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You Will Never Believe These Bizarre Truth Behind Kedarnath Badrinath

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Kedarnath Badrinath tour or Chardham yatra advertisement published in all leading newspapers which ignited my intention to visit Kedarnath and Badrinath. And my research started there. After doing extensive research I fixed up my itinerary.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, it will incur no extra cost to you but I will get a referral bonus to fund our travels.

Pawan Hans Limited has been awarded the contract for operating helicopter services for Shri Kedarnath Ji yatra 2019 from Phata. Ticket Fare from Phata sectors will be as follows:

Pawan Hans Limited has been awarded contract for operating helicopter services for Shri Kedarnath Ji yatra 2019 from Phata. Ticket Fare from Phata sectors will be as follows:

Phata – Kedarnath – Phata = Rs.4798/- Per Passenger

Phata – Kedarnath = Rs.2399/- Per Passenger

Kedarnath – Phata= Rs.2399/- Per Passenger

“As per the directive given by UCADA, We hereby inform you that”:

Helicopter Booking for Shri Kedarnathji yatra during season September and October 2019, will be undertaken by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) for all helicopter operators.

Helicopter booking for Shri Kedarnath ji Yatra – 2020, still not open. Announcement related to opening of online booking of helicopter tickets is likely to be done after the Covid-19 Crisis. 
However, devotees are requested to keep visiting the GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) website i.e www.heliservices.uk.gov.in, for any information related to booking as ticketing will be done by GMVN. Further any information regarding the same will also be updated on our website.

Pawan Hans Support Contact No. : 9868123667 / 9868123668

Shri Kedarnath Ji yatra 2019 Support Contact No.

Pawan Hans, NOIDA: 9811766878,9560896657,9873217581,8130693222,0120 2476700,0120 2476770 

Phata Base: 9868123667,9868123668

which given below-

Itinerary for Kedarnath badrinath tour

Day 1 – Reach Haridwar. After breakfast Morning sightseeing at Manasa Devi Temple ,Chandi Devi Temple by Uran Khatola( Ropeway ).Evening Visit at Har Ki Pauri Ghat to observe Ganga Arati.

Day 2 – Haridwar sight seeing.

Day 3 – Reach Gaurikund and collect Kedarnath yatra parchi. Night stay at Gaurikund.

DAY 4 – Gaurikund to Phata for Kedarnath Helicopter tour and back. Night stay at Guptakashi.

DAY 5 – Guptakashi to Badrinath. Night stay at Badrinath.

DAY 6 – Badrinath sightseeing and back to Joshimath. Night stay at Joshimath.

DAY 7 – Joshimath to Chopta.Visit Tunganath and night stay at Chopta.

DAY 8 – Visit Deoriatal and back to Rishikesh. Night stay at Rishikesh.

DAY 9 – Rishikesh sightseeing. Overnight at Rishikesh.

DAY 10 – Full day tour to Dehradoon and Mussouri. Back to Dehradoon rail station to catch Howrah bound Doon Exp.

On the day of the journey, we reached Howrah station at around 7 p.m. Our train Doon exp will depart at 8.25 p.m.Train came at platform no 8 around 8 p.m and we occupied our pre-booked seat in a 3AC compartment. Next day around 10 am we reached Mughalsarai Jn. Mughalsarai Junction railway station is a famous Railways station in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Its name has been changed to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction on 16 October 2017. Mughalsarai yard caters to around 450-500 trains in a month. Many Rajdhani trains halt at this station.

chardham yatra

After finishing my breakfast I opened my laptop and going through the historical and mythological background of Haridwar. Few things I want to share with my readers here.

MYTHOLOGY

1. Haridwar, (also called Hardwar) is Uttarakhand’s holiest Hindu city, and pilgrims arrive here to bathe in the fast-flowing Ganges. The huge number of people get-together around Har-ki-Pauri Ghat gives Haridwar a chaotic but worshipful feel.

2. It’s especially busy during the yatra(pilgrimage) season from May to October, in particular during July, when hundreds of thousands of Shiva devotees, known as Kanwarias, descend upon the city.

3. Situated along the holy Ganges, Haridwar means the gateway to God and justifies its name both in terms of natural beauty and spirituality.

4. Haridwar is famous for its temples and ghats where pilgrims bathe to relieve themselves of their sins and achieve salvation. The city celebrates its own religious and spiritual significance in a number of festivals that attract a huge number of people. These include the Kumbh Mela, whose grandeur can be witnessed only once in 12 years.

5. The city is also famous for its Yoga and Ayurvedic treatments.

6. In the scriptures, Haridwar has been mentioned as Kapilasthana, Gangadwara, and Mayapuri. It is also an entry point to the Char Dham(the four main centers of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand, those are Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri, hence, Shaivaites(followers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (followers of Lord Vishnu) call this place Hardwar and Haridwar respectively, corresponding to Hara being Shiv and Hari being Vishnu.

7. In the Vanaparva of the Mahabharat, where sage Dhaumya tells Yudhishthira about the tirthas of India, Gangadwar, i.e., Haridwar and Kankhal, have been referred to, the text also mentions that Agastya Rishi did penance(self-punishment) here, with the help of his wife, Lopamudra (the princess of Vidharba).

8. The renowned King, Bhagiratha, the great-grandson of the Suryavanshi King Sagar(an ancestor of Rama), is said to have brought the river Ganges down from heaven, through years of self-punishment in Satya Yuga, for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors from the curse of the saint Kapila, a tradition continued by thousands of devoted Hindus, who bring the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprint on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har Ki Pauri, where the Holy Ganges touches it at all times.

HISTORY

Haridwar came under the rule of the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), and later under the Kushan Empire (c. 1st–3rd centuries). Archaeological findings have proved that terra cotta culture dating between 1700 BCE and 1200 BCE existed in this region. First modern era written evidence of Haridwar is found in the accounts of a Chinese traveler, Huan Tsang, who visited India in 629 AD. During the reign of King Harshavardhan (590–647) records Haridwar as ‘Mo-yu-lo’, the remains of which still exist at Mayapur, a little to the south of the modern town. The city also fell to the Central Asian conqueror Timur Lang(1336–1405) on 13 January 1399.

