"A tiny jade oval concealed in a fold almost at the top of a sheer ridge, that drops down on its far side to the glacier whence the river Nandakini issues."
Bill Aitken, the famed Indian travel writer, describes this in a poetic vein, the high altitude lake of Roopkund.
The dense forests, the beauty of bugyals, majestic snow-capped peaks, rocky patches of barren lands, you can get the glimpse of each and every beautiful thing that nature has created during this Roopkund trek. It was an amazing journey in the lap of nature before we reached our destination – Roopkund.
Roopkund is widely known as ‘Skeleton Lake’, due to the mysterious presence of around 200 human skeletons in the vicinity of it! Covered in snow and surrounded by rocky glaciers, the Roopkund lake appears to be a typical, albeit beautiful, natural wonder.
Skeleton @ Roopkund Lake
Planning and Preparation:
It was Jan -2017 when we decided to head towards the mighty himalayas. The destination was selected to be the Roopkund lake. The planning for the same had begun nearly 6 months prior to the commencement of the trip with all sorts of booking done in order to get maximum discounts in every possible way.
We booked 12-17 June batch from Bikat Adventures. It was my second trek with Bikat and that good experience was the reason I chose Bikat again for my first high altitude trek.
Regular gym and running, 2-3 months prior to the scheduled date kept me in good shape and fit for this trek. I started purchasing/collecting necessary items for the trip. Bikat has prepared a fantastic list of items which helped me a lot, along with couple of advise from my friends who already visited Roopkund last year.
Day 1: Delhi - Hadwani - Lohajung:
Finally the day came when we started our journey. We booked a volvo from Anand Vihar to Haldwani. 10.30 in night we started and 6 in morning, we reached Haldwani. We booked the Haldwani-Lohajung transport through bikat. A Tata Sumo was waiting for us at 10min distance from Bus Stand.
The road trip from Haldwani to Lohajung defined the surreal beauty of Uttrakhand, untouched by urban manifestation. One after another, we could not take our eyes off the breathtaking view. Mountains on one side and the other side dominating the picturesque view of a flowing river, we gasped every encounter with nature. The 8 to 9 hours of an ongoing journey was just the appetizer being served before the main course. We crossed some beautiful places like Bhimtal, Almora, Kausani and stopped at several places, like the very famous Kainchi Dham.
We reached Lohajung at around 5.30 pm to be greeted by Mr. Praveen Dahiya– our trek leader. After registration and other formalities, we had some time to explore the place. The view of the mountains, fog kissing us and light breeze whispering slowly froze the moment. The room was spacious, comfortable and the meal was just amazing. After few sessions of instructions and introductions, we moved to our rooms and ended our Day 1.
It’s only Day 1....lots to share
En route Lohajung...
The famous Kanchi Dham...Place visited by Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg..
Day 2: Lohajung to Tolpaani(Camp Site 1) :
This was our first day of the trek, we woke up at around 5:30 am and got our morning tea at 6:00. We had our shower(no shower after this till we returned ) packed our bags and were ready for breakfast in no time. After breakfast, we gathered details of the trek from our leader and geared up for our impeccable journey
We started from Lohajung at around 8:00 am. The journey was of about 11 kms and supposedly took around 6-7 hrs. The route was slightly difficult, but when you see the trees and the river flowing, nothing felt impossible. We stopped for our lunch at Didna village and resumed our journey to the first campsite
We reached campsite by 3:00 pm and were welcomed by some light rain showers. The tents were set up by our experienced team before our arrival, we kept our bags in the dining tents where we were supposed to have our breakfast, lunch, etc. for the whole trip. We did some stretching exercises with our trek leader. These exercises are an important part of the trek since these prevent muscles cramps. After the rain stopped we went for some sight seeing and enjoyed a game of Frisbee courtesy out trek leader.
We were introduced to our tents and sleeping bags that we were gonna sleep in. Our trek leader explained how to pack our sleeping bags every morning, the most difficult thing you'll do in the whole trek, tongue-out. The night sky was full of stars and it was amazingly soothing after our very long Day1. We were in our tents by 9 and dozed off quite quickly after all some rest was definitely required for the Adventures to come.
Resting before Tolpaani Campsite..
Camps @Tolpaani Campsite..
Tea and YUMMY Pakoras......
