Deoria Tal – Of Epics, Myths and Himalaya
It seems the Pandavas, back in the day, were more than just pathological gamblers or kingslayers. They were wanderers, high-altitude trekkers and even had a fancy for mountaineering. The first of the lot. For you can take out the mountains from these mountains but you can’t escape a story or two from the epic Mahabharata running parallelly. Set alongside a water body, this particular story recalls the dangerous Q&A game brought upon the Pandavas by a Yaksha (A Nature Spirit) when the former were in exile and living incognito. A game of life and death, no less, with serious physical, philosophical and metaphysical bearings.
A game because of which all the brothers died one by one, except Yudhishtira, drinking water from the lake after blatantly ignoring repeated warnings from the Yaksha (disguised as a Crane) “This water will turn to poison if you drink it without answering my questions.” It was Yudhishtira who entertained the Yaksha’s demands and after successfully answering each question to the latter’s satisfaction, he was able to raise his brothers from the dead. And if you’ve grown up watching the Mahabharata being aired on Doordarshan or read the book, you’d probably remember the above story too. Locals and others believe that lake to be Deoria Tal, of stories, legends and of Epics.
On one hand you have some locals believing this lake to be built by Bhima, the mightiest of all the Pandavas, simply because he was thirsty and couldn’t find water. And on the other, Deoria Tal, also known as Devariya Tal, is believed to be the bathing place of the gods. ‘Devas’ meaning ‘Gods’ and ‘Tal’ meaning Lake. Some ancient Hindu texts also deem it to be the ‘Indra Sarovar’. Now you can choose to call it The Lake of the Gods or Gods’ Own Infinity Pool set amidst a stunning Himalayan backdrop, even you’d agree they couldn’t have chosen a better place to take a dip. Such is the magic of ancient folklore associated with a place as serene as this, that it automatically transcends it a few notches above in terms of intrigue. An intrigue that only comes with a certain kind of combination, of relative isolation and of Myths.
And then there are times when everything: stories, myths, legends and facts come together and manifest themselves in one physical form. A form that plays a monumental role in putting things into perspective, not just in terms of scale but in something that surpasses it. Something as difficult to put into words as it is to let go of once you’ve had the feel of it. It’s a sudden transition that goes for the long-term impact rather than the immediate fuss. Be it the quiet reflection of Chaukhamba in the still waters of the lake or the clouds circling the summits of these icy giants; the collective shimmer of the newly risen moon and a day old sun on Chandrashila or that short-lived ripple from a fallen leaf. Nothing changes really, but something is not the same. That is the effect of Himalaya.
Comprehensive Guide: Deoria Tal – Getting There, Trekking Route and Where to Stay
Some parting shots