Legends believe it to be based on the Shiva and Bhasmasur episode and it easily is the toughest pilgrimage in India and maybe in Asia too. Shrikhand can be summarized either as a trekkers delight or the worst nightmare and at the same time it is a devotees highest tribute and love for his God.
There are multiple paths to reach the destination but you normally start your journey from a village named Jaon. The first destination is Singhard which is 3 km from Jaon but do not let the first day fool you as its not remotely near the treacherous journey ahead.
The next day the real test begins as the next destination is Thatchdu; approx 12 km across a thick jungle wherein you trek at angle of 50 deg all the way up; the rains look nice and feel romantic but you quickly realize that it slows you down considerably; you are dripping wet, fighting cold and your shoes are plastered in mud.
You easily gain 5000 feet on Day1 till Thatchdu.
Every time you ask a local the time left they will please you by saying you are almost there but do not keep your hopes high as an hour for a local can easily mean 2 hours + for us
When you finally reach Thatchdu you think that the worst is over and everything will be downhill from now but wait my friend the worst is still to come.The next day your goal will be Bheemdwar the fourth and last camp before your summit to Shrikhand.You will cross places like kali ghati and Kunsha before you finally reach Bheemdwar.With the rain pouring in and the cold creeping till your bones every step becomes tough and every minute you fear for your life as it is one of the riskiest terrain ever with almost no chances of survival.After every turn you hope to see your destination but when you see another track going up a mountain your patience and devotion both are in for the biggest test.
Every step forward becomes difficult and every step back will seem easier. You wish you hadn’t come, you question the lord of why this is like this and you sometimes question the mere existence of him.You will see people chanting “Om Namah Shivaay” and “Jai Bhole” both to motivate themselves and you and trust us no trance, rock or any type of music can motivate you more than those chants unless you are an atheist and are doing this just to test your physical abilities.
When you reach Bheemdwar you are in heaven; the place is prettiest of the pretty with phones not working until you want to climb a mountain for network. You have lush green meadows, milky white waterfalls and of course Shrikhand in sight
The last day you attempt Shrikhand from Bheemdwar. You first reach Parvati Bagh which is a lush green meadow with flowers all around and you expect the final journey to be as scenic and beautiful like this but wait my friend your patience and devotion are in for a final test.
The terrain changes instantly from a lush green meadow to a dry rocky terrain with glaciers to break your pace and boulders to stall you.There are places you can only put one foot at a time and have to think on where to put the next step to inch towards your final destination.The dry terrain haunts you, the level of oxygen drops considerably, then comes the time of headaches, vomits and the incoming of AMS which tries to get you. You smell camphor, your chants become voiceless and in your heart and the fear of failure looms.
After fighting all of the above and if you do that you are welcomed by the Grand Shrikhand and 2 further rocks depicting Mata Parvati and Ganesha; the peak for Karthikay is further ahead in the form of another mountain which has never been summit-ed till now.
In short Shrikhand is not a joke; it’s not some petty trek one can simply come and go to. It neither has the luxuries of langars at every step like Amarnath nor paved cemented roads like Vaishno Mata.
The trek kills you every moment with no chance of looking back, no Evac, no option for an airlift even if you are sick.The food will be scarce and the blankets will be cold and damp.
In short Shrikhand is not for the faint hearted.
You either need an ardent love for your deity or an ardent love for trekking to attempt Shrikhand.
If at any place you feel sick please DO NOT go further; God will not judge you because you failed he will be happy that you tried.At the end when you reach Shrikhand if you expect The Great Shiva to appear and say ” Hey guys I am glad you made it this far” you may be disappointed but you never know you may just get lucky
The top gives you the feeling of fulfillment, of pride, of devotion and that my friend is the ultimate culmination.