Chauragarh peak amidst Satpura ranges

Since the Covid restrictions in Maharashtra was relaxed a bit, we 4 families together planned to take up a trip together to some place where we are safe from Covid and will get a change from the regular work from home routine. I did my little research and suggested to go to Pachmarhi which everyone agreed without a blink and that’s where it all began. We 4 families with 13 members went to Pachmarhi in second week of August which is not much preferred season to visit this hill station amidst the Satpura range in the state of madhya Pradesh. But still if you think is there any particular season that is not good to visit a hillstation…I cannot believe if there is any and we never thought this place would be so much special and beautiful than the way its mentioned in all the travel blogs that I have read on it till date. So I could not resist giving a standalone mention to one of Pachmarhi’s most daunting attractions – the Chauragarh Temple through this blog.

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This is the base from where the trek starts

Located on top of the Chauragarh Peak,at an altitude of 1,330 m, the temple can be accessed after a 3.6 km ling trek. Just when you are thinking that the three-and-a-half odd kms is not really a big deal, let me just tell you that the last kilometer is basically 1,380 steps cut on the sheer rock face. So by this you can guess what we all had signed up for. We heard from people we know who had been there before about the difficulty level of the trek but these warning or stories I don’t know why gives you a solid reason to go ahead, explore and check it out for yourself if it’s really that hard to reach the Chauragarh Peak or its kind of an excuse of people who were not fit enough to reach the top. So we took this up as a challenge and all of us were ready and determined to reach the top and see for ourselves how the trek actually is. Another amazing thing I would like to mention here is that many of the members of our group were senior citizens and by God looking at them bubbling with energy determined to reach the Chauragarh Peak motivated us youngsters to not give up at all and ofcourse never to underestimate the stamina and strength of these senior citizens. Looking at them it really seemed like for them age is just a number and so it cannot define their boundaries.

You can take your car upto the Mahadeo Temple, 9 kms from Pachmarhi town. From there begins the trek to Chauragarh. For the first kilometre, you climb up and down a number of small hills till you come to the base of the main hill. See, the thing is, I daily walk around 4 km as exercise routine and I used to consider myself be a fit person as whenever given a chance to sit home and rest or go for an exhausting trek I’llalways choose the later one. We carried our own bags having the mask, sanitizer and cameras while we had asked our gypsy driver to help us carry the eatables and water for everyone since everyone of us were observing shravan somavaar ka upvas which is a kind of fast that we strictly follow to present our devotion to lord Shiva and again coincidentally Chauragarh Peak is said to be Shiva’s peak and people usually climb these four mountains and reach Chauragarh Peak to go visit the Shiva temple situated at the peak. So it was kind of amazing how the plan fell in to place such that we were able to visit the Shiva temple while we were observing the fast for lord Shiva itself. For people planning to go there, please carry your own water as there are no vendors on the way. A few tribals set up shop here and there selling gutkhas, cigarettes, chaas(buttermilk) and nimboo paani (these tribal people do stay in the valley that we can see while trekking. I am still amazed and appreciate how they climb and descend these mountains daily just to earn a livelihood).

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Caves on the way while trekking

Mid way of the trek is quite easy and not so steep and makes you believe easily that whatever mention that you’ve heard of this trek is breathtaking and difficult must be from people who are not so fit to even endure such a normal trek path but soon you’ll realize that you’ve said this all too soon…

This is when the track finally starts winding upwards. On one side of the road was an unrestricted view of the Satpura valley, most of which was covered in clouds and fog which definitely made it less scary while peeping in the valley by at the same time it was feeling as if we were there walking amidst the clouds…As you trudge on higher and higher, the scenenery begins to unfold under you. At this point of time, you begin to wonder if this view looks stunning, what would the view from top be like.

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Walking amidst the clouds…no valley can be seen on the left side of the railing

After two third of the climb was completed we came to a point where the steps had become narrow and steep making it more difficult to hold a grip and walk properly due to sudden rain and wind. As also due to the height it was becoming difficult to breath and to make it even more difficult during this COVID pandemic times we were trekking with the masks on as there were many country people crowd out there who were going to visit the chauragadh mahadev temple on the first shravan somavar of the year which is an auspicious day to worship Shiva according to Hindu mythology and coincidentally we choose the same day to go for this trek(well that was not a good idea since it made us keep the mask on and eventually made our breathing difficult as we were ascending towards the Chauragarh peak).

