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Devbhoomi – Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand


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Posted on: Tuesday , Aug 30, 2011 At 08:12 AM

Madmaheshwar And Rudranath – Important Info For Trekkers


Among the Panch Kedar in Garhwal Himalayas, Kedarnath occupies the top position and is visited by almost all the visitors to Garhwal, by trekking 14 km from Gaurikund. The next in the pecking order would be Tungnth, a trek of 4 km starting from scenic place Chopta. Kalpeshwar, an easy walk of 2 km from village Urgam is not taken by many. However trekking lovers relish most, the trek to Madmaheshwar and Rudranath. Three and half days trek for each these destinations leaves one with varied experience, trekking in the height ranging from 6,000’ to 14,000’. Having recently visited these two destinations in May/June, an info blog will be useful for many who are contemplating to visit these places in future.

 

Madmaheshwar

 

1. Time to visit: Mid May to end September is the time to visit Madmaheshwar. Early summer means a lot of snow on the Himalayan peaks, good climate ( climate can abruptly change from sunshine to rain within minutes ). The July/August means a lot of wild flower decked valley, but plenty of rains as well. In September, the rain eases, but most of the Himalayan peaks will be barren of snow. The pick is yours. Personally I prefer early summer in Mid May/ Mid June.

 

2. Starting Point: The trek starts from Uniana about 20 km by road from Ukhiamth. The 3 km asphalt road between Uniana to Ranshi is under construction and may be available from 2012 early summer. In that scenario it is better to stay for the night at Ranshi before commencing the trek. Ranshi is an excellent destination with good amenities, excellent guest houses, restaurants etc.

 

3. The destinations on the way to Madmaheshwar:  Uniana – Ranshi – Gaundar – Bantoli  - Khatara Khal – Nanu Chatty – Kun Chatty – Madmaheshwar. This trek takes two full days, the night halt is generally at Bantoli.

 

 

4. The lodging enroute :  Kailash Lodge at Gaundar, Vishwa lodge at Bantoli, Temple Committee guest house at Madmaheshwar. The rates vary from Rs. 200/- to Rs. 400/- per day. Kailash lodge and Vishwas lodge offer attached bath. Temple committee guest house offers common toilet facilities.

 

5. The stuff one needs to carry: 

Footwear :  Trekking shoe or sports shoe or floater depending on one’s choice.  A raincoat or poncho or windcheater without lining during trek for protection against rain is necessary. Early mornings and evenings are very cold and one needs woolens. A torch light is a must, the source of power is solar, good enough for one lamp. No sleeping bag is necessary. The beddings are reasonably clean. If you are finicky about cleanliness, then can carry a sleeping bag as well.

 

6. On return trek from Madmaheshwar, one generally stays at Gaundar at Kailash lodge. There is another nameless and cheaper lodge at the same place.

 

7. The condition of trek route: Excellent broad trek route stone paved or mud track, right upto Madmaheshwar. Those who have done Kedar trek will be more happy because of none existence of ponies and palkis enroute. So the road is all yours.

 

8. Food enroute: Mostly vegetarian. At Ranshi bazaar one can have eggs. Even dhabas at Gaundar and Bantoli may offer eggs. The food otherwise is mostly rice, chapatti, dal and potato curry at other destinations.

 

9. Total trekking distance onward and return trek to Madmaheshwar :  36 kms. In three and a half days one can complete the same.

 

10. Generally guide is not necessary. Porters taking the bags will show the route. Even one without porter will be able to do it.

 

Rudranath

 

1. Time to visit: Mid May to End September is the time to visit. Early summer means a lot of snow on the Himalayan peaks, good climate ( climate can abruptly change from sunshine to rain within minutes ). The July/August means a lot of wild flower decked valley, but plenty of rain as well. In September, the rain eases out, but most of the Himalayan peaks will be barren of snow. The pick is yours. Personally I prefer early summer in Mid May/ Mid June time.

 

2. Starting Point : There are two starting points

a) Mandal about 20 – 25 km from Ukhimath.

b) Sagar 5 km from Mandal

 

a) Mandal to Rudranath trek route is almost continuous ascent with practically no amenities on the way in early summer. It is recommended only for hard core trekkers.

b) Sagar to Rudranth trek is not so difficult, with a combination of ascent in beginning and descent at the end. Amenities though not as good as on Madmaheshwar trek. Normal lay trekkers will prefer this route while on onward journey to Rudranth.

 

3. The destinations on the way to Rudranth :  Sagar – Pung Bhugyal – Liti Bhugyal – Panar Bhugyal -  Pitridhar – Panch Ganga – Rudranath. This will take two full days  

 

4. The return trek from Rudranth :

a) One can retrace the same path one has taken on onward trek from Sagar.

b) One can take a different route, which is mostly downward trek, Rudranth – panch Ganga – Naola Pass – Hamsa Bhugyal – Anusuya – Mandal.  This return trek, which ever route one selects, will take one and half days.

