Tag Archives: Badrinath

The road before the road to heaven…

One of the most amazing places you would come across in the North Western Himalayas and the Indo-Tibet Border. Vasudhara falls is a short but amazingly quiet and serene trek before you actually touch the route to heaven or (Swarga Rohini) as it’s popularly known from the legend of the Mahabharata, where Yudhishthira and his four brothers along with a  dog trekked the mountains in a bid to reach the gates of heaven, with only the eldest of the Pandava making it up there.

Your trek begins when you start walking across the last Indian village at the Indo-Tibet border across the village called Mana. The most beautiful part about this journey is the diverse experience of various landscapes and finally ending up with a beautiful snow capped mountain around a fallen glacier and some cold, really cold water trying to seep through it and at the same time provide some really fresh perspective to your journey. All you need to do is engulf the experience, sink it in and forget whatever you have in your mind and just walk along…

As you start the journey, with it’s peaceful and most enchanting trail, you’ll slowly unravel a different experience, much less one without much adventure, yet the serenity that’ll give you a sense of jostling breath, one that will make you believe in all the fantasies of nature that you’d have ever thought of. The terrain with geographic diversities with a bit of lush greenery, some water flowing by, and some ice or glacier that you’ll encounter makes for an experience that you shall relish of course.

Uttarakhand, Badrinath, Mana, Himalayas, Vasudhara falls

Clouds beside the rocky terrain

Uttarakhand, Badrinath, Mana, Himalayas, Vasudhara falls

Amazing Landscapes along Mana Village

Uttarakhand, Badrinath, Mana, Himalayas, Vasudhara falls

Some more beauty trail across Mana Village

Uttarakhand, Himalayas, Mana, Vasudhara Falls, Badrinath

Cloud engulfing snow capped mountains

Uttarakhand, Himalayas, Mana, Vasudhara Falls, Badrinath

It gets misty in the middle of the trail…

Uttarakhand, Himalayas, Mana, Vasudhara Falls, Badrinath

The Last tea shop on Indo-Tibet border

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Uttarakhand, Mana, Glacier, Vasudhara falls, Himalayas, Badrinath

Snakelike curves of the river following us on our route

Uttarakhand, Glacier, Himalaya, Badrinath, Swarg Rohini, Mountains, Mana village

The glacier formation at the foothills of Vasudhara falls

Uttarakhand, Mana, Glacier, Vasudhara falls, Himalayas, Badrinath

View from inside the glacier at the foothills of Vasudhara

Uttarakhand, Mana, Glacier, Vasudhara falls, Himalayas, Badrinath

The Vasudhara Falls

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To the people of Uttarakhand

A couple of years ago, my travel trails took me here…

Rudraprayag

Rudraprayag

Badrinath

Badrinath

Near Badrinath

Astounded with the beauty of the mountains, coupled by the flowing multiple confluences  of the river Ganga along with other rivers such as Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Pindar this place has an aspiring sense of tranquility and most serene and yet roaring its guts out to engulf you into its madness. Every bit of the road that we traveled back then from Rishikesh to Joshimath to Govindghat to Ghagaria and later on towards Badrinath, we remember being surrounded by the mighty confluences and the flowing water all along. The gutso this river shows as it emerges from the Vishnu Prayag on the Alaknanda river covers a major part of Uttarakhand. We were of course during our journey told that there will be times when we might be in the midst of landslides and we will have all that is needed with the help of the Indian Army / BRO who keep a close watch on such landslides. In fact, there were a couple of occasions when we were stuck and had to make our way walking across the mountains and board another bus to move forward. Another occasion I distinctly remember is our bus swaying while the landslide commenced and narrowly escaping while I could see some rocks and smaller boulders fall down upon the mountains.

