Kailash Mansarovar Yatra | Arrival in Kathmandu

Kathmandu – the start of Journey

I am sure you must have read about my recent article on planning and preparation for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. So finally, the most awaited day had come i.e 25th May, 2018 when my biggest journey had to begin from Kathmandu.

Kathmandu is the capital and largest city of Nepal at an altitude of 1400 mt. This is an only international airport in the country, hence you will see a lot of foreign tourists and trek enthusiasts. Nepal is very beautiful and attracts thousands of trekkers for very famous Everest Base camp, Annapurna circuit trek and lot more.

We had to give our passport to travel agent of KailashJourneys in Delhi for group visa. They have to apply for Tibet permit and then group visa before one month of travel date. By 25th May it was supposed to arrive, but didn’t get due to some delay. Travel agency promised that everybody will get passport in Nepal. I enquired how to fly internationally without the passport. Then I got to know only passport and voter Id card is accepted for Nepal. So, I used my voter Id to travel.

I took the early morning flight from Delhi to Kathmandu and a staff member from KailashJourneys came to receive me at the airport. I was looking around the city and had a feeling of girl in Queen movie who came alone. After 30 minutes of drive, we reached Yak and Yeti hotel. I had the full day to relax because briefing of the entire Kailash yatra had to happen in the evening when everybody would arrive. At 6 PM, all of us gathered in a hall where a representative from KailashJourneys had come to welcome. He explained our itinerary well starting from Kathmandu to Kailash parikrama. He advised what things to carry, where to buy, when to hire pony or porter. And, most importantly he explained clearly that facilities will go worse as we move ahead in the journey in terms of food, accommodation, sanitation etc. Not only this but also we will face difficulty as we go higher in altitude. Acute mountain sickness is a major problem when being hit. So, to take proper care was the only key.

 Itinerary 

Day 01: Kathmandu Arrival (1400m) – Overnight in Kathmandu

Evening – A short briefing about Kailash Manasarovar Yatra

Day 02: Kathmandu Sightseeing & Fly to Nepalgunj (150m) – Overnight in Nepalgunj

After Breakfast – Half day sightseeing of Pashupatinath and Guhyeshwari

Afternoon – Flight Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (1hr) & Transfer to Hotel in Nepalgunj

Day 03: Fly Nepalgunj – Simikot (2900m) & Heli to Hilsa (3700m) & Drive to Taklakot (3900m) – Overnight in Taklakot

Early Morning – Flight Nepalgunj to Simikot (1hr). Rest for few hours at Simikot.

Morning – Take Helicopter to Hilsa (20min – 12kg weight limit) & wait for other members to arrive at Hilsa (since it is a group visa and everyone have to enter Tibet side in one group)

Afternoon – From Hilsa drive to Purang border to Taklakot and stay at Hotel. We will stay overnight at Taklakot.. (On the way we have to pass up to 3 Checkpoints where checking might take upto 1 hr in each post)

Day 04: At Taklakot (3900m) – Rest Day – Overnight in Taklakot

All Day – Entire day free for Acclimatization

Day 05: Drive to Manasarovar Lake (4550m) – Overnight in Manasarovar

After Breakfast – Drive towards Manasarovar Lake (95 km). On the way, you will have to pass the first checkpoint. Then after driving for 70 km from Taklakot, we will reach Rakshas Tal. On the right of Rakshas Tal, you will see Gurla Mandhata Parvat & first view of Mount Kailash and Manasarovar lake. Drive from Rakshas Tal to Manasarovar Lake (25 km). Start Parikrama of Manasarovar Lake (90 km – 3hr by bus). Take a holy dip & perform Puja.

Day 06: 1st Day of Parikrama – Drive to Darchen (4650m) & Yama Dwar & Trek to Dirapuk (4880m) – Overnight in Dirapuk

After Breakfast – Drive to Darchen (35 km – 1 hr) and Yama Dwar (8 km) – the starting point for Kora. We will trek to Dirapuk for 14 km. You will visit the North face of Mt. Kailash and touching the feet of Mt. Kailash (Charan Sparsha). Travelers who do not want to trek around (Parikrama) Mt. Kailash can go back to Darchen wait for the rest of the group to arrive from Parikrama.

Hotel: Mudhouse on the way during Parikrama or Stay in Dormitory Guest House at Darchen

NOTE: If you are not doing Parikrama, then you will still be waiting at Darchen (4650m)

Day 07: 2nd Day of Parikrama – On to Zuthulpuk (4670m) via Trek to Dolma La Pass (5700m) – Overnight in Zuthulpuk

After Breakfast – Trek from Dirapuk to Dolma La Pass (8 km). About 3 kms before reaching Dolma La Pass is a steep hill and quite difficult to walk. Also descending from Dolma La Pass is the same for upto 3 km. While descending you can see Gaurikund on the right. After walking for about 2 – 3 hrs we will reach Phedi. After some rest, we will start trek to Zuthulpuk (12 km trek for 6 hours).

NOTE: If you are not doing Parikrama, then you will still be waiting at Darchen

Day 08: 3rd Day of Parikrama – Trek to Darchen – Drive to Hilsa via Taklakot – Overnight in Hilsa / Simikot

After Breakfast – After short easy Trek (8 km – 3 hrs), we will reach our bus pick up point. Then drive to Darchen (3 kms) and merge with other members who were waiting. From there drive to Hilsa (also we will take helicopter to Simikot based on situation)

Day 09: Fly Hilsa – Simikot – Nepalgunj & Fly back to Kathmandu – Overnight in Kathmandu

Fly to Hilsa to Simikot (20 mins) by Helicopter – Fly from Simikot to Nepalgunj (around 1 hr)/ Surkhet and fly back to Kathmandu (or proceed to Lucknow by Road)

Day 10: Transfer to Kathmandu Airport

Certificate of completion will be provided to you from Kailash Journeys. You will be free till your flight time. We will drop you at Airport 1-2  hour before flight time (30 mins drive).

