|Looking down far away on Chatru Bridge|
Chatru is an important stopover in the descent from Hampta. Located at just 3400 meters, it is a nodal point for all the travellers to Lahul – Spiti region. This is the northern most frontier of India. The beauty of this location is the presence of an old bridge that everyone has to crossover. The actual crossing over of Chatru Bridge is symbolic of completing 90% of the Hampta trek. Hence, reaching the bridge itself gives us a feeling of joy and accomplishment. It is the first sight of civilization since the commencement of the trek. It is a great relief to step on the bridge and make the crossing.
This bridge is also a place where travellers halt to pray and give thanks for the safe journey they have made from distant lands. I watched the prayer flags fluttering in the chill breeze. I stopped for a while on the bridge to take a closer look at them. Written on these flags are the Buddhists’ mantras. Are the breezes carrying the mantras far away? Looking across from the bridge, I had some thoughts to ponder. “God, how can I go away from your presence?...” I asked.
As I crossed the Chatru Bridge, I thought of some of the wonderful people who were bridges in my life...I thought of the wonderful ‘bridges’ that God helped me with.... Without those ‘bridges’, I would not be what I am. Over the troubled waters in my life, those bridges stood firm, offering me a crossover with love and care. After me crossing over, some of those ‘bridges’ have passed away to eternity.
When something good ends, it is always sad. Nevertheless, every good thing in life has to end. Treks teach me that. As a child every time my father takes me to beach, I remember me crying in the beach, refusing to return home. On Chatru Bridge too, I had the same emotion. Hence I went around the place, trying to delay the crossing. Then I met an unexpected shaggy friend: a beautiful and camouflaged Spaniel, looking at me!
My friends and fellow trekkers were already in an unwinding mood. Across the bridge, they had positioned themselves in the only roadside eatery. Steaming Vegetarian noodles and plenty of hot cups of tea were awaiting on their tables. I too reached to take my seat and my share of the noodles and tea. Ya, every trek have its share of ligher moments.