Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Buddhist stories: Milarepa: Screening and discussion

Buddhist stories: Milarepa: Screening and discussion

To be Edited

Jaeger-LeCoultre Christens New Himalayan Peak - News

Jaeger-LeCoultre Christens New Himalayan Peak - News

To be Edited

Idaho Mountain Express: Himalayan caves hold ancient secrets - November 18, 2009

Idaho Mountain Express: Himalayan caves hold ancient secrets - November 18, 2009

Broughton Coburn - Himalaya: Personal Stories of Grandeur, Challenge and Hope | Odeo: Search, Discover and Share Digital Media from Millions of Audio and Video Clips

To be edited

Mountain Music Project

Folk music never fails to amuse me, especially if it comes from Himalayas. This particular project tries to trace a connection between two different folk music styles, one from the Appalachian mountains in US and other from Nepal in the Himalayas; of course the common thread is the mountains :)

Pretty nice music and I am sure the movie will be great as well.

Details about the screening of the movie can be found at

For those around DC and in love with Himalayas and Mountains in general, this is an excellent opportunity to watch the movie and experience the purity and ecstasy of folk music.

For more information on Mountain Music Project, please visit the following blog.

The blog is good read as well, with posts related to traditional music especially from the mountains.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Himalayan Circuit : A journey in the inner Himalayas

So at last a book review, rather at last a review. It was long back when I became an MSian and over this period I had written less and read more. The idea wasn’t that initially but circumstances care for nothing. As far as writing a review on a book is concerned, it all started almost a year ago when I was reading “The River Dog” by Mark Shand. Well, that elusive review still hasn’t happened but several months and books later, suddenly today this long cherished desire to write a book review has again overpowered me. (That today was three weeks back :)).

