My adventurous pilgrimage in Devbhoomi

Khagesh

Well-Known Member
Thanks!

Being from South India, we were caught off guard. But later on we managed to avoid such incidents.
Yamunotri

18-Sept-2018: Haridwar to Janki Chatti


We had been asked to finish our breakfast and assemble for departure with our luggage by 8:00 AM. As we walked into the restaurant, we saw people who were probably our fellow yatris (travellers), but we didn't know for sure yet. It turned out to be true when all of us started gathering around the bus after breakfast. In all we were 15 yatris (against a seating capacity of 27), a guide, driver, and a helper. Seats were allocated after loading the luggage, and soon we rolled out of the motel with jai-jaikar (chanting praises) for all four deities - Yamuna maiyya, Ganga maiyya, Kedarnath bhagwan, and Badri Narayan.

Our guide and driver had decided to take the Rishikesh - Mussoorie route, apparently because of better roads. I have been Mussoorie before, and I was looking forward to relive some of the memories.


Approaching Kempty Falls
View attachment 792480

By now we had traveled for almost 3 hours, and a break was due. So we stopped some distance after crossing Kempty falls.

View while having tea
View attachment 792481

The bus kept making progress over meandering roads by the Yamuna river, and it was slowly becoming evident that we would not be able to reach Barkot for lunch as per schedule. Moreover, hunger pangs were increasing the urgency for a lunch break. Ultimately we stopped an hour short of Barkot for lunch.

View (of river Yamuna) from the restaurant where we stopped for lunch

View attachment 792482

We crossed Barkot in some time, road conditions deteriorated after that. The already slow progress was further slowed down, and Sun started setting. We stopped for a tea break, but this time our driver was happier than us. :D Darkness started setting in, narrow roads with oncoming vehicles caused quite a few moments of anxiety. After what seemed like ages, we alighted at a parking lot half kilometer away from our stay in Janki Chatti. Though it was dark, we could hear the river rushing down the valley.

After the rooms got allotted, there was a briefing by our guide and he urged us to start as early as possible in the morning and return by afternoon as the weather can be unpredictable later in the day. So we decided to start by 7:00 AM, while many others chose to start as early as 6:00 AM!

19-Sept-2018: Janki Chatti to Yamunotri and back

We woke up excited that today we will visit the first dham of our tour. The 6 kilometer hike (one way) was supposed to take around 3 hours, and we were advised to take it easy and enjoy the scenery as we go. It made complete sense. The Sun was still behind mountains, air was fresh and cool, and it seemed like a perfect time to start. We decided to deal with breakfast on the way, in one of the shops that dot the route at regular intervals.

A little after we started walking

View attachment 792483

There were very few people on the route, and it was a very pleasant walk. Though, waking up early and putting the body through physical activity has a side effect - hunger! So we stopped at the next shop we came across and had something to eat.

Breakfast with tea :-D

View attachment 792484

Fueled up, we continued further. The gradient was steep and the gain in elevation could be felt. We could hear river Yamuna flowing through the deep gorge. In a short while we came across the temple of Bhairo Nath ji. We prayed briefly at the temple and proceeded. From here the gradient was gentle and easier. We were stopping frequently to catch our breath as well as immerse ourselves in the beautiful scenery.

In a short while we could see the temple in the distance. Seeing your destination does put a spring in your step and we marched forward with renewed vigour.

View of temple

View attachment 792485

The temple was on the other side of the river and we had to cross a bridge, but before that we bought some items for offerings at the temple. At tapt kund (natural hot spring), we got our bag of rice boiled as prasad. Then we dipped our feet in the hot water pool where others were bathing. Finally paid our obeisance at the main deity. Then I headed to the river behind the temple, and decided to fill small bottles as a souvenir.

Can someone imagine how challenging it can be to fill 200 ml of water in plastic bottles here? I had a first hand experience. Not even half of the bottle was filled and I had to stop and rub my palms to prevent them from going numb! :shock: Anyway, bottles were sufficiently full and I decided to return. We stopped again to have a tea and some snacks sufficient to power us (hopefully) back to Janki Chatti.

There was noticeably more crowd now on the route, but it didn't bother us much as we were descending anyway. By now the valley was brightly lit by sunshine and had a beauty of its own.

View of mountain ranges

View attachment 792486

View of the trek route - though concrete, but suspended in air :shock:
View attachment 792487

The going was pretty smooth and enjoyable so far, but 1 km short of Janki Chatti I felt a little of pain in my left knee. It was bearable and I could manage to reach our stay with a little limp. I did not take it seriously as there was no warning or symptoms, and I had never experienced this before.

