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THE ROOPKUND TREK

Mesmerising!

That’s how the RoopKund trek can be described, in one word.


A lake where it is said that Lord Ganesha wrote the Mahabharata while Maharishi VedVyas dictated the shlokas to Him. 

Breathtaking, golden-hued Trishul peak.
Trail that Lord Shiva took with his bride, Goddess Sati, to go to Kailash.

Beautiful meadows. Dense forests. Cascading rivers. Breathtaking trails. Oak & rhodenderon forests.

Snow-capped peaks at touching distance. Magnificent campsites. Expansive, spectacular meadows(Asia's largest

bugyal at that height). 

Stories per square yard.

All in a matter of 5-6 days where you climb from 7000 odd feet to about 16000 feet, this mother-of-all-treks has it all!

If you haven’t done this trek, you haven’t done a trek at all!

 

Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult

Max. altitude: 16000 feet

Base camp: Wan

Duration: 7 days, 6 nights.

Best season: September to November, April/May to July. Terrific in October and April/May


ITINERARY IN BRIEF

Day 1: Kathgodam to Wan (drive of around 250 kms)  
 

Day 2: Trek from Wan to Bedni 

Altitude: 11000 ft

Distance/time: 13 kms/7-8 hrs
 

Day 3: Trek from Bedni to Pathar Nachauni

Altitude: 12700 ft

Distance/time taken: 4 kms/3 hrs

 

Day 4: Trek from Pathar Nachauni to Kalua Vinayak to Baghua Basa

Altitude: 14500 ft/14000 ft

Distance/time taken: 1.5 kms + 3.5 kms/5-6 hrs
 

Day 5: Trek from Baghua Basa to Roopkund To Junargali(if possible); return to Bedni

Altitude: 16000 ft

Distance/time taken: 3 kms + 200 mts(Junargali)/7-8 hrs

 

Day 6: Trek back to Wan from Bedni

 

Day 7: Drive back to Kathgodam from Wan

 


THE TREK IN DETAIL

Roopkund is a mountain lake, lying in the Garhwal Himalayas in the Chamoli district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Situated at a high altitude, the lake remains frozen almost throughout the 
year. 

Roopkund is also called the 'Mystery Lake', or the 'Skeletal Lake', on account of the several hundred human skeletons found scattered in and around the lake.

A forest officer stumbled upon these skeletons in the year 1942, and this 
surprising discovery triggered a series of visits from scientists from all over the world who wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery. A lot of research went into finding out how so many skeletons came to exist near this lake, and eventually it was concluded that these skeletons belonged to a group of pilgrims, who were caught unprepared in a hailstorm( somewhere around AD 850 ). The hailstones were as big as cricket balls, and with no shelter in site, they succumbed to injuries on their skulls.

Having said that, there have been numerous other stories floating around.
National Geographic aired a story regarding this lake, which made the lake a popular destination among trekkers.

Aside from all this myth and mystery around the trek, the Roopkund Trek is the 
perfect route to showcase the surreal Himalayan beauty; and it is the perfect trek to initiate you into high altitude treks.

The trek starts from Wan(this is the base-camp for us at Storytrekkers), situated 
at an elevation of 3200 meters, and after gradually trekking uphill for 4 days you will reach Roopkund, which lies at approximately 5000 meters above sea-level. 

At this altitude the level of oxygen in the air is considerably lesser than what the lowland folks are used to.

Though Storytrekkers will give you effective tips on how to cope with this, being in good physical shape will ensure that you adapt to the thinning air quickly. Also, good fitness level will allow you more energy to enjoy the spectacular views without worrying about nagging bouts of altitude induced problems.

So when you plan for this trek, it is critical that you also plan out a fitness regime for yourself.

There are two time windows in a year when you can do this trek – once after winter from mid-May to mid-June, and once post monsoon during September and October.