 

5. The lodging enroute : Chatty at Panar Bhugyal, Chatty at Rudranth. Lodge at Anusuya. Chatties at Panar and Rudranth are bare rooms sans any furniture, one solar powered lamp, straw spread on floor, no bath or water pipeline. Lodge at Anusya with beddings, and a common toilet, common bathroom, water pipeline on ground level. Cost Rs. 150/- to Rs 200/- per day including dinner. Anything more like breakfast will be extra.

 

6. The stuff one needs to carry:  Footwear :  Trekking shoe or sports shoe or floater depending on one’s choice.  A raincoat or poncho or windcheater without lining during trek for protection against rain is necessary. Early mornings and evenings are very cold and one needs woolens. A torch light is a must, the power is solar good enough for one lamp. Sleeping bag necessary. The beddings provided at chatties are not reasonably clean.  If you do not care then don’t carry a sleeping bag. At least I found it very useful.  

 

7. The condition of trek route: Every trekker will love it. All broad roads, stone paved or mud track, Return trek reaching Mandal is still better, walking on Bhugyal, grassy mud track most of the time.

 

8. Food enroute : Vegetarian food, rice, chapatti, dal, potato curry. If you are lucky, you might get a few vegetables like karela, dudhi at Rudranth chatty. It all depends on chattywalla.

 

 9. Total trekking distance onward and return : 36 km. Duration three and half days.

 

10. Guide or porters will be necessary if one does onward trek through Mandal – Rudranth route. But trek through Sagar to Rudranth, one can manage without guide. We had Sagar to Rudranth as onward trek; Rudranth to Mandal in return trek. We had two porter who served as guides as well.

 

11. Rudranath trek routes as following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on: Wednesday , Aug 24, 2011 At 11:43 AM

Rishikesh To Ukhimath – The Journey’s Worth In Uttarakhand


Rishikesh, the Gateway to Garhwal Himalyas, has been my destination since 1984, when I first ventured to visit the shrines of Kedarnath – Badrinath through a package tour conducted by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited.  The Rishilok at Muni-ki-reti, happens to be my most favourite overnight stay prior to undertaking the journey to the hills. The huge complex has many two storied structures, with large number of trees, manicured lawns, gardens with variety of flower beds and most importantly the peace and tranquility. What impresses me the most is that even after more than two decades, the place retains its original charm. Now all rooms are atleast air cooled, that is a huge relief during summer, when the Yatras to holy shrines starts to pick up. I had no hesitation to book an economy room at Rs. 600/- per night during my Madmaheshwar – Rudranth twin trek.

 

On 30th May of 2011, I woke up to the chirping of the birds and came out to the back yard which borders the forested area from the guest house boundary. Being situated on a small hillock, this place does not look any way a part of hustling and bustling Rishikesh town. A walk through the vast compound is nostalgic. In 1984, we were provided an ordinary  double room without any cooler or attached bath. In the morning we boarded the bus from the very place inside the compound across the central garden.  In 2007, we had our own private tour of Kedarnath, Badarinath and Tunganth and started our journey from the same place. We spent some time in the morning amidst the greenery and gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 29th May 2011, after getting ready to hit the road, we did not have to wait for long. Naginder, my transport organizer at Rishikesh did not fail to send the Maruti Alto which he promised with an experienced driver in Manjit Singh. While we were packing our luggages into the car boot, we were surrounded by some form of wild life, which has been proliferating with the jungle on the backyard of the complex. They were practically every where, jumping on the tall branches of Gul Mohar trees, walking over the balcony of the guest houses. The pair on top of gmvnl jeep caught my attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We do not know, whether being seen off by Langurs at the commencement of Yatra is a good omen! We had a final glimpse of the Rishilok gate as we come out of the complex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took leave of  Rishikesh town and hit the hills, with a glance at the flowing river Ganges and Laxman Jhula at a distance. The road runs parallel to the flowing river with an occasional raft bobbing on river water and cruising with excited rafters waving at us. We have a brief halt to pick up a few bottles of mineral water from road side dhaba after travelling for an hour. The singnages of rafting companies are plenty along this route with beautiful bunglows just on the edge of the river, covered in greenery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After another half an hour Manjit Singh announced that we are about to arrive at Shivpuri, a rafting enthusiasts' paradise and give us a photo shoot break. In my previous journeys along this route, never had the opportunity of having a break at this place. So, I was looking forward to it. After arriving at he spot, I realized what I had missed all these years.  From a vantage position, we watched the rafting camps full of tents, the furious Ganges flowing by the side. A group of early morning bathers took advantage of shallow bypassed stream of the river. A large number of cars parked, some people taking a stroll in early morning. It looked like a camp set up by a Circus company in big city like Mumbai. We Spent some time photo shooting and video capture, as we were not in undue hurry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another view of the Shivpuri Rafting Camp:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around 9 am we reached Kaudiyala yet another picturesque place on the bank of river Ganges and Rafters' paradise. This place has all the amenities right on the roadside. The GMVNL restaurant looked good, a log cabin nicely blending with the Scenic beauty of the place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But we had other ideas for our morning breakfast. The Monal restaurant opposite looked more charming and alluring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all my trip through this route, I invariably had my breakfast at Monal restaurant . There is a wide choice of food and beverages, the ambience is good, the service is prompt and what is fascinating is the restaurant has an unusual flooring. Actually there is no flooring, one walks on stone chips spread and all furnitures are placed on it.

