Roopkund

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2nd September 2000

Wan is a beautiful place with oak trees all around. There is a famous temple of  Lattu Devta, the brother of  Parvati goddess. We paid our respects and started our trek to a place called Bedni Bugyal, Bedni is a encashment of water and Bugyal means meadow. Our journey was from 8000 ft to 12000 ft and 12 kms. I as always reached first at the place called Ghairoli Pattal which is 10 kms, reached the place at 1.30 p.m. it was getting cloudy, so I just had some tea and planned to leave as the last two kms was straaaaaight uphill. This two kms was covered in 2 hours. The four horned ram and the rest of the pilgrimage was to spend the night at Ghairoli Pataal which translated means deep hell (wow what a name). It started raining and by the time I reached Bedni Bugyal at around 3.30 pm, I was somewhat wet. As the porters are used to short cuts, I assumed that they have reached faster than me and I kept searching for them in many tents, some near some far and in the process got further wet. when I had given hope, I saw them, they had stopped in between due to rains and came only when it stopped. This place was very beautiful indeed and as per the name rightly decried, there was a pond, called Bedni Kund (pond) and as we were above tree line, lush green meadows. 

As I had come earlier and seen many tents and tent pitching places, I suggested the porters that another 1 km uphill was a better place to pitch the tent as water does not stay and ground is straight and hard. The porters were reluctant as there was a fire nearby and the they did not want to get up. I with other forest officials went to the tent pitching spot and waited for the porters to come. They came after a gap of 20 minutes and at the same time rain also came. It was already 5.30 p.m., hence I pitched my tent in the rain whereas the porters took a big tent and all sat down huddled with the tent covering them, please note without pitching the tent. I was completely soaked and shivering in the tent and thinking now what to do, the group behind in which the conservator and my dad was, how to find them and arrange a rescue party etc. The porters in the meantime were very unhappy and indirectly calling names to me, the good part is that the last group also came around 7.00 p.m. by time it was already dark and my dad, Conservator were also completely drenched. They had spotted my tent from a distance and came, we all changed our clothes in the tent and shivering went inside our sleeping bags. We ate 2-3 biscuits each and tried to sleep with our bladders full. It was raining heavily and no one wanted to go out even to pee. The rain stopped at around 9.30 p.m, that is when others pitched their tents, made some khichri and slept.


3rd September 2000

It was still raining when we got up at 5.30 a.m, there was problem in the morning tea as the stoves that were for cooking purpose, some gaskets or valves had contracted due to cold and they were not being able to light, but as there were other tents, help was available and tea straight from heavens was given to us. It was such a pleasure to hold warm tea in hand. It is very hard to express, this place was marvelous, snow peaks over us, clouds below us and lush green meadows, beauty all around and it was so refreshing getting fresh in the open with one hand with umbrella, the other holding the bottle and sitting in a crouched position.

We ate breakfast , the same old khichri and wounded up our tents and Started off to a place called Pathar Nauchaniya, it was continuously raining and our shoes were wet. We walked in the beautiful meadows and crossing through Ali bugyal reached Pathar Nauchaniya at around 12.30 .
Translated it means Dancing stones, here is where the Kings dancers were turned into stones, well they did not look like sculpture, they looked like ordinary stones to me. here is where my problems started. we were going to 14000 - 15000 ft and after this place my head started to ache, the right half portion. There are many local theories to why I had headache, the stories are, due to lack of oxygen, there are many variety of flowers hence due to their scent, lack of water, my head was uncovered and cold wind got me, etc. 

We reached Bagua basa at 3.30 p.m., Bagua means flowery park and Basa means place. And rightly the place was full of variety of flowers including the rare Bhram Kamal, a special godly lotus found at only and between the altitude of 14000 -
15000 ft. Due to the headache I lay down in the tent and did not participate much in the activities. Next morning I was better but not perfect. From this camp we could see the two peaks, Nanda Ghunghat and Trishuli and could also see just the corner of  Roopkund.

 

4th September 2000

We departed towards Roopkund, now we were crossing some dangerous areas, there was no vegetation only rocky areas with avalanche prone areas and glaciers. Roopkund was just 5 Kms and we reached there at around 1.00 p.m. Skeletons welcomed us at this mysterious area. It was a shallow lake with 50 feet diameter and 2 meter deep. and all around skeletons, and more skeletons. Took many photographs and maybe the last of skeletons as later on we heard that the  pilgrims who were accompanying the four horned ram, when they reached Roopkund, fight broke on between the pilgrims to take possession of skeletons as souvenirs and lots of skeletons were taken  away. Roopkund is at an altitude of 16200 ft. It was now 2.30 pm. and the roughest part of our trek and most dangerous was to come crossing the place called Juanagali translated means Valley of Death. From Roopkund there is straight uphill climb like stairs to a height of 17500 ft. where a mountain distance of say 200 Mtrs has to be crossed with steep fall to death on both sides. To our surprise we all were able to cross this without much difficulty, the difficult part came later on. The interesting part was that is was raining and there was lots of fog, one could hardly see 5-10 mtrs, this was a big help as you could only the the path and not the fall below, then came the steep downhill path covering nearly 5 Kms downhill we reached Shila Samudra (Mountain Ocean) at around 4.00 p.m. This place was the most beautiful place I have seen so far. We were at a height of around 13-14000 ft, in a valley and all around us were Peaks, snow covered and they looked so so far and high, we were at the peaks base. from every side there was water flowing and coming down.

 

We pitched our tents and clicked many photographs, as usual it was now around 7.00 p.m., hence two porters with torches were sent back to fetch our conservator and my father. They came safely down at around 8.00 p.m., they crossed the height of 17500 ft without oxygen and safe and sound. Dad had some fever, so he went straight to the tent and slept whereas, I enjoyed the evening till 10.00 p.m., ate a hearty meal, we had choice of two dishes, had Roti after ages, and rice with pulses, potato, wow. In the night the moonlight was striking the peaks and white all around, it was like evening in the night. A spectacular view.


5th September 2000

Today was our rest day as the four horned ram and his team would be arriving here. We took out our clothes and set then to dry. Please note no bathing since we started, we only washed our hands and faces, some cleaning up and resting. There was a herd of Mountain goats called as Gural that could be seen on the cliffs, we saw many a glaciers breaking and the sound was very good. The trek to homkund was just 3 kms, but glaciers were breaking. The devi, the procession  and the four horned Ram arrived at around 3.45 p.m., now there were  two Rams  one black and another white, the black one had very short fourth horns, whereas the white one had big ones.

Clicked many photographs of the procession, the rams, the pilgrims, the excitement etc. More people than expected had come and there was shortage of tents, eatables etc. And it was continuously raining since morning, we were lucky to have had the chance of seeing clear sky and the beauty of the land.

 

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