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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…

MUKTESHWAR

I should have written this post quite some time ago, but sheer inertia got better of me. This summer we spent a leisurely holiday in a small sleepy town in Kumaon called Mukteshwar in Nainital district. It is about 400 km from Delhi via Haldwani and Kathgodam. We are practically driving every season on this road; last year we did the same route upto Bhowali, and then had taken road to Almorah to reach Bageshwar for our Pindari glacier. Compared to last year, the roads were in better shape, but the bridge at Bilaspur, about which I mentioned last year too in my Pindari glacier post (http://himalayanadventurer.blogspot.com/2009/07/trek-to-pindari-glacier_05.html) being incomplete, was still awaiting completion and had again caused a traffic jam.
We reached Mukteshwar well in time and checked into our holiday resort for which we had made booking in advance.


Mukteshwar is situated at about 7500 ft and is fast becoming a favourite tourist destination, esp for the ones who wish to avoid De…

CACTUS FLOWER

This is the cactus flower that has bloomed this season here. It is Adrenium.

In 1960s, a simple and delightful romantic movie 'Cactus Flower' was quite a hit. I saw it on a Sunday morning show during our courtship days when it came a few years later for a re-run. It was fun seeing Sunday morning shows as tickets were available at reduced rates. Problem was to find a library that was open on a Sunday morning, or to warn a friend not to visit home as I would be ‘visiting’ his home on that Sunday morning. Cactus Flower starred Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman, both of them playing a middle aged couple. Walter Matthau, even in his youth, had always looked middle aged and haggard, and Ingrid Bergman even in her past-prime looked ever beautiful and charming. This movie also starred Goldie Hawn in her debut.

To know more about our cactus, the Adrenium, I had just googled it, when I found there was a page on Cactus Flower film in Wikipedia. Some experts from there:

Walter Matthau plays…

SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCES ON POLAR REGIONS

Before going to my own Antarctic expedition, I thought that I knew a little bit about the global warming and its impact on climate change. However, after my stay there, and reading and discussing more on this subject, I came back more chastened. I understood that climate change is a very complex and multifactorial issue and spans not a few years or decades but may be centuries.
Recent controversy regarding the melting of Himalayan glaciers has raised a very interesting debate. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change is in soup over prematurely and erroneously making a claim that the Himalayan glaciers were melting at such a rapid rate that they would disappear by the year 2035. This statement by the IPCC was made, as it turned out, on unsubstantiated claims.



This year two major conferences are being held on Polar sciences to discuss a plethora of subjects including climate change. The International Polar Year Science Conference at Oslo will demonstrate, strengthen, and extend…

INDIAN WOMEN ON TOP OF THE CONTINENT, AND AT THE BOTTOM OF PLANET

INDIAN WOMEN AT THE TOP OF CONTINENT, AND AT THE BOTTOM OF PLANET
The ending of the year 2009 has been amazing for the Indian women, especially for those with adventurous bent of mind. Krushnaa Patil is the first Indian women (or may be the first Indian) to scale the highest peak in the continent of Antarctica. Reena Kaushal Dharmashaktu became the first Indian woman to ski all the way to the South Pole, the deepest point of the planet Earth.


Krushnaa, only 20 years of age, achieved the distinction on 22nd December when she scaled the highest peak in Antarctica, Mount Vinson Massif at 4897m (16077 ft), with the Antarctic Logistics and Expedition team. This feat has come close on the heel of her climbing the highest peak on the planet Earth, the Mount Everest, in May, 2009 when she was just 19!(see the pic).Not only that, she has already done the highest peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro, and aims to do all the seven summits in all the continents. The others are: Mt Eldrus in Europe (5642 m),…

RANTHAMBORE FORT

We had an interesting trip one afternoon to the Ranthambore Fort. From outside itself it comes across as an imposing structure. And within the fort too, there are many interesting places each with its own intriguing story. By the way, Ranthambore, is the place where the confluence of two hill ranges, Aravalli and Vindhyachal, takes place. As soon as we got down from our jeep, we were surrounded by a group of local guides offering to give us a guided trip to the fort at a very reasonable price. Since we were not interested, we politely refused. And to our surprise, they went away also. It was very much in contrast to what we had earlier experienced at places like the Taj Mahal or Fatehpur Sikri; their persistence had almost made us exasperated. One person at Ranthambore, however, continued to follow us. We realized he was a young boy, and asked him what was he looking for. We were taken for a surprise when he offered his services as a guide. He had an innocent face and sweet voice. We …