 

A breakfast of bread and boiled eggs, washed down with a cup of coffee, we left the restaurant, crossed the street and took the steps going down the hill on the left hand side of GMVNL restaurant. We landed at a flat land of grassy surface and had a glimpse of the lovely row of cottages belonging to GMVNL. An ideal place to spend by the side of river amidst greenery and serenity, yet not so far from Rishikesh.

 

After a nice break we were back to the car and proceeded towards Deoprayg about 70 km from Rishikesh. Every time I passed by Deoprayag, we had a halt to take few frames. Time not permitting, we decided not to go upto the confluence point where the rivers Alaknanada and Bhagirathi merge together and move in unison and becomes Ganga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A close up view of the Deoprayag in the following frame:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Deoprayag, yet again we came across the rafting enthusiasts getting a thrill out of traversing the turbulent rapids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got another break at Rudraprayag, the confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. The colour difference of water of both the rivers is the most intense at this prayag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Rudraprayag, we took a lunch break and rushed to a dhaba amidst drizzle. We got a top view of the agricultural plots by the side of river was lush green and blessed with copious amount of water to nurture the growth of crop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some more travel and we reached at the exreme end of the Ukhimath dwelling in late afternoon. Rain had abated by now. The river Mandakini flowing between the hills could be seen standing on the edge of the road above the terraced fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We checked in at Bharat Sevashram Sangha for the night halt to begin our twin trek to Madmaheshwar and Rudranth the next morning.

 

The next blog will be on  Madmaheshwar and Rudranth – Important Info for trekkers

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Posted on: Thursday , Aug 11, 2011 At 10:22 AM

Karna Prayag – A Well Deserved Break In Garhwal Himalayas


A twin trek of Madmaheshwar and Rudranth in a space of eight days, does leave one yearning for a break just to recoup and laze away some time without doing anything. On 7.6.2011, after completing Rudranth trek and having a good brunch at Anusuya Lodge dhaba at Mandal, by late morning, we took to the roads in our hired Maruti Alto.

 

We passed by Sagar about 5 km from Mandal and another 5 km ahead saw us at Gopeshwar. After travelling 5 km from Gopeshwar along  Gopeshwar- Chamoli road, there was a diversion to Pokhri, going up the hill for another 60 km.  The rain which gave us some respite for last two days, once again caught up with us. The visibility on winding asphalt road was 40’, rest covered with haze and rain clouds all along the road and the gorge. The clouds floating so close to us is no doubt a treat to watch but  is a test for driving skills of the person on the wheel. Manjit Singh, was extra cautious and we were on seat edge.  We were looking forward to about a half a days lazy break at Pokhri about which some information was available in travel books and net. This place had some importance during British rule in India when they discovered this place as one of the finest hill stations in Garhwal.

 

We reached Pokhri around 1 pm amidst rain. The place on first look was hugely disappointing. It was no different from any other Uttarakhand hill town, but only much bigger and busier. We were looking for Bachan Home Stay as one of the possible locations to put up for the night, as per our information in net. No person with whom we inquired in this town seemed to have a clue about this place. We next tried to locate Red Hat Tourist Lodge, about which Sachin had picked up from some travel book. We located the place alright but it happened to be locked. Every body including the traffic cop advised us to travel another   29 km to Karna Prayag for the night stay. Meanwhile we located a seedy looking hotel, which we were told will have one room vacant around 2 pm. We had no option but take our lunch to pass some time at a restaurant which had some kind of mountain view. Sachin wanted vegetarian food and ordered samosas and sweets and Egg Chowmein for me. The manager heard my menu as Ek Chowmein and served a Veg Chowmein dish. After realizing his folly, he arranged an omlette to go with it, making it a new dish Omlette on Veg Chowmein! We were seated on top floor open space, with a shed above our head, overlooking hills, but nothing much could be seen though rain and fog.  After lunch, we located Manjit Singh and told him to drive us to Karna Prayag, through the rain, saying goodbye to Pokhri.  

