Tackling the Mountain Juggernaut



What is life? It’s the journey in which we move and sail through its ebbs and flows by not giving up in adverse circumstances and keep going ahead. The most difficult going makes the person even more resilient than ever before. These lines are not mere lines, but they are the lessons that my most arduous journey taught me.


In 2016, around the end of May, it was a bright, sunny, and warm day in Mumbai. The cuckoo’s sound of ‘Koo-Koo’ is still anew in my mind. The next day, our family was about to go to the Hemkhund Sahib pilgrimage, Uttarakhand, considered one of the most Herculean ones in the Sikh culture.


The night left its darkness behind, and the sun rose with a shining glow. At 7 am, we departed from our house to catch the train from Bandra terminus for Rishikesh. But did we board the train with ease? The answer is ‘No’. The train tried to take our ‘Patience Test’ by being late by 6 hours! We had to wait for the train for these 6 hours, and then when the train arrived, it felt like another day altogether. Finally, on the train, we embarked on the journey that started with such an eccentric event.


We de-boarded at Rishikesh station from our train. From there, we left in our bus for the journey which comprised a walking route of 19 km around a mountain. At the zenith, our holy place was situated. We had to travel 13 km in one day and the other 6 km top glacier part on the next day. Standing at the nadir, the mountain seemed like a Brobdingnagian for Lilliputians like us. But, the challenge is what seems difficult initially, and that transpires through the burning desire.


We had all the enthusiasm at the starting few kilometres in the 13 km journey. But, as time and distance passed, our energies fell. My sister smirked and said,” A beginner starts with great exuberance, but then his energy dwindles just like our Varun’s(Myself)”. I retorted with a rueful smile. In between, there were moments where we felt lethargic, but the serene nature and natural beauty kept us going. We had food to replenish ourselves. With all these efforts, we reached the 13-km mark, ourselves being lethargic. We stayed the night there at the gurudwara at that mark. Is the difficult part over for us? No, the crucial part of the journey is ahead.


We woke up in the morning for another day of excitement for the remainder of the journey. The 6-km part has a predominance of snow with extremely cold conditions. There’s a facility of people carrying the pilgrims. The carriers are called ‘Pithus’. One such Pithu was hired by us for my sister, Naina, who was just under 12 years of age. We kept walking through the glacier part, viewing the Valley of Flowers aside.


Although May, it felt like January.

Our fate was such that we witnessed the vagaries of the weather. From a pleasant climate yesterday, today was a contrasting one. There was an ice storm. Imagine going through such adverse climatic conditions, each passing kilometer felt like a great milestone. Chanting God’s name and the surrounding natural beauty helped us to not despair.

By great efforts and valour, we reached the zenith. Seeing the Gurudwara at such height and looking down from the Pinnacle was a great feeling. No words are sufficient to convey those.


Amidst the great feelings, somebody nudged me. I looked behind, it was my mother. She said,” Stop being happy. Where’s your sister?” I retorted,” The Pithu took her, and then…” We were anxious and frenetic. As rightly said,” The night is the darkest before the dawn”. Rummaging through the area, we tried to find her. My mother vowed not to enter the Gurudwara until we find her. We asked people and other Pithus about ours. All sorts of intrusive thoughts came to my mind. But, finally, with God’s grace, we could find her. She was in the clinic on the premises. Our Pithu took her there due to extreme climatic conditions, and that was the area that provided warmth.


Now, after finding my sister, we entered the Gurudwara. As I bow down, I could hear the Shabad(Kirtan),” So Satgur Pyara Mere Naal Hai”. This means that the Almighty is with me. He’s there to help and protect me. Then, we wished for everyone’s bright future. After that, we had the Guru’s offering that was distributed on the premises.


What does the journey teach me? It taught me that

“However difficult going maybe, there’s an opening.” Just be there with determination and tenacity, you will be through the most difficult phase with great success. And when you are there, you can feel the power and strength inside you.

About Author

The article was submitted by Varundeep Singh Nagpal a student of D.J. Sanghvi College of Engineering as a part of Penned Thoughts 2.0 article writing competition organized by RGVTUAN. This was adjudged the best article of that competition.