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Travel: A Trek to Heaven- Kedartal in Uttarakhand

We started our dream trek to Kedartal with a guide and four porters the next morning. It was a beautiful day. A gentle breeze was
Trek to Kedartal
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Uttarakhand is blessed with numerous tourist spots. Among them Kedartal (15306 ft) is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It’s the base camp of mount Thalaysagar (22651 ft) and Jogin (21210 ft) peak. At the footstep of mighty Thalaysagar there is a picturesque blueish green lake surrounded by snow peaks; this lake is called Kedartal. ‘Tal’ in the local language means lake. The Kedar Ganga river originates from this heavenly Tal.Then it goes down the mountains and merges with holy Bhagirathi river that originates from Gomukh, near Gangotri and steps down to Devprayag with the name Bhagirathi.There this stream meets river Alokananda and goes by the name Ganga– one of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology.

Our team headed for Kedartal

Kedartal trek was my dream for many years. Finally we decided to go there on a scorching hot afternoon in June last year. Reaching Haridwar by train we booked a car for Gangotri and there we checked in at the GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) Tourist lodge near Suryakunda. The next day was spent to manage necessities like porters, guide, cook, utensils, tent, sleeping bags, carry mattress etc. We started our dream trek to Kedartal with a guide and four porters the next morning. It was a beautiful day. A gentle breeze was blowing around. A Pine, birch, bhuj cladded road greeted us with a smiley face. But our trek route was too steep and tough to begin with. At first we were apprehensive about whether we could reach our destination. But the beauty of the landscape all around was so tremendous that we were mesmerised by the magical touch of nature and regained our confidence. 

First stop- Bhuj Kharak

Both the difficult trek route and the beauty of nature kept us in a very slow motion mode but we were enjoying our journey. Gradually Gangotri went out of sight and we noticed the confluence of Kedar Ganga and Bhagirathi river down our way and continued our trek towards upstream of river Kedar Ganga. After negotiating through a slippery ice patch, our first day trek ended at Bhuj Kharak (12550 ft) 8 km from Gangotri. Porters pitched our tent on a slope amidst the dense forest of Bhuj trees. An odd looking unnamed snow peak was staring at us. Our porters started to cook. We were too tired to help them or move around, so we took a short nap inside the tent. Lunch was very delicious with khichdi, french fries and papad. The day ended with the music of singing birds and a gorgeous colourful sky ablaze by the setting sun.

We pitched our tents at Kedar Kharak on day 2.

Next morning we started our trek early. It was a beautiful sunny morning with a clear blue sky. The route was comparatively easier and soothing today. Walking a kilometre or so, we met with Thaysagar and Bhrigupanth for the first time. We were going through a beautiful green valley covered with colourful alpine flowers. Kedar Ganga was flowing beside us. At the end of the valley we came across the deadly Gilapahar. It was a barren mountain with loosely laden boulders and stones. They were continuously coming down the path by the force of wind and by the movement of himalayan gorals. We traversed this one km path very cautiously holding our breath, nervousness and anxiety. Then came a great relief. We reached the day’s destination– Kedar Kharak (14250ft), a bright, beautiful lush green valley covered with colourful flowers. It is surrounded by a number of snowclad mountains like Thalaysagar, Bhrigupanth, Jogin1, Jogin 2, Jogin 3, Patangini and its glaciers. We were stunned and mesmerised by the serene beauty of Kedar Kharak and a sense of contentment took over. Suddenly a soft tune of music forced us to return to reality, and we were surprised to find our porter Bikkhbahdur dancing and singing with joy! What a marvellous ambience! Slowly twilight fades away with this rhythmic tune and darkness covers the whole Kedar Kharak. Vigorous cold wave started to reign the entire valley, forcing us to enter our tents early.

Crossing the treachorous Gilapahar.

Waking up early at dawn I came out of our tent. It was still dark and a full moon adorned the sky. The whole valley along with Thalaysagar, Bhrigupanth and Jogin peaks were totally drenched in blue moonlight as the cold breeze was singing the song of silence. Gradually darkness bids goodbye to the rising sun and the day begins by colouring the mountain peaks red, orange, yellow and finally a glittery silver. We started for our final destination as the day set in.

Progressing around a kilometre we crossed the narrow stream of Kedar Ganga, and entered into the glacial zone. Now we were totally surrounded by the snowclad mountain peaks like Thalaysagar, Bhrigupanth, Jogin etc. Greenish blue glacial ponds were sleeping on the lap of glaciers.There was no defined route here. The only direction was to keep our eyes on Thalaysagar and Bhrigupanth and proceed.

On our way to Kedartal

After a short climb over a glacier ridge we could see the Kedartal. We were spellbound by the spectacular sight. A blueish green lake smiled at us from the foothill of Thalaysagar and Bhrigupanth. Number of small ice slabs were floating around over the rippling Tal that mirrored the mighty Thalaysagar. Astonished by this heavenly beauty, I remembered the ‘Ode To A Nightingale’ by John Keats:

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades

Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

Kedartal Photo Album

Images used in this article are by the author.

Dr. Arpan Roy Chowdhury is a doctor by profession but traveller by nature. His passion is photography and wrtting travelogues. His travelogues are published by several popular Bengali magazines of West Bengal, India. He is a member of Travel Writer’s Forum- An apex body of travel writers.

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