Tri-Kedar


PRELUDE

 Honestly, we didn’t have any plan to haste for another trek within 100 days. But, it was to happen with no explicit causes behind; maybe, in narrower alleys of heart roamed a deep wish closer to the destiny. Closer and closer, wherever wishes went, destiny swayed along and followed; or maybe, wherever destiny moved, wishes frolicked as enthusiastic follower!

Weather had not been of much favour in preceding few treks since late 2006. Heavy snowing and drastic temperature fall were prime symptoms in high altitude areas. Being concerned of these I thought it wise to opt for a medium altitude trek in a safer window.

Our initial plan was for Kalpeswar—Toli—Rudranath trek only. But, we had a few more days on credit to spend; so we thought to include Madmaheswar also. Again, we were two only—myself & my wife—in the team. I preferred that she had a full moon night in Madmaheswar valley so to click her best night shots. We did our planning pretty fast and it went on nicely till I confronted with a disappointing weather prediction for the following week before boarding the train. The previous week offered brilliant bright days.  But, weather seemed to change unpredictably and the forecast was there for 70 percent precipitation from the next Tuesday—the day we would start trek from Uniana—with a distinct upward trend. Still, these are nothing new events; trekkers are bound to oblige how Nature wants them to.

When we reached Hardwar through a grisly 36 hours train journey, it was already 8 in the morning. Hurriedly, we met few friends and sought blessings of Billakeswar Mahadev. Soon we found ourselves comfortably settled in an unexpected luxury of an empty 2X2 bus on mission to lift some tourists from Badrinath.

We reached Rudraprayag at around 3 PM. The Ukhimath bus was still there, but we decided to stay at Birla Guesthouse for the night. The town had been a known place for us as we usually loved to take a break there. Reaching there would bring forth tumultuous joy within to feel something unspeakable! We spent the evening at our most favourite place—the temple where Lord created music at the confluence of blue Alakananda and green Mandakini.   

Next morning, when we boarded the first bus to Ukhimath, it was just three quarters past four. The darkness of a dead night had still not silenced its dirge. A faint glow on the eastern sky was a promise only. The stand had a leisurely gaze on its sleepy eyes. The bus would start sharp at 5 for being in mail service. With us there were only six other passengers.

It moved on laden with a few of juddering lives and a bagful of human expressions in sharing love, pain, concern, anxiety, and wishes. As soon as it left the main town, we were left with a road to run and mirthful Mandakini to accompany of the left. Soon we were joined by a pool of tiny tots—nicely dressed for school—at the next village. And mailbags were dropped and some fresh bags were collected. Abundant beauty of nature, laughter of those innocent kids, and occasional trysts with some known, some unknown villages carried me to a state, where I had longed so long to belong, yet it never sustained in the melee of brutal city life. I could feel pure efforts of so many souls that make us convey a single line of love or pain or else to our loved ones—it takes aids of so many hands, meet so many bright innocuous faces, listens to so many intimate exchanges, runs so many miles softly caring the seeds within, and observes expressions so closely of both the writer and the reader. Someone whispered to me, “Each of us is only one such message”. I was lost somewhere and woke up to sense when someone again whispered, “It is where you wish to reach”.

Lopa is the Nature’s own daughter; she can find peace even when a battle is on just behind. She smiles away the life in her own way—an inimitable way that needs a profound faith in God and absolute love for the Mother Nature. When I called her, her face showed up with all gentleness of her sacred smile that would absorb all sins of one’s life; in silence of mind we got down and safely strolled with sacks on our back to Bharat Sevasharm Sangha, Ukhimath.

The Sangha is surely one of the finest places in Garhwal to stay. The vista of verdant fields running down with step cultivation straight to Kund is picture-postcard scenery. On the northern side, mighty Kedars stand high. Both sunrise and sunset are spectacular. The location of the building at a sharp bend on Bhukha—Hartal road is also superb. We spent some beautiful moments with Maharaj and some of our old friends there. After the evening prayer, we took early dinner and did final packing for the next days’ trek.

 

MADMAHESWAR

We boarded in a jeep sharp at 6 in the morning. As it would be difficult for us to reach town Bus stand so early to catch 6.30 bus from Sangha, we opted for a lift. But, it not only benefited us in reaching Uniana by 8 but also shortened the trek by a km for being dropped ahead of the scheduled stand.

