My first Himalayan trek. I have been to a couple of treks in the Sahyadris before but never traversed the path of Himalayas with a backpack before. With a lot of woolens, thermals and other equipment we started the journey to Haridwar. The next day we left for Joshimath (Jyotirmath) by bus which is a day long trip. The roads are beautiful and you'll find a zillion breathtaking views. The sight of Ganga, the cool and pure breeze and the pleasure filled journey!
Joshimath is a small world in itself. A tiny village - often a resting point for the travelers - has schools and hospitals and shops and all that you need. Tourism is the main source of income for the villagers. You can find most of the stuff necessary for trekking there itself. We carried the stuff needed for the next 4 days in our backpacks and left all the other stuff in the hotel at Jyoshimath. On the way to Ghangariya you can see the Panch Prayag-also termed as “Prayag pentad”, namely the five river confluences, are Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karn prayag, Rudra Prayag and Dev Prayag, in the descending flow sequence of their occurrence.
The 16km long trek began the next day. Carrying more that 7kgs of weight on the back, I started to walk. I felt like giving away the backpack to the horses but felt like testing my endurance. The climb to Ghangaria is not very steep and the path is well made - cemented, which actually makes it a bit tiring. The last 3km patch is difficult as you are tired by then and it is comparatively steeper. You complete this trek in about 8 hours on an average. We ate and slept in a simple guesthouse. Tents and guesthouses both are available. You wont get any network here, STD facility available - charge? Rs10/min.
We started Valley of flowers trek the next day. It is one of the best experience I have had in my life. A steep trek of 7 km. Undisturbed and serene. Small and narrow path with trees, shrubs and flowers all around. Birds accompanying you all the way. Birds you have never seen in your life. I spotted a pink sparrow, pink dove, spotted dove, kingfisher and many beautiful birds whose name I do not know. After climbing we came to a halt. The valley. 2km wise and 10km long. The valley of flowers. I was awestruck. I had tears in my eyes as I never knew something can be so beautiful. I was surrounded by 9 mountains - huge - I couldn't contain them in my eyes - some snow-clad. How does an ocean of flowers look? valley is blanketed by flowers of all the colors possible. The turquoise skies blessing the pristine Mother nature. Distilled. Pure. As she is. The flowers are in full bloom towards July end till August. Every plant and shrub had flowers. No words or pictures can ever describe what you feel there. All your efforts pay off after reaching the valley. The valley of art. The valley of creativity of God whose palette and mind is filled with a trillion colors. Indeed a photographer's, writer's and poet's paradise.
The next day was for Hemkund Sahib. Its on a higher altitude than the Valley of flowers. Carrying camphor is a must. Its a place of high religious importance for the Sikhs. In his earlier birth, Sri Guru GobindSingh had meditated near the Hemkund Sarovar which is encapsulated in the most divine air, surrounded by 7 snow-clad mountains. We reached the top and sat in the Gurudwara for about an hour, listening to the melodious song and the history of the place. The langhar there offered soothing rice porridge and ginger tea. Then we visited the Hemkund Sarovar. It has chilled water, the waters of spiritual importance from 7 sources. The beauty of the water is, when you touch it you feel cold, but it turns warm as soon as you hold it of sprinkle it on face. People take a dip in this sarovar to absolve their sins. The road down is beautiful. Pure. You can see mountains which look proud and humble at the same time. Standing strong and protecting you. The lap of Nature makes you feel beautiful and humble, strengthening your belief in God.
When I was reading up about this trek before going, I read it's a life changing experience and thought it has been written just for the literary appeal. But now I know! It does change you, for the better :) A beautiful amalgamation of spiritual and natural experience.