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"ROOPKUND"- trek engulfed by magnificence and mysteries
Roopkund the glacial lake, at an altitude of 5,029 meters in the lap of Mount Trishul and Mount Nandgungti, in the Chamoli district of Uttrakhand ,makes its way through exotic landscapes , untouched oak forests, long stretched meadows, snow capped mountains and the list goes on. The roopkund trek holds in the mysteries and myths, that no less gives it a feels of treasure hunt in a mystical land , with extreme and untold natural changes. According to a folklore, a king with his annual pilgrimage procession, had not performed the prayers in an orderly manner, distracted by the royal dancers, which infuriated the Goddess ,and to relinquish any sort of similar incident the deity transformed the dancers into boulders ,and a few huge stones seen till date does seem to have an affinity with the legend, hence named to be "dancing stones" and Pathar Nachni" in the local language. "The Skeleton Lake" as the name so goes the legend .There have been many stories to the human remains found near the lake, some say it to be of, the traders or Tuglak's army of losing their way, the others believe it to be of the King of Kannauj ,with his wife and a procession to the Nanda Devi , delivering a baby on the way made the goddess ferocious on account of spoiling her holy land, and so a hailstorm was casted on them. Being no such trade route, absence of any pilgrimage in that specific direction and the presence of human remains does brings these deeply believed stories to an unexplained end. The ranger who first stumbled into these skeletons in 1942, the mysterious lake propagated a few more interesting theories. To demystify it "The National Geographic" channel produced a documentary "Riddles of the Dead ". During this period a lot of bones with flesh (the cold and snow being the natural preservers of the dead) were discovered and hence pointed to a mass destruction around the 9th century. The cracks on the skulls and the other studied injuries finally explained and concluded that the destruction would have been in a form of hailstorm with a size of a cricket ball. But it is still unsure, who these people were, where were they headed to, what were they doing there, and how did actually they meet their end. The magnificence and astonishing view that the Roopkund Trek holds , is enchanting and is no less than a treasure in itself. Talking of treasure the "Brahma Kamal" named after a Hindu God of creation is a rare, sacred and seasonal flower to be found in high altitudes, and the "Keeda Jadi" meaning "insect plant" (literally),a medicinal mushroom in search of which innumerable people head towards the higher altitudes in the springs. This sublime variant- half caterpillar and half fungus has medicinal properties like -a natural aphrodisiac and also an energy stimulant which is why people neglect the extremities and bleak weather, both of these add to the enthralling quotient of the roopkund trek. The trail to the trek goes through Asia's finest and the largest high altitude meadows, Ali Bugyal and Bedni Bugyal, widely spreading a lush green carpet, steep climbs and impeccable rainbows forming in the most unlikely angles would fill you with wonderment. Do pick an eye out for the bearded vulture a high altitude bird, with an wing expansion of 2-3 meters an intriguing vision in itself, slow down and notice the different and numerous colours, shapes and types of myriad flowers along the path. Wan the only place in India which is the home to Gigantic Cyprus trees which needs 7-8 people to actually scale its bark cannot go unnoticed, adjoining with around five hundred years old ,virgin and mighty oak trees. Kalu Vinayak -spirituality at its best, makes u feel humbled by its presence in that solitude, the peaks which are sometimes clouded allows the sunrays to dance and create a magic of its own ,like Chaukhamba range,Gangotri,Trishul,Nandghungti,Neelkanth, Bandarpoonch and then unearthing them during the trek, just gets you even more delighted and frantic . The lake is girdled with outcropped glacial rocks and snowy summits. The freezing raw nights and thinning of air with the ascending altitudes makes it all the more difficult and altogether creates this trail to be a trail for what it is worth. The roopkund trek's heart-stirring views, spine tingling heights, grandeur of the mountains and the mysteries lying beneath them and much more is what roopkund trek holds within. This peril to roopkund will touch your heart to the roots with the fireworks of the learning and enchanting experience of journeying to the skies.
-The package includes ALL meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), snacks and refreshments throughout the trek. Meals would be wholesome, delicious and abundant. - Accommodation in tents on twin-sharing basis. - Transfers from Dehradun to the starting point of the trek and back. - Entry fees, permit to trek and forest camping charges in the region for the entire duration of the trek, wherever applicable. - Needless to say, we'll provide you with sleeping bags, mattresses, tents and other safety equipment required. - We'll have an English-speaking guides and a team of porters / mules to carry common group equipment. - A trained cook along with helper/ requisite staff. - First aid kit.
