“Why do you have to go there now? Go when your grand kids are big enough to fly you on a chopper,” said my mother as I and the man of the house packed our bags to go on what is considered as one of the dangerous journeys, especially after the 2013 catastrophe, the abode of Lord Shiva-Kedarnath shrine that sits atop the mystic Himalayas at a height of 16,000ft.
But, before I go ahead with my story, here’s a small piece of advice. If you are a travel junkie and like to tread the less-travelled roads, then try not to reveal your plans to parents a little too quickly for they might trap you in their emotional web that they suddenly conjure up out of thin air!
Anyway, it was too late to step back. Besides, we had spent months to prepare ourselves both mentally and physically to embrace the rugged terrain. While I would do intense cardio workout for an hour every morning and walk at least six km every evening, my husband would climb 19 floors at one go in his office (it took him a week to achieve success). So, yes, we were quite serious about what we thought was a journey of our lifetime.
I have a habit of researching everything and working my finger to the bone while researching about places or things. So, obviously, I had watched every documentary, every news capsule and every talk show the internet had to offer about Kedarnath and Badrinath. Unfortunately, it did nothing but fostered fear and doubts in my mind. Of course, a tragedy such as this that ravaged the terrain plays on your mind. So, another piece of advice, never research a place more than required as it will only create a mental block in your head that you will never be able to crawl out of.
June 6. 2016, the day we reached Dehradun and we were already caught in torrential rains. While the man of the house enjoyed the weather, I mistook it as an ominous sign before setting out to the hills. I was a wreak the night before. Yes, I admit and my doubts grew even stronger every time I would hear a thunderbolt. I knew that it rained scantily in 2013 as well. So, it wasn’t a good sign. Although we had timed our trip perfectly just before the monsoons took over the Himalayas. But, you never know which way the wind would blow when it comes to the mountains.
Thankfully, the next morning the skies had opened up and the day was nice and bright. It was a pretty bump-free ride with bare minimal distractions. On your way, we crossed Tapovan and Vyasi, a small sleepy hamlet where on a friend’s recommendation, we made a quick stop and devoured some ghee-laden paranthas. Now there’s a hiccup. The man of the house is quite a health freak and he tries to reach for healthy food even on a trip but sometimes he ‘mends his ways’ for me! So, there goes three aloo paranthas for him as well. With feeling yummy in the tummy, we continued our journey and rode non-stop till
Gaurikund where we stayed the night. This is also one of the places that saw destruction of epic proportions. It is also where the travelers make a stopover for a night before starting out on a rather difficult trek to Kedarnath. After the 2013 tragedy that destroyed the trekking route to Kedarnath, the state government, along with the help of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering came up with a new route on the mountain across from the ravaged route.
Though we had planned to trek the distance but since it had been drizzling we decided to rent a pair of mules for the uphill journey. And boy, did it pain! I wished I had covered the distance by foot than by riding on the back of the mule. It took us almost three hours to make it to the top. Any kind of transport whether the chopper or the mules, will drop you at Rudra Point. After this, you must cover the last stretch of 6 km by foot. And trust me, the inclement weather with incessant raining made it almost impossible and every step I took felt like dragging a boulder tied to my feet. But when I finally reached the shrine and took in the sights and sounds, it felt so heavenly and worth the pain we had to endure to reach the temple premises. The mountain behind the temple was a cruel reminder of the tragedy, for this was exactly where River Mandikini exploded in its full form and washed away everything that came in her way.
After the darshan, we proceeded to the accommodation that was near the temple for the night. In hindsight, we both think that wasn’t a good thing to stay there for a night as the temperature drops to some -5 degrees and it’s not advisable to stay up there. I for one, had my own issues. To top it all, both of us decided to sprawl out on our chairs outside right in front of the huge mountains, I don’t know what got inside my head but I ended up with a mild fever. Thankfully, we returned hale and hearty and also, not to forget, to umpteen number of calls made by parents since there is no connectivity in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.
It was a journey full of mixed emotions but would I like to go back, if given a chance?
You can also visit a fellow blogger’s website to know more about the place at umeshkaul.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/kedarnath-trip-pure-nostalgia