Panch Kedar Series: Madhmaheswar

New places make you miss home and you often find yourself in the things-we-used-to-do memory thread. Since I moved to London, my pinings for Gol-Gappas made me try out ready to make golgappas at home and  those for Leh and Madhmaheswar made me make an essential trip to india. There are two schools of thoughts about going to Leh by road-there are some who say it is serious business and some others who say it is very serious. So I couldn’t convince anyone to undertake this 5 days leave +2+2 weekends, which is also touch and go,  along with me. So when Maithani, garhwali-bhula (bro) of the dodital/roopkund fame, pinged me online about his Madhmaheswar plans, I put all my energies in catching this plan. I almost caught the plan by landing in delhi on the friday decided. What I did detrimental to the plan was to go to Bercos. Bercos garden in Noida is the maker and breaker of plans, 3 hours in Bercos and I ended up making another plan with 2 other friends who were my original trekking buddies of yore, VG and SRD. They were hell bent on doing a roopkund kind of trek, without sleeping bags or tent- that was bercos speaking through them. Description of the ordeals I had faced in july last year at Roopkund were to no avail, but I was still prepared in my head to convince them to go to madhmaheswar midway on the drive. Delhi development authority flats lottery came to the rescue, mandating their return by Tuesday. Maithani started for the same destination at 9:30 pm with his bunch of friends on friday and we started 4 hours later.

Road route: Noida-Ghaziabad-Meerut-Mawana-Bijnor-Najibabad-Kotdwar-Pauri-Srinagar-Rudraprayag-Augustmuni-Tilwara-Okhimath-Uniana.

Trek route : Uniana-5-Ransi-6-Gaundhar-2-bantoli-2-Khadara-3-naanu-3-Kunnchatti-2-Madhmaheswar-1.5-BudhaMadhu

By Saturday 1230 afternoon we were close to Tilwara where the traffic was held due to a landslide. Came to know this is when Maithani and his group turned back and went to-no not roopkund- Mussorie. This was going to haunt Maithani till he does madhmaheswar again. We on the other hand were wondering where we would meet maithani and company and what reason would we have for crowding their paradise. We reached unyana by 3:30pm. The last 6-8 kms were very rough, would advise parking the car at okhimath and taking a bus or cab. We started immediately for Ransi on foot without a porter as the track till ransi is easy. Stayed at Bhat hotel overnight. Not much of a hotel etc, but with a view and local food. The village has its own 1000 years old temple of kaleshwari devi.
 Temple at Ransi   Ransi from a distance

The next day’s walk took us through beautiful waterfalls at gaundhar and confluence of madhuganga with the one coming from kedarnath at bantoli.

MAdhu ganga confluence at bantoli

Gaundhar, or gondar as the locals pronounce it, is usually the night’s halt if you started from uniana early morning.  The trek till gaundhar was easy to moderate. This below picture is how you would know gaudhar from all trekking guides out there.

gaundhar waterfall

But there are more…

Gaundhar

Gaundar falls

After dodital I have had my lessons not to take bath in any tom dick or harry waterfall as it could simply be servicing a village above you. We now depend on properly earmarked water outlets like the one below for drinking water and enjoying a bath. Can you see the neat photography…(wink)

huh?

From Ransi we had employed the services of a porter and porters get a bang out of showing you distances by pointing out distant peaks which simply stupefies you and makes you want to turn back. We hadn’t even reached gaundhar when he played that trick on my friends, and started chitchatting with a village neighbour, laughing at our shock. I tried to downplay ofcourse. Note to Porter: Adapt, based on the bangali’s experience. Note to reader: Like I told you, by default you are classed into bangali or foreigner on the himalayas. Interesting note to all: Mr. Uma Prasad Mukherjee wrote a book in bangla about major trek routes in the himalayas in 1967 (? i think) which has led to good livelihood for the garhwal people.

Getting a hang of where we were headed are you sure about doing this?

A good thing about this trek is even though it’s a long trek, there are villages evenly spaced throughout and they give you a welcome relief in the form of tea / meals / tasty cucumber with spicy salt even.

Khadara

Salt being prepared for a cucumber treat-

special salt for cucumbers we were floored by her hospitality

We got a lot of photo opportunities on the way and made a lot of friends on account of it.

Making friends

If you can delay your lunch hours, try having it at Nanu at M/s Panwar lodge, it was really good and they even  took care to provide curd raita, a smattering of green chillies and salt added to the appeal. All of us proclaimed this was the best food in the whole of Asia (that impresses them). All of this rest and satisfying lunch at Nanu was taken care of by the steep and very long next 3 kms to kunnchatti. I will rate it moderate-hard. We agreed with satya’s take on it : Both heaven and hell are here on earth.

Upar-wale uthale

Heaven at kunnchatti-

Happy to get to kunnchatti

After kunnchatti we found ourselves walking in the clouds like in the movies. The background music score was by very loud crickets with unabashed mating calls.

in clouds heavens

We got to Madhmaheswar by 6:30pm.  Total of 16 kms today. Was much relief to find a decent dhabba hotel and chitchat on tea. Reaching your destination at the end of a tiring day is a very happy feeling. I thought of a happiness bottling plant up here but c’mon, there is no market. I have a few samples if you are interested.

self explanatory

Morning at 6, Vishal and I started for Budha Madhu, the real charm of madhmaheswar (from a trekker’s angle)- if the skies are clear, you see Chaukhamba’s reflection in the three ponds at the budha madhu summit. For reasons beyond me (d’oh! SINS – for example refer line above about the real charm of madhmaheswar, did I know there is 5500 years old temple there, in my defence it is not really 5500 years old), my treks are never blessed with such views so I will just give you what I got.