During his visit to Haridwar, first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak(1469–1539) bathed at ‘Kushawart Ghat’, wherein the famous, ‘watering the crops’ episode took place, his visit is today commemorated by a gurudwara (Gurudwara Nanakwara). Ain-e-Akbari, written by Abul Fazal in the 16th century during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar, refers to it as Maya (Mayapur), known as Hardwar on the Ganges”, as seven sacred cities of Hindus. It also mentions that during his travels and also while at home, Mughal Emperor, Akbar drank water from the Ganges river, which he called ‘the water of immortality’.

During the Mughal period, there was mint for Akbar’s copper coinage at Haridwar. It is said that Raja Man Singh of Amber, laid that foundation of the present day city of Haridwar and also renovated the ghats at Har Ki Pauri. After his death, his ashes are also said to have been immersed at Brahma Kund by Mughal emperor Akbar himself. Haridwar has a rich and ancient religious and cultural heritage. It still has many old havelis and mansions bearing delicate murals and intricate stonework.

Haridwar was first connected with railways, via Laksar, through branch line in 1886, when the Awadh and Rohilakhand Railway line was extended through Roorkee to Saharanpur, this was later extended to Dehradun in 1900.

Haridwar has been an abode to rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit. It has also been a center of attraction for learning arts, science, and culture. The city has a long-standing position as a great source of Ayurvedic medicines and herbal remedies and is home to the unique Gurukul (school of traditional education), including the Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, which has a vast campus and has been providing traditional education of its own kind, since 1902. The University of Roorkee, now IIT Roorkee, is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutes of learning in the fields of science and engineering. Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, is one of the largest yoga institutes in India, possibly the whole world. Named after the Rishi Patanjali, the institute is Baba Ramdev’s flagship project.

Around 7 p.m. we reached Lucknow and the next morning around 7 a.m we reached Haridwar. Doon Exp has taken near about 35 hours.

DAY 1

After reaching Haridwar, around 7 a.m we picked up auto to our pre-booked Hotel Alakananda. On the way when crossing the holy river Ganges a shooting and clear prayer song coming to my ear. I am sharing it to you –

We reached Hotel Alaknanda around 7.30 a.m. The duty manager told us as we came early and we have to wait as the check-in time is 10 a.m. I requested him to allow at least one room that we can make ourselves fresh. He told us to wait for another 15 minutes as cleaning is going on in one vacant room. We booked 2 double bedded non AC room here. Within 15 minutes we 4 entered in one room. I and my father went to the Holy River Ganga for a dip.

The Ganges in India is a river, a goddess and a mother at the same time. People affectionately call her Maa Ganga and considered her the perfect mother. Embracing, nourishing, forgiving and offering unconditional love to everyone. All along the river people bathe in the running waters of Maa Ganga for connection, relaxation, and rejuvenation. These occasional and highly valued bodily immersion in the river are part of people’s lifelong relationship with the river, a relationship that stretches far beyond the river’s geographical location.

Hotel Alaknanda is run by UP tourism and is located on the main Delhi highway adjacent to River Ganges, Hotel offers you the basic rooms with AC/ non AC but the biggest advantage is that they have private ghat. Ghat is neat and well maintained, and you need not go to the bus lanes in the Haridwar town for a holy dip. Rooms on the ground floor are lawn facing and rooms on the first and second floors have great Ganges view.

After that, we enjoyed the Desi breakfast at Mathura Walo Ki Pracheen Dukan. This is one of the best at Haridwar. The shop still continues in an old style. Items are less but fresh and all made up of desi ghee. We have Puri, Sabjee, and Sweets there. There is a separate small place available, where one can sit. Then we went to the Mansa Devi temple.

DAY 2-Haridwar Sightseeing

For Haridwar sightseeing details click below mentioned link

HARIDWAR SIGHTSEEING

DAY 3-Haridwar to Gaurikund

Today we have a hectic journey, from Haridwar to Gaurikund. We finished our breakfast within 8 am and within 8.30 am we started for Gaurikund in our pre-booked bolero. If traffic and our vehicle were normal enough then we can reach Gaurikund in 9-10 hours. Please note that road from Rishikesh to Gaurikund will remain closed from 8 pm to 4 am.

The journey was very beautiful because most of the 240 km were hilly road journey with many mountains around and river Ganges following us throughout the way. Kedarnath is accessible only after a steep 13 km trek through a paved path (horses or palanquins are available for rent) from Gaurikund. The charges are not fixed for Horses, Dandies, and Ponies if you book directly. You can check the Govt rates and book from there only to get the best rates.

Route to Gaurikund from Haridwar (226 Kms): Haridwar to Rishikesh (20 km) RishikeshDevaprayag (70 km) – Srinagar (35 km) – Rudraprayag (34 km) – Tilwara (9kms) – Agastamuni (10 km) – Kund (15 km) – Guptkashi (5 km) – Phata (11 km) – Rampur (9 km) – SonPrayag (3 km) – Gaurikund (5 km)

On the way, we crossed Muni ki Reti which is around 03 km from Rishikesh.

Muni Ki Reti is a small town with Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand state in India. Situated along the banks of sacred river Ganga, at the foothills of Himalayas, Muni Ki Reti has a unique identity. Cradled in the lap of nature, this place is dotted with numerous ashrams and centers for Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Muni Ki Reti is enveloped by an air of spirituality. There are many temples and holy places that one can visit here. Every year, Muni Ki Reti receives tourists of all kinds in huge numbers. While some are here to learn Yoga, others come here for adventure sports like river rafting or pilgrimage.

Since tourism is a flourishing business here, Muni Ki Reti offers a perfect mix of experiences. On one hand, there are spiritual ancient temples and sacred places, on the other, there are modern hotels, restaurants, and a crowded multi-ethnic marketplace. The blend sees Israeli and Italian cuisines comfortably combine with vegetarianism of the locale. From Muni ki Raiti the road is divided into three ways. The left road goes to New Teheri via Narendranagar, right road heads towards Neelkanth & straight road goes to Devprayag – Kedarnath / Badrinath.

