Pastoral Scene Takes a Dramatic Turn at Deoriatal-Chopta

Monsoon in Uttarakhand is a challenge, but when nature's fury finally takes a break, everything becomes picture perfect
Shepherds guide their flock to safety as the sky takes a dramatic turn
Shepherds guide their flock to safety as the sky takes a dramatic turn

This was an assignment that scared the living daylights out of me and also, weirdly enough, made me want to do it again. I don't think I'll ever be able to fully describe the level of fear and confusion I felt when a bolt of lightning struck our campsite at Deoriatal in Uttarakhand. So next time when my editor tells me not to go trekking during monsoon, I think I will listen. But then there is that strange pull that just won't give up. And add to that a refreshing view throughout the day (and night).

The following photographs are from my trekking trip to Deoriatal and Chopta a couple of years ago. Deoriatal tested my threshold for both pain and fear of nature's fury in the form of a trek up to the picturesque lake and an unsuspecting thunder/hail storm followed by a lightning strike. Chopta came later and by the time it did, I had a newfound respect and love for life. It poured at Chopta too but it just didn't register in my head because all around me was beauty. The beautiful pastoral scene of shepherds with their flocks, the melody of cowbells as nonchalant cattle graze nearby our tents and friendly fuzzy mountain dogs in broad collars made of tin (because leopards). I must admit, the tin-collar information did leave me tossing and turning inside my tent at night, ears extra aware of every rustle out in the dark. I would do the same assignment in a heartbeat, sans the lightning strike of course.

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