Hikers! I've done my share of treks. I did the Chandrakhani Pass to get away from the monotony, that was my life and it sufficed the purpose. I tip toe-ed on the 20 cm wide path of the steep rock on my way to Minkiani pass and crawled on the rocky terrain. And then, in 2018, I fell in love. The minute I reached Patar Nachni, on my way downhill to the tents, I lost the grip on my knees and collapsed. My moist eyes were staring at the view of the three Trishul ranges composing themselves perfectly with the clouds, only to bless the eyes of the viewer. The virgin peaks were staring at me, as if, boasting of it's unreachability, so harsh yet so divine.
Do you'll know what Roopkund mean? 'Roop' means beauty and 'kund' means river. Maa Bhagwati, the Goddess who is the epitome of religious belief among the locals
was on her way to her parents' home when she wanted to take a look at herself on last time. So Lord Shiva made a 'kund' to look at her 'roop', ergo, Roopkund.
I love to talk to locals and especially the guides to collect some legends, some mountain tales. Bhuwan Singh ji, my guide, quickly recognised the fascination I had for their stories and narrated some interesting backstories and pointed out to some spots while walking.
Listed are some of the tales straight from the Bugyals.
1.) Latu Maharaj: You will cross the Ali Bugyal on your way to Bedni Bugyal. Ask your guide to point out a small piece of the bugyal where a saint namely, Latu Maharaj built an abode for himself. Latu Maharaj is Maa Bhagwati's brother who fell and cut his tongue as a child. This particular patch is called the 'Jogi ki Butiya'
2.) The Bedni Kund- When you leave from Bedni Kund for Pathar Nachi, you almost won't see a large parcel of land scooped for the rains to fill up during the monsoons. Look out for the stone boundary wall around it, to spot it. There is a tiny, ancient shrine here that holds no record of its origin. Thus, the kund radius is considered holy so, make sure you don't set foot in it.
3.) Pathar Nachni: The beauty of this campsite is captivating and the name is based on three dancers or 'sakhis' of Maa Bhagwati. While they were dancing they tripped and fell down creating three pits on the land. You'll be able to see these pits, that never fill up, on your descend from BhagwaBasa to Bedni Bugyal.
4.) When you're close to Bhagua Basa, you'll most likely take a stop at the tea stall on, what looks like a mountaintop, from where you'll take a slight descend to the campsite. In this particular spot, a small shrine made from stone pellets houses an idol. a stone figurine of Lord Ganesha that was found amidst the mountains, but missed an arm. The Villagers adopted it in the name of miracle and called it the Kalva Vinayak. It is known that all the wishes of a true disciple are granted, if wished for, to Kelva Vinayak.
5.) That red drink: SO I found these only below Bedni Bugyal. Local vendors sitting on a rock with an umbrella, a big flask and a few glasses served a red colour drink that had a perfect rejuvenating sweetness to it for 10rupees. These are derived from the local flower 'Buraush'. Don't miss out on this gulp of refreshment.
6.) Keep an eye out for tiny cherries in the forest mountains. they are wild berries that taste so sweet. During the month of June, you'll find plenty. although you will need to ask your fellow trekkers to take a tiny halt while you pluck them out. Rest assured, they are completely safe to eat. I know we had plenty.
7.) The Children of Uttarakhand: You'll find cute little mountain munchkins grazing cattle on bugyals, going to school or probably over-taking you on your way up. On my last day of descending, We came across a lot of settlement and chilling in the yards on the houses were children with cheeks as rosy as the flower itself. Make sure you carry some treats for them since you'll find some rather smart ones exploiting their cuteness in return for some sweets.
8.) Deval: A beautiful, ancient temple in the Chamoli district that you'll come across on the last day is worth the detour.
' This is a miraculous temple in the block named Deval in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, where devotees are not allowed to go. In the state, this temple is famous as Latu Temple. There is a worship of Latu deity in this temple. Entry into the temple of a man or a woman is prohibited. Even the priest who serves in the temple bows on the eyes, nose and mouth and performs puja only. Devotees have to worship from the temple at a distance of 75 feet. According to the belief, Latu Devta is a brother of Uttarakhand's Aradhya Nanda Devi. Varan village is the twelfth half of the RajJatYatra of Uttarakhand's Aradhya Nanda Devi from Hemkund to varan Village. The entrance to the temple opens on the same day in a year. On the full moon day of Vaishak month, the priests open the valves of this temple by placing them on their eyes and month. The devotees do the philosophy of the deity far away. When the temple doors open, then Vishnu Sahasranama and Bhagwati Chandika text is recited and Mela is also organized'
I won't say that all the short stories narrated above could be completely authentic per say, because these tales vary from district to district or in this case, bugyal to bugyal. They are just very interesting to listen to, so I urge all trekkers to ask your locals to point out these spots to you among many others and tell you their version of the story. It will definitely make your walking journey more interesting, if not present to you a fact sheet.