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Day 16: Helang – Badrinath 29.05.2022 (Saturday)

As usual got up early, wash, bath and start the ride. Once again back on the heavy traffic road. My log book says the time was 7:50 am.

I know I am approaching Joshimath. The habitation, the busy roads, military and so on. I could see the deviation to the right which was my original plan to take this road to take a bath in the river Rishi Ganga which should be around 25 to 30 kms. Sitting at the comfort of living room, now, I realise I should have done it. Take a bath in this river before Badrinarayan darshan. Anyway, it was not so.

By 9 am at Joshimath.

That’s the proper name. Jyothirmath which makes some sense. Evolution?

Wanted to visit the Aadi Shankaracharya Mutth.


About ten mins walk from the main road takes you there.


Well maintained place. That door on the right takes you to the meditation hall. Noticed some people in saffron attire and contrastingly busy with their mobile phones. What these people would be doing here, trying to get some gnaan.. is this the trust what Aadi Shankarachaarya kept in us… so many questions.. anyway, now it’s not my business.


Kalpa vruksha in the premises. Nice big tree.. Kalpa Vruksha is said to be granting boons whatever we ask. I simply silently said Om Namah Shivaaya.


Unfortunately I couldn’t touch it for it was fenced strongly.

Had breakfast and started the journey. All the way down with plenty of speed breakers and settlements till down the river Alaknanda. Once crossing the bridge, the toughest roads start nearly all the way to Badrinath. Road widening work, landslides and what not. Dusty, mad rush.


Govindghat by 10:30am. Don’t be misled by the roads in the picture, it was just a small stretch of good road where I could take a pit stop and a take picture.

From here the right deviation starts to Humkundsahib and VOF.


The other side. Notice the traffic on the road. Did you notice that small plywood piece under the bike’s side stand that I made in Rishikesh? That little fellow saved my life many a times. Trust me.

So dusty the roads are and those katabatic winds on those curves of the roads would just push you out of balance. But by now I could fairly anticipate and learned how to counter balance them but this fine dust was really bothering me by now. Remember, I am driving on a helmet without visor! I might have eaten half a kg of that dust by the end of the trip.

By 12 at Badrinath. The weather was good but dusty and mad rush. Just the mad rush for parking. Looks like the parking continued till Mana!
Hunt for the stay begins. Everyone refuses this single soul.

There are so many ashrams. But don’t ever be in the opinion that they are for service as the name suggests or something like that. It happened even in Haridwar. These are business centres to make money unquestionably. The rates per night is anything above Rs.5,000. Inspite of that rate, the accommodation is not available.

What’s happening to this mad rush of people. Anyway. How those visibly less prosperous people with rubber slippers and just one bundle of something on their heads and a simple walking stick would find a stay at night is a mystery which I haven’t mastered yet. Obviously not on road in that super chilly weather.

Finally, a kind watchman of one of these ashrams suggested me to try the GMVN Yatri Nivas bunker beds. He said that he also lives in one of those bunkers.


Bunker beds. Nice, clean spacious utility and nearly empty. Rs.400 per night. Quite reasonable in that situation. Just dumped everything and headed for darshan after lunch. It was a bright day with nearly clear sky.


Jai Badrivishal.

Obviously so much crowd. Had to find the end of the queue to join the queue. But where is it… kept going going and going.. Reaching the end of the queue itself might have taken a good 20 minutes.


I might as well go far enough to reach Satopanth which I am aware that this is the path to take to reach Satopanth. I could nearly see Mana village on the other side.

Finally joined the queue and the time was 1:15 in the afternoon.


More and more people join and the queue ever gets longer and longer. Would they close the gate by the time my turn comes? Anyway all is His kripa. Surprisingly none in the queue seem to be under any sort of tension or nervous; happily talking, joking, narrating their experiences and there were some, as mentioned earlier, not so prosperous, started doing bhajans clapping. Everyone joins. We forgot the apprehensive queue and I myself indulged in chanting Vishnu Sahasranaama blissfully ignorant of what to come.


