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Old 13th April 2016, 20:39   #16
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Default Re: Nandikund Trek: Quest through the Garhwal Himalayas

Amazing details of the trip. Such lovely use of words. The pictures make me want to just sit in my Alto K10 and rev off!
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Old 14th April 2016, 07:40   #17
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Default Re: Nandikund Trek: Quest through the Garhwal Himalayas

Quote:
Originally Posted by rohan.xj View Post
Very inspirational thread swsumit! The pics are enchanting to say the least. Especially where you have tried to capture the first morning light on peaks. Could you please share some details on your camera/tripod kit and the settings that you used for the night shot of the stars. I have been trying to get some night shots (stars primarily) but unable to get clean shots.

Waiting for more pics/details!
hii

glad ..will post about the equipment at the end of the TL

regards
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Old 14th April 2016, 08:07   #18
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Budha Madhmaheswar to Dhola Khetrapal

29. The morning was a splendid visual treat as the sun rays shone the mountain peaks of the Grahwal Himalayan range making them glitter in the morning sun like beacons of divine light. I had a great time freezing these moments as the day slowly came upon me ... soon it was time to break camp and move ahead. Today’s goal was to reach Kachni Dhar but as we were preparing to leave we could see small whiffs of cloud up in the sky and that implied that the mist was coming up and that we better hurry. So we started descending towards Madhmaheswar as Umeid my guide instructed the team to come behind with all the gear while he and I moved ahead. From a height of close to 3497 mts we descended and then after reaching the base we turned northwards and headed into the tree line behind Madhmaheswar. Soon the forests engulfed as we moved ahead on a barely discernable path, one step after the next. The mist and fog had by that time come quite close as we moved ahead through the shadows of the forests … The path was as lonely as they come .. with no soul in sight this late into the onset of the winter. The climb was brutal to say the least as I struggled to move slowly but continuously my lungs working all the while trying to supply oxygen that was in great demand. The mist engulfed me as I moved ahead. Soon I reached a way point called Rikhana and took shelter beneath huge rocks as the rains had descended by this time. The rest of the team had caught up by now and we huddled close to each other.

30. This area was strewn with parts of a helicopter that had crashed in the 1950-60 but the parts were still here, reminder of the harshness of the place .. the inhospitable terrain made more so by the fog and mist that swirled all around. The GPS read as 3564 mts . This was in every sense a desolate place .. a barren hard cold and I don’t mean only in temperature but there was a sense of heaviness about this place. Soon after around 30 min we started the climb again, a very very brutal climb, the target was Kachni Pass but the steepness of the climb in this weather was too taxing and soon it was snowing. So here we were individuals walking in the snow, one step at a time, this high up in the mountains. For me it was for the first time that I was actually walking in snow and the setting was as real as it could ever come by. Eventually we reached another way point called Dhola Khetrapal and we decided to call it a day and make camp here itself. The GPS read 3900 mts . In a day I had gained 400 mts and the best was yet to come.

31. We pitched two tents against a huge vertical rock and the porters got busy erecting a make shift kitchen and brewing hot tea to warm up the soul within. The weather deteriorated as the afternoon wore away and by evening it was snowing consistently. A different world was presented in front of me from the one which was there in the morning. The whiteness was everywhere now and visibility was around 20 mts. I refused to stay inside the tent rather spent time clicking pics of this eerie world that was in front of me … there was something intoxicating and pulling about the whole moment. The porters and team were huddled inside the tent whiling the time. Umeid my guide and head porter prem singh ji though were worried as they just were not very confident moving towards the pass in this weather for we were actually not carrying ice axes or pitons as weather deterioration was not anticipated. I could sense their uneasiness though they did not say much to me. The mercury kept falling as the minutes ticked away and the cold was getting to me seeping in through the clothing that I was wearing. By this time, I was wearing thermals, additional jersey followed by outer jacket and lower. My head was covered with a cap while my hands had gloves and my feet were in one pair of socks and outer shoes. I had spent a considerable sum of money to procure the clothing and they were standing well against the cold making me feel not too uncomfortable in the situation.

