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.” —- John Muir
Hills teach you the different meanings of life. The every reaches, the turns, the highs and lows, the local people teach you something about your life. You never know what magical beauty around the corners. That is why hills always attract me than seas. Whenever I heard someone goes on any hikes or someone tries to reach the summit of mountains or tries to do so my inner soul is getting thirsty to drink that feeling of adventure; to become lost in the turns of hills.
This time I got a chance for such an adventure. My uncle asked me that they (my uncle, his friends, and some of his teachers of rock climbing course) arranged a trek to North Bengal (Raimatang to Jayanti). Immediately I gave my consent. 11 trekkers were in our group. We started our journey on 22nd March. We had no reservation in train. But somehow we managed. It was a different experience for me as I was not accustomed with that type of situation. Whenever I went on some vacation always we had reservation and ac coach. But which was most interesting was that I didn’t feel any discomfort…I think the enthusiasm of the trek forgot me the uneasiness.
Whatever, on next day morning we reached at Hamiltonganj Stn. at about 12 pm. From there a guide Thapa accompanied us and we started for Raimatang by car. That day was holi. As I love that colour festival so much I was missing this. I thought Holi was not so popular in North Bengal like Kolkata. But when we reached Hamiltonganj city I realized my misconception…how could I forget North Bengal is in Bengal! So that was obvious the people too celebrated the colour festival.
Raimatang to Dimapokhri
After about 1 and a half hour of car journey, we reached the first check point where tourists enrolled their names and got permission for enter Raimatang forest. There two Nepali porters joined us and another half an hour of driving we reached the starting point of our trekking. There two forest guards welcomed us and also one of them played holi with us. I was so overjoyed to feel that I was away from my home but I didn’t miss my home, the festival. There Thapa alerted us to be aware of elephants.
There I learned some behaviors of elephants. Generally, elephants do not attack on humans but if someone in front of them and they realize some danger they give three alerts. 1st, they roar which means you have to move backwards, if this alert doesn’t work they use their 2nd alert which is they break the branches of trees. If someone refuses to hear their 2nd alert, here comes their 3rd alert; they run in speed towards the person or persons but stop in a distance. This is because to give fear of death by them. If the person rejects that alarm too, now finally, no, this time its not any 4th alert this is now a direct attack to kill the person. Elephants are generous…no! After all, they give you 3 times alert to save your life.
Whatever, we started out trekking; our way was into the forest. In my back there was 70 lts rucksack…too heavy for me! And many ups and downs. I felt soreness in my shoulder. It was my first time…so every ache, every steps, every highs and lows and the feeling of adventure were new to me. But interestingly that feeling was so strong that it replaced my soreness with thrill. Finally, we reached Dimapokhri, our first halt and were finding a suitable place for our tent. But, we didn’t need to pitch our tent as there we found an abandoned house in midst of corn field. Now we wanted some drinking water, the porters said in about 2 km there was a well from where locals quenched their thirst. So, we walked 2 kms to bring our water. What we found was remarkable. It was actually not any well, it was the stagnant water from a nearby fountain and in some places the stagnant water was the home of tadpoles. Whatever, we collected some clean water (not so clean); we had no option but to take it. Actually, this was also a life lesson to get accustomed with the place and situation where you don’t get your luxury things. 1 hour later darkness falled down and that day was “Buddha Purnima”; we felt ourselves lucky to see full moon in the open sky where no concrete limits covered up the natural beauty. At night we heard the roar of elephants which was thrilling.
Dimapokhri to Namna
Next day morning we ate our breakfast and packed our rucksack; at about 8:30 am we started our journey to Adma. It was 4 and a half hours trek. Again I witnessed the different beauty of hills. There was no forest, no greenery; a spiral narrow ups and downs path which leads to our destination. We rested and again started our walking. Actually it was one hill to another hill and between the two hills there was stream.
We reached Adma then Namna.
In Namna we halted and cleaned the place to pitch our tent in a bamboo forest. Near that place there was a stream and a river. The water was so clear that one could see the pebbles easily. I can’t explain how magical the place was! One of a sir wrapped ropes around two bamboo trees to hang a hammock. In evening it was amazing to swing on the hammock in the jungle. Different unusual sounds which were made by bamboo tress created eeriness. This was my first night in a tent around such creepy surroundings. At night our two porters hunted a rooster and we cooked it in fire wood.
Buxa to Lapchakha
However, in the morning we were ready to go our next halt Lapchakha. It was a 7 hours trek via Buxa. Here I came to know about scree zone. It’s the sloping mass of rocks at the base of a cliff. Scree zone is a very difficult area as whenever you step on the sloping rocks it slipped away and the other side is abyss. So a trekker should be very careful. But with the helped of a porter I managed to cross that area. Needless to say the scenic beauty was astounding. Whenever we stepped down from a hill there was a stream in between two hills. It was like someone drew a picture on a canvas.
In the midst of our way we halted one of our porter’s uncle’s house, Indrajit Thapa for lunch. Here I experienced the taste of salted tea. It was tasty. Indrajit Thapa had an excellence with different musical instruments. He could play almost 80 instruments. We were honored to meet with such a talented person. After had our lunch we started our trek through Buxa forest. The gentle wind, cold weather, the trees, the natives and the hilly path made this journey relaxed.
At about 4 pm we reached Lapchakha valley. I don’t have any adjectives to explain how beautiful was that place. So neat, so clean and the local people were so loving. But the scenic beauty was stupendous. It was a picturesque small valley. Here we stayed at a home stay. From that top we could see the Jayanti river at below. In the evening I witnessed another beauty. Fire lightning in the turns of the hills. I came to know that it was because the local people burned the bushes for slash and burn farming. Whatever the reason was this lightning looked magical.
It was our last trek night so we all sat together on the grass and shared our experiences with songs. The sky was so clear that for the first time I could see so many stars and constellation of stars all together. Here in congested and concrete city life it is impossible to see the clear sky and so many stars. After dinner we went to our bed as the next day would be very hectic and it would be almost 8 hours trek.
Lapchakha to Jayanti via Mahakal
On 25th March we started our trek at 6:30 am. Now it was time to go down the plains, Jayanti riverbed via Mahakal. The path was all boulders. We had our breakfast at the meeting place of Jayanti River. The place was awesome but at the last day the journey was really tiring. It was really difficult for me to carry that sack as my back and shoulders ache started. But I had to manage this. Crossing boulders, Jayanti Rivaer, forest, bamboo stairs, and wooden pole now we finally reached Mahakal.
Due to shortage of time we couldn’t go to Adi Mahakal temple. From Mahakal we trekked on Jayanti riverbed. The last trek through riverbed was really painful and I couldn’t walk properly because of my rucksack. It was almost 2 hours walk on riverbed. In monsoon the whole riverbed is full of water. But then it was dry and the whole area was grey. It was a strange feeling that we actually walk on the Jayanti River. Finally we reached Jayanti. There we took our lunch at a restaurant and it was such a relief to off the sack from my shoulder.
From Jayanti we reached Aliporeduar by a car and from Aliporeduar we took a bus to go New Jalpaiguri. We stayed at the night in a hotel and the next day on 26th March morning we boarded a train to Kolkata Station.
It is an experience for lifetime; obviously I will never forget this trip and I am eagerly waiting to hear for a next adventure trek and I am always ready to pack my bag. Yes this time I’ll surely change my painful rucksack.