First thing when I get new office calendar is to look at the holidays and see how they are aligned with Weekends. I search for holidays that are around weekends and immediately mark them. The reason being, I can plan for the trekking trips. I don’t need to really search about destinations, because we have so many places in Nepal that I know of and that one should reach in their lifetime. The problem for me however, is to choose among all those destinations. Considering the difficulty of the trekking route and from past experiences, I was strict on forming the group this time. Sanjog, Bigyan, Rajendra and Me. Sanjog cancelled his Tour The Lumbini plan, Bigyan was yet again willing to go around basecamps, and Rajendra gave up many of the things to join the plan.
Badimalika was late inclusion in our plan. I had heard it once somewhere in internet and we did a quick youtube about it. Sanjog insisted that we trek to Badimalika, Bigyan, however, was not sure about that. Ultimately though, we all concluded to go to Badimalika.
We took Nepal’s longest domestic flight (KTM-DHI), scheduled for 7:00 in the morning, got delayed and flew at 7:45. Weather wasn’t clear, we were above cloud for most of the time. When we landed at Dhangadhi Airport in a hour or so, It was totally different feeling and environment. Sun wasn’t that bright but temperature was very hot. As soon as we landed, Sanjog ran towards toilet, not that he works on toilet (wink), but his stomach wasn’t happy from couple of days. We didn’t want to go for lunch or anything until we buy Bus ticket for Bajura, so we took Auto-rickshaw from airport to Dhangadhi Bus-park. We were aware of the strike announced by different transport committees against government’s action against syndicate. We were few days ahead of transport committees’ 1-week long action strike. But, bus owners and local committees had already started the free queue system. There were no vehicles available at Dhangadhi airport that would go to Bajura. Some of the bus drivers, who were going up to Achham, suggested us that we take bus to Achham and take jeep and hospital ambulances next day from Achham, I wasn’t going after any of the ideas though. We didn’t want to make any decision on empty stomach, so we headed for a restaurant near Buspark. In the hotel, we had a contact with Bus-owner, whose bus was travelling to Bajura, but from Attariya. We booked ticket for four of us with 900 each. We still had some time after lunch, so we headed to Dhangadhi Park, and we played Ludo there.
After spending an hour or two on Dhangadhi Park, we returned to Buspark to catch our bus. This bus was supposed to take us to Attariya only and another bus would pick us from there. We enjoyed Kafal and street food on Attariya. Bus, leaving for Bamka, was a narrow-body and uncomfortable one. Bigyan and me were on the sit side by Pole. It was so narrow that we had to do a poll dance every time getting on and off of the sit. We started our journey in night bus with just 4 strange faces, rest of the passengers were coming from family function in Tikapur and were returning their home back to Achham. Our journey to Bamka was uncomfortable yet, pleasant one.
I woke up around 5 a.m. where Bus was stopped and I thought we were already on Bamka Bazar. But, bus was there on Safebagar, Achham and I forgot what it was waiting for. We left from Safebagar to Bamka on same bus around 7 a.m., only to be dropped off on Buda Bazar. We waited for another bus that would take us up-to Bamka. This was a comfortable and Deluxe Bus coming from Kathmandu. There was no enough space to move inside bus, so we opted to enjoy rest of the trip on hoot in a narrow hilly road.
