Tale of a journey - Rudranath

m_batabyal

Active Member
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

At 4:45 AM the bus is almost full. We managed to get 3 seats, separated from each other. Few passengers are sleeping. In some seats, the luggage is waiting for the owner to come back, after a glass of tea. The temperature is somewhat soothing. Not bordering any extremes. With 45 minutes to leave, the passengers engage in chit chat. Its been ages for me having heard such unadulterated Hindi. Use of English is at minimum, almost tending to none. Urdu words that city dwellers use so effortlessly are not spoken in this hinterland. It’s pure Hindi is what people speak. As we come to seek purification of our soul, it is expected of us too. Something that we may have learned in our school days, but hardly practice anymore. I had to put some effort to resurrect the old self in me, to cope with this changing demographic and linguistic landscape. Still coming to terms with my own self in this path of resurrection, I realized, with a little bit of effort and searching in my head for the right word, I too can speak the same language, with same purity. Thank god, it's not lost. Only buried deep within, left to be practised in this Dev Bhumi.

The gentleman seating in front of me in the middle seat works for a hydropower project and is posted at Pipalkoti. He has visited Badrinath 8 times so far and plans to visit again next month. Allahabad is his hometown and that’s where he is coming from, after having spent a few days with family. The Swamiji seated in the window seat, across the aisle was instrumental in soliciting this information from the gentleman. Of course, the gentleman extracted his share of information from the Swamiji. He was coming from Varanasi, belonged to a religious sect who has a dharmasala in Joshimath. He was going with his 3 chelas to clean the dharmashala, as the char dham yatra was about to start. My son was seated next to the Swamiji. He kept engaging my son with riddles and small talk during the course of our journey. Obviously, by now half of the passengers on the bus were aware of our plan to visit Rudranath. That my son is 10 years old and that he is going to do this arduous trek, for the first time. Opinions kept pouring in on how it should be done or rather it should not be done by a child of his age. And of course the suggestion for alternatives, like going to Kedarnath by Helicopter or visiting Auli, etc.

The sun was out from its slumber. The customary honking by the bus driver started at 5:30 am, signalling the start of the journey. Within the next 2-3 minutes, all the seats were taken and we were off to Joshimath. Morning chill filled the bus, notwithstanding that 3rd May is in the thick of summer. Rishikesh gets very hot in this month, though it is in the Himalayan foothills.

It wasn’t long and we were out of Rishikesh town. Road widening work is in full swing in large parts of Uttarakhand. There are boards to tell that its part of the Char Dham highway. The entire stretch of the highway was very dusty due to the construction work. Needless to say, it slowed down the pace. Till the completion of the highway, biking in these routes is better avoided.
Link Courtesy: Wikipedia

Enjoy the pictures, in the mean while...


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m_batabyal

Active Member
Place, Plan, People

Rudranath is one of the highly revered temples of Lord Shiva in the state of Uttarakhand. Its part of the Panch Kedar temples and comes either 2nd or 4th in the sequence of the trek that one does, if covering all of the five Kedars as part of a single trek program. Out of the five temples, four are reached by foot and are closed in the winter. Kalpeshwar is the exception. It is having motorable road till the temple and is open all year.

A map depicting all the five temples of the Panch Kedar circuit.
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Trek to the Rudranath temple is the most difficult in the Panch Kedar circuit. One has to walk a distance of 20 to 36 KM depending on the route taken, to reach the temple. The elevation gain is around 6000 meters in the course of the trek with some river crossings on the way. And finally losing all that 6000 meters to reach the temple. It takes you through some of the most beautiful bugyals (meadows) and breathtaking panoramic view of the snow-clad peaks. Encounters with wildlife is a possibility.

The plan in the drawing board looked something like this.