Day 3: Tolpaani to Bedni Bugyal via Ali Bugyal:
We were all up at 5:30 am to an amazingly clear blue sky amidst the lush green forest, I still remember the goose bumps we got when we saw that view. Our breakfast was ready by 7:00, but before that, we had a small yoga session and some breathing exercises. We were ready for our second day of a trek to Bedni Bugyal via Ali Bugyal.
It was a beautiful forest trail and an easy climb of around 5 km to Ali Bugyal, Asia’s largest and most gorgeous meadows. We stopped midway and joined some children for a game of cricket(almost at 10000 feet). We bid farewell to our cricket partners and continued our journey to Ali Bugyal.
It was an easy climb of around 2.5km to Ali Bugyal, Asia’s largest and most gorgeous meadows. The forest trail abruptly ends crafting way for the velvet like meadows, I swear I haven’t seen something as unadulterated like the meadows of Ali Bugyal and Bedni Bugyal. The carpet of grass was laid soft with small flowers, the view of horses grazing without a care, fog sailing along and cloud being the partner in crime, everything I saw was definitely not ephemeral pleasure. We climbed to the top of Ali Bugyal, spent some time being encapsulated by the bliss of things and descended down for next camp site – Bedni Bugyal.
It was an easy downhill and uphill trek across the vast meadows, it was breathtaking and appealing both at the same time. I realized that the perfect views in the postcards actually existed midst the Mighty Himalayas. Bedni Bugyal is a hidden wonder of the world spread in acres of meadows. Fresh Breeze was blowing when we reached Bedni which was so pure and pristine that we forgot all our tiredness and played cricket for around 2hrs that day at 11000ft.
En route to Bedni Bugyal..
Roopkund....we are coming...
GoT (Game of Thrones) moment....
Bedni Bugyal Campsite...
Sheeps @ Beautiful Bedni Bugyal Ground..
Beautiful View of Ice Covered Peaks...
Day 4: Bedni Bugyal to Patar Nachauni
Leaving Bedni Bugyal was a painful departure, I missed the tranquil of moments, the meadows, grazing horses and silent zephyr but was hopeful of another beautiful campsite waiting for us. The climb to Patar Nachauni was a gradual easy climb, we all took it slow but the temperature dipped greatly.
Today we needed to reach to our next camp, Pathar Nachauni. I was not sure about the distance but seeing trek leaders were not asking us to hurry, I imagined today's trek distance to be small. Morning opened up and landscape got adorned with the golden light. After breakfast, we started our hike in the crisp morning with the company of cool breeze.
After first exhausting climb, we joined the horizontal trail traversing the hill. This was the only trail that we had to follow to reach to our campsite. As there was no question of getting lost on this trail, guides went ahead and we were left on our own.
Walking on this traverse was exhilarating experience. Never in my life had I walked on such a long and winding traverse. Remotely, Himalayan peaks were peeking through the clouds. Sometimes cloud cover lifted completely providing the magnificent views of the snowy peaks. I never experienced any dull moment on this trail as I was engaged in witnessing this spectacular camaraderie between peaks and clouds.
The locals come to collect Keeda Jari(it is extravagantly expensive – Almost 7 to 8 lakhs per kg) and they reside for months in the stone huts during the herb season. The place was a delight and I had the best sleep on this campsite.
Start of Trek from Bedni Bugyal :)
Beautiful View.. en Route To Patat Nauchani...
Eat...Sleep...Hike in Usain Bolt Style
Ayush resting @ Patar Nauchani Camp Site
Day 5: Patar Nachauni to Bhagwabhasa :
We started day 5 with 20 min breathing excercise as the oxygen was thin and you need to do steep ascend. The trail was amazing, but you need to catch your breath after every 5-10 mins of walking.
We all were warned of the forced ascent and steep climbing towards Bhagwabhasa. The trail was made beautifully but definitely, air thinning got into each of us. I remember catching my breath after every 10 to 15 step (Oh! I forgot to mention about Rachit and Ayush!! Both were high on energy, they were unstoppable, probably did not even stop for a gasp).
It seemed to be the never ending winding route. After more than 2 hrs of hiking, we reached to Kalu Vinayak Temple - the highest point on the trail for today.
After reaching Kalu Vinayak temple, we rested for around 20 minutes, had tea and biscuits in the lone shop. There are small dhabas and shops along the entire trail of Roopkund till Bhagwabhasa). From Kalu Vinayak to Bhagwabhasa, the trail is easy and plain, the gentle curves of the trail made the trek more exciting, I held my awe till we reached Bhagwabhasa.
