Hemkund Sahib Trek opens

Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara

The famous pilgrimage in Himalayas Chardham opened from  May  , the Hemkund Sahib and Lokpal Temple 10 km trek is open from Gobind Ghat to Ghangharia and then 5 km steep climb to the main shrine . Each year Advance party  a team of Indian Army soldiers first climb up this trek and declare its condition to open the route , 

Group of priests and pilgrims then follows to reach the valley with a Lake called Hemkund ( Pool of Ice ) a high-altitude lake (4329 m) surrounded by seven snow caped mountains collectively called Hemkund Parvat. According to the Dasham Granth , Bichitra Natak ( Authored by 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji) he meditated at this place in his previous birth . This place has a high regards among the Sikh Community  . There is a Star shaped Gurudwara where pilgrims pay their respect .

According to the Hindu mythology Rishi Medhasa of the Markandeya Purana and Lakshman, the brother of Lord Ram also meditated here .

Pilgrims are not allowed to stay overnight here , they have to return for a night stay at Ghangharia where  there are many guest house and camps, also there is a Gurudwara one can stay in dormitories with common private facilities.

From Govind Ghat palkis , Mules and helicopter service is also available till Ghangharia .

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Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib Trek

Hemkund Sahib

Hem Kund or Hemkunt is one of the holiest Sikh pilgrim place in Uttrakhand, it has a mention in the Bachitter Natak authored by the Tenth Guru, Gobind Singh Ji that he meditated in his previous birth at a lake of ice  surrounded by Sapt Spring mountains and where the King Pandu ancestor of Pandavas of Mahabharata ,  practiced yoga.

Until nineteenth century the geographical location of this place was not known, it was the efforts of Pandit Tara Singh Narottam, Sikh scholar Bhai Vir Singh, Sohan Singh, a retired Granthi and soldier Havildar Modan Singh from Indian Army, located this place and laid foundation of this pilgrimage site, at a height of 15,200 feet , it  opens during the summers from May till September, rest of the year it is covered under the snow and becomes inaccessible.

Lokpal Lake

Lokpal Lake

 

Starting point to this pilgrimage is Hardiwar/Rishikesh about 275 km drive to Gobind Ghat, it is advised to stay at Joshimath where there are good hotels, camps and rest houses which are easily available, next morning travel by bus or car 22 km up to Gobind Ghat situated at the confluence of River Alaknanda and Laxman Ganga, a gurudwara is situated at the right bank of Laxman Ganga,  a small market with restaurants, guest houses, shops for trekking equipment, one can get porters and mules,  vehicles can be parked here  till their return from the trek, there is a helipad and  Helicopter service is also available up to Ghangharia.

First stop on this trek is Ghangaria also known as Gobind Dham it is 13 km rocky path and unclear road, a base camp for two treks at a height of 3050 meters, one trek leads to Hemkunt Sahib and the other leads to Valley of Flowers. There are no arrangements for overnight stay at Hemkunt Sahib therefore pilgrims have to leave early to return the same day, there are open ground tents with mattresses, gurdwara, guest houses and dhabas(small restaurants) to take care of basic needs, it is here the river Pushpavati coming from Valley of Flowers and Laxman Ganga from Hemkund Lake meets. Pilgrims leave early morning on a 6 kms rocky trek which takes about 5-6 hours crossing the glacier to reach the Hemkund Lake, it is also known as Lokpal lake, there is a, Lord Ram‘s younger brother’s, Laxman temple on the banks of lake, it is believed that after the battle with Meghnad when Laxman got wounded, came here to take rest and regain his health.

Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib and Lokpal Temple

A star shaped Gurudwara which is designed and  constructed under the supervision of Major General Harkirat Singh and Architect Siali from 1960AD onwards. Situated at the height of 4240 meters on the banks of lake surrounded by seven snow capped mountains. One has to return to Ghangaria as there are no arrangements for night stay at Hemkund Sahib .