 

Post Briefing

Everyone was given duffle bag, jacket, cap and passport holder. It was mandatory to use their duffle bag because our bag may get lost while transfer from one place to another place. In Nepal, our Indian currency works, so I was not worried. I had to only exchange INR to Chinese Yuan currency. They exchanged Rs 24,000 to 2000 Chinese Yuan at the conversion rate of 12. It was sufficient for me as I didn’t plan to hire either a pony or porter. If you hire pony then you need to pay 2000 Yuan and 800 Yuan for the porter which is fixed.

The dinner was ready and by this time, I started interacting with other group members. Not only the group was mix and match of every state of India, but also there were a lot of NRIs came for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. I was hesitating initially but was amazed when I interacted more and got to know that about 75% of members came on solo trip. Now I gained confidence and was happy that there are also other crazy people like me :). I met people who shared the same table for dinner and got comfortable with Rupa (came solo from Bangalore), Mauli (came solo from London) and a few others. Moreover, everyone was very enthusiastic about their journey of the lifetime. We shared experiences of our previous treks and advised some tips. Overall the positive vibes started flowing all around.

Pashupatinath temple

On 26th May morning after breakfast, we left by bus for Pashupatinath temple visit to take blessings for entire Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

Pashupati temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to be part of Kedarnath temple. It has four-faced self-manifested Shiv linga around which parikrama happens. The temple lies on the banks of Bagmati river and the big statue of golden Nandi bull guarding outside the temple has the main attraction. Pashupati temple is in the main city of Kathmandu. It is the largest complex in Nepal and there are other Hindu and Buddhist deities as well.

Camera and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple. Unknowingly, I clicked some pictures and was caught by the security. He deleted the pictures and powered off the phone. It was Saturday and the place was overcrowded. We had to rush to visit next destination Guhyeshwari temple and then had to board flight for Nepalgunj.

Guhyeshwari Shaktipeeth

Guhyeshwari temple is one of the 52 Shaktipeeth and is about 1 km to the east of Pashupatinath temple lies on the banks of Bagmati river. Temple is dedicated to Adi Shakti or Sati (consort of Shiva). Sati’s hind part is said to have fallen at this place. The sanctorum is accessible through a small passage.

Bags packed and ready to fly Nepalgunj

It was 12:30 PM we reached our hotel back and all were happy after having darshan of Pashupatinath and Shaktipeeth. Now, we had to rush to pack our bags and take only necessary stuff for rest of the journey. We transferred essentials into the duffle bag given by KailashJourneys and left our bags in Kathmandu hotel itself. We had to be bit careful while packing because the bag should weigh maximum 10 kg as we had to board helicopter going forward. After lunch, we departed from Kathmandu. And, by this time I made 2 friends Rupa and Mauli with whom I could chit-chat and crack funny jokes. 

 

This is how we started our journey of Kailash Mansarovar from Kathmandu with excitement and full of positive energy. Stay tuned for next post on Nepalgunj. And don’t forget to like and share it. Let other Shiva Lover get to know and learn from my experience and plan their journey well.

 

Here are the links of all of my articles on Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, kindly read.

  1. Planning and preparation for the trip to Mount Kailash.
  2. Arrival in Kathmandu and visit to Pashupatinath as the start of the journey.
  3. Trips within the trip – Days spent in Nepalgunj and Simikot.
  4. Survival in no man’s land between Nepal and China
  5. Arrival at Mansarovar lake- first mystic experience.
  6. Complete information about Mansarovar, my experience of parikrama and dip in holy Mansarovar lake.
  7. First day of trek from Yam dwar to Derapuk to reach abode of Shiva.
  8. Second and toughest day of trek to reach 19500 ft at Dolma La pass
  9. Third and the last day of trek and coming back to home with tons of memories of Kailash

OM NAMAH SHIVAAY!

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra | Call from Kailash

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, the name says it all. I am sure, not many people know about it but for some, it’s a place to get Moksha. It’s like the final destination of the Bhole bhakts and trekkers. Kailash parvat (mountain) well known to be the abode of Lord Shiva, a majestic pyramid of rock and snow is 22000 ft above sea level. Mansarovar is the highest freshwater lake at an altitude of 15,000 ft.

The peak lies in the remote western region of Tibet, which is the holiest places on earth. This is sacred to people of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Bon faith and considered to be navel of earth. The lake is believed to be manifested in mind of Lord Brahma, situated in the southeast region of Mt Kailash. Pilgrims take holy dip in lake and experience a spiritual revelation. Usually, pilgrims do Kora (parikrama) of the lake and Mount Kailash. The journey is not an easy feat, becomes difficult at high altitude and extreme weather conditions. However, the reward is priceless.

Call from Kailash

Being devotee and die-hard fan of Lord Shiva, I have a lot of pictures pasted on my wall related to places of spiritual significance behind Shiva like Panch Kailash, Panch Kedar, Jyotirlinga etc. And Kailash frame had always been on top. Waking up every morning and looking at it is like Kailash is calling me. It’s the Kailash who calls us, not the other way round. One fine day of Oct 2017 I thought of going there, I don’t know what clicked me. But yes, I decided to go for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra coming year as the yatra runs from mid-May to September only.