Day 1: Reach Urgam Valley
Day 2: Soak in the beauty of Urgam Valley
Day 3: Urgam to Dumak – 18 KM trek
Day 4: Dumak to Pannar – 12 KM trek
Day 5: Pannar to Rudranath to Panch Ganga – 9 KM trek
Day 6: Panch Ganga to Anusuya Devi Temple to Mandal – 16KM trek

We followed this plan, but not quite. Man proposes God disposes of. In Devbhumi nothing happens without the nod of the lord.
The trail that we took, passes through thickly forested areas. Most of the trail is marked, in some unmarked portions, there are chances of getting lost. Getting a reliable guide is of utmost importance. Through an online search, I stumbled upon the contact of our guide, Srinand Mamgai – 070555 27845.

Our Guide, Srinand Mamgai
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He has been a godsend for us. Highly experienced in this area for Panchkedar trek and also for treks in and around Joshimath / Badrinath area. He knows many alternate routes for the popular and lesser-known treks. A very well-known and respected face in this circuit. His care for us and particularly for my son had us overwhelmed. Through this journey with me, you will come to know of his kind nature and many qualities.
 
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Pardeep Dhounchak

जाट देवता ने कहा है : घुमक्कड़ी किस्मत से मिलती है
Wah!!!!!!!!
Stunning start with gr8 galary
 

m_batabyal

Active Member
Day 1: Rishikesh to Panchdhara – A Village in Urgam Valley

A ticket of Rs 430/- and 7 hours of your time will take you to a small hamlet of a few shops a hotel and a couple of houses, Helang. Helang is on the road to Joshimath and comes about 30 minutes after Pipalkoti. We got down from the bus in front of Hotel Inder Palace.

The road beside the hotel goes to Urgam.
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There are sumo services from Joshimath to Urgam. We got down at 2:30 PM at Helang. All the vehicles plying in this route are from the Urgam valley. The villagers after having completed their day in Joshimath take these vehicles back to villages. We had to wait for a vehicle to come our way, in its return journey. Our guide had informed one of the vehicle drivers to keep 3 seats free for us, to be picked from Helang. After restless waiting, the vehicle came at 4:30 PM, a good 2 hours after we got down from the bus.

There were 2 ladies in the front seats. We occupied the middle. And LPG cylinders the last. It was our time to start the chit chat with the driver and the ladies. To know the life of the locals, to know more of the road we were driving on, to talk about the weather condition and the nearest market Joshimath. It took just more than an hour to reach Urgam valley driving this 12 KM.

The road reminded me of the Himachali roads that I had driven in 2014. Actually non-existent, where you can count all the 206 bones in your body, as all of them gets shaken to the core. It passes through forests and after sunset can be quite a task to drive on this road.

Our guide had joined us, as we entered the Urgam valley, to take us to the Kalpeshwar temple. First, it was the turn of the ladies to get down, as their house approached. They invited us to their house and wanted us to visit them on our return from the Kalpeshwar temple. Then, it was the turn of the LPG cylinders, as a makeshift roadside restaurant appeared on the way to the temple. Finally, it was our turn to get down at the end of the valley where the mountains meet. We had reached the Kapleshwar temple. 6 PM by our watch.

To reach the temple, we had to cross a suspension bridge. This is the new suspension bridge which was commissioned last year.
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The original bridge was damaged during the deluge of 2013 that devasted the Kedarnath shrine. We were the only souls. The roar of waterfall was the only sound we heard, in this otherwise peaceful setting.

Three sadhus were staying in small rooms in the temple premises. We struck a conversation with two of them, who were staying together in that room. One of them have been staying there for the last 25 – 30 years and has seen it all. He was telling how people had to walk from Helang all the way to the Kalpeswar temple, without any facilities on the way and in the temple. There was nothing, other than the cave where the deity was worshipped. People used to overlook the cave and move on till the next village, only to be told that they had left the temple behind by 3 – 4 KM. “Those were the days”, the nostalgic phrase made us visualize the conditions faced by the early pilgrims.

The entry to the temple
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We came out of the temple at 6:30 PM. It had been a very long day. It was time to go to our guide Mr. Srinand Mamgai’s house. Our home for two days.

The evening view from our stay.
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