Tuesday, July 08, 2008


After Badrinath, it was Kedarnath. We took a bus to Gaurikund from Badrinath; Ranjana, yours truly AND Major Abhiskek Dimri. This was a newly acquired friend whom we found on our way back to Badri from Vasudhara. :-)

The drive via Rudraprayag up to Gaurikund was very very scenic. The mountains were green, unlike the mountains leading to Badri. The river in the valley was Mandakini and the water was clear unlike the turbid waters of Alakananda. It took us 10 hours to reach Gaurikund and we were stuck in a traffic jam for a good 30 minutes. Narrow roads and a motley assortment of motor vehicles. Cars, buses, jeeps of all sizes. Moving in all directions.

Gaurikund is a dirty, wretched, miserable, Godforsaken place. “Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it” because there is no other way to get to Kedarnath.

Our trek to Kedarnath began the next morning. We hired a mule to carry our backpacks :-), bought a chhadi (bamboo staff) and started. The chhadi really helps. I know this because when I trekked to Vasudhara, I did not have one and I was panting for breath. Of course, there was a dearth of oxygen too (the area was dry and arid. No greenery at all) but the chhadi would have helped. When you go for a trek, always remember to carry one with you.

I must mention that when you begin trekking to Kedarnath, it is not a very pretty scene. The path is strewn with mule shit and urine. There are labourers carrying people. One man carrying a person on his back, four men carrying a person in a palki (a crude version of palanquin), there are people on horsebacks…people pushing their way… its nauseating…
But after the first kilometer, you find more space.

The trek is 14 kilometers long. And here it begins...

But there was such a cornucopia of green on the mountain and all around that I would have preferred it to be 28 kilometers. Also, I did not feel a lack of oxygen; probably because there was ample greenery around.

When sunrays fell on tender green leaves, the result was so magical.

The Mandakini river below was just too beautiful. It was deep down in the valley and I could not go to the waters. :-(

The first view of snow as we climbed further.

I paused every few steps to take in more and more of the valley.

Mandakini, gliding through thorns, shrubs, stones and rocks, rejuvenating them all...

There are Dhabas in every corner. Jal Jeera, Lime juice, channa, chai, water melon, cucumber. I stopped here and there to take some liquids. We had completed almost 9 kilometers and it started raining. We slipped in to our raincoats.

As you approach Kedarnath, you see mountains with streaks of snow. This one was chocolate cake with vanilla topping.

When you see cloud or fog in the valley after rainfall it means the weather is getting clear. Mausam Khulne Ki Nishani.

Can you believe that this is the Mandakini glacier? Behind the town of Kedarnath… it’s covered by soil … therefore its grey and ash like…

We are almost there.

The night was very cold. I saw snow all around the place. Next to a building, in front of a restaurant, behind that wall…

This was the next morning. Usually the sky is clear in the mornings. In the afternoons and evenings, it gets cloudy.

The Kedarnath temple.

We had been to the temple the previous night and seen the Shivling completely decorated. We went again the next day. There was a long queue and believe me, it is difficult to sneak in but we told the police we were students. He took pity and after a long wait he let us in. The ling inside was a different sight altogether. The gold coloured silky fabric that decorated it the previous night was no longer there. It was a rough piece of rock which did not even resemble the usual lingas in its shape.

Time to return. But before that…

As we returned… some more Mandakini.

We were covered by fog all around.

It began to rain and the picture was so different from what it was the previous day. The same valley looked so different and so much more beautiful. As someone said, life takes on a new meaning in the rain.

To see all the pictures, do visit Kedarnath

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