We took the narrow path through the woods. The morning rays had not yet kissed the soil. Powdery water droplets from running falls had moistened it enough to make it slippery. The Autumn fall had laden it with leaves all around. We strolled together silently. The journey was ever fascinating. Chirping of unnamed birds and murmurs of falling dew had infused the environment with all holiness in its being. Before we reached Ransi—a prosperous village with beautiful people, flourishing fields and the ancient Rakeswari temple—we did not meet anyone on the way. It was just a 3 kms stretch from Uniana and we reached there safely by 9 am.  

Leaving our sacks in Bhatta Hotel—a place where great Umaprasad Mukherjee used to stay—we went straight to the temple to seek blessings of Mother. After a brief chat and breakfast, we were again on foot. We have a plenty of time as we would not trek straight to Madmaheswar in one day. I kept it much liberated from the usual trekker’s plan to do so. Moreover, I kept the plan to go for Nandikund if weather predictions failed. For to decide, a day’s time somewhere down was a definite advantage for buying ration etc. Thus, we kept our target set to somewhere near to Bantoli.

The trail till Bantoli was quite comfortable. Not much of steady ascent was there. Lopa had never seen before a natural wheat grinding mill that run in gushing flow of water falls. She was ecstatic in joy to see one. So long the track laid, Madmaheswar Ganga accompanied us on our right. The beautiful valley she nourished was awesome. Although the sun had, by that time, been over our head, the trek never seemed strenuous for chilly autumn breeze flowing through the passageways of dense forest. In shorter lengths, the path looked like an avenue closely-shaded by long trees; but in long shots, only one could be lost into its impenetrable darkness.

We had almost reached the place where we must cross a giant waterfall. Someone in Ransi warned us that the iron-bridge adjacent to the falls had been badly damaged and almost in hanging position on the short-cut route. The longer one would not only take at least an hour more to reach, but also required steep descent of nearly 1500 ft near to the river bed and again a sharp ascent. But, the most striking point to influence us in opting for the short-cut route was its proximity to sight of marvellous cascades. The path was pretty slippery and the slant was significant. We moved near to the falls, and to the bridge. It was hanging on its one rail. One huge rock must have done the mischief during the rainy season. The walking board was dangling almost in a vertical position. We carefully crossed it with a trapeze-like manoeuvring. A continuous walk for long 7 kms from Ransi took us to Gondar. It had plenty of inns for trekkers to stay. Sipping a cup of tea, we again started. The weather had turned pretty cloudy. A strong indication of storm was gaining merits of a real show. We reached Bantoli—another km ahead—by a quarter past to one. Nine kms trek from Bantoli to Madmaheswar is the toughest part of the entire trek.

Bantoli is a beautiful place. With a small iron bridge and a fantastic valley around the confluence of Madmaheswar Ganga and Markandeya Ganga it presents itself like a mountain lass. Through the grid of slender trees one can see shining Mandani peak. On the other side of the valley lies a thickly grown forest from top of the mountain to its heel. People say tigers, leopards and bears often enter into the village. Dogs are aided with iron coverings on their necks to deter possible attacks by wild animals.

The sky looked gloomy and porous. We did have a plan to settle at Bantoli for the night, but keeping the weather predictions in mind and its possible success, we felt it wise to move on till it did not rain. The next inn would be at Khatara Khal—another 2 kms from Bantoli. But, from Bantoli the trail would entail a steady ascent. Before we could walk half the way it started raining. Forest walk had an advantage of not getting soaked even in heavy raining, but it remained annoying long after raining had stopped. A bit fast, we reached Khatara and were comfortably in to Debendra’s inn by 2 pm. That would be a place of rest.

The raining did not stop for a moment throughout night. At 5 in the morning, we had our morning tea and having been sure of a denied prospect of an improved weather, we almost finalised our plan to drop Nandikund. By six, we were again on move. Wet raincoat seemed heavier. The path had become quite risky. Slowly we moved, crossed Nanu village—2 kms from Khatara—and, then stopped at Meikhama for breakfast. The hamlet had only two huts. A few human faces and a herd of cows and oxen and a few alert dogs were all available in that picturesque place. In clear weather, one could see mighty Chowkhamba just erect before. But, the morning seemed like a late dusk while grey clouds played menacingly on treetops. It was tough trek, seemed tougher for slippery condition of the track; so when we again commenced our journey from Meikhama, it was nearly 10 and we would require to trek for another 4 kms. Steadily we ascended till we could see at the bend of the path the vast expanse of Madmaheswar valley. It laid like a great field with a few old wooden structures and a sacred temple. We walked fast through the thick veil of rain and soon were found settled in one Mandir Committee top floor room. One team had just returned from Nandikund side; they could not attempt it for a disastrous climate above.

