Roopkund Trek - the Elusive high altitude Himalayan Lake
An enchanting steep narrow trail through the oak & deodar forest from Kulling onwards, the quietly flowing Neel Ganga, the blooming rhododendrons in pinkish-white and blood-red, the welcoming fragrance of the lush pine grooves, the occasional bird-call breaking the absolute silence of the mountains, the miles-long green alpine meadows of Ali & Bedni Bugiyals, the bleating sheep herds in their hundreds always on the move in search of the next pasture, the lonesome wild stallion grazing along, the omnipresent Trishul peak, the shy Nandaghunti, the whizzing Himalayan icy winds brushing across our faces, the stone-shrine of the revered Kalu Vinayak amidst a carpet of snow - an amphitheatre to view countless snow-peaks up close and personal.
These all vistas are all part of this awesome Himalayan trail also known as the “Curzon Trail” as we trek our way ahead to view that jinxed high-altitude Roopkund Lake.
Since, it is here, within and alongside the lake, you would find remnants of a Himalayan tragedy that had happened perhaps millennium ago – well preserved human bones and skeletons scattered all around - a mystery still today as to who these people were, why had they come here and what caused their deaths.
Welcome to Roopkund, the mysterious skeletal lake situated over 16000 feet above sea-level amidst the High Himalayan interiors of Chamoli District of Uttarakhand…
Kathgodam - LohajungArrive at Kathgodam at 6 am (by boarding the overnight train from Old Delhi Railway Station that departs at 10.40 pm). Travel Your Dreams representative would receive and you would be transferred to our waiting vehicle. It would be a long drive ahead as we pass by Bhimtal, Bhowali & Almora. We stop by Kausani for Lunch. Thereafter, moving ahead we pass by Baijnath and further ahead reach Gwaldham as we get mesmerized to witness the view the Himalayas up close. Continuing ahead after a short tea break we reach our base camp Lohajung late afternoon. We check ourselves and evening we'll have an introductory session with all the team members.
Lohajung - DidnaWe start off early after a quick breakfast and board a jeep driving 7 kms to reach Kulling village from where our trek commences. Initially it is a down-hill trail of 2-3 kms till we reach the Neel Ganga river. Crossing over the Neel Ganga, through an rickety iron bridge up-hill climb starts as we trek our way through a lush forest trail. Countless bird calls breaks the tranquility off and on. Slowly, we continue our initial day's trek and by early afternoon reach Didna village. A hot lunch refreshes us. Late afternoon we explore this cute sleepy village and gaze high above the views of the distant meadows of Ali Bugiyal, that we have to climb the next day to reach. A camp fire lifts our mood as we have our dinner and call it a night since we have to start early next day.
Didna - Ali Bugiyal - Bedni BugiyalAfter freshening up and a quick breakfast of noodles, we start off. The steep zig-zag climb through the oak and deodar forest is tiring but we keep on surging ahead. We do take a few breaks gazing at the blooming rhododendrons or simply soaking in the silence. After an arduous climb we are over the tree line and ahead of us is a green carpet of lush meadows and in the backdrop is snow clad mountains. This is Ali Bugiyal. We are simply awed and all the pain that we endured while traversing the steep climb seem to have vanished. Miles-upon-Miles are these alpine meadows. Fulfilled, we trek ahead comfortably and by late afternoon reach the scenic campsite at Bedni Bugiyal. Our tents has already been erected and we simply relax our heels sipping a cup of hot soup. Lunch soon follows and late afternoon we loiter around the nearby Bedni Kund and also bow our heads at the all stone Nanda Devi shrine. As dusk sets in the chill winds start blowing as we huddle up in the kitchen tent followed by dinner.
Bedni Bugiyal - Pathar NachuniOpening the zipper of the tent we witness the dazzling peak of the Nandaghunti basking in the first rays of the warm sun. If the weather is clear you could view the Chaukhamba and lines of other peak clearly. After a quick breakfast we wrap our camp and move on. Initially it is climb of about 1 kms through the meadows till we hit the icy trail. Last year's snow-laden trail is yet to melt fully as we make our way carefully through the slippery ice, one step at a time balancing our way with our walking sticks. A couple of hours walk we reach Ghora Lotani. We are simply bowled out by the views it offers - the entire Trishul peak along with lines of other Himalayan peaks including the Nandaghunti, and the Tent peak, were all as if all within hand-reach distance. We soak in for quite a while and finally make our way forward. In an hour's time we can see from high above our colourful tents pitched in the scenic campsite of Pathar Nachuni. We could feel the icy cold Himalayan breeze brushing across our faces. As dusk sets in we stay inside our tent and after a hot n spicy dinner we call it a night amidst the howling Himalayan wind blowing across.
Pathar Nachuni - Bhugwabasa - Roopkung lake - Junar Gali - BhugawabasaToday is the ultimate day of our trek as we set off early with packed breakfast. It takes us quite a while to trek up the steep climb as we approach Kalu Vinayak. The trail from Pathar Nachuni is through knee-deep snow as we trudge ahead slowly, catching our breadth every now and then till we reach Kalu Vinayak. The view from Kalu Vinayak is simply awesome. We can see Bhugwabasa down below and a panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks including Trishul. Bowing our heads at Kalu Vinayak shrine, we move ahead. Soon we pass by Bhugawabasa and scale up-hill with the intention to reach the mystical Roopkund lake. Our efforts bear fruit and soon we reach the mystical lake situated at a height of over 15,500 feet. We soak all the possible solitude as we sit by in silence. Those interested to scale further up-hill can make it to Junargali. By now our legs are tired and by early afternoon we make our way down-hill before the dark clouds start gathering and the weather turning worse. Reaching back we make ourselves comfortable as we rest our heels by staying indoors in the fiber huts of Bhugawabasa.
Bhugawabasa - Pathar Nachuni - Bedni Bugiyal - Ghairoli PatalIt is time that we stat off back from our successful achievement of reaching the elusive Roopkung lake. We pace up leisurely as it a down-hill trek all the way to Bedni Bugiyal. Passing by the same scenic landscape we halt at Pathar Nachuni for a quick break before starting off towards Bedni Bugiyal, after soaking in again the out-of-the-world views from Ghora Lotani. After lunch at Bedni Bugiyal we move ahead. We soon enter the tree line and walk by another patch of lush virgin forest till we reach our camp site of Ghairoli Patal late afternoon. We drop our bags in the fiber hut and celebrate that evening with a huge camp fire.
Ghairoli Patal - Wan - LohajungWe pack up and move after breakfast and continuing our descent through the forest trail till we reach the Neel Ganga. Crossing over we again have to climb up-hill for 2-3 odd kilometer as we could see Wan at a distance, the last village on the Roopkund route. On reaching Wan we freshen ourselves at the forest rest house and soon make our way to the waiting jeep to drive the next 12 kms to reach Lohajung. A hot bath rejuvenates us as we sit by this sleepy village that evening reflecting our awesome trek of Roopkund.
Lohajung - Kathgodam - DelhiWe drive out of Lohajung early and driving through the day reach Kathgodam well in time to catch the evening train back to Delhi.