Day 1 – Bangalore – Delhi- Dehradun – Haridwar
A flight from Bangalore at 08.00 am and reached Haridwar by 03.30 pm
The first step landed in Haridwar. The best use of the few hours at our disposal before the Ganga Aarti and we planned to visit the MansaDevi and the Chandi Devi temple. Took the help of our hotel guy to get the ropeway tickets and the bus ticket to Chandidevi temple or else we would have just whiled away our time just to get the tickets.
On enquiring with the locals, got to know that the Ganga aarti happens at 07.30. Winding up the visit to both the hill temples quickly, reached the Har ki Pauri ghat by 07.15. But was disappointed to know that the aarti got over early as the sun set early. Nevertheless spent sometime at the ghat gazing at Ganga flowing at such a high speed.
Day 2 Haridwar – Govindghat
Came back next day morning at 05.15 to see the morning Aarti at 05.30, ultimate bad luck missed it too. The Aarti got over early again. Probably that means another visit is on the cards soon
Quickly left for the hotel back as our cab would arrive by 6.00 am. We had to leave for Govindghat which is around 290 kms but would take around 10 hours on this hilly terrain. River Alaknanda giving us company in our journey through Panch Prayag – Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devaprayag before reaching Badrinath. Beyond Devprayag, this river is known as Ganga.
Vishnu Prayag- One of the Panch Prayag or the confluences Alaknanda river meets Dhauliganga near Joshimath
Nand Prayag – Nandakini joins Alaknanda in its journey at NandPrayag, a small town in Chamoli, Uttarakhand
KarnPrayag – Derived from the name of Karna from the Mahabharata, Alaknanda is joined by Pindar River which originates from Pindar glacier in the Nanda Devi Mountain range. It is believed that Karna did penance here and earned the kavacha and the Kundala from his father the Sun God here.
Rudraprayag – Named after Rudra, a sobriquet for Lord Shiva, Rudraprayag is the confluence of the rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini
Around 3 hours later we reached Dev Prayag meaning the "Godly Confluence" It is the sangam of calm placid Alaknanda meeting the rapid turbulent Bhagirathi to form Ganga. The confluence is a beautiful sight from the tall mighty mountains.
Located in Kalyasaur along the Badrinath-Srinagar (Do not confuse it with Srinagar, Kashmir) Highway is the temple of the powerful guardian deity of Uttarakhand - Dhari Devi. On June 16, 2013 the idol of this temple was shifted from its moolsthan to make way for a hydel project. Hours later the goddess expressed her displeasure in the form of a cloudburst shaking Kedarnath of its base.
Breathing in the greenery and chilled crisp air, we reached Govindghat around 03.30 pm. Received by our guide who had arranged for this trek from Govindghat and back a light drizzle welcomed us to the base of our trek. Was advised to take enough rest and get acclimatised to the weather and the terrain.
Day 3 Trek from Govindghat to Ghanghria – 14 kms
By around 08.00 am we were dropped to the tourist counter where each trekker would register his personal details before the start of the trek. Though there are vehicles going upto Pulna which is another 4 kms ahead, we started our trek from Govindghat. For the initial 8 kms the trail is uphill, downhill and plain, winding around river Lakshman Ganga.
Once you cross the river, the climb is totally uphill for 6 kms till Ghanghria. 03.30 pm seems to be the time, we have been reaching our destinations for the day. Had been a tough tiring day so far, hit the bed and slept like a log for almost 2-3 hours. An early dinner and there we buzz off again.
Day 4 Trek to Valley of flowers
The valley starting at 5 kms from Ghanghria opens at 6 am and stretches upto 10 kms. After registering at the Forest Department counter (Registration valid for 3 days), by 07.00 am we walked towards the valley. Ponies are not allowed on this narrow trail. But you have the basket men who carry people in a basket on their back till the valley. The fatigue of the predominantly uphill trail vanishes as you see the plains in the valley.
Day 5 Trek to Hemkund Sahib
Another trek for 6 kms taking the altitude from 9000 feet to 15000 feet, it is tougher than the earlier ones. We can take a pony and had decided to take one. But bad weather, rather would say God’s will could not go to Hemkund and hence did another short trek of VOF. Sharing a few pic courtesy a friend who visited the same day
Day 6 Ghanghria – Govindghat and Badrinath
The trek back from Ghanghria to Govindghat took us three hours and we were at the Govindghat Gurudwara waiting for the pony to bring our luggage from 09.30 till 12.00. But that meant that we could spend have the food from the langar. Finally after our lunch and the extended break we left for Badrinath which was 20 km away.
Before reaching Badrinath , took a small deviation to “Mana village” the last village of India. Vyas Gufa where it is believed that Maharshi Vyas wrote the Mahabharata is here.
Keshav Prayag - Though not counted within Panch Prayag, this confluence of Alaknanda river originating from Satopanth glacier meeting Saraswati river, near Mana village, Uttarakhand is the first confluence in this river's journey
Reaching Badrinath by 04.00, we planned to finish Darshan and head back to Govindghat. We were dazed by the amazing darshan and the divine atmosphere during the Aarti at Badrinath.
Even the post office in Badrinath has an air of divine bliss
But they say things don’t always happen as per our wish, we found the roads closed due to landslide as we prepared to leave Badrinath around 06.30 pm. A night stay in Badrinath with another round of Darshan and a beautiful view of Neelkanth mountain was in store for us.
Day 7 Badrinath – Govindghat – Rishikesh
Driving through the winding roads in a hilly terrain, where certain sections of road are prone to landslide we traversed a distance of 300 kms to reach Rishikesh by around 09.00 pm. Nothing more than a good sleep in our minds, we refreshed ourselves and ended our day.
Day 8 – Rishikesh
A nice break fast and we headed towards Ram jhula and Laxman jhula, the suspended bridges across Ganga. Visited the Shatrughna mandir as we walked towards Ram jhula from the taxi stand. The Lakshman temple is near Lakshman Jhula. These bridges made of iron rope help the people, animals and even two wheelers cross the river.
The Aarti happens at two places - Paramarth Ashram and the Triveni Ghat.
The timings of the Aarti varies during winters and summers. The atmosphere during the evening Aarti was divine and beautiful. The devotees singing the bhajan and swaying in ecstacy generates a euphoric mood.
Day 9 - Dehradun
While returning from the Aarti, fixed up a cab for a day trip to Dehradun, Visited to the Mindrolling Monastery, Forest Research Institute, Tapkeshwar Mahadev,and Sahastradhara. Gucchupani or the Robbers Cave was closed due to monsoon.
Day 10 Rishikesh-Dehradun-Delhi-Bangalore
Jolly grant Airport is conveniently located from Rishikesh, Haridwar and Dehradun. You can reach either of these places within an hour from the airport. This trip gave me beautiful memories, solitary moments with nature, not missing the spiritual element in life.