Sunday, March 31, 2013

Arrival in Gangotri (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 2.)


1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

After two days we hauled our load on the roof of a shared jeep and arrive in Jhala Village that is 6 kilometers before Harsil, at 2PM. We are given a room at my friend Prakash Rotela’s hotel and we walk to the Bhagori Village near Harsil, there I find my friend Mangal Singh and ask him for something of raw alcohol quality. He has none available but promises to arrange two bottles in the morning and send these to our hotel. He keeps his promise. I can write a couple of posts about Jhala and Harsil etc. but this series is not about this area in general. I wrote an whole series of posts on Jhala and Harsil etc. it is pending here on Ghumakkar. So let’s keep these posts about Gangotri-Kedarnath trekking experience and this series is already a huge one.
Next day we arrive in the Gangotri at 1PM. Small town is peaceful and tranquil in September with occasional busses arriving with pilgrim loads.

Gangotri Falls

I love this small town of Gangotri and have some great friends here. My favorite place to hang around here is Sri Krishna Ashram at the other side of the ghats and Gangotri-temple. This ashram is overlooking the temple and the whole Gangotri town and views are spectacular. Everybody is served tea here. Swamiji who runs this ashram is a very friendly man. Once you meet him, you got a friend in Gangotri. Ashram has only 5-6 basic rooms but they give rooms to only very trusted people. I prefer staying in the paid accommodation because Ashrams has strict rules about everything. If you want to enjoy a spectacular, very musical and very long – mornings and evenings aartee, this is the place to visit at Aartee time. I bet my life that you will enjoy this Aartee. Swamiji makes everyone participate in the Aartee. Dinner is also free here but you must let the staff know if you will be eating here so they make advance arrangements.

Gangotri III peak, Auden’s Col is the notch at the left
From Ashram, a path leads towards the mountain and then to Kedar Tal. Kedartal lake is fed by the snowfall over Thalay Sagar (6,904m), Meru (6,672m), Bhrigupanth (6,772m) and other surrounding peaks, and is the source of Kedar Ganga, which in Hindu mythology is considered to be Shiva’s contribution to Bhagirathi. Kedartal, is 17 km from Gangotri. The route involves a steep rocky climb along the narrow Kedar Ganga gorge for 8 Km to Bhojkharak. From there it’s 4km to the next available flat area for camping at Kedarkharak, and a further 5 km to Kedartal. The route passes through scenic Himalayan birch forests, but is made hazardous in places by falling rocks, high altitude and segments of steep ascent.

Walking along Rudugaria God
Kedar Ganga originates from Kedartal and meets Ganges in Gangotri. From Ashram, we pass the ancient wooden bridge over Kedar Ganga, and then we walk along the Ganges but at the other side of the town. Views from the other side are spectacular because Ganges makes a magnificent fall from a rock and this fall is visible from this side. Fall used to be visible from the main bazaars but by each year concrete jungle grew and covered up the view. From certain hotels and Ashrams, this fall is still visible from off the main street points.
In two days we will be going along the Ganges at this side to walk to Kedarnath. If all goes well we will cross the Auden’s Col pass. There is no margin of error, either we will make it to the other side of the pass or we perish in the snows.

End of Bugyals
Auden’s Col is a mountain pass, it is approachable from Gangotri and one can trek up to Kedarnath following Auden’s Col and Khatling glacier. Auden’s Col gets its name from J B Auden, a famous British geologist. He first explored the region in the year 1939. It connects the mountain peaks Jogin I (6465m) and Gangotri III (6580m) and is at a height of around 5242m. Auden’s Col separates two glaciers on either side – Khatling glacier on the south and Jogin Bhamak on the north. Below Jogin Bhamak glacier is the Gangotri III glacial system.
Khatling Glacier is the source of Bhilanga River. The Khatling trek route passes alongside the Bhilangna River, starting from the last point accessible by road, Ghuttu, until the glacier, which stands at 3700 meters. If one were to go further on the trail past the glacier, one could reach Kedarnath after crossing Mayali Pass. And that is what we are going to do. Many travelers plan to go from Gangotri to Kedarnath but most give it up and take a diversion to Ghuttu. So far I haven’t heard any group made it to Kedarnath because it is already too stressful to cross Auden’s Col and then Khatling Glacier and people just want to get out of the ices soonest possible.

Beginning of snows
Auden’s Col is a less frequented trekking route in this region of the Himalaya compared to the Khatling Glacier and Kalindi Khal. Not much information was available about the route itself. This trek is considered a very challenging and technically demanding trek. Briana and I compared notes almost everyday for about a month regarding the challenges of this trek. Auden’s Col trek is used by Indian army to train the Everest going teams. This expedition requires the same kind of mountaineering equipment as these are needed for Everest missions. I have read some stories of the people doing this trek, although trekking personals were heavily loaded with all mountaineering accessories but porters were not equipped with anything and still they all made it. Only sad stories are that many porters were not carrying sun glasses and teams didn’t have any extras for them. Porters suffered sunburn in the eyes due to snow white reflections. That’s why we are having extra sun glasses.

Auden’s Col
Well anyway, I am not ready to do this journey with my heart. My idea of life is to enjoy but not endure or suffer. Of-course several times I got sucked into the situations where others think it was an adventure. Example is my walk from Ritha Sahib to Chorgalia where I almost got mauled by a leopard and got trampled by angry elephants but I undertook that walk solely to avoid a grueling road journey for the same amount of time it takes to walk. I am counting that Briana will give up after the first leg of our descent till Rudugaira Gad where Rudura Ganga meets Ganges and then we are to follow Rudura Ganga till the glaciers and then to the middle of two major peaks. Well may be she will collapse at the first stage of ascent along Rudura Ganga and I will suggest her to distribute all our provisions to the cattle herders and return and then enjoy some great days in Gangotri. I am really betting on this. My idea of life is to enjoy. When I go somewhere I go slowly and royally. I talk with people, animals and trees. I hate snows and cold weather.

