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Roopkund in Uttarakhand is the quintessential Himalayan trek and trek goes to Max altitude 15696 Ft.
The Roopkund Trek is to a Himalayan trekker what the movie 'Sholay' is to a hardcore Bollywood buff. Just like Sholay is the complete Bollywood entertainer (it has action, drama, comedy, romance), Roopkund is the quintessential Himalayan trek. This trek has snowcaps, meadows, lakes, forests, folklore; and yes, it has an intriguing flashback too. Roopkund is a mountain lake, lying in the Garhwal Himalayas in the Chamoli district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand.Situated at a high altitude, the lake remains frozen almost throughout the year. Roopkund is also called the 'Mystery Lake', or the 'Skeletal Lake', on account of the several hundred human skeletons found scattered in and around the lake.
A Forest Officer stumbled upon these skeletons in the year 1942, and this surprising discovery triggered a series of visits from scientists from all over the world who wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery. A lot of research went into finding out how so many skeletons came to exist near this lake, and eventually it was concluded that these skeletons belonged to a group of pilgrims, who were caught unprepared in a hailstorm( somewhere around AD850 ). The hailstones were as big as cricket balls, and with no shelter in site, they succumbed to injuries on their skulls. National Geographic aired a story regarding this lake, which made the lake a popular destination among trekkers. Aside from all this myth and mystery around the trek, the Roopkund Trek is the perfect route to showcase the surreal Himalayan beauty;and it the perfect trek to initiate you into high altitude treks. The trek starts from Lohajung, situated at an elevation of 3200 meters, and after gradually trekking uphill for 5 days you will reach Roopkund which lies at approximately 5000 meters above sea-level.
At this altitude the level of oxygen in the air is considerably lesser than what the lowland folks are used to, and the TTH team will give you various tips to enable you to effectively cope with this change. Being in good physical shape will ensure that you adapt to the thinning air quickly. Also, good fitness level will allow you more energy to enjoy the spectacular views without worrying about nagging bouts of altitude induced problems. So when you plan for this trek, also plan out a fitness regime for yourself.
There are two time windows in a year when you can do this trek – once after winter from mid-May to mid-June, and once post monsoon during September and October. You can choose the post-winter variant if you want to have some fun with snow, or you can choose the post-monsoon variant if you want to stroll through lush green Himalayan meadows. Whatever the season, the weather in the mountains is delicately balanced, and can go from sunny to cloudy in minutes. This adds another dimension to the adventure, and you should be equippedwith wind and water proof clothing to face these weatherchanges.
The first couple of days on the trek will take you through quaint villages, cheerful streams, and rapid mountain rivers. The sunlight streaming through the trees in the forests will make the entire mountainside glow golden. Trek some more, and you will soon leave the trees behind. Now you will be greeted by miles and miles of lush meadows, called 'Bugyals' in the local tongue.
The Bugyals are dotted with small and big lakes at intervals. The pure air, the poignant greens and the effervescent blues will make you forget all your troubles. Next is the summit stretch, where your stamina will be tested as the air gets thinner and thinner. At the end of the climb lies the coveted Roopkund, frozen, serene, and pristine. Near the lake you can still find lots of skeletons, which have been well preserved because of the cold after all these centuries. From here, you can spot a lot of other peaks – Trishul, Nandaghungti and Choukhamba.
The route followed on the Roopkund trek overlaps with a pilgrimage which occurs every year, called the Raj Jat Yatra. This festive pilgrimage is held each year to worship goddess Nanda Devi, and people from several villages of the Kumaon and Garhwal participate in this Yatra. This Yatra starts from a small village 'Nauti' near Karnaprayag, and goes beyond Roopkund to Homkund. If you are lucky enough to be on the trek during this Yatra, you will meet a lot of locals dressed in their traditional attire participating in the festival. Meeting these welcoming and warm-hearted people will be an unforgettable encounter. The Roopkund trek is a most enriching experience for the body and the soul. This time spent amidst the mountains will remove the cob-webs from your mind and will thoroughly rejuvenate you.