We finally reached Bamka bazar on 9:15 A.M. Because of dispute of locals, regular jeep from Bamka to KailashMandu were not available. To keep the hope of catching jeep alive, we crossed Budi Ganga river. We were told that we should wait at least an hour for jeep, so we decided to ascend towards Kailashmandu village on own foots. In trekking route, it’s never a pleasure to walk through the road. We saw jeep coming after 1 and half hour of ascending, and we took jeep for remainder of the road up to Kailashmandu. We were in regular phone contact with Man Bahadur Dai, who was in Achham for buying buffalo. In Kailashmandu, we asked for a lunch and chicken to be prepared on Man Bahadur Dai’s relative’s home. It took us more than two hours to have lunch and get ready to walk. Around 2:45 PM, we started our real trekking from Kailashmandu. We were off track right after we left Kailashmandu village. Thankfully, it was still a day and we managed to get to the main trail before dawn. We reached Nateshwori Temple, not far from the village, in 4:00 P.M. After some time of rest and visiting temple, we started to walk again. We were targeting to reach BishnuPani and stay in one of the huts or setup a tent there. All of the sudden, It started to get dark and started raining with heavy storms. Thankfully, there was one hut below the trail and we ran towards that hut. It was a narrow, built of stones, 2-story hut. On ground floor, there were some buffaloes and on the upper one there was a place for One old couple to stay. We asked if we could stay there for a night and share their food. The old man was kind enough to give us a shelter there.
We started chit-chat with old man. It was raining outside and getting cold on the evening. He was kind enough to help us with Ginger-Milk tea in that cold weather. After drinking tea, he prepared Sukka Roti with the help of bottle and plate. We were already happy with Roti only, but he also offered a sweet curd. I still remember that curd was far superior to Juju Dhau. We offered him and his wife chicken that we packed from Kailashmandu. In that narrow space, we still managed to play few Ludo games before laying down on our sleeping bags.
Though we didn’t have a comfortable sleep, night wasn’t fully sleepless. I woke up on 4:30; it was a full moon night. There was no toilet or bathroom for a morning ritual. We managed to do it in old man’s field. While all of us were fresh, old man woke up and prepared tea for us. We were very happy and offered him some financial help. We gave that amount while leaving his hut 5:45 in the morning. We walked about an hour to reach small stream and fill our bottles with water. We tried to ascend as much as we can before the sun was above our head so, we didn’t take much break except one for having Sattu (Prepared with toasted ground barley grains, salt and other food) and water. About 12 in noon, we were already in alpine zone. Everyone else was so tired that they decided to take a nap at that point. The nap was supposed to be for 10 minutes but got extended for 30 minutes.
We were at the point where there were no trees except some rhododendron ones, we could hear bird’s twitter, see eagles and Danphe (Himalayan monal). Ahead of us were big mountains and we could’ve gone to any direction. We were guessing probably this mountain has Badimalika or that mountain has Badimalika, etc. Remember, there are no road signs on this trail, no tea shops, and no good source of water. We continued walking ahead of us. Our direction was mostly guided by plastic cover of Biscuit, Noodles and Gutkha. At some point, it would take 15/20 minutes of walk to see one of that and to confirm that we are heading in right track. Since there were no tea houses and nothing for lunch, our energy was on coming from Snicker and Sattu. Around 2 in the noon, we were already lethargic but we had very long way to go. We hadn’t seen or known for sure on which mountain do Badimalika lie. Rain caught us while we were ascending the uphill. It followed with big-big rain-storms heating our head. We had no choice as there was no tree or hut or any safe place that could prevent us from those rain-storms. After raining, it started to look dark. Since we weren’t sure on how far our destination lies, I decided to walk in one way and check if we could see the temple. If rain and rainstorm wasn’t enough, it also started to snow. It was very difficult to walk, but I walked about 40 minutes up, where there was no clear way but still there was this threadlike trail that we could walk. After not seeing anything clearly, I returned back to where guys were waiting. From that point we descended further which had taken us more than an hour to ascend. There was an old, stinky, and unmaintained small loafing shed on the bottom of the mountain where we decided to spend night. We collected some woods from nearby and used them to make our door along with the help of our sticks and plastic raincoats. We were not decided which way to head next morning. After few minutes of discussion, we decided that we will start next day as early as possible and ascend the same mountain that we returned from.
