To me, trek no more means lots of snow, or beautiful landscapes. These are the obvious bonus to it. Instead it is meant to strengthen the ability to listen to the heart to circumvent the brain (that becomes a hurdle when one is tired). Since I have been following Bikat Adventures, got an opportunity to go on a peculiar voyage(Exploration trek) with them. Had many questions with me, but somewhere I knew, the answers to all my queries would render me in fuss, so I controlled and followed the instructions. I didn't Know anything about the the region, the arrangements, or anything else. I was told we were going to explore Meru and Kirti Bamak Glaciers. Though tried exploring the region on internet, I hardly could find any piece of information. I got the phone number of two fellas, with whom I had to leave. None of us had much information, I was feeling as if we were going on a treasure hunt. :D.
With all quests and queries within ourselves, to explore the peaks, to measure inner strength, to find nature's home, we finally left the Delhi bus terminus for Rishikesh. Overnight journey in the bus could have been pathetic, had my mind not been imagining the destination. Glacier, I imagine source of some river, snow peaks with stealthy outflow of water. Do you imagine the same?
The quest started sprouting, and then Wakeel, who happened to be our team lead for next several days, answered some of them. He told us that we were heading for Gangotri, which was the starting point for trek. I was gratified with this much, as I so wanted to go to this place since long long time. Before this distant journey could become annoying, we reached Rishikesh at 5:40 am. Without spending our most expensive resource 'time', we in search for mode to reach Uttarkashi, boarded a taxi, that dropped us at 12 noon. It had been 14 hrs of continuous travelling, and we were still 100 kms from Gangotri. For Gangotri we had to hire another taxi.
As it is said, "The journey is more beautiful than destination", it stood true for this one. As if we were to track the source of river Bhagirathi, the journey was all along the roaring river but in the reverse direction. The route is magical, passes through a dam, beautiful landscapes, fishery ponds, numerous waterfalls, Garamkund (Natural hot water geysers) at Gangnani, and of course the distant but all the more exciting, inviting, sky touching snow clad peaks.
The market at Gangotri was astonishing. Throwing our bags in a room, we stepped for Gangotri temple. and then to a restaurant. Such a remote place and you can find all variants of cuisines, Continental, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, South Indian, bla bla.. Being Bone-weary, and extreme hungry, we ordered everything that was ready within a minute or two. That night we dined lavish.
With same imaginary glaciers, we were going to start trek, the next day.
Trekking – Day 1 : Gangotri to Bhojwasa
Started for Tapovan which is 22kms from where we started. With few (exactly 3) hours of hiking along the river, through rocky areas, through well laid pavements, through Chirwasa. To rest for a while we had a lunch break. With tea and paranthas in my hand (At the doorstep of Chirwasa, few employees of Forest department offered TEA), I had surroundings in my eyes. The pine trees and skying mountains reminded me of the ideal landscape painting, that I used to draw in my childhood days.Bridges over waterfalls, jumping over the small streams, we reached the Chirwasa village.
In Gangotri national park, one can find blue sheep, called ovis nayar. Lucky we were, we saw a herd of 40 sheep as we stepped ahead towards tapovan.
Meandering, crossing all types of landscapes, green and brown, rocky and icy, to catch a close up of white mountains, to trace the origin of river flowing along, we reached the village, Bhojwasa. The village has trees of "bhoja patra", and hence is named so.
Although this was not the final destination for the day, but the IGLOO in this valley stoked us. So we settled at Bhojwasa (ofcourse I couldn't march past this igloo). Almighty have thy own plan.
Bhojwasa : A restful place, 4 kms prior to gaumukh and 6 kms prior to tapovan, on one side of which flows the river Bhagirathi, and on the other are mountains, to look at the peak of which, you need to turn your head 90degree upside. On one side of this village is Gaumukh and the other has land slide area. The magical views are Captivating. We witnessed the clouds in making, the moving clouds, how they got struck in middle of two ranges. Wow ! This phenomenon was amazing and nature appealed gorgeous as always. Few other trekkers who stayed at bhojwasa joined us for usual trek gossips. The gossips in igloo, and delectable maggi followed a sound sleep. Next morning in freezing temperatures, we rushed out of our sleeping bags, to witness the beauty of surrounding mountains, and believe me every peak changes its makeup quickly.
Trekking – Day 2 : Bhojwasa to Tapovan
We struggled for another 6 hrs to reach Tapovan. Alas! The trekking distance was small, but too steep. Huh! I kept telling myself, "Keep walking, you can do it, keep walking". As usual, I was the last one to complete the trek.
