An Amazing Trip to Kedarnath
To spend a few peaceful days in the Himalayas, you neither need a particular destination nor a lot of money. I had never thought to go to Kedarnath but my destiny took me there. For an amazing trip, I started scrolling over the internet and after spending 2 hrs, finally, I finalized my place “The Kedarnath”. The temple situated at an altitude of 3553m in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. I left my home with all these thoughts in October 2019, to spend a few peaceful days on the ridge of the mountains. I boarded a bus from Kashmere Gate ISBT to Rishikesh (Delhi to Rishikesh approx. 240 km, 7 hours journey, Fare Rs.265/- per person, Oct 2019). The bus departed from Delhi at around 11 PM and reached Rishikesh, the next day at 6:30 AM. From there I took a bus for Guptkashi (Rishikesh to Guptkashi Approx 185 km, 8 hours journey, Fare approx. Rs.400/- per person, Oct 2019). I remained sleepy in part of the journey until Rudraprayag. The atmosphere was slightly cold on the opposite bank of the river, small villages, green fields, and the mountains with dense forest covers were pleasant to see. Finally, the bus journey came to an end and I reached Guptkashi by 3 PM. From there, lots of vehicles were available for Sonprayag. I was looking for a direct vehicle to Gaurikund, the starting point of the trek to Kedarnath Temple. After 20 minutes, I finally boarded a shared jeep to Gaurikund (30 km, 1-hour journey, Fare: Rs.50 per person, Oct 2019). In my journey, I have heard about the helicopter ride. Someone told me that the helicopter service providers are in Phata, a small town at the distance of 15 km ahead of Guptkashi. According to him, it hardly takes 10 minutes to ride from Phata to Kedarnath (Price: Rs. 7000 for two way, Rs. 3500 for one way per person), and 2 – 3 hours to visit the temple as the helipad is very near to it. But I chose to do a trek. The trekking starts from Gaurikund, but before that there is a place called Sonprayag, where you can find a place to sleep. I managed to get a decent room for Rs.700 for a night stay. Mostly the price of hotels is high around Rs. 2500-3000, but due to off-season, I got it at a cheaper price. As mentioned earlier, Gaurikund is the starting point of the trek to Kedarnath Temple. It is a small village situated on the bank of Mandakini River. The trekking route is approx. 16 km long from Gaurikund to Kedarnath Temple. In between, there are stops, where you can get some food. Also, running drinking water is available throughout the route. After the disaster, the government has renovated the complete place and emergency measures are there as well. Despite the tragic memories, thousands of pilgrims still visit the Kedarnath shrine every year. All because of faith in God. During trekking, mountains have introduced me to the very beautiful waterfalls and green serene Himalayan Sheepdogs on the way to Rambara. Due to disaster, the old route of Kedarnath was not available for trekking. Therefore, I had to go through a new route, which constructed on the right side of the river. This one was longer and steeper than the older one, but a bit more comfortable. I reached Lincholi, a small village, after 3-4 hours of hard work. All of my friends got tired but even then, we did not give up. Seeing my destination just 6 km away, made me more enthusiastic. But before that, I decided to take some soft drinks from the shop. It took me two and a half hours to reached near the helipad area. The Mandakini River appeared calm and narrow near the Kedar Dham. A proper bathing ghat with steps constructed. After crossing the bridge over Mandakini, I entered in the main street of Kedarnath Dham. There were many signs of floods that were clearly visible and along with that there were newly build guest houses as well. But I was amazed when my eyes reached the temple. The temple of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath was still the same. Nothing happened to it. It is believed that a big rock has saved this temple during the calamity. The large rock diverted the path of water from both sides of the temple and thus the temple remains intact. After offering prayers, I walked behind the temple to look at the big rock and that too is also worshipped by pilgrims. After spending two hours near the temple, I started the return journey to Gaurikund. Taking breaks during downward travel, I returned to Gaurikund in 4 hours. Luckily, a shared jeep was available directly to Guptkashi. I reached Guptkashi well in time to continue my onward journey to Rudraprayag.