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Thread: Roopkund - The Holy Shrine

  1. #1

    Roopkund - The Holy Shrine

    Original journey, narration and photos by Mr. Kallol Sen.
    Acknowledgments:
    Mrs. Kajal Chakrabartty (Documentation).
    Mrs. Sharmistha Dasgupta (English Adaptation).
    Prologue

    Himalayas since ancient time has been a cradle of mythology. Interestingly, mythological tales make Himalaya more intriguing and mystical. Hindus regard the Himalayas as an abode of God Shiva and hence it is regarded very sacred. Ancient Hindu scripture, Rig Veda, has referred to Himalaya as a deity. It is believed that a sage from India through meditation saw the image of Himalaya ranges in the stomach of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sama Veda has also inscribed Himalaya as the centre of the earth. Mahabharat boasts that Yudhishtra, the eldest brother of Panch Pandav, ascended Himalaya peaks to reach heaven and this pursuit is known as Swargarohini. Swarga means heaven and Arohini means ascent. Skanda Purana, sacred Hindu scripture, says that one can get free of all the sins by merely looking at Himalayas. From ancient times, sages used to travel to great Himalaya for meditation and spiritual enlightenment.
    In Tibet, Himalayas is worshipped as mother of the earth and looked upon as the greatest source of inspiration and perseverance. According to Tibetan mythology, Bodhisattva made an outlet through Himalaya and with this originated Tsangpo, great river of Tibet.
    Bhutanese mythology claims that Guru Rimpoche came to Bhutan riding on a flying tiger in the year 747 AD. He rescued Bhutan from demons and spread Buddhism in Bhutanese Himalaya.
    It is said that meditating on the Himalaya brings liberation in the form of true knowledge dispelling the darkness of ignorance and helps one attain a pure state of the ultimate. So glorified is the story of the Himalayas that it is believed that a sage named Vyasa sat there in meditation and eventually saw the history of Bharat (India) from event to event. Himalayas are thus not just the seat of wisdom and source of great rivers that keep life, but the very foundation of ‘Smriti’ or knowledge and cognitive memory.

    As usual our insatiable trekker’s souls were already in search for a new place to visit. This time we were looking out for some place both of historic as well as scenic importance. We chanced upon the name of “Roopkund” in a local magazine and as one would guess our next destination was fixed at a lightening speed. Roopkund (Skeleton Lake) is a glacial lake in Uttarakhand, India, famous due to more than 500 human skeletons found at the edge of the lake. The location is uninhabited and is located in Himalaya at an altitude of about 5,029 metres (16,499 feet). Our research work was soon over and the tour planning began. Roopkund as one knows is a picturesque and beautiful tourist destination in the Himalayas, located near the base of two Himalayan peaks, Trishul (7120 m) and Nandghungti (6310 m). Tucked into the remote corners of the Himalayas, Roopkund holds a mystery that has intrigued generations of myth busters. Roopkund is better known as ‘The Skeleton Lake’ ever since a park ranger came across a mass grave containing around 300-600 skeletons. Following this awesome discovery of 1942, the skeleton abode of Roopkund has generated a phenomenal sensation. A remote and uninhabited frozen lake, which requires a four-day trek to reach from the nearest locality has become a hotspot for studies and speculations recently. A religious festival is held at the alpine meadow of Bedni Bugyal every autumn with nearby villages participating. A larger celebration, the Nanda Devi Raj Jat, takes place once every 12 years at Roopkund. The famous Skeleton Lake is covered with ice for most of the time during the year; however, the journey to Roopkund is an enjoyable experience.

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    All along the way, one is surrounded by mountain ranges from all sides namely the Trishul, NandaGhunti, Neelkanth, Chaukhamba range, Bandar Poonch, Gangotri, Maiktoli, Mrigthuni, Chanyakot etc.

    Duration of the tour: 17 days

    Main destination: Roopkund, Junargali and Hemkund.