"Love at the first sight" : When we reached the mountain top, the view and mood took a swing. We were no more in the lap of nature but sitting on its shoulders. The only visible colour was white. The ground, the surroundings and also the sky (completely covered with clouds).
I could see the camp site but could not walk anymore. So I leaned wherever I was, and slept (almost) with open eyes. The temperature was freezing but soon, the god Surya showered his blessings. We camped near a frozen lake. This was the source of water. We broke the ice layer from a corner to take out a bucket of water. P .After some rest the usual trek gossips started ,and we prepared our food ( the most challenging task on an exploration trek), which was fun. One of us prepared maggi, and other one vegetable, Varun prepared Paranthas( the only thing that was well prepared).
Post food, we relaxed and cherished the surroundings. Everyone was a statue, no one could move/speak being tired. We were alone, and for the first time I felt being in state of meditation. For time, I was thoughtless.
The camping site was in middle of Bhagirathi range (1,2,3), Peak Meru, Peak Shivling. The day passed . The next day was going to be hectic as we had to trek to Kirti Bamak, and Meru Glacier.
Trekking – Day 3 : Tapovan - Meru and Kirti Bamak Glacier – Back to Tapovan
Tapovan- Meru Glacier- Tapovan : Meru glacier was in proximity to our camping site. But it takes time to cover even small distances at that altitude. Our team covered it within 4 hours. For Hindu community, Peak Meru is considered to be at the centre of universe, and has also been referred in mythological books. It is also popular in climbers community. Starting the trek in early in the morning helps complete it quickly, since the temperature is freezing, so Ice doesn't melt, or else "Every step that you take, is another mistake" on snow, glacier especially. The clouds approached us like a storm, but soon passed away.We returned to Tapovan.
Tapovan- Kirti Bamak Glacier- Tapovan : This was our last day in Tapovan, as next day we had to descend to Gangotri. So without wasting time, we marched for Kirti Bamak Glacier. The route was tough, but alluring. A small stream that had been flowing in Tapovan soon disappeared, under the glacier. Every sound of flowing water frightened me, if Ice would break (I would be deep inside :P), but it wasn't so. Through the boulders, finding our way through untouched clean sheets of Ice, crossed the base of Shivling Peak, we reached Kirti Bamak. Enroute our guide educated us about the Peaks, which were visible on our way 'Kharch kund', Bhagirathi, Shivling. There were hindrances like a distantly visible storm, but beyond that was the nature's home calling us. By the time we came close to the storm it turned into pleasant weather. We sat down near water source, which was absolutely clean, enjoyed snowfall. The Consistent burst of high speed winds sounded like crackers, and helped us returning fast, to our base camp site in Tapovan.
We packed the day’s trek by 4 pm, and then started the bakar covering all the spectrums of history, B.C to A.D, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Mughals, and Britishers, Geography, and Economics, bla bla.. The weather had started freezing, so we didn't move out of our tent. In night, our so good porter cum companion provided us hot Khichdi, in our tents.
Trekking - Day 4: Back to Gangotri via Gaumukh Glacier
Starting early in morning was helpful for the reason of walking over ice/snow, and so we did. While trekking up to Tapovan from Bhojwasa we bypassed Gaumukh glacier, and so we decided to descend back via Gaumukh. The descending had never been that interesting on my earlier treks, because we come back through the same way, but this was different. The vertical descend through the boulders, and crossing of a roaring, gigantic waterfall was somewhat challenging. Gradually we descended to Gaumukh glacier. Varun so wanted to take dip in holy river, and so he did. I dare not touch molten ice in that temperature.Capturing glimpses of places we passed through, we descended back to Gangotri.
The Gangotri market had nothing much to offer us this time, except for the good food. We again dined lavish. The dinner items comprised of dishes from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Though we cherished this food, but the taste of those paranthas, and half boiled potatoes, that we prepared ourselves at Tapovan could still be felt, and couldn’t be forgotten. Its not the food, but the place that makes it delectable.
The next day, we hired taxi to Uttarkashi, this time driving in direction of Bhagirathi river. The journey back from trek to home, is always painful, as one finds a dream place which they leave behind. It ended at same place, where it started in Delhi.
To those who want to trek, to those who want to see beauty of nature, to those who seek quality time, to those who wish to visit a spiritual place, I will recommend an all in one solution, "Trek to Meru glacier or Trek to Tapovan".
This trip was originally published on the website of Bikat Adventures.