The brewing storm which would come down any moment. The evening anabatic winds started to make it even colder. Cold cold cold…my toes are never going to get warm unless I go down.

Soon it started to drizzle. The shed was nowhere in the sight. Everyone just managed to cover their heads with whatever they could. I didn’t carry my raincoat for weather seemed to be good, a mistake. Just stood like that in the rain freezing. The dust cover of my backpack was just enough for the bag and the phone. So let it be like that. Sahasranamas go even more fervently. Curiously even amidst all those odds, there was certain tranquility, bliss, no agitation felt in His adobe. This proves once again that no tangible goods or comfort or, discomfort to that matter is responsible for our happiness or unhappiness.

Once you reach this state of mind, quite oblivious to the surroundings, the adversities recede.


The weather clears and one can notice the crowd or notice the happy faces? The choice is yours.

The Neelkanth at the far. Just cross another mountain, reach Satopanth, Swargarohini. Would I be able to see them in this life is a question.

It was 5:20pm which means we all endured those strong cold winds and heavy drizzle, completely wet including inner garments socks and what not for nearly three hours just like that in that weather! Yes, it was because the standpoint that we take in life is pivotal for our own mental wellbeing.
Finally the shelter in sight. Not that it really matters now.


The Alaknanda, Badrivishal far away, Brahmakapal, and more interestingly, the happy faces. Happiness is just infectious as bad temper.


The road the other side of the river takes to Mana village which is about 3 kms. Just a little ahead I know the road winds up to right to Ghastoli and the trek route to Gangotri. My heart sinks once again. The Himalayas have too much to offer and we are too busy to accept.

The mystique Hiamalays teach us, humble us as I said earlier. Teach what? Once in adversities, don’t complain, just become part of the adversity and you don’t feel the pain any more for you yourself is the pain. It’s painful if the pain is a separate entity but once the adversity and you are one and the same, one would become blissfully ignorant of all adversities and the life becomes more bearable.


What those buildings could be? May be some money making spots with fancy names like river view, temple view, neelkanth view, even worse, some aashram where they charge exorbitant price for stay. Anyway, better see some positive things around.


Finally under the roof and close to temple yet a long way to go. Fully drenched.


Soon lucky to find that I am going to have darshan. So much crowd. No one wears mask. Corona? What’s that again?

In that crowd, no need to do anything, just stand still, the crowd will pushes you forward anyway. Had darshan. Some people sitting in the hall just before the deity, must be doing some special Pooja, paying may be more money. Nevertheless His blessings are same on everyone.


By the time I come out of the temple it was 8:15pm. So its seven hours that I spent in that long queue without realizing it.


Night view of the temple. So much crowd, everyone joyfully talking in loud voice, but the noise was too much to bear.

So many eateries on those narrow crowded streets. Had some kachori and milk for dinner, happily retired to my bunker bed and that eventful day comes to an end.


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Your perseverance and will power coupled with the gift of story telling are on an other level Sir! Take a bow! Respect.


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Jai Badri Vishal!

The sight of the temple at night is truly mesmerizing. The way you've penned your experience with musings, it's a treat to read.


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Your perseverance and will power coupled with the gift of story telling are on an other level Sir! Take a bow! Respect.
Thank you.

The perseverance or will power, is by default. Tell me if I had any other choice than turning back, may be at the Govt Hospital on my Nepal trip or with that high fever (or fear of Corona?) at Guptkashi? In either way I need to drive back home. Only thing what I did was instead of back, I just went ahead, trusting my stars.

Story telling? Well, to be frank, I have read many many travelogues even without a single photograph, yet gripping. What I normally do is just relive the entire tour; virtual tour, let the mind do the work and fingers trying hard to keep the pace with thoughts.

Thank you once again.


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Jai Badri Vishal!