32. Dinner was served at around seven in the evening and it was a delicious fare of hot dal and roti… what more can one ask followed by hot tea as I ate peering into the darkness beyond the realm of the solar lamps knowing that the snow was piling up slowly. It was intoxicating and I cannot explain the feeling. It was extremely cold in the night and I was grateful to the preparations that I had done in the choice of gear that I had selected and that was paying off now .. the warmth of my clothes and the sleeping bag made all the difference in confidence within …

33. The day had been hard as we struggled against the weather right from morning and it was important to keep the motivation level high in the junior porters as the danger to mortal life is all too real and it’s important to not lose heart out here, so a good hot meal inside the belly and a warm bed for a good night sleep does wonders. By 830 all were inside their sleeping bags and it was the end of another day. I put my phone and Gopro battery on recharge using the portable bank which was one of the best that I feel I had selected , turned off the solar lamp and snuggled inside the sleeping bag … to try to sleep .

34. My second night in the tent and was just not getting any sleep, I was aware of the night and struggled to get a better position inside the sleeping bag for comfort. However, the night was spent tossing and turning having weird hypnotic visions. I think the altitude was getting to me or maybe the body was having trouble adapting but whatever the case I did not have a deep sleep. As the morning approached I was awake just as the sunrise crept in. There is something magical in the moment when you open the tent flap and step outside, there is absolute stillness all around, the wind is nonexistent and the world is so quiet that one can hear a pin drop. It is a moment difficult to describe, it needs to be experienced. The snow the previous day had clothed everything in white and what a sight it was, to see the sunrays coming over the mountains. It just was magnificent and I have seen some great sunrises in this life but this was a separate category altogether. In some time Umeid too was up and looking at the sky he was hopeful for a good day ahead. The team was soon up and about and the tea was boiling away , I made it clear to my guide and Premsingh ji that I was not going to turn back unless they saw or felt something that they had just not felt in the entire life spent out here. Hearing me confident and willing, they too felt a bit relieved and we decided to press ahead towards Kachni Dhar pass and beyond.

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EARLY MORNING STILLNESS AT DHOLA KHETRAPAL


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THE DAWN BREAKS


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THE FOG COVERS THE WHOLE VALLEY


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BUDHAMADHMADHESWAR CAN BE SEEN FAR IN THE DISTANCE AS WE CLIMB UP


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BUDHAMADHMADHESWAR



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UMEID INSPECTS THE DAY


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THE HUNT FOR WATER IS VERY IMPORTANT , YOUNG PORTERS GATHER WATER


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HIDE N SEEK


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THE SHOES TELL THE STORY


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HEAVEN BECKONS


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THE MIST ROLLS IN


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MACRO FLORA


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WE MARCH ONWARDS


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SPLENDOUR OF VIRGIN GARHWAL


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THE CLOUDS MAKE CONTACT


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OUR CAMP AT DHOLA KHETRAPAL

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AS THE EYE SEE BACK FROM WHERE I HAVE COME



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THE MARCH UPWARDS FROM RIKHANA
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Old 14th April 2016, 10:37   #19
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Default Re: Nandikund Trek: Quest through the Garhwal Himalayas

I am stunned to the core to see the images. Those are one of the best I have seen in a long time. Simply SUPERB. Larger than life images.

Well deserved 5 stars rating. Simply Outstanding. Makes me kind of jealous too and triggers something inside me to pack the bags and start for a journey like this with my beast.

Cheers!
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Old 14th April 2016, 16:00   #20
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Bro, simply brilliant. The amount of photographic equipment you have carried and climbed deserves a special . I know how hard it is to climb carrying the cameras and all. Both my last treks, Shrikhand Mahadev and Kinnaur Kailash, I don't know how many times I felt to just throw away my camera and backpack and just walk without any burden. And that too I just had one camera and one lens.

Keep it coming. Panch Kedar is in my to-do list since long. Wonderful narration and pics.

Oh and the location of Budha Madhmaheshwar, how I wish to settle down there for life.

Last edited by Dodge_Viper : 14th April 2016 at 16:02.
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Old 16th April 2016, 06:46   #21
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Dhola Khetrapal to Launtri Khark.