 

The above happenings clearly showed that there is some phenomenon called as Himalayan destiny. We were clearly not destined to stay at Pokhri and Himalayas opened yet another door for us to peek through. Thus doing justice to my blog headlines, we were on way to Karna Prayag.  

 

Reaching Karna Prayag, once again we were looking for a place to stay. The GMVNL guest house was a good option. There was a room available in floor minus one, minus hot water as well. Since Sachin will have none of it, we crossed the bridge and went to the other side of the town and located a place right on hill face overlooking Karna Prayag confluence. In Hotel Shri Krishna Palace we got a room in floor minus two, a double room for Rs.1000/- per day.



























The room pleased us no end. It had all the amenities like hot water, good ambience, clean linen and what struck to us funny was existence of both Indian style and western style WC in the same enclosure.

 

It was drizzling continuously, but that did not prevent us from coming out of the room into the open space which overlooks the Karna Prayag in totality from end to end. Such a location of hotel may not be found in any other hotel in this town. We were fortunate to have left Pokhri behind us and come to this awesome place.  In the rain drenched landscape, the river looked all gray and menacing, flowing in between the hills from the distant end.


























The confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Pindar named as Karna Prayag shows in the following frame:

























The stepped ghat where puja is offered, with a temple on the up is in the next frame:





























The temple view on upper reaches of the hill opposite is in the next frame:


























The very longish canteen on ground floor of Hotel Shri Krishna Palace, overlooking the Karna Prayag, seated on chair, one gets a lovely view of the two swirling and gurgling rivers embracing each other. The sheer variety of food and beverages available in this restaurant is astounding. Near the reception counter two huge glass walled fridges held a variety of soft drinks, mineral water and lassi. The menu card listed all possible cuisines you will find in a multi-cuisine vegetarian restaurant in Delhi. There was ala carte menu, the fixed item wise thali menu, the South Indian delicacies like Idli, Dosa, Uttappa and what not? After a long while I tried something other than rice, roti, dal and curry. I ordered for Masala Dosa and to wash it down a glass of Lassi. Sachin went for his standard special thali. Needless to say the restaurant food did not disappoint us in taste and quantum. After dinner again it was packing time for the next day, our last in Garhwal Himalayas this year.

 

Next morning i.e. on 8.6.2011, we woke up and came out on the lawns across the railings overlooking the Karna Prayag. The rainless day but some what cloudy on upper atmosphere augured well for our long journey back to Haridwar. I came to ground zero at the canteen and found it not functioning with guys still sleeping. I came out of the hotel to look for a cup of tea in tea shop which had just opened. The shop fellow started the fire going for the day’s first batch of tea. I ordered for my cup of tea and sauntered to the bridge overlooking the river confluence.

























The hill top still had a lot of clouds and looked that it may rain any time.






















A tea and some biscuits to go with it, I gazed at the multi-storied Gita Bhavan Lodge opposite our hotel. That looked another decent accommodation at this place but I am not sure about the view it will offer. 

























Packing done, we started for a whole days journey to Haridwar. We had a breakfast halt at a decent looking hotel cum restaurant called Shangrila Resorts at Raintoli near Rudraprayag. A big group of tourists doing Char Dham Yatra from South India were staying here and their cook was preparing puri – bhaji breakfast right inside the compound. We entered the restaurant and ordered breakfast which was really good. The hotel looked very attractive from outside as well.

























Beyond Rudraprayag, it was not as smooth going. We came across a rock slide zone and found at least 50 vehicles and buses stranded on both sides of rock slide portion. A bull dozer was stationed to dump the rocks fallen on road on the gorge. We were in for a long haul, I thought. This was my first experience of watching rock slide actually happening in Garhwal hills, about which I read a lot. With nothing to do, I just kept my digicam and handycam busy to record the event.
























The rocks rolling down the brown barren portion of hill was almost continuous. There was an occasional pause of 5-10 seconds. After nearly half an hour there was a longer pause of few minutes and the cops allowed a few cars to pass through. Even then one had to trust one’s luck while passing through the danger zone so that the rocks do not dent the car body or do not break the vehicle glass and injure the passengers. Once again the rock slide resuming, people were just lazying on the road. By the time our vehicle passed through, it was more than an hour long forced break for us. Uttarakhand has many such spots were there is a signage of ‘Rock Slide Zone’. One has to keep an eye on the hill top to see any tale-tell sign of rocks falling.

 

The journey ahead upto Haridwar via Deoprayag, Kudiala, Shivpuri, was uneventful more so because we were not much in mood to take any halts, except for an occasional cup of tea. The journey along the same route while on forward journey was really charming.

 

The next blog will be on Rishikesh to Ukhimath – the journey’s worth in Uttarakhand

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