Rudranath Trek

#1 Nov 5th, 2013, 08:30
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New Jersey, USA
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Chopta to Mandal walk – Rudranath Trek Part 1

Panch Kedar (पंचकेदार) in Garhwal refers to five Hindu temples or holy places dedicated to god Shiva. They are the subject of many legends that directly link their creation to Pandavas.
Kedarnath ( केदारनाथ) at an altitude of 3,583 m (11,755 ft), the Tungnath (तुंगनाथ)(3,680 m/12,070 ft), Rudranath (रुद्रनाथ) ( 3505 m/ 11500 ft), Madhyamaheshwar (मध्यमहेश्वर) or Madmaheshwar (3,490 m/11,450 ft) and Kalpeshwar (कल्पेश्वर) (2,200 m/7,200 ft).
About three years ago I visited Rudranath temple. Rudranath is considered as the toughest Panch Kedar temple to reach. Most trekking routes to Rudranath are from Gopeshwar or nearby places. Now a motorable road is present up to the village Sagar — 5 km from Gopeshwar, beyond which a 20 km trek to reach Rudranath. The trek winds through tall grass, oak and rhododendron forests. Other routes include: an uphill, 17 km trek from Gangolgaon — 3 km from Gopeshwar through the forest and Panar and Naila shepherd settlements. Another trek route is from Gopeshwar to Rudranath is via Mandal (13 km) and then additional 6 km to the Anusuya Devi temple and then another 20 km to Rudranath. The Anusuya Devi temple is home to goddess Anusuya, who is believed to help devotees in distress. A 45 km trek path is available from Joshimath via Helang too (considered a strenuous trek). There’s also a trekking route to Rudranath from Kalpeshwar, via Dumak, Kalgont Kimana and Palla. The route meets at Urgam village, a little ahead of which is Kalpeshwar.
Rudranath is the toughest of the famous Panch Kedar pilgrimage treks. Even seasoned trekkers say, and locals agree, ‘Rudranath ki Chadai, German ki Ladai’.
We returned from Tungnath and spend a night in the scenic Chopta. I am not making a post about Tungnath temple because it is most accessible Kedar and also there are already several posts about Tungnath exist and several more would be coming. Chopta offers amazing views of the imposing Himalayan range including Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba. It is located at an elevation of 2680mts above sea level. Chopta is rich in varied flora and fauna. Chopta is situated amidst thick forest of pine, deodar and rhododendrons. Bugyals begin just after 1 kilometer on the Tungnath Trail.

We begin our walk form Chopta to Mandal and after one kilometer, we are abruptly out of the high altitude valley of Chopta and face the green, virgin jungles in a vast cup of a valley surrounded by mountains at all four sides. Only a road at the end of the vista is visible. This is an unusual scene in India, you feel you are in some other Western country where you see no one and all virgin jungles. We keep walking on the road under dense tall deodar forests. We make a girdle around the mountain where Tungnath temple is situated. Ramshila is visible at a point on the road, straight at above at the highest cliff. Vista stays with us for about 3 kilometers and then we pass the ridge. Luckily we find one tea shop here at the intersection of the village trail near Dhobidhar where vista is about to change abruptly. We don’t see any person and I only wonder how this tea shop man makes his living. But he is also a watchman for the rosin contractor so to keep himself busy he also makes tea for forest contractors and rosin harvesters etc. Tea shop man tells us that we won’t find any other tea ship till Mandal – that is 11 kilometer.

The 11 kilometers descent from Chopta, deep down the valley to Mandal, is a great thrilling experience. Four kilometers down the paved road till Dhobidhar, straight into a thickly wooded forest full of deodar, oak trees and vines, the dried leaf strewn path is steep and downhill. Thick undergrowth and trunks are lush and relaxing. However now we are in a deeply wooded raving and road makes several hairpin bends till Mandal. We take several shortcuts in the silent lush green and damp jungle. Path is laced with weathered, rounded stones splashed with sheen of green, sit in mossy groups.
As our path intersects with the road, a car stops and window at the passenger side is lowered. In the front, only driver is sitting. A young couple and a child are on the backseat.
Their car is crammed with lots of routine stuff. Husband is a very skinny person and lady is fat and petite.
Man asks, “Is this road going to Mandal.”

I reply, “It should be, I don’t know if it can go anywhere else.”
Then lady asks in Hindi with an English accent , “Are you a native of this area?”
There is something peculiar about this lady. She is wearing excessive make up, she seems like she is settled in abroad.
Harsh replies in English, “No we are not from here, we are walking to the Mandal and this road only goes to Mandal.”
She says doubtfully, “Are you sure?”
Driver interrupts, “Didn’t I tell you several times that this road goes to Mandal.”
Interruption by drives makes this lady very angry.
Car moves along.
We hear lady is fighting with her husband now, we overhear her saying to her husband, “Tari, there are so many nice cities in India, why did you bring us in this godforsaken damphole. ”
Well, how we are to know that we will be seeing these comedians again and again.
We resume our walk on the road and as we find the path entering down in the jungle, we again shift to the path. Bubbling brooks accompany us the journey, bringing a much welcome drink of cool spring water. The forest is full of the sounds of nature. Tangled and matted trees emerge from a moss and fern carpet, into thick leafy foliage.
There is something special about this wood, something magical and enchanted forest from a fairy-tale. Halfway down, in clearing in the valley, a stream gushed down over the rocks. We sit on the grass by the bank and time just stops here. Wild roses are in abundance here and rose fragrance is overwhelming. Butterflies are hovering all over, birds are singing and water is crashing. This is a mesmerizing experience in the jungle and on this walk.
We cannot resist our temptation to take a bath in the brook. We are fairly down in the valley. The whole scenario had changed. Instead of looking down into the valley, over tops of trees, we are to look up to the mountains.They loom over us, green, tall, and imposing. Here we see many animals and snakes that too is unusual in India where most of the virgin trees are gone and also animals are gone. We keep walking in the raving that turns into a cascade. It is 2PM now and we are extremely hungry. In the clearing in the jungle we see Mandal Village.
Mandal is an extremely beautiful and peaceful village at the confluence of Balkhilya Ganga and Atri Ganga. It is so beautiful and beyond the words to explain. There are some hotels in the Mandal and prices are very basic because hotel serve to the village folks rather to the tourists.
We have no plan to stay at Mandal as today we want to push ourselves to as far as Ansuya devi that is six kilometers climb from Mandal. Whole area is so compelling that we must stay here. Now path merges with the road and then road itself comes out of the forest abruptly at the last hairpin bend. Mandal is still 1 kilometer and we see a couple of small buildings this is Herbal Research and Development Institute. Gardens belonging to this institute, along the road are full with exotic medicinal plants. All can visit in these garden. Here we see Echinacea flowers growing. These flowers are a native of USA and are in high demand as a immunity booster herbal medicine. I find some research scholars here and we have a chat. Later on I mailed them the seeds of Phytolacca Decandra from USA, because I see a great promise in that plant. It is hardy and fast growing plant. It spreads thousands of seeds, its leaves and stem are edible after cooking. I want people to try Phytolacca so I gave sent its seeds to many institutes and also gave it to many people. I haven’t been to those places afterwards so I don’t know if anybody made any effort to plant those seeds.