    Main Trail: Haridwar, Wan village, Bedni Bugyal, Ali Bugyal, Patthar Nachauni, Kalu Vinayak, Bhagwabasa, Hunia Thal, Rani-ki-Suleda, Chiryanag, Roopkund, Junargali, Shaila Samudra, Dodang, Hemkund, Ronti Saddle, Sutol, Sitel, Ghat, Nandprayag and finally return back to Haridwar.

    Trekking Equipments List

    1. Trekking boots - well broken in and waterproofed
    2. Down jacket or equivalent with hood
    3. One heavy wool shirt or sweater
    4. Two cotton shirts
    5. One pair cotton trousers or shorts
    6. One pair woolen trousers
    7. One pair shorts or calf-length skirt for women
    8. Three pairs of regular underwear
    9. Long underwear - thermal or wool
    10. Wind- and rain-gear with hood
    11. Sun hat with brim
    12. Woolen hat or balaclava
    13. Woolen gloves
    14. Woolen socks to wear with boots
    15. Cotton socks
    16. Personal first-aid kit including medication for common ailments
    17. Flashlight with extra batteries
    18. Sunglasses or snow goggles (an extra pair is recommended)
    19. Water bottle, preferably wide mouthed, with at least one liter capacity
    20. Pocket knife
    21. Note book with pens and pencils
    22. Plastic bags - small size for books, film etc., larger bags for clothes, sleeping bags
    23. Well fitting strong shoes with a couple of woolen socks. The shoes should be used before treks to avoid blisters.
    24. First aid set for minor accidents and sickness.
    25. A raincoat is necessary to meet uncertainties of weather.
    26. Chocolates, lozenges, candies, glucose and dry fruits provide extra pep and energy.
    27. It is advisable not to exhaust energy by walking fast, as otherwise the trek will be not enjoyable.

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    The trail is not that easy as it rains or snows there every now and then, so at times people have to cancel the whole trip too. The success of the trip depends at lot on one’s luck too. One of our aims in this trip was to reach the base of Trishul, which is believd to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Trisul is a group of three Himalayan mountain peaks of western Kumaun, with the highest (Trisul I) reaching 7120m. The three peaks resemble a trident, which is the weapon of Lord Shiva who is reffered to as Latu Maharaj in this region. The Trishul group forms the southeast corner of the ring of peaks enclosing the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, about 15 kilometres west-southwest of Nanda Devi itself. The Hindus believe that Lord Shiva resides with his whole family in these ranges. There are a variety of mythological stories involving these peaks too.

    Day 1 September 16th, 2008

    Ours was a group of five. We boarded the Doon Express from Howrah. Our first stop would be at Haridwar. The journey was pretty long and the train was not up to the mark as well.

    Day 3 September 18th, 2008

    We reached Haridwar in the morning and headed to the taxi stand in an auto. We had already had our breakfast so without wasting much time we hired a jeep from the share taxi stand to take us to Debol via Karanprayag.

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    Karanprayag is one of the Panch Prayag, situated at the confluence of the Alaknanda, and Pindar River. Karanprayag is believed by many to be the place where Karna of the Mahabharata, was to have worshiped the Sun God. We reached Debol at around 6 p.m. in the evening.

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    It was raining very heavily and our driver had to take extra precautions to drive us along the slippery roads. We checked ourselves into a mediocre hotel for we had no other options as getting a good stay there was very difficult. We had our dinner and went off to bed for the next day we would begin our trail very early in the morning. Heavy rain continued all through the night.

    Day 4 September 19th, 2008

    The morning saw a little bit of sunshine, but it was all foggy and damp all over.

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    At around 9.00 a.m. the sky was a bit clearer and we quickly booked another car and headed off to the Wan village. With great difficulty we managed to buy some kerosene oil for the purpose of cooking on our way. The roads were real bad. Slowly we reached Wan village at around 12 noon via Loharjung.

