Jai Baba Kedarnath!

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! by Khushboo Shukla

Kedarnath, I get goosebumps just thinking about the place I have been. That place is out of this world. So serene, so calm, vibrating and pleasant.

This was 2oth October, I was talking to one of my friend and discussing that we should take off and go somewhere for a week. We thought of many places but at the end we got our place to be in October is Uttarakhand.

We decided to go to Kedarnath then from their Badrinath and then trek to valley of flowers.

But, it was Covid time, and Govt had mandated e-pass to visit char dham with limited number of people. We had to go there on 15th October, I checked almost daily all the time in my laptop for passes but it was in vein. Luckily, 2-3 days before our departure, we got to know that there is no e-pass required, we can travel without it. I was doing happy dances and was filled with excitement.

We took a train from Delhi to Haridwar at night. Reached Haridwar in morning, explored "Har ki Paudi" and took a bus around 8:30 AM from Haridwar to Risihikesh.

We Reached Rishikesh around 10 AM, checked-in into our hostel went for walk around Laxman Jhula and in evening for Ganga aarti at Parmarth Aashram.

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 1/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Janki Jhula
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 2/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 3/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Ganga Aarti
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 4/17 by Khushboo Shukla

Next day, we woke up early and took our bus from Rishikesh to Sonprayag.

We reached Rampur, which is 6 kms away from Sonprayag at around 3:30 PM. There was so much traffic and parking of vehicle got full in Sonprayag so No vehicle was allowed ahead. So, we took our luggage and started walking towards Sonprayag in dark, this was the easiest part as we reached Sonprayag we saw there is so much rush, no rooms, people are here and there, even if some room is there, you are getting charged three times for it then usual. There was long queue at ATMs, at photocopy shops to get the permit, at homestays or Dharamshala everywhere.

We again came 2kms back to Sitapur from Sonprayag by walking as there was no stay available and you don't get permit to go to Gaurikund after 7 PM, which is starting trek point for Kedarnath.

We somehow managed to find a stay in Sitapur, Thanks to bhole baba. Somehow, this made us forget all the 10kms walking and struggle we did to look for room and go from here to there. We had our dinner and went happily to our bed. Next day, we proceeded towards sonprayag at 5AM, as there is long queue to get permits. And we were deciding to spend night at Kedarnath base camps only, so we had to leave early, as there was rush beyond the capacity.

Our permits and everything got sorted by 6, we started to proceed for gaurikund, which is starting trek point for kedarnath and 7kms away, but there was long queue to wait for taxis, we decided to walk instead of waiting which was not a good idea. Although trail is easy but it did take more than an hour of ours.

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 5/17 by Khushboo Shukla

Once we reached Gaurikund, It was around 9, we had our breakfast there and proceeded with the trek. Trek level is moderate to difficult. You encounter some breathtaking views on your way. Me and my friend were so eager to complete trek that we didn't take pic, we were like we will take tomorrow when we will return back. Still I did manage to click some, smart decision.

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 6/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 7/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 8/17 by Khushboo Shukla

I generally try to walk fast, but my friend was getting left behind. So, I told him I will go and trek fast and book our stay, he can walk comfortably in his pace and we parted.

It was around 12 that we started getting little rains, still I kept walking, as I was afraid, I won't have anywhere to stay in rain in night. Rain was keep getting intense and I continue walking. At 3 PM, I managed to reach base camp, just 2kms back from Kedarnath temple. There were so many people drenched, all were looking for stay. Somehow, I managed to find a group of people and I went to them and ask them if I can share stay with them they were already 10. Tent has occupancy of 10 people only. They agreed to let me and my friend stay with them. I got relaxed that I have a place to stay.

Now, only Jio and Airtel Network works there and nothing else. Now difficult part was tracking my friend down as we had no idea there will be this much continuous rain and no mobile network and we also didn't communicate where we will meet. We just said we will meet there. Now, where was there, no idea.

He was nowhere in sight, it was 4 PM, dark already, raining cats and dogs, with no cash on me to eat anything. Due to rain many people were stranded in middle of the trek. There was 'Red Alert' govt. has announced and the rain was supposed to be like this for 3 days continuously. I got worried, walked in rain from here to there, got totally drenched. Somehow, miraculously at around 8 PM, I saw him coming from somewhere down the road towards temple. And we were like "thank god, we have stay, cash and people" and we will go next morning for Darshan. But, the night was long, with continuous rain, drenched clothes, one small tent, half of the quilt already soaking wet, and sleeping bag with no chains in it, and cool breeze with rain flowing like anything. We were endlessly tired, so we somehow slept for some hour even in that condition.

Now, next day we were waiting for rain to stop or slow down so we can proceed for Darshan. But, it never happened. We went out again in rain, shivering, getting wet.

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 9/17 by Khushboo Shukla

But, when we reach there, even though the temperature was in minus, with us on our drenched clothes in pouring rain, the feeling of being blessed was real. The joy, after seeing the temple and people dedicated in their devotion, chanting "Om Namah Shivay" without caring about anything, was real.

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 10/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 11/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 12/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 13/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 14/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Jai Bhole Baba

It gives you different vibe, a different calm at another level.

We did our darshan, started heading back to Sonprayag, not caring about rain. By the time we reached Gaurikund, people were already panicking and planning to leave to Sonprayag ASAP, as their were many landslides, Yatra to kedarnath dham was closed.

We came back to Sonprayag, but found no vehicle to go back and there were many landslides and people told us "leave Sonprayag if we get vehicle, go somewhere else, it will be safer".

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 15/17 by Khushboo Shukla

We had no means of transportation to go back, so we had our food, and took a room and stayed there. Next morning, again there was non-stopped rain, landslides and panicked people to go back. But, then there was one "aasha ki kiran", At around 1 rain stopped, announcement to restart Yatra happened, Road got cleared and vehicle started moving. And, luckily I did manage to book a cab from guptkashi, 14 km away from Sonprayag, we did walk around 6 km towards Guptkashi, then got some lift/bus and our cab met us in midway.

Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 16/17 by Khushboo Shukla
Us walking back to Guptkashi
Photo of Jai Baba Kedarnath! 17/17 by Khushboo Shukla

My feet got swelled like anything from all the walking in rain, we walked around 50-55 kms in two days, but I was happy that I got lucky enough to do baba darshan, and we didn't continue our rest of Uttarakhand trip, as there still was landslide in Badrinath route and cloud burst in chamoli. So. we decided to get back to Delhi.

I have learnt few lesson from my trip, it would be useful for everyone to do all these pre-checks before proceeding for your yatra-

1. Check weather forecast for 3-4 days before and after of your travel date.

2. keep two/three copies of your ID card with you for your permits.

3. Keep a raincoat with you always and rain cover for bag and extra layer of winter clothing.

4. Keep cash with you, from Delhi or Rishikesh or Haridwar only, as ATM don't work sometimes there and sometimes they don't have cash.

5. Pre-book your stay either in Rampur, Sitapur or Sonprayag.

6. If you want to stay at basecamp above pre-book your stay from GMNV site.

7. keep some dry fruits and chocolate bars with you for instant energy.

Although, everyone take care of above details before going into trip, I do same, but this time excitement got best of me and I didn't check anything, I was just happy that I don't need e-pass. But, make sure to check on above things and should be fine.

And please avoid littering the place.

Jai Bhole Nath !! Happy Travelling!!