ADVENTURE SPORTS IN MOON-KI-RETI

On the way, one can see colorful rafts on Jeeps moving towards Byasi. Byasi is a popular destination for adventure sports like rafting, rappelling, rock climbing, etc.

Byasi is a small but extremely charming village of Uttarakhand, which is located on the bank of holy river The Ganga. The place is very near to famous tourist place of Rishikesh. The distance between Byasi and Rishikesh is only 30 Kms. Due To apt demography and consistent flow of river Ganga, the place is simply ideal for river rafting. Don’t worry regarding accommodation and food facility at Byasi as there are several restaurants and hotels available here to provide you the best lodging and food facility. Then after 35 km from Byasi we reached Devprayag.

Devaprayag is one of the “Panch Prayag” where Bhagirathi from Gangotri & Alaknanda from Kedarnath meet and form “GANGA”. It is the birthplace of Ganga. We captured a few pictures of the Sangam of two rivers from the road only and moved further. Devprayag is the place where river Alaknanda & Bhagirathi confluence, but according to mythology, there is another river that belongs to this confluence named Saraswati which originates from Mana Village in Badrinath and in Devprayag, the river comes from the feet of Shri Raghunath Ji in Raghunath Temple. Devprayag is the home of priests of Badrinath. They are known as “Pandas”. Every Panda has his own region in the whole country. A thousand years ago, when Adiguru Shankaracharya came to the area in Badrikashram in the 8th century, many South Indian Brahmins from different areas with different castes came to Devprayag with Aadiguru.

DEVAPRAYAG

After 35 km we reached Srinagar. It is one amongst the largest towns placed within the foothills of majestic Himalayas and on the banks of Alaknanda watercourse came upon the historic city of Srinagar. Today the city is a very important cultural and academic center. Being placed in central Garhwal at a moderate height, it is an important Valley Bazar in the hills. It has a number of temples and monuments and places for tourists to stay. From Srinagar, a road branches off to Pauri and Kotdwar. It has been the capital of Garhwal kingdom till the arrival of British. Srinagar received its name from Sri Yantra, a mythical giant rock, so evil that whoever set their eyes on it would immediately die.

The rock was believed to have taken as several as thousands live before Adi Shankaracharya, in the 8th century AD, as a part of an undertaking aimed to rejuvenate the Hindu religion across India, visited Srinagar and turned the Sri Yantra upside down and hurled it into the nearby river Alaknanda. To this day, this rock is believed to be lying passive in the underbelly of the river. That area is currently referred to as Sri Yantra Tapu. 

On the way to Srinagar, we saw a broken bridge which was built recently across Alaknanda and damaged too during construction. We all were enjoying our journey in our own ways and also busy clicking pictures of the natural beauty of Uttrakhand.

After 35 km,s from Srinagar we reached Rudraprayag, named after Shiva (Rudra). Rudraprayag is a town and a municipality in Rudraprayag district in the Indian state of UttarakhandRudraprayag is one amongst the Panch Prayag (five confluences) of Alaknanda river, the point of confluence of rivers Alaknanda and MandakiniKedarnath, town is located 86 km from Rudraprayag. The man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag hunted and written about by Jim Corbett dwelled here. Rudranath Temple of Rudraprayag is named after Lord Shiva and temple of lord Rudranath is situated at the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini. According to mythology Narada Muni worshiped God Shiva here to find out music from him. God then taught him music in his style of Rudra (Lord of Music). There used to be a rock known as Narad Shila wherever Narada is claimed to own sat in meditation.

RUDRAPRAYAG

From Rudraprayag, the road separated for Kedarnath & Badrinath, left road goes to Kedarnath & right one towards Badrinath. We took the Kedarnath road & about 10 km later we crossed Tilwara. Tilwara is a small village hanging on the banks of situated on the banks of Mandakini river in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Being located on the NH 107 en route to Kedarnath, Tilwara has become a major market place for villages that are perched in the vicinity. At Tilwara, the road coming from Tehri meets the main road coming from Rishikesh to Kedarnath / Badrinath.

It was around 3.00 pm, we started feeling hungry so we stopped at a restaurant, had our lunch which was ok sort of in taste and proceeded further. After some time we reached “Agastmuni”.

The agastmuni town is famous for Agastyamuni Temple. It is believed that the sage had meditated here for almost one year. The temple is locally known as Agasteshwar Mahadev. The temple has few stunning carvings of the Hindu Gods and Goddess on the walls. There is also a Shiva temple named as Agastheswar Mahadev temple in this place. Agastyamuni plays host for a large fair that takes place during the festival of Baisakhi. Devotees swarm to this temple in large numbers during this festival, while they worship and pay their respect to the deity.

About 15 km ahead we reached Kund, from here the right road goes to Ukhimat – Chopta – Badrinath. We took this road while coming back from Kedarnath for our Badrinath visit. Ukhimat – Chopta road is full of scenic beauty and has breath-taking views. I will write in detail about it later.

After 5 km we reached Guptkashi which is situated at the height of 1320 meters above the sea level. It is believed that after Mahabharat, Pandavas wanted to meet Shiva and seek his blessing but Shiva didn’t want to meet and evaded from Guptkashi to Kedarnath, where Pandavas met them later.

On the way, we crossed Nala, a place where goddess Durga is worshipped in the form of Lalita Devi & than reached Phata. Phata is a place where one can have a helicopter visit to Kedarnath.

On the way to Kedarnath,  we crossed through Sonprayag. Sonprayag is a place of spiritual significance placed in-route to Kedarnath Dham. Prayag means that confluence and Sonprayag lie at the confluence of two holy rivers Basuki and Mandakini. In Hindu religion, bath at the Prayags is believed to be holy and attainment of Moksha is possible. In Sonprayag, just 5 km below Gaurikund, there is fatak (gate) to make sure vehicles move in one direction only from SonPrayag to Gaurikund. It ensures minimum traffic snarls but adds 1-1.5 hrs to journey time. But due to fewer numbers of tourists,  we lost only 15 minutes.