We were stuck up there for two more days. Next day another team of more than twenty military personnel returned after a failed attempt from Pandosera side. They would wait and again attempt it. We also waited with hope, but could not just sit around for long. We could only walk up to Bhairav temple when rain stopped for a while on the second day.

On the last evening it showed some improvement and the sky set on it clouds playing with colours of rainbow it held between. While the temple had been the only involvement for those days, and with just another 4-5 trekkers around, clear sky brewed in hopes. Gaily we sat over the sunset end till darkness pervaded the world.

We planned for early morning visit to Buda Madmaheswar on the next. Eastern sky had not been much clear when we began our not-so-long trek at 6.15. By 7 we were at the top of the mountain. We could not get clear view of Chowkhamba and Mandani. They were already half-sunk in clouds and spectacular scene of their reflections on a small pool in Buda Madmaheswar valley could not be expected much to match its supreme. Still we could get some of it. But, within a few minutes, clouds from all around twirled in a magical way and we were in the world of grey thick clouds and rain. The down-way track had become both muddy and slippery. Although there was no much risk of fatal fall, one would not get enough encouragement of knowing such when every step would extend to a foot ahead of what it should and water rolling down in different ways from top with muddy rush. Lopa had a great sliding fall and could manage only in injuring her left heel badly. With enough energy and ever-smiling face she steadily got down to Madmaheswar valley.

We were scheduled to start by 10 after breakfast. I had been quite anxious for her injury. With medicines already in action, she felt it comfortable; but, I knew it would be temporary relief. Nail of her index digit of left foot appeared blue. I could foresee that it would be an annoying problem for at least 2-3 days. Soon we started walking down.

Climbing down was pretty comfortable. And, by 2.30 we reached Bantoli. We could safely reach Ransi by the evening, but I did not take risk of crossing that hanging bridge during evening, particularly considering her injuries.

The night spent on in thunderstorms and heavy raining. Next morning really bared it in a completely different show; the sky was clear and blue. Walking was gentle and we reached Ransi by 8. The bus from Uniana would start at 12.30. So we had enough time to relax. When we finally stood up and looked back, Chowkhama was spread over the sky with its silver saddle dazzling.

We were back to Ukhimath by the afternoon to take a night’s rest and move for the next phase of trek.

 

KALPESWAR

The 6 am bus from Guptakashi took us to Gopeswar on the next morning. We could not get seats in Badrinath bound bus. Instead a share jeep dropped us at Chamoli. We could manage seat on full fare up to Joshimath in a shared jeep. When we reached Helang, it was already 1.30 pm. Limited accommodation was available in Helang, but since the Hydel project started most of those rooms had permanently been reserved by the working agency. However, we did not have any plan to stay there.

Last night, we took a decision to follow traditional known routes of Helang—Kalpeswar and Sagar—Rudranath in place of our set programme of Helang—Kalpeswar—Dumak—Toli—Rudranath—Sagar route. I did not wish to take risk in unknown tract with my injured partner. It was no fun business even in the traditional routes we did opt for.

We took the shortcut to save walking along the metal road till the project bridge over river Alakananada. We had our lunch somewhere near the project site—a couple of kms away from Helang. The length of trek to Debgram was short, not much of high gradient and was pleasantly laid through a dense forest. The road was being constructed steadily up to Debgram. We, however, used to avail locals’ route and could cross the forest before the evening set in. The village—one of the largest and flourishing one with eye-soothing valley in entire Garhwal—would welcome everyone with a cemented footpath and it ran beyond to the holy temple towards Dumak.

By 5.30 we had felt comfort of warm chairs in front of Rajendra Negi’s beautiful guesthouse. Rajendra had gone to Gopeswar. His daughter—a degree student—took all care of us. At around 7 in the night, Negiji and his wife came. We spent some beautiful hours together. He was writing on mythological references of the village and Kalpeswar temple and I found it a pretty absorbing reading.

Next morning was praying time for us in Kalpeswar. Amongst the Kedars, I always felt this temple the poorest in grandeur. But, its placid, solitary and away-from-people presence was a source of strength. On its back, Kalpeswar Ganga flowed. We had a brisk visit to Adi Badri and Buda Kedar temples and soon took leave. Negiji accompanied us to the end of the village and with charming morning sunshine piercing through the leaves of unknown trees, we walked down as silently as one could listen to the beats inside.

We reached Helang by 11, luckily could get a share jeep directly going to Gopeswar. A meagre fare of Rs.150 allowed us a drop to Hariyali Guest House at Sagar. By the time we reached Sagar, it was late noon. Next morning would be start of the toughest part, so we did necessary packing and took early dinner for rest.

