There are actually four main ways to reach the peak. He had chosen New Delhi – Purang/Burang – Kailas. Well, this is the only feasible option for Indians and it is also the most dangerous among the four possible routes. It was unfortunate and inevitable. In spite of this, thousands of people travel each year and anyone who has been there will tell you that it is worth taking the risk. Mount Kailas’s gorgeous summit and Mansarovar’s resplendent overpowering beauty constitute the heavenly spot on earth.
It wasn’t difficult for Pratap to get the permission from tourism ministry to go there. His profession made it easy. When the journey started, he realized that it was quite expensive and full of red tape and uncertainties. This route can be closed without any prior notice if some political issue between India and China comes up and above all the route is also plagued with Maoist activities. Nevertheless, it was a journey through heaven.
After some traveling he decided to take a short cut along with some other pilgrims he had befriended on the way. That route could be traveled only by walking.
And he would remember this particular part of journey for the rest of his life. He still didn’t know what lay ahead.
It was already dark and the pilgrims could not continue their journey any further; it was time for camping. There was exotic wilderness everywhere, which was beauteous and also quite scary. Pratap didn’t mind the scary part. His camp was finally set up with the help of his fellow travelers. He thanked them and went inside his tent. Though he was tired, he couldn’t sleep, for it was simply not in his habit to sleep so early. So he took out ‘The Calcutta Chromosome’ by Amitav Ghosh and started reading. Surprisingly, for the first time in years he could not concentrate on reading. He could not decide whether the book was boring or he simply was not in a mood to read. He closed the book and tried to sleep.
No sooner had he closed his eyes than he heard a loud peculiar sound; he got up suddenly and ran out of his tent to see what it was. There was nothing outside except the lengthy stretch of wilderness all around and the eerie silence had already confiscated the sound he had heard a few seconds ago. This is crazy! He stood there mystified, trying to figure out what it was. He looked around; a blanket of darkness was floating down over the world. He looked up to see the canopy of fiery stars sprayed against the gray sky. Except these, he could see nothing. He came back inside his tent, still wondering. One more reason that puzzled him was that the other pilgrims had not bothered to come out. Or were they in deep sleep to hear any of such things?
A few minutes passed and he found that his eyelids were drooping. He slowly closed his eyes and fell asleep. He was in deep slumber when a dreadful peal of thunder shook the tent, and this time accompanied with a bright light, which seeped through the tent and woke him. He wasn’t somnolent anymore and ran out of his tent, again. A few pilgrims had now come out of their tents too. He stood there frozen, with his eyes wide open in utter bewilderment. He was seeing some strange lights in the sky. These lights showed up from underground and moved vertically up. He had never seen such a sight before.
The pilgrims that were out of the tents were now yawning and didn’t quite look surprised. They turned and went back inside as if nothing had happened and this surprised Pratap more than the sight he had just seen. He went to one of the tents and asked them. There were three members inside.
“What was that light?”
“Oh, that’s nothing new here. It happens all the time,” said one.
“All right. But what IS it?” Pratap insisted.
“We don’t know. Nobody knows actually. We tried to ask the security personnel once, but they turned us down. They didn’t say anything to us,” he paused for a moment and then continued, “I understand why you are so surprised. You are a first timer, aren’t you?”
“Don’t worry, my friend. It’s nothing. It’s a normal phenomenon from Kongka Pass area,” said another.
Being a journalist, he knew what Kongka La was. It is the low ridge pass in the Himalayas – The disputed India-China border area. This is the area where the Indian and Chinese armies fought the major war in 1962; the same war in which India lost (Thanks to Nehru for not giving the permission to use air strike). This area is one of the least accessed areas in the world and by agreement the two countries do not patrol this part of the border. Buddhist monks and the local people of Ladakh, the Indian Army and the Chinese Military maintain the line of control.
“Go to sleep, my friend. We have a tough journey tomorrow,” said one of the pilgrims, breaking the flow of his thoughts.
Pratap returned to his tent, unsatisfied and his inkling had grown stronger. He lay wide awake for a long time, and finally decided to abandon his journey to Mount Kailas and head back to find the mystery behind the Kongka La area.
When he woke up in the morning, the weird bright light was replaced by the splendid rays of the sun. He packed his bags and headed towards the Chinese border to get an access to the site.
He had asked his fellow pilgrims to show him the way, and they had done it reluctantly. After a tiring journey of 2 hours, he finally reached the border. A Chinese guard saw him from a distance and became attentive. Pratap asked the guard, “How can I get an access to the site?” It was quite a direct question.
He knew it was too naïve and useless, but he had to try anyway. To approach the site from the Indian side means another 2 hours of walking.
The guard looked at him surprisingly and shouted, “Zou kai.”
Pratap decided to try once again, “I’m a pilgrim going to Mount Kailas. I was just curious to know about that site. That’s all.”
The Chinese guard shouted again, with austerity, “Bi zui. Zou kai.” Shut up and go away!
Pratap silently walked away from there. Two hours later he reached the Indian border patrol. He first introduced himself as a journalist and told them that he had the permit to travel between the two countries. He requested them to allow him to visit the site once.
