Roopkund - II (Day - 0 & 1 Bangalore - Delhi - Loharjung Pass)10/10/2009 02:02:00 PM
Wasn't I excited enough?, when I spoke to my good old friend Dinesh, on phone.
He asks : So where in Himalaya's you going?
I reply : Roopkund.
He smiles, You know what it is?
I trust the knwledge I gained from indiahikes website dedicated for roopkund. I say, Yea Skeletons na?
He smiles again.
Trailer: Nat-Geo Roopkund Documentary
A little of conversation which I could recall now. we made a bit of fun of skeletons, ghosts, mystery, on Facebook status messages, threads n conversations, but if I say i wasn't scared a deal, that I am utterly lying. Everything about this trek was new, Himalayas, Uttaranchal, 16000 ft altitude, 8 days camping, not to forget AMS, and yes add to all the mystery unfolded about the place our destination 'is'. was there anything known then that had been the people around. being 10 now 9, we formed the majority in the group and well, that I guessed, did sound some fun. Considering all the mystery surrounding to this place, and this being my first trek to himalayas, somewhere I remained mum, and dint try much finding informations, reading blogs, or otherwise. One of the reason doing so was office work and lack of time as well indeed, but today when I find this trailer (the only video available on net on Riddles of the dead: The Skeleton Lake, A Nat-Geo Documentary) it does sound scary, (yes I am a girl, take it!). the presentation, background score and everything, Ah, completely takes me away from the experience I had at the place, the height of awesomeness, being myself and being true and beautiful with nature, completely engrossed in my surroundings, and I dint remember a bit of the world, unless otherwise it was prayer times. but anyways, I am sure it would have been a nice watch and if anyone has the copy, please pass it on to me too. TIA.
Bangalore to Delhi - The Pink Plane.
2 AM sunday morning, and I have my dinner, sleep off with out any packing done, to be on the safer side, I message Ravindra to give me a wake up call at 5 which he does, but I sleep again, only to get up at 6 AM and learn that cab is on the way to my house. I ask him to pick Neelima and Raghvendra first, stuff all I had in front of me, in the rucksack and a day-pack ( the terms we learned from Sandhya- Indiahikes, before that its was only one - backpack) take my laptop and another hand-bag (yes!) and wait at Ganesha temple, while taxi finally reaches me zig-zagging in kormanagala's galis and nukkads. did we talk about getting late, missing flight, blames on me? dont remember except that of air-india pilot strikes, where pavan had his booking, I was pretty confident we'll catch our flight. Pavan and Bhanu from Bangalore, and Hyderabad, then comes Kunal in spice-jet, and we 6 taxiyers and including sujeet and ambareesh, board a fascinating pink color plane, (first time that we see one with its wings and tail painted PINK!!!) thats go-air for you, part of Goair.in (Jao hawa mein). least that I knew, that had all the orange, green, yellow, and blue, and black one as well. but thats later part of the story.
The flight was pleasant, we reach on time at IGI and meet our pals, already arrived and waiting for us. I collect my parcel from Bhanu, including pavan's battery n charger, and my harness (which is of no use with out pouches) and my 3 dark choc packs. ( Oh where are all gone, seems I forgotten 'em home (delhi), and now m calling home, n mom is sleeping, boo hoo)
KMVN & the series of Katings at Kathgodam station.
We disperse from IGI only to meet in train, I come home with pavan, with 4 other rucksacks while those folks roam around in delhi, and we both board Ranikhet Express from Ghaziabad station around 11:20 PM. A little tit bit and soon everyone lands in the arms of goddess sleep, only to wake up at around 5 with irritating sounds of kunal's mobile alarm. the fun begins. the co-ordinator strikes back, train bogy's toilets, bathrooms, basins, get busy, and 5:30 we get down at Kathgodam. unlike what we 've heard the train arrives on time, and guess what most of the people and fresh n ready, except me who's planning to utilize the KMVN booking, and decide to go get ready there and have breakfast as well, while our co-ordinator remains unamused about our plans.
