Sunday, October 11, 2015

Trek to Rudranath Temple(Day1), Uttarakhand, India.

Rudranath is a temple dedicated to God Shiva which is located in the Garhwal Himalayan mountains in Uttarakhand, India. The name "Rudranath", literally means, "Him who is Angry." This natural rock temple is situated within a dense forest of rhododendron dwarfs and Alpine pastures located at 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) above sea level. The mountain cave of Rudranath was modified into the temple we see today. Rudranath is sometimes considered as the toughest Panch Kedar temple to reach.
This trip didn't have the luxury of planning,it was a quick decision to visit the Himalayas along with my fellow trekker Praveen who is a lead and conducts such treks to the Himalayan range.
When I looked up on the internet about treks to Rudranath, I was really not very sure if I could make it to the top as I have never trekked before. But looking at the images of the landscapes I felt I had to go and give it my best, just had to take the chance! I walked about 14 Km in Dubai just to test my fitness, also started walking  long distances to keep fit for about 2/3 weeks. Though deep within I knew this was hardly a challenge what I would face in the real world of a Himalayan trek.
The day was not far, after a three hour night flight to Delhi, and a five and half hours morning train to Haridwar, I met up with fellow trekker and lead Praveen. Then another eight hours of travel by road. Amidst torrential rains towards the end of the journey, nature popped a surprise. In the dark winding uphill terrain  on the mountains we saw a leopard climb down the hill and crossed the road in front of us, within an elapsed time of maybe less than 5 sec when it was in view. We couldn't believe our luck! Though we couldn't frame the animal in our cameras we were nevertheless delighted to say the least. The master of camouflage was right in front of us. 
We kept talking about the animal until we finally reached Gopeswar where we were putting up for the night.
A view of the town of Gopeshwar.
The next morning we drove down to the starting point of the trek, which started around 9am after a quick breakfast. Gradual climb through the local villages was relaxing and  a warm up for the day. Once we climbed above the human habitation, we found ourselves walking through forests, though not very dense. One had to be careful with loose rocks and boulders. Couple of hours later we came to a clearing, took a few shots, as below:
By lunch time we reached this clearing, which hid this luxury super speciality local restaurant !! Tucked away in the foothill of the mountain we had to climb. Host, Chef, waiter were all in one, one man managing the operation. Food was very simple- fresh locally grown. We enjoyed the food in the open air and provided much needed break from our trek. Took a few shots while waiting for the food. 
Very soon we were trekking through dense Himalayan forests, infested by shy Himalayan wild black bears. With only a camera to defend ourselves. This trek took us past stream and some waterfalls. With end in mind we did not stop to absorb only occasionally for a few shots.

By about 4 pm, we had reached a level where vegetation was thinning- no more tall tress and oxygen was thinning, so was out energy. The trek had become very steep. Only rocks and dominating edge of the mountain. I was walking like a zombie to say the least. At around 6pm we could see the golden Himalayas under the setting sun. Alas! was too drained to even pull out my camera from my back. Survival was priority for someone who was not used to low oxygen. Every step of the climb was a mammoth task at that stage in twilight and end of the climb not in sight.  By  6:45pm we scaled the mountain and reach a point called Panar Bugyal ( which had only grasses). Too drained to even talk to Praveen at that stage. We had the majestic Himalayas in sight. A sense of achievement was kicking in. Below shot of the Himalayas was taken in slight moonlight and stars. It was heavenly !!