After these gardens we find a tea ship and a basic hotel next to it. We ask for food but there is none left at this hour but man promises to make us daal-rice in less than an hour. Room is for 200 rupee and is basic and overlooking the extremely beautiful valley. We take it and relax there till food is getting ready.
Then we hear a man and woman fighting. We see the same couple arriving in our hotel. They are in the open walkway in front of our valley facing room.
Woman screams at the husband in English, “Tari why you brought us here, there are no descent hotels at this place. How I am to spend a night here. ” – Beating her head she cries, “Oh God! This hotel is equally worse. I am very hungry. Where do we eat? I don’t like it here. ”
Tari pleads, “Honey! please calm down. We are here on an obligation, kindly bear with me. It is a matter of a couple of days. Then I will take you to just any place of your choice. ”
They enter in an open room next door to us and she collapses on the bed we hear her fighting with poor Tari.
Tari comes out of the room, his pretty kid tugging behind him. He seems miserable. He sits on the chair outside. We join him and start conversation.
They are from Canada. Tari had child after 5 years of marriage, his mother vowed to goddess Anusuya that if her son is blessed with a child, he will bring his wife and child to her temple in the Mandal area. Then Tari himself took a vow to do pilgrimage to Rudranath also on the same visit.

Seven years ago Tari went to Canada on student visa and married Amandeep Kaur who was in Canada since she was seven years old.
We suggest Tari (Mr. Avatar) to take a room in this hotel and then go to tea shop and order food and he obeys because he is very hungry. More over he is counting that his wife may sooth down upon knowing that other people from USA are happily facing the same situation.
Shop man give us a shout that food is ready so we go in the shop. As we are eating our late lunch, poor Tari shows up with hanging face and asks the man if he can cook some paneer things? Shop man says he can make paneer bhurji or mattar paneer so he is ordered to make both.
After food I and Harsh leave the hotel for a stroll in the villages around Mandal. We keep walking at the opposite direction of Mandal on a dirt road to a small village called Khalla. At 6PM sky turns from light blue to azure blue and then suddenly to dark blue. We walk till another village near the main river. At the other side of the river, road to Gopeshwar is going high above. Area is exceptionally breathtaking beautiful and we are enjoying each second of our time.
We find two youths and fall in the conversation. They tell us that homemade liquor is available at Bairangana village on the road. Well it is too much for us to go to the valley all the way down and then climb to the road moreover night is about to fall. I give them 500 rupee to bring us 3 bottles for us and keep remaining money for themselves. They tell us to wait for them at the river bridge before the village.
They go running to their direction and we begin walking to the river bridge. We wait for them till 8 PM it is night but it is a full moon. We give up thinking that boys took away our money and will not return, we begin our walk to the hotel that is 3 kilometers. As we are near our hotel, we hear shouts, a boy is coming running to us panting.

He gives us 3 polythene bags full of liquid. We thanks him and he runs back to his village.
We reach at our hotel and bring out the two plastic chairs. We call Mr. Tari and hand him a pack. Valley is extremely beautiful in the full moon. It is a scene of a lifetime, Mandal area is such a place.
Tari’s wife is still fighting with him.
We hear Tari’s wife screaming at Tari, “Your mother – that woman . . . ”
Not to spoil our night, we take our chairs out of the rooms and come on the deserted road.
Soon Tari joins us.
We hear his pathetic story. He is miserably married and wanted to run away from her and now he is stuck because he loves his little boy.
Liquor turns out superb.
We order a grand dinner. Daal, rice, subzi and chutni and that too turns out superb.
We return to our room to sleep and hear Tari facing more torture -
“You were ignoring me, I was rotting in this room and you were with your drinking with your new buddies ….”
This goes on and on endlessly till liquor helps us to fall to sleep. Our worse nightmare is to walk with Mr.Tari & Company to all the way till Rudranath.
Let’s see.
#2 Nov 7th, 2013, 06:35
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Mandal to Anasuya Devi – Rudranath Trek 2

It is a golden morning of Himalayas, we wake up listening to the screaming of Mrs. Tari. We have no desire to accompany them on the long way to Rudrunath so in a rush we pack up. When Tari sees us packing he begs us to wait for them so we all can go together. Since they have booked a car till Mandal and driver is waiting outside, so they will be going to Mandal on the car, that is a little more than a kilometer only. We tell Mr. Tari that he may find us in Mandal and actually he is happy that he need not to offer us a ride in the car because whole vehicle is cluttered. We come out of the hotel at 8am and have tea and then walk to the scenic village of Mandal in the bottom of the valley where road crosses the river and again begins its climb to Gopeshwar. Whole route is very scenic and we reach in Mandal in no time. Mandal village has a market of ten or so small shops. We have breakfast of parothas at a small restaurant by the river and brace ourselves for the 6 kilometer trek for Ansuya Devi.
Anasuya Devi

As we are ready to hit the trail going up in the village, Tari & Company too arrives and Tari is begging his wife to have Parothas but she wants bread and butter. Tari wanders around the 2-3 shops in the village to find bread but only buns are available. He begs us to stop and wait for them. Harsh starts communication with Tari’s wife Amandeep Kaur and she begins chirping as Tari is away finding bread for her. As Tari returns she again turns into a different person. Unfortunately Tari is unable to find a bread. Harsh asks her to eat parothas with butter and after a show off with Tari she eats 3 parothas.
Now she wants to go to temple on the horse and Tari pleads her to walk with him because it is inappropriate to go on the horse as his mother has taken a vow for him to walk there with his wife and kid. After a show, she agrees to walk but Tari must find 2 porters, one for kid and another for luggage. Tari again pleads with her that Kids should walk or Tari will carry him. Tari is not set upon to find porters. We begin our walk without them. It is already 10 AM so today’s destination is only Anasuya Temple. On the way comes Shirouli village. Balkhillya Nadi runs along with us – as we trek a slow ascent though lush green terraced fields.

Anasuya Ashram is a temple of archaeological importance as well. The initial phase of trek is to Anasuya Mata, a hamlet in the route. It is an easy 6km trek from Mandal. The path goes along the stream winding through forests and terraced fields of paddy. Irrigation channels and paddy fields imply cultivation and inhabitance in this region.
We keep walking on the utterly scenic terrain. On the way a kid gives us a ripe galgal (Mountain Lemon). In a village tea shop we have a cup of lemon tea. We arrive at Anasuya Mata at 3 PM. We visit the Anusuya temple compound. This temple has some special significance for the unfortunate childless couples, who visit, pray and offer puja to invoke Anusuya Mata’s blessings. The idol of the Anusuya Mata, however could be viewed from outside also. The new structure of the temple was erected 150 years back when a devastating earthquake grounded it all. Legend has it the Sankaracharya established the previous temple. The temple is respected as the last resort of childless couples. Idols of Pandavas and Krishna in Anusuya temple, as are the idols of Shiva and Parvati besides, Hanumanji. There is another temple in this serene village, that is Dattatreya temple. Dattatreya was Rishi Atri’s elder son, another son being the famous Durvasa. The Idol of Dattatreya is installed in the temple.
The temple is surrounded by thick forest-laden mountains on all sides. We take a basic room in the Tiwari lodge and ask the tea shop to prepare lunch for us.
As we are waiting for our lunch at the tea shop, at 4PM porter carrying the luggage of the comedians arrives and we offer him a cup of tea. Funnily he informs us about more torture of Mr. Tari by the hands of his fat wife. We come out of the shop and come to a point where we can see far below, there we see odd couple crawling. Lady is now following a way behind the husband who is carrying the kid. We return to the tea shop. Our experience tells us that she loves creamy things, cheese and desi ghee etc. We ask Mr. Negi: the tea shop man, if he has such things on his menu. No he hasn’t but he can possibly arrange desi ghee. He has only cabbage, potatoes, soybean nuggets and a couple of daals.
That’s all he got.
May God bless Tari.

