The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek

Tripoto
25th Jan 2019
Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye
Day 1

This isn’t my usual travelogue or itinerary, it is the splendid experience that I lived in less than a week and which transformed my life in more ways than all the trips combined that I have made till date.

Beginning with the 2 AM Flight from Mumbai 26th of January 2019, we landed at Dehradun around 8 AM. It is a small Airport which showcases stunning views of Mountains, rivers, and valleys while landing. We booked an Ola from the Airport and were disappointed with the rowdy behavior of local cab drivers towards Cab Aggregators as they threaten the drivers and passengers for using these Cabs which certainly cost less and are easy to book. So, we had to walk to the outer gates to catch the cab.

The road journey from Dehradun to Mussoorie is full of beautiful views of the mighty Himalayas, catching some glimpses of snow-capped peaks and mostly a well-built road. We reached Mussoorie in about an hour and a half stopping once for breakfast.

Photo of Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye
Photo of Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye
Photo of Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Being the crowded holiday season, the road was jammed as we entered Mussoorie. We had to walk rather trek to our Hotel on Mall Road, being a chilly day under the shining sun it turned out to be a pleasant walk. We enjoyed our first hands-on experience with roadside snow and lovely views this hill town has to offer.

Mall Road Mussoorie

Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Sunset at its best

Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

We stayed at Hotel Hill Queen on the Mall and like most of the hotels in the vicinity, it conferred us with the magnificent views of Mountains and beneath them the city of Dehradun, the room was also freezing but offered enough comforts to make us stay inside, as we were too tired after the sleepless flights and the unanticipated trek, we ordered food in the room itself and retired into the bed.

After a couple of hours rest we moved out to take a stroll along the famous Mall Road, the road is full of cafes, eateries, street vendors, shops and lots of tourists. We explored the street tasting some street food and by the time we reached the other end, sky had turned reddish orange and we came across the splendid sunset view of hills. The Gun Hill ropeway was quite close to our stay and though it was already dark, we decided to give it a chance. I believe Gun Hill would be a completely different experience at day with all the shops and food stalls open, but at night it was much less crowded and we could see a fascinating evening view of the town underneath the hill. Spending some time on Gun Hill we went down and had dinner at a small but beautiful restaurant called “Big Bang Bite” which also served us with delicious “Tandoori Chai”. After a small break at our hotel we re-entered to streets still crowded for a late night walk.

Day 2

As always, our plans to wake up early weren’t quite successful still, we managed to step out of the hotel at almost 10:00 AM. After roaming for an hour to get a commute, we decided that renting a scooter would be a better, cheaper and more flexible option and hence picked up an Activa from a local shop.

We had no plans and had first thought of visiting “Kempty Fall”, but in order to get fuel we drove down to Cart Road and after getting inputs from locals we left for “Lal Tibba”, the narrow hilly road was full of vehicles and tourists. Driving for some 40 minutes and spotting some noted names like Landour and Sister’s Bazaar we reached a place called “Char Dukan”, above which the narrow road was snow laden and felt slippery, we drove a little and then decided to park on the roadside. The whole place was brimming with fresh white snow till the eyes could witness, trees and houses were covered. Reaching Lal Tibba point we wandered a little enjoying the snowfall and white scenery around. On a rooftop cafe, we enjoyed the spectacular view of Snow clad mountains sipping tea.

Far snow capped peaks from Lal Tibba

Photo of Lal Tibba Scenic Point, bazar Road, Naya Mohalla, Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Kempty Fall

Photo of Lal Tibba Scenic Point, bazar Road, Naya Mohalla, Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Kempty Fall

Photo of Lal Tibba Scenic Point, bazar Road, Naya Mohalla, Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

The return journey was a lot more difficult due to heavy traffic and roadblocks, we had to change our route twice to get on the correct track. While the slippery roads made it dangerous and hard to drive, the chilly weather and beautiful surroundings made up for it.

Reaching Mussoorie in an hour we left for Kempty Fall, this route was fairly better and far less crowded. We reached close to the fall around 4 PM, as we caught the sight I was sure why this was most sought after destination for tourists. A beautiful and huge waterfall surrounded by enormous mountains and ample greenery with good eateries and food stalls everywhere made it a perfect picnic spot.

We had still some time left for the daybreak and as we learned that “Company Garden” was on our way back we reached there. Surprisingly the garden which is known for alluring flowers was totally white. Still, the place is pretty good for hanging offering some good food options inside.

