Monday, July 8, 2013

Tour of Uttarakhand - Badrinath

Part 1 National Chambal Sanctuary is here.
Part 2 Lansdowne is here.
Part 3 Enroute Joshimath is here.
Part 4 Badrinath is here.
Part 5 Auli - Tapovan - Kanchula Kharak is here.
Part 6 Chopta Tunganath is here.
Part 7 Devariyatal (Deoriatal) is here.
Part 8 Kakdagaad Haridwar is here. 

Day 6


The gate system being eliminated this year... we had the luxury of starting out after breakfast. By 0700 hrs we were on our way to Badrinath.


Govindghat, Pandukeshwar, Hanuman Chatti.... lovely little settlements along the river, each with their own set of legends attached. Govindghat of course, the gateway to Hemkund Sahib and the Valley of Flowers. Pandukeshwar, legend has it that the Pandavas spent their exile here. Hanuman Chatti has a predictable saffron coloured temple dedicated to (who else??) Lord Hanuman. 


Hanuman Chatti

The Alaknanda flowing alongside the road to Badrinath



Right after Hanuman Chatti starts the steep, sharply winding and dusty part of the route. Negotiating that part needs intense concentration since the visibility is barely a few metres due to the dust kicked up by the vehicle ahead. Additionally, the road is potholed and intermittently swamped by small rivulets of icy water from the snow melt higher up.


The dust kicked up by vehicles

Little rivulets running across the road

Neelkanth in the background

Neelkanth
 The first glimpse of Badrinath is mesmerising!! The little settlement alongside the temple is but a minuscule patchwork of colours in a vast landscape meant to command... dominate... enthral... hypnotise... inspire...
The lofty snow capped peaks and the meandering Alaknanda far below ... this is the place which has so much spirituality that you can almost reach out and touch it. Nothing is godlier than nature itself!
It really puts things into perspective. One senses how small, insignificant and petty are human egos, wants and conflicts in a scale this extravagant. I’ll let the pictures do the talking...




Badrinath temple



After Badrinath (which was chaotic in the extreme for parking, darshan!!) we proceeded to Mana, the last village on the frontier. Parking woes followed us there too. We parked half a mile away and walked up to the village with some reluctance at seeing the enormous crowds going both up and down.

Across the river on the other bank were many small fields freshly ploughed. We noticed what looked like pigeons flocking there except that they were oddly coloured. Realisation dawned on us that we were looking at 150 to 200 worth flocks of Snow Pigeons!! What a sight!


Snow pigeons

Village of Mana

Snow pigeons in flight




Walking up towards the famed Vyas and Ganapati Gufas as well as the Bhim Pul, our attention was caught by a pink browed Rosefinch perched deep in the branches of a flowering tree. He didn’t seem particularly perturbed by the human presence but refused to come out in the open either. The Rock Bunting, the Yellow billed Choughs and numerous Rosefinches kept us company all along.

Rock Bunting

Pink browed Rosefinch




On the path leading to Bhim Pul was a Naga Sadhu seated in a shallow little cave along the sidewalk. The pilgrims were stopping by to take his blessings. 

The Naga Sadhu

The spectacle of the gushing waters of the Saraswati cascading down from under the Bhim Pul and then just as suddenly, forming a calm pool below is awe-inspiring! There is a temple dedicated to ‘Maa Saraswati’ near the river.  The fine spray from the fall forms a lovely little rainbow which sparkles in the sunlight lending an ethereal feel to the place.  


Bhim Pul

According to legend, the Pandavas crossed the Saraswati (via the Bhim Pul) and ascended to heaven... Certainly feels ‘heavenly’ enough to stay there forever!

The rainbow at the Bhim Pul

We climbed up to the Vyas Gufa where a panditji was narrating the story of Rishi Ved Vyas and how he related the Mahabharat to Ganapati who took on the job of a scribe to pen it down. A few metres below the Vyas Gufa is the Ganapati Gufa.

The darshans done, decided to head back to Badrinath. Just short, we saw many cab drivers having lunch at a tiny store selling soft drinks and chips. The owner was serving Kadhi-chawal and some green leafy vegetable. Halted for lunch and had what proved to be one of the best meals of the trip! Lip smacking, delicious home cooked food!!


Neelkanth covered by clouds on the way back





The journey back was without incident except for a small rock fall near Vishnuprayag. Looking up we saw a herd of Ibex grazing on the slopes above causing small stones and loose mud to slide down.

Back from one of the most awe-inspiring and spectacular locations on earth. Truely, the ‘Abode of the Gods!’ 
Ibex