We have to solve the problem about food on the way to Rudranath. We are told that we will not find tea or anything till Hans bugyal where a baba offers shelter and extremely basic food to pilgrims. Recent news says that baba is still there. We ask locals about how to tackle food problem on the way. They tell that they themselves carry about 2 kg potatoes for each person and a pot. Firewood is scanty but can be searched and boiled potatoes can be eaten. Potatoes are a good source of energy so it makes sense to carry potatoes. We already have a small aluminum pot.
But what about Tari and Co.?
But I have my own system that I used several times. I tell Mr. Negi to prepare us 20 parothas of assorted ingredients at tomorrow morning. I ask local people about what to carry for the Baba at the bugyal who takes care of people but nobody ever though about it. We buy 1 kg of potatoes just in case Baba is not there and also buy 1 kg of sugar and 1 kg of tea for Baba although things are double the price here.

Meanwhile Mr. Tari arrives with his kid. We order tea for him. His face is very sad. I bluntly ask him about his ordeal and tears begin falling from his eyes. I tell him it makes no sense in facing such troubles and it is not a pilgrimage in any sense. He should have come alone.
He says he was coming alone but she tugged along. She has taken an oath that he will not be given any chance to stay even one minute with his mother in Dehradoon.
Poor Tari’s marriage for Canadian Residency is blowing on his face.
“Be a man, just return from here and next time come alone for Rudranath.”
Tari replies, “I can’t. I have taken an oath or some misfortune will fall on me.”
I and Harsh both start laughing.
“What other misfortune can fall upon you.”
We pursue Tari to take his one-woman-plague-of-locusts back or send her back.
He can go to Rudranath with his 2 year old kid who seems enjoying the mountains. We pledged to offer all the help.
Tari give it a long though and finally says, “I will talk it over with with my wife.”
He has sent back the car but his cell phone still works here. He can arrange another car for her to take her back to where-ever she wishes to go.

Memsab arrives dragging her feet. Her face if full of tears and she is sulking. Unfortunately they end up in the same Tiwari lodge where we are staying because that is the only hotel here beside a temple dharamshala hall. Rooms are dinghy and tunnel like with a tiny window. There is no electricity and walls are covered with candle smoke. Luckily they made no noise but we know that Mr. Tari is going to pay a dear price. Tari runs to the tea shop and brings her tea but she refuses. He begs us but she stays quite.
There is still plenty of daylight left. From Anusuya, there is a beautiful path leading up into the forest. On the log bridge we cross a bubbling stream. After a couple of kms, there is a bifurcation with the one path on the right leading to the unique meditation cave of Atri Muni which has a waterfall as its curtain. This whole area is exceptionally beautiful and waterfall is named as Atri Dhaara. We visit there and then return back to the temple at the aarti time.

Several people gathered at aarti and then there is a bhajan session. After that there is nothing much to do at night. Dinner is potato curry with soybean nuggets and toor daal. Not bad at all. We ask Mr. Negi about what is on dinner for Tari and Co.
“Same thing what you had,” he replies.
We anticipate an explosion next door.
Tomorrow will be a hell of a day we will be climbing several thousands of feet.
We go to sleep.
#3 Nov 11th, 2013, 06:58
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Anasuya Devi to Hans bugyal – Rudranath Trek 3
Rudranath Trail Sitemap

We wake up in the beautiful morning at Anasuya Devi, and visit tea shop at 7am. Mr. Negi is no where around. Birds are singing all over. It rained at night and area looks extremely beautiful at this time. Mountains tops are shining golden with green hue with the rising sun and golden triangle at the top is visibly increasing by each minute. Time and again someone rings the bells of the temple and that is adding to the serenity and peace of this place. Children wearing sparkling clean school uniforms are seen chirping around the single avenue of this tiny hamlet.
A man tells us that Mr. Negi expected to be here at any time. We visit temples and then find Mr. Negi there. We walk around and return tea shop and find Mr. Negi firing up his wood stove. We wait for tea and then parothas will take some substantial time. We want to sneak out of Anasuya before Tari and his wife wake up but it appears that it is not going to happen.

We return to our room and as usual there is a “kohram” in next door. Mr. Tari is taking usual brunt. Kid comes in our room and wants to go out with us. We gladly take him to tea shop there he want to drink tea and is provided whereas his mother is strictly prohibiting him from having tea. Our parothas are being prepared.
Looking out for kid, his mother comes with sulking face and curses us upon seeing the kid drinking tea. We order another tea for her and now she says that Tari wants her to return back and he himself with kid will undertake the walk to Rudranath temple.
She adds, “But is so dangerous, I cannot allow him to go alone. I WILL go with him.”
It appears that she has Mars in Libra in seventh home. Mars in Libra is detrimental. A person interferes at home too much and even in the affairs those does not require interference.
Anasuya Devi
Path from Anasuya Devi to Naola Pass
Harsh suggests her to return and let the Tari undertake his pilgrimage, these things are done for once a lifetime and otherwise he will regret forever. She shouts that she never had any objection to what Tari or his mother do.
Then Tari shows up he drinks tea silently. We eat parothas and Mr. Nagi gives us the package of 20 parothas. As we say goodbye to Tari, he begs us to stop and wait for them too. We reason out with him to return.
I say, “You can always come back here alone to fill your oath. Pilgrimage should be undertaken with happiness and peace.”
Mrs. Tari is now looking at me with venomous eyes.
She shouts, “You can go and leave us alone but we are coming to Rudranath.”

Our day’s walk begins at Anasuya temple. There is no chance about reaching Rudranath by the end of day and neither is it our intention to walk 20 kilometers and climb 10,000 feet in a day. It is a steep climb and the very look at the peak from the base seems scary.
We walk for several hours in the dense forests; our destination today is Hamsa Bugyal at the base of Naola Pass. Most people reach straight to Hamsa Bugyal from Ansuya temple in a day. As we are gaining height jungle is getting thin and stunted due to the stress of cold. Hours and hours passed and we are not anywhere near the bugyal.

As firewood is still available so we stop at the waterfall to make tea and heat parothas for lunch. It is 2 PM. So far we haven’t seen anyone here on the way and trail is straightforward. This path is not much used as most pilgrims use the Sagar route to get to Rudarnath.
This other route from Sagar offers more amenities to pilgrims. That passes through Sagar, Pung Bugyal, Liti Bugyal, Panar Bugyal, Pitri Dhar etc. Then both routes converge at Panchganga Bugyal (very near Rudranath). This other route has a restaurant and tent hotel at almost each stop.