It makes me bit sad that I’m not writing my first book review on “The River Dog”, which itself was a great read, but perhaps it was meant to be this way that I start with my passion, The Himalayas.
Himalayan Circuit : A journey in the inner Himalayas” by G.D. Khosla (referred as GDK henceforth) was more of an accidental rather than a by-choice reading. My first impression of the book wasn’t great too, the back cover of the book told that GDK was Chief Justice of Punjab HC which led me to believe that this will be another of those egoistic, full of attitude account of a government official, who perhaps will be more interested in pointing out fallacies in the facilities provided to him during the trek rather than the natural beauty of the Himalayas. The fact that this book was first published in 1956 didn’t help the matters either as I could sense the heavy British influence over the author’s style. A dry preface and a first few dull chapters almost confirmed my assumptions till I reached the third chapter. I would have not continued the book but for the fact that it was about Himalayas and moreover it talked of a region in Himalayas I was always attracted to. Third chapter onwards begins a journey, a trek at the end of which one is not just satisfied but also mesmerized by beautiful account of the forbidding yet ethereally beautiful twin valleys of Lahaul and Spiti.
GDK’s Himalayan Circuit is one of the earliest and perhaps the best account of the Lahaul and Spiti region situated in the North Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. No wonder that it is still considered a valuable text when it comes to knowing about the region and its customs and traditions. The journey to the inner Himalayas starts with GDK traveling from Shimla to Kulu where he accompanies other govt. of India officials on an official trek to the Spiti-Lahaul region for some purpose never really explained in the book (and thankfully so). Among his various companions, the prominent are Shriganesh, the commissioner of the region, Dr. Massey, the doctor and their cheerful and entertaining cook, Chanchlu. Together they move in the wild yet enchanting Himalayas, battling the weather, difficult and strenuous trek, all along the way passing through the beautiful valleys which though devoid of any vegetation are still charming and attractive. They pass over ice bridges, cross several rivers and passes and trek over barren, rugged and rocky mountain slopes. And throughout the journey they come across several facets of the lifestyle, culture and customs of the remote Spiti-Lahaul valley.
In the first phase of the trek, the party crosses the Beas river and move along the Hamta torrent crossing several snow bridges to reach the 14000 ft high Hamta pass. They then camp at the Chatru camping grounds by the Chandra river before getting ready for the 4590 m high dangerous Kunzum pass which provides panoramic view of the Bara Sigri glacier, the world’s second longest glacier. From top of the Kunzum pass they get breathtaking views of Spiti valley on one side and Chandra-Bhaga peaks on the others and finally after crossing the pass they are in Spiti.
The middle portions of the book covering three chapters dedicated to Spiti are the high points of the book. GDK’s description of life and culture of the Spitians is absolutely fantastic. He starts with the way a normal Spitian looks like, describes their clothing, the way they ride their horses, their houses, eating habits, the religious ideologies followed by peculiarities in the customs and traditions and in between keeps throwing in brilliant insights into the Spitian culture. The description of the beautiful village monasteries is another highlight of the book, though in one boring phase GDK goes into describing the intricacies of Buddhism which I feel falls a bit out of place. Nonetheless, the uniqueness of the customs leaves one amused. A few interesting ones included the law of primogeniture which in other words came down to enforced celibacy for the younger sons. The entire process of marriage is also very peculiar and interesting and the same goes with the divorce procedure, which depicted the sadness oh so symbolically. And yes interwoven among all this description are the beautiful Himalayas. GDK never looses the focus and keeps describing the charming beauty of the region, be it the fascinating Chandra Tal (The Moon Lake) and its valley with the ever entrancing Sumandari glacier opposite the lake or the mysterious Akbar lake.
The book finally winds up with the completion of an amazing journey with final two chapters on Lahoul which were as impressive as others. Good that my initial notions were proved wrong by GDK’s passion for the Himalayas that resulted in this gem of a book which I recommend for all those who are equally passionate about the Himalayas, the ones who derive great pleasure in imagining the wonders of the alluring Himalayas.
As I finished the book, my heart echoed the same sentiments as those of GDK’s while he wrote the last lines; “As scenes of sun and snow and purple crags flashed across my half-closed eyes, my mind was teased by a desire to go back to the real mountains far away, beyond the high passes and among the cruel rugged rocks where the barren splendour of the Himalayas reigns supreme”.

March 23rd, 2004 (Original Date of the review)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Kumaoni Holi

This peice of writting is taken from a fellow blogger's blog. I dont know who this friend is, where he lives, except that may be some part of his life has been spent in the beautiful land of Himalayas (Kumaon to be specific). Thanks Tarun for this peice of lovely information :)

Whenever holi comes it take me down to memory lane, way back when I was kid. Most of the best holi I ever had when I was a kid and all those holi I celebrated in my native place (Uttaranchal). It's unique because the Kumaoni Holi lies in being a musical affair, whether it's the Baithki Holi, the Khari Holi or the Mahila Holi. I remember those baloons filled with colored water, hitting those baloons to each other or persons visiting in neighborhood. We also used to have a steel or iron hook tied with a rope or one strong thread and then one kid goes to roof of a house and other kids just hang around in the road. As soon as any person wearing hat or holi cap crosses our kids-zone, one kid hooked that hook in the hat and by the time anybody thinks what happened their hat hanged in the air. Most of our target used to be 'Dotiyal' (Nepali Kooli) and 'huliyar' (holi singers) and they also enjoyed it some time. But those days are gone now. OK, let me tell you something about our Kumaoni holi.

The Baithki Holi and Khari Holi are based on the songs which have touch of melody, fun and spiritualism, these songs are actually based on classical ragas. The Baithki Holi begins from the premises of temples, where Huliyars (the professional singers of Holi songs and they sport traditional Kumaoni Cap, Churidar Paijama and Kurta) and also the people gather to sing holi songs.

