Kedarnath- An Experience of a Lifetime!!!
How to reach?
To know more, please give this blog a read!!
Year 1 of MBA?
Internship after Year 1?
Now was the time to go back to PG, grab a quick dinner and rush to
Kempegowda airport of Bengaluru. While all my MBA folks were
returning home after a hectic internship of two months, I was off on
a family trip to Kedarnath- one of the holy Char Dhams. Our
itinerary started off with me reaching Delhi from Bangalore while my
parents and my uncle would reach Delhi from Durgapur, West
Bengal. Yes! My small town now boasts of an airport.
It was the last day of May. My flight to Delhi was scheduled for
departure at 1:30 AM and I reached Delhi around 4 AM. My parents
and my uncle were to reach Delhi at 10AM. I should have been
sleepy but the thoughts of meeting my family after six months and
also of the trip kept me wide awake. My parents landed almost at
11AM and hurray!! How happy I was to meet them. We had already
booked a car from Delhi airport to Haridwar (through Makemytrip
app, cost- around 2000 for Swift Dzire) since that would be the first destination of our trip. As soon as the car arrived, we hopped into it
and finally our trip began.
Delhi to Haridwar (220 kilometres)
It was about 40 ° C. My mother had got me my favourite macher
jhol (fish curry) and rice (Yes!! I am a Bengali). I had a hearty meal
and went off to sleep. We stopped only for lunch at Shiva Tourist
dhaba, one of the best dhaba chains on this highway (from Delhi to
Rishikesh) and had rajkachouri, a spicy deep-fried delicious snack.
Have a look!
Halt at Haridwar
We reached Haridwar at around 5 PM in the evening. This was my
third trip to this place. We had booked two rooms at Hotel Shiv
Vishram Grah (Deluxe AC room- INR 1500/- each. Also, we had
stayed here on our previous trip too)- a decent guest house (though
they do not offer food) quite near to the famous Har Ki Pauri Ghat.
The city had become very congested now and more so since it was
the tourist season. We freshened up and went to the Ghat for Aarti
Darshan which happens around 6pm every day. The cool breeze,
flowing waters of river Ganga, lamp lights, bell sounds and the song
“Om Jai Jagdish” being played in the background makes it a divine
experience. Here is a glimpse!
Once it was done, we had our dinner at one of the many Dada
Boudir hotels (P.S.- each of them claims to be the original one)
which boast of authentic Bengali food (rice, ghee, dal, aloo bhaja,
begun bhaja, chutney), and headed back to our hotel. The next day
would be a long day.
Haridwar to Gaurikund? (264 kilometres)
The above question mark is not a typing error. Read to know more!
The next day we woke up early, got ready and went to one of the
many travel agencies which we had found on the internet and had
made our booking in advance. We got a Swift Dzire for the entire
trip of about 12 days (Kedarnath, Chopta, Auli and Badrinath and
costed around Rs. 16,000 altogether). The car arrived at 9 AM.
There are two ways to reach Kedarnath from Haridwar. The first is
the traditional and cheaper way where one needs to reach Sonprayag (260kms from Haridwar), take a shuttle from Sonprayag to Gaurikund (4 kilometres. Rs.40 each via shuttle which is the only mode of transport here) and from Gaurikund, one needs to trek for 16kms to reach Kedarnath. The second route which is a bit expensive is to reach Guptkashi and take a helicopter ride from Guptkashi to Kedarnath (around Rs. 3000 each and can only be booked online). We would take the former route of Sonprayag-
Haridwar to Gaurikund takes you through the towns of Rishikesh,
Devprayag, Rudraprayag and Sonprayag. Out of these, you must halt at Devprayag (90 km from Haridwar) to see the beautiful confluence of rivers Bhagirathi and Alakananda which together form the holy Ganga.
It is advisable not to plan Char Dham trip on weekend and in the
first week of June. The reason being it is around the time when the
Char Dham yatra just starts operating for visitors and hence is very
crowded. There are traffic jams and queues at every routes and
places in and around Char Dham which results in 3-4 hours delay at
every place you want to go.
Here is a glimpse of the same.
