When I was planning this trek, I never knew that how blissful this expedition would be, the unimaginable beauty of majestic snow-capped peaks, the enticement of green woods, the strikingly beautiful green meadows, walking in dense fresh snow, tackling the most unforgiving routes and much more that too in just one single trip !!!
Kedarkanth indeed is one of the most picturesque treks that I have ever come across till date. Never ever I had been to such a beautiful place in my life. Truly the journey to Lord Shiva’s Kanth is remarkable. One of the unique things about this trek is that when you get to the Kedarkantha summit, it is as though you have touched the sky and the surrounding peaks are at your eye level. Kedarkantha trek is truly an ideal destination for the nature lovers to bask in the beauty of undisturbed nature and enjoy delightful and blissful moments with exhilarating experiences.
Towering at 12500 ft (3800m), Kedarkantha summit is a located in Govind Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarkashi District, in western Garhwal region of Uttrakhand. Kedarkantha Peak literally means the throat of Lord Shiva (Kedar refers to Lord Shiva and Kantha means Throat). Kedarkantha is also known as Bal-Kedar and according to a local legend it was supposed to be the site of Kedarnath. It is said that when Shiva was wandering at Kedarkantha in his bull avatar, to hide from the Pandavas, the local dwellers disturbed his peace. Therefore, he fled to the present Kedarnath site. The villagers of Sankri believe that the trident of Lord Shiva, erected at Kedarkantha protects them and keeps the Himalayan Rivers replenished.
The trek starts from Sankari, a small village located closer to Kinnaur in the Uttarkashi district of Uttrakhand. The total trek distance from Sankari to the summit & back is around 22 km. The summit offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the spectacular peaks. From the top of the Kedarkantha summit, you can also view Rupin valley, Har Ki Dun valley, the Dhauladhar range of Himachal Pradesh and views that goes down to the dense settlement of Purola. It is one of the best winter treks in Uttarakhand and can be covered in a span of 4 days (Chandigarh – Sankari & back). This region gets early snow in the winters and soft white snow covers all the surrounding peaks after the snowfall by December, making it one of the best snow treks. All the surrounding mountains, which otherwise were insignificant now looks extremely elegant and beautiful with their sharp points appearing like dominating peaks of the Himalayas.
I had been thinking of doing this trek since I saw the pictures of the summit online. Since I had never done any snow-bound winter trek ever, I zeroed down on Kedarkantha. I did some research online got contact number of Pramod Rawat, a trek guide in Sankari. He planned & arranged all the stuff including stay, food arrangements, anti-slip Ice Crampons for that extra safety so that you do not fall while trekking on the snow. Over that, he also gave us gaiters so that snow does not get into our shoes from the top. I rang up Joban and I told him about my intention of going for Kedarkantha trek. As always he confirmed up immediately to join me for the trek, as he said, ‘Bas bta de kab jana hai’ it is quite a while, we had done a trek together’.
Reaching Sankari- 16th -17th April 2019
We started our excursion from Chandigarh on 16.04.2018 at 11.00 pm. As I prefer to travel by normal HRTC buses I and my friend boarded the bus from sector 43 ISBT for Dehradun as there was no direct HRTC bus to Sankari from Chandigarh. Surprisingly we get tickets very easily this time otherwise we use to face a huge influx of people going to the hills during holidays. We reached Dehradun ISBT early morning at 4:00 am. There was no bus available for Sankri at the ISBT Dehradun. We then boarded an auto to the nearest point (near railway station) which is around 6 Kms from ISBT. The first bus that goes to Sankari early morning comes at around 5:00 am. We boarded the bus and reached Sankari at about 4:30 pm. The journey to Sankri began and the air soon filled with the sounds of our joy and excitement, as we passed the beautiful city, gazing at people going to work.
It was drizzling since morning we took the bus to Sankari. The journey starts from Mussourie and passes through Kempty falls, and some other small towns like Purola to enter the Supin range of Himalayas. A couple of hours before reaching Sankari, we entered Govind wildlife sanctuary, a protected area. Sankari is the base camp for both, Har-ki-Doon as well as Kedarkantha trek. Finally, we met our guide Pramod and he welcomed us at the guesthouse with hot tea and delicious noodles. We were tired, and perhaps peckish, we ate like anything. Promod gave a detailed briefing of our trek. The guesthouse at Sankari is basic, with spacious and reasonably clean rooms & toilets. The quilts were warm enough, so we did not have to struggle for the sleep. In the evening we strolled the village and checked out the market. You will find everything here right from hiking equipment rental store with equipment such as waterproof shoes, rain ponchos, headlamps, down jacket, trekking poles etc. So you don’t need to purchase the costly gears for this trek.
There is no network reception at Sankari so make sure that you inform your family beforehand. Vodafone network gave some connectivity option in Sankri from only 9:30 pm for about an hour in the evening. Also early in the morning, I was getting network reception. However, do check with locals for the exact timings. BSNL network seemed to work there more than other networks. We called for the day then so as to embark our journey very next day to Kedarknatha basecamp.