And by now I have made my decision to go to Mount Kailash. This was one of the major decision of my life or dream coming true. I was very happy but nervous too. So, I thought I will get some too for the company and I asked my best friend with whom I traveled a lot in the Himalayas. After many discussions on coffee, I somehow managed to convince him. I was feeling top of the world as I was supposed to live my dream with my best buddy.

 

Stage 1: Planning

Now that we decided to go for trip, we started doing research on the net. Started calling to the agents who organize Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, as you cannot go on your own. You have to book the tour through a travel agent, as it requires group visa to enter in Tibet from India. I did some research on possible routes, the safest way, how to reach in less no. of days, the best time to visit and the budget off course. etc. And then after all the research, I shortlisted one tour operator based on the customer reviews. Every tour operator said the best time to travel is May-June and September. Off course I could not wait that long to live in heaven. Therefore, I booked the full-moon batch of May 2018 with KailashJourneys at 1.6 lac per person. The route I chose was from Kathmandu by helicopter with a duration of 10 days. Yes! I was very excited that my booking is done and finally I could get to see mount Kailash.

From the day I made the booking, I was reading and watching youtube videos too much. I was always mesmerized by the beautiful pictures and experiences shared by pilgrims. This is the journey which represents a bond between nature and spiritual energies. One can feel the immense peace within and presence of Shambhoo all around. I even used to see dreams of me taking a dip in Holy Mansarovar. Waking up after seeing such a beautiful dream is definitely a blessing.

Stage 2: Preparation

Everything is set now. Booking done, received confirmation, dates finalized. I have been doing a lot of treks in last couple of years but, not as high as Kailash Mansorvar. So first I had to prepare myself, both physically and mentally. So I decided to do a few high altitude treks to practice. I went to Tungnath in Uttarakhand, which is at 12,000 ft and about 4.5 kms trek from Chopta. Tungnath trek gave me little confidence but, it was clear to me now that Kailash Mansorovar is not going to be that easy. Though, I gained experience from this trek and got an idea that how difficult it’s gonna be when you lose breath at altitude. But it was just 10% of the Kailash Mansarovar trek which total trek would be of 55 kms at high altitude with unpredictable and extreme weather conditions. After coming back from Tungnath, I joined a gym and focused on cardio, strength training, legs exercises, and yoga to control breathing.

I was happy that I was getting physically and mentally prepared for the tour. Now, the next challenge was to save money for the trip. You can imagine the life of a bachelor testing engineer living in a rented apartment with flatmates, away from family. Yes! you got me right :). I decided to cut down expenses and started saving because I had a few
months in hands and I didn’t want to compromise on my tour. The goal was very clear to me. I started dreaming about me facing towards The mighty mount Kailash and just staring at it for hours. And I am glad that dream came true 🙂

Stage 3: Real test before the journey begins

It was early April when I had to complete all formalities for the trip. I called my friend for some doubt and he informed that he can’t make it because of some family emergencies. This was is least I expected. Now the negative side of my brain started working. What will happen if I go alone, never did the solo trip so will be it safe, that too on foreign land? But then the positive side of my brain stepped in and advised me to stick to the plan. It will be the group tour of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, so I won’t be alone. There will be many like me who will come and live their dream. It was the challenge or test of determination. I prepared myself harder, did more gymming to stay fit anyhow and mentally made myself strong.

I submitted all documents and made full payment to tour operator in April. But after 2 days, I got to know that there was a typo in account number and money was transferred to the wrong account. It was the agency’s mistake and so they agreed to accommodate me and confirmed my trip. I shall always be thankful to them.

I had to travel on 25th May and by that time I bought all trekking gears from Decathlon with help of their experts in hiking and trekking section. Bags were packed and the excitement was on height. But one more twist was yet to come. Just before a day of journey ie 24th, I slipped in office and got hurt in tail bone and it became difficult to sit in chair. I was preparing myself for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra from months and at the last moment was going through severe pain. In front of Shiva, I literally cried to help me out, so that I can do trek at 19000 ft. I took hard painkillers and moved on. Ufff! another test to pass.

I realized, it’s not easy and only selected reach their destination. I was determined to go and was not ready to give up on this. Finally, the day has arrived, all the pain has gone, all the evil thoughts have vanished and the only thing I can see was THE MIGHTY MOUNT KAILASH!

Excitement for the biggest journey

With all of the problems and situations, I never thought of giving up on idea to go for Kailash. I just had one thing in my mind “Chahe kuch bhi ho, jana hai to jana hai” (No matter what happens, I will go).

I was alone but not alone, was always with Shiva in one or other form. It’s all in the mind, I convinced myself. And believe me, this helped me throughout my journey. Above that, you need to be blessed by Shiva. Since this was my first international solo trip, I was very excited. I consider it to be a good start of being with myself. Was excited for the trek, nature, to be in group, make new friends and lot more.

This is how I planned my trip, did preparation for the Journey of my lifetime Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. I will be posting more information on the complete itinerary along with expenses and day wise experiences of the trip starting from Kathmandu. Stay tuned! And don’t forget to like and share it. Let other Shiva Lover get to know and learn from my experience and plan their
journey well.

Here are the links of all of my articles on Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, kindly read.

  1. Planning and preparation for the trip to Mount Kailash.
  2. Arrival in Kathmandu and visit to Pashupatinath as the start of the journey.
  3. Trips within the trip – Days spent in Nepalgunj and Simikot.
  4. Survival in no man’s land between Nepal and China
  5. Arrival at Mansarovar lake- first mystic experience.
  6. Complete information about Mansarovar, my experience of parikrama and dip in holy Mansarovar lake.
  7. First day of trek from Yam dwar to Derapuk to reach abode of Shiva.
  8. Second and toughest day of trek to reach 19500 ft at Dolma La pass
  9. Third and the last day of trek and coming back to home with tons of memories of Kailash

OM NAMAH SHIVAAY!