Every night for one month before holi, you can hear the villagers, sitting next to the fire and singing special holi songs in the local Kumaoni language. According to the local customs, one week before holi, the famous Kumaoni 'Khari holi' starts with people finally standing up to dance to the mesmerising tunes of the holi singers. Usually it happened at night in and around 'Cheer' (like a x-mas tree but not actually x-mas tree). Finally, the last day of the holi (actually night before this day), burn the 'cheer' (called 'holika dehan') and singing all night. On this night dancing troupes or Holi teams, who have already been going around in groups to various villages or city negiborhood to collect funds (usually every night for one week), visit villagers on request, matching their step on the ‘Jhora’ dance and singing at their doorsteps. On the final day also known as ‘chaleri’ ('duhlendi' called in other parts of India), there is a riot of colours, lots of sweets and of course ‘bhang’, a drink made from cannabis seeds.

In nut shell, The joy and happiness is reflected during Holi which is celebrated with great fun for one week. People singing and dancing all around on the tune of Dholak and Majeera is a common sight seeing in kumaon these days. Holi is an unique musical affair in Kumaon. It seems that every child, young, old, man, woman is a perfect classical singer. Melodious songs are sung at Baithaki (sitting) Holi, Khari (standing) Holi and Mahila (Ladies) Holi. Each song is based upon some Raga with touch of humor and spirituality and these songs should be sung based on the time. For instance, at noon the songs based on Peelu, Bhimpalasi and Sarang ragas are sung while evening is reserved for the songs based on the ragas like Kalyan, Shyamkalyan and Yaman etc. I wish in one holi I will go back and see if same masti (fun) and music still there or lost with the time.

Source :

Essence of Hi Teri Rumala

"Tera Rumal kitna sunadar hai ...Terey gulabee mukhdey main ye naakh ki nath kitnee achhee lag rahee hai...Tery galey ki mala ,hath ki dhaugulee kitnee pyaree hai ..terey mathey ki bindee kesey cham cham chamak rahee hai...Terey galey ki janjeer aur nakh ka kanta (Phullee) bahut achha hai ..aur tu patlee kamar matka kar chaltee hai...tera lamba chauda ghagara ,angiya aur rangeela pichhoda dkhney main bahut sundar hai".

Different Type of Kumaoni Songs

In kumauni folk there are different type of folk song depending upon the time and ocassion . Its like the Ragas in classical music and "Vidha" in literature . They are....(we will talk of each form separately)

Shakunaakhar : These songs are like ganesh vandana ,These songs are sung on every auspicious occasion . No occasion can start without shakunaakhar .

Hudkiyabaul : Those songs are sung with the beats of hudukiya (kind of musical instrument damroo aur dhapalee ).These songs mainly sung while working as a group in a field .

Malushahi : Its a ballad based on the real story of king Malushah . The famous one is the love story of Rajula-Malushahi .

Jagar : Jagar is a big occasion in kumaon . These songs are sung to invoke The gods in a human body . Generally those songs are sung with Dholak and kansey-ki-thali (bronze plate).

RituRaina : When spring season comes then these songs come into the picture .

Nyoli : These songs are also known as forest song .The main thoughts in these songs are related to Virah (separation of two lover ).Some of the songs are really emotional ones ..

Chhapeli : These songs are not merely songs but dance is also a part of those ...sung during festivals , fairs and weddings and a group of people dance on those lovely tunes..

Jhoda : Same like chhapeli as dance is also a part of these songs .A very common term related to this is "Jhoda Dalna " . A song to be danced by a group during various occasions.

Ramaul : Like malushahi these are the ballads about the kings from the Ramaul dynasty.

Bhada : These songs used to invoke the bravery in villages. A kind of ballad in which tales of brave warriors are narrated .

Bair : A kind of singing competition

Hori : Hori is a very famous one .Mainly of two types ..baithee holi and khadee holi. Lot of classical touch , Awadhi touch ,Brij Touch can be found in it .Now-a-days you can also find filmy touch in it ..