Because of the peak tourist season, there are many non- descript eateries throughout the route and hence you could stop any such place for lunch. All of these serve vegetarian dishes. We stopped at one such place, had our lunch of chole bhature and resumed our journey.
In the evening it started raining heavily. Also, there had been a lot of traffic since the beginning of our journey because of which we were already quite late. It began to get dark and we had to halt at a hotel in Guptkashi since it was past 10 pm and not possible to reach Gaurikund. Now you know the reason behind the question mark on the caption.
Sonprayag to Kedarnath
Next morning, we started for Sonprayag at 6am.While one easily gets a shuttle to Gaurikund from Sonprayag, which is just 4kms, once again the peak tourist season made the journey more tiring. There was a long queue for the shuttle.
We had to wait for about three hours in the queue before we got a shuttle and reached Gaurikund around 1 pm.
Next came the next tedious task of hiring a horse/ mule. There was a huge commotion and confusion due to so many tourists, horses and horsemen all around but we finally managed to hire four horses for the four of us (Rs 5000 each; rates would drastically vary from Rs.1500 to Rs. 10,000 depending on the season and the time of the day when you begin your trek) from the ticket counter and thus began our 16km trek to Kedarnath around 2pm.
There are pitthus (a porter carrying you on a basket on his back) and also palkis where you are carried by four people. Also, many people just walk though it’s not very advisable.
We were already quite exhausted but after a while the cool mountain air around us rejuvenated us. The horse ride through the narrow-cobbled lane, lush green meadows all around with waterfalls and river bridges, people chanting “Jai Kedar!!” makes the journey absolutely blissful. The helicopter ride is easier but yes! one would miss this experience.
There were many semi frozen waterfalls where the ground is very slippery and hence the horses trembled and many panicked.
Also, you should be careful to follow the instructions of the horsemen. Many do not care with the result that many fell from the horse. Throughout this trek, there are traces of human habitation which got destroyed due to the floods in 2013.
We had our lunch of super-hot Maggi at Jungle Chatti (also horses have their lunch), evening pakora at another mall restaurant (where it started snowing) and reached Kedarnath (11,000 feet above sea level) around 6pm. The journey is tedious and sure to give you backaches but the snow-capped Himalayas will not let you complain.
We had made our bookings at GMVN Tourist Lodge (cheap tariff) which is the hotel nearest to the temple. It is advisable to make your bookings in advance since after the Kedarnath tragedy, there are very few places to stay.
We checked in, freshened up and since dinner (simple but delicious veg thali) was served at 8pm, we decided to have it and then pay a visit to the temple.
Stay at Kedarnath Dham
It was around 9pm when we reached the temple. The temple, a stone edifice, is one of the twelve jyotirlingas in India and believed to be 1200 years old. Inside the temple is the ancient deity of Lord Shiva. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and mythological scenes. During winter, the deity is carried to a village in Ukhimat and again brought back in summer. The temple closes at 9:30pm.
Although I had plans of waking up early on the next day but too much tiredness and the cold weather prevented me from doing so.
Besides, my parents who woke up early and went to the temple met one of my school friends (Meghna) who surprisingly also happened to visit Kedarnath on the same day. I woke up around 7:30 AM, got ready and rushed to the temple. I was amazed to see in broad daylight how the entire temple is built of extremely large and heavy grey slabs of stone which were strong enough to withhold the 2013 floods.
Outside the temple is the large “Nandi” bull statue which is also built
of the same stone as that of the temple.
By the time we came out, it was past nine o’ clock and now there was a long queue to enter the temple. We had our breakfast of puri, sabji and tea and started our 16km journey back to Gaurikund on horse ride. The return trip should better be on helicopter which drops you to Guptkashi directly and saves you a lot of time. Also, the downward trek on horse ride is more tiring than upward.
Anyways, we reached Gaurikund at 3pm and started off for Chopta of which I will speak in another blog maybe.
Thank you, reader. Hope my blog could be of some help in planning your trip to Kedarnath. Yes, finally that’s me penning down my Kedarnath tour.
Hope you liked it. Leave your comments if you have any queries and I will be happy to answer them.