Roopkund - V ( Day 3 - Didna to Bedni Bugyal)10/17/2009 02:08:00 PM
Mountaineering in Garhwal Himalayas
Garhwal and Kumaon Himalaya has been forefront for foreign mountaineers and climbers from West Bengal India for long. while this region was closed for foreigners in 1959 for almost two decades, its then, the Nepal himalaya attracted the tourism from across the world. 1975 onwards, while its started picking up considering the restrictions were slowly lifted on trekking on this side, but still lots of parts of Garhwal and especially in Kumaon are silent, falling behind the inner-line for security reasons where only locals are allowed. having said that, Now 2009, I see lot of trekking options this side, and internet is full of organizers, organizing treks and holidays in these areas, and guess what, on my last day of trekking, I could see some families with 10-12 years old kids coming for picnic in bedni bugyal too ( :p) No doubt bedni attracts everyone from trekkers to adults to kids to families, and this is the place today we are going to be camping at.
Bedni Bugyal, (3354m /12000ft) one of the most beautiful lush high altitude meadows (Bugyal) in Himalayas. Auli & Dayara Bugyal are other famous bugyals in Uttarakhand India. These bugyals are located at almost 12000 ft (~3500/4000m) height, are mostly covered by snow, in winters, n with seasoned flowers in summers. Every year in Aug-Sep month, People from uttranchal and other part of India participate in The Annual Nanda Devi Raj Jaat /Yatra which ends at Bedni. its called choti yatra, while the once in 12 years, the Jaat is performed at homkund/Ghat, and people travel to Ghat via bedni, Kaluvinayak and roopkund to the homkund. Its 9 days long and starts/ends on 8th day of hindi calender month of Bhaduan (in first 15 days) Nanda devi festival is said to be one of the biggest festival in Uttranchal. (I'd probably write more on this one in a separate post!)
(photo -pavan kumar)
Bedni Kund (a lake in Bedni) carries another two significant mythological episodes in its belly. One is that 4 vedas, Rig, Yajur, saam, and arthava were conceived at this place. In another episode, when Devi Parvati, was chased by a demon, she hid herself in Bedni Kund, and when he started digging the area around the lake, she came out and killed him, it is said, she was in form of kaali which is one of the incarnation of Ma Durga, to help her, kill the demons. there is a temple near Bedni Kund dedicated to Ma Kaali.
Trekking to Tolpani & Ali Bugyal.
Like yesterday, Today we have another 12 kms of trek to complete in 6 hours. I get up on time, Though I find my back aching badly. This tent's position and the night spent reminds me of Tadiyandmole, my first trek to third heighest peak of karnataka, where our tent was pitched over stones, and I literally couldnt sleep all night having one rock below my spine and other doing peak-a-boo with my knees. anyways, morning course got over quick, we had our breakfast, but mine and neelima's packing was somehow delayed. we got in to tents to pack, and while we came out, the whole batch was gone! we put off our backpacks and run with Mahendraji who was waiting for us both, towards the jungle. The place where we camped, is little above didna's altitude, Its not really part of the village but a grass land, enough to pitch good number of tents and stay all night. the next place we cross inside jungle, is called Tolpani.
we have crossed one stream before, (that should be the last stream we cross as well) and whatever I know about tolpani is, that this is the place we were supposed to climb to yesterday as a practice evening trek, just to prepare us for today's trek. but we dint. It takes us around an hour to reach tolpani, a cluster of huts and vegetation. by this time neelima has ran off, 've caught other folks, and its me and Mahendra ji, who' I engage in talking and asking plenty of questions.
My first question: so what is tolpani?
He answers, not a village, just a few houses of shepherds, and villagers from far, who come and stay here few months, especially those with cattle for food. he tells this is one place he generally camps while he comes here with private groups.
The Oak forest which is almost 6km steep climb, is another challenge for todays trek. later its just plain trail in Ali bugyal to Bedni, which should be easy. however, this zig-zag climb though longer, seems easier than the previous day climb to didna. tolpani is around 3km from didna, should be 2 from our camp site. my next questions to mahendraji find their base in the greens.
