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Kagbhushandi Tal Story I

Kagbhushandi Tal

This time in the thick of monsoon I land up in the high mountains. It is the beginning of August and I am there planning my fore into the deep valleys, so as to reach the high passes. A small walk into the nearby mountains before I move to higher ground is a must and these days I try to do the small treks which have been long overdue. During all my visits to Joshimath in Garhwal I see the high, sharply rising mountains on the other side of the mighty Alaknanda river. Beyond the high ridge stand the Hathi and Gauri peaks. Somewhere in between lies the sacred lake of Kagbhushandi , where as the story goes, the saint bird used to tell the Ramayana story to the other birds living in the surrounding area. Well, the place is sacred. I decided to visit the place this time around. I was in the mountains during the wrong time but could not help it as my main trek could be done during this time only. So as is required for all the treks in the region I landed up with a permit application from Manish Bhujwan at the Forest Office. I got the permit from there and so left Joshimath with Indra Singh Rawat, my companion for treks in the region. We carried all the camping and kitchen stuff for 6 days and decided to trek to the lake from the Bhyundar village side and if possible get down from the other side to the Vishnu Prayag. A 20 km journey in a shared taxi brought us to Govindghat, the road head for the trek to Valley of Flowers, Hemkund and Kagbhushandi tal. Since we carried lot of load, and Indra Singh had not seen the route from this side, we decided to hire a porter up to Bhyundar village from where the trek to the tal bifurcates. At Bhyundar I was to contact with Jasbir Singh who had promised to take me to the tal on my next visit. As we started the climb up from Govindghat the starting zigzag path just after the bridge was good enough for taking my breath away. Slowly in the sun we moved along the trail. The pilgrimage to Hemkund was in full swing and the number of shops along the trail had increased. The path becomes comfortable after the first two km and then above the Pulna village a new group of shops and a new board announces the arrival of Jungle chatti. As it was too hot we decided to sit in shade and have some tea. The pilgrims were moving to and from Hemkund. Some walking, some on the ponies and some in the hindola. The ones going back were full of josh and ones moving were gaining inspiration from them, as they had followed the same path which they were following. It was quite hot and so we thought of stopping at Jungle chatti a bit longer then required. As I sat watching the people go by I saw a familiar face on horse, which to me looked like an unlikely way of travel for a local. I called out for his name and sure enough I was correct, he was indeed Jasbir. We exchanged pleasantries and then told him that we were coming to his place as I wanted to do the Kagbhushandi trek this year. What he told was not very heartening, but I wanted to see it for myself. Jasbir pushed off on the horse he was riding and we took to the trail. Another two hours and we reached the village of Bhyundar. Jasbir was waiting for us. His first wife had been killed in an accident last year and soon he had married again for the sake of his young daughter.

Jasbir told us that there was heavy rain last week and it caused flood in the Kagbhushandi nala and the trail had been damaged because of it. The bridges on the nala are inaccessible and it is not possible to get to the other side of the nala. I was heartbroken but could not do anything, except that I thought of visiting the place myself to verify the claims of the flood and damage to the trail. We did not have much to do at the village and so though of walking some distance on the trail going to Hemkund. Though it was evening, it was still some time to get dark. We continued up the trail till the bridge, which takes one across the Bhyundar ganga river and the final climb to Ghangaria starts. We went to the dhaba, where I had had excellent aloo prathas, but it was closed. As we moved down the next dhaba wala was known to Indra and so we stopped there and they offered to make the prathas in ten minutes. Had excellent prathas and moved out on the trail back towards the village. It was then we realised that we had moved out quite far from the village and in few minutes it was dark. Somehow we reached the house of Jasbir. The night passed of peacefully. Next day we were ready for the visit to the damaged trail. Three of us went to the other side of the river over a bridge and then moved on the right bank of the river. We passed a bridge below which water was flowing but the top still had the debris which the flash floods had brought. The initial trail was good and we moved without any problem. The we reached the second bridge which was standing in the middle of the fast flowing river. The trail leading to the bridge on both sides had been washed off and as such there was no way to reach the bridge. We spent some time there and also climbed a bit ahead to see further route but gave up our intension's as the path was full of overgrown shrubs. Far in the distance the huge rock face could be seen on the left below which the river flows and in absence of route requires to be traversed. We had no such intentions and so retraced our path to the village.

