Roopkund: A serendipitous journey… Part – II
Here comes the second part of our Roopkund Trek experience. The first post has been given earlier….
Our journey to Kathgodam, Uttarakhand was no less an adventure. We boarded the train from Delhi station which was 4 hours late. The train was totally packed and we managed to get our seats. The train started late and as usual got delayed on way too. We reached Kathgodam railway station at around 12:30 at the night!
The next day we reached Kathgodam Station where the cabs were waiting for us to take us to Lohajung, the base camp of Roopkund trek. Here we met some of our fellow trekkers with whom our bond became so strong during the trek! The journey towards Lohajung started through mountains and valleys. After 11 hours of long and arduous journey, we reached Lohajung at around 7:30 in the evening. Lohajung was at a height of 7600 ft. we were later briefed by one of our trek leads Manish and Salwat about the next 6 days ordeal. We were told that for the next 6 days, only physical strength will not be enough. Tremendous will power and mental strength was required to complete the trek.
“Fine, I have plenty of will power”, I thought and was raring to go. But I was obviously totally ignorant about what a 6 day long Himalayan trek was about! Not only did it require will power, but my mental strength had to be stretched to the fullest to complete the trek. But once it was done, I was never the same person again. On retrospection, I think it was here where the traveler in me was born and I was never a tourist again….
Day 1: Trek towards Didina – The Teaser of Roopkund Trek
The day started with the morning whistle by our trek leader Salwat. We were soon ready for our day’s journey. The trek started with mild walk along a rocky path and then gradually followed a jungle trail that descended downwards. We crossed an iron bridge called the Raun Bagad and soon heard the gurgling sound of water flowing. We finally caught sight of the clear waters of the Neel Ganga. It is the river in its purest form before it entered into the civilization. We filled up our water bottles from here, crossed the stream and started our trek further.
Next began our ascent towards Didina. Within 15 minutes I was totally out of breath, my legs were giving away and I simply felt that I could not walk any further. Indeed, will power was required to complete the ascent towards Didina. Well, ascent to Didina was just a teaser. More was yet to come.
We reached Didina village in the afternoon. We were welcomed by the villagers with red rhododendron juice. It was the most refreshing drink we had after such a tiring walk. The Pepsis and colas were nothing compared to the rhodo juice or the buransh juice as it is known in the local language.
Didina had a very beautiful home-stay. We had sumptuous lunch and then mingled with our fellow trekkers and the villagers. The team played dumb charades to digest the tiredness. The villagers here are so simple and innocent, unaffected by the external world. It was a tiring day for us and we were left with anticipation of what held for us the next day.
Day 2: Trek to Bedni Bugyal via Ali Bugyal – Roopkund Trek
This is said to be the toughest day of the trek. We started our uphill trek from the village leading gradually to a hillside. From here, the uphill trek was mostly through the forest. We were mostly out of breath because of gradual ascent. Our trek leader Salwat had to continuously motivate us during the stretch, and he did a marvelous job too. Because after what seemed like ages, we reached the Ali Bugyal.
We were totally mesmerized seeing the Bugyal. It is Asia’s largest meadows and we could see endless green around. At a height of 11360 ft, it provided a 360 degree view of all the mountain ranges. We could see the Trishul and the Nanda Ghunti peak clearly. Who can remain tired after seeing the beauty of nature in this way… our tiredness vanished in a moment. We were given packet lunch here which was called “running lunch” by Salwat. We literally ran around the green stretches soaking in as much as we can.
Mountains seem to have a mood of their own. Suddenly the sunny weather changed and clouds seemed to descend from nowhere. We then started our journey towards through the green meadows enjoying the nature and seeing the cattle grazing.
Trek to Bedni from Ali was about 5 km following both uphill and downhill paths. As we descended towards the Bedni Bugyal, we saw the tents that looked like colourful specks on green stretches.
We were all tired and ran towards our campsite at the earliest. We were assigned our tents here by Salwat. Each tent had 3 members, but fortunately, only we two were assigned in one tent. Very soon we were being called the lucky couple and our tent “the Honeymoon tent” !!!!
We had a cricket match at the Bedni Bugyal. This is probably cricket played at the highest height close to 13000 ft. The match was stopped by sudden rains and we all ran into our tents for shelter. In mountains, you can never predict about the weather.
Day 3: Bedni Bugyal to Bhagwabasa
We were lucky to see the first rays of sun over the Trishul and gradually the golden rays of sun spreading towards the Chaukhamba ranges. It was a spectacular sight.
The trek started as usual and our first stop for the day was the Bedni Kund. The water in the lake is crystal clear and the reflection of the mountain ranges could be clearly seen in it.
A steep ascent followed after that and we could see some traces of ice on the way. We reached Ghora Lotani after a walk of about an hour or so. This place is so called because horses do not go beyond this point. The grassy terrain abruptly changes here to rocky patches. Our next halt was Pathar Nachauni where we had our lunch. It is the point where Goddess Nanda Devi had created the crates at the feet of the dancers. The three craters were quite symmetrically placed.
Our uphill trek started again. I kept slogging behind as my legs just wouldn’t co-operate. It then became a test of my will power and determination. The stretch was narrow and rocky. It was a steep zigzag path towards our next destination Kalu Vinayak. The path seemed never ending, but our guides were telling us “just a little more and you will see the temple”. We kept on walking but the temple was nowhere in sight. And when the Flag of Kalu Vinayak temple was seen, it seemed like a oasis to us. It had already become chilly and we hurried towards Bhagwabasa which was the camp for the day. The camps at Bhagwabasa were the most difficult ones as they stood on bare rocks.
At Bhagwabasa, we met a very interesting person, Dinesh. He joined our team as special instructor for the summit. He had already done Roopkund Trek 84 times before!!! I think he has completed his century by now! The Trishul could be seen very clearly from our campsite. The Trishul was playing hide and seek with us through the clouds, and together with the starry moonlit skies, it had us spell bound.
The weather was also chilly. Nevertheless we were tired, and after a quick dinner retired to our tents.
That all for now… The next post will follow soon…. Waiting eagerly for your comments.