Wednesday 28 January 2015


On the 28th of September 2014, 55 students of the Modern High School IAYP unit started a ten-day journey around Himachal Pradesh. The group, comprising two gold awardees (Residential Project and Adventurous Journey) , 15 silver awardees, 38 bronze awardees and three Award Leaders, was in for an experience of a lifetime.

An overnight bus ride from Delhi to Manali made up the very first leg of our trip.  We reached Manali, greatly enthused by the idea of what lay waiting for us. A 7 km acclimatization walk to the Manali market area that very evening introduced us to the beauty of Himachal Pradesh. On our second day in Manali, we trekked up to the Maharshi Jagdamba Mandir, where we played an enjoyable round of Ibex, an IAYP favourite.

The fourth day of the trip was devoted to travelling to our base camp, a village called Shego in the Spiti Valley. It was a 10 hour drive from Manali. For most of us, this was to be the first time we would stay in tents. These tents would be our home for the next four nights. Our first night in Shego was spent in the exchanging of horror stories which ironically caused peals of laughter.

Early the next morning, we embarked upon a particularly strenuous trek to the Kaumik village, which, at 14,500 ft above sea level, is the world's highest village. We visited the Kaumik monastery, one of the country's oldest monasteries. Here, some fascinating facts about the Buddhist way of life were shared with us. We completed another trek, this one on extremely treacherous terrain, to the Dhankar Lake the next day. As we trekked up to the lake, we couldn't stop marveling at the mighty Himalayan mountains and the sparkling blue rivers gushing through between them. We had a tent pitching session with the teachers and IAYP Field Officers on returning to our base camp. We continued our rendezvous with the Buddhist heritage of Himachal Pradesh when we visited the enchanting Tabo monastery on our fourth day in Spiti valley.  We were given the opportunity to participate in a cultural exchange with a llama at the monastery. This proved to be one of the highlights of the expedition for most of us. On the same day, we visited the Pinn valley and Pinn River.

We began the ten-hour bus journey back to Manali in the wee hours of the next morning, each of us desperately trying to taking in as much of the beauty of the Himalayan ranges as we possibly could. We reached Manali that afternoon. The remainder of the day was spent in excited preparations for camp night.  With the added charm of a bonfire, camp night proved to be a memorable affair.

Through this camp, we got the opportunity to explore what IAYP is all about. We spent ten days on a trail of self-discovery; exploring our limits, pushing them and consequently formulating new opinions of our own strength. The camp was a crash course in the virtues and benefits of efficient team work. We returned with a deep appreciation for the values of disciplines and punctuality, grateful for having adopted the IAYP  motto "Away from home, close to nature".

We headed back to Delhi the next afternoon, longing for more. We landed back in Kolkata on the 7th of October. Of all the things we had done in ten days, returning home was the undoubtedly the most difficult.  Click for pictures

Ayushi Saraogi   (XI-B)

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