 

RUDRANATH

The injury on the heel had much been relieved, but as I apprehended the bluish blotch on nail had been causing much trouble; particularly, when within shoe it pricked on even gentle pressure. With some local medicines applied, she had a nice sleep and a better position to trek on the next morning.

There are two common trails to Rudranath; one is from Mandal via Anasuya and Hans bugiyal and another from Sagar via Panar. The first one is tougher than the latter one. But, for both the tracks one has to walk up steady and strenuously long way till even to find safe place to set up tents. Seldom one will meet other on the way—whether in the same or opposite directions.

We started early in the morning. We would have to reach Panar, at least Luiti in lower Panar. We meandered as the way too meandered through dark dense forest. Almost every bend had a water source and the musical tunes of such flowing streams hummed around. In most places it was not limited to normal walk, rather climbing a flight of stairs—with steps of different heights ranging from a foot to 3-4 feet. A km of trek would be twice as strenuous as a 2 km trek in average condition. With only two short breaks, we reached Luiti at around 12.30 noon. A 10 km journey took us more than 6 hours.

Luiti had only one inn. One would have to check availability of accommodation at Panar before further movement. Panar had also a single place to stay. Trekkers having own tents would certainly enjoy more freedom; yet, they would also be there to take care of protection from  wild animals during night. I stretched out my tired limbs upon a warm blanket neatly placed under bright sunshine. So soothing was its warmth that I felt dozing till someone called me. The sky was as blue as ocean would look in a summer noon. We finished our food and abruptly cut short leisurely lolling. Two more kms were to be covered.

It took another hour to finally reach Panar. Lalaji did not have any guest that day. Three tiger-sized shepherd dogs welcomed us with long range of barks. The sun had nearly touched the horizon while brushing sweet yellow, saffron and red patches over the sky and clouds. Long range of glorious mountains stood in honour to bid adieu the source of all vision, all energy and all sacrifice. As soon as it died out a cloak of darkness dropped over the valley. It vanished into an unknown world of mystery with stars so near, and the Milky-way as if kissing my temple. We finished our dinner while listening to Lalaji’s Bhajans.

Next morning greeted us with all its cool breeze and icy droplets on shrubs and bushes. The sun soon appeared from behind Nandadevi as fast as a bow would fling an arrow to fly. Its rays fell over the crests of all glorious peaks—Chowkhamba, Neelkantha, Hati, Ghori, Nadakhat. Quickly its gentle rays started warming up dew-drenched field.

We began our journey again. It was just a yard-wide track with dangerous vacuity on its side. Slowing we treaded on and reached Pitridhar—the highest point of the trek. The world looked just a globe all around from the top. Placing a few flowers and lighting some incense sticks, we again walked on. It was more than 2 hours we took to reach Panchaganga. It was a fascinating valley with five small brooks from different directions mingled into oneness. We had our breakfast there in a small inn. The stretch followed was a bit comfortable. The red temple could be distinctly seen from the turn the trail took a mile ahead. Against the blue wide sky and a white array of the Himalayan peaks, it looked like a single rose promising unique love.

We reached Rudranath by noon. The signs of the old temple still remained. We offered Pujas and had prasads. We spent a few hours till we needed to rise for another trek back to Panar. The evening fast came as soon as we had reached Panar. The fatigued body of 20 kms of trek rapidly took us to the world of dreams.

The next day was for a straight descent to Sagar. We took complete rest there for the night. On the early morning we boarded in 6 am Hardwar bound bus from Sagar, which reached us Hardwar in the evening.

The journey ended soon within dins of city and its toiling days and nights. Sweet events are always there, but not to sustain evermore. So it remains sweet ever as memories. It keeps open and lifts up moments of joy to water and nourish arid souls forever. So it lives eternally in life to progress.

 

 

 

 

[ Published under the author’s permission ]

[ Original publication at www.saibarman.wordpress.com on April 20, 2008–the readers are requested to express their comments on the original Blog as mentioned above ]

 

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3 Responses

  1. ekta link pathalam, chhobi dekhe dekhun to chinte paren kina ???

    http://picasaweb.google.com/santanu6277/Madmaheshwar

    Like

  2. Ekdam chena jachhe…bhisan bhalo chhabigulo tulechh, bandhu !
    Amra e-maser 5th-e Nandikund trek-e berochhi…Madmaheswar hoye abar jabo….firbo 24th…katha hobe fire ese…
    Bhalo theko !!

    Like

  3. Dear Treckwords, (dont know you original name),

    Thanks for sharing your live experience with us. It was really very involving.
    Can we be friends ??
    If yes then do drop a mail to my Inbox .
    Thanks once again

    Like

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