Chandrashila Chopta Tungnath – Foliage Outdoors. Fun Overload !

Another year, another new destination, another blog.

Every new travel brings about some fresh and unusual perspective. Every new batch brings about newer responsibilities, new problems and new ways to tackle them. Sometimes, you also realize you’ve been slacking off, and then proceed to commit small mistakes which could have been avoided,surely 🙂 Camping is always a learning curve, never a plateau. That is why, today, I wished I had done the VTP course which stands for Foliage Outdoors Volunteer Training Program. They imbibe and inculcate everything from child psychology to rifle shooting and first aid training. It’s a really fantastic program for new adolescents who wish to be exposed to something challenging, and also a way to shape up your personality and develop leadership skills.

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Jayalgarh Campsite besides Alaknanda River

When I look back, I see how I spent my graduation years. I really wish back then, I’d knew about such an organisation and such opportunities it offered. It would have changed my life as it is doing to a lot of people I see now. People with such an exposure always have an edge over their peers. I can see that. People are more confident, more sure of their actions and responsibilities. People act beyond their age. It is something I respect and admire. Only grouse ( Towards myself is that I was busy doing some other things, perhaps It never dawned on me that such a thing exists and I could do it ) ..Anyways..no regrets..no complaints. 

You win some, you loose some…and sometimes you learn the hard way, sometimes the timing is not right, sometimes it is yet to come to you. All depends on what you are focused on that moment and what you want out of life.

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Beautiful Chalkot Chopta campsite ..

This time I was back to Uttarakhand, the place I really would love to visit again and again. This time the challenge was high, a first adventure camp for me, with one easy high altitude of 13000 ft above the sea level. All this with a bunch of over enthusiastic 65 15-16 year old’s.
And with a new team.
Everything was raw.
New.
Un-experienced.
Commemorating the trip is a mixed bag..

A Solid 16-17 hours travel is no joke. In a really long time, I hadn’t been in a flight and also hadn’t traveled up the winding roads. So I was excited and a bit nervous as well. Both didn’t disappoint. The take off in a flight and the landing always always thrills me. I silently want to go and hug the pilot 😉

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The mighty confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda into the great Ganges at Devprayag

I always was fascinated with the myths, legends, stories that surrounded Shiva, Ganga, the mighty Himalayas and the orange clad sadhu’s that undertake a journey of a  hundred and thousand miles to Kedarnath, Badrinath and Gangotri among others. So to return to this land, even if not directly to witness Badrinath, is a real treat. Someday I will come back to Gangotri Tapovan to witness the source of the Ganga and also to feast my eyes on the mighty peaks that engulf the Badrinath Temple. Someday.

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The climb is always worth the hike..Deoriatal lake

Visiting places mentioned in the Puranas is always exciting and inclusive. Whether you believe it to be true or not, it is always an experience to stand there and be a part of it. One such long desired dream was to stand at Tungnath, the highest Shiva Temple in the world. I was astounded at the simplicity of the place. The Temple was small, nothing grand, no fancy and frill. Yet it drew young and old up, to climb and reach the 12000 ft mark. Do you know it is 5000 years old ?
Neither did I !!

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Some places look other worldly, straight out of an epic. It was not the temple that caught my eye, but this structure. Was nothing great but somehow I felt I could float away into heaven if I closed my eyes and walked through it. I don’t know, but it sure seemed to me that way that anytime a portal would open here and I would be transported into another dimension. It had an ethereal feel to it that cannot be explained in words…

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Doorway to Heaven ?

This being said, a camp is only successful as the team and yes even though I slacked a few times, the teamwork was something else on a high altitude-adventure filled-testosterone filled 65 kids-butt-freezing-camp. A lot lot lot of work goes on behind the scenes and now I know why and to what effect. So, here’s one to us !

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The very able and humble Govind Sir and his team, with our team

I really envy the kids who have got the opportunity to travel with Foliage Outdoors at such a young age to such beautiful locations. When I was their age, I realized I was so dumb. Today’s kids are smart man, and that makes me feel really old 😉

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The point is, be smart enough to grab an opportunity that comes your way. You never know what may work where and what will complement each other. Also it is never too late to do what you desired, like here, at the age of 27 I was the oldest and most inexperienced among our team but still I wanted to do it. Always keep your ears and eyes open, you always learn from people around you, no matter the age. And if you are getting an opportunity like I did with Foliage Outdoors, grab it with both hands and legs !
Once you are old, you realize exposure to tough conditions and responsibility is essential, very much. 

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