Sonprayag offers dazzling views of snow covered mountains and lush green Sonprayag valley. It is situated at an elevation of 1829 meters above sea level. The famous temple of Triyuginarayan (Trijuginarayan) in Triyugi village is additionally placed close to Sonprayag.

Finally, we reached our destination Gaurikund at 5 pm. Gaurikund is about 255 km from Dehradun and 5 km from Sonprayag. We went directly to the registration counter.

From 2014, Uttarakhand government is doing Registration of devotees who are visiting the Uttarakhand State for the Char Dham yatra by issuing biometric cards after registration. The registration is simply done at numerous Biometric Registration Counters at several destinations on Char Dham Yatra route. Now it is compulsory to do Biometric registration for every tourist for Char Dham Yatra after the incident of 2013. The registration will take place at 14 Registrations Centers having 50 counters for pilgrims.

Toll-Free Number for Registration Enquiry: 18001804145

Also, each of the guests will be tracked with a GPS-based observance system in order that traveler flow is check for a selected Dham and this may help to make their journey safe as regular updates will be recorded for their location whether they are going for pilgrimage, adventure or Leisure holidays. Pilgrims may avail special facilities by the government like food and lodging using Registration Card.

Biometric Registration Counters Locations in Chardham Yatra

Place in Chardham Yatra Registration Counter Location
Haridwar Railway Station
Haridwar Pandit Dindayal Upadhyay Parking
Rishikesh Roadways Bus Stand
Rishikesh Hemkund Gurudwara
Janki Chatti Janki Chatti
Gangotri Gangotri
Guptkashi Guptkashi
Phata Phata
Sonprayag Sonprayag
Kedarnath Kedarnath
Pandukeshwar Pandukeshwar
Govindghat Govindghat
Uttarkashi Hina
Uttarkashi Dobata

To get away from long waiting lines of offline/ manual registrations lines at counters pilgrims we can easily click

LINK

Pilgrims all need an email, mobile number & one of Id Proof such as Aadhar Number, Voter ID number, PAN number, Passport or Driving License. The online Chardham yatra registration has a nominal fee of INR 50/- only.

After reaching Gaurikund we entered in the registration office. Before us only three persons who were registering themselves. In the month of October, it was very less crowded. Sun had already wished goodbye to us. Though we were well protected, it was shivering cold outside. One security person asked us to sit on a bench. He also offered one chair to my father. He then asked me where we were coming and whether we have done online registration or not.

Then on the course of the discussion, he asked where we were staying? I told him we booked Gaurikund GMVN bungalow. He shouted to us by saying that it was not possible to go Gaurikund after 6 pm. Because after 6 pm nobody is allowed to enter the Gaurikund check post. In the meantime, I saw our driver Harkesh was running to us to say something. He also told the same thing as the security personnel mentioned.

I requested the police personnel to consider our case as an exception and arrange some alternative. After requesting several times he started liaison with other seniors through a walkie talkie. He arranged our registration process as fast as possible. The doctor checked our blood pressure, our heartbeat and asked a few questions regarding our health. Then we went to another room where one machine captured photographs of our retina. Finally, we got the registration card which is valid for 4 -5 days for outsiders but for local people it’s for the whole season.

After our repeated requests the police officer arranged one police jeep along with the driver. Our pre-booked jeep parked near the checkpoint of Guarikund. Harkesh would spend the night in the vehicle. The jeep took us up to the last parking lot of Gaurikund, after that point there was no motorable road. It is around 7 pm. We cannot see us properly and moreover we could not hear us properly due to the roaring sound of river Mandakini.

The driver left us in the lonely parking lot as he had carried his boss to the police quarter. My son started crying and my old father started blaming me by saying, ‘I know this is going to happen ………….. “.Moreover, all mobile phones lost their connectivity. I switched on the mobile torch and opened two old newspapers. I told my wife for the time being you all sit on this paper let me search if anyone is there. My wife told she will also accompany me. After crossing one curve of the road we saw few lights glittering on the hilltop and one torch light is approaching us. When it came near we observed that he was also from the police. He asked my name and confirmed in his walkie talkie that we have reached safely.

My special thanks to Uttarakhand police to take this type of special care for a group of unknown tourists. Then the policeman asked us where we were going to stay. After telling him about our pre-booked hotel he went to the uphill and vanished within a few seconds. After 5 minutes he came back with two persons. He ordered them to take us in the bungalow. I asked him in whispering voice, ‘How many steps up the hill, Sir?” He mentioned casually only 136.My father given his verdict that he was not going to move a single step further.

I started moving upward with my mobile holding my father’s hand and told my wife to follow us by a switch on her mobile torch holding the hand of my son. After 15 minutes around 7.45 pm, we reached Gaurikund GMVN bungalow. Completing all check-in formalities we ordered for dinner as per caretaker cum manager’s choice. We will get Deradoon rice, aloo varta, one paneer item, dal, papad, and curd. He also mentioned we have to finish dinner by 9.15 pm.

GMVN Gaurikund TRH is a government budget hotel located at the holy town of Gaurikund in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. The guest house offers comfortable accommodation options, pure vegetarian food, hot water facility, parking space, etc. The hotel is set in a very picturesque location surrounded by the snow-capped mountain peaks that provides a cool and refreshing atmosphere. The hotel is an ideal choice for pilgrims to Kedarnath with its beautiful location and all the basic facilities offered with warm hospitality and at very affordable prices. For detail review of GMVN Gaurikund TRH please click on below-mentioned link.

GMVN, GAURIKUND TRH, UTTARAKHAND

DAY 4 – Kedarnath Helicopter Tour

In the morning I woke up around 6.30 a. m. I went to our balcony and became ……..WOW, I really mesmerized to see that we were in the lap of Himalaya. A name with a lot of resonance. A visit to the present place and you may leave with a respect for the land. The sheer size, the mountain range, the clear waters of the river Mandakini, and ice caps are really awesome. Early in the morning, the creative golden sun got up and began painting the dark black sky into a bright blue sky. The bright looking milklike clouds got up from sleep and began traveling around the sky visiting the marvelous atmosphere.