We reach this Hamsa bugyal at 5 pm. The only shack where Swamiji lives is visible at far away at the slope on a ridge of bugyal. It is getting dark and clouded because Sun has gone behind the mountains long ago. Hope Swami Ramanand Das is still there to give us shelter. This is an extremely beautiful bugyal, what a perfect solitude and divine atmosphere to meditate. Below us a vast cover of green wooded slopes of Himalayas and above us are ice fields. Bugyal is full of symptoms that many animals graze here but probably they are all gone for the night.
As we get near the shack, we see a figure wearing white clothes. So we are lucky and someone is there. We are much tired and drag ourselves up to the shack and Baba Ji comes to greet us. He already made tea for us. It is 6 PM.

He asks us for the food, his kitchen is almost empty and he makes only dalia for travelers. We give him tea and sugar that we brought for him and he is very happy about it. We tell him to use parothas for supper but he tells us to save our food although there is a tent restaurant at Panchganga bugyal but if it rains they are unable to cook any food.
Night falls very fast. As we are relaxed, cold hits us hard and we wear our warm clothes and wonder in the bugyal to make use of most of the sunlight. The beauty of Hamsha Bugiyal mesmerizes us. Wild colorful flowers bloom everywhere. Wish we could halt here for a whole day.

We wonder about Tari and Company – probably they have returned or probably they will be coming. Hopefully not today, for they had to make some serious arrangements – hiring some porter, food for themselves, food for the kid etc. etc. Then ever angry fat lady walks very slowly. Other thing I have witness about her was that she always looks at her feet while walking. She never lifted her neck to see the surroundings. Even her neck is permanently bent with a point protruding out in the back of her neck at the permanent bend.

I have witnessed that all intense daydreamers look below when they walk. This way they are permanently engaged in the cinema going on in their mind. Now their moods are always on the mercy of the episodes running inside their head. Unfortunately there are only bad movies goes on inside us.
Our mind does not record good things that are how our minds are designed. People who always look at their toes while walking are short sighted in the real life too. In real lives also they cannot look beyond their toes.

At 8PM it is intense cold and we prepare to sleep on the mud floor. Babaji provides us enough cushion and insulation. We are too tired and I find it difficult to sleep when I am too tired.
Now there is a surprise. We hear noises outside. It is Tari and Company. We go outside and see 2 mules in the darkness, and Mrs. Tari lying in the grass. Kid is still enjoying sitting on the other mule.
Tari offers water bottle to his beloved and she screams at him, “You son-of-bitch, leave me alone. I am not talking with you. After this yours hell trip is over I am going back to Canada and you go back to your MOTHER.”

She rises with difficulty from the ground because her legs are sour. She walks inside, comically and then she falls down. Tari try to give her hand but she shouts at him.
Now we are six people and a kid for Swamiji to take care, including the man with two mules. There is not enough bedding in the one room narrow shack. I and Harsh take just one bedding and quickly slide other bedding near Mrs. Tari and she falls down there next to us. Kid comes to us and wants to sleep with us. Horseman arranges his own rags those he brought with him as a part of saddles. Swamiji begins making dalia but we stop him. We still have 14 parothas left and fireplace is still warm, we place parothas near fire but only horseman eats. Woman refuses to eat and Tari wants to eat but woman is looking at him with toxic eyes. When lantern is put out we secretly pass 3 parothas to Tari and he eats quietly while laid in the bed.
We hear Mrs. Tari A-K-A Amandeep Kaur crying.
We decide to leave the parothas near the hearth so if she decides to eat at night. (In the morning 3 were missing)
We fall to sleep.
#4 Nov 11th, 2013, 17:02
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Thanks for sharing.
#5 Nov 12th, 2013, 18:52
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Hans bugyal to Rudranath – Rudranath Trek 4

We wake up in the morning at 6AM, it is intense cold. Using the fuel wood from Swamiji’s stocks we make black tea outside and soon Tari and Horseman join us. Tari seems miserable. Horseman tells us that the Chatti (night staying place where boarding and lodging is provided) run by Mr. Rajinder Singh Bhandari at Panchganga bugyal after the Naola pass is open. Panchganga is the place where other main route for Rudarnath merges.
This is good news that we will be getting hot lunch in the high altitude wilderness.
For breakfast we swallow one parotha each because we are eating these for third time and these seem tasteless. We prepare black tea for Swamiji and also for Memsab who accepts it from Harsh’s hands. Kid also drinks 2 cups of tea while his mother is not looking at him. He seems enjoying very much here and is despised at his mother who is rude to his dear Pa. He is always sticking to his father and shunning away from his mother. We also leave out 2 kilograms potatoes that we carried as emergency ration, there because food is available at Panchganga bugyal.
I and Harsh resume our walk to Rudarnath although Tari again pleads to wait for them. Kid wants to walk with us but Tari stops him. Gradually the forest thins and the evergreens give way to conifers, less tall trees and finally to twisted willow trees. We reach a small patch of flatland with a few sun-baked flat rocks, called Dhanpal Bugyal. We find many sheep and goats arriving accompanied by a couple of men, they tell us that this is the last point of obtaining drinking water till Panchganga bugyal.

Place is extremely beautiful and sun is gradually rising. We want to linger around here for a while because after some kilometers to Naola Pass, routes eases up and there is a descant till the famous temple or Rudranath. Shepard have tea making arrangement and we offer them some money and they make tea, they have goat milk but we prefer it black. We drink tea while lying on the sparkling clean, gleaming and graceful cool rocks. We fill our water bottle and resume our walk.
The steep and narrow route is through rolling grasslands along a broken mountain path. At this height respiration is now labored, thin air at this altitude is hitting us hard. Dark clouds are gathering in the afternoon. Often we are enveloped in the wandering clouds. We are walking slowly and steadily. At about 10 am we reach Naola pass at a height of 14,000 feet. Here with the poor visibility it is quite easy to get lost. From the pass, Rudarnath temple is all the way down at 11500 feet. Unfortunately we are unable to witness any views from this pass otherwise one can see Rudranath temple (3505 mtrs). Hathi Parvat, Nandadevi, NandaGhunti, Trishuli and many others peaks can be seen from here.
Initially the path is mild and appealing.

As it starts raining, the ground becomes increasingly more slippery. Luckily rains stops soon. We cross over a glacier that is about 50 feet across. There is no path or trail anymore and with the guesswork we keep walking and cross several more glaciers. Now we are walking in the dwarf and stunted rhododendron bushes in full bloom. The entire mountain area is crimson. I had never seen anything so colorful before.
Suddenly weather clears us and sun is up. We reach at Panchganga bugyal, where Mr. Rajinder Singh Bhandari of dumuk village is running a shop and his income totally depends upon pilgrims. It is 1:30 pm and time for lunch, he offers us to make aalo-parothas but we now hate parothas. He makes us simple daal and rice. We enjoy dinner in such a serene setting. Mr Rajinder Singh tells us his experiences. He faces severe fuel problems because forests around are shrinking and many people including shepherds use wood for fuel. He is totally depending on forests which are getting far and far from this place. Rhododendrons are dwarf shrubs at this height, which is used as fuel but it makes a poor fuel.

