DAY 5 – PATHAR NACHAUNI TO BHAGWABASA VIA KALU VINAYAK
TREK – 4 KMS
ALTITUDE – 12,818 FT TO 14,117 FT
Sitting on a rock near my tent, I was watching one of the most beautiful sunrises..the rays kissing the dew laden grass..giving the much needed warmth, not only to the aching body, but to the spirited souls as well. Spirited souls..yes, that’s the right word to describe the entire bunch of fellow trek enthusiasts. It was so inspiring to see the zeal on everybody’s faces, even after four days of sweating it out in these unknown parts of the mountains, in this wilderness at close to 13,000 ft.
So then..a hot breakfast, and we were ready to hit the track again, on to the our destination for the day.. Bhagwabasa, located around 14000ft above the sea level.
Just about 1 km of a gradual ascend from the campsite, and we were face to face with the actual Pathar Nachauni spot. The term Pathar Nachauni translates to “Dancing Stones”. Legend has it that very long ago, a king was making his annual pilgrimage to please Goddess Nanda Devi. He set up his camp here, and asked the royal dancers to perform. This infuriated Goddess Nanda since women were not allowed beyond Ghora Lotani and she sent the three dancers to “patal lok” or simply to hell. There are three big deep dugs which can be connected to the folklore!!!
The trek to Kalu Vinayak is steep, narrow and challenging. The combination of a high altitude and the steep ascend made this stretch a rather difficult one. It felt as if the heart was popping up in the mouth, that forced me to halt at every few steps to take a deep breath and try to fill the lungs with depleting oxygen !!!
The sight of the small stone temple, along with the sounds of the bell piercing through the silent surroundings, was indeed one of the most satisfying experiences of the entire trek. Sitting besides the temple at an altitude of 14200 ft, a sense of pride and achievement prevailed amongst us, and the first sight of black idol of Lord Ganesha made our belief in ourselves even stronger.
This place also has an interesting folklore. This is where Lord Ganesha is alleged to have been standing guard, while Parvati was taking bath in the Roopkund Lake. It is from here that one can see the Roopkund crater for the first time.
After offering our prayer and posing at the spot, we started our descend of around 1.5 kms to Bhagwabasa. The descent was a big respite after the steep ascend to Kalu Vinayak.
The trek to Bhagwabasa is quite uneven and zig-zag. It is essential that proper safety gear and at least three layers of clothing are ensured, as one will be reaching quite a high altitude of more than 14,000 ft. The flora also diminishes along the way giving more way to rocky terrain, the sight of which is so overwhelming that one realizes what a minuscule part we are of this planet!!!
Just a bit further on the trek, and we were surrounded in a field of the divine “Brahma Kamal”, which is also the state flower of Uttarakhand. The flower blooms only during the monsoon months. What a rare sight it was !! “They blossom only in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas, above 12000 ft”, said one of the porters..
Finally, making our way through the rocky terrain and a cloudy weather, we reached our campsite at Bhagwabasa.The term Bhagwabasa translates to “abode of the tiger”. The legends say this is where Goddess Parvati left her tiger and went to take bath in the Roopkund lake.
At the campsite we were treated with “Chilli Soya” and hot soup which was more than anyone expected at this hostile terrain. The trek leader strictly insisted the group on taking acclimatization walks and not hitting the comforts of the warm sleeping bags inside the tents.
The weather was cloudy and gloomy, and had it not been for the constant talks and cracking of jokes amongst the group, it would have been a complete pin drop silence in those surroundings. It was an extremely chilly evening, and all that the group wanted was a clear day tomorrow, perfect for doing the summit climb.
To say that each one of us in the group was excited would be an understatement. In the shadow of the towering Trishul and Nanda Ghunti peaks, I kept twisting and turning in my sleeping bag throughout the night… waiting for the whistle.