The Valley of Flowers

Next day one can take a trek to Valley of Flowers which is 3 km from Ghangaria after crossing the bridge over River Pushpawati, which takes about 2-3 hrs, no mules are allowed, at check post one is to make entry in register and a nominal fee is charged, one can feel the exotic scent in the atmosphere from here as trek to Hemkund is full of smell of Mules dung, this valley is 5 km. long, it was known as Bhyunder Valley, In 1931 mountaineer Mr. Frank S. Smithe, lost his way after successful expedition of Kamet, by chance reached here, he was so impressed he authored a book “The Valley of Flowers” and wrote about the beauty and flora, thus giving its present name,  until then this valley was not on a tourist map, legend has it, that Lord Hanuman came in search of Sanjivani Buti (herb) after Laxman got injured in battle with Meghnaad. This valley has mostly the orchids, poppy, marigold, daisies and anemone looking like a carpet on the ground and many medicinal plants, besides flowers there is a variety of wild life and commonly found animals are Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Red Fox, Langur, Himalayan Black Bear and Brown Bear over 100 types of Butterflies are found here, among the birds are Snow Partridge, Himalayan Monal, Himalayan Golden Eagle, Snow PigeonGriffin Vulture, Sparrow Hawk etc. there are no tall plants, everywhere there is some grass, berries, shrubs, flowers, what to see and what to leave one gets so exited about the beauty. Rain is quite unpredictable and one is not allowed to stay in the valley at night and just one day is not sufficient if one is really interested in plants will like to come again and again.

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

 

Flowers in Wild

Flowers in Wild

 The return journey starts from Ghangaria/Gobind Dham to Gobind Ghat and then to Joshimath, one can stay for one day to explore the Ski slopes of Auli and views of Himalayan mountains or trek to lakes and meadows above Auli .

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About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/anil-rajput.jpg[/author_image] Anil Kumar Rajput is well known in the travel trade since 1980. Worked in India and abroad. A boxer, Rifle Shooter and Para Jumper. As a Boy Scout and NCC Cadet, attended Adventure camps, trek in Himalayas which developed  interest in traveling and to explore new places, loves driving to adventurous places and photography. (promarktravels.com)  Connect with him on Facebook (htttp://www.facebook.com/anil.k.rajput) and Twitter (@PromarkTravels)
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Triyugi Narayan Temple, Yatra Chardham Uttrakhand

Triyugi Narayan temple / village is situated near Gauri Kund about 15 km by motorable road at a height of 1980 meters ( 6500 ft.). Architect of this temple resembles the Sri Kedarnath temple, built by Adi Shankarachrya, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, having a silver image two foot tall accompanied by Ma Lakshmi and Ma Saraswati. This temple is witness to the celestial marriage of Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati. Lord Vishnu completed all the formalities of as a brother and Lord Brhama creator of world as a priest in the presence of “Rishis” sages of that time , the place is marked by a stone called Brhama Shila .

Triyugi Narayan Temple Uttrakhand

Pilgrims offer “Samidha” the pure fire wood at a square “Hawan kund ” Fire place to the eternal flame which is supposed to be burning since the marriage of Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati. It is also known as “Akhand Dhooni”

The eternal Flame at Triyugi Narayan Temple

Before the marriage ceremony the Gods took bath at three different “Kunds” small ponds, the Rudra kund, the Vishnu kund and the Brahma kund, these three ponds are recharged by inflow of Saraswati Kund , legend is it originated from Lord Vishnu’s navel .

Saraswati Kund under the canopy, Triyugi Narayan Temple

Lord Brhama had a bath at Brhama Kund before the marriage of Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati .

The Brhama Kund , Triyugi Narayan Temple

Lord Vishnu had a bath at Vishnu kund before performing the ceremonies as brother of Ma Parvati at marriage .

Vishnu Kund , Triyugi Narayan Temple

All other Devas and Rishis had a bath at the Rudra kund to participate and be witness to Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati marriage.

Rudra Kund, Triyugi Narayan Temple

Triyugi Narayan is suppose to be the capital of King Himavat ( Himalaya) during the Satya Yug. After the death of Ma Sati, Lord Shiva’s first wife, Ma Parvati was the rebirth of Ma Sati, at first she tried to win the Lord with her beauty but could not succeed she did penance “meditate” at Gauri kund and finally Lord proposed to her at Gupt Kashi and then the marriage was solemnized at Triyugi Narayan at her father’s place

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On way to Yamunotri, Janki Chatti, Uttrakhand

Jankichatti is a last village on trek to Yamunotri , situated at a height of 2650 meters from sea, it is 218 km from Rishikesh , earlier the trek use to start from Hanumanchatti but after the widening of road buses are allowed till Jankichatti. It is from here the pilgrims hire mules , ponies or palanquins . There are good number of guest houses and dharamshalas .

Jankichatti village, bus stand, Yamuna River

Till about 30 years ago the old trekking route to Yamunotri was from the Kharsali village , a Guajrati lady named Janki Bai got a temple made, she also offered two silver Deepdan ( Silver Pots with stand)  still in use at the main Yamunotri temple and helped in facilities for the pilgrims , the Govt. recorded this place as Janki Mai Chatti to pay her a respect which is now called as the Janki Chatti.