There is some bedding for stranded travelers. He offers us night stay including food for 200 rupee each and it is very tempting to spend a night here at this very calm and still place. Anyway he suggests us to reach Rudarnath because it is his obligation to provide shelter to people who arrive late in the evening or who get stranded due to rain or hailstorms etc. Rudarnath is barely 3 kilometers steep descend from here.
At 3:30 PM now we had a terrific food and then tea also. We hit the path again because path is now dangerous and we need good day light to cover this last stretch.
No symptoms of Tari and Party. May be they returned or may be they are coming.
Who knows?
May be Baba Rudarnath knows?
Walking among the stunted black spruce trees we reach Narada Kund – a natural spring of fresh water with a small temple and an archway with bells. It is amazing to see a man-made monument here in so remote recess of the Himalayas. We ring bells to enjoy the music.
Now we decide to take bath although water is near freezing cold. We find a small mutilated bucket there and take bath using minimum water.
Rudarnath is barely 1 kilometer from here and we are in no rush. We decide to make tea with rhododendron bushes. It is difficult to find dry wood here and somehow we use leaves and twigs and start a very smoky fire going.

Luckily water comes to boiling in our little aluminum pot.
We hear noises and Tari and Company announce their arrival. Memsab is sitting at a mule in an awkward funny position. We cannot stop our laughter and she begins weeping loud. They also stop there because horses want to drink water. We have just two cups and two cups of tea, we hand her first cup and second goes to the kid who is jumping with joy. We all help Madam to dismount the horse and she stands in a embarrassed position and then collapse down on the rocks. We make tea in another two batches because our small pot can take only two tea cups. Tea is full of smoke aroma from rhododendron smoke. We suggest Memsab to have a walk till the temple; it is now a descent all the way, about easiest part of the journey.
Since we have already packed up and Memsab is in no shape to mount the mule so early, we run away from them and hit the path. From Narada Kund the path becomes very steep. Suddenly Rudranath temple and other huts show up on a narrow landing by the path. We arrive at this landing that is barely 10 feet across with a steep fall of about 250 feet on one side and a near vertical mountainside on the other.
This is an idol of Narada Muni, just a hundred meter before Rudranath temple. On this rocky mountainside are a few huts that house any pilgrim who comes here. These are very basic wooden structures with corrugated iron sheet roofing, some with floor of packed earth strewn over by dried grass and others with wooden boards for flooring.

These huts have a door and a couple of small windows for ventilation with rags hanging as curtains, each hut a sunken fireplace for cooking, girdled by a few stones. The walls are covered with soot and it is very dark inside. There is no electricity. Be your own guest here if you have a sleeping bag. One hut is turned into a proper little dharamshala. Depending upon the season there may be one or two Chatti that provides beds and food to pilgrims. The path leads to a small hut etched into the mountain. This is the famous temple of Rudranath. There are barely 5-6 huts in the whole village.
We find a natural water spring and a kund near gate. We sit in open area of temple for few minutes and relax. This place is exceptionally beautiful, beauty beyond the words. Natural beauty works as a medicine and we forgot the tiredness of journey. It is 5:30 pm so we need to make arrangements for night stay and dinner.
We walk in this very simple temple. Rudranath is the place where lord Shiva is worshipped by face. Idol looks very nice in cave shaped temple. Temple gate is made by mud and wood. We find some other pilgrims scattered around here.

The Idol of Rudranath is slightly bent to its left side. Priest Tiwari ji is talking to every pilgrim and asking about their journey, food and accommodation. He directs us to a dharamshala. Rooms are made of mud and dinghy with a tiny window opening. Walls are black with accumulated lantern soot for the years. This is a bare and simple place. Bedding smells of damp and usage by many people for many years. But it is okey, overall we fall in love with this place and decide to spend at least a couple of nights here.
We come out to a tea shop and order dinner also. Tari and Company also announce their arrival at the temple, we wave them. Madam is taken down from the mule and falls right on the feet of the beast. Then she is carried and brought at the grass. Kid comes running to us and enjoys a cup of tea. Little-fella is very interested in the surroundings and looking at everything enjoy-fully.
After tea we explore this ultra scenic place.

There is a group of temples with different shapes of Shivlings, which looks very beautiful.
According to the legends of Panch Kedar, this temple has the face of Shiva. There is a small rectangular space just outside the sanctum. The deity is a Swyam Bhuva (Self Appeared) Shivalinga shaped like a human face formed by the projection of a huge rock. This face has a serene smile and a gaze of benevolence in the all-seeing eyes. I never expected anything so graceful. Measuring about 3 feet from the chin to the top of the jatas, a white cloth remains bound tightly on the crown of Lord Shiva.
There is a natural ledge overhanging this face from where droplets of water keep falling permanently. The temple is very damp and cold with small puddles here and there. There are a few pieces of flat wood on which the pujari or temple priest and his assistant stand during the performance of the elaborate rituals otherwise floor is always ice cold at this altitude. The large half open eyes of the deity are kept covered with larger golden coverings.
Every evening, in elaborate worship, the mask is removed from the face of Shiva to give a brief glimpse of a rarely-sighted aspect of Shiva. This is the only temple of Shiva where his face is his symbol.
Since this is the only dharamshala here so Tari and Company is also given shelter in the same large room of dharmashala. They establish their territory next to us. Poor Tari tried hard to find some better place but found on other alternative.
After parking our belongings we come out.

Madam has moved herself to a rock and is unable to move around due to her leg sores. Her face is sulking and angry. She has not seen her sleeping place yet so Tari is very scared and confused; he does not know what will come to him because room is dingy black and smelly. Beds are emitting a foul fetid smell. Time and again, at various places at my various journeys, I came across this smell and I am used to it. I always use my loincloth as a liner at the face area and I always make my own pillow using my spare clothes.
To help Tari out, Harsh spills about half of his colon bottle on the mud floor. We suggest him to go out and find dhoop or agarbatti and he goes out but returns empty handed. None is available at this dissolute place in the roots of God.
As sun is about to set and it will be dark very soon and whole area will go deserted.
We join evening Puja and then immediately we are called for food at 7PM.
Tari and Company too arrives there as there is no other place serving food. There are just same three items on the menu for all. One is daal other is aalo-soyabean nugget subzi and third is rice. Memsab is very angry but stays quite. Tears begin rolling from her eyes. I whisper with Mr. Ramkrishan – the shopkeeper. He produces a cupful of goat desi ghee. Memsab eats rice with goat ghee and little potato curry – in silence.
As we come out after food, now area is pitch dark. I and Harsh go out to have a walk but our feet hit many rocks so we return to our room. Our beds are on the floor in a row. Tari and Memsab are already there in their beds in the silence.
She only utters one sentence to Tari, “You return to Canada, I will break your nostrils there.”
I ask Tari if he has visited the temple for what he took so much trouble, he says he hasn’t.
We hear muffled weeping sounds of Memsab and then she screams loud because angry kid bit her on her groin. Kid crawls over her and comes to sleep with us.
To be continued . . . . . .
#6 Nov 14th, 2013, 06:08
Join Date:
Aug 2013
New Jersey, USA
  • praveenwadhwa is offline
Rudranath to Toli Bugyal – Rudranath Trek 5
Rudranath Trail Sitemap

