BILAFOND LA – The Pass of the Butterflies


The crinkled mountain tops stood silent for centuries and watched the world around

The Ravens and crows spread their wings flew high over the tops, black over white snow

The spiders and butterflies were the only life, which met the eye

The flowers sprouted through the thawing snow year after year

Scattering their colors on the snowfields and through the rocks they emerged

The peaks were the beholders in the Coliseum to countless proceedings in the valleys below

Nature survived and maintained the eternal abstractness of its beauty

In the windswept valleys during the chilling and numbing winters the temperatures only dropped

Freezing winds screeched, picked up and subsided in the callousness of stifling winters

Majestic Snow Leopards roamed freely as priceless imperiled species

The Ibex and ‘Markhors’ balanced the cycle of nature sustaining them

Nature’s terrain guarded the wildlife against the world’s most dangerous predator – The Man

The untamed primitive wild was wilder in all its forms, enigmatic and unexplored

The sky cocktail blue like the sea of a dream in the bright afternoon sun

The sky at night deeper, painted blue on blue and the stars brighter in the Milky Way

Frequented by streaks of shooting stars burning out in nowhere

Brought good luck to some and for others a plethora of myths.

Year after year the snow thawed, the brooks gradually surging down the valley in to rivers

Seeping dribbling hopping springing over the rocks into an eventual noisy roar

The occupants of the hamlets far below channelized and irrigated their fields

The shepherds with their flocks went along their age-old scarce pasturelands

Winter starved cattle had plenty to graze on

The sound of bells and the shepherd whistles echoed in the mountains

Occasional reverberations one could hear, reverting into tranquility and peace

Nights were different and quiet as a moonbeam

The onset of summer melted the glaciers

Turquoise colored pools appeared and disappeared into broken crevasses

Here and there white snow rumbling down the sides crumbling at the base

Oxygen-starved mountain heights where winter never melted and there was no summer to freeze

In winters heaven and earth fused with white unceasing snow, occasionally the gray-blue horizon appeared

Thunders so loud that the skies seem to split

Far down the villagers went about their chores of changing seasons, for them nothing changed in their life

The moonlit nights were bright as day, the reflection of snow like a silver sheath

The silence of night was loud and a great source of power and strength

An occasional crevice of ice and snow, rumbling and tumbling of boulders a norm

The rhythm and sound like the tap dancers loud tap

Every year the terrain transformed obliterating old paths

There were no crossings on the streams, the dwellers found new paths every season

Thus the setting of the glacier blended with sights and sounds leading to Bilafond La

The locals called it The Pass of the Butterflies

The glacier with no tracks to follow with all its grandeur led to the pass

There stood a high granite spire as if guarding the Bilafond La like a nail driven in the glacier

 The spire touched by the setting winter light shone gold at sunset

A sight for every eye to behold

The La suddenly swept extensively open into the Siachin Glacier

Locals called it the land of abundance of roses

Getting nearer to the pass the horizon changed like a secret being unveiled

One wondered what lay ahead and below

The imaginary soon began to disappear like an ending dream

The rhyming of all the adjacent La’s now became clearer

The Sia La, Gyong La, Yarma La and Bilafond La all were in a concert for the glacier of Siachin

The desire to stay and see the fabric of the Longest Glacier in its purest form fulfilled

Mountaineers relished scoring their treks of countless top glaciers of my land

Siachin Glacier treks crowned the 6 glaciers of Pakistan so said Galen Rowell

I wondered how many mountaineers rejoiced and savored the moment

Those days were different from now

Then came the year 1984. Years have passed nothing has been same again

Soldiers, boots, thundering guns, unending trails of porters and mules beelining the glacier

Peaks all occupied the true meaning of minus temperatures was a reality for the soldiers

Everything froze; time to acclimatize and become naturalized had begun

Soldiers became the Mountaineers, the virginity of peaks no more

The cost! Life and blood, to hold and never give up

Every inch held, blood flowed, souls lost, limbs amputated but not their will

Code Duty Honor was the order of the day

Tales of valor written and re-written of ‘Shuhadas’ and those who stood on and fought

The tales of fire and Ice continues in the oxygen-starved heights

Years passed and human spirit prevailed

Far behind from where all started a military post kept growing

Everyone knew it as Gyari, for soldiers of Bilafond Sector a staging post to rest and move on

Oblivious of what was to come life went on in the tranquility of the valley

Alas who knew the unexpected would happen on 7th April 2012

In deafening silence of early hours, a 70 feet wall of ice snow and mud came crashing down

Gyari was buried forever. 135 souls of Northern Light Infantry perished that day

Many months later 133 bodies were recovered

There now stands a memorial of the fallen – The Shaheeds and their names will live forever

Gyari will no more be the same again. The mountains continue to observe

The Ravens still soar far above. Somewhere high up a snow leopard still prowls flowers still bloom and grow

In this milieus 21 years ago bilafond@gmail.com my email was made

As I recollect I can still smell the crisp mountain air.

Scowling clouds must still be swirling around the mountains of Saltoro Range called the Yellow Mountains

Memory is the diary we all carry with us

Oscar Wilde

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2 Replies to “BILAFOND LA – The Pass of the Butterflies”

  1. The Siachin Glacier is very beautifully painted but this time not with Arcylics on Canvas of 36 x 24″, the alphabets replaced the Arcylics and complete write up is colourful with invisible colours. The Glacier pre 84 and present is impressively defined with the experiences of Bilafond La and his style of writing.
    Sir the thirst of reading is always felt , request to write frequently .

    Like

  2. An amazing way of expressing ones love and memories of the beautiful mountains. I wonder, how cherishable the time you spent there must have been! Loved reading it!

    Like

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