The Kathgodam station is one of the main stations in the district and it is an old station. It has good connectivity to many places and these include Lucknow, Delhi, and Howrah. Tickets from Delhi to Kathgodam by train cost around Rs. 150 for a second class sleeper ticket and Rs. 400 for a third A/C sleeper ticket. It is essential to book the tickets at least one month in advance as this route is always in demand.
By Train :-
From Delhi take the Ranikhet Express (5014) Dep. Delhi at 10:40pm arrival Kathgodam at 5:30am (Overnight Journey) or the Uttar sampark kranti (5035) Dep. Delhi at 4:00pm arrival Kathgodam at 10:40pm (6 hrs.40min.Journey)
From Dehardun take the Doon Express (4120) Dep. Dehardun at 10:30 pm arrival Kathgodam at 7:10 pm (8hrs.journey)
By Bus :-
Regular buses ply from ISBT Delhi Anand Vihar station to Kathgodam. Buses that go to Nainital stops at Haldwani which is a twin town of Kathgodham (8 hrs. Journey).
Note: Normally TTH expect to carry your personal luggage on your own, if you don’t want to carry your backpack so you can give it to porter/Mules, but you have to informe us in advance and have to pay Rs. 300/- extra per day per bag.
Transport from Kathgodam to Loharjung and return included
Reporting at Kathgodam
You can reach Kathgodam through one of the most famous trains reaching the destination, which is the Ranikhet express. Once you reach here, you would start feeling a change in the entire atmosphere. The Roopkund trek has its starting point from here. The mystery lake trek would give you a remarkable experience you might just feel that you are living your dream. The Roopkund trek is also known as the skeleton trek as skeletons are what you would see on reaching the destination.
Kathgodam is a small yet beautiful place . Once you reach Kathgodam, You can travel easily to Loharjung through the roadway. The roads are narrow, with beautiful curves and would give a good view of the surrounding. The lush green beauty that travels along is amazing.
Just behind the bus stand in Lohargunj, take the trail that takes you to Raun Bagad. It is a fairly marked trail that descends through mixed forests. It is a moderate trek and you would take around 2-2½ hrs to reach the Ruan Bagad, which is an iron bridge across the famous Neel Ganga river. There is also an alternative route to reach here from Lohargunj which is through the road towards Wan. It is an easy 6km walk to Kulling Village where after there is a steep slope towards Ruan Bagad. You can opt for the latter, which is easy to travel but you would certainly miss on the beautiful mixed forests. Hereafter the climb to Didina starts once you cross the iron bridge. It is a difficult climb and you may get tired pretty soon. With a relatively tough time in the beginning, you would reach Didina in about and an hour and a half’s time. You would have e great mountaineering experience all this while.
To reach Ali Bugyal from Didna, there are two alternative routes. If you look in the direction of the valley, you would look at Tolpani, which is a cluster of huts that belong to the shepherds. It is almost 3 kms away and 1000 feet high. From Tolpani, you take a trail that climbs to Tolkaan in the northern direction. The meadow trek goes through a series of switchbacks and grassy oak mountains. From Tolkaan, you take a sharp left towards the south and steer through the ridge to come out of the forest at Ali Bugyal.
The alternative route is to climb directly towards Ali Bugyal without going through Toplani. You would certainly save on distance but it a relatively much steeper and tiring climb. It takes nearly two and a half hours to reach Ali Bugyal on this route. To enjoy the seductive views from Ali Bugyal, you need to reach there before afternoon. It is a great post monsoon trek as well as a pre monsoon trek.
The day 3 is however the day when you trek to Chang Ma. This might be a difficult trek and you may experience the joy of a snow trek. You would like to spend the night here and the overnight stay would be in tents in the open lands.
The trek from Ali Bugyal to Ghora Latoni is an easy trek. You would follow a straight line ahead of you for about 3 kms. On your gradual increase to the slope, the trek brings you to the other side of the ridge. The view from this point is absolutely marvelous.
