When one is on the Tamang Heritage Trail, Tamang villages are obviously the yolks of the journey. But to depart onto lesser known desolate lands is a luxury on its own – be it to face the solitude, or to find oneself nurtured in pristine nature, or just to explore the depths of our consciousness. Whatever the motive, service is rendered. Read Previous Blog: Tamang Heritage Trail, Langtang - Nagthali Part I From Tatopani, the trail ascends through a deep damp forest of old rhododendron trees. One is forgiven for getting lost in the dense forest with virtually non-existent trails. I find myself divided in various occasions, not being able to choose a path or sometimes, it is all onto me to sculpt one. Whichever path you choose, or wherever you may wander, all paths lead to a huge pointed rock at the hilltop visible throughout the forest. Brindang, a small settlement is based a little far below the rock. It is early morning, and the sunlight penetrates and glows through the dews on leaves as if each dew holds a sun within itself. After a couple of hours of huffs and puffs on the climb, Brindang is a pleasurable pause for sun basking and sweat drying. This small settlement boasts a community of 6 houses, all cluttered one after another. As with traditional Tamang settlement, each house is only a room big and shelters 6-8 members in a family. After being in Gatlang for a couple of days, I am pushed back to seriously reconsider my definitions of space per capita. Read Next Parts: Nagthali – Part II Nagthali– Part III
When one is on the Tamang Heritage Trail, Tamang villages are obviously the yolks of the journey. But to depart onto lesser known
Tamang Tradition The exquisite dresses that adorn the locals with their grace and delicacy have remained as a permanent part of daily lives. People still put on their typical Tibetan-style costume despite the influx of modern clothes from China. However, few youths show inclination towards fancy clothes. Among women, large round plated earrings alloyed of gold and silver are distinctive features. Lapton confirms that there is only one jeweler in Kathmandu who knows how to make those earrings, and holds the appreciation of women in Gatlang. Read Previous Blogs: Gatlang - A traveler's epitome Part II Gatlang – Part III I am invited to a ceremony of making ‘mit’ and ‘mitini’. I understand the ceremony, but have little clue of what is to come. Precursor legend follows like this. When two persons feel they have met their ‘soul friends’ in this life, they exchange gifts and promises to remain faithful friends for life. This relationship transgresses over seven lifetimes. This is a peculiar tradition of Gatlang, and has remained so for ages. ‘Mit’ is for male soul friends, and ‘mitini’ for female. Sworn, gifts exchanged, and another feast! I witness the ceremony of an American girl and a Tamang girl who bind themselves in a relationship that transcends their lifetimes. This may come as emotional undertaking for many people. And, yes it is. Spirituality is a way of life in Gatlang. Tamangs share the roots with Tibetan Buddhism and the practice penetrates the fabrics of daily life. Thing I did not witness – Tamang traditional dance. Tamang traditional dance is performed at the Community House upon the request of tourists. Men and women wear traditional Tamang dress, and perform the collective dance. Visitors are not required to pay, but it is commonly understood that donations offered will be used for
Tamang Tradition The exquisite dresses that adorn the locals with their grace and delicacy have remained as a permanent part of daily lives.
From Syabrubesi, the trail is a narrow sketchy climb that angles steeply uphill. I exhale a deep breath looking at the straight up hill I am to climb. I try to distract myself with immediate views. Flunked. Counting steps, panting, sweating, stopping for a sip, breathing… and before I know it, the sun warms my back and I am high above the valley on a new terrain – a viewpoint at 2300m. Ganesh Himal range, Kerung range in Tibet, Langtang Himal range and Gosaikunda range – all come to view, and my eyes’ attempt to merge them fails miserably. Read First Part: Gatlang – A traveler’s epitome With the view, comes all too familiar torrent of emotions that precede any Himalaya trekker. Inertia comes into play. Balancing fear, energy, urge, temptation, intuition, and action is all too exhausting sometimes, when our bodies can only afford to give so much energy. I am stoked with contradictions – motionless, restless, mindless, and yet I am pretty certain I am present at the moment, facing the mighty ones on my face. My intention to continue the trek is filled with friction – it is peaceful and turbulent at the very instant, and I am denying the unhappy truth that nothing is permanent. Few clicks and I am on a descent. It’s a flat walk from the viewpoint to Gatlang. I am psyched. I have no impression, no expectation – what’s its like? About 150 years ago, Nepal fought with Tibet over salt, and some of the regions were in Langtang. The trails were used by Tibetan traders for bartering salt with food items from Nepal. Now, we trek in those trails. Gatlang is inhabited by Tamang people, who are believed to be the descendents of Tibetans from Kerung and Tamangs from Helambu region
From Syabrubesi, the trail is a narrow sketchy climb that angles steeply uphill. I exhale a deep breath looking at the straight up
Not so far away from Kathmandu, on an aerial distance of merely 30 km to the north, lies a series of valleys that hold secrets to our hiccups and hitches of the modern civilization. The secrets that we have turned our backs on – in a constant struggle to enliven the firths of our lives in the city – may just remind us to reconsider widths and lengths of our lives. We try to achieve more, wish more, demand more… living less, caring less, being less. What for? Answers, I do not know. I never promised I knew. But there are experiences, places, and events that sign us towards them. One of those places is Gatlang – an ordinary Tamang village in Langtang. This journey is a spontaneous sprint to get away from the programmed life of the city. A mere 130 km bus drive from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi is a time wrap. You get on a bus surrounded by amenities of a modern life, and an hour later, you are surrounded by high hills, rivers, trails, deep gorges, and monasteries. There are no signs of mindless beings, no pollution, no crammed crowd. It is plain magic! After a day bus drive through nature’s wonders, I am set at Syabrubesi, and honestly, it does not fail to surprise me. The roaring of Bhote Kosi River, smoke escaping the crafted walls of the monastery, the soaring mountains, and countless stars in a clear sky – all ensure that I am safely home. It is a choice I made, and I regret none, not a bit. In a moment, under a moon lit night, I am flooded with emotions unwarranted - excitement, fear, sheer joy, appreciation, reverence, and confusion. Bliss! I try to subside myself. It is 6:00 am in the morning
Not so far away from Kathmandu, on an aerial distance of merely 30 km to the north, lies a series of valleys that