It is said that the path that leads to God, is not easy and so was our journey to the Himalayan region of Kedarnath. Nearly a year after the devastated flood that took place in Kedarnath, the whole region seems like stones of silence.
Putting behind the memories of last year’s calamity, our crew of three decided to head for Kedarnath. May 4th 2014 was fixed for the devotees to visit the shrine so with the aim to cover the opening ceremony we departed from Delhi at night. After travelling through the night we reached Rishikesh. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, the town is also known as The Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas.
Without wasting time we again hopped on a bus, taking us from Rishikesh to Guptakashi, where we did our biometric registration for Kedarnath. Keeping our registration cards close by, we left the town area of Guptakashi and headed for Sonprayag. This is on the main Kedarnath route and is the last stop for the vehicle. We arrived at night and because it was the night before the opening of the shrine, we wanted to start trekking as soon as possible. We were stopped by the police as it was very risky and we had to cover a distance of approximately 25km on foot. So we decided to stay back for the night and start trekking at a very early morning.
It was a cold dark morning as we started walking under the rocky edges of the Garhwal hills. It took us almost three hours to reach Gaurikund, which is 6km distance from Sonprayag. Gaurikund is the base camp for trekking to the Kedarnath Temple and is the only place where one can see civilization during the trek to Kedarnath. After construction of the new road the trekking seems longer and more difficult. The narrow lane, steep hills and the unending winding road that follows along a mountainside made this trek, a tiring one. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the forest we made our way to the next base camp named Lincholi, which is 11kms from Gaurikund. The construction work in progress near Rambara village, is nowhere to be found after last year’s mass devastation. It has lost its presence and from Rambara a new road has been constructed on the right of the Mandakani river. A bridge has also been erected to cross the river. From Rambara onwards the road got more difficult towards Lincholi camp.
As we moved higher and higher, our breathing became faster and the smell of the mule’s dung hung in the air. Mules, used as carrier, and thud around all the time. After resting for a while we moved to our next stop, Lincholi. The distance from Lincholi to Kedarnath temple is 8km but as we were walking, the distance felt twice as long. Finally, as we reached the temple it was snowing, freezing cold and we were exhausted. The entire path leading to Kedarnath from Lincholi, runs through glaciers at many places and is very steep and difficult to trek. Around 1pm we reached base camp of Kedarnath which is few kilometers from Kedarnath temple, our final lap. At the base camp, tents were setup by government run Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) for pilgrims and trekkers. Everything was covered with huge blocks of snow. Struggling through the snowy path we crossed the final bridge and reached Kedarnath.
The presence of last year devastation could still be seen which suggested that people haven’t overcome their fear. We spend the night at base camp in tents. The following day, we woke up early to catch the sunrise at Kedarnath on camera. We saw a Mi8 helicopter of Indian Military Force while it was landing at Kedarnath base.
For the crew, an amazing experience to trek up these mountains, witness the devastation of the Uttarakhand floods of 2013 and yet be blown away by the beauty of the region. A privilege to capture it.