On July 2018, when my uncle visited us asking about my Durga Puja plans, he suggested me about the Madmaheswar trek that he was planning with my cousin sister Olivia. I was pretty much excited at the sound of it and Googled about the trek.
The Madmaheswar temple is a part of the famous Panch Kedars. This is the fourth temple to be visited in the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit, the other four temples are Kedarnath, Tunganath, Kalpeswar and Rudranath. The place is filled with mythology and the legend is linked to the period of Mahabharata. Bhima, the second born of the Pandavas built the Madmaheshwar temple to atone for their sin of killing Kauravas and Brahmans in the Kurukshetra war. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is worshipped in the form of a navel shaped Lingam.
Finally, the day came and the three of us started our journey via train from Kolkata to Haridwar and from Haridwar via cab to Ukhi Math. We got a shared cab from Ukhi Math to Ranshi Gaon and spent the night in Ranshi Gaon. The trek starts from Ranshi Gaon.
Day 1 - Halt at Nanu
We started around 8am in the morning after a delicious breakfast of Alu paratha and Dahi. As we moved forward the road ahead was plain, Ranshi Goan became smaller with every turn we took. Madmaheswar was 18kms from Ranshi.
We moved ahead and finally the trek route started. It is a well-paved hilly trail, passing through small villages. Unlike other trekking destinations, there is not much rush on this route. Ponies and porters are also available.
Away from the hustling bustling city life, we could hear the sound of the birds, crickets, views of the majestic Chaukhamba masiff and Madhu Ganga river gushing in the region. They were so calm, so peaceful. We halted for a tea break in Gaundar after walking for about 6 kms.
After a short break, we started our journey for lower Bantolli. Till lower Bantolli the trail is down-slope. After that, it's a continuous climb. On the way we crossed some mini waterfalls and small bridges.
The climb started once we crossed the lower Bantolli bridge. The trail became steeper as we moved forward. By the time we reached upper Bantolli, there were butterflies in our stomach. So we halted there for lunch. We had roti and meetha karela ka sabji. Yes you heard it right meetha karela grows in the region.
We started our journey post lunch. We had some fun time while climbing. We met many happy and content trekkers on the way who were returning. The scenic beauty of the Chaukhamba Masiff was stunning. We crossed Khadara village in an hour. Slow and steady, slow and steady, we walked the trail and by 4pm we reached Nanu. We halted the night here. We saw sheep and goats returning to their homes after spending 6 months in Madmaheswar village. There were just 1 or 2 huts in Nanu.
That night I woke up around 4am in the morning to attend the call of nature. When I came out of my room, I was awestruck at the view of the star studded milky way galaxy. It was the most beautiful night sky I have ever seen. It was super chilly outside with winds blowing, yet I spent a lot of time outside gazing at the beautiful sky. I regret not being able to capture such a view.
Day 2 - Madhmaheswar
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, birds were chirping and the mighty river gushing below. We had our morning tea and breakfast and left for the day.
Today we will be reaching Madmaheswar. We started our climb around 8 am in the morning. The trail got more steeper. We crossed villages like Makhamba and Kunn on our way up. After Kunn, the trail went through the forest. Our guide advised us to stay together as bears are spotted in this region sometimes.
We moved in groups. The uphill climb did not seem to end soon. Madmaheswar was around 2 kms from Kunn. Finally we reached our destination before lunch time.
We checked into a lodge. The rooms were neat, had enough warm beddings and an attached bath. There were several lodges and prices of them were fixed @500 INR. The locals depend upon solar lights, as there is no electricity. Infact all the villages that we covered since Ranshi Gaon had solar panels. We retired to our room post lunch only to go out again as it was SNOWING.
We watched aarti in the evening and offered our Puja and retired to our rooms after dinner for the night.
Day 3 - Buda Madmaheswar and return
The next morning I woke up at 4am got dressed and got outside. Our fellow pilgrims were up and almost ready to leave for Buda Madmaheswar. I woke my uncle and Olivia. We had tea and left around 4.30am. The sky was lit with million stars but the view from last night was better. We needed to cover 1.5 kms distance. We had torches and hiked in the dark. My uncle and my sister felt altitude sickness and had to return. Rajendra ji, our guide cum porter led them back to the lodge.
I suddenly realised I was standing in the middle of nowhere all by myself. The fellow pilgrims had already moved ahead us. I could see their torch lights flickering at a distance. My squad had already left and couldn't be seen in the dark. I suddenly felt uneasy all alone and started to climb up. I climbed and climbed and climbed as if my goal was to reach the flickering torch lights.
Slowly, the colors of the sky started to change. By the time Rajendra ji came back it was dawn. I had almost reached the top. It was around 5.15 am and we reached Buda Madmaheswar. There is a small temple in the meadow i.e. the Buda Madmaheswar temple, which trekkers worship with candies.
Once at the top, you are in for an absolute treat! Keep your eyes fixed to watch the magic unfold right in front of you - the amazing sight of the sun hitting the mighty Chaukhamba massif at the first light. The entire episode reflects on the pond in a crystal clear fashion. PRICELESS!!
Packed the memories with some unforgettable moments, I bade goodbye to the view and headed back. We were in some luck. We got excellent weather, clear skies and also a bit of snowfall.
We left Madmaheswar at around 8am in the morning after breakfast. We experienced some rain and snowfall on the way and stopped at Nanu to enjoy the view. We reached to Ranshi Gaon around 6 in the evening. We took a hot bath, followed by a sumptuous dinner. I slept with a content heart dreaming about my first trek, the amazing night sky at Nanu, the snowfall at Madmaheswar and lastly the heavenly views of the reflective Chaukhamba at Buda Madmaheswar.