Haridwar to Ukhimath and Deoriya taal, Himalaya Photo journal
I have a confession to make: I plucked flowers, a whole bunch of them on this path.
Haridwar, the gateway to the land of snows - Himalaya
Our journey to Deoriya taal started from Haridwar.
Ganga arti at Haridwar
The evening arti at Har ki Pauri, Haridwar and dinner of Aloo Parathas at a nearby eatery was food for the soul and body on our first night here. The next morning we crossed the Birla bridge to get to the highway to Rishikesh.
A view from Birla bridge, Haridwar
Sunset at Rishikesh
The Ganga arti at Parmarth Ashram, Rishikesh resounded with Ved mantras and group singing sankirtan, which involved the audience thoroughly.
Rishikesh to Devprayag
Ganga is a constant companion…and much appreciated.
Devprayag: Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi
Devprayag with its many roadside eateries, is a popular halt.
Rudraprayag: Sangam of Alaknanda and Mandakini
from Rudraprayag the road forks out for Kedarnath and Badrinath. we took the one towards Kedarnth, which leads to Ukhimath and Deoriya taal.
Syalsaur in district Rudraprayag
The GMVN guest house at Syalsaur, was good with its log cabins, gardens, and banks of River Mandakini, where we could sit and splash and watch a couple of kayakers go down the river as it was time for sunset.
The food was nothing more than Chola-bhatura though. And our tour operator Sunil Bhatnagar told us that the same Himalayas that provide solace to tourists and yogis can drive the locals to alcohol after sunset, as there isn't much else to do other than be with nature or socialise.
Ukhimath: the winter seat of Panch Kedar
We reached Ukhimath at 10 pm and put up at Bharat Sevashram overlooking the Mandakini valley. The sound of the river at night filled the quiet. A quick bath in iced-water was compensated with great views of the Chaukhamba peaks from the bathroom window :-) A morning walk to Ukhimath temple found us walking in mist with the river on one side far below us, tiny flowers, dew-laden grasses of a rich variety and a couple of streams rushing off the road.
Navratri puja was on at the temple and Chandi paath was being recited by a young pundit in a hut like temple opposite the Shiva temple of Ukhimath. The temple dates to the time of Mandhaata, ancestor of Rama. It is the winter seat of all Kedarnth deities as worship is offered to all five of them here even in winter when the Kedarnath, Tungnath and Madmaheshwar shrines are under snow.
After breakfast at Bharat Sevashram next morning we were off by bus to Sari village. Sari, a little left on the road to Kedarnath is the starting point for trekking to Deoriya taal.
A view of Sari village from the trek route to Deoriya taal
Sari had a couple of buses parked already. Chirpy school kids hung out with pals to queue up for the trek. Our guide explained to us that it was imperative to walk in pairs or a single file where need be, as the path was narrow.
Buraanz trees, fields of amaranthus, pumpkins, and maize marked a colourful route, while we were in the precincts of the village. As the path reached higher, we could see Chandrashila peak, the home of Lord Tungnath.
Trekking path: Sari to Deoriya taal
I have a confession to make: I plucked flowers, a whole bunch of them on this path. This is unethical and endangers the local flora. The flowers that tempted me were pretty white papery blooms. They seemed immortal and have proved so in a dry-flower arrangement at home. But never again will I commit this crime.
There was no clue of the lake until we crossed a patch of dense forest, where light was allowed only as ribbons and streamers.
And suddenly, we emerged from the forest to see blue sky, the blue lake and a grassy slope leading to it…
The Chaukhamba peaks reflected in Deoriya taal made for an awesome sight. But not so for the six buffaloes who wallowed in the icy waters! Their caretaker, an elderly woman sat by the lake knitting a sweater. This is life in the Himalayas :-)
Travel map to Deoriya taal
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How to reach Deoriya taal
The nearest railhead is Rishikesh, though Haridwar is more popular. The nearest airport is at Dehradun, but truly nothing beats a drive in the hills here! Take a car, a bus, a taxi, a bike, a cycle, or walk… The Himalayas are awesome :-)