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    Loharjung (8500 ft) is in Garhwal, Uttarakhand. It is one of the last tiny villages from where one can start his trek to the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, Roopkund Kuari pass, and/or Ronti Saddle.

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    Wan village. (2437M) is the largest village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. It is divided in Upper and Lower Wan.

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    We arranged for a porter and decided to stay at his place for the night.

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    The ambiance was not at all pleasant, but the hospitality was heartwarming. We took some snaps and later took our lunch.

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    It began raining again in the afternoon, which continued throughout the rest of the day.

    Day 5 September 20th, 2008

    The whole day was wasted due to the heavy rains and we had to stay in the Wan village for the day. We spent sometime strolling in the village in between. The villagers were very friendly. A few invited us for a cup of tea and some even invited us to have food with them.

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    We offered our prayers in the temple of Latu Maharaj in hope to bring good luck and probably stop the rain. It is mandatory to offer prayer to Latu Maharaj before starting for Roopkund. Women are not allowed inside the temple. We decided to drop our plan to visit Junargali and Hemkund. It was a bad start but we still had other places to visit.

    Day 6 September 21st, 2008

    We waited for the rain to stop, packed our bags and left Wan at around 10.30 a.m. in the morning. Our target Bedni Bugyal, which was some 15 km away. The trek started through the village roads and the forest area.

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    It was a steep ascent and the path was slippery due to the rain. The whole stretch was through forest but there was no sources of water seen anywhere. We made our way in the rain and reached Ghairoli
    Patal 11 km away at 4.30 p.m. Tired after the strenuous trek we decided to stay there for the day. We set up our respective tents amidst a small open field among the forests and cooked ourselves hot Khichdi (Hoch-Poch).

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    The temperature was 7.5 degree centigrade, 2.5 degrees lower from that in Wan. The rain had not stopped yet and we retired to our tents after dinner. The next day we would be heading another 4 km ahead to Bedni Bugyal and we knew that the last 3 km was a steep tough climb. It rained throughout the night and the cold was bone biting.

    Day 7 September 22nd, 2008

    We started off at 7 a.m. after having our breakfast. Fortunately the morning was a bit clearer than the previous day. Our destination for that day was Bedni Bugyal (12,000 ft). The word “Bugyal” means grassland or green meadow.

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    After about an hour of hiking over the steep climbs we reached Doliadhar, the entrance to Bedni.

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    The top of the ridge is marked with a temple. From here there is a bifurcation to the Ali meadows. After this the trail traverses on the left and slightly climbs to the meadows at Bedni, probably one of the best camping sites in the Garhwal Himalayas and to the right is the path leading to Ali Bugyal. Another road also leads to this mountain top other than the one coming from Wan. We took another 1 hr to reach Bedni Bugyal. Bedni Bugyal is a charming green meadow adorned with flowers in a spell binding varieties, in full bloom. There is a small lake called Bedni Kund situated in the midst of the meadow, where Tarpans are offered by the devotees. Situated nearby is a small temple where the devotees pay there obeisance, during their halt at Bedni Bugyal.

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    Bedini Bugyal is the largest grassland in Asia, stretching for 20 kms.

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    From Bedni one can get great views of the Gahrwal Himalayan peaks and the majestic Nanda Ghunti and Trishul. The reflection of the Trishul and Nanda Ghunti peaks on the water of Bedni Kund makes one spellbound. It was 10.30 a.m. in the morning, but already the sky was becoming dark due to the approaching clouds. We had a little bit of food, left our luggage and promptly started walking towards Ali Bugyal (13200 ft or 3300 m), which was a moderate ascent of 4 km.