The tall brown murky purple snow coated the mountains standing alone stood covering the whole nature. Next to the mountains and almost about the forest, there was a waterfall with ivory white water splashing right down to the river Mandakini as if somebody was spilling a glass of milk. Fresh windy cool and crisp air started whistling like an invisible ghost. The red and green birds with chili like beak started twitting their morning melody. The inexperienced brown lovely countless leaves whispered to every other about their morning plans. 

Gaurikund is an important Hindu pilgrimage site on the way to Kedarnath Dham, which is another 14 kilometers uphill from there. Gaurikund also has a temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati, the Gauri Devi Temple. This is the place wherever goddess Annapurna Devi meditated to attain Lord Shiva. From Gaurikund Chardham yatra need to trek 14 km to reach Kedarnath Temple. The most Superior time to visit the place is fall in between the month of May to October. We visited in the month of October.

Gaurikund is expounded with Lord Shiva wife Annapurna commonly called Gauri in all parts of the Country. There are many hotels, lodges, Dharamshala, and guest house facilities for Chardham pilgrims in Gaurikund. This pilgrimage site boasts of a natural hot spring and this is one of the reasons that supposedly prompted Devi Gauri to pick this as a place to indulge in a hard penance. A portion of the tank or kund has been covered to serve as the bathing place for ladies. Gauri and Shiva were finally married at Triyugi Narayan, which is not too far away from Gaurikund.

This place is additionally related to the legend of however Ganesh acquired his elephant head. The lake is additionally known as “Parvati Sarovar” as this was the place wherever goddess Annapurna had acquired her son Ganesh.  Goddess Parvati had formed an image of Ganesha from the soap lather on her body and breathed life into it. She placed Ganesha at the entrance of her home as her gatekeeper to prevent anyone from entering while she was bathing. Now Lord Shiva happened to come back at this point in time and was stopped by Ganesh. The displeased Lord Shiva cut off the boy’s head. Parvati insisted that the boy be brought back to life and Shiva took the head of a wandering elephant and placed it on Ganesha’s body and life was restored and Parvati had her son back.

We finished our breakfast with aloo paratha, pickle, and curd. Then we rushed to Phata for our helicopter ride to Kedarnath.  For many decades, Kedarnath has remained quite inaccessible to pilgrims who could not risk the perils of the trek. Not everybody was blessed with good health and fit physique to trek the strenuous trail until the shrine from Gaurikund (16-19 km). Also, there isn’t a comfortable provision for accommodation close to the premises of the temple. So the individual was expected to end the round trip  uphill trek, darshan and downhill trek inside a single day. No wonder, Kedarnath darshan remained an unbearable challenge.

For detail of Kedarnath Helicopter Tour, click below-mentioned link

KEDARNATH TOUR BY HELICOPTER

As of 2001 India census, Kedarnath had a population of 479. Males constitute 98% of the population and females 2%. Kedarnath has an average literacy rate of 63%: male literacy is 63%, and female literacy is 36%. In Kedarnath, none of the population is under 6 years of age. The floating population from May to October every year is more than 5000 per day.

With the first glimpse of Shri Kedarnath Temple with the backdrop of the snow-clad peaks of Kedarnath ranges, you would approach the helipad of Kedarnath. Upon arrival, the helipad staff would assist you to get down from the helicopter and you would move towards the holy shrine of Shri Kedarnath Ji. On the way, you can stopover at makeshift shops and buy Prasad for offering to Lord Kedarnath. Note that when you fly, you are flying to a high altitude area within a time span of about 10 minutes. This means that your body has not been able to acclimatize to the high altitude area. In such a situation, I suggest that you must not walk too fast as there is a bit of scarcity of Oxygen as well. (Please note that this word of caution applies more to those who have any pulmonary disorders, as, for normal persons, it would not be very difficult to adjust to the climate.)

The temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya (April end or first week of May) and closes on Bhai Duj (October end or 1st week of November) due to heavy snowfall and extreme cold weather during winter. Gaurikhund is 75 km (47 miles) from Rudraprayag. In between Rudraprayag and Kedarnath there are several places of pilgrimage such as Agastyamuni, Ukhimath, Pauli- Pasalat Devi Maa, Bamsu (Lamgoundi) Vanasur, Maa Jwalamukhi Devi village Andarwari, Maa Chandika Devi village lwara, Maa Kali at Kalimath, Trijugi Narayan (7 km (4 mi) from Son Prayag) (Where Lord Shankar got married to Goddess Parvati from when the fire of hawan kund is still alive) and Kashi Vishwanath at Guptakashi.

Once you reach Shri Kedarnath Shrine, you will get about 1.5 hours to 2 hours time to visit the temple. After having darshan at the temple, you would fly back to Phata. If time permits and you are able to have Darshan at the temple quickly, you can also visit the Bhairon Ghaati which overlooks the Kedarnath town. However, please note that the climb to Bahiraon Ghati is quite steep. For those who are planning to visit Shri Kedarnath Shrine, you can visit the official website of Shri Badrinath and Shri Kedarnath Temple Committee on the link

http://www.badarikedar.org/BKTC/download

On sixteen June 2013 at some 7:30 p.m., a landslide occurred close to Kedarnath Temple with loud thunder followed by the gushing of big amount of waters from Chorabari Tal or Gandhi Tal down Mandakini River at about 8:30 p.m. which washed away everything in its path. On seventeen June 2013 at some 6:40 a.m., waters rush downriver Saraswati and from Chorabari Tal or Gandhi Sarovar bringing along with its flow immense quantity of silt, rocks, and boulders. A huge boulder got stuck behind baba Kedarnath Temple, protective it from the ravages of the flood’s fury.

After coming back to Phata we went to Guptkashi to our prebooked GMVN, Tourist Bungalow. GMVN tourist cottage, Guptakashi is a budget hotel located on the way to Kedarnath at Guptkashi in Uttarakhand. The hotel is set in a lovely location facing the majestic mountain ranges and offers the breathtaking views of the same from the hotel. The hotel provides only the basic accommodation facilities along with the fine vegetarian food and travel help. The hotel is an ideal choice for pilgrim tourists as well as leisure travelers visiting the picturesque town of Guptkashi and near major tourist attractions. The hotel provides a good value of money with its descent facilities and services offered at the lowest rates.