Source :

Kumaoni Folk Songs : General Info

When we talk of folk music ,we not only refer to the music or songs of particular place but also we refer to the culture and thinking of that particular area as folk songs reflect the culture and traditions of a particular area . In fact it is the soul of that area. You can get the feel of that particular area ,their ideas , their concerns by listening to the folk music. India has a rich tradition of folk music. The extreme cultural diversity creates endless varieties of folk styles and music. Each region has its own particular style and our kumaon is not an exception .It has its own charm of folk music.

In kumaon folk music is not taught in the same way that Indian classical music is taught. There is no formal period of apprentice where the student is able to devote their entire life to learning the music, there is no institution for folk music . The musical practicenor must still attend to their normal duties of agriculture or whatever their chosen profession is.

Music in the kumaon is learned almost by osmosis. From childhood the music is heard and imbibed along with ones mother's milk. There are numerous public activities that allow the kumaonies to practice and
hone their skills. These are the normal functions which syncronise life with the universe. The music is an indispensable component of functions such as weddings, engagements, pujas and births. There is a plethora of songs for such occasions. There are also many songs associated with planting and harvesting.The lyrics of kumauni songs give different ideas . You can see the separation of love (wirah),history of kumaon and kings,love stories through those lyrics. In these activities the kumaunis routinely sing of their hopes, fears and aspirations.

The musical instruments are often different from those found in classical music. Although instruments like the tabla may sometimes be found . But generally you will found "dhol", "majeera ", "Duf" , "Hudkiya" .
Flute etc. These instruments are innumerable

Friends You do like kumauni folk songs? Oh, its good !! I like it too! My favorites songs are the modern songs, like the ones by Gopal Babu Goswami. I occasionally listen to folk music too and try to understand the meaning .To those of you who are not familiar with Kumauni Folk let me briefly explain (in my own definition and I am not an expert...correct me if I m wrong). Basically, there are three types of music in kuamaon.

Lok Geet or the folk songs : This type of music is deeply rooted in the culture. When it comes to true enjoyment, it is always the Lok dhun(folk music). Lok dhun is popular during celebrations and festivals, and also in everyday life.The lyrics of these type songs are in kumauni.

Mixed songs : type of music is borrowed by some other area like Brij, Awadh . Our Hori geet are the best example of this.

Modern Songs : Third type is the Aadhunik or the modern music. This type can be said to be influenced by foreign culture like the western or Indian.

If we talk of popular music of kumaon..only one name comes in the mind that is of Gopal Babu Goswami. His songs ar very popular and simple.

The main categories of folk songs in kumauni are....

Shakunakhar , Rituraina , Hudkiabaul , Jagar ,Malushahi , Chhapali, Jhoda, Ramaul, Bhada ,Bair ,Hori. The wedding songs ,puja geet ,hori geet those can be put in a separate category as now a days lot of parody songs , borrowed folk songs are also the part of those.

Source :

Hi Teri Rumala

Hi Teri Rumala....Gulabee Mukhadee ..
Key Bhalee Chhajee rey.. Nakh ki nathulee
Hi key bhali chhajee rey nakh ki nathulee..

Gavey Gavey Banda hath ki dhaugulee ...(Repeat)
Cham chamey cham-kee rey khwarey ki bindulee (Repeat)
Hi Teri Rumala ...Hi Teri Rumala....Gulabee Mukhadee .

Tereee Gavey Janjeera Nakhey ki besara ..(Repeat)
Hiti Chhey Khaseley pataee kam-ara ..(Repeat)
Hi Teri Rumala ...Hi Teri Rumala....Gulabee Mukhadee .

Nau Patey Ghagharee Bakhiya aangaree ..(Repeat)
Key Bhalee Chhajee rey Rangeelee Pichhodee ..(Repeat)
Hi Teri Rumala ...Hi Teri Rumala....Gulabee Mukhadee

A Kumaoni Song (Ghughutee na basa)

"Ghughutee na basa ...Aam-ey ki dai-ma ghughutee na basa..
Ghughutee na basa a a a ...Aam-ey ki dai-ma ghughutee na basa....