Landslide Landslide 2

Today when I look at all the devastation in the NEWS channels and all across the newspapers, my heart goes out to the people, who’re stranded, lived or who passed away in this enormous region of Uttarakhand! They live there knowing this is certain for sure and this is something they won’t be easily able to escape, come the time of such a natural calamity. Yet, to these people and their villages, they have no other way out.  Truly there are very few words to describe this wrath of nature that has happened. As much as possible, we can try to salvage the fact that the brave Indian Army and relief workers are trying their best to help folks out there. To many sitting on their couches or inside the comforts of their homes, it would be a trivial endeavor and of course many could just pray for the situation to be handled to its best. While some of us of course would try to help out in whatever way they could as we sit here and watch the devastation in horror.

 

Rishikesh

Reminds, me of how, such beauty that I encountered was always and will always be at the disposal of a world, a world that keeps deteriorating time and again all because of human need and that’s where nature decides  to give it back. It’s very sad, but us humans need to understand that this is just the beginning. Unless we strive towards making a better earth or a better planet this is going to keep on continuing.

Words fail me in that endeavor but as I sit here in front of my laptop, helpless to do much, I tell myself only this… Look for a better tomorrow, for the nature around you is just an encompassing mirror of what you do and how you show your beliefs, for it can come back real hard and bite you where it hurts the most…

P.S: If you want to contribute towards relief efforts of Uttarakhand, check out http://goonj.org/  Something I looked up and went ahead and contributed too. You can donate, food, clothes or if not, you can donate any sum of money if you’d like. The least you can do to help relief, rehabilitation ‘To the people of Uttarakhand.’

Spiritual Badrinath – Uttarakhand Chronicles

One of the last legs of our Uttarakhand Chronicles was our trip to Badrinath. After a rigorous trek to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Saheb, we were definitely overworked and the trekking had taken a toll on our feet and totally exhausted. Amongst that exhaustion, this visit to Badrinath, by a bus was a life saver.

We were almost nearing Hanuman Chatta. Yes, the traditional and very famous temple of Lord Hanuman… This has a historical significance to it  from the Mahabharta, where Lord Hanuman tested Bhim of the Pandavas fame. Yes, this the place where this story took place. Bhim was crossing the forest when he saw an old ape sleeping in the way and his tail was crossing his path.

The then arrogant Bhim asked the ape to move away the tail. To which the ape replied that he’s too weak to move it and why doesn’t he move it himself. Getting irritated, he tried to move the tail with his mace. He kept trying and trying, real hard, with all his might that he could use, but to no avail… That is when he realised that the ape was no one but Lord Hanuman! Only then did he admit his mistake and realized the importance of humility and how that is significant in a warrior’s life.

And as luck would have it… Lord Hanuman, decided to test us too. I wonder if he disguised himself as modern day Mr. Murphy?

What happened was that we encountered a landslide during our route to Badrinath and our bus was stalled for over an hour. We were waiting for the BRO (Border Roads Organization) to clear the landslide.  Hence I guess it was time to pray to the Lord and make our own way towards Badrinath! For God helps them, those who help themselves… So cliched, yet so, true isn’t it?

So, being the trekkers we were, we decided to walk it up past the landslide affected area and then we could get another bus, one that was arranged by YHAI to come from the other side to take us towards Badrinath. And after a brisk walk and a shorter detour via hilly terrain and some teamwork, we managed to reach the other side of the landslide affected area. From then on it was smooth sailing.

We reached Badrinath late at night and crashed into our respective beds. The next day was going to be a relaxed one, where no more incessant walking or trekking in terrains of toughness. And what we got was one of the most comfortable night’s sleep in quite a while.

The next day was a little bit of shopping in the city and of course, visit to the Holy Temple of Badrinath. Quite a relaxed day to a relaxed weather and setting.

Hanuman Chatta Temple

Hanuman Chatta Temple

Lord Hanuman inside the temple..

Lord Hanuman inside the temple..

The Landslide...

The Landslide...