Bhagwabhasa is a barren land completely of rocks and solid with a climb of around 4.5 km from Patar Nachauni, the steep climb continues till Kalu Vinayak temple. The irony was the panoramic beauty and picturesque situation, the ceremonial change of nature was beyond the illusion of perfection.
Breathing excercise @ Patar Nauchani camp site...must for everyone..
Kalu Vinayak Temple...Highest Point of Day 5..
@ Kalu Vinayak Temple with Mr. Praveen Dahiya (Our Trek Leader)..
En Route BhagwaBasa..
Mules carrying luggage..(remembering one of my friend..used to call her ghodi)..
Beautiful View @Bhagwabasa Camp Site..
Bhagwabasa Camp Site..
Day 6: Bhagwabhasa to Roopkund to Bedni Bugyal:
Finally the day for Roopkund Summit for which we were eagerly waiting arrived! We were given the wake up call around 2.00 am. We had some tea and biscuits before we started our trek to Roopkund and Junargali. We started at 3:00 AM with half moon shining on the mighty Trishul and other peaks it was just a magnificent view.
We had some other trekkers who joined us early in the morning. All of us were carrying our torches since the route was all rocky and you need to have good light in order to move. We had some difficulty since there were some patches which had slippery ice. I slipped 2-3 times but thanks to our trek leader, I recovered. He was constantly pushing me to have some confidence and walk. Without him I would not have made it to summit.
I stopped every 10 step to take a deep breath, it was a steep climb with oxygen level exponentially decreasing, a little hardship and there it was – The beautiful mysterious lake of Roopkund untouched and pristine, shining through its emerald green reflection.
But the job was only half done. We had to reach Junargali which was another 20 minutes of steep climb much more dangerous than the one we had just completed, so were told to put on our mini spikes. Krishna (Our Cook) and Than Singh (Assistant trek leader) helped us immensly in reaching at 16000Ft. height. We congratulated each other for achieving what we were dreaming of past 6 months. I could not hold my joy and emotions, I was spellbound and speechless.
We climbed down after satisfying our eyes with the sight of the Mighty Trishul peak and the surrounding. We reached Roopkund in no time since we had a small slide ride back to it.
Now was the moment which was at the back of my mind for 6 months and I have been keeping myself fit for so long to do Push Ups at the Roopkund lake some 15000 feet above sea level.
We returned to Bhagwabhasa by 9:30 AM and after having our breakfast left for Bedni Bugyal where we were supposed to camp for the last time. We reached Bedni Bugyal by 2:30 in the afternoon and followed the heaviest downpour of our trek. Luckily, all of us reached the campsite in time and no one was stuck in that downpour. It was our last day at Bedni Bugyal and what nature gave us back as a gift was some amazing views during the sunset.
En Route to RoopKund Summit..with Krishna ji
@Junargali Gate (16000 Ft.)...
@Junargali...snow. snow..and snow everywhere..
Beautiful Sunset @Bedni Bugyal after heavy rain..
Last Day: Bedni Bugyal to Wan to Lohajung :
Finally, the day had arrived when we have to bid farewell to the marvelous Peaks, meadows, and jungle. It was a very steep descent which we have to do and we followed most of the shortcuts and reached Neelganga river in no time. We were to have our lunch here and then continue with our journey to Wan.
We reached Wan and took a Sumo ride back to our Guest house at Lohajung. Seeing the roads and vehicles after 5 days was also an amazing experience.
We were happy that we would be going back to the comfort of our beds, but at the same time were unhappy since we were leaving such a beautiful place. So it was kind of mixed emotions for each one of us.
We reached Lohajung in the evening and everyone was happy to successfully complete the trek. We bid farewell to the members of bikat adventures.
We left at 8:00 AM the next day for Haldwani with our trek leader who had to board the train from Kathgodam. We bid him farewell at Kathgodam and left for Haldwani.
I was dreamy and I realised travelling is what I am born for. For all my fellow trekkers, I loved every bit of your companionship. Cheers to life. I know I will keep trekking. Right now I am waiting for winters for my next trek, the itch of climbing the mountains is real bad, it is addictive and profound, it is going to take me back.
En Route Wan village @NeelGanga River..
History never really says goodBye. History says 'See You Late'. @Kathgodam Railway Station..