View on the way

Due to the difficulty of the climb, not many people attempt the trek. Also since we went there on 9th August which is a peak monsoon time in India we were blessed to witness all the season in the trek duration of 4hrs as we were ascending the chauragadh peak. We were able to see a pleasant cloudy weather when we were at the base, then midway down the trek it started raining heavily which made us all drenched and the wind gushing through the ranges made us experience the winter chills and ofcourse it was followed by fog which made it difficult to see the base of the valley. As it stopped raining suddenly we could feel the warmth of the sun helping us get dried up but again due to the cloudy weather we were drenched in our own sweat( which is definitely gross but who would care about the sweat and the rain when you are enjoying the challenging trek and trying to climb 4 mountains to reach the peak of Chauragadh).

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Natives welcoming us warmly…

We were told that it’s quiet up there and we would only be able to hear birds chirping and panting of our own breath in the mountains as not many people visiting Pachmarhi choose to trek at this spot, taking into consideration the difficulty of the trek. But to our surprise and due to the day we choose the trek route was literally crowded with villagers and tribal people around Pachmarhi who worship Shiva and yes I could only find greedy red faced monkeys around who try to snatch your bags if you are not attentive while trekking and yes there I couldn’t hear or see any bird chirping around.

After what seemed like an endless climb, we finally reached a terrace kind of stairs which is at the neck of the hill, with one final flight of moderately high stairs (for a change) to the top. I ringing of bells were like music to our eyes making us realize that we are almost there amidst the panting and breathlessness.

The temple courtyard is stacked with thousands of trishuls, some weighing over three tons and standing nearly 5 m tall. On the occasion of Nagpanchmi and Mahashivaratri, devotees come here in droves, lugging up these heavy tridents or trishuls as offerings. These are then stuck in the ground around the temple creating a forest of trishuls. It is generally believed that the wishes of anyone who offers a trident here will be fulflled. It’s difficult by itself to motivate ourselves to complete the trek and I can’t even imagine how much dedication do these people put in to trust and believe that taking these heavy trishul up the Chauragadh peak on their feet will fulfill their wishes as blessings from lord Shiva as reward for their perseverance, dedication and worship.

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Chauragad peak…mannat ke trishul

There is a Shiva temple located near the tree where all the trishuls are placed as token of the people’s mannat for fulfillment of which they bring the trishul up to this peak as a token of their devotion.

It nearly took us around 2 hrs to descend back to the base where there is a cave having a Shiva linga which is kind of hidden in the cave so it is named as ‘Gupt mahadev’ (Gupt in Hindi means hidden and Mahadev is the title that has been bestowed to lord Shiva).

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Group photo at Chauragarh Peak…amidst the clouds ⛅. As you can see nothing around the group due to the foggy weather

The overall trek took us around 5-6 hrs to complete which I think would have been even faster if it wasn’t raining so heavily at the top out there and if it had not been so crowded. It was indeed an exhaustive trek altogether but it was an amazing and overwhelming and memorable experience trekking those four mountains and reach the peak of Chauragarh… No matter how much our legs were paining due to this trek the next day given a chance to go climb this peak again for sure I’ll never hesitate to say YES… Also what I learnt while coming down that how important it is for you to keep yourself physically fit amidst the mental stress caused due to this pandemic and 24/7 kind of work from home culture.

PS: Please do let me know how you liked this blog so that it will help me to write about other wonderful place I had been to in Pachmarhi…

Moving on…

Sometimes it becomes difficult to let go of things that you feel is important to you and you cannot decide if it’s right to hold it on tight or to just give up, move on and find a better path for yourself that will not only help you develop but also ensure that you grow and become a better person than you are today…

It becomes difficult to give up on thing that you develop attachment to over time and whenever you think of happy times that you have spent here it increase your urge to hold on to it time even though you know it has become a hindrance to your growth and your perseverance to hold on is not helping you anyways…