Guptakashi, Gupta Kashi or Guptkashi is a fairly large town located at an elevation of 1,319 meters (4,327 ft) in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. It is known for its ancient Vishwanath Temple dedicated to the god Shiva, that is analogous to the one in Varanasi (Kashi). The other well-known temple here is dedicated to Ardhanareshvara, a half man half woman form of Shiva and Parvati. The name Guptakashi has legendary significance coupled to the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Its spiritual importance is taken into account next thereto of Varanasi, believed to be the most pious of all Hindu pilgrimage places.

DAY 5 Way to Badrinath

Next day we started early ( around 8.30 am )  as we have to cover 268 km to reach Badrinath and it will take around 7 hours from Guptkashi Via  Ukhimath – (14 km) Chopta – (62 km) Gopeshwar – (90 km) Joshimath (60 km ) to Badrinath (42 km).

Ukhimath (also written Okhimath) is a small town and a Hindu pilgrimage site in Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand. It is situated at an elevation of 1311 meters. During the winters, the idols from Kedarnath temple, and Madmaheshwar are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped here for six months. Ukhimath can be used as a central destination for visiting different places located nearby, i.e. Madhmaheshwar (Second kedar), Tungnath (Third kedar) and Deoria Tal (a natural freshwater lake) and many other picturesque places. According to Hindu Mythology, Wedding of Usha (Daughter of Vanasur) and Anirudh (Grandson of Lord Krishna) was celebrated here. By name of Usha, this place was named as Ushamath, now known as Ukhimath. Ukhimath has an All India Radio Relay station known as Akashvani Ukhimath.

Then we reached Chopta. Chopta is a small region of meadows and evergreen forest area which is a part of Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary located in Uttarakhand and a base for trekking to Tungnath, third temple of Panch Kedar, which lies 3.5 kilometers away. Located at a distance of 1.5 kilometers from Tungnath is Chandrashila, arising to over 4,000 meters (13,000 ft). Chopta is an unspoiled natural destination lying in the lap of the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Chopta village is surrounded by forests of pine, deodar, and rhododendron and is rich in flora and fauna include rare species of birds and musk deer.

Gradually crossed a lot of scenic places enroute, and reached Joshimath at 1.30 Pm. We crossed Sonpryag and many hydro projects by NTPC and Jaypee group. The road was exciting but scary sometimes. After twisting here and there, we finally reached Badrinath at 5 pm.It was tremendous cold there. Thanks a lot to the weather which helped us a lot by not pouring showers.

Checked in at the GMVN guest house. It offers simple rooms with attached bathrooms. Looks like a fairly old construction. The minimum temperature was sub-zero and there were no geysers in bathrooms. No heaters in rooms. Hot water was provided in buckets by GMVN in charge on call. Room tariff was Rs 990/- plus tax. For detail review of the guest house click below-mentioned link

GMVN BADRINATH TOURIST REST HOUSE, BADRINATH, UTTARAKHAND

GMVN Guest House, located at around 7 minutes walking distance from the holy shrine. The temple was just 200m from the guesthouse, hence we thought of a normal walk and see sandhya aarati (evening prayer). There is a very good tapt kund (natural hotwater tank) in the temple complex, and it was great to freshen up with the hot water.  Booked the Karpur aarti and witnessed the Bishnu darshan perfectly. The flow of Alaknanda River was awesome.  After doing the arti session, we came back to the main market and started our shopping. Rudrakhsa, rings, bangles, chains were the main items we bought.

It was very cold outside. We went to a roadside café for tea and biscuits.After taking tea we went to a restaurant to have an idea about the rate. I asked whether kichdi is available or not? The owner mentioned they would make it within 2 hours which will cost Rs. 60 per plate. My wife told him if she prepares it with 2 roasted papads, how much he will charge. He mentioned Rs. 80 per plate. Not a bad deal. My wife entered the restaurant kitchen. I also assisted her. The manager served all ingredients double in quantity. After asking he mentioned that they would also want to take kichdi cooked by bhabiji in their dinner. Within half an hour she prepared Kichdi. We were back to the guesthouse at 7.30 pm to freshen up ourselves. Around 9 p.m we went to a restaurant to have our dinner. We ate hot khichdi with roasted papad and back to our guest house finally around 10 p.m.

To book guesthouse online please visit below mentioned link

http://gmvn.gov.in/

DAY6 Badrinath and Mana

Next day we take our bath and prepared for puja at Badrinarayan Temple. The picturesque town of Badrinath is where divinity meets with the serenity of nature is one of the holiest of the holy shrines of Char Dham pilgrimage in India. Other Char Dham sites include Dwarka, Puri, and Rameswaram. Starting with Yamunotri, Gangotri, and Kedarnath, Badrinath is the last and most celebrated stop in the pilgrimage tour of Garhwal Himalayas. Badrinath Dham is easily accessible by motorable roads and the Badrinath temple can be reached by walking along an easy trek. Badrinath is a land of innumerable legends, each one only adding to the glory of this place. Along with these legends, the snowy mountain peaks, gracefully flowing Alaknanda River and incredible landscapes create the perfect background to facilitate a spiritual connection.

Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu which is situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand, India. The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River at an elevation of 3,133 m (10,279 ft) above the mean sea level.

The image of the presiding deity worshipped in the temple is a 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, black stone statue of Vishnu in the form of Badrinarayan. Although Badrinath is located in North India, the head priest is traditionally a Nambudiri Brahmin chosen from the South Indian state of Kerala. The temple is mentioned in ancient religious texts like Vishnu Purana and Skanda Purana. The temple has three structures: the Garbhagriha (sanctum), the Darshan Mandap (worship hall), and Sabha Mandap (convention hall).