Teri ghuru ghuru suni mai lagu udasa
Swami mera pardesa ..barfeelo ladakha..Ghughutee Na basa..
Ghughutee na basa ...Aam-ey ki dai-ma ghughutee na basa..

Ritu aagey bhangee bhangee garmee chaitaey ki
yad muku bhot egey apuna patee kee..Ghughutee Na basa..
Ghughutee na basa ...Aam-ey ki dai-ma ghughutee na basa..

ter jyas main ley hoono udi ber jyuno
swamee ki mukhadee key main jee bharee dekhuno..Ghughutee Na basa..
Ghughutee na basa ...Aam-ey ki dai-ma ghughutee na basa..

Udi jao ghughutee neh ja ladakha.
hal mera bata diya mera swamee pasa..Ghughutee Na basa..
Ghughutee na basa ...Aam-ey ki dai-ma ghughutee na basa.. "

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Garhwali Music

Chhopati :

These are the folk songs popular in the Rawain - Jaunpur area of Tehri Garhwal. 'Chhopati' are the love songs sung between men and women in the form of questions and answers.

Chounphula and Jhumeila :

'Chounphula and Jhumeila' are among seasonal dances, that are performed from 'Basant Panchami' onwards to 'Sankranti' or �Baisakhi'. 'Jhumeila' is sometimes mixed but is usually restricted to women. 'Chounphula' is performed by all sections of the community, at night, in groups, by men and women. 'Chounphula' folk songs are composed for the appreciation of nature on various occasions. Chounpala, Jhmeila and Daryola folk songs all derive their names from the folk dances of the same nomenclature.

Basanti :

"Basanti" folk songs are composed for the coming spring season when flowers bloom and new life springs in the valleys of the hills of Garhwal. The folk song is sung individually or in groups.

Mangal :

"Mangal" songs are sung during marriage ceremonies. These songs are basically "Puja songs" (hymns) sung along with the Purohits (priests) who keep chanting "Shlokas"(verses) in Sanskrit according to the Shastras (scriptures) during the marriage ceremony.

Puja Folk Songs :

These songs are connected with the Puja (worship) of family deities. There are other Puja songs connected with 'Tantra' and 'Mantras ' to exorcise evil spirits from human beings.

Jaggar :

Jaggar falls in the category of ghost and spirit worship, in the form of a folk song or, at times, combined with dances. Sometimes, Jaggar may also be in the form of Puja folk songs and is sung in honour of the various Gods and Goddesses.

Bajuband :

This is a folk song of love and sacrifice among the shepherds. It is a love dialogue between a man and woman, or, between a boy and girl.

Khuded :

These folk songs depict the suffering of a woman caused by separation from her husband. The women curses the circumstances under which she has been separated. This is generally when the husband is away looking for a job. 'Laman', another folk song is sung on special occasions, expressing the sacrifice that a man is willing to undergo for his beloved. 'Pawada' also belongs to this category of folk songs, when sorrow is felt when the husband has gone to the battle field.

Chhura :

'Chhura' folk songs are sung among shepherds, in the form of advice given by the old to the young, learnt from their experience, particularly about grazing sheep and goats.

Source :

Monday, March 13, 2006

Serene Realms

Young monks chanting scriptures at Mahabudhha Vihara monastery in Clement Town near Dehra Dun.

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Serene Realms

At an ani gompa, a gompa for nuns, in Gansi, Tibet. Though the Buddha himself initiated nuns into the religion, there are very few ani gompas today.

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Serene Realms

Soft rays of light illuminate the faces of monks as they peer through the window at Paro monastery in Bhutan

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Serene Realms

Carved out of the mountains Phugtal Monastery in Ladakh, India, is a breathtaking a sight. But high in the snow clad Zanskar range it remains inaccessible for most of the year.