After lunch, we were lazing around and got a suggestion to go to Kharsali village on the opposite side. It is the winter abode (home) for Ma Yamuna. We could see the village and couple of temples. But as we walking towards it, it started raining, so we were forced to take shelter. After waiting for a while, considering the rain and my knee pain we decided to return.

Clouds clearing up after rain

View attachment 792488

The night stay was at the same place, in Janki Chatti. Here we had a stay for two nights and possibly had the most leisurely time of the entire tour. Next day our tour will take us towards Gangotri.
Nice photographs. Filling the bottle with ice cold water, I can understand your predicament since I too am from South India. But tell you what, I bathed in that ice cold water as I did at all the 108 dharas of Mukthinath where you feel your brain frozen for quite sometime.
 

sayshh

Member
Nice photographs. Filling the bottle with ice cold water, I can understand your predicament since I too am from South India. But tell you what, I bathed in that ice cold water as I did at all the 108 dharas of Mukthinath where you feel your brain frozen for quite sometime.
Thanks! Wow that's really wonderful. Must have been a lifetime experience.
 

Khagesh

Well-Known Member
Thanks! Wow that's really wonderful. Must have been a lifetime experience.
Yes, wonderful now, but while in those freezing waters, its quite challenging, for me at least. Same happened even in Gangotri too. took three dips in those gushing icy waters after crossing the bridge, the other side of the shrine. The spirits say, go for a swim but the body isnt in harmony with the spirits.
 

sayshh

Member
Yes, wonderful now, but while in those freezing waters, its quite challenging, for me at least. Same happened even in Gangotri too. took three dips in those gushing icy waters after crossing the bridge, the other side of the shrine. The spirits say, go for a swim but the body isnt in harmony with the spirits.
It would be a challenge for anyone. I don't think anyone will venture into the cold water without having the conflict between spirit and body. :-D

BTW, I was reading your solo trip to Muktinath.. and what an epic trip it is! =D>
 

Khagesh

Well-Known Member
It would be a challenge for anyone. I don't think anyone will venture into the cold water without having the conflict between spirit and body. :-D

BTW, I was reading your solo trip to Muktinath.. and what an epic trip it is! =D>
To be frank, I was reading your travelogue on and off. Now, its complete. The knee pain and time now I can understand. Hats off to you about Kedar trip with knees refusing to support your weight. Though at a comfort zone of guide, package, cousin, you did test your mettle here. I say this because whatever the support one has, the pain has to be borne by oneself.

After reaching Kedar, you became emotive. Same here too, at Muktinath, when I called my daughter, I could not speak to her I was crying, she perfectly understood me and asked me "If I met my dad there" ! (he passed away decades ago). I dont know what made her ask me that. But what I wish to share is we become emotive; the mystique Himalayas. So many experiences for me at Badrinath, inexplicable even on the trek to Vasudhara falls beyond Mana.
 

sayshh

Member
The knee pain and time now I can understand. Hats off to you about Kedar trip with knees refusing to support your weight. Though at a comfort zone of guide, package, cousin, you did test your mettle here.
Rightly said, I was lucky to find a way to reach Kedarnath. Though it was not how I desired. Being a popular and busy route, help in case of distress is somewhat easily accessible. At a desolate place, I wouldn't have been so lucky.

Same here too, at Muktinath, when I called my daughter, I could not speak to her I was crying, she perfectly understood me and asked me "If I met my dad there" ! (he passed away decades ago). I dont know what made her ask me that. But what I wish to share is we become emotive; the mystique Himalayas.
The place Muktinath (signifying mukti) might be the reason. Yes, the harder we yearn and strive to reach it, the more emotional we become I think.
 

Khagesh

Well-Known Member
help in case of distress is somewhat easily accessible. At a desolate place, I wouldn't have been so lucky.
Yes, true.. on my EBC trek, the weather was so bad all along I hardly saw any helicopter flying for prevailing low ceiling of clouds which otherwise is a very common sight. In the case of emergency, only was someone must carry you down and fast. I have read such situations many a times. No mules, no pittu nothing exists. This fact itself puts our mind into extremely alert mode. Once the tree line disappears and crossing 4000m mark, we know we are prone to HAPE.

Having said all that, isnt all that make the trip more adventurous, lest we become armchair adventurers.
 
Top