The image of Badrinarayan holds a Shankha (conch) and a Chakra (wheel) in two of its arms in a lifted posture and two arms are rested on its lap in a Yogamudra (Padmasana) posture. The sanctum also houses images of the god of wealth—Kubera, Narada, Uddhava, Nar and Narayan. There are fifteen more images that are also worshipped around the temple. These include that of Lakshmi (the consort of Vishnu), Garuda (the vahana of Narayan), and Navadurga, the manifestation of Durga in nine different forms. The Tapt Kund, a group of hot sulfur springs just below the temple, is considered to be medicinal; many pilgrims consider it a requirement to bathe in the springs before visiting the temple. The two water ponds in the temple are called Narad Kund and Surya Kund.

There is no history concerning the temple, however, there’s a mention of the presiding divinity Badrinath in religious text scriptures. According to some accounts, the temple was a Buddhist shrine until the eighth century and Adi Shankara regenerates it to a Hindu temple. The design of the temple resembles that of a Buddhist vihara (temple) and also the brilliantly painted facade that is atypical of Buddhist temples ends up in the argument. Other accounts relate that it was originally established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara within the ninth century. It is believed that Shankara resided in the place for 6 years from ad 814 to 820. He resided six months in Badrinath and the rest of the year in Kedarnath. Hindu followers assert that he discovered the image of Badrinath within the Alaknanda stream and enshrined it in a very cave close to the Tapt Kund hot springs. A traditional story asserts that Shankara expelled all the Buddhists within the region with the assistance of the Parmar ruler king Kanak Pal. I do not know which one is true but these are findings of my research. The temple has undergone several major renovations due to its age and damage by an avalanche. In the seventeenth century, the temple was expanded by the Kings of Garhwal. After vital damage within the nice 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it had been for the most part restored by the King of Jaipur.

After offering puja we went to a restaurant to have our breakfast. In breakfast, we had taken Puri, Sabjee and hot Gulab jamoon. Then we went to the last village of India, Mana. Mana village is literally the farthest a traveler is allowed to go within the boundaries of India. It is a calm and tranquil spot before the onset of Tibet/China. Mana is located in Uttarakhand, 3118 meters above the sea level. The traces of Hindu mythology, Mahabharata, are visible in Mana. It is believed that Pandavas had to pass through this village on their journey to heaven. Bheem, the strongest of the five brothers, build a rock bridge in order to cross the Saraswati River. Furthermore, a small cave named Vyas Guha is widely believed to be the place where sage Veda Vyasa resided and composed the whole Mahabharata.

The claim to fame of many coffee & tea shops here is that they are the last on the Indian border. If you don’t make a stop here; you will regret it for the rest of the journey. The inhabitants trace their origin back to Mongol tribes and follow a migratory way of life. The residents are the last generation of the Bhotia community. The weather conditions become so hostile and inhospitable during the months of November-May that the residents move to lower areas of Chamoli which is 100 km away from Badrinath.

They dwell in stone cottages which are mud plastered and have slate tiled sloping roofs. The houses are built into the hillside and have a kitchen garden in the backyard. Part of their livelihood is to grow spinach, cauliflower, and potato and sell this to hotels and guest houses in Badrinath. The Mana women are craftsmen par excellence. Mana is famous for its potatoes. As soon as you enter the village; you will come across large potato sacks neatly arranged on the street side ready for sale.

Once you reach the top of the hill at Mana, the air becomes thin and breathing takes a bit of an effort. The border road is visible at one side and the vast Himalayan expanse on the other. That is truly the end of the road. One has to park vehicles at the village border and enter the village on foot. Once inside, the Himalayan surrounding and calmness will envelop your sense.

After that, we moved to Ganesha Cave. Ganesha Cave is also located in the nearby area below the Vyas cave. Near this temple, is a natural rock that rests over the river known as Bhim Pul. Further, 3 km upward climb from Vyas Gufa is another cave. Ganesh Gufa is the cave where it’s believed that Lord Ganesha wrote Mahabharata as dictated by Rishi Vyas. The cave is surrounded by lush green meadows and beautiful temples. A small temple is located near the Ganesh Gufa.

We then entered Vyas Gufa. Vyas Gufa is believed to be the place where sage Vyas composed the Mahabharata epic with the help of Lord Ganesha. He also composed 18 Puranas, Brahma Sutras and four Vedas. Maharishi Vyas statue is installed in the caves and worshiped by the pilgrims. A distinct feature of the temple is the roof which resembles the pages from the collection of his holy scripts.

There is also an interesting story related to the place that explains the broken tusk of Lord Ganesh. When Vyas was composing Mahabharata, he needed someone to take down his dictation and asked the learned Ganesha for the same. Ganesh agreed but he had a condition – that Vyas would not stop even for a moment or else he would stop writing and leave. Vyas dictating as fast as he could and Ganesh bent down over the script pages. Finally, his reed pen broke. To which, he broke off a part of his tusk to be used as a pen thereon.

Next, we went to Bhimpool. Bhimpool is a natural bridge built from a huge rock by the Pandava brother Bhima for his wife Draupadi. Lying in the internal corners of the town, it is believed that this was the place from where the Pandava brothers started their ‘accent to heaven’ (swargarohini). During their transit, Draupadi was unable to cross the river and hence Bhima lifted a huge rock and placed it here which today is known as the Bhim Pul. Had never seen a natural rock bridge before! The waters, the rock bridge… everything just completed the entire beautiful picture! One wasn’t allowed going on that bridge since the water was in full spate but even from far it looked very interesting and a bit frightening as well.

Just near the bhimpool, I met that person, AGHORI BABA. He stays there throughout the year in his small cave with a blanket and fire in front of him. Even in winter months, he is one of the few who stays there, he claimed. By the way for the benefit of readers let us explain the AGHORI concept. The Aghoris is a Shaivite Hindu sect – mostly composed of ascetic sadhus – believed to have split off from the tantric Kapalika order (which dates from 1000) in India in the 14th century. The Aghori are known for their extreme and bizarre violations of typical Indian and other social mores. I have got the opportunity to capture him on my mobile.