We needed to wake up and start our trekking as early as possible as this was our verdict day. We all got up around 4:00 A.M., did morning rituals, packed bags and started ascending stiff mountain before dawn. We were short off water, so I was tasked of collecting and carrying water. There was small amount of water in stream because of last night’s rain, I collected water in two of our bottles. Rajendra and Sanjog were leading the way while Bigyan was in medium pace. I was catching them with water bottles in bag and in two hands. As soon as we reached the point where I alone reached yesterday, it looked like there’s still a way to go; forget where though. Bigyan was already feeling high altitude and was barely walking. We took Oreo, and I was assigned a duty to walk with Bigyan; recalling that moment now, that was a penalty for me. I was so irritated by Bigyan’s inability to walk; he would walk slowly for 2 minutes but take 10 minutes of rest. I tried everything, pushing from behind, motivating from upfront, scolding, and what not. We were already in distance with Rajendra and Sanjog.
As we were climbing top, we were afraid of how to return through the same way. It’s easier to climb high as you don’t usually see what’s ahead of you. But, when you need to descend such a stiff mountain, you need to have a strong heart. More we climb, more snow was there. There wasn’t very clear trail at all though. If there was any, that was all covered by snow and rainstorms. Around 9:30 a.m. in the morning, we saw step stones. It was unbelievable at that height of 4,000+ meters to see step stones considering that there was no clear trail up to that point. Those step stone already gave us a vibe that we were nearing Badimalika temple. After 5/10 minutes of walk on step stone, we finally reached Badimalika temple before 10:00 in the morning. What a relief, what a happiness, and what an achievement considering we were almost about return without reaching there. We were all tired and it was a windy day. But, we visited around the temple, saw the beautiful landscapes all around. The landscape view was out of our imagination. The only problem though was to figure out which side was the Triveni. We kept on guessing, took photo, worshiped Badimalika Mai, asked for whatever everyone wanted, and had Shatu and Cashew. It was 1:30 when we started our walk for Triveni. We were told by Manbahadur dai that there’s a water tank in mountain near temple on the way to Triveni. We saw that water tank, but there was no way of reaching there. The only way to reach water tank was fully covered by snow and the snow was such that you’ll sleep off for sure and die. So, we didn’t risk going there.
After half an hour of walk downwards, we decided to collect water from snow. It was 2:00 in the noon, sun was bright and snow was melting making us easy to collect water. We drank icy water, filled in our bottles and made couple of Jeevn-Jals as well. Then again, we started walking but it was very difficult trail. The trail is pretty narrow just enough for one person to walk, there were some landslides, and to make things worse, all trail was covered by snow. We walked with 4 feet some. At some point I lost hope on me and on all of the boys as well. I was afraid someone will go down. Once you are down on that trail, there’s no way that you’ll be found dead or alive again.
We kept on pushing our legs, believed on sticks and believed on Badimalika and kept on walking. At some places, we were confused which side to take because there are no signs, nobody to ask and no house, hut, animals or anything on vision span. In same situation, cloud will cover you all and separate 4 of you from one other. The visibility was rarely a step ahead at some point. Yet, we turned out lucky, took right turn and were on the right track. It was getting cold now, there was no sign of Triveni, any river, or anything to be seen, so we also had to think about night. Luckily, we saw stone hut, and we rushed towards that. There was no body and no animals. But, it was near the small stream, was stronger than the one we stayed last night and was spacious as well. There were some firewoods as well. We were in mood of cooking noodles. So, covered a plate with mud, brought a water from stream and we boiled water on that. Turn by turn, each of us got one plate of hot water, mixed our noodle and had a semi-cooked food after 3 day. We rewarded ourselves for doing what appeared to be an insurmountable thing. It was wonderful stay on hut on this day. The cloud would fill up everything and will clear in a minute again. We were in island of land.