“You are wasting your time,” the Indian guard told him firmly.
Pratap could say from the look on his face that he meant it. He was now more determined and approached the Indian border security personnel. It was an hour away from there.
“Want a smoke?” Pratap asked one of the members of the security personnel, across the fence, taking out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket.
20 minutes later he opened the subject and asked him to tell him what was happening there and allow him to visit the site, if possible. He didn’t forget to show his ID.
The security guard laughed and said, “You know, you are not the first person to ask this. Lots of people have come to us with the same request. But since you are new here and curious, let me tell you something. We are ordered not to allow anyone near the area of interest and it is true that strange amplified and modulated lights come out from under the ground. Some times even some strange objects come out along with the lights. India’s Special Operations Forces and the Intelligence Agencies are in charge of that area.”
Pratap crinkled his eyes, puzzled. “What strange objects?”
“You still don’t get it?” asked the friendly guard.
Pratap simply shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
The guard took a deep breath and said what it was. Pratap laughed in a mordant way.
“Don’t laugh Pratap Babu. It’s true,” said the guard, seriously.
It wouldn’t have intrigued Pratap so much if the guard hadn’t said it with such certainty. He then thanked him and took his leave.
The locals started laughing the moment he mentioned it. They then told him that it was too common a sight and everyone knew exactly what and where it was.
“If it is true, then why are they not saying anything about it?” Pratap asked, innocently.
“Don’t know Pratap ji. It’s going on since more than a decade. We really don’t know the reason why they are obliterating this,” said an old man. He still wasn’t ready to believe what he was hearing.
He kept meandering through the village and came across a small govt. school. Looking at his sophisticated attire, the headmaster, who was in his mid-fifties, invited him. The inside of the school was clamorous to the core. After some small talk, Pratap asked the same question to him.
“I don’t have anything new to say, my boy. But I shall show you something interesting today. We have arranged a drawing competition for the students here. Just wait till they finish with their drawings,” said the headmaster.
‘What will I know from primary school students’ drawing?’ Pratap wanted to ask, but kept quiet. He didn’t want to offend the headmaster who was being nice to him. During the conversation he also found out that the headmaster was a retired soldier.
A few minutes later, the students started submitting their drawings as Pratap and the headmaster sat on a stone bench. The headmaster went through the sheets for a few minutes and gave some drawing sheets to Pratap. Initially his face looked like a cold stone, but slowly his expression changed drastically. Bemusement was written all over his face. He lifted his head and found the headmaster, laughing. Pratap looked at him blankly, not knowing what to say.
More than half of the students had drawn the pictures of strange objects in the sky and some coming out of the mountains. A minute later another boy came and submitted his drawing sheet. He had clearly drawn a picture of an extraterrestrial flying object. Pratap still didn’t talk.
The headmaster asked the little boy in a sudden access of pontificality, “Where did you see this?”
“We folks see them all the time while playing in the fields outside the village, master ji. These vehicles have no sound, can take off vertically, and can float in the air like a kite. Sometimes they disappear all of a sudden. Can I go home now, master ji?” the boy said everything in one stretch.
The headmaster sent the boy and looked at Pratap. The security guard was right, then.
“I don’t know how this is possible,” said Pratap, nervously.
Then the headmaster told him.
“UFOs have been seen ‘by day and night’ near the high altitude glaciers of the Himalayas. UFOs seen at night glow red and gold. This may surprise you, but some of the IAF pilots are continually reporting strange flying objects in the Himalayas near the Chinese border. Visits have occurred frequently during the past few years and the northeastern region of Himachal Pradesh has also experienced many varied sightings.”
“Then why is it so hush-hush?” asked Pratap, after a moment’s silence.
“Nothing can be said with certainty, but as far as my knowledge goes, the military personnel are talking privately and maintain that for national security reasons. That’s the only reason they give. NATIONAL SECURITY,” said the headmaster, and heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Pratap grew silent again and stared at the empty ground in front of him, marveling. The headmaster patted his back and said, “Truth, my son, is always unpalatable.” He then slowly got up and went back to his office.
Pratap was still sitting on the bench, holding the drawing sheet in his hands. He tardily looked at the drawing once again and felt a slight pang in his head. An alien was staring at him, as if it were mocking him.
1. On October 10th, 2004, UFOs ranging from very large cylindrical objects to small discs have been seen over the glaciers, about 40 kms from India’s border with China.
2. According to a scientist of the Indian Geological Survey, UFOs and strange beings are visiting a 100-square- kilometer portion of the Tarai.
3. There are many indications that a large underground base is now being built within the hard andesite (bedrock) of the high Himalayas. The construction is going on in the high terrain close to the ‘No Man's Land’ between India and China.
4. Many UFO researchers believe that there are hidden UFO bases deep under the ground. Kongka La is experiencing some strange phenomenon and suspicious objects coming out of the inaccessible huge mountains (Himalayas) and both the Governments refuse to come out and say what these are.
Copyright © Karthik 2009