Skip to main content

Solstice

Today is 23rd December. This day carries the same significance in Antarctica as elsewhere. That is, the Sun now will travel from East to West northwards. Practically this means that in the northern hemisphere the days will start getting longer, while in Antarctica, the days will start getting shorter. Though there will still be 24-hour day, but one may look forward to nights, stars and moon in days to come. The Sun will set completely towards the end of January to have night for 4 minutes only.

The northbound Sun, Uttarayan, has other significance too in India. People attain 'nirvana' if they leave this world during this period of 6 months. In the great Indian epic, Mahabharat, the great warrior, Bhishm, was gifted in postponing death till the time of his choice. During the final battle when he falls down with Arjun's arrows all over his body, he keeps away death since he wished to leave for his heavenly abode only after the start of Uttarayan to achieve nirvana or moksha.

I have just finished reading 'A Mountain in Tibet. The Search for Mount Kailash and the Sources of the Great Rivers of India' by Charles Allen. It is very informative and tells us about the British explorations in Tibet to trace the sources and paths of great rivers of India which originate in the Kailash-Manasarovar region, namely, Indus, Brahmputra, Sutlej, and Karnali (of which Alaknanda is a main branch and in turn one of the two major tributaries of Ganga, the other being Bhagirathi). It narrates exploration of one Swede, Sven Hedin, a bold and most ambitious explorer. Once he had made up his mind to attain a particular object no consideration of other people's feelings, conveniences or even safety was ever allowed to deflect him. I quote from his own book, 'My Life as An Explorer', "Happy is the boy who discovers the bent of his lifework during childhood. At the age of twelve my goal was fairly clear". It is a very different matter, though, that in 1952 he at 87 died a lonely, friendless and neglected man in his own country because of his unorthodox and at times unethical methods and his supporting Adolf Hitler.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

TREK TO VALLEY OF FLOWERS AND HEMKUND SAHIB

When I told my family and friends that I wanted to trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib this August, everyone thought I was just crazy. Besides Delhi, the rain gods had been relentless over Uttarakhand too causing road breaches at multiple sites in various hill towns. There were landslides everywhere and traffic to all the well known pilgrimage centres of Badri Nath, Kedar Nath, Gangotri and Yamunotri were getting cut off from rest of the country every now and then. The group I was trying to assemble had fallen through. But to do justice to the Valley of Flowers, one has to trek there in the month of August only when the entire valley is at its best bloom. So finally, I enquired at the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd (www.gmvnl.com) if they had any vacancy for its weekly tour to Valley of Flowers – Hemkund Sahib – Badri Nath. Of course, they did not have any for the month of August. However, I was banking on some cancellations hoping some people might not like to venture on this…

Chopta - Tungnath - Chandrashila Trek

Five days of holidays in the beginning of October was god-sent for many people to make a beeline into their favourite destinations; we too planned to make best of this golden opportunity, since it does not happen very often that one gets constellation of holidays falling together. If I have to plan, what better place than go for a quick visit to the Himalayas in Uttarakhand. Chopta and Tungnath had been in my mind for a long time. I made enquiries and found this was a doable trip in five days. Vasu, after some hesitation, agreed to accompany me, and then I asked Shariff, who approved the plan (of course, after consulting Malini) without hestitation. What bothered me was the road condition. After last year’s devastation due to fury of floods in Uttarakhand, esp, in the region of Kedarnath, I was a little wary, since Chopta and Tungnath fall in the close vicinity of Kedarnath; afterall, Tungnath is one of five Kedar temples. I contacted GMVN’s offices in Rishikesh and other places to ge…

The Winter Embrace of Kedarkantha