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Serene Realms

Cham dancers during the Teschu Festival in Bhumtang, Bhutan. Guru Padmasambhava's teachings can be seen as a series of cham dances performed around the tenth day of the new year (the Teschu) thus giving the festival its name.

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Serene Realms

A lama erects a lungta or a Buddhist prayer flag in a highland summer pasture. Lungta, which means windhorse is said to broadcast the word of the dharma (Buddhist doctrine) to all who pass by.

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Serene Realms

Chortens dot the landscape of the district of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. These buildings of perfect proportion are places of prayer and reflection.

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Serene Realms

Five-year old Pema Wongchen is just like any other regular boy. The only difference is that he is a reincarnation of a lama. According to the Buddhist theory of reincarnation, when a lama dies, his spirit enters the soul of an infant who is born a few days after the lama's death . Children such as Pema Wongchen, are identified with the help of oracles.
Source :

Serene Realms

A pilgrim meditates in front of an idol of the Buddha at his holy samadhi in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh. The Buddha achieved salvation, his followers believe, at Kushinagar when he died there in 483 BC.

Little is known about the monasteries that dot the region of the Himalayas. Spreading from Ladakh, Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur to Sikkim and Bhutan, a mystic value is attached to these places even today.

Over the centuries, these monasteries have been depicted as places far removed in time and space, places where time stands still like the barren landscape and the surrounding rarefied air, devoid of the chirping of birds. Though many centuries have passed by, several things still remain the same -- the age-old monastic ceremonies, the warmth of the people and their religious fervour manifested in numerous festivals.

Like the travellers of the 19th century, explorers, linguists, scholars, botanists and adventurers even today can see, all along the Himalayas, people listening with rapt attention to tales indicating the charm of the region. It is very difficult to describe in a few words what accounts for the mystique of the monasteries in this region which is a cultural zone and an extension of the Tibetan cultural area extending from Ladakh in the west to Sikkim, parts of Nepal and Tawang in the east, to as far as the frontiers of China, Mongolia and Russia respectively.

Time-honoured rituals and social conventions established under the influence of the Vajrayana school of Buddhism flourishes here, overseeing the continuity of traditions. Generations of people come and go, centring their lives around the monasteries, locally called gompas. Perched on hilltops, cliffs and overlooking precipices, they seem to be floating clouds in a realm entirely their own. Being the repositories of Tibetan culture, the gompas embody a livening tradition.

Monks clad in red can be seen going about with their prayer wheels, dutifully praying for society. With prayer flags fluttering in the background, the gompa breaks the silence of the rugged landscape with its sacred ritual dances, chants, music and chiming bells. Words cannot fully capture the magic of the Himalayan monasteries. Their mystic calm, even today, lends to the amazing tales of travellers that can be heard in all the small town cafes dotting the last outposts to the inaccessible valleys that open out a gateway to another century -- the gompa.

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Kedarnath : The land of Shiva

