On 19th May 2016 I reached Jammu station . My destination was Haji Public School an NGO run by the Haji family in a remote mountain in the state of J &K.
I was received by Bagh Singh the school driver who took me to Doda by car. This was a 5 hour journey on scenic roads. We passed Patni top a popular hill resort.
Ms Sabbah haji is the Director of Haji Public School and I have known her for the past five years. The more I read about the school the more my desire to volunteer in the school. Finally I decided to do it this year.
The town of Doda lies on the River Chenab and the drive till there is beautiful.
At Doda I was met by Mr Salim Haji, Sabbah’s father, who had kindly stayed back in Doda so that he could accompany me. Sabbah knew I had never sat on a horse before and was a bit scared of the journey to Breswana. There is no motor able road to the village and one has to walk or go on horseback for a steep 8 km climb on the mountains.
There was no way I could walk uphill so it had to be the horse ride. Only thing which I was dreading in this trip.
My children had told me that I could do it because I really wanted to.
So here I was : a volunteer at age 59 when all the volunteers are normally in age group of 24-35.
The bonus was that Salim Buai is wonderful story teller and he made the mountains come live for me.
The wind and my hair!
We drove over to Prem nagar where we crossed the Chenab on a swinging bridge.
The Chenab was in full flow
The bridge from top.
We crossed over the river to the other side and waited for our horses near a water mill
The water mill and the family which looks after it
The horses arrive!
This was the trail on which we had to go. I’m following behind.
Shaban leads my horse as I told him I will sit on it only as long as he holds it
My horse ride
Terrace farming on the mountains
The places we passed on the way
The mountain houses
The mosques in Kashmir are very oriental. Ive been told its because of their proximity to the Silk Route.
We reach Breswana …. this is the village mosque
The Haji house where I was to stay
In case anyone is interested in volunteering it should be because you love to interact with children, know how to communicate with them and are willing to live a spartan life in the hills without any external entertainment. Also that you are physically fit to live 7,500 feet above sea level and your knees are fine.
You can check out the site