35. My head porter and me pressed ahead immediately after breakfast to take advantage of the morning hours followed closely by my guide while the rest of team would break camp, have breakfast and then catch up with us. I would like to mention here that it is just not possible to move in these areas without a knowledgeable guide, an outsider to these areas would be highly confused and most likely to wander off and perish without a trace for years to come.

36. So I followed my head porter as our boots crunched in the snow as we moved ahead, cautiously feeling the path for everything was hidden. The white snow was everywhere and the entire landscape had changed overnight. The first stop was known as Nand birari where we stopped to click a few pics and In about two hours we reached Kachni Pass and by this time the mist had caught up and it had started snowing. The path was definitely perilous and just before the pass there was around two metres of path that was very tricky, one wrong step and one would be hurled into the depths of the pass without any chance of recovery, just thinking of it even now makes me squirm in my chair. Somehow I made it across slipping and sliding much to the relief of my guide. As the snowfall had increased by this time we took refuge underneath some huge rocks at the pass itself and waited out the falling snow. By this time the remaining team had also caught up and all of us huddled close to each other under the rocks, making conversations and exchanging stories. I came to know a bit about the life in these parts, the source of livelihood and the working culture, marriage rituals and other related stuff. I on my part tried to explain to them about life in the city and how it works.

37. After close to an hour, the snow fall abated and we ventured outside, a small prayer was offered to the guardian deity of the pass and then we descended to the other side. The GPS read 4176 mts above sea level. It was close to noon by now as we moved ahead. Our destination for the day was Launtri Khark. Khark in the local dialect means a clearing used by shepherds to pass the night when they roam these lands in the summer. We finally reached the place by three in the afternoon and no sooner did we stop that it started raining again and the tents were pitched hurriedly and we all settled inside waiting for the rains to stop. The entire day bad weather had plagued us and I struggled to keep myself motivated. In the evening the weather relented and hot maggi with tea was prepared as lunch was not had today. GPS read 3951 mts.

38. As darkness approached I huddled back into my tent, recharged the batteries and waited for yet another night to pass. Hot dinner was cooked by the porters and served at around eight in the evening. I would like to bring out that it is important to have a good and willing team so that the morale and mood in the camp remains upbeat especially in trying conditions like these and I was grateful that Umeid had selected a good and reliable team.

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Huddled under the rocks waiting for the snow to abate



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After Kachni Pass


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At the Pass after the snow fall ended


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for Posterity


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crossing the pass as shot by a porter


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the perilious slippery slope


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campsite at Launtri Khark


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moving towards the pass


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Kachni pass straight ahead


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short break prior to attempting the pass , we unload the backpack and just gaze ..


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the clouds roll in


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the team enjoying the sun
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Old 16th April 2016, 14:00   #22
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Wow, some of the really amazing pictures I have ever seen are in this travelogue. Pure visual pleasure.

You have done real justice to such a natural beauty by showing all those vistas to others, who will not be able to go to such places.
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Old 17th April 2016, 08:09   #23
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Launtri Khark – Sujaal Sarovaar and back

39. The next morning the weather was crystal clear and the objective was to visit sujaal sarovaar about which I had read about but not seen any images. My guide was confident of the way and hence it was decided that we both would move immediately and if required any of the team members who are interested could follow later. So accordingly we set out just carrying a bottle of hot water and my camera gear.

40. The route was straight up and the incline started immediately, a continuous gain in elevation. Thankfully the weather held up. Halfway across I looked back and could see specks moving towards me and surprise of surprise the entire team was following, everyone wanted to visit this elusive taal and this showed the morale in the camp as guys wanted to participate in all the activities voluntarily. On the way we crossed Myna Taal , totally snowed out at elevation of 4357 mts.This is the intersection for those going towards Panpatia Col trek. After a few more hours of climbing by around noon I was totally exhausted and it was an effort to take each step and I was just not carrying any big bags but the climb was totally uphill since the last few hours with no relaxation in the steepness. My reserves had almost depleted and my guide was now close to me matching my speed as he wanted me to make it. Finally I reached the tip of the ridge and rising in front of me was the mighty Chaukhamba Massif along with various other peaks that I am not aware of .. at the bottom was the elusive lake, Sujaal . A magnificent spectacle indeed, totally out of this world, my first experience of being close to Himalayan Peaks and deep snow. The view of Chaukhamba was truly magical. The GPS read 4800 mts.