Around 12.30 pm we started for Joshimath. Jyotirmath, also known as Joshimath is a city and a municipal board in Chamoli District in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Located at a height of 6150 feet (1875 m). It is home to one of the four cardinal pīthas established by Adi Shankara. Joshimath lies on national highway NH58 that connects Delhi with Badrinath and Mana Pass in Uttarakhand near Indo-Tibet border. Therefore, all the buses and vehicles that carry pilgrims from New Delhi to Badrinath via Haridwar and Rishikesh in the pilgrim season of summer months pass through Joshimath.

We reached Joshimath around 3 pm. Here we were staying at GMVN Joshimath bungalow. GMVN Tourist Bungalow at Main Bazaar in Joshimath is a semi-deluxe hotel offering premium deluxe facilities and located at the prime location near the main market and bus stand in the beautiful town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand. The government hotel at Joshimath offers comfortable accommodation, delicious pure vegetarian/non-vegetarian (only egg) food, travel assistance and 24-hour hot water supply. The hotel provides a good value for money and is an ideal choice for budget travelers visiting Joshimath, Badrinath or any other nearby place, seeking good facilities at affordable rates. Enjoyed our stay thoroughly. For detail, review click below mentioned link-

GMVN TOURIST BUNGALOW, JOSHIMATH, UTTARAKHAND

DAY 7

Joshimath to chopta is near about 140 km and took near 5 hours. First, we reached Pipalkoti. Pipalkoti is 35 km from Joshimath on the Rishikesh – Badrinath highway. Pipalkoti is a small and scenic town. Pipalkoti acts a relaxation point for people traveling to Badrinath, Auli, Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers. It is settled amongst lush green mountains and terraced fields. Pipalkoti provides wonderful views of the mountains and green hills all around. There are budget accommodation options available at Pipalkoti and this place is also known for its restaurants and eat-outs. Travelers often relax at Pipalkoti, enjoying the picturesque views and delicious food.

After Pipalkoti we reached Chamoli. Bestowed with remarkable natural beauty – Chamoli is a charming abode of the Gods, which was earlier called the Kedar-Khand. Chamoli town is the headquarters of the district of the same name and is said to be amongst the most blessed places, adorned with beautiful scenery and heart melting sights. Sprawled in the Garhwal Himalayan region, Chamoli is the second largest district of Uttarakhand that is decorated on the banks of the River Alaknanda, and shares borders with other attractive districts of the state like Pithoragarh and Bageshwar to its east, Almora to its south, Rudraprayag to its west, and Uttarkashi to its south-west. The district has an appealing tourist destination that along with religious places has a surplus of sightseeing and trekking options.

After then we reached Gopeshwar. Gopeshwar is a town located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. This place is famous as the administrative headquarters of the Chamoli District. There are a number of attractive places of interest in Gopeshwar. This place is famous for its ancient temple of Lord Shiva. Here thousands of devotees offer prayers to Lord Shiva from both major and minor parts of the country. Gopeshwar is bounded by four famous temples which include Tunganath, Anasuya Devi, Rudranath and Badrinath. Tunganath temple is situated at an altitude of 3,680meters above sea level. This entire place is known for its spiritual significance that lures a large number of pilgrims every year.

Then we reached Tunganath to start our day’s first activity i.e. Tunganath trek. Around 2 pm we reached Tunganath. We finished our lunch in a roadside Dhaba and took rest for half an hour. Around 3 p.m we started our trekking.

For detail trek report click below link-

Tunganath Trek-Complete Guide

DAY 8-Deoriatal Trek and Back to Rishikesh

Next day morning we woke up late. After refreshing ourselves when I came out I was really stunned after viewing the 180-degree panoramic view of Chopta. Yesterday we checked in the evening. Today we saw Chopta Mayadeep Resort is just beside the road and in such a strategic position that at a glance we can view the mind-blowing beauty of Chopta. For details of Chopta stay click below

Chopta Mayadeep Resort

Chopta is based in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Chopta is also considered as ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India. This kind of exclusive name is approved to Chopta due to its rolling green meadows and wonderful Himalayan peaks. In winters, this region covers with layers of snow providing a royal view to the onlookers. Earlier, it was an untouched destination but in recent time, the hill station attracts a good number of tourists and has become a famous destination to enjoy holidays with family and friends. One can find a variety of alpine vegetation and orchids here. You will also find a diverse range of flora and fauna. Those who love trekking can come here as this is a great base camp for many treks in the region.

Today our plan is to trek Deoriatal which was near Chopta at Sari village. After Deoriatal trek, we would move to Rishikesh. We checked out the guest house around 9 am and moved to Sari village. The adventure starts with Sari. There is a sign-board indicating the trek route to Deoriatal in the heart of the small market in Sari, next to Hira and Murali Singh Negi Tourist House.

For detail information of Deoriatal trek click below-mentioned link-

Deoriatal Trek-Complete Guide

http://www.tintinbox.com/deoriatal-trek-complete-guide/

The total trek has taken 2.5 hours. We came down to Sari around 2 p.m and finished our lunch. Then we started for Rishikesh. First, we reached Mastura a small village 2 km after Sari. Then we reached Kund, Chandrapuri, and Augustmuni. Around  3.30  pm we reached Rudraprayag. We reached Rishikesh around 8 pm and checked in our pre-booked Hotel Devoy Inn.

Hotel Devoy Inn was a small but compact hotel with all amenities just 5 km away from Lachmanzhula. For details of Hotel Devoy click below link

DAY 9 Rishikesh Sightseeing

Next day we got up late. Freshen up ourselves have our complimentary breakfast with puri, sabji and jalebi. Then we went for Rishikesh sightseeing. Rishikesh is a city in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. Located in the bases of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’ and ‘Yoga Capital of the World’.For details Rishikesh Sightseeing click below-

5 Points Never Miss When You Are in Rishikesh

DAY 10 Goodbye Rishikesh

Today we would depart from Uttarakhand. Our train was at 8 pm from Dehradun. So we would get a full day to visit Dehradun and Mussoorie. We hired one cab for full day, which would took us from Rishikesh to Dehradoon to see Sahasradhara and then to Mussoorie to visit Kempty falls, mall and then back to Dehradoon Rail station. Dehradun and Mussoorie I will discuss later.

Last updated on 27.12.20

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