You can choose the post-winter variant if you want to have some fun with snow, or you can choose the post-monsoon variant if you want to stroll through lush green Himalayan meadows.

The first couple of days on the trek will take you through quaint villages, cheerful 
streams, and rapid mountain rivers.
The sunlight streaming through the trees in the forests will make the entire 
mountainside glow golden.
Trek some more, and you will soon leave the trees behind. Now you will be 
greeted by miles and miles of lush meadows, called 'Bugyals' in the local tongue.

The Bugyals are dotted with small and big lakes at intervals. The pure air, the poignant greens and the effervescent blues will make you forget all your troubles.

Next is the summit stretch, where your stamina will be tested as 
the air gets thinner and thinner.

At the end of the climb lies the coveted Roopkund...frozen, serene, 
and pristine. 

Near the lake you can still find lots of skeletons, which have been well preserved because of the cold after all these centuries.
From here, you can spot a lot of other peaks – Trishul, Nandaghungti and Choukhamba.
 

The route followed on the Roopkund trek overlaps with a pilgrimage which occurs every year, called the Raj-Jat Yatra.
This festive pilgrimage is held each year to worship goddess Nanda Devi, and 
people from several villages of the Kumaon and Garhwal participate in this yatra. 

This Yatra starts from a small village 'Nauti' near Karnaprayag, and goes beyond Roopkund to Homkund.

If you are lucky enough to be on the trek during this Yatra, you will meet a lot of locals dressed in their traditional attire participating in the festival. Meeting these welcoming and warm-hearted people will be an unforgettable encounter.

The bigger version of this yatra is held every 12 years; this is like the Kumbh of this region where lakhs of locals descend from all over. As a symbol to Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati’s journey.

Folklore has it that Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati took this route to go to Kailash after they got married. Which is why you will find enthralling stories related to their journey all along this route/trek.

 

The Roopkund trek is a most enriching experience for the body and the soul. This time spent amidst the mountains will remove the cob-webs from your mind and will thoroughly rejuvenate you.

Bedni Bugyal(meadow):
Considered amongst the finest high altitude grasslands in the not only Garhwal 
mountains (altitude 3354 metres), but in the world, it is famous for wild high-altitude flowers and herbs during the spring thaw, and offering a splendid view of the Greater Himalayan range.

Arguably one of the most romantic spots in the Himalayas -virgin meadows greet the visitor - for as far as the eye can see, lofty mountains and deep valleys present the most memorable sunsets and sunrises.
Above all, the enormous western flank of Trishul and the Nanda Ghunti overlooks this heaven on earth!

 

The Vaitarni lake (also called the Bedni Kund) is located in this region, and is famous for the rare Brahma Kamal flower.
 

 


DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1:

Pick up from Kathgodam railway station station early morning. 

Enjoy the ride to the Wan base camp(around 250 kms.)

Day 2:

Have a sumptuous breakfast.

 Early morning begin the trek from Wan to Bedni Bugyal.

Today you will cover a distance of around 13 kms, through a mesmerising, dense forest, and crossing the virgin, green waters of the Neelganga river.

Have a hot cup of tea, relax.

Camp overnight.

Day 3:

Have a leisurely breakfast.

Trek from Bedni Bugyal to Pathar Nachauni.

Trail: 4 kms.

Time taken: Around 3 hours. 

Altitude: 12700 feet.

Trail type: Easy climb at the beginning to a saddle followed by gradual descent to Pathar Nachauni.


The trail to Pathar Nachauni climbs out of the Bedni campsite in a gradual, easy meander. 

From your Bedni campsite you can follow it with your eye for 3 kms before it disappears into a saddle in the mountain. When you cross the saddle, the trek exposes you to the other side of the ridge. The scenery is differently mesmerising.

For the first time you also see remnants of the winter snow on the mountain flanks (on the other side). It is still meadow country and below you are the meadows of Ghora Lotani, the last stop for the horses. Beyond Ghora Lotani the meadows merge into the mountain side.