KMVN charged us INR 1K for a night, Abhilasha had cancelled the trip, and we both had shifted our train bookings. I thought may be all of us can go and use our room there, but since everyone was already set. surprised on taxi/rickshaw asking for 50 bucks to reach KMVN which was just crossing the railway colony in station area, we just walked up to it, and yes it dint take more than 5 minutes really. middle of my shower, and Ravi calls up asking us to be back asap as the taxi is already there, we take no time, and reach back only to find the third taxi not to be seen yet, and well, the waiting time starts.
Onions, Chillies & potatoes for the name sake.
Meanwhile we become a group of 16, meet Deepak n Smita, from delhi, Raghvendra, who pronounces me Sandhya, (and I refuse to), Ram from Chennai, and other folks. with lots of confusion and frustation and waiting, we finally see our third Qualis, reaching us, and we head start from Kathgodam at 8:30 AM. (yes 3 hours at the station!)
4 + Driver, our cab would have been the lightest and fastest. once stopping at a place called lake view restaurant ( not sure, need to zoom the picture), on the way, where we had stuffed parathas with everything from onion to chillies on the name of potatoes, and rounds of tea, n raitha, and jeera aaloo and i guess some carbonated drinks as well, we started our journey to loharjung pass, via bhimtal,>> almora,>> kausani,>> gwaldam,>> tharali >>and debal. We had received a route-map from Sandhya before starting the trek, which I had marked with few places to stop by with. our driver was friendly, and fast fella, and he dint mind stopping on a photo shout out, which mostly came from me. first stopping Bhimtal, Me and Pavan get down to a quay while Deepak and Smita decide to stay back (they had been there before!) . meet a guard who's delighted to have us, tells us what that big quay is all about.
Part of Indian Council of Agricultural Research ICAR, DCFR ( Directorate of coldwater fisheries research) Bhimtal has multiple projects going on in Bhimtal lake, including the growth and performance of Mahasheer and other fish, being one of the project he informed us about. ( later when I posted pictures on flickr, Anoop told me that they had the research projects going on for a very long time). Bhimtal is about 35 Km from Kathgodam station, and the road we drive through to almora, is gives you a side view of the long lake. Do I need to say how beautiful it looked? well, I'd keep that word away, and everyone reading this and coming up posts on roopkund, must take that by default, Uttranchal once part of UP and Himachal pradesh is beautiful and there is no matching himalayas. so me adding any adjective wouldn't' justify to the fact how mesmerizing it could be. point to be noted.
Kosi taking us Kausani
Once ahead of Bhimtal, Nainital, We soon go reach a good altitude and Kosi both taller and deep down than us, runs along to our left and right. why would i say this in particular is because, I was continuously swapping seat with Pavan and troubling him to let me sit on the valley view side. and everytime the moment I exchanged, cab would take a turn and I'd go on the hill-cum-wall side, what a luck i had going to Loharjung, i wondered. but 8 days still left over and when it would chance upon me, that's something to be watched out for!
Frankly I 'vent done much research on my onward journey to Loharjung, except what I saw on the way, and the map. I think we had taken a shortcut, I remember Deepak telling and most of the time, we were pretty up to get down to Kosi water. it should be some where after we crossed Almora ( too big a city to my imagination) that our driver stopped at a band, and we saw the stairs walking down to a small temple, a shade and the river kosi, with shallow water level, & full of colorful pebbles, on the right side of ours was another deep green stream which looked a bit deep and full of rocks. Anyways, this should be designated as our playground, where certainly I dint let go the chance of getting a dip, Pavan was remembering Vani for the same reason as well. we had a good photo session too, as for me, unlike other times, the moment I saw the location, I recalled Jay's shot of alligator, and I knew how I wanted to use my wide angle there. (above one of the shot); also on the way we could see some dussehra festivities as well, to our delight.