Even though you know deep in your heart when you are supposed to give up but you choose to turn deaf ear to your heart and look for a comfort in place where you are and you do avoid yourself from changing anything around you thinking will it be fruitful to do this or will it be worth it to put so much time and efforts to begin again…

We all will agree that there is only one thing is constant in life and that itself is change so how can we refrain ourselves from changing…

You have to change and begin again no matter how much you hate the idea of doing so… Convince yourself to give up on things that do not help you grow or that refrain you from changing your pace as per the world because life is too short to hold on to unnecessary thing and ignore the thing that really do matter for your personal growth…

Work from home culture

As it’s been one year since the lockdown began in India for this pandemic and offices was shutdown starting the trend of WFH, I can remember before lockdown started in Mar-20 it was amazing going to office for your 9am-6pm shift and coming back home even though being tired working, attending meetings and traveling, appreciating time that we get after office to spend and enjoy with family. Even though it was tedious but it was fun package spending amazing time with family and colleagues even though we were working under tight deadlines.

The work from home culture has brought about change in the lifestyle of the working class both for some its good pursuing their hobbies and focusing on fitness while bad for others who tend to spend their offline hours just eating, sleeping and binge watching series without any limits.

As months and quarters passed by it is clear that during this COVID-19 lockdown many people have lost their jobs and are desperately looking for a new job and are ready to make any compromise(which may be with regards to demanding less CTC for their experience or shift to any location which might not be of their preference) The mentality of people having job is like they need even working overtime without asking for comp-off or overtime allowance appreciating the fact that they are having a job in hand in these difficult times and keeping the employers happy by doing this. Isn’t it the responsibility of the company or employer to appreciate the efforts of employees during this difficult time with a hike or bonus and incentives whether or not he is asking for it.

But what exactly is being reciprocated by the company to their employee is to be a part of mad race of thinking that since the employee is working from home he can be expected to be online for 24/7 as and when they need without being paid any extra incentives for these efforts and gestures as to make them appreciate that ‘atleast’ have a job in hand. If they want to keep the job they need to be productive(new definition of which these days is to be available to take up any task at any given time irrespective of your working shift timing).

Will this corporate culture bring anything good? It’s already affecting the mental state of employee who has no personal time left for themselves and is frustrated continuously thinking how to impress the employer and secure their jobs in this difficult times where getting new job or thinking about a job switch in this pandemic recession has become like a non fulfilling dream.

It’s the responsibility of the corporates to make sure that they provide all the incentives to the deserving employee without being asked to do so by employees by resigning.

If things goes on like this I am afraid we will need to visit a psychiatrist or counselor more often than we actually visit a doctor.

Wishful thinking

There comes a point in life where you feel cold deep inside your heart.
Some expectations that you’ve been nurturing like forever that you’ve not received however hard you’ve tried for it or even though you’ve secretly kept it in your prayers forever.
Its the thing you cannot give up hope for and deep down in your heart you’ve known the possibility of it not getting implemented ever. It occupies your heart little by little everyday and when you see it not happening inspite of all the efforts you’ve put in, these unfulfilled things start to freeze your heart making you incapable to feel the warmth even though you don’t intend to be this way. You can’t help it, you can’t stop yourself from feeling this way since its the thing that you’ve always wanted and prayed for and it has been occupying an inexplicable snd irreplaceable place in your heart. To deal with such shortcomings is not as easy as it may sound since its painful to peep in to this frozen part of your heart as it makes you think of how everyday you’ve wished to make it happen and how everyday at the end of the day you realize it won’t happen…
You feel cold just like being in a distant snowclad mountain having nobody around for you to get any warmth from. You desperately start to find ways to distract thyself from the pain of unfulfilled expectations but it working out for you is indeed a ‘wishful thinking’.
Everybody have such baggage hidden deep inside their heart and you can’t throw it away. It grows everyday and you tend to learn how to carry it with you each passing day and help yourself in future taking this baggage as a lesson and experience as to how you learnt to face it and carry it. Everyone has this cold place deep in their heart which they do not want to reveal to anyone fearing maybe judgment from others and the possibility that they might not understand why you can’t give up on it snd how important it is for you…
The way you learn to deal with these shortcomings and experiences in life is what decides how successful you become.
Existing isn’t difficult but learning to make each experience and lesson taken from various shortcomings in life is what give it a worth. You may not appreciate this but yes deep down you are still putting so much effort everyday to make it worth not knowing if would help you accomplish your purpose or not.
This effort that you put to tolerate this coldness in your heart is what makes you worth it, it makes you stronger and helps you turn shortcomings you faced in life into a precious memory and experience to treasure.