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    We reached there at around 12.45 p.m. All tiredness was forgotten as we witnessed the mesmerizing sight of the undulating meadows of Ali Bugyal. We were on the top of a ridge that spreads in every direction. Acres and acres of green meadows are scooped out of the mountainside. Clouds drift in from below, glide over the ridge and slides down on either side, all in a slow swift motion. We saw many horses grazing on the bounty of nature. Foals tearing themselves across the turf in an uninhibited abandon, just being themselves.

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    After strolling a bit amidst the Nature’s bounty we returned back to Bedini Bugyal at 2.30 p.m. It became very chilly with the temperature dropping to 5 degree centigrade with a heavy rain accompanying it. After a while we witnessed a torrential hail storm from the comforts of our room of a modest hotel. We had booked a single room for the night. Deep within our hearts we were all having the same thought---may be we will have to cancel the whole trip due to the rough weather conditions. With a heavy heart somehow we managed to spend the rest of the night with water dripping from our roof.

    contd...
    Last edited by kallns; 31st July 2011 at 07:59 PM.

  2. #2
    Day 8 September 23rd, 2008

    In the morning the rain stopped, but the visibility was zero with heavy fog shrouding the whole area. The weather fluctuates in these parts and one can have moments of wild sunshine followed by anxious cloud cover. Bedni Bugyal is one of the finest meadows in India and one of the most romantic spots in the Himalayas. Amidst acres and acres of meadow scooped out of lush mountain scape, there is a steep ridge arching up and above it, the enormous western flank of Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Chowkhamba and Neelkanth can be seen.

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    One of the larger Bugyals (meadow) in Uttaranchal, Bedni is also a major way-station on the Nanda Raj Jaat Yatra, a ritual procession held every 12 years. Carpeted with green grass and seasonal flowers, these Bugyals provide an excellent grazing ground and pastures for the tribal herdsmen. Legend has it that the four Vedas were written in the meadows of Bedni Bugyal and that Maa Durga is said to have killed Demon Mahishasura near Bedni Kund in her Kali Avatar. There is another interesting mythological story associated with this place. “Pathar Nauchuni” translates to “Dancing Stones”. Legend has it that a King who was taking the annual pilgrimage to please Goddess Nanda Devi had forgotten to pay proper prayers mesmerized by the royal dancers. Goddess Nanda was infuriated but the King asked for forgiveness and in order to avoid further distractions, the dancers were cursed to transform into stones. There are a couple of big stones to be seen which can be connected to the folklore.
    It was a bit sunny by 9.30 a.m. and we set off for Hemkund without wasting any time for we had already lost 2 days due to the rains. We reached Patthar Nauchuni or Patal Nachuni, which was 10 km away at around 12.00 noon.

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    The trail to Patal Nachauni is a gradual easy meander. From Bedni one can follow it with his eyes for 3 kms before it disappears into a saddle in the mountains. Although the trail should have been easy, the rain and snow of the previous night had made it a little slippery. We saw black clouds gathering over our heads and decided to halt. With no proper place to set up our tents, we descended much down below to a place by the river and set up two tents.

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    One of them would accommodate us five and the other was for our porters. Shortly after it started raining heavily accompanied with a snowfall. Now the temperature had dropped down to -2 degree centigrade. It rained all through the night.

    Day 9 September 24th, 2008

    The rain had stopped in the morning and it was a clear and shiny morning, but the roads were blocked due to the snowfall. Dejected, we unanimously decided to drop our plan of visiting Roopkund. The day would be spent taking pictures and exploring the nearby places. We were feeling very tired because all through the night we had to remove chunks of snow from the roof of our tent. It took some time to regain our energy and the clear weather prompted us to head off to Bagubassa (4100 m / 13450 ft). Taking some dry food with us, we started off at 8.30 a.m. and the first thing was to climb the steep mountain slopes up to the trail of Patthar Nauchuni. We had to trek for another 2.5 km to reach KaluVinayak.

