Himalayan holiday - Travel talk from Badrinath, Madmaheshwar and beyond
Charmed by the Himalayas, Shailly and Sanjay Shukla from Lucknow explore lesser known destinations in this snow-capped, green-valleyed neighbourhood over a fortnight in June. AnandWay follows their drive…
It was a privilege to stay in a rest-house dating back to 1890 at Gwaldam. The oak and deodar forested haven with Pindar river gushing by, with snow peaks of Trishul, Hathi Parvat preening in the cornflower-blue sky, and the playful breeze exciting the green sentinels of the hillside; was all a sensual treat for us. We were overwhelmed by this introduction to the Himalayan beauty.
Rivers Markandey and Madmaheshwar Ganga assured us of the right track by their presence
Badrinath and Vasudhara
Driving on the winding road up to Badrinath, with the frothy river Alaknanda always in sight was very exciting. With Badrianth as the starting point, we trekked over glacial terrain to reach Vasudhara and Vyas Gufa. Walking gingerly over ice and snow of all levels of hardness, we slipped, fell, and laughed at each other, while building a relationship with the icy wind. All hungry, thirsty, cold and exhausted we reached Vasudhara, but were unaware of our physical needs as we were absolutely in awe of the majestic persona of the Himalayas revealing itself to us on such a grand scale!
From Joshimath to Auli
Auli’s bugyal meadows which transform into world-class ski-slopes in winter, were laden with wild flowers in summer. We took a ride in a ski-lift at Auli, with the peaks of Nanda Devi, Hathi parvat, Gauri-shankar, Comet and Eravath cheering us.
When we discovered a break oil leak in our car, it was divine providence that got us to a free one day camp set up by Maruti at Joshimath, and that made our day in the wilderness.
Ukhimath to Madmaheshwar
We reached Ukhimath on the banks of river Mandakini and found our way to Mansuna village to trek 21 km to Madmaheshwar. Our night halt at Gaundar, amidst silence, starlight, and under a cosy roof with home-cooked daal-chawal-sabzi-roti by a jolly local, was absolute bliss.
Himalayan forest-scape by the banks of rivers Markanday and Madmaheshwar Ganga
The trek itself through untouched forest with nothing but nature for company was actually an act of meditation. Rivers Markandey and Madmaheshwar Ganga assured us of the right track by their presence. When we reached Madmaheshwar, a green bowl in the valley surrounded by snow peaks, it was a joy to find a roaring game of cricket in full swing! My son was quick to join in the camaraderie, mindless of the long trek that he had just undertaken!
The main Shiva temple here, Madmaheshwar temple is a part of Panch Kedar and affiliated to the famous Kedarnath temple. This place has a flavour all its own. No milling crowds, no vehicle-fumes, no sound other than that of nature itself :-)
The locals take pride in serving the shrine and keeping the area absolutely clean! Happy faces, sound of conch shells and little children chanting Sanskrit praises of divinity, and a subtle vibration of Om Namah Shivaay give the place a special character. A trek further up to Budha Madmaheshwar set amidst flowery bugyal and yet another trek to Pandushera where we saw ancient weapons of warfare, supposedly belonging to the Pandavs; found us exploring the Himalayan legends.
Over the fortnight that we spent driving and trekking in the Himalayas has wetted our appetite for more.