An Interview with Rajender Rj
Editor: Thank you for taking the time to talk about the great Himalayas with us. We sure appreciate it.
Rajender Rj: Thank you, too...it’s really nice that I got this opportunity to speak to you.
Editor: Where in India are you based?
Rajender Rj: I’m from a beautiful town called Kullu, in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh is situated in the northern part of India. My home is situated in one of the world’s most well-known and beautiful national parks: the Great Himalayan National Park.
Editor: Sounds beautiful. We’ve heard about the Great Himalayan National Park. What can you tell us about it?
Rajender Rj: In June of 2014, the Great Himalayan National Park was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. I’m so proud of that because it’s my home-town. Himachal is also known as the Indian Himalayan Region.
Editor: What is the famous Rohtang Pass like?
Rajender Rj: The scenic Rohtang Pass is a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, around 51 km from Manali (it is at an altitude 13,050 feet or 3,980 m). The pass is open from May to November. It is not particularly high or difficult to cross on foot by Himalayan standards, but it has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards.
Editor: Sounds like there must be lots of valleys there. Am I right?
Rajender Rj: Yes, the Rohtang Pass connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, India. The Manali-Leh Highway, a part of NH 21, goes over Rohtang Pass, and yeah I know these areas well...they’re all really beautiful.
Editor: Yes, I'm sure they're absolutely spectacular. What about trekking?
Rajender Rj: There are so many beautiful treks in the GHNP (Great Himalayan National Park) and some in Kullu, Manali. I’ll mention a few here...Pin Parbati Pass (4802m), Manali Nagar Chanderkhani Pass, Manali Chandra Tal (altitude 4480m), Manali Hamta Pass (altitude 4270m), Solang Valley Beas-Kund (altitude 3540m), Raksitar in Sainj Valley (altitude 4500 m)…there are just a few of the beautiful areas here.
Editor: Which mountains are the most easily visible from where you are located?
Rajender Rj: Where I live, you could call it the forest zone. And the valley is narrow so mountains are not easily visible. But yes, if you go little higher then you can see so many mountains. This is an alpine region.
Editor: What is it about your part of the world that draws so many tourists there?
Rajender Rj: I think the natural beauty of the place and of course, northern India is famous for its superb mountains and alpine climate. The word ‘Himalaya’ has a special magic to it.
Editor: Which areas are your personal favorites to spend time in?
Rajender Rj: There are so many that are my favorites! The ones I like the most are situated in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand. But yes, I like all the treks I’ve done there. I appreciate everything about these areas and I love doing these different treks because each has its own appeal.
Editor: You have a mountaineering background and are a mountaineering instructor. What attracted you to mountaineering?
Rajender Rj: Yeah, by profession I am a mountaineering instructor. I love mountains and I love to travel. I particularly love the great outdoors, and here near the Himalayas, there are so many areas to explore.I have a mountaineering background: it started in 2012 when I finished my studying. I grew up here, and as a young kid, I’d watch the mountains every day.
As a young man, I began to spend time in the mountains and that’s when I really appreciated where I was…the beauty of this location is unmatched.The mountains make me peaceful, and I’m attracted to the outdoor life.
Being in nature is very important for me. I think that because I was born and grew up so close to these amazing mountains, that it is my destiny to be a mountaineer. I once saw a movie that inspired me a lot, and I felt really at home in the mountains, like they’re my real home.
I feel really connected to the mountains around here, and they make each day extra beautiful for me. When I’m near the mountains, I feel like everything is mine. Everything is possible. The feeling of freedom and optimism can’t be explained in words.
Editor: You're really lucky to live there, that's for sure! Okay, can you share a few tips with those who are non-trekkers?
Rajender Rj: Yeah sure, I want to share a few things with non-trekkers...if you feel your heart wants to climb and explore, go ahead. But always remember a few tips. If you're going for those high altitude treks, you must be in good physical condition, prepare yourself before any trek, and yeah one of the most important things to keep in mind is hydrating yourself, keep drinking water at high altitude...it helps a lot. I experienced it so many times myself. Don't worry about reaching your final summit, enjoy every step, every journey, every day...and keep hiking, trekking and exploring.
Editor: Hydration. Good advice. What is the best time to visit the mountains in your area?
Rajender Rj: The best time to visit Himachal Pradesh depends on what you would like to do! The fragrance of spring, the activity packed summer, the romantic saga of the rainy season, or the crisp chill of winter are all good options in Himachal Pradesh! If you’re hoping to visit pilgrimage sites, that is also a great option.
Editor: Would you be available to give tours to anyone who wants to visit the GHNP?
Rajender Rj: Yes, if someone is interested in The Great Himalayan National Park and Himachal Pradesh or Uttrakhand, I can manage tours and trekking programs.I am also available for The Indian Himalayan Region namely, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim areas.
Editor: How can folks reach you and contact you if they’re planning on a trip to Northern India?
Rajender Rj: If someone is interested in North India for trekking and adventure trips. they can contact me through e-mail (rajenderkumar091(at)gmail.com) anytime. I am happy to organize a program to fit all your needs, because I know the place so well.
I hope to welcome all of you to my home land, and you will take back great memories with you.
Editor: Would you like to share something personal with us?
Rajender Rj: I'd like to share a nature poem with the readers, it is special to me and it describes the place where I live very well.
Editor: Sure! Go right ahead. I think the readers would like to read something inspiring and related to nature.
Rajender Rj: This poem really does inspire me and I really like it. I hope all of you do, too.
On a path winding into wonder
touching through rain and thunder,
filling hearts with awe,
lies a beauty pure and raw.
Spirit of mystic songs
to the east she belongs,
where glimmering grass and trees
cast upon a magical breeze.
With a dazzling aura
exotic valleys of flora,
in lofty peaks covered in snow,
where time has lost it’s flow.
By Winged Wizard.
Editor: Yes, that's inspiring indeed. Thanks for speaking with us and giving us such amazing insights into one of the world's most fabulous and beautiful locations.
Rajender Rj: Thank you.
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Photo Credit on all images: Rajender Rj.
On the Cover: Rajender Rj
Cover Date: January 21st, 2014