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    The climb to Kalu Vinayak is a steep zig-zag up the mountain side and will take you to 14,500 ft. The distance is not much, and the zig-zag trail makes one gain height very rapidly. We climbed this section very slowly and reached there at 11.00 a.m. Kalu Vinayak gets its name from the black Ganesh idol enclosed in a stone shrine just as one finishes the climb from Ghora Lotani. According to the folklore, Devi Nanda had left his son Lord Ganesha at this place. Also, as per another story Kalu Vinayak is the place where Lord Vinayak was standing guard while Parvati was taking bath in Roopkund Lake. It is from here that one can see the Roopkund crater for the first time. We offered our prayers and carried on with our trail to Bagubassa. The heavy snow all around indicated that we would not be able to put up our tents there, but we were adamant. As usual very soon we had to change our minds for it is the Mother Nature who sets her rule here and we had to head back to Patthar Nauchuni after taking some pictures. We saw many trekkers cancelling their trip and returning back, but we were determined to visit Roopkund this time. We spent the night once again amidst heavy rain and snowfall.

    Day 10 September 25th, 2008

    With a clear morning we started at 8.30 a.m. We were going to Bagubassa via Kalu Vinayak. We reached Kalu Vinayak at 11.00 a.m. and then Bagubassa at 12 noon. Today this would be our halt.

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    “Bagua” means flowery park and “Basa” means place. And rightly the place was full of variety of flowers including the rare Bhram Kamal, a special godly lotus found at only and between the altitudes of 14000 - 15000 ft. The word “Bagubassa” also translates to “Abode of the Tiger”. This was where Goddess Parvati left the tiger and went ahead to take her bath in Roopkund. One has to climb very slowly as the trial gains height very rapidly and one may feel breathless or dizzy. As the trail was slippery with the previous night’s snowfall, we walked in a slow pace. The trail from Kalu Vinayak to Bhagwabasa is easy and gently sloping downwards. Bhagwabasa is 2 kms away and you can see the Bhagwabasa huts if you follow the trail with your eye. The trail meanders through snow patches.

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    Captivating sights of the Garhwal Mountains with Roopkund in the lap of Mt. Trishul lay before our eyes. We quickly set up our tent and took refuge in it trying our best to cut off from the rain and hail storm which soon begun. The weather cleared up in the early evening and there was a bit of sunshine and we could now view the peaks of Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Chowkhamba and Nilkanth. The night was spent in a half sitting and half laying posture.

    Day 11 September 26th, 2008

    The day begun on a promising note with a clear sky and sunshine. We could see the peaks clearly in front of us and started off early at 7.00 a.m.

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    The ascent would be to 14000 ft and it was freezing cold with a drizzling snowfall. From Bhagwabasa it is a 5 kms gradually ascending walk to Roopkund. We trailed through the heavy snow barely managing to keep the right track.

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    We came to Rani-ki-Suleda after 1 km and reached Hunia Thal after another 2 km trek. After another steep ascent of 2 km we crossed the stone steps of Chiryanag. With utmost caution as the rocks are wet with rain and fog residue we made our way through the snow. We were surrounded by the monochrome color of white all around us.

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    The amount of snow started to increase with every step. We proceeded constantly cutting off icy blocks with an Ice Axe creating a sort of a trail for ourselves. We had to move very carefully for anyone could slip and fall deep down below resulting in death.

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    We finally reached Roopkund (16000 ft) at around 10.30 a.m. It is a pouplar belief that while Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva were on their way to Kailas (or maybe Trishul), Goddess Parvati was feeling very dirty after killing the demon Mahishasura and wanted to clean up. Lord Shiva created the Lake with his Trishul and Parvati dipped herself in the blue waters and she could see her clear and beautiful reflection in the waters which was why the lake was named Roopkund. According to another story, the skeletons are believed to be of the Tibetan traders or the Japanese soldiers who lost their way or of Tuglak’s army. There is also the story that goes like this. King Jasdal of Kanauj was on his way with his wife undertaking a pilgrimage called, “Nanda Jat” to propitiate Goddess Nanda Devi. The Queen delivered a child on the way and this made the Goddess Nanda Devi angry by spoiling Her Holy Land. A snow storm was sent down by the Goddess killing hundreds on the trail of pilgrimage. There are many more folklores and myths associated to this lake too. Every 12 years, the Nanda Raj Jat Yatra takes place and the locals of Kumaon and Gharwal believe that a mysterious four horned ram comes to this place which is supposed by to be very auspicious. Thousands of pilgrims head for the Hem Kund Lake to pay homage to Goddess Nanda Devi. This lake is further ahead from Roopkund and the locals undertake the journey barefoot braving the inhospitable conditions over 22 days.