41. My head porter came up to me and said that it is not that I was lucky to have come up to here and seen this, it was ordained that I would come here and that this spectacle would be witnessed by me. It was ordained that on this day at this moment the weather would hold for us to witness this view and at that moment the words sounded so poignant. It was indeed a place of Gods. There is absolutely no path to reach this place and a experienced guide is a must. After few minutes we turned back and retraced out path … walking carefully over the steep slope stepping over huge boulders all the while. By four in the evening I could see my camp down below and in an hour we finally reached the site.

42. That evening was a happy one indeed as i dried my clothes .. and generally undertook maintenance of my gear and clothing relaxing after a successful day indeed. Tomorrow was the onward journey ahead to PandavSera.

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Mini rockfall happening


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My first sighting of Phena Kamal



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finally at Sujaal Sarovaar


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Chaukhmaba as seen so up and close along with other mountain peaks


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chaukhamba massif



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The quest


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contemplative ... note the gradient


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towards Sujaal


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frozen out Myna Taal



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Old 18th April 2016, 09:52   #24
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Awesome blog and amazing photography!!

This trek is not and easy one and you have captured its details splendidly. It has been on my radar over the last couple of years and I plan to do it this time.

One request is if you could also provide some details on the itinerary, time of the year, snow conditions, guide, etc. for the benefit of others.
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Old 18th April 2016, 17:46   #25
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Originally Posted by shekatkar31 View Post
Awesome blog and amazing photography!!

This trek is not and easy one and you have captured its details splendidly. It has been on my radar over the last couple of years and I plan to do it this time.

One request is if you could also provide some details on the itinerary, time of the year, snow conditions, guide, etc. for the benefit of others.

hiii

thx for the encouragement , yes i will be sharing my views on the trek along with details that i could collect at the end of the TL

Regards
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Old 19th April 2016, 22:25   #26
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Launtri Khark to Pandavsera

43. The morning was as usual clear with blue skies, we started early as the route was supposed to be challenging since it involved crossing two gorges and the guide repeatedly mentioned to me about them , hence I knew that it was a matter not to be taken lightly.

44. The gorges crossing involved walking precariously up and down the mountain slopes, hopping over huge boulders definitely not a very pleasant situation considering that I had camera gear strapped to my chest also . So after around 30 minutes of walking I arrived at my first gorge called as Panoor ghad which implied as small river. To cross it we descended downwards and I found it manageable. Thereafter crossing the river at a suitable point we started the climb again parallel to the river which was tumbling down. After continuing ahead uphill we reached Pandor Khark , where we rested for a while and waited for the team to arrive . It was a small clearing on the edge of the mountain range and gave a sense of the magnitude of this region. It was vast and far in the distance we could see the Bharal or Blue Sheep grazing. Elevation read 3942 mts.

45. We moved ahead and reached the second gorge known as Dwari Ghad which was a cracker in itself . On my own maybe I could have never done it .. the climb down was so steep that sweat still forms on my hand as I think of it. The early morning mist on the dried leaves and the loose soil on that barely visible path at an angle of around 75 degrees down gradient gave me the shivers. I stood on the edge and wondered how to go about it, should I sit on my haunches and slowly crawl ahead or should I shuffle slowly sideways, my guide and head porter were ahead of me and looking at me to take the first step encouraging me that they will take care if I slip.

46. I took a deep breath and the first step, shuffling slowly ahead .. the path twisted and turned as I walked very slowly with baby steps, the camera gear on me firmly strapped and balanced. The descent was around one km and half and it took me an hour think or maybe more, I really do not remember but I do remember sweating in the sun.