Next morning we walk back on the trail to a waterfall to take bath but water is too cold so we use minimum water.
Morning puja at Rudranath Temple begin at 9:00 am and we drag Trai and Company to the temple.
After temple visit, we all have breakfast of aalo-parothas. Madam is again given a cupful of goat ghee. Horse man is still here in Rudranath along with his both horses and Tari and Company are all set to return with him. We wonder how Memsab would mount the horse; she is even unable to walk. We suggest her to walk some distance and then mount the horse and she should again walk after the pass because then it is descend all the way. This time they will be going to Sagar, that way is a bit short and better with some more food stops.
We shake hands and as they are about to depart Harsh plays a cruel joke with them.
He says to Madam, “Did you eat goat meat at Panchganga bugyal yesterday?”
She cries, “Really, they had goat meat there? They didn’t tell us.”
“Since pilgrims don’t eat meat on their journey so they don’t tell these things to people. Otherwise people won’t even drink tea from that shop.”
First time we see smile on her face and now her eyes are beaming.
“They have goat meat, really?” – now she gets sad – “It might be finished by now.”
“Yeah, I saw them cooking goat meat in desi ghee tadka. How could it finish by now. Everybody comes here only and just two more people came here after us. They were cooking whole bakra there.”
Even Tari has a smile on his face now because she may enjoy her lunch and then may leave him alone for a while.

As madam is away, I ask Tari he might had taken a vow or two to visit Kalpnath Temple also since we are also going that way tomorrow. With tearful eyes, Tari grabs his earlobes and mutters, “No more vows. Never ever.”
“Man, you must tell this to Baba Rudranath.”
Tari faces the temple and pulls his earlobes.
Harsh says to him, “You should do sit-ups also, like they do in South India.”
Facing Rudranath – Tari pulls his earlobes and does five sit-ups.
Harsh cries, “Ata boy!”
Madam takes our suggestion and starts walking along the horses. We keep looking at them but then she is loaded on the horse and sits in some strange agonizing impossible posture and they disappear from our sight.
This is the last time we ever saw them.
May God bless Tari.
His fate is in the hands of Baba Rudarnath.
तारी –
तेरा हाफिज खुदा.
तेरा बिस्मिल खुदा.
From the accounts of historian Mr. Umaprasad Mukherjee, I was aware of a 5 feet by 5 feet statue of Vishnu situated in a small temple about 1 km away, beside a natural spring known as Vaitrani Kunda. According to him this is an exquisitely carved statue with the deity reclininng on Shesha Nag. It has now been brought to the main temple. The priest showed us this statue by the light of a solar lantern held up. It has a lotus springing from Narayana’s navel with a deity on the lotus, believed to be Brahma. The details are breathtaking as we see in the temples of South India. It is carved out of a single piece of stone!
There is a small ledge in front of this temple where there are a few stone face-shaped statues like Zulu war-masks seen on the shields of African warriors.
These are regarded as the Vandevatas. In a cave beyond Rudranathji are a few enormous and menacing weapons including swords and maces, as well as precious ornaments. These are believed to belong to the Pandavas hence this cave is also called Pandava Cholas.
Wild beasts like bears, leopards etc. regularly visit this temple though they are not known to have harmed any pilgrim. On the mountainside above this temple are a few smaller rock temples, these remind us of Ajanta-Ellora. These are all Shiva temples.
Across the drop in front of this ledge is vast grassland with a pretty shepherd’s hut and a flock of sheep that appeared as ants from this height. Beyond this short stretch the forests begin, only to get lost in waves upon waves of mountains. The sunrise on a clear day reveals beautiful ice capped mountains in the horizon. This temple closes before any of the other Panch Kedars, and during the long winter months Pujas are offered to the Deity from Gopinath temple at Gopeshwar.

There are many holy Kunds (Tanks) near Rudranath temple namely Suryakund, Chandrakund, Tarakund etc. The Baitarini, the divine river flows pass behind the temple. We have a brief ‘Nasta’ at a Choti near Rudranath temple.
We spend two spectacular days at the Rudranath and enjoy every moment of it. We see several pilgrims visiting this place but not really a crowd in any sense. Many people arrived here and brought with them the ration and provisions for this temple after their some certain wishes came true.
The occasional devotee comes to Rudranath to offer ritual obeisance for his ancestors, because at the Vaitrani River here, it is believed that the dead cross to other shores when entering other worlds. This is the only temple in India where the image of Shiva is worshipped as a symbol of his face. The priest stripped the angry mask off Shiva’s face to reveal a sublime, tender aspect of Shiva, unusual, serene and beautiful.
Now it is the time to leave this extremely peaceful and rudimentary place. We decide to take other way towards Helang on the Joshimath Road. Our target for today is walking 20 kilometers downhill and reaching Dhumak village.
For one last time we visit Temple and say our farewell to happy and jolly Priests and others. With heavy heart we leave temple village and after a bend we walk through breathtaking ridge and flower sprinkled meadows. As we are descending, we could see many peaks from this place as Nanda Devi, Dunagiri, Trisul and Choukhamba. It takes us barely 3 hours of relaxed walk to reach Panar Bugyal. We have arrived 10 kilometers from Rudranath.
Panar offers the awe-inspiring vistas of a flowery meadows where every inch is an implausible and post card beauty that enthralls the eyes. The entire landscape is speckled with wild flowers and it looks just like a flowery carpet of silky flower buds. Apart from this, we saw two very simple and basic, lovely picturesque temples and a pictorial settings of a pretty waterfall.

Usually Panar serves as the resting place for the trekkers who are off to Rudranath from this route. The trek through the grassy curves is refreshing and exciting since there are no marked trekking trails except that of some marks made by the shepherds. Trekking through the odd paths of deep silent jungles is very refreshing, the memory of which would last for a whole life. Since we are descending but for people going upwards, after this lustrous scenic halting, one has to face severe climb to Rudranath Temple. Panar is one of the most beautiful Bugiyals I have ever seen. It’s a sea of wavy grass occasionally dotted with red flowers. Cows and horses graze along the slope that gradually leads to Panchaganga River bed. Mountains meditate on the other side. They look so near as if a run would take us to the tops.

To linger around more, we make tea and after relaxing for an hour we leave this beautiful place. In another hour of steep descent in the emerald green terrian we reach Toli Bugyal. A few steps more, and the highland now slopes to a misty Lake called Toli Tal. A huge grassland sprawls before us The forest begins all of a sudden.
So much mis the other side of the Tal cannot be seen. Toil Lake seems like a pearl dropping from white blanket.
We sit on the wet grass to enjoy the scene. Suddenly it starts raining and then it stops. We are surrounded by a impenetrable mist. After half an hour, the veil of mist lifts and we can see what lies ahead. A forest rest house in ruins, in the distance is visible. At the backdrop of Toli Bugiyal are shadowy mountain ranges. The horses and cattle grazing look like a fairy-tale land. The play of mist, cloud, and sunshine offers us some fabulous drama of nature.