The oak or locally called Kharsoan leaves, serve food for the silkworm, mahendraji informs. there used to be some Govt organizations camping in this area, to understand or probably produce silk here before. One private org named AT India ( yes, glad i could find the link) people stayed here for 3 months, may to july this year, and produced cocoon in a good quantity ( why m i writing good is I forgot the exact number and now that i have AT india link here, you can find more details there :))
there is another widely found tree here called Buraas (local name). the big red flower of which is used for making juice in summer, a hugely popular drink in down hill areas and is quite a good seller. another good source of income to the sheephards who stay here, comes from a local plant called Jhula, you must seem 'em growing upon dead kharso trees. this is used in color preparations and it is sold for 40/50 INR per KG in the village. (I m yet to upload pic of it.) one more notable plant you could find in these high altitude jungles is dhurkuchcha with red fruits, like cranberries, and yup the red fruit is quite tasty indeed.
while Me and Mahendra ji, slowly climb exchanging knowledge, we cross Nitin uncle, our Bengali couple and few more. the Kaarwaan of mules and porters goes ahead and we meet Rajesh, and Dr. Uncle on the way again at Ali bugyal. No I dont spot any animal except mules on my way to jungle while the batch ahead does (see pic above - langoor by Pavan). here in Ali bugyal, I see a horse/mule chugging aroun, who has cancer. Mahendra ji tells us that village people have left him here, long back - to die, yea!! the cruel reality is its tough to get people cured and having a help reach 'em in those remote areas, an animal is nothing but bound to suffer. ( this also remind me of the climb to didna, while one of the village lady came asking us for some medicine for fever, as her husband was sick).
(photo -pavan kumar)
At Ali bugyal, another beautiful meadow around 13000 ft sea level, probably is named after its owner (governer there). from ali bugyal, you can see the village on your left which is waan, and belar, ghes, bahalia, & pinar on the right side. if your lucky and there are no clouds, you can even see the reflection of beautiful Trishul range in small pond/lake on the hill edge. We take a little rest, also wait for the people behind to show up, but they dont, so after having a paratha, and some clicks I move ahead alone leaving mahendra ji there to wait for 'em. soon I catch Rajesh and Dr. Uncle and we walk along easy crossing grass lands taking pictures and talking a bit about here n there. On our way we find cows, a temple, the green eco-system huts by the tourism department and forest towards wan village, (wan i think is actually named on hindi name of arrow). in these forest, you could also spot some red leaves trees, which I get to know are used for pooja, yagya by locals. The ecosystem huts are made of three layers. One of metal (aluminium i think), thermacol and glass, which keeps them warm at very low temperature that this area sees in winters.
Snow struck in Bedni & A sunset to remember
its close to 2 in the afternoon, no wonder it starts drizzling once I reach the temple and arrive on the trail especially made for the annual jaat pilgrimage. (Good there is a trail cuz that give you right direction while you roam around cross one mountain after the other, I'll tell you in my day 6 post, why I said this).
well, Rajesh tells me Bedni is close, and there is no need to take the rain poncho out, and I obey him, get wet till I reach our kitchen tent, in Bedni. Bedni, seems to be a different world, few other camps along with ours, some huts, even the phone and chai ki dukaan as well, then offcourse there are two three temples dedicated to Nanda devi, Ma Parvati and Lord Shiva. and Have I missed talking about views?
My entry to the kitchen is my license to interact with local people, and here I get to know Pradyuman ji, we chop pataoes together, and he make me help in dinner preparation as well. though the trekkers are not allowed in kitchen tent, considering the privacy or rest of the rules for porters and guides, lot of us including me , ravindra, smita, deepak and others spend our evening in there. yes its the warmest and outside its getting really really cold.
evening around 5:30/6 after tea/snacks, Deepak, pavan and Neelima and Me, walk up to bedni kund, and try out some reflections shots. well, smita is sleeping, and D doesnt' want her to miss the sunset, so she's called, annoyed but no valid reasons to avoid the nature, smita along with us, enjoys the rainbow, first of our trip and the mountains views over sunset. one of the best scenes to see till now. snow, yes snow mountain, have kept us waiting for long. but now they are visible, and tomorrow we head to our next base camp in mountains on the right n opposite, in Garhwal-Kumaon valley, not really far from here, so easy day ahead.
Its kinda really tough to keep track of things in long treks, what did we do special, yesterday and what we aint doing today?
yes no woods here, so no bonfire!
yup! extremely cold here. no ones wanna get out, thermals ON!
what bluffs, may be 5 monkeys (uh uh, I am goin to get killed ;)) are playing the same inside the tent!
Deers & Vultures?
Vulture yes, dead and alive both.
yes! n no one is ready to wash his/her plates. water is too damn cold.
So what we do?
Sleep and get up early in the morning for the next days trek.....
Facts: Trek length: 12 Km.
Trek time: 5-6 hours avg. with first half in the jungle and second half a gradual path, turning in to well built trail, and easily negotiable.
Suggestion: Start early. Reach early and weather in the second half the day is unpredictably predictable. its rains and you wouldn't want to trek in rain & in hailstorms for sure!.