Saturday, November 05, 2016

Kedar Camp, Time to Stand and Stare.

The group I chose to be a part of for my Kedarnath trip was comprised of six people from Switzerland, Denmark, Russia and Germany. Agastya and Anna (Savitri),  Ami and Anja aka Shyamala, and Matte. They were into Yoga and Hinduism which brought me closer to them. The itinerary had names of the places unknown to me and I resisted the google search of the places as I didn't want to miss the element of surprise.

Our base,  Kedar Camp, Guptkashi, was my home for  seven days. We climbed many mountains, but by  evening came back to the camp for sumptuous food, stories around the fire place, cosy tents with hot water bottles tucked under the blankets and relaxing hot water bath. Next morning we used to be ready for another peak, lake or a lake on the peak. The homely warmth of the place made me realise that before making a house one has to plan and before making such a camp one has to dream.

my tent

Six hours bus journey from Rishikesh ended when I climbed the stone steps which lead me to the camp where I was offered homemade rose drink. The row of tents faced the mighty peaks of Greater Himalayas. Variety of flowers added to the beauty of the place. Lovely collection of roses, passion flower, queen of the night and so many.

Passion Flower

The tent  with mosquito repellents, switchboards to charge the mobiles n laptops was a delight.The biggest relief was the wash room.

later I saw a slide show of the pics of  more than  hundred types  of birds that visit the camp during different seasons of the year. Some of them come back for their yearly visit.There are a few wild berries n fruit trees purposely planted to lure them. Some come in flocks like parrots and others just two of them year after year. The few names I remember are seba, babbler, fench, red bellied bulbul, hupoo, yellow crested woodpecker, plum headed parrot, sunbird and munia. During my morning walk I could also spot a pair of pheasants. I also realised how difficult it is to take bird pics.

Pic: Agastya Seikritt 

Like the kitchen at home dining hall proved to be the heart of the camp, Food was not spicy and  tasty enough to make us overeat. I, a homemaker envied the chef who never repeated a thing throughout our stay. I also wondered how those European fellows never missed their staple food at all. I could only hear them sigh, Wow, I like it, yummy.. From pickles, salads, daals, vegetables, sweet dishes, we loved it all. Porridge, Dalia  topped with mountain honewas a big hit with everyone. Honey reminds me this beehive  which could be seen from the dining hall.


Like we Indians are particular about our chai, my companions were about their coffee. A coffee maker was taken out and different types of coffees were made which were not in the menu, but our host made sure each one gets what he wants. He wanted us to be happy. I, a pahari got ghee  for my khichri and gur, jaggery to be eaten in the end, on the table. Isn't it amazing?


The  adorable fire place in the corner used to be our adda after dinner. Agystya told a kissa about how he was separated from his friends at Gomukh during a storm and heavy snowfall. There appeared a sadhu who gave him shelter and food. As things became normal the sadhu was nowhere to be seen. Years later he saw the same sadhu at Varanasi, but only for a while. He vanished again. Goosebumps!

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Our host also told us about his regular clients, they call them guests. Most of them become good friends. Victor Banerjee and the Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic also stayed in the camp for a month for the shooting of a film ' Devbhoomi'

One more group came to the camp a day before we were leaving. A swamiji with a few of his disciples. Swamiji brought a garland of colourful flowers for Shalendra, our host. He did make him wear it. This is the relationship he shares with his guests. Most of the ppl in the party had been there before. One of the girls, from Belgium saw our group leader and sprang up shouting his name Majojjjj!! and hugged him. She came to India a few years back and might have been in his tour group. Savitri, from Russia also told me, "Manoj is an angel." I was so proud of these entrepreneurs  who treat these tourists/ guests so well that they remember them forever."

I heard Shalendra refusing an another group over the phone saying the camp is full. I could see that there were a couple of tents lying vacant. I asked the reason and his answer left me speechless.He said,"These many people are enjoying. I'm easily providing them what they want. Quality of service should not suffer." He wanted to give happiness to his guests.They should remember this place. Memories made and lives enriched, that is what he wanted.

The beauty of doing one's work sincerely is that people remember you, they do. This is what I'm doing past midnight, thinking of Kedar Camp, smiling and reliving those happy moments.

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