“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks” - John Muir
All creators are adored and respected irrespective of Nationality, Caste, Religion or creed. However they are adored in their respective schools- schools of arts, school of play, school of painting so on and so forth. However till date nobody could deny the miracle in creation of the universe and its natural beauty. One such splendid creation is Himalayas. Every inch of the vast expanse speaks of the greatness and uniqueness of nature. Each turn one takes in the winding road up heal a new canvas unfolds. No two canvases are same-that is the beauty of it and which is why people from far and near throng this place throughout the year.
As our rickety bus from Rishikesh stopped at Govind Ghat, a small hamlet with very huts and shanties, we alighted with astounding awe. One hot cup of tea there refreshed us further. Without losing any time we embarked on an arduous trek to Hemkund Sahib. We tightened our Ruck Sack and stepped into the narrow dusty walking trail. Steep uphill!! The beauty of the surrounding including the rippling sound of river Lakshman Ganga gushing downwards at its own will, washed away all our tiredness. The short stopover in between for a couple of tea and light snacks added spice to our long trek. In 5 hours we could reach Ghangharia, again a small hamlet with one tourist lodge and Gurudwara. The altitude of this place is approximately 3000m from mean sea level. As we felt hungry we tried hot Maggi at a local shanty for 4 times the price at land. We consoled ourselves by assuming we were paying Altitude Tax. Why not? We are already habituated to pay lot of taxes with various kinds. I can’t name all!! In fact, the hill people survive on the income they make in 4 or 5 months. Who will listen to their penury? So whatever they asked we gladly obliged.
Somehow we could get some place to sleep at night at Gudurdawar. We also took the opportunity to savour the Langar at night. The Sikhs there were giving yeomen service to all tourist and pilgrims. It is worthwhile to mention that what for tourists are there.
Sikh shrine, Hemkund Sahib, is situated on the bank of the Hemkund Lake (4320mtrs). It marks the place where Guru Govind Singh, the tenth and last Guru, unified with God after prolonged meditation in his previous birth. According to Hindu mythology, Hemkund or Lokpal as it is also known is where Lakshman had done his penance.
Next day trek of 5Km is one of the toughest treks I have ever had encountered. The ascent is 1600m in 5 Km. One can imagine how steep it is!! All tiredness, prostration and fatigue vanished in no time as we put our steps in the bank Hemkund Lake. Word will fall short to describe out mental satisfaction and emotion. The majestic view of the Lake and surrounding snow capped peaks swept us off our feet. As we turned around the heavenly scene unfolded in their unique manner. We kept guessing who was the creator? How a creator can create such massive yet slices of miniature landscapes adored by all. We also came to know that the lake do not freeze even in winter even though it is situated at more than 15000 feet altitude. Perhaps it has got more dissolved salt in it which reduces the freezing point. The free and careless slices and barges of ice were floating on the lake. A leisurely troll!
We had a great reception in Gurudwara with a glass of hot tea and a dollop of pure Ghee Halwa. After a holy dip in the lake we started descending. After first dip I almost lost sensation due to freezing cold. I put my hand on the head to check whether it is there or not at the same place!! Total darkness prevailed all around. However subsequent dips were refreshing.
We started out journey back to Gangharia (or Govind Dham) with heavy heart. On our way back we visited Valley of Flowers as well. That is another whim of the nature. I will take you through that in subsequent travelogue.