An interview to remember…

I had a wonderful interview yesterday. Though it was long yet each moment of it seemed to be fruitful when I think of it now. It was more like an experience and learning that I would like to share and hope that you might also have had such a wonderful experience.

To begin with my profile was not matching to their requirements or should I rather say it was poles apart. Then the direct question is why did apply for it in the first place if I knew I do not fit in the candidature list of their requirements. Well that was because I would like to learn the new technology they were working with and also I liked the way they have presented themselves in the job search portal and their website keeping in mind that it is a 5year old startup. Even though it was a startup company it had a wonderful team of enthusiastic people working together creating a wonderful product. So I applied thinking maybe I might never get a call or reply from them for an interview. But luckily that wasn’t the case. I received a mail from them asking me to share my CV along with a cover letter to the HR person’s mail is. Now I was amazed and amused thinking why would they specifically ask me to write and send a cover letter even though they have my CV which clearly states my profile is not what they are looking for, so a thought kept wandering in my mind if this was just a waste of time or would it be worth it.

Well it had to be the later one. Something stuck my mind and I decided to give it a shot again having no expectations of getting any reply anytime soon. So I wrote a cover letter for my CV honestly mentioning how unfit was I for the role and sent it to the HR and to my surprise next day itself I received a mail from them asking me to block my calendar for an interview asap and without any second thought I replied assertively. I was curious to know why was I being interviewed for this role in the first place so I thought of going for it to get my answers. So yes my interview was scheduled after 2 days. Again even though I was very much aware of my profile and had imagined how it would end I still did some preparation like I visited their website to know about their products in detail and also tried to learn the basics of the technology they were using not to lose the face in the interview.

I have given many interviews and it’s kind of two way process, you know that the interviewer is judging you in that half an hour or one hour of interview but you as well end up judging them as well while you are being interviewed. I always feel more than making a interview all about serious talks the interviewer must always try to be assertive towards the candidate and make him feel the ease so that he is able to speak freely and help them understand him better and make a proper decision. I lacked this kind of experience till the time I was in this interview.

In the beginning it was kind of awkward and cold but the way he started the interview in an informal way telling me about himself, about the company and the role I had applied for, it made me feel comfortable to talk to him and explain him about myself and my profile. It wasn’t cold anymore, it was more like a casual conversation rather than a serious interview. I as usual started judging him as he might be judging me and felt that this a kind of main point that was lacking in all my earlier interviews- a genuine and compassionate interviewer who helps you to showcase your personality to him rather than pretending to be a candidate they are looking for and what you are not actually. In my one hour of interviews he not even once tried to make me feel I didn’t fit for the role rather I was clear that I would be honest to the core about my profile and not make up things and pretend to be a person I am not. I was able to answer few of his questions based upon my logic and my experience but since technology they were looking for was different I faced some difficulty answering those.

As I said I was still curious as to why did he asked me to have an interview with him even though I didn’t fit in and was waiting for the moment he would ask me ‘Any questions from your side’. Yes I did have one, so I casually asked him why he chose my profile for this role and not the one who would have fit in. He smiled looking at me and answered that he personally liked my description of myself in my cover letter, it stood out and the fact that I was too honest from the beginning and did not pretend at all he was impressed. What he said next was quite wonderful, he said you can add a knowledge to a person’s skill, you can teach him and he will learn, what you can’t teach him is his personality. It is what his situations and experiences made him. If that is good nothing else matters more. This is the reason why I chose you for this interview and the fact that you were honest to yourself and you know very well what you want for yourself I am impressed with you…

Still there was an issue that my profile was still not fit for the role so instead of saying so he gave me a chance to show my interest for this role by giving me an assignment to see if I can adapt to the way and with the technology they work or not. This was the highlight of this interview. He focused more on the personality of person he is hiring than the skill set. Isn’t it the way it should be everywhere… This is the reason I felt this interview experience was worth it.