It was indeed a wonderful trip to Mukhteshwar and each of us enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. We all had heard of the horror stories of Mukhteshwar, as to how cold it would get and how tough life would be. Added to that we were entrusted with the naughtiest batch of the school!! Oh! That was quite a bit. But, Surprise! Surprise! We all came back from the camp with a feeling of content on our face. The journey was comfortable. We went by train to Kathgodam with Class IX and then we parted ways.

It took us ages to reach Camp Purple or so we thought. The camp had a breathtaking view. We could see our tents dotting the landscape and the peaks were looking majestic in the far horizon. It was pleasant and one felt that the weather had just turned so, for welcoming us. Perhaps, the earlier batches had come here during a time when it was exceptionally cold and the sun was hiding, which must have been tough! After a leisurely meal we were all set to sleep!!! But we were lured by a Treasure Hunt in which we had to hunt for ribbons of all colours from the nearby village. The children went of like missiles and headed straight for all the ribbons irrespective of their colours . They went ahead and even traded the ribbons with the competing teams. What a combing operation it was!

We all settled down to a warm meal after which we had a tough time finding our way to our tents as the campsite was in darkness except for the dining and the bonfire area. The next morning i.e. 21st November 2001 we were supposed to go for a sunrise trek but none of us could make it. We all were sleeping blissfully and we just missed the sunrise by a few minutes. We were supposed to trek for 5kms approximately to reach this very picturesque hilltop from where we saw a breathtaking view. We all went up and had a sumptuous picnic breakfast out there. And then we just lay down and admired the peaks as they unfolded their beauty when the sun started rising higher in the horizon. The students sat down in groups to paint and illustrate the landscape that they saw. The catch was that they had to paint different elements of the landscape and then had to put the whole thing together. One could make out the extent of harmony or the lack of it in their understanding of the landscapes. It was quite an eye-opener as we realized how we interpreted our landscapes and even distorted them when we collated them! We also flew kites after making them and it emerged that our very own Sukumar Dada (Tabla teacher Sukumar Kolley) is an expert kite flyer and he sure came out in flying colours! We also played "Pitthoo' to our hearts fill.

The next day saw us doing daredevil stunts like rock climbing and rappelling. It was a sheer cliff on which our instructor Mr. Deepak who had made a partially successful attempt to climb Mount Everest taught us the basics of rock climbing. He was a very patient teacher and he made us all feel fantastic for our efforts we put in to climb these sheer rock faces. Some of our girls are quite adept at rock climbing and gave many of their classmates who are boys, a major complex! There were some who chose to come back halfway as they were scared of heights or were just not able to find footholds anywhere! But it was quite a task even coming down from the height that they had scaled by then. The moral of the story was that you need to keep fit as you were pulling your own weight by defying gravity!

The next day saw some of us going for an advanced rock climbing course and the remaining chose to go to a waterfall which they were told, was not going to be the most amazing one they had seen till now in their life. And yet another group stayed back on the campsite and they cleared all the mess in the site and indeed did a good job of housekeeping!

After this the children left for various villages, which they had to first locate and then they went out to explore and discover lots of information, which was their target. One was amazed to see their impromptu presentations as teams, which showed off their communication skills and their sense of camaraderie and teamwork.

In the night we all went for an amazing trek. It was adventurous, thrilling and full of surprises. Not that we came face to face with a leopard! But instead we had a hair-raising experience of our life. We all had huddled near an old ruin right in the midst of the jungle in the middle of the night. It was biting cold and we were all queuing up for our own personal encounter with the unknown! And it worked out just the way our organizer Manoj Chaudhary had designed it to be. We all experienced levitation, Believe it or not! The details will remain a secret, as this is the USP of this camp.

And very soon we were all packing our bags to be back in our concrete jungles and it was sad leaving Camp Purple, but it was true. We could see the peaks, the river, the trees and the sun kissed hills slowly fading out far on our horizons. We will always cherish this camp and the fun time we spent here discovering others and ourselves in the process.

Bhagirathy Swamy

Trip to Mukteswar - Class 11