The Himalayas blessed with gushing rivers, majestic snow clad peaks, enchanting lakes, revered temples and rich plethora of fauna and flora is described as ‘Abode of Gods’. The blissful air of divinity and postcard-picture beauty of the Himalayas lends it a touch of paradise.
The Garhwal region of the Uttaranchal state of India captures every essence of Himalayan beauty. It’s in the Garhwal Himalayas that the sacred shrine of Kedarnath is situated. At an altitude of 3581 meters, Kedarnath is one of the most respected, sacred and holiest places of Hindus. One of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath offers ample scope of trekking and more importantly a divine experience of being near to the Almighty. Kedar is another name for Lord Shiva, the protector and the destroyer whose various forms express various passions like love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism. All over Garhwal there are hundreds of shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva.
According to the legend, which goes back to the time of Mahabharata, after the battle at Kurukshetra the Pandavas felt guilty of having killed their brothers (The Kauravas) and thus followed Lord Shiva to seek his blessings for redemption. However, Lord Shiva eluded them and took refuge here in Kedarnath in form of a Bull. On being found, he dived into the ground leaving his hump on the surface. His remaining parts appeared at four different places; arms at Tunganath, face at Rudranath, belly at Madhmeshwar and locks (hairs) at Kalpeshwar. The four shrines mentioned above along with Kedarnath form the Panch kedars. There’s a sixth one too called Bhawishya Kedar, which according to legend will come into existence once the present day Kedarnath ceases to exist after some catastrophe, which will change the topology of Himalayas.
The journey to Kedarnath starts from Rishikesh, the Gateway to the Himalayas. Kedarnath is some 225 km from Rishikesh. From Rishikesh one follows the holy river of Ganga to reach Deoprayag. Deoprayag is one of the six sacred confluences of river Ganga. It’s this place where river Alaknanda coming from Badrinath (Another sacred shrine devoted to Lord Vishnu) meets the river Bhagirathi coming from Gangotri and its from Deoprayag onwards only that the river takes the name Ganga. From Deoprayag one follows Alaknanda and reaches Rudraprayag, which is the second important confluence. Here river Mandakini coming from Kedarnath meets Alaknanda. From Rudraprayag one road goes along Alaknanda to Badrinath and other goes along Mandakini to Kedarnath. Thus one leaves Alaknanda and follows the swiftly flowing blue waters of Mandakini. Following the Mandakini river through the deep forest covered valleys and mountains amidst breathtaking beauty of Himalayas one reaches Kund, another important place en route Kedarnath. Finally we reach Gaurikund, the last motor head to Kedarnath. You can decide to halt here or proceed directly to Kedarnath after some rest. Don’t forget to take a dip in the hot water spring here at Gaurikund.
Kedarnath is 14 km trek from Gaurikund passing through lush green forest, which offers spectacular beauty. Huge snow clad peaks in the back drop and beautiful water springs en route do not let you feel the tiredness of the difficult trek and one keeps moving enjoying the glorious views offered by the nature. The constant sound of Mandakini river flowing alongside echoes throughout the valley and helps in keeping oneself charged up and revamps the spirits. After a 7 km trek one reaches Rambara, last place on the route having proper facilities of accommodation and food. A cup of tea and tasty Aloo ka Paratha refreshes you and after a rest of half an hour or so one proceeds further. By the time you arrives at Garurchatti the journey seems to have overtaken you. Lack of Oxygen and a very steep slope makes the trek extremely difficult. The final few Km to Kedarnath do take a toll on you but then this is what makes the journey worth. Finally one reaches Kedarnath after a physically absorbing yet exciting trek.
Surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks, Kedarnath temple is an imposing sight. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is some 1000 years old and was built in 8th century AD by Adiguru Shankaracharya. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The Samadhi of Adiguru Shankaracharya is located just behind the temple. The peaceful environment and beautiful surroundings of Kedarnath generates a divine feeling of being near to the god. Mother Nature is at her best in Kedarnath, showering all her blessings on this auspicious place.
There are several other nearby places providing enough opportunities for those who believe in adventures and excitement and want to explore the natural beauty of the region. One can trek one more km further along Mandakini to Gandhi Sarovar to get the splendid view of the lake there. Equally exciting are the treks to Vasuki Taal, Trijuginarayan and the Panch Kedars, all distinguished by wild orchards and picturesque Bugyals (Vast regions of mountains covered with grass used for the purpose of cattle grazing). These places are located at higher altitudes (Above 4000 meters) and offer splendid view of some of the well-known peaks in India like Nanda Devi, Mt. Kamet etc.

Up Above The World So High

Vintage September 2001. Myself, up in the high Himalayan grasslands somewhere north of Auli. In the background are the plus 5000 mts peak of Hathi-Godha parvat.