There is a Ram temple famous for the hot water spring , pilgrims do take a bath before starting the trek for Yamunotri.

One can also make Janki Chatti as a base camp for Sapt Rishi Kund trek which is at the base of Kalind Mountain of  Banderpunch it is a Glacial lake 19 km from Janki Chatti  a two days trek . Other famous trek is the Dodi Tal trek from the Kharsali village side it is 25 km one way and takes two nights stay , one can have the excellent views of Banderpunch and Swargrohini peaks from here.

Just across the river Yamuna is  a helipad at village Kharsali, which is operational during the yatra seasons, this village is also a winter seat of Ma Yamunotri .

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Yatra Chardham – Joshimath

Joshimath is also called the Jyotirmath established as one of the four main “pithas” by the Adi Shankaracharya in four different places in India the other three are Shrigeri in South , Puri in East and Dwarka in west. It is at a height of 1890 meters from sea on the Rishikesh – Badrinath  highway 220 km from Rishikesh and Badrinath is further 42  km, it is situated at the confluence of river Alaknanda and  Dhauli Ganga the Vishnu Prayag. This town is also the winter seat of Sri Badrinath at the Vasudeva Temple, other important temples are the Lord Narshimha the incarnation of lord Vishnu, the Hanumaan , the Gaurishankar, the Ganesha, the Nau Devi and the Surya .

Around Joshimath

This place is famous for base camp for many treks , Auli is at 3940 meters from sea level , from Joshimath there is a Asia’s longest 4 km Ropeway to reach here , it has the famous Ski slopes beautiful views of Nanda Devi peak , Mana and Kamet also a close view of the peak Hathi Ghora Palki and behind it the Neelkanth.  There are many trekking routes starts from here , the Gorson, Tali and Kauri Pass, Khulara and Tapovan. Valley of Flowers can be reached from here upto Govindghat by road and the trek 14 kms to Ghangharia and then three km trek to the Valley of Flowers, from Ghangharia the Hemkund sahib the famous Sikh shrine and a temple dedicated to Laxman the younger brother of Lord Ram is situated , it is the place where Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh Ji meditated in his previous birth which he mentioned in his book Bichitra Natak.  Nanda Devi National Park is 24 km from here. Oldest tree in India the Kalpvriksh since the time of Adi Shankracharya is in Joshimath.

Most of the pilgrims stay a night at Joshimath before proceeding for Sri Badrinath , Sri Hemkund Sahib or Valley of Flowers journey and Lokpal Temple trek, it is a single road from here and traffic is allowed turn by turn in both direction for two hours.

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Kedarnath Food and Tents at Sabsidised Rates

The Govt of Uttrakhand has made arrangements for 1000 bed accommodation at Sri Kedarnath and another 1500 bed accommodation will be available for the pilgrims at Limchuli for the Yatra period 2015

Sri Kedarnath Temple

Rs. 50/- per bed, Breakfast Rs. 30/- Lunch/Dinner Rs.50/- will be charged from the pilgrims, in addition to the arrangements at Sri Kedarnath , the 15 km trek from Gauri Kund to Rambara then to Limchuli till the main shrine there are around 100 Govt. run shops and canteens on the route to serve the pilgrims.

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Sri Badrinath road conditions Yatra for 2015

The Yatra Chardham of Gharwal region of Uttrakhand will start from 22 April this year, Govt. of Uttrakhand is making all efforts to prepare the roads well before the yatra . Mr. Vineet Sanwal our representative during the yatra period at Sri Badrinath who lives in Pandukeshwar updated us with the photographs the work in progress in the region.

Clearing of Snow by Border Road Organisation, Joshimath-Sri Badrinath Highway

 

Clearing of Snow on Joshimath-Sri Badrinath Highway April 2015

The Border Roads Organisation has cleared the road till Hanuman Chatti on Joshimath – Sri Badrinath Highway and other Govt. agencies are in full swing to prepare the road to have a smooth comfortable journey for the pilgrims who will start reaching here from 22 April 2015 onward .

Mr. B.D.Singh at Sri Badrinath main entrance April 2015

Mr. B.D. Singh the Chief Executive of The Sri Badrinath Temple Committee visited the valley last week to check the work process and arrangements, he flew in a helicopter from Joshimath with few other members .

