MY ROOPKUND TRIP
I neither planned nor thought even in my wildest dream to attempt for Rupkunda. I did not consider myself to fit to go there. Probably it was the desire of destiny that I visited that heavenly place or I should say it appeared in front of my eyes to oblige me.
It thus happened that my scheduled plan to visit an interior part of Kumayun (Uttarakhand) was cancelled due to heavy rain and land slide. My local guide informed me that when my RT-PCR negative report was in my hand and my bags were packed. Just before three/four days of my departure one of my Facebook friends asked me if I was interested in going Roopkund. I declined her saying it was beyond my physical capacity and I had another plan too.
Suddenly I recalled her offer and called her immediately to tell that I would like to join them. My friend gave me the contact number of the travel guides who were going to arrange the trek. They were two/ three local young boys of 25/30 years ( Uttarakhand Tour Planner). I talked to them and they informed that they had no problem accommodating me if I could reach Wan village on 18th evening. Their package was from Wan to Wan village(19th to 23rd September,2021). They also guided me how to reach Wan through Kumayun.
My ticket was in Durgiana Express up to Bareily from Kolkata station on 14th September. So I visited Almora, Kausani and reached Gowaldam via Baijnath. I spent one day in each of these places.
From Gowaldam I went to Thalarali by bus. Then I took shared jeep to reach Dewal. From Dewal I went to Lohajung by another shared jeep. I had to wait about two hours at Lohajung to get a conveyance for Wan village. I reached Wan by someone’s car taking a lift instead of 150 rupees when the sun was about to set.
In the evening my friend and her two companions arrived from Dehradoon. We were very much excited. Next morning after breakfast we started our journey. Our first lap was up to Gairolipatal (10,000 ft app.)
Roopkund is a difficult trek. On the first day we covered about 5/6 kilometer steep path through beautiful forest, streams and we crossed Neel Ganga. Gairolipatal was a small place with two trekkers’ huts and one small shack of the local forester who served us tea also.
Our tent was pitched for that night. We got one trekkers’ hut to cook our food . It was a full moon night but we could hardly see the moonlit peaks due to cloud. It rained all night. In the morning Mt. Trishul peeped through the cloud for sometime though we missed the sunrise.
During the second day it was a long journey to cover 10/12 kilometers. After early breakfast we started. Our cook Mohan was an expert to cook tasty food with meager ingredients. We covered the forest and reached above tree lines. On the way we crossed eye alluring Bedini Bugiyal. There were many unknown plants that enhanced the beauty of the path. There were shepherds who brought there herds of sheep for grazing on the bugiyals(grassland).
We reached Pathornachuni( 12,700 ft) by 2 o’clock. Here we could not get trekkers’ hut. So a kitchen tent was pitched and hot lunch was served. It was drizzling. We took shelter in our tents. In the evening we enjoyed pakora and tea. Night was pretty cold. But our organizers provided us good tents and cosy sleeping bags that we slept very well.
Next morning the distance we had to cover was not quite long but very tough due to steep and difficult trail. When I reached Kalu Vinayak, Lal Singh, an enthusiastic boy, brother of one of our organizers, told me to ask whatever I want from Kalu Vinayak. I was already so much overwhelmed that I lost words. One of our team mates Mrs. Pratima Mandal( MP/ TMC party) broke into tears out of joy.
We reached our last Destination Bhaguabasa (14,000 ft). On the way we found lots of Brahmakamal with other high altitude plants. It was extremely cold and dark after sunset. Here we managed one trekkers’ hut with the initiative of Kartik, one of our team members. He reached early and occupied one. Being a Garhwali boy he could walk fast on the mountain and he was young too.
Next day was a vital day. We started before dawn. The organizers gave us an escort to each of our four members so that we could walk in the difficult way to Roopkund. The trail was not only steep but also in some places there was no path at all. One had to cover it balancing on the body. The beauty of pristine Himalayas was indescribable and mesmerizing.
My friend Rinku Basu and her uncle were the steadiest and experienced trekkers among us. I was the most crippled one and my escort Dikpal Singh Danu was a very patient one to give me encouragement on that difficult path. Pratima was the tenacious one who never gave up.
Roopkund is a small mountainous lake on 15,570 ft altitude. Due to cloudy weather no peak was visible from there. Only the historical skeletons, the small temple of Shiv-Parvati and the Kund was seeable. Coming down was also not an easy task. It started raining in the mean time. We came back at noon time and had our lunch and again started our down ward journey for Pathornachuni. We stayed there at night. Though it rained heavily, our crew members did not neglect in any way to serve us.
Our guide Heeraji was an expert in his field. He told us mythical stories of Pathornachuni and Roopkund. He guided us as a professional so that we did not get succumbed to Acute Mountain Sickness or other ailments. Sometimes he carried me like a trolley bag so that I did not fall on the slippery slope. Rain accompanied us till Wan village.
Next day we left Wan village by a jeep arranged by our organizers. It dropped me at Tharali and went to Hrishikesh with Rinku, her uncle and Pratima. They dropped me at Tharali as my ticket was from Lalkuan. I came back via Goaldam and Nainital.
N.B. One who never traveled and spent night above 10,000 ft should not attempt this trek. It is not a pleasure trip in anyway. Only very basic requirements can be provided. One has to use toilet tent or manage in open air and use toilet paper to clean up oneself because of the scarcity of water. It is very cold. So those who can not endure cold also discouraged to go.