All programmes are subject to change without prior notice.
Kathgodam , this small town being the last point of connectivity to the hills through the railways, which is why the town has a regular flow of tourists and the locals moving in and out of the town all the time of the year, and also being the last destination by railways for this trek too, one needs to get early reservations on the well known train "Ranikhet express". Road to Loharjung is taken by boarding buses or jeeps frequently going to and fro, the roads outlining the hills seems to be folding and unfolding the curves of beauty, that the hills are embedded with. Loharjung a small village that gives a bit of introduction to the life in hills and is the base camp to the Roopkund trek.
Trekking down couple of hours to Raun Bagad ("bagad" – a spot where the river widens composing a bed along with causeways) taking the Lord Curzon trail ,through the mixed dense forests of deodar and oak, is not that hard but the serenity does leave you spellbound. Raun Bagad an iron bridge that crosses over the Neel Ganga river which gurgles between Wan and Loharjung, where it meets the Kail river, and thereafter its ensues into the Pindar river at Debal .Raun Bagad could also be reached by taking the road towards Wan from Loharjung, a long walk (6km) to Kulling village and then a steep slope follows to reach the bridge.Out of the two trails Lord Curzon trail is plain-sailing but if taken one does miss the beautiful forests. Next one and half hour would give you an introduction to mountaineering. This steep upslope is a tiring climb to the beautiful village Didna (located at the foothills of Himalayas), which on reaching will welcome you with its encompassing hills, terraced landscape and houses made of stones, mud and wood and a
It is a trek of 6-7 hours. One of the two ways to reach Ali Bugyal is through the trail from the right of Didna village ,and climbing without deviating to Ali Bugyal, which is shorter but a steeper and exhausting upslope .Weather being unpredictable, it is better to start off early in the morning and reach Ali Bugyal before noon to enjoy the scenic beauty. The other way to reach Ali Bugyal is to take the trail to Tolpani where one sees a panicle of shepherd's hut, trail from the left of Didna village camp site,towards the direction of the valley (a 1,000ft. higher)is a steady climb of around 2hrs ,smeared with carpet of dead leaves and impassable oak forest .This exhilarating climb will prepare and acclimatize oneself for steeper climb. Leaving the trail to Tolpani which wanders off from the direction to Ali Bugyal, and taking an up climb trek to the northern direction, through a string of sharp curves and steep inclinations. At the end of these switchbacks one reaches Tolkaan, a grassy clearing in the forest, is a perfect spot to take a break and breathe in all the beauty around. A sharp left turn to the south, in the trail at Tolkaan leading to the top of the ridge, and then transpires out of the dense oak holt catching the first glimpse of Ali Bugyal .The vertiginous climb is time to time impeded by the clouds turns to a imperceptible easy going trail. To the end of this gentle climb of around 2 hours, one experience's a dramatic change in the landscape, out of the densest oak forest and stepping into the never ending green carpet looks as though one is witnessing an act of magic, nature being the magician here makes the clouds glissade atop the ridge and then skates them down the other side leisurely .
Named after a locally believed myth this place is a well marked 4 hours trail to roopkund .Starting early in the morning and the mountain top peeping from the clouds wishing you good morning is fascinatingly dreamy. The trail of 3-4 hrs from Ali Bugyal to Pathar Nachni or Ghora Lotani is easy going and in a straight direction of about 3 km, and then the trail has a gradual up slope but an evident one which unveils the other side of the ridge. The topography completely changes, one sees the snow on the facet of the mountains. This is the last spot for the horses and the porters, that too has a story of its own, which hearing from the locals' itself adds in, the fun of knowing the folklores around, under the open sky. The thinning of the air on the high altitude of 12,500ft, where one is prone to have an upshot of the climb is a reason that one sets up the camp for the night at Pather Nachni or Ghora Lotani, so that one can acclimatize to the altitude ahead.
