An Enigma called Roopkund

An Enigma called Roopkund

The Himalayas have a reputation for putting the Human spirit to test. One moment you are exhilarated and ecstatic, the very next moment you could be dejected and crestfallen. Roopkund is a trek that takes you through a myriad of landscapes ranging from dense forests to lush meadows to snow-clad peaks. While the quiet of the mountains can make you look into the deepest recesses of your heart , it must also be borne in mind that living in such circumstances , the mind is preoccupied not with the complexities of human nature but ironically with basic things like where one might poop the following morning. For us – the city bred, living in such environs is challenging and it makes one realize that one can exist in surroundings far less comfortable than the ones we reside in. While I have learnt not to take the everyday comforts for granted, I quite enjoyed the human contact facilitated by the complete lack of cell phone coverage. Not every day is a fairy tale and there are days one wants to come home to family and a hot water bath. That does not take away the sense of euphoria on reaching the summit. That’s well- Beyond words J And the descend is bittersweet. A part of me is at Roopkund and my little tents at Bagwabasa , Patal nachauni and Bedni Bugyal

Budget : 25-30k

That’s steep for a 10 day trip? Not quite. Especially when it’s the Himalayas one is dealing with. Nothing but the best gear will do. The trek cost with a reasonable company will cost around 15 k (inclusive of to and fro travel) . Apart from that one needs a high quality Windcheater, Water Repellent track pants , a woolen fleece, woolen gloves and most importantly – trekking shoes. Queschua is a standard brand for trekking equipment, although nothing beats north face if you can afford it (there’s no store in India ;))

Trip Details:

Day 1: Kathgodam to Loharjung

This is a 10 hour drive and a lovely one at that. The perfectly chiseled white rocks are a rare sight and a prelude to the splendor that ensues. The ride was pleasant with bouts of nauseating curves, but then again which mountain has expressway roads. The highlight of the ride was the songs on the driver’s phone which were a mix of local numbers and remixes that might make our grandparents turn in their graves! We ate breakfast and lunch on our way and the delight of having vegetable maggi at any altitude above sea level is something almost every traveller can vouch for. Team that with the tales of horror and frolic that characterize the local region and one can expect an entertaining ride. Just when we were on the verge of boredom, three guys- all of whom we thought were crack heads asked us for a lift and much to our displeasure our driver agreed. No sooner had they entered our jeep than were we bombarded with questions. They were three of them – all seemingly novices and claimed to have no gear advised for the trek. I thought they were all jerks and I had made up my mind to keep my distance from them only to realize two of the three were our trek leaders fooling us and the third was the base camp manager. So quite an eventful journey it was! We spent the night at Loharjung in the Guest house . Here we received a list of do’s and don’ts from the trek leader and our Walking sticks which I thought was nothing more than a fashion accessory for a Himalayan trekker. I was far from being right about that though. Exhausted we slept in the sleeping bags to charge ourselves for the days to come

Day 2: Loharjung to Didina Village

On this day we began our trek. Armed with Walking sticks and our 70 L backpacks, we set foot on what was to be a remarkable journey. Little did we know that the enthusiasm would fade in less than a kilometer with all of us panting and halting to catch breath. The chirpy chant by our local guide”Maatu Maat, Pahaadan Paat” (Tread slowly on the mountains) egged us on. On this day we were confronted with the first Himalayan feature- the water. Within an hour , our water bottles were empty and we were brought to a water point and asked to refill our bottles. We did hesitate at first at the thought of drinking “unbottled” water, but there’s something magical about the cold water- the fatigue vanished and immersing our feet in that water was invigorating. With renewed energy we started walking further anticipating two things in particular-the next water point and the distance to the final campsite. Then again distance in the mountains is best measured in time rather than kilometers. We walked all of 5 kms on this day in 5 hours. A km in the mountain is 3kms in the plains and our trek leaders patiently took in our curses when we complained that the trail seemed endless. Finally we reached Didna Village. We were put up in a homestay and were greeted with neembu paani with all the qualities of the marvel called Himalayan Water J We had clear instructions from our trek leader that prohibited sleeping so that our bodies could get used to the altitude and weather. They called this the acclimatization process. As a part of this, we were required to collect firewood for the evening bonfire. That gave us a taste of the village life. The ewws and yikes were dismissed by the local guides and they made us slog to get the wood. Soon the disgust was replaced by the determination to collect as much wood as possible for the Bonfire. We had dinner in whatever little light there was and then gathered around the Bonfire to keep us warm and listen to legend about Goddess Parvati and Roopkund. To our dismay the local guide related no horror story but a tale of Goddess Parvati’s journey from Didna to Roopkund. We slept in the little wood house that was warm though it was pretty cold outside. Tired as we were , we slept almost instantaneously

Day 3: Didina Village to Bedni Bugyal

This was a long day with a 10 km trail and perhaps the most memorable day for reasons both sinister and good. After having trudged through forests for nearly three hours, we were above the tree line in lush meadows, with a breathtaking view. Its not for nothing that the Himalayas continue to enchant the most seasoned backpackers. We could see the sky above us in all its magnificence . The weather looked good and calm . But the local guide cautioned us jestfully “Mumbai da fashion aur pahaadan da mausam; dono da koi bharosa nahi” (The weather in the mountains is as unpredictable as the fashion in Mumbai). And the warning was soon going to be true. As we walked through the plateau , it started to rain followed by thunder and lightning and to our horror: hailstones. In an instant the landscape changed from muddy green to white and walking became difficult ! There wasn’t any tree cover and we saw a sheep being thrown about ten meters away from its path. The sound of Thunder in the city is not even close to its dreadfulness at an altitude of 3000 mtrs. The hailstones hurt and our hands were numb . That’s when we kind of lost nerve . It seemed like the wrath of mother Nature on mankind. my spirits were low , but the local guide warned against stopping in the open. That’s when our bodies were put to test. We have an amazing body that can acclimatize to adversity. We walked without stopping all the way to the campsite and ironically when we could barely feel our legs , we walked the fastest. The campsite was our haven and after warming ourselves from the kitchen stove, we changed into dry clothes and were still reeling from shock ! We were all grateful we were alive . Then after having a sumptuous hot lunch , we set for the firewood colle.

bagwabasa to roopkund all of us at bedni Bedni Bugyal2 camp at patal nachauni kalu vinayak nomad 9 Wood for Bonfire2 view from bedni view from Bagwabasa the enigma called roopkund stok kangari 1

 PRIYANKA SUD

Written By: PRIYANKA SUD   

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