Beautiful Waterfall View from our Room

Beautiful Waterfall View from our Room

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple

Joys in Joshimath – Uttarakhand Chronicles

Joshimath in Uttarakhand was our first basecamp, in the Himalayas… This is one of the most amazing places where you can actually start getting immersed in the white clouds and snow peaked mountains that surround the Himalayas. Very close to Western Himalayas, Joshimath is a hub if you want to enter Auli of the Kumaon Himalayan region, go to Badrinath or for that matter reach towards Govindghat. (starting point to go to Ghagariya ghat, which is the village where people  usually stay during their visits to Valley of Flowers or Hemkund Saheb.)

Our journey to reach Joshimath crossed about 250 kms via mini bus. Now the journey towards Joshimath if you start early in the morning from Rishikesh, is certainly one that is enchanting and of course filled with a constant gaze to the confluences of the river Ganga with other rivers. Every where you go while your bus is doing the hairpin bends, you are bound to see the confluence of River Alaknanda with Bhagirathi and you will definitely get to go through Dev Prayag and Rudra Prayag. One of the two prayags (Confluences) before you reach Joshimath.

Confluence of Alaknanda & Bhagirathi enroute Joshimath

Confluence of Alaknanda & Bhagirathi enroute Joshimath

What is most exciting is the beautiful weather and the peaceful roads will start giving you an enchanting sense of belongingness towards what you would want your Himalayan trek to start off with. Plenty of occasions where you might just drop your jaws with serene and scenic beauty of huge cliffs and mountains in the Uttarakhand region, not just one or two, but stretches of it. That’s something that made the journey all the more exciting.

Beauty of the cliffs & Mountains...

Beauty of the cliffs & Mountains...

Cloud Covered Mountains

Cloud Covered Mountains

After a gruelling 8-9 hours of a bus ride, full of hairpin bends, your entry in Joshimath is one that shall certainly refresh you.

Hairpin Bend Road

Hairpin Bend Road

Waterfalls at the entrance of Joshimath is one of the pit-stops that you have to take before you get into the buzz of the small town of Joshimath. Even as you do that, you will feel the weather change, much different from Rishikesh’s humid texture to a colder ad more fresh air of the Kumaon Himalayan region.

Waterfalls at the entrance of Joshimath

Waterfalls at the entrance of Joshimath

Jyotirmath is the uttarāmnāya matha or northern monastery, one of the four cardinal institutions established by Adi Shankara, the others being those at Shringeri, Puri and Dwaraka. Their heads are titled “Shankaracharya”. According to the tradition initiated by Adi Shankara, this matha is in charge of the Atharvaveda.
Jyotirmath Lord Narasimhar Temple

Once you reach Joshimath, besides getting acclimatized to the weather, one of the things you would want to do is to check out two things.

1. Shankracharya Math (One of the 4 maths in the world) – It also has the Rudraksha tree, which is simply enchanting.

2. Narsimha Temple (Also known as Bhavishya Badrinath Temple) Legend has it that once the Badrinath temple in the future is destroyed, it would be placed here. In fact even now, during the winter, people move the Lord Badrinath shrine here and is worshipped religiously here.

Narsimha Temple

Narsimha Temple

This palce is a certain pitstop if you go towards Auli, Tapovan or anywhere in the Western Himalayan regions of Uttarakhand. Something you’ll cherish deeply.

Valley of Flowers – Yet another SriniOnTour…

Valley of Flowers - Backpacking Begins...
Valley of Flowers – Backpacking Begins…

So, I’m all set with my backpack  and with a lot of hopes from this trip. This journey has long been on my bucket list and I’ve been working quite hard to make it happen. Finally, this is part of my first ventures as a part time travel writer, and beginning my career into a whole new dimension. Yes, there are a lot of ifs and buts still, as far as my whole plan goes, but that’s the best part about it…

As far as this trip is concerned… I’m sure there isn’t any doubt, that this is going to be another #SriniOnTour that will rock. This time around, I may not be able to blog on the go, due to connectivity and rains, I’ve decided to  avoid carrying my laptop… besides my backpack is already about 10 kgs… which we would carry all the way up to the West Himalayas. So I’ve decided, I’d upload a lot of photos on twitter and facebook and showcase my journey as a live photo-blog.