Chaukhamba acting shy

Not photoshoped (up)… Not Photoshoped (below)

budha madhu

Budha-Madhu is the highest point around and you can see Okhimath, uniana, and other towns around this place. To facilitate this, there is a ladder fixed at the vantage point.

Oh by the way I did get some reflection in the pond. See?

StairWay to heaven

Stairwar to heaven ?

Satya did come after his lazy tea but turned back halfway with good judgement seeing the clouds. Madhmaheswar below from budha madhu

The climb was tough, the descent tougher. After we came down, the skies started clearing up over budha madhu. Perfect!

budha madhu clearing up

Since we had to go down all the way and start driving towards delhi the same day, I didn’t bother to go back up and let it be for another trek. The Madhmaheswar temple below (find the story behind it in my previous blog on Tungnath):

Madhmaheswar

3120 meters it says

Met this shepherd on the way down from madhmaheshwar. Shepherds here have a hard life. Two such shepherds go to the high meadows of Nandi kund for 6 months, tending to hundreds of sheeps belonging to the neighbouring villages, for a rate of 50 rupees per sheep. They live in an open shelter exposed to the elements, taking turns staying up in the nights. It amounts to 25 thousand each at the end of it. Hence it is not profitable to go as a team of 3. A single person would die. 2 is optimum. This year our porter’s dad and an 18 year old boy went up. The porter told us how at times one of them has to come all the way to madhmmaheswar, a distance of 40 kms just because they ran out of matchboxes or their supplies got wet. It is customary to carry matchboxes , bidees (cigarettes), sugar, tea if you happen to go visiting them. shepherd

By the time we reached gondar again, it was 2 pm, we had ample time to go down to uniana and drive but our legs wouldn’t agree. It was the strain of budha madhu and the knee breaking downhill to Naanu. We had gone bananas and kept laughing thinking about not being able to get back to Noida at all and people telling us  “jab utar nahi sakta toh chadha kyun” ( translates to biting more than you could chew). Stayed at Gondar for that night at the banks of madhu ganga and talked to the porter at length on the trials and tribulations of a high meadow shepherd. On the way back to delhi, enjoyed sumptous dinner and wine at the Midway resorts between rishikesh and haridwar. Next year leh then ?

14 Comments

  • kashif says:

    I’m sure you had lot of fun on the route. You can write probably more on what all happened enroute.

  • Anurag says:

    You read such stuff and you wish you were part of this :)!

  • Ram Dhall says:

    What a post, Ajeet !!!

    Simply astounding narrative supported by some excellent pictures.

    I enjoyed every bit of it, all through. Felt like a part of the entourage.

    Good to see you back after a longish interval.

    Look forward to your next post

  • Manish says:

    Nice place !!! Nice Narration !!! So next thing coming up, Baba the Writer :)

  • Nandan Jha says:

    You can’t keep a trekker down for long :). London is lucky to have you around, visit India often.

    Its hard for me to believe that VG and SRD did all this.

    By far the best from you (in terms of text) and it totally compensates for the time you have not been around.

    lovely !!

  • Aanchal says:

    I was invited for the trip. Unfortunately :( I cud not make it … After going thru the blog, I cud imagine, I have missed one of the greatest trip with bhai. We all know you have been writing for a long time now. However this is the “BEST NARRATED” blog till date and definitely more to go…..

    U ROCK brother….hope to c u soon back with some more fantabulous trips.

  • Ajeet says:

    Thank you all for your kind words. Was very busy the whole day, couldn’t reply earlier.
    Kashif , You know how satya and vishal are for company dont you, great fun. So the enroute tales i will save for a get together.
    Anurag : spoilsport! you cancelled the last get together haha! kiddin.
    Manish, thanks :)
    Aanchal: Bhai! acha laga ki tumhe acha laga :) think you should start writing too, cloud’s end ??
    Ram Uncle, I am much inspired by your detailed reports and knowledge of places and treatment of all places as one considering how much i am biased for the mountains.
    Nandan keep up the good work and keep inspiring.

  • Sameer Sharma says:

    Ajeet,

    Amazinggggggggg!

    I was with you all through the trek. Very nice post. Have read twice already and still feel juice in it.

    Thanks

  • Manish khamesra says:

    So nice to read this post from you Ajeet. All your posts are filled with fun and great pics (Great places definitely makes great pics), but I also feel that its among the best … Very well written, very well photographed …

    Almost all the photos are classics and the text keeps you similing. Great …

    Will wait to read/see more from you Ajeet …

  • Ajeet says:

    Thanks Manish :) I am glad you liked it. Re-read and relived the whole trip when i read your message message. the lil narcissist in me haha.
    ah, i want to do another trip very soon. thanks for makin my day.

  • rc says:

    Simply Great, did not know that you write also, that too so good!

  • anirbanb says:

    dear
    can you pl give me few details as i am going to pancha kedar yatra in may 2010 wt my wife and son(9yrs). pl kindly help with minute details viz road, gradeing , etc

  • Hi my loved one! I wish to say that this article is awesome, great written and include approximately all significant infos. I would like to see extra posts like this .

  • Mohd Asif says:

    Really nice Pitures, Greate places and beautifull described by yu. nice

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