Information on Rivers and Mountains of Garhwal

All about Garhwal places in beauty

Rivers and mountains have very strong connection. How glorious a greeting river gives to mountains! I always wonder while traveling to Uttarakhand, when I see sacred rivers cutting down its way in between Himalayas and travelling thousands of kilometres. So, I thought of penning down my experience about the major rivers, peaks and glaciers of Garhwal region en route to places like Kedarnath, Tungnath and Badrinath.

Rishikesh lies at the foothills of Himalayas and after that point Ganga river flats and flows till Gangasagar in West Bengal. Its 6.30 in the morning when we reached Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world. Millions of people across the globe come and stay for 3-4 months to learn and practice Yoga. Ganga aarti at sunset draws attention of lot of people and it is beautiful to see floating diyas (lamps) on water. That’s my moment, when I sit and keep watching those diyas till edge. And I do it every time I visit Rishikesh.

Few miles from Rishikesh (towards Himalayas), you will be driving along the river. The view was so mesmerizing that it takes to out of this world and really you don’t want to come back. The rapids, valleys and the roads tell their own stories. Stories of standing tall even after horrible calamities of 2013. Most of the valleys are lush green but, as it was spring, some of the mountains were covered with new purple carpet.

Devprayag

Devprayag, our first halt at distance of 75 kms from Rishikesh, where Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers meet and is known as Ganga after this point. This is one and last of panch prayag (five holy confluences) of Uttarakhand. This place is surrounded by 3 peaks, named Giddhanchal, Dashrathanchal, and Narsinghancal Parvat. Also, this town is the seat of Priests from Badrinath dham.

 

Bhagirathi river is coming from Gangotri glacier, whereas Alaknanda comes from Badrinath. So, We were heading to Tungnath (towards Kedarnath and Badrinath) so we crossed the bridge and started driving along with Alaknanda river. People who are heading towards Gangotri will take left from this point and enjoy the journey with Bhagirathi till 255 kms. Alaknanda river looked extreme silent as if it was not flowing at all. The water was dark green
and crystal clear. Moreover, the banks of river have the finest white sand in the region.

 

Rudraprayag

Rudraprayag, named after Lord Shiva is situated at the holy confluence of Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers. The entire region is blessed with beautiful natural scenery. Devprayag to Rudraprayag distance is 68 kms and river is named as Alaknanda between these two points.

Mandakini is coming from glacier near Kedarnath and Alaknanda comes from Badrinath. So, this place separates routes of Kedarnath and Badrinath dham. We took left and followed Mandakini river. This is the longest route in India where you will be driving along with the river.

 

Mandakini river has a good flow and looks mesmerizing when splashes on stone. As if its saying something. But, need patience to see for hours and concentrate and I didn’t had both. After driving for an hour, I got first glimpse of snow clad mountains and excitement to gaze at them kept on increasing. These were the first look of Himalayan peaks, which you can see from Kedarnath and Tungnath, but with different angles. And they look great from any places you see from.

Kund

It was 1.30 pm when we reached Kund, which divides route of Kedarnath and Chopta. We left Mandakini and said goodbye to thank it for the all day company. Kund to Chopta distance is 45 kms and you will drive through lush green valley all the way. The road is well constructed and the best part is, hardly any vehicle will cross you. We were enjoying the view of Kedarnath Peak, with soft music and little chit chat with our driver.

Tungnath – Chandrashila

Finally, we reached Chopta from where we had to start Tungnath-Chandrashila trek. Tungnath is the world’s highest Lord Shiva temple at an altitude of 12073 ft and Chandrashila summit is further one hour trek steep trek at height of 13500 ft. You will get the best views of the Himalayas, including Kedar Peak, Chaukhamba peaks, Nandadevi, Trisul, Bandarpunch and few more. Also, this is the place which divides valley of Kedarnath and Badrinath.

 

Himalayan Peaks

Kedardome peak (6940 m) : This is just above the Kedarnath temple and can be viewed from Guptkashi, Chopta, Tungnath also. From every angle it looks great and magnificent. It becomes more attractive when last rays of sun fall on the peak.

 

Meru(6660 m), Sumeru (6350 m) & KarchKund  (6632 m) This group of peaks lie in Garhwal region and is located to left of Mandani peak.

Mandani peak (6190 m) : This is part of Kedarnath range, but looks glorious from Chopta valley.

Chaukhambha – As the name suggests four pillars. This massive mountain lies in Gangotri group of Garhwal Himalayan peaks. It has got four summits at different elevations

  • Chaukhambha I –  7,138 m
  • Chaukhambha II –  7,070 m
  • Chaukhambha III – 6,995 m
  • Chaukhambha IV – 6,854 m

 

Source of Alaknanda

The origin of Alaknanda is at the foot of confluences of two glaciers Satopanth and Bhagirath Kharak. If you want to look at the origin, then trek begins from Mana ie the last village of India and is near Badrinath.

These glaciers are very nearby at distance of 1.5 kms. But this is high altitude Himalayan trek of 24 kms.

Source of Mandakini

Mandakini river originates from Chorabari glacier which is near Kedarnath temple. This lies at an altitude of 3900 m from sea level. The trek distance from Kedarnath to Chorabari is 4 kms only and is pretty easy to access. But if you consider your trek from Gaurikund, then total length would be 22 kms.

Source of Bhagirathi (Ganga)

Gangotri and Gomukh – As per the very popular legend, Gangotri is the place where Goddess Ganga came down from heaven to earth. And Lord Shiva released the river from matted locks of his hair. The river is named as Bhagirathi and known by Ganga after Devprayag when it meets Alaknanda.