All of us had a pretty good and warm sleep. As usual, we woke up early, did morning rituals, packed our bags, sleeping bag and mat, filled up bottles with water and started walking. It was bitterly cold and sun hadn’t risen yet. We reached in Triveni, there are 3 creeks coming from different directions of the mountain and the water was ice-cold and we were hardly able to touch it. I went past the streams to check if we could see some villages, but it was only prairie that we could see. We spent about an hour around the triveni, worshiped at temple there, had our Satu and started our walk back to Badimalika temple. We were considering returning through some other route and checked if GPS was working properly. But, neither GPS was working properly, nor we had clear offline map, nor was there any direction mark. We could have taken a challenge but Bigyan was not feeling well and if we got lost for 2 days, we would be without food. So, we didn’t want to take that risk and took another risk of returning through that difficult mountain again. We decided to do Bigyan’s speed check. From one point, Rajendra and I walked non-stop for 20 minutes and asked Sanjog and Bigyan to follow us. It took Bigyan and Sanjog 55 minutes (35 more minutes) to walk the same distance. The day wasn’t clear, visibility was rarely up to your next step. But, some time nature would clear and show little glimpse of the Badimalika temple from far. In about 4 and half hours (Bigyan’s speed), we reached Badimalika temple from Triveni around 12:45 p.m. We didn’t spend much time their except stopping there for timelapse and some snacks. We started descending from Badimalika top around 2 p.m. As they did most of the time, Rajendra and Sanjog walked ahead and left me to walk in Bigayn’s slow pace. But, Bigyan was feeling good and was getting better at walking this time. We descended that huge mountain pretty fast. In 3 hours, around 5 p.m., we reached in a place called Dharma Chhinna and the squad took rest their for a while. A jungle starts from Dharmachhinna and it was getting dark as well. But, trail was pretty straight and wide enough to walk being carefree. We didn’t set ourselves a target and wanted to walk as long as we all are not tired or as long as there’s light. We further walked for 2.5 hours and reached a place called Motipani. While we were ascending to Badimalika 2 days ago, there was a man in the hut with his dog and lambs. We expected him to be there and had thought of staying there. Even though he wasn’t there, we decided to stay there in his hut which was full of bugs and fleas. We fired a wood, had our regular Satu I belive and slept there. We had a fear of Tiger or Beer attacking us while sleeping and as far as I remember everyone was semi-awake after 2 a.m. We got off on 5, did riturals, I did in the base of a tree. We decided to leave the biscuit and noodle we had on the same hut where we stayed so that the old man gets happy. We just hope he returned there in time. We were getting frequent call of Man Bahadur Dai and he was offering us to have lunch in his home. Which, we were also happy about. He sent his uncle to receive us on Kailashmandu who guided us until Man Bahadur Dai’s home. He and Bal Bahadur dai have a beautiful home in Kailashmandu with wonderful view of Bamka bazar and surrounding mountains and I think one of the best house in that area. Everyone rushed for charging mobile. We were offered a tea and we had it with biscuit. After few time, lunch was ready and it was awesome as hell with Dudh, Mohi, and Ghiu. Man dai was asking us to stay and was offering Local Bhale (look at the picture below for what we missed). But, we wanted to move on and travel other places. We descended from Kailashmandu to Bamka Bazar. The road was almost empty. The travel person’s strike was still on and there were very few vehicles available to travel.
We waited long on Bamka Bazar for Bus. While waiting, we had local chow-mien, Local Kakro and what not. Luckily, we got a bus to stand and two seats I believe around 4 pm. It was called for full strike the next day, so, bus was on full speed and dropped us next morning 5 am on Attariya.
After getting off from Bus, we moved to the other side of the road on the way to Mahendranagar. There were some trucks coming but they were refusing to take us or they were not reaching Mahendranagar. Even though it was early morning, we were kissed here and there by mosquitoes. After a long wait, a gyp arrived with a poster of “PRESS” on it. We requested and they’re ready to lift us along with some 20 others in that small gyp. We were sitting there like a sack of cement is carried in truck. It was one of the riskiest travel of my life. Regardless, we reached Mahendranagar safely and took Rickshaw to take us up to Dodhara Chandni. We had many vegetable curries and foods in a restaurant in Dodhara chandni.