A burning desire to run to the middle himalayas, away from civilization, in the solitude and comfort of my aura and the enchanting energy of the himalayas took me again to the upper reaches of uttarakhand , to a place where my affair with the high altitude wilderness, its animals, birds and ofcourse the wonderful people began .. Pindar valley !! It all started with a phone call from one of the locals at Dau , a quaint little village in the bageshwar district of uttarkahand, have been contemplating for a longtime to travel to these parts but lack of company has always put the tour on hold, somehow this time , i decided to do this on my own,As the tourist season hadnt started by then, the idea was to stay alone in Dwali trek of 18kms from roadhead, and phurkia further 7kms from dwali , and look to explore the area for its high altitude birds and wildlife . I stuffed my backpack with a couple of sweatshirts, an inner and a big warm jacket , and started off on a 220 km one way drive in my mahindra . the next 8 days were spent Trekking, Scanning for birds , witnessing the majestic himalayas and experiencing the love and wonderful hospitality of the locals .
The first two days were spent looking around the village of dau, mixing up with the family i stayed with and searching for spots and areas good for birding . The village of dau is aptly located from where both the pindar and sunderdunga valleys are visible and so are the pindari and maiktoli glaciers .
The next 6 days were spent at Dwali, (a 14km trek one way ) towards Pindari glacier , at an altitude of 2734 metres , and a place in the middle of nowhere at the confluence of two rivers in the heart of the forest, Unfortunately , the rest house was still closed as the tourist season hadnt started yet ,and we were lucky that the caretaker was well known and he agreed to give us the keys …It was just me and Dhamu at the rest house far away from any kind of civilisation and the only humans around were a couple of labourers working on a PWD construction site . Dhamu was a great help as he could cook daal rice, make fire out of wood and would explore the area around with me the next few days . As the Phurkia rest house was closed and we didnt have the keys to the place, the idea was to explore as much as we can keeping dwali as our base, that meant we couldnt have gone to zero point which was a trek of 26kms to and back, Two days didnt see much bird activity around the rest house except that we were treated to a fabulous sighting of around 5 himalayan tahrs on the cliff across the river from the rest house .
Third day evening the weather started to change, and we had hailstorms and very heavy rainfall , and in a distance we could see snow falling around 2kms towards pindari. And then things changed, as the rain got lighter , the birds started to move in near the rest house , redstarts, warblers, flycatchers and a pink browed rosefinch sucking on a rhododendron flower, quite fascinating how things change in an instant in the himalayas . Next day a trek of 3 kms took us to jwarpani at a height of 3000m asl, and how things had taken a complete u-turn, because of heavy snow near zero point, the birds had all come down to the meadow, monals, snow pigeons, red billed choughs, buntings ,accentors etc. We even saw a Western tragopan twice at two different places.
A couple of more days of exploration near the high altitude rest house at phurkia and back to dau after 6 days of complete isolation, gave us an opportunity to take a bath and have something other than dal rice .
Dhamu my partner in crime was ecstatic to get back to his family, meet , talk , mix up with people other than me , young boy was fed up of the isolation , As for me, I was still thinking of Beyond phurkia, towards Zero point, the finches, and time well spent in solitude . Next day i was in my car , driving back to people, chaos and civilization. 10 days into the unknown, 5 days back to reality , my heart still remains there, with those wonderful people , who treated me like family. the forests that bring such inner peace , the greater himalayas with their mesmerizing energy, with the seen and the unseen birds and animals that inhabit the beautiful landscape, and me who somehow just belongs there ,in the simplicity of the place and the people. A Soul lost and forgotten, with no name and no identity, being one with the himalayas , with myself .. Until i go back again in MAY …
Lifers and rarities:
1) Speckled wood pigeon
2) Stripe throated yuhina
3) Himalayan Monal
4) Hiamlayan Tahr
5) Yellow throated marten
7) Western tragopan
8) Red billed choughs
9) Snow pigeons
10) Red Fox
11) Koklaas pheasant Female
12) Little forktail
13) clawmarks of Snow partridges all around at the bugyal Best time to go – May, june, October , november Typical trek duration till zero point and beyond till nandikund – 10 days ( KGM to KGM )