The temple was built in 18th century by Gorkha commander and is said to be seat of Goddess Ganga which is one of char dham of Uttarakhand. The river originates from Gomukh or Gangotri glacier at an elevation of 4255m. There is a trek of 18 kms to reach  Gomukh. Here is the trek path

Gangotri -(9 kms)-Chirbasa (5 kms) Bhojwasa – (4 kms) – Gomukh

I would to hear from you on this post, please drop in comment to let me know. There are lot of hidden places to explore on Himalayas which I will be covering in future posts.

Till then, stay fit and happy travelling!

And special thanks to Ankit for sharing beautiful pictures of his Gomukh trek. Checkout his Instagram gallery for more cool pictures.

Tungnath – World’s highest Shiva temple

Trek the Himalayas

Himalayas are calling and I must go. Himalayas are the beginning and end of all natural scenery for me. I decided to go on small trek in mountains, but could not compromise with the beauty. Hence finalized to go Tungnath again in December end and trek the Himalayas which I did last year also.

Tungnath temple is world’s highest Lord Shiva temple at an altitude of 12,073 ft from sea level. It is believed to be 5000 years old from the time of Mahabharath and comes third in pecking order of Panch Kedar. Read complete story from my earlier post.

Day 1 – Journey from Rishikesh to Chopta

The first step to reach Tungnath is to choose your transport wisely. We reached Rishikesh by bus early morning and had to wait for our cab by chasing chilling breeze. That wait itself gave us idea how cold its gonna be there in Chopta and Tungnath. Moreover, its not going to be easy to trek the Himalayas. By 6:30 AM our cab arrived and we started for Chopta. The cab driver Bablu was a well experienced guy to drive in hills. He holds driving experience of more than 20 years and has driven big commercial vehicles even trucks. Not only this but also he had great knowledge of all the towns, rivers, peaks and hidden stories behind them.

It was 8:30, we took halt at small town Devprayag. This is the place where two sacred rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda meet, and is known as Ganga after this point. This town is the seat of Priests from Badrinath dham. People take holy dip at confluence, but we didn’t even think of as it was too cold.

Alaknanda looked very calm and was flowing silently. Whereas the Bhagirathi had its own flow with lot of rapids

 

After having breakfast of delicious Paratha and Chai we resumed our journey. The roads are under construction due to char dham yatra project. But you will be happily driving along with Alaknanda river which looked dark green and very silent as if its not flowing at all. Tune in to good music, drive in mountains, clouds circling around, river flowing by your side and tripping with the best buddies. What else do you want from life?

After driving for 3 more hours, we reached Rudraprayag which is the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini. From this point we had to be together with Mandakini river going ahead. This is the longest route in India where you will be driving along with the river as told by driver. After crossing this, we took lunch break at Sheetal hotel. I laid down on grassland and then heard sound of ducks. I asked Satish to catch one, but he successfully failed 🙂

 

As we moved towards Ukhimath, we experienced many breathtaking scenes of river with Himalayas my love. We reached Dugalbitha (6 kms from Chopta) at 3 PM where I booked accommodation. We immediately ordered Tea and Maggi, which gives immense pleasure when in mountains. Then we decided to go for short hike and gaze at Himalayan peaks which looked magical at time of sunset.

Night was icy cold and we layered with sweaters, jackets and got inside blankets. This is how the first day ended. We slept early with excitement and enthusiasm to trek the Himalayas next morning.

 

Day 2 : Himalaya Trekking to reach Tungnath

I woke up, I smiled because I could see Tungnath and Chandrashilla peak from my window and I call it as perfect morning 🙂

By 8, we got ready, packed bag and stepped out to leave for Chopta from where the trek begins. It felt like driving on the hidden road to heaven crossing lush green valley loaded with fresh snow.

Chopta is well equipped market, you can buy essentials for trekking, I have covered details later.

Entrance to heaven

 

We started our trek by ringing bell at the entrance after taking name of Lord Shiva. There is small registration counter near entrance charging Rs 150 per person which is mandatory.

Initially we faced breathing problem and our body was shivering but the soul was determined to reach on top.

Total length of the trek is only 4.5 kms, but is worth and rewarding.

 

 

Maggi in lap of Himalayas

 

After hiking for 1 km, we encountered a shop- the only open shop on this trail. We enjoyed Maggi sitting on grass land and looking at the magnificent Himalayas all around. We could see snow clad mountains at distance which would look very near in few hours.

 

 

 

 

Proper paved path is made, so you need not worry for trail. But remember this can be slippery when snow melts. After seeing continuous patches of ice, we took out our spikes and fixed with trekking shoes. This actually saved us from trouble from being slipped throughout the day.

We trekked the Himalayas for around 1 hour and got indulged with the immense beauty of the place. Within no time we were above all the mountains and by then sun was out. I extended my arms looking at sun and felt like first light of the day has kissed my face. Standing on sheets of snow, surrounded by giant Himalayas and covered with quilt of circling clouds is a bliss. We were gazing at the countless layers of mountains and did not talk with each other for sometime. After that, Satish thanked me and said he has never seen such kind of breath taking view.

Arriving at Tungnath temple

I got first glimpse of Tungnath temple covered with snow, and above that clouds magnified the view. This is the beautiful thing one can ever witness. We attempted many off track treks, but nothing compared with the last stretch to reach temple. We had to pull out legs from snow covered till calves and it became very difficult. But its beautiful feeling to reach on top after putting so much efforts.