BTW weather was quite alright till now, sunshine and a little on the hot side. the headache or motion sickness, I had before, went to neverland, as soon as I took a dip in cold water, and I thanked Kosi for it, and drove on. when we reached Kausani, we were still ahead of other 2 vehicles. around 1 PM and clouds came from no where. while we got our lunch ( it was good, ok not bad!) pretty quick, others when they arrived had to wait for quite long, and so we did for a cup of tea. ( a very unusual behavior ever to be seen from owner/chef/waiters) Guess they had some LPG issue which caused all the delay, however one Bengali family /group had to heavily pay for it, in the form of frustration.
Baijnath Temple, and Pinder river valley
We out of eating place, and it starts raining, with some arrangement for our rucksacks, (especial mention to our vehicle , as we dumped pavan along with our rucksack in foot seats) we moved ahead, pick Arjun's (Indiahikes) parents from the hotel ( that makes us 6 as well) and resume our journey to Loharjung. due to rain in kausani, we couldnt' see the snow mountain peaks view, much, what it is most famous for, but, moving ahead we were able to get a glimse of 'em with the golden hue, enchanting!. I still remember that high school hindi text book chapter by writer Dharamveer Bharti, named Thaile pe himalaya. Around 17 km ahead of Kausani, is Baijnath temple, a 1100 years old temple, we visit (details in comment/s n next post). 24 Kms and ahead comes gwaldam, and small town we stop by for refreshment and to buy some rain ponchos.
Did I mention about roads in Uttranchal anywhere, if not here I go, apart from the scenic view, which we get, driving is a pleasure, roads (mostly) are in excellent condition, and all Ghats' rules of driving are followed pretty religiously. though from Gwaldam to loharjung pass which is around 27km according to the map, ( i think more, because in Debal the lodge care taker told me that loharjung is around 25KM ) it detoriating. it gets darker, and offcourse take long to drive otherwise 25km distance. if I am not wrong , we crossed two small town/village called Tharali and Debal before reaching loharjung. both in the Pinder river valley. when we reached Debal, we were on a forced break, guess why, as here comes the cab owner greet us, but thats it. I wish he could offer us tea as well. (greedy me!) anyways, we dint bring plates n spoon, though i could, and not sure who started, we looked around for some shops, I was not keen on buying steel ones, so we negotiated on some plastic plates at one shop, who initially hesitated but gave us 5 plates from a pack, for 10 bucks, (also told us that he got it from Sadar Bazaar, when I told him I am from Delhi), we also took two steel spoons for 10 another 10 bucks, great bargain by i say!
Another noteworthy event in Debal, well, No one could have ever asked this question to us but there. "Apko kis tarah ka toilet chahiye?" (what kind of toilet you want) and that made us run back to our vehicle, while some boys laugh behind our back, later the care taker of the lodge which belong to our great cab owner, came to our rescue. from him I get to know that it did snow in Debal few days back. I pray again for good weather.
From Debal, joins us one more vehicle, If I remember correctly and soon we reach Patwal guest house in Loharjung village and are well received by Rajesh and Arjun. 9 PM and glad we could get the dinner quick, (tea we had, I think, I should mention), 3 girls in the group, and shouldn't I elaborate the point that luck has started shining upon on me already? yes! we get a room, while boys rest in tents and sleeping bags, we take a good long nap in warm bed in first floor room. today had been a very long journey, tomorrow the trek starts, and so does the briefing sessions I hated (sorry rajesh ;) just kidding! hehe).
Time Taken: Old Delhi to Kathgodam - 6-7 hours, Ranikhet Express, Sampark Kranti.
Kathgodam to loharjung pass - around 10- 12 hours with the breaks. ~250 km. Mode of travel - Road.
Places of Interest: Bhimtal, Kausani, Baijnath.
Loharjung place to stay, GMVN Guest house, Patwal guest house.
Note: If you want the best views at your place of stay get in to GMVN/KMVN guest houses, cheap, traditional, and located perfectly. highly recommended.
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Slide show of pictures on flickr