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For more on this story click  – getting to Hadsar

It doesn’t take long to leave Hadsar even when you are on foot. Hadsar on one level but just after you pass what looks like a broken down but grandiose entrance to the trek to Mani Makesh you take a left hand bend down  to a bailey bridge which crosses the river. The road continues for about 5 km on the left hand side of the river and climbs steadily alongside the river. You can see the old walking track on the other side of the river but I don’t think many people use it any more although there were a few religious temples along it. At the end of the road which is pretty corrugated there are a couple of cars packed and then the real walking starts. Roads are never very kind on foot soldiers. Whilst they are designed to make access possible for anything with a rubber tire they seem to do the opposite for me. I am always more tired after slogging along a road for a few kilometres.

But once on the track again the feet seem to find a more natural gait and nature

seems to get closer. Actually it really does do it here as the forests full of deodars are just beautiful to be near and higher up the white capped mountains and waterfalls so many and probably without even names. Every thing could easily be taken for  granted and you have to remind yourself that this place has been lived in for generations and up to now well looked after by the custodians of this region.

I guess by 11:30am or after 4 hours of trekking  we  reached Kugti. Actually Kugti has a lower and upper village. Santosh my guide comes from Kugti and originally suggested we stays at his inlaw’s home. Thats gets changed when I indicate that we should go a little further as the day is still young. Santosh offers the best solution when he suggests we go on to Kailang Temple in the afternoon and where there is a place we can sleep in some comfort. In the meantime he suggests we get our food which we will need for the next few days and then have lunch at his in-laws place in Upper Kugti.  So we first go shopping in lower Kugti.

 I think maybe there is only one shop but the building around this area are very old and some are falling down. Most seem to be made of deodar entirely with much less use of stone and mud than what I have seen in some villages.

It is a very steep climb to upper Kugti but this often has to be endured as the beautiful views looking further up the valley and down to lower  Kugti make it all worthwhile. but still I am tired and so are my partners Santosh and my young porter. We are shown a room with a very big bed in it and it doesn’t seem to be long before we all doze off. At least in my case I feel a lot better after what might in fact have only been an hours kip. As well as the inlaws there are three families sharing the house. Each one has there own kitchen. Dad has worked hard over the years extending the house so that all would have a place and some personal privacy when they needed it. That surely must have worked well as there were lots of kids who all seem high spirited, healthy and inquisitive.

How can people be so kind. We were treated so well with an excellent lunch prepared even though we arrived unexpectedly and well after everyone else had eaten. The kids were great fun but unfortunately I had no way of returning their hospitality.

Eventually it came time to leave and I could have stayed here longer. Some places just seem so inviting. You could sit on their balcony and watch the people weeding what looks like barley terraced plots on the opposite side of the valley or the men cutting wood for fuel and the kids bring the wood home. But alas we had some way to go to get to Kailang temple. On the way there are no more houses just lovely forests of deodar and birch as the track climbs ever upward. Drizzling rain starts to fall and with that our visibility. But soon we come to an open hillside meadow with what looks like a building at its crest. I am by myself at this stage having managed to keep ahead of my porter and guide since we left Kugti.

It is pleasant sometimes maintaining your own pace but I do have the advantage in that I do not have to carry my rucksack. I almost missed the Temple as it is much higher up the slope than the track I have chosen. But it is a relief to see that the building looks substantial although in need of repair as the rain had dampened my spirit.

When we arrive the priest shows us where we can sleep. This is a substantial room that overlooks the temple. Just outside the temple is a dhaba where everyone has gathered to get warm and have the inevitable tea.

Towards evening a much larger group of worshippers arrive. We see them struggling up the hill. Families obviously visiting the temple to worship and I think to have something like a short holiday. The Hindu religion isn’t just  all praying but is the complete social outlet for all. Some of the men join us in our abode but the women and children settle themselves in an annex of the temple.

I am so tired that I only half notice these activities and am probably the first to retire. That completes my first day of trekking.

the final ascent

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