We reached world’s highest Shiva temple and bowed down. It was an overwhelming moment looking at the temple, great mountains and mesmerizing view. One can feel the immense peace and positive vibes around this place. Like every other temple, this also has Nandi statue outside guarding the temple. Although it was closed, but that time in my mind I had the story of Panch Kedar that how Lord Shiva appeared here in form of hand. Such kind of places are for spiritual souls above than religious values. Its the place one can feel how insignificant we are in front of nature and massive world.

Before descending, we took out packed lunch and ate Paratha sitting on huge rock. We spent around 2 hours near the temple sitting quietly. To get down was easy but need to take care of the slippery path. We again attempted few shortcuts by sliding in snow and getting down very quickly. While coming back we had enough time to witness sunset, so we took long breaks and relaxed on grassland.

While going to Tungnath, plan it accordingly so that you don’t miss beautiful sunset which happens on right side when you come down. Sky was painted in orange and last rays were falling on snow clad mountains. What a Wow!

Immediately after reaching Chopta, we grabbed cup of tea which gave us enough warmth. We sat in cab to reach hotel, but vehicle started slipping off due to snow on road was melting. Our driver was experienced, so were relaxed.

 

Time for Celebrations!

After coming to hotel the feeling of accomplishment was within us. Everyone was happy after refreshing journey of mind and body. The hotel owner Dinesh ji arranged bonfire for us and within no time everyone gathered, played music, guitar and Dholak. Few of them did trekking for the first  time. At last we all shared experience of Himalaya trekking.

We had simple and delicious dinner of Dal, Rice, Roti and Sabzi. Following that, we came out for walk on road under billions of stars who were playing hide and seek behind clouds. And around 11 PM, we slept after late night talks of the trek.

Quick tips

  • Carry enough water bottles and eatables as there will be only 1 opened shop all the way.
  • Wear good trekking shoes along with snow spikes. It will really help a lot to get grip. Wearing shoes cover is also recommended as it will protect shoes from letting in snow.
  • You can take stick and rubber boots on rent from Chopta.
  • Do not litter on the way. Carry wrappers or bottles and dispose them in Chopta.
  • Start trek as early as possible in morning to witness all shades of nature until sunset.

 

How to reach 

  • Reach from Delhi to Rishikesh by Bus, Train or Cab.
  • Rishikesh to Chopta distance is 220 kms and there is no direct transport. So, you can hire direct taxi till that place. Or, go by bus till Ukhimath and hire taxi from there itself. Ukhimath is only 40 kms from Chopta.
  • Bus frequency from Rishikesh to Ukhimath is very low, so plan the trip wisely. I would recommend to hire direct taxi till Chopta.
  • Stay in Dugalbhitta or Chopta and trek the Himalayas next morning to visit Tungnath and Chandrashilla.

 

Recommendations

Don’t expect to find any luxurious hotel around this place. I stayed in Dugalbithha couple of times and found the hospitality of the owner and staff members to be awesome. Rooms are neat and clean with fully loaded blankets. Food is very simple and delicious. Moreover, view from this place is very beautiful. So have peaceful stay, trek the Himalayas and visit world’s highest Lord Shiva temple.

Contact Dinesh at +91 94101 15787

Explore more at himalayanrovers.com

 

Tungnath is one of the most beautiful adventure treks of Garhwal region. I highly recommend this to everyone. I would love to hear from you on this post. Write below in comments or drop me message.

Stay fit and happy travelling!

GMVN – Partner of Uttarakhand Tourism

GMVN – Uttarakhand Tourism packages

 

Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) is government body of Uttarakhand enterprise and official partner of Uttarakhand tourism for Garhwal region. GMVN has authorized capital of above Rs 40 crores and dedicated workforce of 1200 employees. Now, you don’t need to worry for planning your trip, just explore Uttarakhand tourism packages. GMVN provides various services to travelers mentioned here.

  • Accommodation – more than 90 guest houses and tourist bungalows all over Garhwal region
  • Char Dham Yatra – It provides char dham tour packages
  • Uttarakhand tourism packages guide to get more insights of the place
  • Information on road and weather conditions
  • Snow Skiing activity in Auli
  • Water Rafting Course Program in Rishikesh and Kaudiyala
  • Yoga festival in Rishikesh
  • Customized tour packages
  • Trekking activities

 

Planning trip for Uttarakhand?

Many people struggle a lot while planning trip to Uttarakhand because they are unaware of the places, how to reach, things to do, where to stay and the road/weather conditions. If so, then explore GMVN, a trustworthy Government body provides best services at reasonable price.

All GMVN guest houses are located at the prime location. Whenever I plan my trip, I always prefer to stay in GMVN which provides luxury to budget stay options. And the best part is the booking can be done online and the mobile application is available too. The staff of GMVN is very helpful and cooperative. While coming back from Kedarnath, we got late in evening and had no booking that time. So, I called GMVN Gupkashi and got immediate help. The rooms were available and I got last minute assistance at 10 PM. I have shared website and contact details below.

Have look at GMVN Guptkashi gallery having amazing view of Himalayan peaks.

Stay at prime location

My personal experience has always been very good with GMVN. If you are the person to whom prime location is the primary factor in trip, then you should always go for GMVN. It will never disappoint you.

Locations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Kaudiyala, Auli, Landsdowne have the best locations with awesome facilities. But if you plan to travel places like Gomukh which lies in extreme difficult climatic conditions, then don’t expect luxury stay and five star facilities. You have to then go for shared accommodation in dormitory and basic food.

Ganga Resort of Rishikesh is actually located on the banks of Holy Ganga near to Ram Jhoola. Its big property and they offer various facilities like Accommodation, Yoga and Meditation programs etc.

