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Old 22nd October 2010, 21:57   #1
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Default Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek

There are times when you spend hours preparing a long list of must-see places and wish that you had the time to do these..

..But then, there are times, when, on a rainy Sunday morning, you decide that you have spent most of your life going through the daily rigours and enough is enough. It was on one such rain drenched July morning when I decided that its time to pay a visit to the Himalayas, time to have a One-on-One with God.

Through this travelogue, let me present to you, one of the most fascinating vacations that I have ever had, travelling through Rudraprayag, Chopta, Pauri and doing the long-desired Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek.

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-bw-chandrashila-large.jpg
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Old 22nd October 2010, 22:08   #2
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Saurabh, the opening pic is cool. The himalayas have always enchanted me and i just cant get enough of them, nobody can, probably. I am keenly looking forward to a detailed account of your travel, your one-on-one with the almighty and loads of pics like the one above.
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Old 22nd October 2010, 23:03   #3
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I love one on ones with god. And I love treks. And E-T has been stealing the words of my mouth time and again. One just can't get enough of the mighty Himalayas. I've had 7 sojourns there, spreading from Kashmir to Bhutan! Sadly, those days I didn't boast of any great camera equipment (only the kodak kb10).
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Old 22nd October 2010, 23:09   #4
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Awesome picture !! Did you do this trip in your esteem?
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Old 22nd October 2010, 23:30   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtremeTorque View Post
Saurabh, the opening pic is cool. The himalayas have always enchanted me and i just cant get enough of them, nobody can, probably. I am keenly looking forward to a detailed account of your travel, your one-on-one with the almighty and loads of pics like the one above.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
I love one on ones with god. And I love treks. And E-T has been stealing the words of my mouth time and again. One just can't get enough of the mighty Himalayas. I've had 7 sojourns there, spreading from Kashmir to Bhutan! Sadly, those days I didn't boast of any great camera equipment (only the kodak kb10).
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Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Awesome picture !! Did you do this trip in your esteem?
Thanks for your comments. Would have loved to do this trip in my car, but decided against it, as the feedback about road conditions were not positive and we wanted to preserve our energy for the rest of the trip.
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Old 22nd October 2010, 23:56   #6
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First, let me inform that this was not a driving holiday, rather a driven one. This being the durga puja season, train tickets were booked 3 months in advance. This was followed up with hotel bookings at the GMVN office at Kolkata.

Finally the D-Day arrived and weaving through the ever congested streets of Kolkata, we reached Howrah station just in time, to board the Kumbh Express for Haridwar. The train left on the dot at 13:15hrs on Oct 11th and maintained very good timings throughout. We reached Haridwar the next day, at 16:30hrs, just 15mins late, covering the distance in around 27hrs. The initial plan was to stay overnight at Haridwar and start for Rudraprayag the next morning. But then, the car (an Indigo) that has been booked for the next 7 days would be coming from Rishikesh for pick up in the morning.

We did not want to waste time for the car to arrive the next morning. So, we spoke to the agent and asked him to pick us up from the station and we proceeded straight to Rishikesh. By the time we reached Rishikesh, it was getting dark. We freshened up and went out for a walk. It was already dark outside and a slight chill hung in the air. After having samosa and chai at a roadside stall, we thought about checking out the Lakshmanjhula bridge. It was about 1km from the hotel. After walking through the market dotted with cyber cafes and travel agencies, we reached the bridge. The place was completely deserted and dark. It was already 8pm and most of the shops were closing. We did not feel very comfortable there and started walking back to the hotel. We returned to the hotel by 9pm and had a quick dinner and retired for the day. Tomorrow, our journey beings into the homeland of Lord Shiva.
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Old 23rd October 2010, 23:54   #7
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Before I proceed with the rest of the travelogue, to set the right perspective, here is a map of the route taken.

Name:  Route map.jpg
Views: 20262
Size:  65.4 KB

The incessant rains during the last week of September, in the Garhwal region, have had a devastating effect. As heard from the locals, very heavy rains continued for a week, leading to landslides all over the region. There were ample evidences of this, as we started from Rishikesh. Beyond Rishikesh, along NH58, there were landslides literally every 2-3kms. As we proceeded, we were wondering that it would not have been possible to travel at all, had this happened just before our arrival. The main Rishikesh-Srinagar highway (NH58) was closed for 7-10 days and the BRO had worked round the clock to clear up the debris. At most of the places, the debris have just been pushed aside, just enough to make way for a single vehicle to pass.

As a travel advisory, its better not to take this route atleast till 2nd week of Nov. Thats the earliest this route is expected to be operating normally.

We came to know from the driver that numerous villages in the upper reaches of the mountains have simply been washed away by the strong currents of water and the mudflow. Needless to say, this resulted in numerous losses of human lives and cattle, the actual figure of which was never published. The whole region had never experienced such devastation in the last 25-30 years.