While returning to Mussoorie the weather became frosty and it began snowing and sky blackened. We returned our scooter and reached the hotel for some rest. This night was even chiller and the streets were less crowded than last eve since the weekend was to end. After tasting some Tibetan Food at a local restaurant named “Kalsang” and hot Gulab Jamuns at a Sweet shop to end our day and the memorable visit to “Queen of Hills”.

Day 3

Next day was the start of our actual adventure run, marking an end of the leisure trip we were enjoying for a couple of days. We left the hotel early morning around 7 AM to catch our taxi for “Sankri”. The whole hilly route is scenic with the green background, far snow-capped peaks, and the river flowing side by side with the road. I really feel that it's a crime to close windows and not look at this admirable beauty of nature.

On our way to Sankri

Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Mountains in front of Sankri Camp

Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

On the way to Sankri

Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

As we moved closer to Sankri, the road became narrower and mobile network poorer. But views got better and better with an increase in snow covered roads and trees. Finally, we reached Sankri around 3 PM and the village was entirely white. The small village with everything set up in a different world than ours, a fresh environment, a difficult but rewarding place to live everything was so contrasting. We reached Indiahikes Sankri Camp which confronts the huge mountains. Searching for some food we roamed in and around this little village where everything was filled with snow. By the sundown when our whole team was there while performing initial formalities there was a cloud of uncertainties with lots of questions, confusions, and talks, on whether the trek will happen? If yes how far it would go? The trail will be full of snow? And so many other questions about weather, trail, snow, rain, difficulties and the list goes on. More than half the group was not willing to go, while a handful of us wanted to do it.

After dinner and briefing, we stepped out for a lazy walk to experience the awfully cold and completely dark surroundings.

Day 4

Next morning weather was pretty clear and this raised our morale a bit. Still, after last night’s discussion and unattainable summit half of the group decided not to go. Left were 10 of us with the trek leaders, we left the camp after breakfast at around 10:30 AM. On the way, we received Gaiters and Microspikes for walking in snow. As the hike began, we started catching glimpses of splendid Swargarohini Mountains at another end. Walking in snow is tricky and that too uphill is fatiguing, and being the first experience it was pretty hard for most of us even though there was some trail to follow. We did stop a few times to ease our body, filling water or just for clicking some photos of this serene beauty around us. Gradually ascending for some 4 Hrs, we reached the first camp which was at almost 8500 Ft. It was a sight of relief when we first saw those yellow tents lined up in the small open white area under the huge mountains on all sides. After some hot and tasty lunch, we went for relaxing into our tents, which were quite good and warm. After some rest, we had tea and dinner later on, as the whole region was full of snow there was not much to do. We just took a small walk uphill, clicked some great shots and exchanged few stories, local tales and experiences with each other and went back to the tent when it was dark. after everything was settled I peeked outside and I could see the whole Milky Way in front of my eyes, it was, fortunately, a clear sky and there was not a single artificial light.

Ready for the trek

Photo of Sankri, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Start

Photo of Sankri, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye
Day 5

When you enter the jungle

Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye

1st Campsite

Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye

After Such a challenging day it was a great sleep even though some stray dogs kept barking whole night. Next morning was as confusing as the previous one, with unclear skies and forecast for snow half of the remaining group returned to Sankri. Left were 5 of us who initiated near 9:30 AM. The hike was getting further demanding, thanks to the elevated altitude, faded trail and steep ascend. After walking through the dense snow we reached “Juda Ka Talab” some 9000 Ft, which is considered one of the most beautiful part of Kedarkanth trail. Though the lake was completely frozen and hard to identify at the time, it created a great display.

Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye

Frozen Juda ka Talab

Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye

After Juda, the trek became very arduous, thanks to the thick layers of snow and a very steep hike. But, as we were ascending up from the dense forest the breathtaking views of faraway mountains compensated for the laborious hike. After a backbreaking trek for almost two hours we spotted the banners and tents of Kedarkantha base camp, and what a sight that was. Not just because we were tired and hungry, but the heavenly appearance of this place filled us with a feeling of accomplishment. We knew we could not attempt the summit which was not even visible due to bad weather, but after challenging ourselves to this extent and reaching a good 10000 Ft was something to be proud of.

KK Base Camp

Photo of Kedarkantha Base Camp, Singtur Range, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye
Photo of Kedarkantha Base Camp, Singtur Range, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

We were lucky enough that the snowfall which would last the whole evening begun just after our arrival at camp. We had lunch which was with us, and after the much needed rest we came out for tea and snacks. Our rest of the day was spent enjoying the snowfall with few snow fights, a somewhat good attempt to erect a Snowman and once more some rare photography. It was dark outside well before 6 and we hurriedly had dinner before finally moving into our tents, but when we were almost settled in it one of the two dogs fighting outside jumped on our tent breaking it and we had to change the tent in the snow and dark conditions apart from this everything else was fine.