GMVN Kaudiyala, which is 40 kms ahead of Rishikesh. Beautiful huts on Ganga river side are made far away from chaos.

Important details

Website

Uttarakhand tourism website- https://uttarakhandtourism.gov.in

GMVN website- http://gmvnl.in

Create your account and book accommodation or tour packages. If you need any assistance to select the rooms, then call directly to that location or on the below number of Dehradun – the GMVN headquarter.

ExploreOuting – Complete travel guide which helps you to discover and explore the places. They take care of everything for you and will help you at every step. ExploreOuting is associated with GMVN and Uttarakhand Tourism.

Website https://www.exploreouting.com/

0135 265 2794, +91-9586006631,  +91-9873090338

Mobile application

Download GMVN official mobile application, a very user friendly app and has great informative content regarding the places, itinerary, travel tips and lot more. Believe me, its worth to explore.

You can download it from here and get ready to explore Garhwal. If you need any assistance regarding Uttarakhand tourism packages, then tap for Request for callback option. I got callback in 15 minutes and solved all my queries.

Download ExploreOuting Application from here and have look at great travel destinations.

Packages

GMVN offers various Uttarakhand tourism packages like Pilgrimage, Adventure sports, Yoga etc.

  • Pilgrimage – Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, Gangotri
  • Adventure Sports- Skiing, White water sports, Still water sports and trekking
  • Yoga – 7 days and weekend program in GMVN Ganga Resort, Rishikesh

GMVN stay options enroute to Kedarnath pilgrimage.

 

Explore and enjoy Garhwal region of Uttarakhand which is very beautiful and unexplored. Do visit GMVN and GoExplore website and mobile application to get an idea of Uttarakhand Tourism packages and services. Stay fit and happy travelling!

Pushkar animal fair

Pushkar Animal Fair

Pushkar Fair is one of the most popular and oldest fair of India where one can enjoy colors of Indian culture. This draws attention of tourists across the globe. It is popularly known as “Pushkar Mela” which is celebrated in Kartik month depending on the Hindi calendar.

The original intention behind the fair was to invite local camel and cattle traders to conduct their business on the holy dates of Kartik Purnima festival. Eventually it became so popular that Govt of Rajasthan made it big to another level by introducing regional and cultural programs in the town.

In 2018, the dates were 15 Nov – 23rd Nov. Please search for the dates whenever you plan to visit. Also, I would suggest to look at the schedule of events at Pushkar fair. Like various cultural events, Camel dance, Horse dance etc so that you don’t miss out any. Usually dance events happen in first few days of the festival.

Camel Fair

Camels, Camels and Camels everywhere! Its actually great to witness Camels in huge number at only one place. Camels from different lands are gathered for this festive celebrations. Camel ride is a must do thing in Pushkar. Earlier I thought Camel to be very ugly, so I didn’t want to go Pushkar. But they looked beautiful who were dressed up nicely for beauty contest, race contest and for dance even. Yes, you read it right. Dance performance of camels!

Camel ground

 

Love birds 🙂

 

 

We were quite inquisitive about the price of camel and horse. Camel trading is done at around 40k-50k. Now, it was the turn of horse. Believe me this has got wide range. The female horse starts from 1.5 lac and we were okay till that time. Then saw a big, skinny and smart horse inside the cage who won race in Pushkar fair. It was worth 35 lac which left my mouth opened and I was like What ???

Winner of race. Worth 35 lacs!

 

The dance performance of the horse. Watch till the end.

 

 

Photographer’s Paradise

Never in my life I have seen so much photographers at same place. Almost every person was carrying DSLR and the enthusiasm to capture moment was amazing. This land in real sense is photographer’s paradise when you get so much all together like Desert, Camels, decorated cart, Women dressed up in traditional attire and lot more. If you want more good clicks, then please go to sunset point. You will start loving camels if you see them in desert through lens at sunset time.

 

 

Camels at sunset

Activities at Pushkar

There are various activities like Kabbadi, Kho-Kho, Hot air balloon, cultural events, folk dance etc. Do checkout the events schedule.

Balancing act by the girl in fair ground

 

Kabaddi – Pushkar vs Rest of World

 

Camel wants to enter at Circus ground

 

 

Market of Puskar

While roaming around in Pushkar Mela market, we got to know it is famous for camel leather, so you can look for leather bags and other stuff. Apart from that we saw lot of traditional Rajasthani weapons which I have never seen in any market.

There were few Impersonators walking in the streets of Pushkar mimicking looks of Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga and lot more.

 

Food you can’t miss

If you happen to be into land of Pushkar, then you should always go for local food. Dal baati-churma is quite famous and will be available in all the Rajasthani outlets even outside state. We tried Kachori-Kadhi sold at almost every snacks shop. It was so delicious that I would highly recommend to go for it.

Few suggestions

If you plan to go during Pushkar fair, then book the hotel in advance as every hotel is full and overpriced that time because of huge number of people traveling that time.

Pushkar fair ground is on desert, so I would advise to wear high ankle shoes if possible, so you will not face much problems in walking.

 

Religious significance of Pushkar

Pushkar place is born because of the Lotus flower. As per legends, there was fight between Lord Brahma and daemon who was harassing people. Brahma thrown his weapon (Lotus flower) on daemon. In this process, the lotus petals fell on the ground where spring emerged and hence the Pushkar lake was created. Lord had to perform yagna at this place, but his wife Savitiri could not come on time. So, he sat with another women Gayatri and performed yagna. After seeing this, Savitri cursed Lord Brahma that he will be worshiped only in Pushkar. His only temple lies in the main town where as Gayatri and Savitri temples are on two opposite hill tops.