The sight of the temple at night is truly mesmerizing. The way you've penned your experience with musings, it's a treat to read.
Thank you. These Himalayas are the culprit. Badrivishaal or any other place in Himalayas to that matter, is truly mesmerizing. On my last visit, trust me there were some miracles that I experienced here. Every atom of air we feel the presence of God, not just in the shrine itself.

I just randomly aimed my phone and shot the pictures which I am not good at nor I have that keen interest in photography excepting appreciating good pictures which we can find tons in this site.

As I just replied, I was just penning my thoughts as I virtually relive the entire trip with a peep into my logbook when my memory fails now and then especially on dates and time.

Thank you again.


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Day 17: Badrinath 30.05.2022 (Sunday)

It is clear that I messed up with dates and days. Though it hardly matters. Now, back on track. But today, although no travel is involved, it matters on this day’s travelogue.

My original plan was to start the return journey this day. But the night before people back home have a different plan for me: being new moon day and Sunday, a special amaavaasya too, they want me to perform tarpan kaaryakrama at Brahma Kapaal. Well, He wants me to spend another night at His abode.

Some views from the streets of Badrinath in the morning. Remember, as I said before, I am not a great photographer and my interest limits to appreciation only.

Morning sun yet to come into sight.


Rudraksha fruits. Rs.25 per piece! Now, I don’t see how they can sell a complete mala of 108 rudrakshas for Rs.100 in shops when each fruit costs that much. Definitely the fruit is sold at exorbitant price. I know they are not local, they come from the terrai region, not grown in Badrinath area.


The crowds at Brahmakapal. There is no place where you do not find crowd.

Had bath in the taptkund. There are some adversities too in solo trips such as bathing in public places; leave everything there and go for a dip, just a towel wrapped around your waist. Remember the shower in Muktinath? Well, that is the trust we develop; a different perspective though.

The pundits were doing roaring business. When I approached them, they ask me how many of ‘you’. This is the invariable question they ask at, hotel, lodge, restaurant, pony, now even the priests. May be no one sees a lone person like me as their prospective customer?


No, they are not eating, they are doing the pinda pradaan. Watch the rush. The modus operandi is, the pundits are divided into groups. They pool and appoint one as their money collector or as their cashier. This person invariably with a cotton bag hung from his shoulder collects money. It looks like they split the money in the evening.

I could do the tarpan on myself as I did at Devprayag and Rudraprayag, but in places like this we need to offer money to pundits.

All along the journey, I noticed these pundits are not versed either in Vedic Mantras or in basic Sanskrit language itself. Later on I come to know that some curse has befallen them which deprived them of Sanskrit… could be an aphorism. Who knows.

A point to note here. We go to such places not to see the pundits or priests but the place itself, the abode itself, to feel the intensity of vibrations which the place offers. This applies to even the time spent in the queues for darshan. It’s an opportunity for us to spend some time at His abode. If we distract ourselves with such trivial as priest, mad rush etc, we would be missing the essence of making the trip itself.
Now, a little reflection on the place itself.

Man, in his endeavor to be immortal, always tried to increase his life span. But we know this body is mortal. Some tried to extend their presence by good deeds. Even this, people forget soon and good is often interred with their bones.

Then some constructed monuments which lasted a little longer, but still being destructible, remained in ruins and pushed into oblivion eventually. In Sanskrit they say drushyathey nashyathey …. As simple as that. Yet we fail to accept this dictum.

Some, even more intelligent people, like our sages, left their spirits. Some of such spirits left behind by our sages are so strong that can be felt even today. These wise men, obviously secluded themselves in inaccessible places such as Himalayas to build up their energies and spirits which we feel them even today as an ultimate bliss.

One must make a solo trip, or remain alone to feel this bliss offered by the Mystique Mountains. It’s always like that, the mountains, right from Incas, Mayas of Amazon, in short, everywhere in the world. Have you seen those Buddhist’s monasteries on the cliffs?

Sorry for being off the topic ‘travel’ and take a journey of life itself.