 Rest, camp. 

Trek to Aali Bugyal(around 3 kms), return to Bedni.
Camp overnight. Soak in the egolessnessness of the mighty and the divine Himalayas.

Meditate under the divine gaze of the sacred Trishul peak, a touchng distance from here.

Day 4:

Have an early breakfast.

Begin the trek from Pathar Nachauni to Kalu Vinayak to Baghubasa.

Trail: 1.5 kms. to Kalu Vinayak, and another 3.5 kms. to Baghuabada.

Time taken: 3-4 hours. 

Trail type: Flat walk, followed by a 2.5 hrs steep ascent to Kalu Vinayak, followed by a gradually descending trail to Bhaguabhasa.

The climb to Kalu Vinayak is a steep zig-zag up the mountain side and will take you to 14,500 ft.

The distance isn't much, and the zig-zag trails makes you gain height very 
rapidly.
This is a crucial height where most climbers feel the thinness in the air. You get breathless very soon and sometimes even feel dizzy.

Climbing to Kalu Vinayak is a thrill and everytime you look up and take a bend on the 
trail, the ridge line gets closer, drawing you, inspiring you.

Around you is green mountainside. Below, you can follow the trail that 
you took from the first saddle over Ghora Lotani and finally to Kalu Vinayak.
You can see the trail on the snow in the initial section.

Kalu Vinayak gets its name from the black Ganesh idol enclosed in a stone shrine just as you finish the climb from Ghora Lotani.

Beside the Kalu Vinayak shrine and right next to it you hit your first patch of snow, and you are at the snow-line now.

The trail from Kalu Vinayak to Bhaguabasa is easy and gently sloping 
downwards. Bhaguabasa is 2 kms away and you can see the Bhagwabasa huts if you follow the trail with your eye. The trail meanders through snow patches.

At Bhaguabasa, nights turn extremely cold. Inside tent temperatures dip to 
1°C or below. And outside,  -2°C and below  in the night. These are mid-summer temperatures. In September-October, temperature will dip further to -5°C or -6°C. Bhagwabasa is windy too. 
 

Camp overnight. Acclimatise.

Day 5:

Trek from Bhagwabhasa to Roop Kund, and further up to Junargali, and back to Bedni. 

 

Trail: 3 kms to RoopKund, and 200 metres further up to Junargali.

Time taken: 3 hours

Trail type: From Bhaguabasa it is a 3 kms gradually ascending walk to Roopkund. Towards the end the trail climbs sharply through a series of switchbacks and a 
steep climb over a snowy flank to reach Roopkund.

The stretch isn't long, but the entire stretch is on snow patches. At some parts 
the slope is steep but most parts are easily trekkable. Expect good amount of snow during most parts of the year.

The climb to RoopKund is deliriously exhilarating.
The last stretch of climbing over the snowy flank on the left requires 
support of all four limbs, but is over in 10 mins.

Roopkund is right over the edge, two minutes away and yet you can't see it unless you get there.
Roopkund is a crater on the mountain face, a dip at the cusp of the 
mountain. It is much bigger than what most internet pictures suggest. 

All around are snowy flanks of the mountain. You have to actually climb down 50 ft to reach the edge of the lake.

The climb to Junargali from Roopkund is simply exhilarating.
All trekkers must attempt Junargali unless the weather does not 
permit it. From Roopkund, the sharp ridge line that towers above you is Junargali. It doesn't take much time to get to Junargali. The route is over snow that gently inclines upwards until it reaches the face of the mountain. After which it is a steep clamber on the mountain face to reach Junargali. 

The climb isn't for long; perhaps 200 ft.
It gets over in 15-20 minutes, but the memories will last a 
lifetime!

 

Return, and camp overnight at Bedni. 

 

Day 6:

Trek back from Bedni to Wan at leisure.

 

Day 7:

Depart for Kathgodam.

The memories will 'haunt' you forever! 

 


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