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

Also joining me on this trip are a some of my close friends with whom i regularly go on trips/treks.. Swapnil, his wife, Mangesh and his friend…

From the twitterverse, my new found friends @irohan and @_vishalg would be part of this trip.

This journey is also inspired by my conversation time and again with Chris Collins – (http://nicolaskumar.com/) Author of (Valley of Flowers)  – Chris, thanks for all your advice and help… As soon as I’m back from this trip, the first thing on the agenda is to get the book and read it… That way, I’d be able to relate to everything in it much better. 🙂

So here’s the plan (Some details might be helpful for others who plan to travel here)

Leave for Haridwar via Dehradun Express tonight…

Reach on the 31st July, just in time for the Maha Aarti.. Which is a beautiful and a spectacular sight and something that we should not miss… Hari-Ki-Pauri as it’s popularly known…

Haridwar

Haridwar

1st August

A few more locations in Haridwar, mainly…

Maya Devi Mandir , located on upper road. This temple is one of the 51 “shakti peeths” and its the presiding deity of Haridwar. It is from this temple Haridwar derives its other name Mayapur.

Maya Devi Temple

Bharat Mata Mandir, 5 km north of the center. Dedicated to Mother India, this is half temple, half nation building exercise, with seven floors stacked with deities, saints, and secular heroes of all Indian faiths. Some signage in English.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bilkeshwar Mahadev Mandir , Shiva temple located on a hill.

Depending on how much time we have on our hands, we’d plan to see these places.

2nd August

Rishikesh

We take an early morning train to Rishikesh. Hemkunt Express – Leaves Haridwar at 6.50 AM and reaches Rishikesh by 8.00 AM. That’s the only train available in the morning. Else we might have to take Vikrams/Rickshaws costs (Rs.60-70) max per rick.

I checked out info for white-water rafting and most places say the season is September-November and March-April-May ideal for rafting. But we can get to know once we are there….My friend Swapnil has also got a few contacts, who say they might be able to arrange for the rafting.

White Water Rafting

White Water Rafting

 

Let’s see how it goes. Besides River Rafting we can visit these places on the 2nd at Rishikesh…

 

Lakshman Jhula, Trayambakeshwar Temple, Lakshman Jhula. is 13 stories high, with different deities throughout.  edit

Lakshman Jhula

Lakshman Jhula

Triveni Ghat, This is a bathing ghat. Daily in the morning and evening there are thousands who take bath here and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed. It very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.

3rd August onwards we report to YHAI Basecamp and follow their itinerary…

4th  August – We take a bus from Rishikesh – Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

5th August –  Orientation walk / Visit to Auli and Tapovan

6th August – Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus…

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

6th August – Govindghat – Ghangaria Ghat (A trek of 13kms) This one’s going to be the real test as the place that we would trek would have rain, and there are some really slants that we have to overcome carrying at least 10kgs of backpack is certainly going to be a challenge. While we have trekked over 20-30 kms in a day, this 13km trek would be with full supply backpack and the altitude would be quite challenging, add to that the cold and rain… Should be fun at the same time.

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

7th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Valley of Flowers… Now this is the most beautiful place that we hope would really make the 13km trek the previous day, worth it’s while… It’s about 8kms to and fro. This should be easier as our backpack would be at the camp and the trek is much lighter. But the beauty of the park and the flowers in the valley… would really be amazing.. The photos will tell you for sure 🙂 Stay tuned… In the meantime you can also read my poem about the Valley of Flowers here

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

8th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Hemkund Saheb – This is another amazing place, a worshipping shrine for Sikhs, this place is divine and much more beautiful in terms of the scenic locations and I hope to get a glimpse of some glacier / Ice as well…

Hemkund Saheb

Hemkund Saheb

9th August – We trek back to Govindghat.. The 13km trek.. This should be easier as it’s downhill…

10th August – Govindghat to Badrinath is around 25 kms and this would be a bus journey. Some rest to our ailing legs 😛

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple

11th August – Badrinath – Vasudhara falls around 16km trek to and fro. This is a beauty… In the cold and the rain, it’s quite a pretty sight I’ve heard.