Darshan from outside only. Time was 11:40 and slowly the cumulous cloud buildup behind those hills indicative of evening showers which were invariably present.

Lunch time. Eating in hotels and restaurants is something that I want to avoid as much as possible. Looked for this Andhra Ashram where I stayed on my last visit. Had lunch, free obviously. I prefer to eat in such places and donate whatever you lunch bill is, plus a little extra as my little share for anna daana to the next beneficiary.


That is the aashram, Chinna Jeeyar Aashram. On enquiry, just to check, they said accommodation is booked for the next three months!!!! Such is the rush at Badrinath and Kedarnath.

Go to Mana? No. I have done this already and even trek to Vasudhara falls already. Plus can’t stand the pain that Satopanth is still a far cry for me. So dropped the plan. Strolled on the streets and went to the temple for evening darshan from outside obviously.


The temple, the river Alaknanda…. It’s so nice, yet so cold.

Had the same kachori and milk for dinner and retired to bed. The return journey starts tomorrow. I feel sad. I don’t know when the next trip would be, and how it would be. Pushed myself under those quilts, not moving to gain some heat of my body and slipped into sleep blissfully.


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Day 18: Badrinath – Dhaaridevi 31.05.2022 (Monday)

Two days ago my return train tickets were booked. Two days are more than enough to reach Haridwar from Badrinath. Just in case, I asked my daughter to take a grace day so that I can drive back leisurely and even rest a while in Haridwar.

Started at 8:15am. Bit apprehensive of the bad roads which I passed while coming. Mostly downhill, shouldn’t be a problem though.
As usual tons of dust, katabatic wind gusts, traffic, bad roads and what not.


By 9:20 Vishnuprayag.


A bit further down I have to cross this river and climb starts for Joshimath.

At this place something happened worth mentioning. Two or three bikes, obviously to Hemkundsahib bikers come and stop, most likely a pit stop. One of them, a pillion rider removes his backpack keeps on the ground, so close to the ridge to stretch himself. Just as he lifts his hands the bag rolls into the gorge! I don’t think they retrieved it. There was a gang of people anyway to take better care than me. Be careful with the backpacks, they are not balanced well on the ground.


The way I came from. My backpack too balanced on the footrest of the bike.

By 10:30 crossed Joshimath. With all that traffic not in mood to stop for a tea break. Pushed forward.


Tried whatever the local fruits available. Never missed them. No mangoes obviously, they are not local, they come from plains.

By 12noon Garudganga where I had a bath again. I could feel the increase in the temperature as I lose altitude fast. Refreshing bath at Garudganga.
A tea here and lo there was a loud noise. And accident. Local pickup and a tourist bus coming from Badrinath side. A crowd, police and the usual scene.

In the hills we hardly see accidents. If at all one, mostly a driver from plains is involved, or a land slide or something like that.

During my near 20day Nepal drive, never saw a single road accident. Nor there was any need for blowing horn, not that frequently as we do in plains. Not that drivers in hills are more adept in driving, it’s that they know how to control the temperament or temptation. It’s just my observation though.
Lunch time soon. In one of those many bends in the road, I suddenly saw someone was waving a flag. Instantly I know its langar run by one of the Gurudwaras. Ah, that was my longstanding wish to eat in a langar by Gurdwara. I asked them if I can have my lunch there. They said I am welcome.


I was but bit uneasy as to what rituals I must follow in a langar like that. They gave me a scarf to cover my head. Happily had my lunch there and as usual my lunch bill in daan paatra. Food was simple but clean and good.

I suggest in such trips avoid commercial hotels or those flashy restaurants but try to have food in those dharamsalas or langars or even temples where they serve free food whenever possible. Help them whatever you could, at least with your food bill that you would have spent in a hotel anyway. This way, we can encourage and feel fraternity and hospitality which would be missing in a commercial place. Again, it’s just my opinion though.