This 4-5 hours trail to Bhagwabasa is along a mountain edge, passing through religious shrines all along and one of them famously known as Kalu Vinayak, a stone shrine with a black Ganesh Idol from which its gets its name. The steep climb of zig-zag trails and simultaneously increasing altitude is thrilling, but also needs to be treated as the most crucial section of the whole trek. Climbing this section of the trail slowly, with breaks in regular interval of 15mins would help a lot for one's body to adjust with the altitude of 14,500ft. The trail further from Kalu Vinayak to Bhagawabasa hits on to the snowline with gentle descend, one needs to be careful while curling around the snowy patches about taking quick observant steps. After the 2 km walk on reaching Bhagwabasa one can either rent a bed in one of the stone hut put up by the locals or move a bit forward to a small clearing to pitch up for the night. At Bhagwabasa temperature falls to -2°C to - 6°C in the night and is also extremely windy.
A 5 km steady elevation, sharp switchbacks and steep climb is what the trail to Roopkund from Bhagwabasa holds in .Starting at 5:00am is beneficial as the snow is still hard and easier to walk on. The 2½ hours trekking is exhausting but it is towards the end of the trail, that needs the support of whole body to get to the spot and on reaching Roopkund it leaves oneself ecstatically inspirited. Reaching Roopkund and not climbing up to Junargali is like missing out on something, unless the weather is not permitting .The sharp snow covered upslope route of 2oo ft, gets over in 20 minutes, but caution is important while climbing up Junargali. Trekking down is much more tricky than climbing up, in the mid morning the snow becomes and soft and slippery and the feet starts sinking in, but gets easy-going while one proceeds on the trail .Getting out of the tricky and dangerous slopes during the decent and retracing the trail one reaches Bhagwabasa ,moving ahead ,and this 4 hours trek back to Pathar Nachni is strength draining ,on the other hand the higher level of oxygen and the warmer climate gives a soothing effect. The spellbinding vision soaks away all the fatigue and while walking on the velvety green carpet in between the innumerable horses with slow swiftness ,through a steep curving upslope ,one reaches Bedni Bugyal. A grassy widespread meadow, an hour long walk of 5 km with slight descends, captivating natural beauty, the easy going trail, all of it together, works out its charm and makes oneself playful and do things like walking bare feet or rolling on the ground feeling the fluffy warmth and friendliness that nature holds in itself. Bedni Bugyal, an ultimate spot to see bright sunshine dancing over the peaks and the fretful clouds forming a dome of untimely rainfall which leaves one's stomach in knots. The alpine meadow covered with lustrous grass at about 3,354meters above sea level. Bedni Bugyal gives the closest view of Mount Trishul (7,120 mts) and the reflection of it on the water of Bendi Kund is like a snapshot with nature's own camera is hipnotizing ,it seems no less than a shiny dot (bindi) on the face of the earth. Spotting the peaks of the mighty mountains like Trishul, Chaukhambha, Bandarpunch, Aadi Parvat, Nanada Gunti, Neelkanth and Kali Dak which are visible from Bedini Bugyal.
This 6-7 hours trek will retrace one's steps through the meadows, where a sharp descend gets you to the end of it, and starting of the mixed forest, if a clearer sky the view of Mt.Trishul while returning is astounding. Walking through the Rhododendron forest while sunrays playfully gleaming between them, a steep descent would get you to the Neel Ganga, where one could take a break and refresh itself. A half an hour climb up a ridge and Wan village with huge and ages old Cyprus trees would be greeting you with an eventful human habitat, which on encountering after days in the wild gets mixed feelings of hating and liking it at the same time. The bumpy roadway on jeep for an hour would drive back to Loharjung.
Reaching the base camp site Loharjung, and then to Kathgodam is easy and relaxing. While one remembers the journey to Roopkund all sorts of emotions flows through oneself-excitement while starting the trek, all the hard work and dedication while climbing up, sense of wonderment while caught in the magical beauty of the landscape, sense of frustration caused by untimely rains, sense of stubbornness to brave the chilly nights, sense of achievement on reaching the top, sense of belongingness while celebrating it with others, getting entertained and sense of agreement and non-agreement on the stories of places and people around by the locals, sense of pure calmness and happiness when a journey is completed while going through so much "something seems similar…seems like LIFE" .This and much more is what one takes from this trek while departing from Kathgodam.