Rudranath & Madmaheshwar
“Rudranath ki Chadhai jayse Germany ki Ladhai(The ascent of Rudranath is as difficult as the battle with Germany)” that is what said by the owner of Hariyali Resort of Saggar village when I came down from Rudranath extremely exhausted.
I came back from my Kumayun trip 15 days ago and was tired. But there was Durga Puja. I don’t like to stay at home alone in this festive season due to several reasons. So I again packed my rucksack and started for Uttrakhand.
One of my Facebook friends with whom I traveled to Roopkund informed me that ponies are available on the way to Rudranath. My confidence level was high after visiting Roopkund, so I made up my mind to try it.
Once I wished to complete Panch Kedar (Five Kedars, Rudranath, Tungnath, Madmaheshwar, Kedarnath and Kalpeshwar). But when I resumed my travel after a long gap I discarded Rudranath from the list because of it’s difficulty level and my health issues.
When I heard that ponies were available on that path then my desire was rekindled and I decided to go there. I gathered information about the route. Madmaheshwar was always in my bucket list and I thought that if I get time I should also try go to Kedarnath again because I went there with my father long ago.
After reaching Haridwar I lodged in a hotel near the bus stand. Next morning I tried to go to Chamoli by shared jeep but due to lack of passengers it did not start and the driver asked me to go by bus. I boarded in a bus which was almost full at that time. As I did not want to sit in the rear side of the bus, the bus conductor arranged my seat in the cabin.
The bus started and we had brunch at Teendhara. After that, the bus kept on receiving passengers till it was packed. We reached Srinagar where some passengers got down and new passengers boarded. Then it started again. After crossing Dhrari Devi temple the car broke down at an odd point.
Somehow I Managed a shared jeep to reach Karan Prayag from there. From Karan Prayag I got another shared jeep to reach Chamoli. As I was tired with this journey I booked a full car from Chamoli to go to Saggar village. It dropped me in front of Hariyali Resort.
The resort was more decent than expected in that remote area. Next early morning they arranged my pony. We started at 7 in the morning. Initially the path seemed not too difficult till Poong Bugiyal but later it became very rough and steep. The stony staircases were uneven and high. After crossing Mauli Kharak my syce Nitin informed that I had to trek this path while coming down. It was about 3/4 km. But it was too late to withdraw.
The path was very dangerous, risky and breath taking. But when I reached Panar Bugiyal I forgot all my problems because one can witness 180 drgree view of Himalayan range from there with many peaks. Then came Pitradhar and PanchGanga Bugiyal. I had to get down from the pony twice as it was risky to cover those parts by pony. 22 kilometer of such dangerous path seemed too long to me. We at last reached Rudranath (11,811ft) at about 2 PM. From Rudranath also one can witness several peaks of Himalayas.
Food and accommodation at Rudranath was absolutely nominal. Being a single person I had to share room with other people. There was scarcity of water. One should carry Zeoline for purifying drinking water. In the evening we went to the temple for watching puja and evening aarti. Some people offered the deity whatever they carried to offer there.
I was extremely tired though I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that Rudranath brought me in such difficult and remote place. Night was decently cold but the room was cozy, although the quilt they provided was full of dust. I carried sleeping bag from Kolkata but my syce and my hotel owner at Sagar dissuaded me to carry it to Rudranath. I felt the need of it there at night.
Morning was beautiful. We started early after morning tea for Saggar. Going down seemed more difficult to me. It was an ordeal to sit on the back of the pony. Even for a singe moment I could not feel relaxed. We had Breakfast at Leuty Bugiyal at Kishen Singh Bist’s dhaba. He arranged my stay at Sagar and Nitin, my syce, was his son. Then came the most difficult part. I had to walk that very dangerous, difficult, uneven, stony and slippery path where every step should be taken cautiously. When I became completely exhausted I found my syce Nitin and my pony. He took me to Poong bugiyal where we had our lunch. Then we came back to Sagar in the afternoon.
As I drank less water in fear of stomach problem and the area was dry and arid due to lack of vegetation, my nose bled. My whole body was aching with terrible pain. After reaching Sagar I drank lots of water and bathed properly and took early dinner and slept. After a 12 hours sleep when I woke up next morning at 7 I felt that I could move for Madmaheshwar.
After breakfast a car was arranged to drop me at Chamoli. As soon as I got down from the car I saw a bus of UK Roadways. I boarded on it which dropped me at Rudrapayag, from where I got a shared jeep for Ukhimath. From Ukhimath I sat on another jeep for Ransi. Those who travel in group or can afford a car they don’t need to take so much pain. They can go straight from Sagar to Ukhimath or Ransi. It is about 60/65 km from there.
Ransi is the starting point to trek for Madmaheshwar. I stayed at Komal tourist point. This hotel had only the very basic amenities. Its owner arranged a pony for me whose owner’s name was Narottam. I met a monk, and his two disciples in the jeep at Ukhimath who came to Ransi with me. They also stayed at Ransi. Next morning Narottam took me to Madmaheshwar on his pony.
The road was though not as difficult as Rudranath, but it was quite difficult, as the road was steadily declining up to Gondar, then there was steady ascent. At some places it was quite steep though there was a proper paved path. We had breakfast at Bantoli. But I forgot to pay there. Narottam relieved me saying that I could pay while returning.
I reached Madmaheshwar at around 1Pm. I got accommodation with the same monk and his two disciples. My stay was a bliss at Madmaheshwar with them. The monk was from Tehri Garhwal, and one of his disciples was an entrepreneur of Shimla, and the other was a boy from Pangi( Himachal Pradesh). They could climb hill as easily as lizards. They did Panch Kedar at a stretch and all by foot.
In the evening I saw the deity and aarti. After that we had early dinner with roti and kadu(pumpkin) ki sabji. Next early morning was for Buda Madmaheshwar expedition. Mt. Chaukhamba seemed at a stone throw distance from there according to the opinion of Maharaj. After breakfast I started with Narottam. We had lunch at Bantoli. I did not forget to pay this time. There I came across a couple who were from AgastMuni. Hearing about my desire to go to Kedarnath they offered me lift up to Kund(where the road from Ransi met another road for Sonprayag) on their car. After reaching the end point of the trek I boarded their car and I got a bus immediately after reaching Kund.
When the bus crossed Guptakashi traffic jam started. The bus advanced very slowly. At one point the jam became stagnant. After an hour or two the bus conductor came to me and requested me to return as I was alone and aged. He said, I could face problem if the bus reached Sonprayag at night. I realized what he advised was true. He helped me to get my luggage and I came down from the bus and took another bus from the opposite side to reach Guptakashi. I spent the night in a hotel at the bus stand. I decided to go back to Rishikesh.
I got the news of extreme chaos in Kedarnath due to the rush of pilgrims next day. As there was a long holiday of Navratri, Dashera, Saturday, Sunday, many people from nearby places came in their car and there were many youngsters, who were inspired by the movie Kedarnath, came in groups. I thought it would be wise not to move upward anymore.
Next day I came down to Rishishikesh, but it took much longer time than usual as there was again a traffic jam after Tindhara. It started raining at night and red alert was declared by Uttarakhand government as heavy rainfall was predicted. It rained continuously next day. In the next morning I found that the greenish blue water of Ganga changed into mud colour and the water was rushing ferociously down with branches of trees and other things. I heard about many mishaps on the hills and felt blessed that I came down safely.
Next day morning after breakfast I came to Haridwar. I bought peda(sweets made by drying milk) for home and ate malai samosa and boarded on train at midnight.