When came out after lunch, could see many people joined for lunch. Those red flags tied to the bikes are most likely are doing Hemkundsahib trip. Most of them are Hero Honda 100cc bikes. I also noticed that it’s mostly youngsters doing Hemkundsahib on the bikes invariably with a pillion rider on these 100 cc Hero Honda bikes. They maintain good speed even on the uphill drive and while their engines shriek. Would the engine survive another Hiamalayan trip is questionable. On all my solo bike trips what I learnt is enjoy the ride while the bike too enjoys the ride. If it ceases to enjoy, then we are advertently asking for trouble.


Tea stop by 4pm. That is the helmet the parking fellow at Sonprayag gave me, without a visor. One can imagine a drive in those dusty roads without a visor. But there was no other option left for me because I could not find a single helmet shop on the entire way.

The roadside hotel took so long to prepare a tea for this single customer. He was busy serving lunch for a bus load of tourists. A common feature I faced.

Rudraprayag is 19kms to go. No problem but the heat is increasing so fast. Layer after layer warm clothing comes off.


Dhaaridevi by 6pm. Want to spend the night here at the abode of the Mother. Srinagar is just another 15kms or so downhill where stay options are more. Somehow I was lucky I could get a room here.


Had the evening darshan, aarti was nice as usual. Leisurely spent time at the temple. Took a picture of each of those boards on the pathway to the temple now. So much of wisdom India possesses yet, sadly, not taught in textbooks of schools. The school books are loaded with information as to get how to make our life more and more miserable. A pity.


Another board for example.

Lucky stayed here, avoiding all those bustling streets of Srinagar.

Had dinner in a restaurant next to the lodge and went to bed. It was a hot night.

Tilak Francis

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Khagesh sir, I got reminded of my langar at Nanakmatta Gurudwara, way back in 2002 with a Sikh friend's family living in Pilibhit, UP.
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Day 19: Dhaaridevi – Haridwar 01.06.2022 (Tuesday)

Started at 7:15am after bath and tea. Heat of the day is increasing every mile crossed down the hill. Crossed Srinagar and a tea break at 8:30 at a roadside tea shop.


Just a random picture from the tea shop.

The hills, the valleys, the rivers, the forests, the mountain katabatic winds, freshness in the mountain air, the lessons they teach us, making us humble and humiliated, the feeling of insignificant… I will be missing them soon, at least for a while.

Once again, into the monotony of routine charade. Living for ourselves ends and living and pleasing others starts soon. Well, that is the norm of the society if we wish to live in.

Back to the ride: The roads after Srinagar are good. Just clipping past on those smooth curvy roads sometimes make us dizzy. It reminds me of the ride on those roads getting down Rothang to Manali on those smooth roads, especially after crossing the rough road climb on the other side.

Apprehensive of the Rishikesh traffic jams all the way to Haridwar. Managed somehow and made to Haridwar by 1pm in that scorching sun. Managed to find a lodge. I have a day off the next day for my return ticket is for Thursday.

Had a bath once again in the river Ganga. Now, the lunch. Again I face the same question… how many people for lunch. Most of the hotels are reluctant to serve a single customer like me. One restaurant fellow even said, everything finished, rice, daal, sabji.. Just that tourist bus full came and finished all my groceries, I have to buy now, so, sorry, no lunch. It’s funny to see the expression of the owner’s face when he told me that. One tiny shop, in a small bye lane had some left over rescued me.

It’s not that entire Haridwar ran out of food that day. It’s just that neither patience nor energy I had to drive once again to find a hotel in that scorching heat especially after the drive.

Evening, obviously went for Ganga Aarti at Har ki Pauri. Nice walk for about two Kms or even more.


Haridwar a city interwoven with the river, Ganga.

The small lanes bought few things in those shops and soon it was time for aarti.


Aarti time. So much crowded. No mask again, nor was I wearing one though.

It was a nice feeling to watch Ganga Aarti in the evenings. Everywhere it gives us good feeling… Prayagraj, Varanasi, Guptkashi, now Haridwar.
Walked back to hotel with dinner on the way and off to bed.