Day 6

Next morning we woke up to a pretty open sky and we could spot the Kedarkantha peak, last evening it had snowed heavily and thus everything looked loaded with snow. As we had to descend and we were a really small group there was no hurry in the morning, we had breakfast and enjoyed a spectacular view standing high in the mountains apparent in the backdrop which were hidden due to bad weather yesterday.

Base Camp with clear view of mountains in backdrop

Photo of Kedarkantha Base Camp, Singtur Range, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Kedarkantha Peak visible in Back

Photo of Kedarkantha Base Camp, Singtur Range, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

The small group that did it

Photo of Kedarkantha Base Camp, Singtur Range, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Ready for last day

Photo of Kedarkantha Base Camp, Singtur Range, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

We left for our return journey little before 10 AM, due to heavy snowfall the trail had mostly disappeared and the soft snow had accumulated on all of it. Descending, though not tiring is relatively tricky and feels more risky with greater chances of slippages and disbalancing. In thick but soft snow it was hard to put the next foot down as it would break into the soft snow which was mostly knee deep and sometimes even up to the waist. We tried everything sliding, jumping, falling and even rolling down the snow-filled hills. After a brief halt when we reached a less deserted region, the trail appeared but walking down the thin sheet of ice is also challenging and seeks more technique to avoid slippages, which we could not. It had started raining and even though we were all soaked considering our snow adventures on the way, we pulled out our ponchos. After a courageous trek of almost 3 hours we finally came out of the woods and after reaching Sankri camp everyone was so tired that a sleep that too on a bed felt like paradise. Rest of the day we spent like a casual rest day packing and arranging our stuff and just eating around.

On the way

Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye

you can't just look at them

Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye

Snow loaded trail

Photo of The mountainous path of Kedarkanth- a perfectly unfinished trek by prasoon padhye

This was the end of our most awaited “Kedarkantha trek”, all of us were delighted being part of this group that did not reach summit but gave us far more than we bargained for. The snow trails, frozen lake, snowfall, a trek no one expected and mostly empty places full of tranquility and so many moments beyond words. Being a first-timer, this wasn’t an easy experience, and there were many times I wanted the hike to finish or I even questioned myself if I would be able to finish this. But completing this trek was a Triumph in itself and it made me feel complete and accomplished.

Day 7

Next day we woke up early morning to catch 5:30 AM bus for Dehradun, the bus journey wasn’t that bad and enjoying the delightful sight of mountains and rivers and recollecting the whole trek in mind and photos we reached Dehradun.

From here we split according to our destinations, a day being spare I went to Rishikesh. It was almost dark when we entered Rishikesh, from Bus Stand we reached Laxman Jhula by Auto. Rishikesh is a different world in itself, and we seldom come across such an exceptional blend of Spirituality and Adventure along with some great food. I stayed at one of the many hostels near Laxman Jhula and Tapovan, named “Shiv Shakti Hostel”. This place catches your attention as soon as you enter it, the walls covered with shiv paintings and colorful art. Though its on a narrow street it is quite large inside and has plenty of common spaces to offer. Rooms were clean and comfortable with enough amenities to serve a Backpacker.

Streets of Rishikesh

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Hostel Shiv Shakti

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

We quickly moved out for an evening walk into streets of Rishikesh and after strolling for some time and having dinner at a really nice restaurant “Bistro Nirvana” we headed back to our stay.

Day 8

Next day we reached for the River Rafting, something you cannot miss while in Rishikesh. The experience was great adding to it was the cliff jump in the bone chilling water of Ganga. After rafting, we kept wandering in the streets, which is in itself a good experience with vibrant cafes and shops lined up all the way. We wanted to visit the Beatles Ashram but it was already closed when we reached there. Rest of the evening we enjoyed the banks of Holy Ganga, walking around the ghats and temples with the sunset riverscape.

On the way for Rafting

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Banks of Ganga

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Holy Ganga

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Ram Jhula

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

Sunset

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by prasoon padhye

We left for Dehradun in evening from where we had to catch the return train to Delhi late-night, and boarded the return flight to Mumbai from Delhi next morning.

Day 9

Returning home after a week-long journey full of beautiful sceneries, adventures, and memories along with a full memory card of the camera.

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