I had visited Kedarnath two years back with Swami Sandeepanadha Giri s troupe ,
we were more than 80 men and women of varying ages and backgrounds but by the end of our trip we were a cohesive group brought together by our Swamiji who was young agile full of humour and with a sense of adventure .
It never felt as a pilgrimage.
it was more of a discovery of the unexplored vistas of a beutiful country our own India with its rich culture heritage folklores and legends .
After our trek to Yamunotri via Barkot the road head a climb of more than 7 km uphill we reached the origin of river Yamuna and its hot springs
The trek is described in my previous post http://hariwrite.blogspot.com/2011/10/case-of-missing-chauhan-trip-to-origin.html
The next was kedarnath ,
We were off from Gaurikund the road head
there were two ways to go up the 12000 foot Himalayan temple ,one could get into a helicopter and reach in 15minutes a trifle breathless due to the sudden altitude difference or slowly lumber up the hardy 14km by foot or pony or be carried in a chair !
We opted for the helicopter when going up while we planned to trek downhill ,I liked the idea since climbing made me pant a lot ,for my wife she preferred the climb to the coming down as it was a strain for her knees ,I prevailed !
of course one can go by helicopter both ways but we wanted the experience of the trek too .
The heliport was very organised with a check in .
we were searched by the security and had to send our bags through an x ray machine just like in any airport .
we waited in the gate as helicopters made 15 minute trips bringing and taking people ,
we ducked under the whirring blades and got into one and it lifted easily and we were above the mountains in a minute we could see the people trekking up in the path like ants slowly the range of mountains vast and numerous and snowy peaks appeared close .
suddenly we dipped into a valley and flew low .
we saw a small town with the temple
we had reached Kedarnath
the temple is said to have existed even during the Mahabaratha as the pandavas have supposed to have gone there before they died .
Adhi Sankaracharya had a great role in reviving the temple and an ashram exists for him behind the temple .
The heliport was full of colourful tents and the Army too were liberally sprinkled in the area .
None stayed in Kedarnath during winter as it would be in deep snow then .
I felt breathless as we walked to a primitive rest house finally lying exhausted in the bed of our small dark room
it was only mid-afternoon but it was already cold and dark .
We got up after some time and went to the small eating place which cheered us with some hot steaming snacks and chai which gave us the energy to visit the granite temple
they were harmless and minded their own business some posing for photos too ,
their philosophy was different they were willing to face and experience anything and would see God in all things good and bad !
the chiming bells foggy clouds stone steps chilly winds and colourful ware in the shops gave a special atmosphere
we went down by steps into the gurgling Mandakini a branch of river Ganges
it was flowing with ferocity hitting huge rocks ,
strangely we saw a petite foreign girl descending down into those dangerous rocks sitting on one and lighting a lamp and praying in that blowing chilly wind
we were surprised at her piety
We stayed over the night finding it very difficult to sleep because of the sparse oxygen in the atmosphere
finally morning came with a lovely sunrise peeping over the snow locked mountain tips
the golden glow of those burnished peaks was a special vison like seein almighty himself or is it herself !
this energised us to climb down slowly
specially me taking photos drinking tea chatting with everyone all the way down so much so I reached by dusk at Gaurikund to a waiting bus and our impatient gang .