Ghora Lotani is a brilliant campsite and offers you great views all around. It is an easy day and you will get time to relax and acclimatize to the weather conditions before going ahead with your trekking. In fact, you could consider spending a day here to adapt to the altitude and atmosphere.
This is the day when you make a steep dash to gain altitude and finally trek in the snow line. The day’s snow trek will bring you to an altitude of 14,500 ft from 12,500 ft. It is an high altitude trekking and you would start feeling the effects of weather change and thin air and definitely the effects of high altitude. You would have to start your day early as you would like to reach Bhawabasa as early to acclimatize to the weather. Your route takes a climb to Kalu Vinayak, which is a steep and zig-zag way to take you up the mountain. Go through this section carefully and slowly.
It takes around one and a half hours to reach Kalu Vinayak. The route from Kalu Vinayak to Bhagwabasa is simple and gradually sloping downwards. Bhagwabasa is 2 kms away and you can have a view of the Bhagwabasa huts from here. The trail towards Bhagwabasa goes through snow patches and you would enjoy the journey.
You have to start the day as early as 5 AM. The sooner you start, the better it is for you as the snow is still hard, while later in the day, it would get soft and your feet would start sinking in. Roopkund is a 5 km gradually up-hill climb from Bhagwabasa. You will have steep climb towards the end of the trail to reach Roopkund. It would take about 3 - 3½ hours to reach Roopkund.
Once you climb to Roopkund, you must climb up to Junargali. Trekkers must visit unless the weather is very harsh and does not permit you. The climb to Junargali is not long. It is around 200 ft and doesn’t take much time. It is hardly a climb of 25 - 30 min. You can start off early to return back to Bedni Bugyal via Bhagwabasa. You need to be careful in trekking back as the snowy slopes may trick you.
It is a great journey back to Lohajung via Wan. The path is fairly simple and you would not feel any distress throughout. You would cross the oak forest as you go and the scenic beauty is just mesmerizing. You would see the end of meadows after a few minutes.
On a clear day, you would be astonished by looking at the Trishul on your way back from Bedni Bugyal to Wan. You would go down the Rhododendron forest. You would have a steep descent for the Neel Ganga. Faster trekkers reach there in approximately one and a half hours. However you should take your time and enjoy the beauty as you go by.
From the river, it takes about half an hour to climb to the ridge above Wan village. Overall it takes about 6 and half an hour to Wan and it is an hour’s drive back to Lohajung.
After getting to the base camp at Loharjung and finishing the Roopkund trek, you might think of spending a day at Loharjung. This is a great place to relax and chill out after your high altitude trek that has left your adrenaline pumping. You would enjoy the weather but definitely miss what you had at Roopkund or on its way. Travelling back to Loharjung is pretty simple and doesn’t really require any skill. An enjoyable road-trip to end the lake trek on an exhilarating note.
We have trekked Roopkund this October from 9th to 16th Schedule with the help of TTH. The experience is spectacular. Foods were palatable and encouraging. Still i miss the Custard (served by TTH) during Dinner time at home. Still my heart and mind are moving around Baguabasa. The route is awesome. The Trek Leader Gopalkishan is really a Leader who can handle any type of situation. Other supporting staff are also very supportive. Those who are planning to trek Roopkund, be fit and pack your rucksack and jump on TTH. They are destined by God to render their service at hill. Don't miss. My next trek will be with TTH under the leadership of Gopalji - it's fixed. I wish all the best of TTH.
Trek Leader's leadership skills are very good. He is open to suggestions and is very kind & considerate. He is possesses good knowledge and experience in the field of trekking. Amazing experience, wonderful and very supportive staff. Yummy food. Special mention of Madan ji for his help and guidance.
Abhishek was very friendly, helpful, caring went out of his way to help the trekkers complete the trek. Experience of a lifetime. Really glad I could complete the trek. The trek guides were very friendly & helpful. Could not have completed the trek without their help.
Wonderfully supportive team that kept motivating the trekkers to keep going. Excellent support staff and cooking staff. Recommend it to trekkers: Beginners and Pros alike. Kudos Team!! :)
Excellent tour to himalayas, Very good staff got every facilities in trekking...