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    The trek to Roopkund passes through delightful alpine pasture lands and snow fields, offering magnificent views of the Trisul, Nanda Ghunti, Badrinath peaks when the snow melts, human and equine skeletons remains can be seen, some of them with flesh attached. These remains have been preserved in the alpine condition for centuries. It is believed that these are the remains of about 300 persons who died about 500-600 years ago. The climb was deliriously exhilarating. The last stretch of climbing over the rocky flank on the left, required some clambering, but was over in 10 mins. The final bend on the snow shoulder gets one’s heart pounding. Roopkund was right over the edge, two minutes away and yet one cannot see it unless he gets there. Roopkund is like a crater on the side of the mountain face, a dip at the cusp of the mountain. It is much bigger than what most internet pictures suggest. All around are snowy flanks of the mountain. One has to actually climb down 50 ft to reach the edge of the lake.

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    The whole area is covered with snow and ice. Our porter took out a couple of bones from the lake and showed them to us. We thought of climbing up to Junargali also. Junargali from Roopkund, is the sharp ridge line that towers above one after which it is a 3,000 ft drop to Shila Samudra. Junargali is about 500 ft higher than Roopkund, and it doesn't take much time to get there. The route is over snow that gently inclines upwards until it reaches the face of the mountain. After which it is a steep clamber on the mountain face to reach Junargali. The climb is about 200 ft and gets over in perhaps 10-15 minutes. We took rest every few minutes, allowing our breath to get back. Later we offered our prayers to a human skeleton with incense sticks and chocolates and took time to drench ourselves into the majestic beauty of this unique world of Roopkund. The whole experience was simply heavenly. But we could not explore much of the adjoining areas due to the deep levels of snow, so decided to return back. The sky was clear and the white silvery mountains were shining before us. We were spellbound. Soon we were on our way back. Trekkers often find getting down from Roopkund difficult. The snowy slope looks tricky and dangerously sloping. We had to squat on our fours to negotiate the immediate flank of snow as we got off Roopkund. This was the difficult part but as lower as we got, it got a lot easier progressively. Once out of the switchback descent, it became an easy walk back to Bhagwabasa. We stepped very carefully on the frozen ice while descending down for we knew that our every step was prone to a dangerous slip.



    We returned to Bhagwabasa at around 1.00 p.m. and saw a big troop of foreigners with lots of horses. They too would be going to Roopkund the next day. Having our lunch we trekked our way to Patthar Nauchuni.


    The weather was clear so we had the rest of the day to gaze at the endless mountain peaks shining in the bright sun.

    contd...

  3. #3
    Sir,
    Good Start, I am also looking for such treks. I didn't know that kind of history behind Himalaya. Thanks for sharing. I am waiting your next approach.

  4. #4
    Day 12 September 27th, 2008

    The morning was yet again a bright one. We came out of our tents and had our breakfast. We started our trek at 9.00 a.m. sharp. On our way we could see some of the peaks which we previously could not see due to the rough weather conditions. We were now contented. With a joyful soul we reached Bedni Bugyal, which was almost deserted by then as all the trekkers were now on their way back. Descending downwards does not take much time, but the legs hurt.

