Set a twin purpose for your next trek - add adventure and spiritualism together. Visit some remote religious places that are both an adventurous trek as well as will give you spiritual solace.Vidya Deshpande tells you how…
If you are an avid trekker, there are some pilgrimage routes that should be on your bucket list as they make amazing treks. And since this is the festive season, many of you may want to use this opportunity to go on a pilgrimage as well as add a dashof adventure to your trip by trekking up to these places. Here are my top five picks:
Valley of Flowers:
This trek is all about beauty and spirituality in one. It has some amazing sights, including snow clad peak, a treacherous walk down the valley and the beautiful sight of rolling green valley with flowers.
The trek begins at GovindGhat and leads to Ghangharia, a 13-km trek. Using Ghanghariaas the base you can trek to Valley of Flowers, a distance of five km, one way. Camping in the valley is not permitted you have to return to Ghangharia. The next day you can trek to Hemkunt Sahib, the famous gurudwara with hot sulfur springs and the Lakshman Temple. It is a four-hour trek from Ghanghariato a beautiful lake, Hemkund, around which the gurudwara and temple stand.The glaciers of HatiParvat and Saptarishi flow into this lake. The lake is revered by the Sikhs as it is believed that the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, meditated on the banks of this lake. You can spend a few hours there and return to your base camp at Ghangharia
The high altitude lake of Kailash Mansarovar is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. There are several ways to do this trip. One way is to register through the Government website for the yatra. The participants are decided based on a lottery and a fitness test done by the government. The trip is subsidized by the Government and participants are allotted dates according to availability. The whole duration of the trip is 23 days, with about 15 days of trekking, through Uttarakhand, Nepal and on to Tibet via the Lipukehi Pass.
The second route that has opened recently is via Nathu La Pass on the India-Tibet border in Sikkim. This new route has cut down the duration of the trip to12 daysfrom 23 days. The Nathu La pass connectsGangtok to Yadong in Tibet. And most of the road upto the parikrama point has been made motorable. So instead of trekking for 12 -15 days, now pilgrims will only walk for the two parikarma days around Mount Kailash.
Vaishno Devi, Jammu:
This is one of the most popular trekking pilgrimages. Once you reach Katra, a 13 km trek will take you to the temple. The route is well-marked but is crowded with pilgrims. For the first sixkms, the path is common for ponies and walkers, making it difficult for walkers as you have to give way for the ponies to cross. But the next six km, there are separate routes for ponies and walkers, making it more convenient for walkers. The trek can be easily done in a day. You can start early in the morning and return by night.
This is a five-day high altitude trekthat begins at Pahalgam. From here you can either trek to Chandanwari or reach by road. On Day 1, you leave Chandanwari for a 13-km trek to Sheshnag via PissuGhati and Sheshnag Lake. It’s a very windy place and you will need good down jackets and sleeping bags to keep out the cold.
Day 2 begins with a trek via Panchtami via Mahagunas Pass. You can camp at Pachtami for the night. Day 3 you trek to Amarnath Cave, a 6 km trek. On Day 4, afterdarshan, you descend to Baltal and onday 5 you can return by road to Srinagar or trek some distance and then take a bus/cab.
This is a 16 km trek from Gaurikund, accessible by road from Dehradun. It will take about 14 hours by road from Haridwar to Gaurikund. The route is well-paved for pilgrims. However, after the flash floods in 2013, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering has been working on repairing this route and has set up a new route via the right side of the valley from Rambada and via Vasuki trail to the temple. There are alternate routes via Sonprayag (22 -24 kms) and via Guptkashi (33-35 kms) that also join the Vasuki trail leading to the Kedarnath temple.