Birds eye view of Sri Badrika Van Valley , Sri Badrinath covered under snow April 2015

 

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Harsil on way to Gangotri, Uttrakhand

Harsil is 24 kms. before Gangotri and 73 km. from Uttarkashi , a small sleepy village with an army cantonment situated at a height of 7860 feet from sea level,  beautiful place full of Pine, Deodar trees and medicinal plants , orchards  famous for its juicy Apples . It is inhabited by Bhotias of Himalayas, very close to the Tibet border. Famous for its variety of trekking routes, camping, and dense forests. It is a small village with some places of interest in the surroundings like bird watching, trekking, or simply building camps with kids and family near the river Bhagirathi .

River Jalandhari at Harsil

The mythological importance of this place is it has a reference in Skandh Purans chapter Kedarkhand . It is here at Mukhwa village the Idol of Ma Ganga is kept and worshiped during the winters . Mukhwa is a place where Chaman Rishi took rest with Pandva prince Bheem when he was coming to lit the holy fire at Ashwamegha Yagna , The reference of Mayank Parvat in it is here .

River Bhagirath and Banderpunch mountain range Harsil

 

It is a Maha Prayag of nine rivers joining the Bhagirathi the  rivers are Jalandhari, Vishnu Ganga, Kheer Ganga, Bheem Ganga, Lakshmi Ganga, Telangana, Pawan Ganga and  Hatya Harini cris crossing the valley , at the Prayag ( confluence) of Vishnu Ganga, Jalandhari  into Bhagirathi there is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Ma Bhagwati , it is said that lord Vishnu took the form of Shaligram here and lying at this Prayag ( confluence ).

Lord Vishnu temple at Maha Prayag Harsil

Lord Vishnu temple at Maha Prayag Harsil

There is a temple didicated to Ma Durga on the banks of river Bhagirathi , it is said that it is here Maha Rishi Markandey wrote the Saptshati in praise of Ma Durga the first ever worship of female Goddess  in Sanatan Dharma.

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Shani Dev, Yamuna Temple at Kharsali, Uttarakhand

The beginning point of Chardham Yatra is Yamunotri which lies at an 3293 meters from the sea level, there is a good road till Barkot and then up to Janki Chatti, from here one goes for 6 km uphill difficult trek to Yamunotri, this temple is closed during the winters and the main idol of Maa Yamuna or Yamunotri is kept at Lord Shani Dev temple at Kharsali  which lies at 2675 metres from the sea level , till the winter ends. This place  is also known as Khushimath  is one kilometer from Janki Chatti across the River Yamuna.

Shani Dev Temple at Someshwar

 The History and Story

Yamuna, The daughter of the Sun God (Surya) and consciousness Chhaya (the Shadow) she has one sister Sangya, brother Shani Dev, Yamraj and Gangotri are also called her cousin and sister. Every year in the first week of May on “Akshya Tritiya”, Lord Shani Dev accompanies his sister Yamuna to Yamunotri and returns back to Kharsali and again meets to bring her back on the “Bhai Dooj” or “Yam Dwetiya” two days after dipawali it is also a day for Yamuna to meet her brother Yamraj.

 Architecture

Who built this temple here at Kharsali, an inscription on stone on its wall could not be translated till now, locals believe it is constructed by the Pandavas, looks more like fort, it is a stone and wooden four story structure. The main structure is constructed in a way by using stones, wood the Urad dal or Vigna mungo (botanical name Lens culinaris) is used as a part of mortar to fix the stones together. It has faced the mighty earthquakes and floods with no damage to the building since immortal time. One can climb up through a narrow stairs, the main Bronze idol of Lord Shani Dev is kept here along with the Chaaya (the Shadow), the Sangya (the conciseness) and the Nag Devta, there are two urns one big and one small are  kept and no one touches them because of any unforeseen danger to self or family, there is a belief that these Urns change their position themselves on Purnima (Full moon night) and Amawasya (Dark night) the Yamuna Idol is kept during the winters on the first floor.

The Wall Supports of the Temple

 Importance

The importance of this temple is that it is the oldest temple of Lord Shani Dev, he particularly treats the people bad who are habitual betrayals, Back stabbers or into unjust revenges in other words Lord Shani punishes the guilty ones, he is a trouble maker for bad but rewards the good people, any one affected with Shani Sadsati and Shani Dhaiya, if performs pooja here the bad effect of Sadsati and Dhaiya is reduced, anyone if having a fear of Black Magic takes blessings from here is never attacked by its ill effects. Lord Shani Dev rides on a black vulture, carrying arrow, sword and two daggers, always wears black cloths, he has a limp in his one leg.