As we left Rudraprayag, news came in that there has been a major landslide between Srinagar and Rudraprayag, which has kept the roads blocked for 6 consecutive days. The only way to reach Rudraprayag is to take a detour just before Srinagar, via Khakra. This road is mostly single lane, very remote and damaged too. The police is only allowing small vehicles to pass and the time it would take to reach Rudraprayag is anybody's guess. The usual distance from Rishikesh to Rudraprayag is around 155ksm and normally takes 5hrs approx. For us, it took 10hrs. Yes, 10 long hrs of bone jarring journey.

The fact that Rudraprayag is cut off, was having an impact on the daily lives as well, as we experienced later. There was no supply of fuel and whatever stock was present at the gas stations, were being rationed. Each vehicle was being allowed only Rs.500 worth of diesel. Local bus and jeep services was almost coming to a standstill. Supply of vegetables and daily needs that are normally transported from the plains, has also stopped. If the blockage to Rudraprayag continues for another couple of days, it would have a severe impact on the daily lives of the locals, staying higher up.

We knew that we were getting into a mess, but then, what's an adventure if there is no hint of uncertainly?
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Old 26th October 2010, 12:49   #8
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Default Rishikesh to Rudraprayag

So, let the pics flow. First a couple of evening snaps at Rishikesh. As I had mentioned, I walked down to the Lakshmanjhula bridge to find it pretty deserted.

Deserted Lakshmanjhula (Sorry for poor quality pics)
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa120005-large.jpg

Walking through the market area
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa120008-large.jpg

Durga puja preparations
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa120007-large.jpg

We started from Rishkikesh for Rudraprayag on 13th morning. We came across numerous landslides along the way, literally, every 2 - 3 kms.

Good roads
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130011-large.jpg

Broken roads
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130012-large.jpg

Landslide area
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130013-large.jpg

Such incidents were very frequent
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130014-large.jpg

Face to face
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130015-large.jpg

Backing up to make way
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130016-large.jpg

Near Devprayag
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130019-large.jpg

Just as we were reaching Devprayag, we ran into a huge queue of vehicles as there was a landslide in the front, which was being cleared. Got stranded at this location for a full 1 hr.
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Old 26th October 2010, 23:22   #9
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Here are a few more pics from the landslide area while we were waiting for the road to clear.

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130028-large.jpg

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130029-large.jpg

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130032-large.jpg

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130036-large.jpg

A little ahead from this place, we took a brief stop at a view point, overlooking Devprayag. It was a fantastic view, of the merging of the 2 rivers. The muddy water is of the river Bhagirathi and the greenish water is of river Alakananda. Here, both these 2 rivers merge to form the mighty Ganges.

Devprayag - Confluence of Bhagirathi and Alakananda
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0007-large.jpg

Bhagirathi upstream
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0011-large.jpg

Beyond Devprayag, the local police asked us to take a detour as the stretch between Srinagar and Rudraprayag on NH58 had a number to landslides, that were yet to clear up. This detour resulted in an additional 70kms of very narrow, broken roads, via Khakra. However, this route provided a bird's eye view of the town of Srinagar. Almost all along the route, we had the river Alakananda by our side, for company.

Srinagar town
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130045-large.jpg

Around 2pm, we stopped enroute at a small shanty for some food. Lunch was done with omlettes and tea.

Lunch stop
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-pa130048-large.jpg


By the time we reached Rudraprayag, it was already 5:30pm. We checked in the Rudra Complex, by GMVN. This tourist lodge has an excellent location, overlooking the confluence. By the time we settled down, it was already dark. We were also very tired after the long journey from Rishikesh.

We had a quick dinner and retired for the day. The plan for tomorrow is to explore Rudraprayag on foot.

Last edited by Saurabh M : 26th October 2010 at 23:24.
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Old 27th October 2010, 09:25   #10
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Next morning (14th Oct), after breakfast, I set out to explore the confluence. The temple at the confluence is about 1km from the hotel.

View from the hotel
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0049-large.jpg

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0047-large.jpg

The road will take you through the market area and jeep stand that was abuzz with activities. There were jeeps going for various destinations like Haridwar, Dehradun, Badrinath, Pauri, Tehri and other places. I made my way through the crowd and finally reached the temple.

Rudraprayag is at an average elevation of 895 metres (2,936 feet). It is one of the Panch Prayag (five confluences) of Alaknanda River, the point of confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. Alaknanda then proceeds towards Devaprayag where it joins with Bhagirathi river to form the river Ganges.

I reached the temple in about 30mins from the hotel. A small lane from the main road, just before a tunnel, lined by some old buildings, leads to the temple. A very quiet, serene temple complex I would say. There was no other person around when we reached there. I checked out the temple and the surroundings and then made my way down the steps towards the confluence.

