Last summer we planned to explore Uttarakhand, popularly known as The Abode Of Gods. We wanted to complete the trip to the four holy places ( Char Dham) of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. These holy places are open only for six months in the year from May to October.
Our trip which began from Haridwar took nine days with night halts at small base camps along the way. After a long, eight hour taxi trip from Haridwar we reached Syana Chatti by late evening, one of the base camps en-route to Yamunotri, which is at an altitude of 8,000 feet. By now it was so cool that we were freezing, but our comfortable lodge provided us good food and shelter. The next day we started our trip to Yamunotri, on the way passing through Hanuman Chatti, Phool Chatti and finally reached Janaki Chatti from where the Yamunotri Yatra begins, a 6 Km steep trek from approximately 9,000 to 11,500 Feet. The trek is a tiring but wonderful one. One can hire horses, palanquins if they don't wish to walk till the top. The charges for the horses and palanquins vary from Rs. 600 to Rs. 1000.( It all depends on your bargaining power. ) After a long, tiring but wonderful trek we reached Yamunotri and the first thing that caught our attention was the Banderpoonch Mountain from where the river Yamunotri originates. Here there is a natural hot spring that will put back some life in to your cold bones, so that you can walk bare foot and get the blessings of Goddess Yamuna.
The next day we began our journey towards Gangotri. The night was spent at Netala, a small but beautiful town on the banks of the river Ganga. Gangotri is accessible by road, so the trip was a bit easier. The flow of the river Ganges ( Known as Bhagirathi here) is very swift as it flows downhill. Gaumukh, the birth Place of river Ganga is a complete two days trek from Gangotri. Since we were running short of time, we skipped Gaumukh.
Our next stop was Badrinath and on the way we visited the river Garuda Ganga named after Lord Vishnu's eagle, Garuda who did penance for Lord Vishnu here. The water which is Crystal Clear is believed to have the power to cure snake and scorpion bites. We then proceeded towards Joshimath, the winter place of Lord Badrinath. The road to and from Badrinath is only one-way open at a time. So, when the vehicles start from Joshimath towards Badrinath, No vehicle is allowed to start from Badrinath towards Joshimath. The places to visit near Badrinath are Hemkund Sahib and The Valley of Flowers. But since these two places were not open at the time we travelled we coudn't visit these places. About five kms from Badrinath in to the mountains, there is a village Called Mana, the last Indian Village on the Indian Soil. The Indo - China border is just 23 kms from Mana. In Mana, we visted the birth place of the river Alakananda, Bhim pool ( the bridge which the Pandavas used on the way to Kailash - the abode of Lord Shiva), and the Vyas gupha ( Cave) where it is believed that Maharishi Vyasa recited the epic Mahabharat to Lord Ganesha.
Kedarnath, which is one of the 12 Jyortilingas of Lord Shiva was the last place on our agenda, is a 14 Km trek from Gauri Kund. Here also you can hire horses, palanquins or you can wish to walk. We decided to hire a horse ( Charge - Rs.750 for 2 way) , but it was a tiring horse ride as the roads were uneven. But we had accomplished what we set out to do, Visit all the four holy places (Char Dham) that are all home to natural hot Springs !
I highly recommend these four places to all the people of India and to find our own Switzerland.
The train was good as food was available in the train and toilet facility was also there in the train. It is a super-fast express train that can take you from Agra to Haridwar in about 7 to 8 hours. The train was very clean. I suggest people to travel in this train.
The train was good and very clean. It is a super-fast express train that can take you to Haridwar from Agra at about 8 hours. The train has its own canteen that includes south Indian food items as it is a south Indian train. The overall train was good and travelling from this will be memorable.
The train experience was an usual one. Nothing unique about it. You must bag the tickets 30 days in advance. The train journey is of 18 hours which becomes a little hectic after a certain point of time. Try and book a ticket an AC compartment. The food facilities are good. Try and go in a group which will overall increase the entertainment quotient.
Traveling is quite long and boring. Carry laptop to kill time otherwise it become too difficult to travel. Try making new friend as it really helps. In fact you can also talk to your friends if you don't mind spending as your cell phone is on roaming. Making new friends helps to know new culture. Food at stations is better than pantry. Private parcel walahs sell idlies for INR 150. Do not be fooled and always try new recipes. Do carry tablets.
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