This photograph of the footbridge across the Yamuna River between Jānkīchaṭṭī and Kharsali was taken from the Jānkīchaṭṭī side of the river

Footbridge to Harsil across the Yamuna at Jankichatti

 Religious Beliefs & Practices

During the months of July, August (Sawan and Bhadon) a date is announced by the priest when a Pandava Nritya (dance) is performed by the special people in the courtyard to please the Nag Devta (Snake God), this dance starts after midnight witnessed by the locals from the surrounding  villages, it is believed that any one who performs fast on this day and recites the Mahamritunjay Mantra is protected from having unnatural death, this place is also believed to be place where the Nag Devta shows his presence once a year .

Significance of this temple is that after having darshan and pooja at Yamunotri one must pay a respectful visit at this place to make the darshan as complete. One can have a beautiful panaromic view of river Yamuna, Janki Chatti and the snow capped Himalyan Mountain Range.

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About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/anil-rajput.jpg[/author_image] Anil Kumar Rajput – Managing Director at Promark Travel, is in the Travel Industry since 1980. He travels to write articles and blogs frequently. For more Info Do Visit (promarktravels.com) which caters all the travel needs of it’s clients. Connect with him on Facebook (htttp://www.facebook.com/anil.k.rajput) and Twitter (@PromarkTravels)
[/author]

Yatra Chardham Uttrakhand in Winters

Yatra Chardham in the Uttrakhand also called the Chota Chardham is a journey of four places or Dhams done from spring to autumn months, and as per the Hindu calender, from Akshaya Tritia till the Bhai Dooj ( April end /May first week till October end / November second week) . During this time, all the roads and trekking routes are accessible and free from any Snow.

During the Winters when all Dhams are closed due to snowfall in the higher  reaches of the Himalaya , the main deities for worship are brought down at the temples located in the villages for the uninterrupted  daily Puja and rituals, one saves on the long uphill treks which are difficult for the Senior Citizens. Hotels are less expensive and temples are not crowded. One can spend as much time to perform the puja and dhyan. The usual Yatra Chardham is of 14 days in summer months from Delhi by road but same journey can be done comfortably  in 10 days in winters

 Ma Yamuna is worshiped at village Kharsali seven kms before the Yamunotri main Temple,  just across river Yamuna at Janki Chatti, it is a picturesque village which has the oldest Lord Shani temple. 

Ma Yamuna stays with her brother Lord Shani during the winters.

Shani Dev , Naag Devta Temple at Kharsali

Ma Ganga is worshiped at village Mukhwa near Harsil. A lesser known and ignored fact about Harsil  is that Harsil is a place where many rivers meet which forms a Maha Prayag like Vishnu Ganga, Jalandhari, Pawan Ganga, Hatya Harini, Kheer Ganga , Kakora, Tilangana and  Bhim Ganga pouring their waters into the main River,  Bhagirathi. 

Harsil’s Mayank Parvat  has mention in Kedarkhand a chapter in Skandh Purana. This place is also famous for Ashram of Maharishi Markandaeya, who composed the Durga Saptshati at Mukhwa

Ma Gangotri Winter Seat , Mukhwa Village , Uttrakhand

Lord Kedarnath ( Lord Shiva) is worshiped at Gupt Kashi  Ukhimath, located on the banks of  Mandakini river, where, during the winter months, the Idols are brought in from the main temple of Sri Kedarnath .

Lord Kedarnath Winter seat , Ukhimath

At Gupt Kashi it is said  “जितने पत्थर उतने शंकर ” (All the stones are Lord Shiva) 

One can visit and offer prayers at places associated with Sanatan HinduMythology, at Guptkashi namely Ardhnarishwara, Manikarnika Kund ( Pond)Love legend of Anirudha (the grand son of Lord Krishna ) and Demon King Banasura‘s daughter Usha and then killing of Banasur, Grave of Nala of epic Ramayna,

One gets a beautiful view of Chaukhamba , Kedarnath and Neelkantha peaks.

Lord Badri Vishal Winter Seat Pandukeshwar , Uttrakhand

 

Lord Badri Vishal is worshiped at Pandukeshwar  during the winters, this place is 18 kms from Joshimath and very close to Govind Ghat. Pandukashwer is also associated with King Pandu father of Five Pandavas of Mahabharata

After the curse from a Sage, ( Rishi) Kindama, mistakenly killed by King Pandu, spent his life here and his queens Kunti and Madri gave birth to the five Pandva brothers, Namely Yudhishthir, Arjun, Bheem, Nakul and Sahdev (in order of their ages, elder first).

Yudhishthir, Arjun and Bheem were born from Kunti and Nakul, Sahdev were born from Madri.

All these places hold equal importance in Sanathan Hindu Mythology, as the main Shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. These places have been the winter seats for these gods for generations.

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