While Jasbir organized a horse to carry our load back to Govindghat we had good breakfast at his shop. The intension was to try the other route to the Kagbhushandi lake going up the tough route via Panka village above Vishnu Prayag. Without any difficulty we reached Govindghat and there the struggle started once again to find a person who could lead us to the lake. Indra had been to the place, but quite some time back and after the rains when the path is clearly visible. He was not very sure of finding the route, and I did not want to take any chance. Many came forward claiming to know the route, but said it was not possible to go there now because of rains and overgrown shrubs. It would be impossible to find the trail. Some were ready to come but with an assurance that if they found it difficult they would turn back. Again not a very good proposition. In the mean time Indra contacted one of his relative, who knew someone from Panka village, who was at that moment in Joshimath and likely to return back by evening. Manu of Hemkund Hotel, who himself a good trekker, suggested that the best possible bet was to reach the village and make someone show us the route. Taking his cue we took the first taxi moving to Joshimath and got down on the bridge before the bridge on Alaknanda at Vishnu Prayag. A tea shop is located at this place and there is a overhead water pipeline which is used by water tankers from Joshimath to fill fresh water. We sat there having tea as we were supposed to wait for the person returning from Joshimath. We eagerly kept looking for taxis coming from Joshimath but the one we were looking for came quite late. As the taxi got empty Indra was able to meet the person we were looking for. He was a small man around 50 years of age. He was also happy to see us. The passengers after some small talk at the tea shop picked up their bags and started to climb up the path to the village. The village was nowhere to be seen from the bridge. I also picked up my bag and the walk stated. Well, few minutes later I was all wet from sweating, but had no choice but to walk. The villagers were watching my actions very carefully. Any way I moved slowly up the steep zigzag trail. We reached the sitting place besides the path where people sit on their way up as it offers good views. I sat there to regain my breath and then moved on. As it was getting late we reached the village and our man went to his house with a promise to return soon. We jumped into the compound of the primary school as the main gate was locked. Soon the kitchen was started and we cooked food. There was no sign of our man. In darkness we relaxed seeing the lights of Joshimath just opposite to us. Later I realised the climb from the road to the village is 500 meters. In darkness a light moved to our place and it was a boy sent by our man. He wanted to leave the solar lantern for us but we returned it. He told us that he might be coming up with us or his uncle would come. The cold had increased and so we moved into our sleeping bags and soon fell asleep. I suddenly got up as something big fell on me. My sudden jerk made the thing which had fallen on me to run and as I switched on my torch light a big spider was seen running up the wall. It was a big thing and quit scary. Anyway I did not have any other place to run to and so went to sleep there itself. At night it rained a bit but we were spared a wet night.

Kagbhushandi Trek
Kagbhushandi Trek

The dawn was good even though the sky was overcast. There was no threat of rain for the present. We cooked our breakfast and started to pack our bags. Shri Rana, the person we had met on the road head came to the school, all ready to leave. He had decided to accompany us. He later told us that the other village people had told him that we may not even reach the top of the ridge because of the thick undergrowth. We moved onto the steep village path and reached Shri Rana's house. His relatives were also waiting to see us off and offered us some tea, which we could not refuse. He had some last minute jobs to complete, so I picked up my bag and started to climb up. The path was under construction and clearly identifiable. It took me an hour to climb the path and reach an open space, whereafter there was no path, only the small mud trail. I sat in the open space waiting for the other two to join me. Sometime later they joined me and now Shri Rana led the group. The trail was covered under the over grown bushes and grass and could not be seen. Slowly we moved up and soon realised that there were many leeches which were trying to climb on to our legs. The vegetation was so thick that few meters of separation meant loosing sight of the person in front and so of the trail. The trail zigzagged up the mountain side. The ridge and the final gully which seemed very near and one felt that it could be reached within few hours was slowly moving higher and higher. The sun was out on Joshimath and here we were struggling with wet, slippery, shrub covered trail full of leeches. Still we were satisfied and joked about different things. As the time was passing we were also moving closer to our destination, which was supposed to be near the top of the final gully, which led to the ridge. Well we were only moving closer but it was nowhere near. We reached the trees which were visible from below and the trail crossed over to the opposite mountain side. Some straight walking and then again climb. we were now above Joshimath and the Auli slopes were clearly visible with a thick forest in between. Again we moved on to the mountain side we had been climbing in the morning.

The final gully was now quite near. Our exhausted lungs were demanding frequent rests and so giving them their due we finally stood on the ridge by evening. There were trees on one side of the ridge and the other was devoid of them and this side rose sharply. There was no flat ground except the man made platform for pitching of tents. If this platform is not there then there is no flat place to pitch the tent. The other side also has a steep slope. We had finished the days walk and so moved onto the platform and lowered our sacks. The clouds were moving from the valley below and as we opened our tent the clouds moved in from the side we had climbed up. The game of white out and clearing went on as we established our camp for the night. The tent was the first to go up, then the stove was started. But where was the water, nowhere in sight. Though monsoon was in full swing, the mountain did not have any water sources. Rana was aware of the water source few hundred feet above on the trail and was sent for the life giving liquid. The wind was picking up and one side of the tent was a bit loose, but there was no way we could tighten it. Well we thought it may not give any problem. Indra set out to prepare tea and then food. Slowly energy returned to the bodies. It was complete white out and soon it was dark and three people were confined to a tent. We had climbed 1200 meters in a distance of 5 km. Well you can imagine the climb with all the load. At night it started to rain and we had water in tent which soaked few of my things kept at the loose side. Thankfully it did not cause much harm.

Kagbhushandi Tal Trek Story Part II

Kagbhushandi Tal Trek Photos Part I

Kagbhushandi Tal Trek Photos Part II

Kagbhushandi Tal Trek Flowers

Kagbhushandi Tal Trek Plan



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Published on: 2012-02-10 (4049 reads)

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