A pilgrimage up North – Part 6: Badrinath

The narrow road all the way to Badrinath

The narrow road all the way to Badrinath

The road between Gopeshwar and Badrinath is quite narrow and operates on a one way system, so we left Gopeshwar early in the morning so as to catch the uphill going traffic towards Badrinath post Joshimath stopping enroute at Gauchar on the banks of Alaknanda to have our breakfast and then it was a straight drive to Badrinath where we drove straight to the GMVN Hotel to have lunch. Post lunch we walked and did some sight seeing and shopping in the so small town of Badrinath and took in the sights and sounds of beautiful mountain views, waterfalls and snow peaked caps.

Badrinath temple

Badrinath temple

Apparently tradition dictates that one steps into the temple only after doing the ceremonial pooja for the anscestors and that was to be done the next day morning as per the pandit. The temple is so very beautiful and I was itching to go in there, sit and meditate. The Alaknanda gushes out in full steam in front of the temple and then there is the hot water streams outside the temple. The plan was to go the temple at 4AM, but once we got a taste of freezing cold sub zero temperature, all the plans went straight out of the window, we stepped out post 6AM, completed the ceremonies and stepped into the temple to have a beautiful darshan of Badri-Vishala and then in the temple complex in a corner, is the statue of Adi Shankaracharya and Swami Brahmanand Saraswati – And then I got the opportunity to sit and meditate. I did the Guru Pooja chanting…..the vibrations of the place were so powerful that I slipped into a deep meditation so effortlessly.

Then it was time to wrap up the visit and head down hill to Gauchar for overnight stay before we headed out to Dehradun touching RudraPrayag, Devaprayag, Rishikesh etc.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip for several reasons that I will write in another post sometime later!

At the same time, what was the biggest disappointment for us was the total and complete devastation of the entire ecological system that we witnessed all the way from Rishikesh to Kedarnath and then all the way from Gopeshwar to Badrinath. A river tamed and the majestic mountains blasted all the way, little greenery, hot weather – all signs of a upcoming disaster. More about that in the next post.

A pilgrimage up North – Part 1

We did not plan it as a pilgrimage, but that’s what it turned out to be. And a fabulous one at that! It all began one day when Sreesh – my son – saw a small hillock and said “Look Dada, Himalayas” and we decided, let’s go up north and show the kids the real mountains! And coincidentally Pawan and family were going to their hometown Dehradun for a vacation and then suddenly things fell in place. Pawan did all the planning and booking and all we needed to do was to just be there and have fun!

Just before we were supposed to leave for Delhi, I was down with a bad case of viral fever – the Doc said, Raj, if you had travelled back from US, I would have had you quarantined. And then the last minute scramble to cancel the train ticket and rebooking ourselves on a flight. Delhi was hot at 41deg celcius when we landed and then the cabbie didn’t knew where New Friends Colony was and drove us all the way upto Noida. In between the guy managed to hit a couple traveling on a bike, and had two narrow escapes with larger vehicles and then has the temerity to turn around and tell us, do you know since how long I have been driving the cab? Three years!!! So don’t worry, I will make sure you reach the destination.

In our mind, we hoped that his and our destination did match!!

And then just before we hit the toll gate at Noida from where we forced him to turn back towards Delhi, we saw a beautiful hoarding with who else, but Guruji’s picture on it – the presence was unmistakable. And I said mentally, Guruji, we know that you love fun, but not today….let us just get to the hotel without further events. Mercifully it was a pre-paid cab and after a little bit of going around we managed to reach our destination for the night halt. Early next morning we were on our way to Dehradun in Shatabdi express.

Vikram's at DehradunMy last trip to Dehradun was in 1982, when tangas used to run on the road. Obviously things have changed and we really loved the “Vikrams” – shared autos, very efficient, very cheap. We should get them to Bangalore and get rid of the “auto”cracy in the city!

After a bit of sight seeing (Ghantaghar, obviously was a must see place on our itinerary, to go back in time and revisit a romantic story that started near Ghantaghar about 11 years back, we will keep that story for some other time, but it was a must see, even important than Taj Mahal and we had to do it and look at the Ghantaghar from all the 6 angles, lest people get upset!!) eating chaats, kulfi, faloodaa at Kumar’s and doing the regular tourist circuit of Mussoorie we were ready to hit the roads to go up the mountains!!

Ghantagar at Dehradun

Ghantagar at Dehradun

Sunset at Mussoorie

Sunset at Mussoorie

Coming up Next the trek @ Kedarnath