Passage between two peaks
We are enjoying our stay in Gangotri and I am bracing myself for this torture. Briana says – Kedarnath or Bust. She had a bad relation and now she wants to do something in her life to say that she achieved something. One month ago I promised her anticipating that it will never materialize but then – here I am.

Pointed temple in the middle is Sri Krishna Ashram
She is pressing me several times to take a rehearsal trip with all our luggage but I decline. I don’t want to prolong this torture. I talk about this trip to some locals and they laugh it off saying that we cannot even survive till snowline. Briana mentions this to my friend Swamiji at Sri Krishna Ashram and he also laugh it off. He knows it all about what goes on in Gangotri. He has witnessed several expeditions going towards this route. Convoys of coolies, guides and people go on this way once a while. He says just 20 days ago a New Zealand team with 20 support personals went that way but only till Ghuttu. They bought several goats for food and then they had several mules to accompany them for as far possible. Then on the other side after Khatling Glacier they had another reception committee waiting with more arrangements.

Auden’s Col hidden in clouds
Briana takes it as good news.
She says, “So we will find their traces and that will ensure us that we are in a correct direction.”
At night we have a visitor at our room. It is half naked Baba in this freezing cold. He is smoking ganga. He is about thirty and has a folded blanket on his shoulder.
He says, “तुम नारदमुनी के रस्ते केदारनाथ चल कर जाता?”
“अरे बाबा, यह मेमसाब जाना मांगता. कोई उम्मीद नहीं की हम वहां पहुंचता कि नहीं.”
“अरे क्यों नहीं पहुंचता. हम साथ चलता. हम सब पहुंचता. भोलेनाथ बुलाता.”
“बाबा फिर कल मिलना.”
“ले गांजा खींच.”
Baba hands me his pipe and I suck it deep and then return it to him.
Baba shouts, “बम बम भोले.”
I shout back, “बम बम भोले.”
He leaves dancing and singing – हम तेरे नगरी को चले.
Instantly my head begins spinning. I have no intention to have this crazy Baba with us this only makes things complicated. I guess we will just sneak out of Gangotri or he will stick to us.

The way
Briana pointed me that he was bare-feet and his heels were all cracked, that she noticed but I failed.
She asks me about Baba’s visit and I tell her that this Baba is keen to join us.
“This means we need to buy provisions for him also.”
“I don’t mind buying provisions for him but we will end up carrying his stuff too. I doubt if we are going to buy anything additional for additional person because we cannot carry anything more. This crazy will keep himself drugged forever and can endure just anything in the world. He may be unpredictable and create some serious hazards for us or he may push us to endure with him.”
“Well this is good – very good. I want him to be with us.”
But I decide if Baba wants to tug along, we will simply sneak out of Gangotri without him.. This crazy was only wearing a small loincloth over him in this bone chilling cold of Gangotri. I don’t want any crazy joker with us.

Passage over ices
Probably my friend Swamiji told him in amusement and he was out in the cold of night to find us.
I am very restless at night. I wish something happen tomorrow so we abandon this mission and enjoy some days of peace in Gangotri.
The very idea of carrying a coolie’s load down to the base at Rudugaira Gad at 2800 meters and then haul it to 5600 meters at Auden’s Col. Then hauling the load back to 3200 meters height at Chowki Bugyal and than hauling it back to Mayali Pass at 5300 meter height and then down to Kedarnath at 3600 meter height. We will be carrying this backbreaking load for 6 kilometers above us and then below again. And for more than 100 kilometers in the permanent ices of Himalayas.
God forbid.
This is going to be some punishment.
If this Sri Sri 1008 too joins us and he sure is going to create some serious life threatening situation for us.
God forbid.
I pray Mother Ganges to bung some sort of monkey wrench in this whole affair and I will donate all the load here.
I even beg God for I or Briana to get sick tomorrow.
Wish I were in Ooty and looking forward for a double dose of Medu-vada and a triple dose of Idly-Sambar in the morning.
काश! ऐसा होता ………..
ये हो न सका.
Sleepless in the Gangotri and that that dosage of ganza made even things worse.
Plantago Majus
by William BOERICKE, M.D.
Presented by Médi-T

Plantago Major (Plantain)
Has considerable clinical reputation in the treatment of earache, toothache, and enuresis. Sharp pain in eyes, reflex from decayed teeth or inflammation of middle ear. Eyeball very tender to touch. Pain plays between teeth and ears. Pyorrhea alveolaris. Depression and insomnia of chronic Nicotinism. Causes an aversion to tobacco.
Head.–Periodical prosopalgia, worse 7 am to 2 pm, accompanied with flow of tears, photophobia; pains radiate to temples and lower face.
Ears.–Hearing acute; noise painful. Sticking pain in ears. Neuralgic earache; pain goes from one ear to the other through the head. Otalgia, with toothache. Loud noises go through one.
Nose.–Sudden, yellowish, watery discharge.
Mouth.–Teeth ache and are sensitive and sore to touch. Swelling of cheeks. Salivation; teeth feel too long; worse, cold air and contact. Toothache, better while eating. Profuse of saliva. Toothache, with reflex neuralgia of eyelids.

1 comment:

  1. Nice trip. Thanks for sharing your trip experience. It is associated with an intriguing mythological legend, where Goddess Ganga, the daughter of heaven, manifested herself in the form of a river to acquit the sins of King Bhagiratha's predecessors. Following which, Lord Shiva received her into his matted locks to minimise the immense impact of her fall. Check out all best hotels in Gangotri also.


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