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    We were headed for Wan village which would roughly take 3-4 hours. While retracing our path to Bedni Bugyal, we passed the Bedni camp site and took the trail heading to the right and below.

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    20 minutes later, we got to the tree line and sharp descent that signals the end of the meadows. We watched for the descending trail on our right. The main trail moves ahead to Ali Bugyal. We trekked our way through the Oak and Rhododendron forests. Half an hour into our decent, we got to a clearing. The green trekker's huts signaled that we had reached Ghairoli Patal. On a clear day, one can get astounding views of Mt Trishul commandeering over the area.

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    We stepped into the flat oak forest on our right. It is a steep ridge descent to the Neel Ganga. Quicker trekkers reach the river in one and a half hours. The slower ones take two. We enjoyed the rarely seen wondrous stretch of forest cover. The bridge on the Neel Ganga was an idyllic location to wash off the dirt and grime of our long trek. Trees overhang the river and the water trips and falls over boulders in the shade. The water was cool and refreshing. From the river it is a short half hour climb to the ridge above Wan village. One knows that he has reached Wan when he spots really huge Cyprus trees. These trees are so big; at least 6-8 people will be needed to circle the bark of each one of these trees. Wan is the only place in India where one finds these trees. After spending days in the wilderness, we finally come to a busy civilization at 2.00 p.m.

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    There are many routes to the bottom of the Wan village, and all roads eventually lead down to the road junction (Kasar Bagad) near the Hydal Project. It takes about an hour and half to get down to Kasar Bagad. It is a steep descent. There is an alternative longer route to get down to Wan. From the ridge top of Wan, take the main trail that runs to the right.

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    We had a filling lunch of chicken curry and rice, made arrangements for our porters to stay and slept like a baby at night.

    Day 13 September 28th, 2008

    We started off in a hired jeep after having our breakfast straight to Dole.

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    It took us sometime to arrange for another jeep that would take us to Haridwar. We took the whole day off. And stayed overnight at Haridwar for the day after was Mahalaya.

    Day 14 September 29th, 2008

    The day of Mahalaya holds auspicious significance for the Hindus. From this day starts 'Devipaksha' and marks the end of 'Pitri-paksha'. It is the day when many throng to the banks of river Ganga, clad in dhotis to offer prayers to their dead relatives and forefathers.People in the pre-dawn hours pray for their demised relatives and take holy dips in the Ganges. This ritual is known as 'Torpon'.

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    We were astounded by the amount of devotees at Har ki Pauri ghat of Haridwar. It is believed to be the sacred place where Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, two great Hindu Gods, appeared in the Vedic era. This place is considered equivalent to the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Banaras, in religious terms. It is also said that Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation, performed a yagna at the Har ki Pauri. The ghat is also said to have the holy footprints of Lord Vishnu. Har ki pauri is believed to be the exit point of the river Ganges from the mountains and its entry into the plains. A dip in the holy water of the ghat is said to relieve a person of all his sins. We enjoyed the day taking countless pictures. After taking a warm bath and lunch at the famous “Dada Boudi” restaurant we made our way to the stations.

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    Day 15 September 30th, 2008

    We reached our beloved Kolkata amongst the festive mood. The whole city was madly engrossed in preparing for the upcoming Pujas. Everywhere we felt the holiday mood. We, Bengalees believe that Ma Durga, who resides in the high altitudes of the Himalays, with her four children, Ganesh, Kartick, Saraswati and Laxmi and with her two 'sakhis' - Jaya and Bijaya, comes to visit her parent's home the Earth each year during the season of 'Sharat' or autumn when Durga Puja is celebrated. A strange feeling evoked thinking that Ma Durga according to the myths, supposedly travels through the same places we had just visited during her descent from the mountains. The only regret that we had was the exclusion of Hem Kund from our trail. But as one says “the show must go on’, so there we were slowly switching ourselves back into the daily chores of life with fond memories of our first mythological trip.

    End...

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