Setting up the Liddarwat camp : Himankan 82

Moru added me to a group called “Himankan” on facebook and a lot of great memories resurfaced. I plan to share some of them in next few days.

For the uninitiated, Himankan was a series of Himalayan High Altitude Treks arranged by IIT Bombay Mountaineering Club. The intent of Himankan was to introduce IIT students to the joys of Himalayan trekking.

In the year 1982, the Himankan was organized in Pahelgam region of Kashmir. You can find a more formal report of the venture here.

Sandeep Shah (Sandya), Ajit Ranade (Chiman) and Makarand Karkare (That’s me Makya) were the core group members.

One of the most memorable experience during that Himankan for me was setting up the Liddarwat camp. Why?

lidderwat_valleyWe had sent about a ton (really a whole ton) of material on the ponies to the Liddarwat camp site. Four or five of us started a little later from Pahelgam. I don’t remember everyone in the group. There was Ms. Madu Kale, Surya and I think Mayya. We also had one of the doctors with us.


Our job was to set up the Liddrwat camp. We had the whole next day to set up the camp, and the participants were expected a day later. We were very confident that the task was easily achievable. But it was not to be so.

As we were nearing Liddarwat, we met with the ponies and the pony waalas returning. They told us that all the luggage was dropped near the river in a shed and they had kept a pony and a boy behind to help us out. We didn’t understand what they meant.

After some time, as we reached the shed, we found that the shed was on one bank of the river. All the luggage was dropped there about 200 meters from the bank. The camp was to be in a log hut on the other side of the river about a kilometre away. The bridge to cross the river didn’t exist, instead there were only three cross logs going across the river. When I walked on them, they were swinging with an amplitude of about six inches.

PANIC. What were we going to do? The shed was so small that it would just not be possible to have the camp there. We somehow had to move the whole ton of material to the campsite before next evening.

We calmed each other down. I did a recce on the other side of the river over the swinging logs.  To my utter relief, I found the cross planks on the other bank. We knew that we could get the bridge functional. That gave us a lot of hope.

We had dinner (Khichadi, soup and papad) and went to sleep. In spite of all the tension, we slept like logs. We had covered about 22-23 km on that day.

Woke up next morning. Just had some tea and biscuits and we started off. I with Surya (I think) went across the river, picked the plank and nailed them on the logs and got the bridge steady. While we were doing that, the remaining people repackaged the luggage. Initially, we had packaged all the material for ponies. Which means about 40-50 kgs per pack. Now we had to carry it ourselves, we had no ponies. So it had to be packaged in about 20kg weights.

We decided that the best course of action for us was to carry the luggage down to the river and then across the bridge ourselves. And then from there to the campsite, let the pony boy carry it to the campsite on the pony back.

We started moving the material across the river. Madhu, who herself weighed 41 kgs was carrying 20 kg packs. A few bags like the 50kg rice bag could not be repackaged and hence we had to carry those whole bags.

We had no clue how the time passed. Finally at 5.30 PM, all the luggage was in the campsite. We heaved a huge sigh of relief. Now, we were ready to receive the first batch of participants tomorrow morning. Madhu made tea for all of us and we congratulated each other.

I have had many other challenging experiences later in my life, but this still stands out as a day of great achievement.

This entry was posted in IIT days, Memoirs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Setting up the Liddarwat camp : Himankan 82

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  6. Sandeep says:


    You have a sharp memory! Do you have access to any of the pictures? Also can you pen the incident on the first group of folks getting snowed and frozen on their way from Pehalgam to Lidderwat? Thanks for putting the link to my report – I had completely forgotten about it!

    We have to get you, Chopper, Pai and others with elephantine memory to compile all photos, hand-drawn maps of Sahyadri trekking region, crazy stories and fun memories – we can make it a 2011 project and do a memory book similar to the H4 MadHouse… Are you game?

    • mkarkare says:

      You stole my thoughts. :D. Off course I am game. One of the inspirations for the blog was H4 Madhouse.

    • M. G. Pai says:

      The group was caught in a blizzard enroute Pehalgam to Chandanwari. I remember that Phule & Laad were part of this group which got caught. Makya was manning Pehalgam base camp & I left much later with a load of eggs. Enroute came across lots of our mates caught out in the blizzard, cold frozen & having lost the will to tread further. Took quite a while to motivate/push junta to safer zone i.e. our Chandanwari camp. On reaching there could get reinforcements to come over & get every body safely. In a short while Sandeep & Ajit arrived from Sheshnag side. By then, the stone huts at Chandanwari had double the number of residents than planned so the three of us after having some soup changed original intentions of staying put here walked down to base camp at Pehalgam. The walk in the dark moonless night was pretty interesting. I remember that the 3 of us walked in parts with arms together as one unit. We all were quite tired and sleepy & felt this to be the safest way back. There’s one incidence that still etched deeply in my memory. As it was late in the night we did not come across any fellow travellers except at one location. On the way back the path goes over a wooden bridge crossing the river. Just when we were about to step on the bridge, a person appeared out of nowhere & cautioned us that the wooden bridge had a gaping hole! We were stopped in the nick of time. Even now when I am reminded of this incidence I am unable to explain it. Ajit & Sandeep, do you remember this?

  7. Shripad says:

    Hi Makya,

    Great. I can just imagine how it must have been. And even though this piece is written well, it can nowhere near capture your state of that day, the panic, the enthu, the hard work and then the relief and joy at a difficult task well done…

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