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ROOP KUND- MYSTERIOUS LAKE TREK
This high altitude lake has a past shrouded in mystery- What we find
here are numerous, partially decomposed skeletal remains of human origin
embedded in the ice around the lake. Stories in plenty float this site;
most believable of course is that an entire unit of a small army
perished here albeit under mysterious circumstances. Some however says
that pilgrims here were buried here as a result of a nasty avalanche as
early as in the 14th century. The region is dominated by Mount Trishul
(7120m) and makes for another pilgrim for the faithful Lord Shiva
devotees, on the walk up to the lake we camp at the Himalayan meadows of
Badni Bugyal & Auli Bugyal and cross the Roop Kund ridge which is a an
extension of one between Sutol and Wan and forms the divide between the
catchments of the Badni Ganga and the Nandakini River.
- After breakfast, we drive to Kaldu Bugar which is about 5
Km after Karanprayag. On the way we first cross Devprayag, site
where the Alaknanda meets the Bhagirathi to move ahead as Ganga. The
road then follows the Alaknanda River up to Karanprayag. On arrival
we check in to a hotel by the river and run by The Garhwal Vikas
At around 7am we begin our 5 hour journey drive to Loh Jung
and then follow the Pindar River up to Tharali. The road
conditions are good until Karnprayag, thereafter which there are
often rough sections to Mandoli- but we don’t have to worry too
much about these conditions as soon we start trekking down into
Gyan Ganga valley. For the initial two hours, this walk will
take you through rhododendron and oak forest with a steep
downhill road by the side of the river after we which we climb
up to Didana to set up our camps for the overnight stoppage.
- Today starts with a serious uphill section through the forest.
In about 3 hours you will reach the tree line from where if the
weather allows you will be able to catch a spectacular view of the
Chaukhamba and Nilkanth peaks. At this point we are on a grassy
ridge leading to the meadows of Bedni Bugyal. This high meadow is
the main area used for camping by travelers on the great pilgrimage
to Roop Kund which takes place every 12 years. It is a beautiful and
interesting place dotted with shrines and temples and the alpine
camp here rivals the best in the Himalayas as well as the
wildflowers in the meadows remain in bloom until mid September and
are also magnificent during the monsoon months of July and August.
In the morning there will be a tremendous view of Trishul above the
Shilasamudra glacier, as well as Nilkanth to the north-west.
Overnight camp after a strenuous trek of 5 - 6 hours.
- We take this day for acclimatization for which we trek higher
for almost 5 hours and then drop back to the camp at Badni Bugyal
meadow. You will feel much more comfortable with the air once you
have finished this drill and can comfortably end the day at the
The 5 hour trail crosses a hump to reach Bistola and then
climbs up to Bhugu Basa- an improvised stone shelter that is
generally used by local pilgrims. Frankly compared to the
beauty of Badni Bugyal it is hard to imagine that this
coarse stone structure made as makeshift shelter points
could exist in this close vicinity the lower alpine meadows.
Nevertheless we stop here for an overnight camp.
- If the weather is clear in the morning then you will be lucky
enough to get a good view of the Trishul peak and the other
mountains around. An arduous trek of about 3 hours gets you to Roop
Kund. At Roop Kund, if the snow is not too deep, the mysterious
skeletons and remains of human beings and horses can be seen, as
detailed in the books of Shipman and Tilman. There are also great
views of the surrounding glaciers and high peaks. The lake in itself
is very scenic and peaceful and is worth following the trail which
is often snow covered till early June, making route finding a
problem. Even post monsoons, there are some steep, rocky sections
which may require a bit of scrambling. We hike another 30 minutes or
so up to the ridge above the lake to explore the area and return
back to Bhagu Basa for an overnight camp.
- The route from here is different than the standard trek to allow
a shorter itinerary. Our day begins with a 3-hour return trek to
Badni Bugyal - a long steep descent through a fine forest of firs
and rhododendrons and across a beautiful clearing. After another
drop down, we reach the river which is a good place for lunch.
The latter part of the day is another 4-5 hours of walking and is
spent in climbing upwards to reach the main valley, and onward to
Wan village which lies at the head of this valley. We camp above the
village on a wide tree lined terrace with the sacred grove of Latu
just above us. Latu, again is another one of the local devta
(spirit) here and his temple is built right under one of these huge
Deodar trees. You will be pleasantly amused to see that the
villagers at Wana have not lost their traditions and still wear the
brown, home spun Garhwali wool blanket across their chest. This is
just one of the many Garhwali traditions you will get to experience
firsthand during this expedition.
- A well built road is connected to the village Wan from the other
side and we simply have to walk down for roughly 4 hours to the
vehicles lined there to drive (10 hours) back to Rishikesh, which
marks the end of this trek.
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