47. Finally we reached the base and then had to cross the river and then there was the climb ahead. But we took rest here and soon the entire team too arrived and the tea can was put to good use. After the tea break it was up and up as we moved towards Dhhar Ki Dwari which was around two kms ahead. This place was right at the edge of the mountain valley and far into the distance I saw my first sight of Pandav Sera , a unique valley surrounded by towering mountains and the river in between shimmering in the afternoon sun. Elevation read 3800 mts,

48. Again we descended towards the valley and finally after an hour and half I reached an open space having towering rocks placed .. this was the magical Pandav Sera, a veritable paradise in this desolate rough world. Elevation read as 3755 mts. The sun was up in the afternoon sky as I took my load off and with a camera in hand wandered off into the valley to click some magical moments while the team erected the camp and relaxed in the sun. After days in mountains and cramped locations, this felt really wonderful



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The elusive Brahma Kamal



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the place was abounding in them .. truly magical


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paandav sera valley


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Old 20th April 2016, 14:40   #27
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Default Re: Nandikund Trek: Quest through the Garhwal Himalayas

magical photographs swsumit. really enjoyed journey so far, keep it coming please. rated well deserved 5 star.
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Old 22nd April 2016, 08:07   #28
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Default Re: Nandikund Trek: Quest through the Garhwal Himalayas

Pandavsera to Nandikund.

49. The next morning we started towards Nandikund , the name that I had come across way back sitting in my rickety armchair . We walked around two kms through the valley floor till finally we reached the edge of it and then started the climb yet again. To climb and criss cross mountain ranges and ridges, this is what this trek was majority, it tested the limit and endurance. Elevation read 3900 mts. As we climbed up I came across another unfulfilled wish of mine .. Brahmakamals , so many of them standing tall against the morning sunlight found only in these upper altitudes of the Himalayan ranges. I was indeed fortunate to have come across them. After a climb of around 2 kms we reached the top of the ridge and crossed over leaving Paandav sera behind. Elevation read as 4210 mts.

50. From here one could see the Kedar dome , Chaukhamba massif and other Himalayan Peaks glittering in the morning sunlight. We pressed forward after a short break for breakfast onwards towards Nandikund. After a treacherous route through the mountain slopes I descended into the cavity between mountains and there lay NandiKund at an elevation of 4500 mts.

51. My first sight of the shimmering lake as I came up to it from below was nothing short of magical . All the effort paid off as we were able to reach here and I was congratulated by my guide for the successful mission trek. I was overwhelmed with emotions and I am unable to put it in words, the place moves you and after the walk through rains , mist , snow , ridges ,mountains , forests and desolate countryside one comes to this sight , the lake waiting for those who have the will to reach out here and the traveler is presented with sights that are burnt in his memory for the years to come …

52. Nandikund , a high altitude lake situated in glacial terrain provides splendid views to those who come here . The lake is fed by the snows all around on the mountains and there is a river that originates from this lake which flows downwards towards pandaav sera and beyond. The afternoon while the team relaxed and made camp I wandered towards the farther end of the lake and just spent time with myself in company of this wondrous living lake , thereafter myself and Umeid climbed a nearby hill to see the views from up higher . As we were descending the mist came in and soon it started snowing. In the evening we wandered in the mist as we approached towards the lake shore to soak in this magical moment. There is a small shrine built here which is of Maa Nanda Devi and is worshipped by local villagers who come from Urugam and Dumar village yearly once.

53. That evening there was just me and the team out here and the lake , no one else .. a truly magical moment indeed.

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Old 22nd April 2016, 16:43   #29
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Default Re: Nandikund Trek: Quest through the Garhwal Himalayas

A spectacular trek swsumit! And you've done phenomenal work of taking such breathtaking pictures of the mountains in those harsh conditions.

I've been spellbound seeing each & every one of the photos & reading the journey. It just lets us know of our minuscule existence on this mighty planet & brings us closer to its sheer beauty & magnificence.

Thank you so much for taking this up and inspiring.
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Old 25th April 2016, 09:37   #30
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Default Re: Nandikund Trek: Quest through the Garhwal Himalayas

These are some of the best photos I have ever seen! Absolutely stunning.

You guys have taken one helluva trip to nature's abode. Awesome!
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