Many people across the country gather here to take holy dip in Pushkar lake on Kartik Poornima ( Full moon day or 15th day of Kartik month) which is very near to fair ground. It is believed that 2 days around Kartik Poornima is very prosperous to take dip in lake. By doing this, people get rid of sins and their wishes are fulfilled.

Pushkar lake

How to reach

Flight : There is no direct flight, but you can reach till Jaipur and go by bus to Pushkar.

Train: You can take train from Delhi to Ajmer and then take local bus/taxi to reach Pushkar which is only 30 kms far.

Bus: There is running bus service from Delhi to Pushkar, so you can avail.

 

Credits to my friend Ankit for sharing few pictures with me.

Go and enjoy the colors of Rajasthan at Pushkar fair:) Please leave your comments/message below.

Roadtrip to Nawabo ke Sheher via Expressway | 515 kms | 7 hours

Yamuna expressway connects Greater Noida to Agra at stretch of 186 Kms and hence connecting the India’s longest expressway between Agra to Lucknow which is of 316 Kms.

It was Diwali week and I could not get tickets to go my hometown Lucknow and same happened with my sister Preeti. Then decided to go by road and experience the Yamuna Express way and Taj express way in a stretch along with her.

Distance – 515 Kms

Car – Maruti Celerio

Speed – Maintained at 120 km/hr

No of Lanes- 8

Toll cost – Rs 1035 ( single side | Noida-Agra Rs 415 | Agra Ringroad Rs 35 | Agra to Lucknow Rs 585)

Tip- Fill Nitrogen in the tyres to avoid burst

Driving Experience

The feel of driving here is very exciting where you don’t have to apply much brakes. The driving experience is very refreshing instead of the tiring ones if driven for so long. The roads are very smooth and non-bumpy well constructed and maintained by Jaypee group. Even the airplane landing has been tested on this road in 2015 to ensure if it can be used during emergency.

Siblings are the best companion when it comes to travel. Its one of the finest road trips I ever had.

Everyone respects the lane driving rules very well by which you don’t have to focus on another vehicle much.

There are enough petrol filling stations along with Nitrogen gas availability and restaurants between Noida to Agra. But very less options when you move towards Lucknow. So, I would suggest to carry snacks, candies and water. We took only 2 breaks and had wonderful tea.

If you are travelling towards Mathura or Vrindavan, exit for these places come around 45 mins of reaching Agra. Exit boards are properly installed at many places.

 

Carry good playlist

Listening to pumped up tracks will always make driving enjoyable. Credit to Mukul Sir, my office colleague for sharing his amazing playlist.

You will face issues with Mobile network and tuning to FM also, so its advisable to dump enough songs in your mobile or USB.

 

 

Enjoy the Expressway and have a safe drive!

Visit to Kedarnath Temple | Day 2

Shiv Lingam Darshan

After visiting temple on previous day, we were prepared for next day to have Shiv Lingam darshan. It was 1st Oct, Monday and we were blessed to be there on that day. Temple was about to open at 5 AM for pilgrims and it was damn cold. The moment we came out of room and saw the magnificent view of Kedar ranges, then all the shivering went off . It was very clear sky and all the peaks behind the temple were visible.

As you walk towards temple, you will hear some chants from distance. The complete aura of the place was filled with positive vibes. When I went near to it, I heard Shiv Mahima Stotram, after that Lingashtakam and few more Shiv stuti. People put in lot of faith in such kind of places which adds glory and it becomes ultimate pilgrimage. Visit to Kedarnath temple must be very special for every pilgrim.

Kedarnath Shrine

Continue reading “Visit to Kedarnath Temple | Day 2”

Visit to Kedarnath Temple | Day 1

Journey to Kedarnath Temple

 

Kedarnath shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva lies in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 11755 ft. It is among Panch Kedar, 12 Jyotirlinga and Char Dham yatra. This place holds an important significance to be visited as per mythology. It is believed that temple is built around 5000 years ago by Pandavas. Please have a look at story behind the temple and Panch Kedar.

Started the journey

By taking name of Shambhoo, we friends in group of 5 started our journey from Gaurikund on 30th Sept,2018. Time was around 6:30 AM and it was bit cold due to height and river Mandakini flowing by side. Gaurikund is a well equipped market from where you can buy every thing for your journey, but carry cash as there are no ATMs.

Gaurikund market

We bought wooden sticks and started from the market. Not to worry about the food and water, as there would be lot of shops on the way. All you need is faith and courage.

Total length of the trek is 22 kms which looked pretty descent but we had to cover it in single day. From Gaurikund itself, you would come across lot of pony options as well and they charge around Rs 2000.

From very starting, you will come across lush green Kedar valley and Mandakini river on your right hand side.

Continue reading “Visit to Kedarnath Temple | Day 1”

Deoria Tal | Trek for beginners

From EPICS…

Deoria Tal is the lake related with a story from Mahabharat. It is located in Garhwal region of Himalayas at an altitude of 8000 ft from sea level. When Padavas were hiking in this high altitude Himalayan range, they felt thirsty and then saw this lake. They were warned by Yaksha asking them not to drink water unless they answer his questions. Except Yudhishtira, all brothers went dead after drinking water from the lake. So, Yudhishtira entertained Yaksha and answered to his queries successfully and gave life to his brothers.

This lake is surrounded by plain land and and lush green forest with Himalayas at the back. The view turns so mesmerizing when reflection of Chaukhambha peak falls straight on the water of lake. Apart from the reflection, you can see bunch of clouds circling around the snow covered peaks. These kind of views are just awesome.

Continue reading “Deoria Tal | Trek for beginners”