We descend to the Lakeside and a passage leads us to a shepherd huts. We see an old man outside. He is an always smiling old shepherd – Bakhtwar Singh. He says he might be 73 years old. He stoops as he walks, yet he is full of energy. He invites us inside. The hut is constructed stone on stone. Another adjacent hut is for his cows and buffaloes. There are three more shepherd-huts. We are surprised two of the owners are old women. They stay alone. We almost creep into the room. The little door is placed high and window-shaped. The room is partitioned by a low array of stones. The smaller part is for a new born calves. Bakhtwar serves us tea. As we sip sitting at the door, rain comes yet again.
It is the time for lunch, he asks ‘Khichri or Payasa?’ We opt for Payasa. Never have we eaten before Payasa in Garhwal in a shepherd hut at such altitudes.

He prepares Payasa with small grains and buffalo-milk. We request him to be easy on sugar.
It tastes heavenly. I have never eaten such Payasa before. So after the desert he prepares potato-spice. We are over-stuffed. We eat sitting at the door. He says it is prohibited to eat beside the oven fire.
We decide to spend our night here at this scenic place, he has sleeping arrangements for the travelers in his hut. Now weather is clear and we want to go out in this greenest meadow I ever saw in India. Bakhtwar Singh again give us a choice of just two things for dinner: potato subzi or toor-daal but we ask him to cook some meadow herbs. He is skeptical about it saying not many people like these things. But we insist and he said if he will find some time then he will go out to find those herb leaves. Anyway he gives us some sample leaves to find if we can. He doubts if we can identify these leaves. One is watercress and other I have no idea but it tastes pungent as some plant belonging to cruciferae family.

It is 2 PM, we wonder around in the meadows among the buffaloes, sheep and goats. We see many many flowers growing wild. Sun and clouds are playing hide and seek and suddenly sun goes behind the mountains and it is evening. We find many of those leafy herbs that Bakhtwar gave us as sample, we load up my day-pack.

We are at-least 2 kilometers away from the Bakhtwar Singh’s hut. As cattle begins to return, we too follow them. We all arrive at the huts at the same time. We hand the herbs to Bakhtwar and he is very happy about it. He never expected if we would ever find these.
Night is clear and cold. Bakhtwar Singh makes roties and saag of the herbs. He says he didn’t put any salt in the saag because these herbs carried their own salt. He serves us supper with homemade butter. Food is disbelievingly great. Bakhtwar Singh is a ware house of stories. He tells us many stories when he saw ghosts, wild beasts and heard Gods saying the praise to Lord Rudra.

Lord Rudra is the most ancient God. Rudra symbols were discovered from Mohenjo Daro and Harappa diggings. In the ancient time there was only one God, lord Rudra, the protector of all animals. Then his second name as Pashupatinath emerged. Later on India subcontinents saw lots of immigration, it absorbed exoduses from many other parts of Central Asia. Every tribe brought their Gods in various shapes and decorations. Generous land adopted all people and all of their Gods here.
We have a sound sleep in the narrow dingy but warm hut of Bakhtwar Singh.
#7 Nov 19th, 2013, 05:13
Join Date:
Aug 2013
New Jersey, USA
  • praveenwadhwa is offline
Toli Bugyal – Dumak – Kalpeshwar – Rudranath Trek 6

We wake up from our sound sleep in narrow dingy hut of Bakhtwar Singh. He serves us tea. We pack our belongings. He makes us breakfast of aalo-parothas and offers us to pack some food for the way but we decline. Dumak village is now barely 10 kilometers and it is all effortless descending.
We say goodbye to our best friend Bakhtwar Singh. Hope he lives forever and we want to see him again and again. Our heart is breaking upon leaving this heavenly set up.

We begin our walk and ascend a bit from the lake and then take steep descent. Heavily wooded mountain slope is now at our arms distance. We pass through the patches of stunted forests of willow, fir and birch. As we are descending, trees are becoming taller and stronger. Then abruptly we are in the dense forest and then forest turns into the tall trees of deodar and oak.

We pass several waterfalls and at one waterfall we see the vista of distant mountains and valleys. It is overwhelming and as an excuse to stay here more we spend some time in preparing the tea. I add many willow leafs in the tea. Our black tea is now gently flavored.

In the old times, aspirin was made by willow leaves and bark. Now aspirin is manufactured by organic compounds but formula stays same. Willow leaves smell like flavored pain ointments. This is the reason local folk use Willow bark and leafs as pain killer. Not many people know that aspirin is a solvent also, it is prescribed to be taken for whole life to most of heart patients. It dissolves fats in the arteries and keeps it from clogging. Not many people know that willow leaf paste (or aspirin as well) can be used for faster and more reliably growing a plant from the stem. Dissolve some pills of aspirin or make a past of willow trees. Soak the plant stem in the liquid for a night. Plant the stem in the morning and use all this liquid around the stem in the soil. Aspirin triggers the growth hormones in the stem.
Many countries got similar terrain as we have bugyals in Himalayas. Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Argentina etc to name some. These countries got prosperous by wisely using their pastures. These countries managed their grazing lands wisely and scientifically and got rich. We don’t have this concept in India otherwise these alpine meadows are an asset to the nation.

We leave the pretty waterfall and resume our descending. We see a first hut after a clearing in the forest and a cute smell kid of 4 years age is sitting on a rock and playing with a cheap plastic toy. His one arm is newly plastered as he broke it three days ago. We stop there to have a chat with him. He is very happy to see us and begins telling us his stories. He is still flabbergasted with the memories of his visit to hospital in Helang where his Pa took him yesterday. First time in his life he saw cars, trucks and motorcycles. First time in his life he saw electric bulbs, refrigeration and many many other things. And first time in his life he saw so much pain.
On the return trip they rode on a shared jeep from Helang to Urgum but jeep was crowded and this even hurt his arm more on the ride. He has a sister who is gone to school in Dumak Village that is 4 kilometers from here. As we are chatting with this little happy chirpy, his mother brings us tea without milk. She says they use goat milk in the tea but not many people like the taste so she brought us black tea.

They have 50 goats and that is their sole asset as well livelihood. They grow some potatoes and pea on the slopes in season, barely enough for themselves. To take Chirpy to hospital, his Pa took one goat with them to sell in Helang to raise cash for the trip and treatment. His Pa carried him to all the way to Helang that is 10 hours walk. They reached there in the evening and hospital was closed. They sold the goat and slept in a temple room. Next morning they went to hospital and Chirpy’s arm was plastered. At noon they took a Jeep to Urgam and then at night they reached at his aunt’s home at Dhumak. Then today morning they arrived here. In Helang his Pa bought him a plastic car toy and also for him and his sister new plastic shoes and also some bananas.
We don’t have anything for Chirpy but we open our backpacks so he can take a look and select just anything he wishes to have. He selects a cold cream and a small shaving mirror. He loves to have windcheater jacket that Harsh is wearing but it is too big. We ask if his mother can sew then she can alter its size for him. He says that they have no sewing machine but his aunt in Dumak has one. Harsh gives him his jacket, he has a half sleeve sweater and that is sufficient now on. I give him my monkey cap that is too small on my big head anyway.
We bid our goodbye to little chirpy and he is not happy about our leaving him. He asks us to spend a night in their hut but we resume our walk. Very soon we see villages in the densely forested mountains further. As Dumak is coming closer, we see some apple orchards and potato farms. We arrive in the Dumak village at 11 AM.

