Tosh is a small village in the interior of Parvati Valley. It was snowing, more like sleet actually, when I reached Tosh from Kasol. I got down from the taxi and opened my umbrella, put the rucksack on my back and walked forward in search of a shelter. The taxi stand is in front of a bridge on a small stream which is the gateway of Tosh. I entered carefully because of ice and slush. Just after crossing the bridge I found a hotel. I inquired whether accommodation was available. They informed that they didn’t have attached bathroom. The next hotel on the way was closed. Proceeding forward I found a hotel upward where there were guests taking selfies on the balcony. There was ice and the path was very slippery. I could not reach there. I shouted for help. A person came and helped me to reach the hotel. He was the manager of the hotel.
It was very cold and I was shivering, so the manager told me to sit by the fireplace in their dining hall, and take a cup of tea and then to see the hotel room and complete all other formalities. It was a nice cozy room. I sat there snugly beside the fireplace. There were few people around the fire. Some were guests, some were employees who from time to time came to get the warmth. I saw my room. It was workably good. I kept my luggage there, closed the room and sat again beside the fire. There was no electricity. It rained whole day. People kept on coming and going to have shelter or lunch. Food was tasty, and Israeli cuisine was also available there. In the evening it started snowing heavily. Electricity came back luckily. In the early morning when I woke up it seemed that the whole valley was shrouded with a thick white sheet of ice. I went out from the room to take a stroll in the village. There is a temple of Jamdagni ( the great sage and father of the warrior monk Parshuram) in the center of the village, but outsiders are not allowed to enter. With the rise of the temperature the snow on the roofs started melting and fell with thuds.
I learnt about Kugti village while reading about Manimahesh Kailash Yatra. It is a lesser known place for the tourists. Kugti means Karthik in local language. I came to know that it is very near to Hudsar, the last motorable point for Manimahesh Yatra. I could not get much information about it except that it is a very scenic place and there is a temple of Lord Karthik. Coming down from Manimahesh I moved forward for Kugti. I hired a jeep and reached a place where the road ended. I got down from the car and saw a Government rest house there on the slope of the valley. I reached in front of the gate of the rest house with great difficulty and shouted. None was there. There were a primary school and a langar which could be seen from there. I reached the langar. They offered me food which was very good and tasty, probably I was too hungry. I was informed that the village is about two kilometer from there. In Himalayas no local will ever say, “It is distant”, they always say,”Its very near ( thoda hi dur hay)”, but for us it was quite a distance walking up hill with rucksack on the back. At the entrance of the village I found the forest rest house and managed a room there.
Next morning I started for Karthik Swami temple, which was 7 kilometer away from the village, after having a breakfast of aloo parantha and tea. The trail was narrow. The beauty was unique and pristine. Lots of unknown flowers bloomed decorating the place. I kept on walking slowly, taking intervals, resting on large stones and capturing few snaps of the heavenly nature. I found local pilgrims walking past rarely. Whoever I asked how much distant the temple was, they replied that it was very near. Gradually I became very tired, but at last I saw the temple on the top of a hill. That part was most difficult. But when one can see the destination it itself gives an incentive to overcome all the difficulties. At last god Karthikeya favoured me appearing himself in front of me. I felt overjoyed. There was a langar where I took lunch. People of the langar were very congenial and gave me very tasty laddoo. Coming down was easier.
In the year1982 I heard about Valley of Flowers and Manimahesh. We came across a middle aged woman on our Kedarnath trip, who had been traveling alone for years, which was considered an exceptional event then. She said, “No one is alone in Himalayas.” She had many experiences which she shared with us. My mother asked her, “Which is the most beautiful and which is the most difficult destination according to your opinion?” She replied that Valley of flowers and Manimahesh. So after completing my Valley of Flowers trip I was trying to get information about Manimahesh. One of my travel freak Facebook friends advised me to go there during the time of mela which takes place in August or September every year between Janmastami and Radhastami. I managed to fulfill my wish in 2017.
From Pathankot I reached Chamba. From Chamba buses ply to Bharmor. There were special buses for pilgrims till late night during mela. I stayed one night at Chamba and one night at Bharmor and visited Bharmani Devi temple. Next early morning I started for Manimahesh. I reached Hadsar which was the starting point of the trek for Manimahesh. Ponies are also available but the route is very steep in some places, so one has to get down and walk from time to time in different places. I started walking from the gate, there were few stair cases, and after that there was the trekking trail. After walking one and half kilometer I took a pony. Those who trek till the end take breaks at two points, one is Dhancho and another is Sundarasi.
I reached Gaurikund at 4 pm, many people halted there for night stay, but I decided to go up to Shivkund and visit Gaurikund on my way back. Reaching Shivkund I hired a tent sharing with another person. There was full of mist, I felt very disappointed. After dinner I felt it difficult to sleep not only for cold weather but also for a discomfort to stay at an altitude of 4,080 meters ( 13,390 ft ). After a long time when had I fallen asleep I did not know, there was an uproar of “Jai Bhole” which awoke me up. I opened the tent flap and saw the Mani ( the jewel ) on the top of the peak of Manimahesh. It was a unique phenomenon. The crescent moon appeared on the peak in such a way that it seemed like a diamond. The sky was absolutely clear. Gradually the crescent moon rose up, innumerable stars and constellations were clearly visible. It was a surreal feeling to be there. Suddenly I saw a shooting star. Tears came in my eyes and I thought there was nothing that I could ask God to gift me. I never thought my long wish for visiting Manimahesh would be fulfilled in such a way.
N.B. To reach Manimahesh one has to reach Chamba( Himachal Pradesh ). Buses ply from Chamba to Bharmor and Hudsar. From Hudsar it is almost 18 kilometer steep uphill trekking. Ponies are available during mela which takes place from Janmastami to Radhastami ( August/ September). Langars are set up during this period.