The alarm in my cell phone reminded us that we need to get up and start for our journey to Badrinath. The trek or rather pony ride to Kedarnath was exhausting, but we were on a tour. So, we got up, packed our bags and got ready for our journey to Badrinath. Our saarthi Deepak too was ready. We had a nice cup of tea and we headed to Badrinath. Kedarnath to Badrinath has two routes – one via Ukhimath and other via Rudraprayag. The one via Rudraprayag is a bit longer in distance but you won’t feel you are at any remote place on that route. One reason being its the road connecting to Mana border, which is ahead of Badrinath. We took the via Ukhimath – Chopta – Gopeshwar route. Both these routes meet at Chamoli. This route is remote but has a very nice scenery of flowers. We took the darshan of lord Shiva at Ukhimath. Ukhimath is the place where Lord Shiva stays during winters.
In the hills, even the best cars may not fetch you more than 30/35 kmph. The first time, we travelled in TATA GRAND, the next time in TOTOTA INNOVA. Only difference we felt was that the Innova was a bit more comfortable. We reached Chamoli and it was well past noon. We had a wonderful lunch at a small dhaba. We then started off with a target to reach Badrinath well before sunset. We crossed Joshimath. Joshimath is the place where Lord Badinathji stays during winter. After Joshimath, there is a descent to Vishnuprayag. From Vishnuprayag, we marched towards Govind ghat. This is the base for those who wish to go to Hemkund Sahib, a center of pilgrimage for the sikh community. This place has Gurudwara’s here which offers food to the pilgrims. Thereafter, we pass through the notorious Lambagad and then take the climb towards Badrinath ji. On the route is Hanuman temple and crossing hurdles posed by nature, Lord Badrivishal is kind enough to allow us to reach well before the sunset.
The weather like in Kedarnath, is very cold in most parts of the year. There are many private hotels, dharamshala and even government guest houses. The food rates are somewhat costly because most essentials come from Rudraprayag and below the hills areas. We checked into our hotel, refreshed with a cup of tea and headed to Badrinath ji for the evening Aarti. There are different types of aarti’s and pathan of Vishnu Sahasranaam. A faithful can choose anything of his/her choice, and it is not mandatory. Our dinner was at a local hotel – some spicy vegetables, parathas and dal-rice with salads.Our hotel was a very simple one , but had essential features like blankets / hot water were provided on demand. It was a terrific, yet tiresome day and we went fast asleep.
Next day, we got up early in the morning because we had planned to reach Haridwar by end of the day. After taking a hot water bath and getting refreshed with a cup of tea, we took darshan of Shri Badrinath ji and started for our return journey. We raced through Govindghat , Joshimath and suddenly near Helang, brakes were applied to our fast moving vehicle. There was a landslide the previous night and we all had no option but to wait for JCB which would come and make a path for us. The time allowed us to relax from our car seats and have hot parathas at the local vendors. We had to wait for almost 3 hours after which the road got cleared. We got to know that there were two similar landslides ahead. The Uttarakhand police does a great job in keeping this yatra road clear of any hurdles. In these 3 landslides that our journey had to face, we lost around 5 hours. This made it necessary that we had to reset our target of reaching Haridwar by night.
Our saarthi was very experienced in car driving in the hills. Once we crossed the third road block, we raced through smaller towns like Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Gauchar before taking a brief halt at Rudraprayag. If you plan to stay in Rudraprayag, the suggestive place is “Kali Kamli Wale Baba Dharamshala”. This baba used to provide Kali Kamali , which means black tough blankets, to the pilgrims travelling to Kedarnath and Badrinath. It was evening, Sun was about to set and we wanted to freshen up ourself. Very hot piping tea did the trick. Again we proceeded our journey but the roads in the hills dont allow you the luxury of running at high speeds.Second thing is mud that comes from the adjoining hills and “anytime” rains make the road slippery, challenging the best from anyone behind the wheels. So finally around 7.30 pm when we had reached Srinagar, we decided to take halt and end our day travel – a huge around 130 kms from Haridwar.
Srinagar is a small sleepy town, so hotel rates are not high either.We got a very nice room, washed our clothes and set them to drying before we had a a wonderful dinner. The food in Uttarakhand is a little spicy and mostly has available vegetables along with hot dal. We surrendered for the day. The next day was a relaxed one. We had only 130 kms to cover , so we were not in a hurry like previous days. We had some nice breakfast of Poha at this hotel. At around 8.30 in the morning, we said goodbye to our hotel. We crossed Devprayag and reached Rishikesh. We took a brief halt here visiting some famous temples, Laxman zulla and Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara. We met lots of people from western countries and finally set for Haridwar.
We reached Haridwar at around 2 pm, and we stayed that day at Shri Vyas Ashram, which is maintained by Kashi Math. We all put our bags in the room and went to have a great lunch. The food was satvik meaning divine. Since this ashram is maintained by South Indian folks, the lunch consists of rice and sambar while dinner has cooked vegetables and chapati. The ashram also has a very nice and clean ghat built on the banks of river Ganges. This is beneficial for pilgrims who want to take holy dip in this river. We roamed around in Haridwar on that day and the next before starting our journey back home.
For all our readers, the main challenge in Chardham yatra is the weather. Also, it will be nice to travel in Cars like Innova , Bolero, Tavera, Grand or mini buses which run through the length and breadth of this small state. While planning, keep at least a couple of days in spare because no one can give
guarantee of plans getting perfectly executed. The next thing to note is travelling after sunset is strictly not allowed because of hilly terrain and landslide prone areas. Having said this, by grace of lord, many people have completed this yatra. So, if not in 2020, go ahead and plan for a nice pilgrimage trip to Uttarakhand in 2021.