Dhumak has a neat hotel run by Mr. Prem Singh Bhandari. There is also a tea shop where we order lunch, that turns out a very basic one. We are told that next village is Devagoan but lodging is available at Kalgot that is 7 kilometers and easy gradual descend. We decide to go there.
We leave Dhumak at noon.

Now way is alternated with some steppe farms but mostly deodar forest. Walking leisurely we reach Kalgot at 3 PM. After a long walk and descend we are not really tired but our legs are shaking and we fall down without our noticing so we decide to spend night here in this small village.

Dumak was unappealing but Kalgot is very serene and green. We are longing to spend a night here. One home provides boarding and lodging to travelers in the season and we settle there for the rest of the day.
We walk out of the village to find some waterfall to take a bath, children follow us everywhere. Lots of very healthy cannabis is growing here so this area attracts lots of foreigners too. Children take us to the waterfall and we have a prolonged bath there.

Next morning we begin our walk, Mountain-pass is very near the village of Kalgot and in half hour of climbing we are at the other side. Again steep descending begins till the village of Urgam. We traverse through dense forest, ups and downs followed by lush green meadows. A road and some jeeps are visible at Urgam. Finally we have seen the road after some days.
We reach the outskirts of Urgam village, spread wide across a flatland, with farms bordered by cannabis hedges. We take the outer path skirting the village. On the way, we come across a village lodge, fairly recently opened, where 4 trekkers from Bengal are sitting on the verandah. We are offered room where we have to pass through the dormitory. After spending several days in the open we don’t like this setup so we move on.

We arrive to Negi’s village house, basic, neat and clean, with 3 double-bedded rooms upstairs, which he rents out to the occasional trekker. Many foreigners are staying here because of abundance of cannabis. We take a room here and sit in verandah, drinking tea and chatting with two Israeli girls, who ware painstakingly cleaning the brush of fine hair from some wild plants. They have gathered them during his day’s wanderings to the nearby forests. This subzi turned out to be a delicious delicacy prepared by Negi’s wife – definitely one of the best meals we had in this journey. We find Urgam is busting with pilgrim and trekking activities.
Urgam village has water problems, too many travelers and too many activities has made this place a mini town. Although Kalpeshwar Temple is just 2 kilometers away across the bridge on the next mountain next to a vertical waterfall but we decide to visit there tomorrow.
We walk around Urgam and walk to the river bridge to take a bath. We pay money to a man to bring us locally made alcohol and enjoy our evening outside our room.

Next morning we visit Kalpeshwar.
Kalpeshwar, or Kalpnath is one of the Panch Kedar. It is believed that Lord Shiva’s matted tresses, visible on the rock face that curves overhead to make the cave were all that were glimpsed of him when he was eluding the Pandavas who sought his darshan to gain forgiveness for killing their kin in the epic battle of the Mahabharat.

It is a favorite location for meditating Babas and Sadhus. Legend has it that the sage Arghya had performed austerities here and created the nymph, Urvashi. Rishi Durvasa is also believed to have meditated here under the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha. The sage had given Kunti the boon that she could invoke any of the forces of nature and they would appear before her and grant whatever she desired. Known for his quick temper, Rishi Durvasa is often recalled in context of the incident when, along with several disciples, he visited Kunti’s sons, while they were in exile. He indicated that he and his disciples expected food. There was not a grain to cook. An anxious Draupadi’s prayers were answered by Lord Krishna who appeared and miraculously solved the problem.

In the small cave, we sit in meditation in front of Shiva’s locks. Outside, a group of Sadhus, including a couple of Nath sampradaya ascetics, with their large circular earrings worn through deeply pierced ears were singing.
On our way out, we stop to greet the old sadhu who had lived here many years. He invites us for tea, and gives us a poori as Prasad. Unlike the other Kedars, the temple priests here live at Urgam village and by rare tradition is not a Brahmin.
Well it is the time to return to the road head. We are walking for the last several days and have walked more than 100 kilometers from Tungnath Temple. At noon we reach at Urgam Village.
Next morning we check out from our hotel.

Shared jeeps are going to Helang that is 10 kilometers but we rather walk all the way down to Alaknanda River. We reach Helang in 3 hours of joyful pace. We take a very long bath at Alaknanda River near Urgam Bridge.
We are missing those pristine bugyals, simple people who survive with bare necessities and live off the land. We are missing damp, dingy and soot covered homes but peace resides there.
This ends our Rudarnath Trekking experience.
#8 Jan 13th, 2014, 00:01
Join Date:
Apr 2009
  • samudrav is offline
That was a nice account of trekking. It reminded me of our trek, several years ago, to Rudranath. We had taken the reverse route, starting from the Urgam bridge at Helang and then, Salna, Devgram, Kalpeshwar, Tolital, Panal Bugyal/Shed, and finally Rudranath. We had returned via Ansuya temple. However, it was an organised trek and was not as tough as yours (

If you have any photos of the trek, please upload them.
#9 Jan 26th, 2014, 14:05
Join Date:
Dec 2008
  • milind shevde is offline
Fantastic report Praveen,
I am speechless. you are great story teller.Great photographs
Can you share with me in which period of the year did this trek ?
My next solo trek will be Rudranath-Kalpeswar.You have inspired me to do this trek
Eagerly awaiting your reply
Thanks for sharing
#10 Jan 26th, 2014, 18:45
Join Date:
Feb 2009
Dis Location
  • Sajish is offline
That was quite a report! Even without pictures, though I would love to see them!
And yes, loved the lol moments. Sounded like two trips - one of yours and another of Tari's.
#11 Jan 26th, 2014, 20:03
Join Date:
Dec 2010
  • sidch is offline
Brilliant report, I was hooked till the end! The odd couple made it quite a nice side story to keep the interest alive.

Thank you for posting this!
Some of my ramblings!
#12 Nov 10th, 2014, 01:37
Join Date:
Jul 2014
South Africa
  • SinghAlongSA is offline
#12 kept me glued...fantastic story-telling, missed pictures but replaced with Tari n Lota (his fat rounded partner)
#13 Jun 10th, 2015, 16:19
Join Date:
Jul 2006
Kolkata,West Bengal,India
  • aloke_kol is offline
As I am planning to go to Rudranath, I searched IM and find your article. And began to read it. Then your story began to fly me to the trail. what a story. An excellent descriptiptive one with a powerful human touch. Keep on telling stories like this. You have a gift of story telling prowess.
Never ever give up !
#14 Jun 10th, 2015, 16:29
Join Date:
Jul 2006
Kolkata,West Bengal,India
  • aloke_kol is offline
As I am planning to go to Rudranath, I searched IM and find your article. And began to read it. Then your story began to fly me to the trail. what a story. An excellent descriptiptive one with a powerful human touch. Keep on telling stories like this. You have a gift of story telling prowess.
#15 Oct 15th, 2015, 08:56
Join Date:
Oct 2015
Not set
  • Pinaki Ray is offline
whew what a story praveen ...very nice todays world the fact that u had so much time to share this story with us is very generous of you. Thank you.

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