The temple complex and gate
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0038-large.jpg

First view from the temple
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0039-large.jpg

The temple down below
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0036-large.jpg

From the temple
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0022-large.jpg

The confluence
Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0027-large.jpg

Its an amazing place. The river on my right, facing downstream, was Mandakini and on my left was Alakananda. The force of the raging water was really frightening. I spent some time there and enquired about the timings of the evening 'Aarti' from the priest.
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Old 27th October 2010, 09:51   #11
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Wow you reminded when I went 15 years back! We started late from Haridwar and stayed overnight at
Srinagar on the way to Badrinath/Kedarnath.

The taste of the simple food we had at Srinagar still lingers in my memory despite 15 years!


Some trivia:
It seems from Gangothri there is a route called old pilgrim's route which is very arduous lasting about 20-25 days
where they traverse on foot. But this route is closed now.

I read somewhere that line of sight distance between Badri and Kedar is a mere 10Km but it takes 300km to go by road!
(Could not verify this fact)
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Old 27th October 2010, 13:47   #12
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Default Good going Saurabh

I read about the places that you are visiting when I read the Corbett omnibus, it is absolutely great to see you there.

Lovely places and nice people, plan to do the same with my folks next year.

Thanks a lot for sharing all the information.
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Old 27th October 2010, 14:03   #13
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How in the world did I miss this one ? My ancestral village is just above Rudraprayag and I have several family connections to this area. Lovely travelogue Saurabh, thank you for sharing this with us. I will just sit quietly and stare at the pics now
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Old 27th October 2010, 15:19   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Wow you reminded when I went 15 years back! We started late from Haridwar and stayed overnight at
Srinagar on the way to Badrinath/Kedarnath.

The taste of the simple food we had at Srinagar still lingers in my memory despite 15 years!


Some trivia:
It seems from Gangothri there is a route called old pilgrim's route which is very arduous lasting about 20-25 days
where they traverse on foot. But this route is closed now.

I read somewhere that line of sight distance between Badri and Kedar is a mere 10Km but it takes 300km to go by road!
(Could not verify this fact)
Thats great. Wonder how the roads would have been 15years ago. With the rapid pace of urbanization, we are fast losing these serene locations tucked into various corners of the Himalayas.

Me too have heard about this old pilgrim's route from Badri, which I came across in some Bengali literature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayurpalav View Post
I read about the places that you are visiting when I read the Corbett omnibus, it is absolutely great to see you there.

Lovely places and nice people, plan to do the same with my folks next year.

Thanks a lot for sharing all the information.
+1 to that. Since my childhood, I had wanted to visit this place, more so, after reading the "Man eating Leopard of Rudraprayag" by Jim Corbett. I had sketched an image of the place in my mind, which probably did not change in all these years. On visiting, was quite disappointed to see the crowded town, too many shops and buildings and jeeps and buses belching out black smoke.

But then, these are signs of progress, I guess.

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How in the world did I miss this one ? My ancestral village is just above Rudraprayag and I have several family connections to this area. Lovely travelogue Saurabh, thank you for sharing this with us. I will just sit quietly and stare at the pics now
Wow, thats fantastic. Let me tell you that I really liked this place very much and you are very fortunate to have ancestral connections with this area. Probably one of the most peaceful states with equally lively and helpful people.
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Old 30th October 2010, 00:02   #15
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After a good lunch and a siesta, it was time to go back to the temple. The idea was to reach a little ahead of the 'Aarti' and spend some time there. Left the hotel at 4:30pm and reached the temple in 30mins approx. Took a few pictures of the surroundings and settled down on the steps leading to the 'prayag'.

Gradually the sun disappeared behind the mountains and a soothing light engulfed the surroundings. The 'aarti' preparations had started. The priest started preparing the holy lamps, the flowers and 2 men appeared, who would be chanting mantras during the time of the 'aarti'.

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0075-large.jpg

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0078-large.jpg

I was sitting quietly on the steps, watching another day coming to an end.

Soon, the 'aarti' started. The men started singing in praise of the Ganges, while the lamp was lighted. With the roar of the rivers in the background, the sound of the bell and the hymns, the whole place got transformed. I was probably the only distraction there, with the sound of the shutter release from my camera.

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0086-large.jpg

The 'aarti' lasted for about 20mins. By the time it ended, darkness has pretty much descended over the surroundings. The mountain tops were still receiving some light from the setting sun. A hint of that light was reflecting from the river.

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0088-large.jpg

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0091-large.jpg

I looked up. The moon was out and shining brightly. Behind me, the town of Rudraprayag was sparkling like a thousand stars.

Devbhoomi Garhwal - Rudraprayag, Chopta, Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek-dsc_0096-large.jpg

It was time to go back to the hotel. I lifted myself from the steps and climbed up to the temple. I thanked god of letting me witness a wonderful evening, an evening of solitude, an evening to reflect upon.

Tomorrow, we leave for Chopta.
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