day in Corbett
Yatra / Trek
Situated at an altitude of 5029 mts. in the interior of the Chamoli
district, Roopkund is famous for the mysterious shallow lake of about 2 mts.,
with the edges covered with snow almost throughout the year. After the snow
melts, skeletal remains which are believed to be 500-600 year old, many
theories explain the findings but non seem satisfying. The lake is nestled
amidst panoramic mountain scenery. According
to the tradition the Royal family of Garhwal conducted Nanda Raj Jat to please
their isht-devi, so that their kingdom would be prosperous and the enemies
would be defeated. According to another legend the royal family undertakes the
pilgrimage along with their purohits to seek forgiveness from Nanda Devi, and
to offer ‘tarpan’ to one of their ancestors who died at Roopkund along
with his pregnant wife and courtesans. Rajah Yashodhaval of Kannauj came on a
pilgrimage to the dev bhoomi. His pregnant wife and women of the royal family
accompanied him. He decided to go to Homkund along with his entourage. He
didn’t heed to the advice that women were not allowed beyond Bedni-Kund. He
broke the tradition and went ahead. At Roopkund the Rajah and his entourage
perished mysteriously, most probably in a snow-blizzard. Hundreds of skeletons
still lie scattered in and around Roopkund. There was a lot of controversy
about the mystery of Roopkund.
The general prejudice against
the folk-lore led many scholars to attribute the bones to General Zorawar Singh
of Kashmir, and his men, who are said to have lost their way and perished in the
high Himalayas, on their return journey after the Battle of Tibet. Along with
bones of humans, bones of horses have also been found there. But this theory
does not explain the presence of female skeletons. Carbon dating of the
skeletons, done of Crane and Griffin in 1958 proves that the bones are indeed
between 500 to 800 years old. During the Raj Jat even today, ‘tarpan’ is
performed for Rajah Yashodhaval and his entourage.
The legend of
Nanda is an integral part of the socio-cultural milieu of Uttarakhand.
Shrines of Nanda Bhagwati are scattered all over Central Himalayas. To
most of the hill-folk Nanda Devi is their isht-devi, and at the same
times their outmarried daughter (dhyani). Her relationship to the people
of Uttarakhand is somewhat similar to what Sita has to the people of
Mithila. Sita is the daughter of Mithila and Nanda, also known as Gaura,
is daughter of Uttarakhand.
Nanda Devi Raj Jat pilgrimage, dating back to the 9th century, is mostly
held in intervals of 12 years, when a four-horned Ram is born in one of
the villages in the area.
The pilgrimage starts from Nauti village in Chamoli district on Tuesday
and takes several days of trekking through the hilly terrain to reach
the final destination of Homkund.
The image of the Goddess is taken on a palanquin along with offerings
are taken in a procession, accompanied by bare-footed devotees. It is
believed that the trek signifies Nanda's (maiden name of Parvati)
journey from her maternal village to Shiva's abode in Homkund.
According to the folk songs recited during the festival, King Shalipal
of Chandpur Garhi laid the foundation of the tradition. He also
authorized his younger brother 'Kunwar' of Kansava to represent the
royal house in the yatra with the four-horned Ram and ''chhantolis''
(traditional umbrellas) besides helping the priest perform all rites and
rituals connected with the pilgrimage.
Devotees believe that
the Ram moves under spiritual influence. It carries the bangles and
clothes for Goddess. It is said that a four-horned Ram gets born every
12 years in Chandpurpatti of Karnprayag sub-division.
Roopkund trek and the Nanda
Devi Raj Jat
Diary maintained by Mr. Parth Sharma.
A wildlife enthusiast/trekker who was invited by the Asstt. Conservator of
Forest Kedarnath Sancutary, Gopeshwar, Chamoli, India from 1-10
30th August 2000
We left for Gopeshwar (U.P) which is around 450 kms from Delhi, our
meeting point with the Asst. Conservator of Forest of that area. We
started at 4.00 a.m. and arrived at Gopeshwar in the evening at 6.00
p.m. The route is via Haridwar the last stop before the mountains start, hence 200 kms plain journey and 250 kms mountain
journey. Gopeshwar is
at an altitude of 5000 ft.
The journey is very
interesting as you cross through very interesting places called prayags
which is intersection of two rivers at a point, and the river is the
Ganges. at Haridwar all the mountain rivers meet and then it is know as
31st August 2000
We planned everything the previous night and started off to the trek
starting point at Mandoli Village which is around 95 Kms from Gopeshwar.
We were in two cars/jeeps fully loaded with all trekking equipment
including oxygen, rum, etc. and other life saving stuff.
Our group comprised
of eight people. Six from forest department and two from Delhi. We
covered 60 Kms very easily and reached a place called Simly from where
the destination Gwaldham was only 35 Kms, but adventure had already
started, there was a landslide in two places and the area could not be
cleared even within next 3-4 weeks. We had no choice but to take a
detour of 200 Kms only. it was a complete circle and in
mountainous conditions with continues rains. We reached Gwaldham
at around 6.00 p.m. in the evening and from there onwards till Mandoli
there is no telephone, roads etc. The roads were so bad that our car
got stuck in broken roads, flowing mountain waters etc., lost our fuel
filter and by just taking the name of lord, we reached Deval forest
rest house by around 9.00 p.m.
1st September 2000
I parked my car at the Deval rest house and we all went in the forest
vehicle to Mandoli village last village and 2 Kms from the village is
Lohajung from where medical fitness certificate and registration of
porters was to be done.
departments duty was at the last place of camping before the four horned
Ram departs at homkund. The place is called Shila Samudra which
translated means Mountain Ocean, I'll come to the details later about
each place. Now we had to trek one day ahead of the main Yatra of the
four horned Ram, so that when we are at our destination, the place is
well taken care off. the trek route was Lohajung - Wan
- Bedni Bugyal - Bagua Basa - Shila samudra - Sutol - Wan - Lohajung -
Todays trek was from
Lohajung (the starting point village) (6000 ft) to Wan (translates
means forest) (8000 ft) which is 17 Kms. The trek was easy and nice and
lots of good forest, we took ten porters as provisions for eating, tenting,
sleeping, etc. was to be carried,
now our group became of 18 people (10 porters). As the pace of
everyone is not and cannot be the same, soon the first day itself
unknowingly groups were formed, as per ones speed and stamina. I was
with the porters in the leading group and the conservator with his loyal
staff and father dear were in the last. The last group was lucky and
spotted a leopard and a Snake on their journey to Wan.
I used to walk
for 1 hour rest for 5-10 minutes and then again repeat the same
procedure. The first day itself I saw many people walking barefoot on
rough stones. We Started from Lohajung at 12.45 p.m. and I reached Wan
at 4.15 p.m. The porters and second lot of the group came at around 6.00
p.m. and one of the conservators loyal came at 7.00 p.m. alone with a
request that a rescue party has to go back on the track as the torches
and flashlights were in the packs given to the porters. So I went back
only a km or so and got the conservator and my father to our resting
place. The quick fix meals in trekking is known as Khichri (mixture of
rice and pulses and vegetables cooked in a pressure cooker), that is
what we used to eat and eat and no variety, it used to be a luxury if
something else was served.
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