Ghangharia - Hemkund Sahib.
With a much difficult 6 km long trek waiting for me I got myself ready by 6 am. The trek to Shri Hemkund Sahib is no easy. You raise your altitude by 1500 meters on foot from 3050 mts at Ghangharia to 4600 mts at Hemkund. The steep path combined by yesterday's sore feet made it more challenging. But to my surprise I did not feel even a bit of it as through out the way you see many Sikh elderly people paving their way to the top which gives you all the required boost. I was more inspired by two little sardarjis aged around 7 who were chanting 'Satnam Waheguru' and advancing like they have attained super powers.
On the way you get to have the first sight of the rare Brahma Kamal, the mythical flower whose numerous references exists in Hindu mythology. One such says that Lord Brahma was born out of it. They say that this flower blooms once 14 years and that too for few hours between the dusk and the dawn, lucky to have sighted some of them.
With strained feet and heavy breath you once feel like giving up the trek but the almighty wanting you to visit him, imparts sudden burst of power into you and you finally make it to the top. It was 11 am by the time I reached. Just that image of Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib with the serene lake Hemkund by its side, surrounded by the snow capped mountains takes your breath away for a moment. I took a dip in the chilling Hemkund lake and it took all my tiredness away. The water in the lake comes from a glacier near by which eventually flows out to form the Lakshman Ganga (a tributary of the river Ganga). At 15,000 feet the clouds cover the whole place every few minutes and recede away just like in a dream land. There are two Ardas (prayers) daily at 10:30 am & 12:30 pm. Sitting inside and listening to them makes you feel like you've got the true meaning of life. As the clock ticked 2pm, it was time to start the return to Ghangharia because it would take 3 hours to get back. The return journey being more scenic than the onward as you get to see some breath taking views from 15,000 feet and as the evening approaches the clouds get more dense and mist all around. It was 5 pm by the time I reached Ghangharia. Having already checked out of my hotel earlier the day, I stayed for that night at the Gurudwara's accomodation and felt previlaged to be housed there.
PS: The accomodation and food in the Gurudwara at Ghangharia is free of cost. Its at your will to donate what ever you feel like.