DAY 6 – BHAGWABASA TO ROOPKUND AND BACK TO PATHAR NACHAUNI
TREK – 10 KMS
ALTITUDE – 14,117 FT TO 15,756 FT ( 16,200 FT IF GOING FURTHER TO JUNARGALI )
And there I heard..at 3:30 am before the dawn broke..a sharp whistle by our trek leader. A step outside my tent, and I realized this was the most hostile surrounding I had ever been in my entire life.. Pitch dark, freezing temperature, rocks to walk on, and what not !! We stood out in a line and were briefed about the safety tips. “Breakfast at Roopkund and lunch at Bhagwabasa”, said Hardik, the trek leader..Counting check, backpack check, head torch check, baklava check, trekking sticks check…all abode..LETS SUMMIT !!.
It was so dark and rocky in the beginning that the entire batch walked right behind each other..The path is just not possible without a torch. A head torch is definitely more convenient as your hand will remain free (you’ll hold the trekking stick in the other hand).
It was for the first time that I was expiercing a ‘trek in the dark’. And man, was it scintillating. The stars in their full glory, and those outlines of the towering peaks all around !! It was so silent that the only sound visible were those of the clapping of shoes and my own heartbeat..
Once you cross the rocky terrain, the path is not that complicated to climb. But even the 4km challenges you and takes your breath out and tires you to the limit. From Bhagwabhasa, your first checkpoint is Chirianag, which is a group of few loose slate stones. The step climb is perplexing to say the least. It was here that we came across a lady from another group, sitting on one of the stones. She was suffering for acute Mountain Sickness and was about to be taken down to the lower altitudes. Sad indeed…
In a few minutes, we witnessed the grand spectacle of the first rays of dawn hitting the peaks of the imposing Trishul, Nanda Ghunti and Chaukhamba..
And finally we were there.. Around 2-3 hrs of steep climbing in the thinning air, we reached Roopkund, at an altitude of 15,696 ft. Such was the sense of achievement in the entire group., that there was hugging and handshakes going all around the place. An achievement, it surely was. A high altitude trek of close to 16000 ft is by no means a small task, and not everybody who starts, reaches this point !!!!
The first sight of the not so large lake might not appeal to everyone. “Such a arduous trek of 6 days, for such a small lake”, said one of my friends. But the legend of the Roopkund lake is popular not only due to its size, but because of the mystery and enigma it holds..
Till date, the mystery behind the skeletons scattered around the lake has not been solved. Many theories have been attributed to their presence. According to one of them, in the 8th century AD, once a king and his fellowmen were going on a pilgrimage to Nanda Devi, and unfortunately, a severe hailstorm led to their deaths. The skeletons were sent to a forensic lab, and the dates did match !! Even a crew from the Discovery Channel visited the lake to study the skeletons and have made a documentary on the mystery attached with it…
According to folklores, while Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva were on their way to Kailas, Goddess Parvati was feeling very dirty after killing the demons and wanted to clean up. Lord Shiva created the Lake with his Trisul and Parvati dipped herself in the blue waters and could see her clear and beautiful reflection in it which was why the lake was named Roopkund.
The trek leader informed that we have an hour to spend here, as at such a height, the weather can change drastically at anytime. We had two choices. Either to roam around the lake or trek further up to the Junargali pass, at an altitude of 16,200 ft. You can go to Junargali only if the weather permits, and that day, the Gods were with us….
The views of Trishul from Junargali is simply jaw dropping. I literally felt being on top of the world. Spending sometime with nothing but the air between me and Trishul, and clicking some breathtaking pictures for the memories, we started our decent to Bhaguabhasa and from there to Pathar Nachuni.
It may sound surprising, but the descent along the path is more difficult than the ascent, since it is so steep that one might have the feeling of falling down from the top.
The bodies were descending for sure, but the thoughts were still with the lake, the skeletons and the mysteries.. There was non-stop chattering throughout with the fellow trekkers about each other’s experience. This trek down, covering over a distance of 10 kms, is quite tough, considering the fact that we started so early and already toiled to reach Roopkund.
We reached Pathar Nachauni around 4 all exhausted. However, the pain did surely end with a gain.. A cake made without an oven at 12000 ft. to celebrate our summit lay there to be feasted upon…Definitely our eventful day ended on a sweet note!!!!