Vasudhara Falls

Vasudhara Falls

12th August –  Badrinath to Rishikesh and check out after breakfast…

Post that, since it’s a long weekend and we have a couple of days on our hand we may just chill in Rishikesh and then head back to Delhi on 13th or 14th August, from where we catch a train and reach Mumbai by 15th August and celebrate Independence Day at home 🙂

All this ordeal would be quite an experience and certainly a journey worth sharing… For now, I’d be updating pictures at

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

 

So stay tuned and hope you enjoy the updates.

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Rudraprayag – Where Gods choose to dwell…

Sometimes it isn’t that difficult to find what you are really looking for. Sometimes there are signs that help you along. But most of the times, more often than none, you will realize that what you are really looking for has been there right in front of your eyes. Sitting right there at the corner of your eyes, while you’re off like a whirlwind across the world looking for whatever you won’t really find…

So finally, I’ve decided, come July, my travel spree will resume! Dedicate more time towards my writing, I will take  that time to search my solitude and finally write as much as I want. Working towards my travel writing career is one thing and finally moving on from experimental writing and getting to write my second and actual book. Yes, finally I know that it’s about time.. Time to get started on that seed that has been burrowed inside my head quite a while ago. It’s time to start working on growing and nurturing that tree.

In one of my meetings with @amisht I learnt that writing a book is not like making a business plan. He told me that it’ll all come to me… There is always a theme and the incidents that happen to you are all a chain or a sequence of events, which you realize are like the dots that you connect… At the end of it all there is your answer.  And I think I’ve started believing in that… There has to be some effort of  sorts to make this happen. And now I know it’s time to put in that effort.

So here’s what I’m going to be doing. It’s not the greatest of adventures or for that matter a total absolution from this world. But it certainly is going to be an attempt. An attempt that I’d have to be resilient about, no matter how long it takes and how much distance I have to cover. Doesn’t matter how many hours I put in or how much blood, sweat and tears that go into it… I know it has to be done and it will be done. And yes, one thing I know, It’s going to be a wild adventurous spree… Of unknown locations and paths not traveled. But I think I have a reason for all of these travels that I will take. At the back of my mind I know it because, I know it as the ‘master plan’ And as I said before, a ‘master plan’ is never a master plan if it’s revealed. So without having much to give away about this plan, I’d like to share little bits and pieces of it as something I’d like to call ‘My Travel Bucket List’   

Right now, now is the time… I’d make this list and when the time is right, I’d go there… Why?? The answer I don’t know yet, but it’s there somewhere at the back of my head and it will all be found, once I finish my ‘Master Plan.’  As soon as I visit those places, I’d go ahead and chalk them off ‘My Travel Bucket List’  

So here we go! The first one on my list…

Destination 1: Rudra Prayag, (Uttarakhand)

There is something more than mystical about this place. It certainly is the most important place in my scheme of things. The beauty of this place lies within its certain strategic and geographical location. Spiritual as it may be, this is the place that one has to go through if you have to go into Kedarnath and Badrinath. Another historic and spiritual location for Hindus.

Named after Lord Shiva (Rudra), Rudraprayag is a town in Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand. It’s one of the Panch Prayag (five confluences) of Alaknanda River, the point of confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. Alaknanda then proceeds towards Devaprayag where it joins with Bhagirathi river to form the river Ganges. Kedarnath, a Hindu holy town is located 86 km from Rudraprayag.

Till recently, Rudraprayag was a part of District Chamoli and Tehri. In 1997, the Kedarnath Valley and parts of district Tehri & Pauri were conjoined to form Rudraprayag as a new district. The entire region is blessed with immense natural beauty, places of religious importance, lakes and glaciers.

So this is the destination that would be certainly on my mind… It’s only a matter of time before I got there… As I keep saying

“Soon I’d be free… Love, Life… Walking by the desires of my dreams on the crooked roads of my destiny.”

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