the mountain dog, our guide to the highest Shiva temple in the world.

Dogs have been proved to be the most faithful of all the species. But my experience with them shows they are a lot more.

The ascend to the highest Shiva temple in the world at 3500m and subsequently the peak at 4000m in winter months is never an easy task especially when you ring the bells at 3 in the morning and mercury below nil. But we had something in store for us , something beyond my understanding of animals.

These two creatures came unannounced as soon as we left our stay early in the morning. At first, we could not fathom what led them to us. Alas! They could not speak so well . I do remember that in that glazing night and chilling cold , we strangers had the guides of the best possible kind Lord Shiva could bless us with.

the mountain dog
the Mountain Dog

It was pitch dark when we started the trek from the base at Chopta. The snow was slippery at some places and we didn’t know the depth of the valley either side of the two meters snow capped rough pathway . The green glaze reflected from the eyes of the dogs was both fearful and awe-inspiring. These two dogs were the light in our darkness at above 10000ft in the middle of nowhere. They barked when there was danger, they took the lead when no one could see the way . It was probably only their senses which could guarantee our safety and our success in the trek.

After a very steep climb , we had our hearts in our mouth . Everybody was at their last breadth when we reached the Tungnath temple just before sunrise . After a couple hundred steps , on our way to the peak , that two meters pathway had shrunk to more steeper half a meter. When we possibly could not find the way and the will , my friends took their four small paws ahead of us- maybe just to show that being so huge , we are so small. We followed , inspired and motivated.

The dogs disappeared in the snow now and then and just came to our rescue when we needed them the most. Their ability to blend in the snowy mountains was special . These dangerous peaks was in fact their home and they truly treated us like guests in the home of God.

And then, after four hours of listening only the sound of my boots crushing the snow , we reached the top- Chandrashila at 13000ft. We were at the top just a few moments after sunrise and what I saw, I will probably never be able to remove that picture from my eyes. The teasing Himalayas, glamorous Sun , the valley covered with clouds – all in one frame. And by my side were my new friends- admiring and enjoying their home just like us.

Later did we come to know that the dogs accompanied the men who were first to start in the morning. Luckily , it was us that day. In the above photo , he is resting after his early morning work. He was probably proud to make us see, what he saw every other day. And then he disappeared , just the way he came , mysteriously unannounced and, preparing to take the new guests the next morning .

He was truly ‘ The mountain Dog’.

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