Besides its rivers, rivulets and streams, Garhwal is famous for its high altitude lakes, which hold up a mirror to the awesome peaks that surround them. Not one of the most beautiful, but certainly the most fascinating lake in Garhwal Himalayas is "Roopkund", the mystery lake. At an altitude of 4777 metres, this glacial lake is about 50 metres in diameter. It is so named, because of its banks lies the remains of human skeleton of scores of men who perished many centuries ago. Many mythological accounts and stories are heard about the remains, they range from Tibetan traders to refugees to Tughlaks army, who were on a mission to Tibet, under General Zorawar Singh.
Homekund is yet another lake, situated at a distance of 8 kms beyond Roopkund. Homkund is the final destination of Nanda Jat Yatra, commences after every 12 years. Along the route, one can witness the excellent close views of Nanda Ghunti (6309 metres), Trishul (7142 metres), Chaukhamba (7138 metres) and other important peaks.
Apart from lakes and peaks, the trek passes through one of the best 'Bugyals' the alpine meadow of the area, i.e. Bedni have long been related to myths and mysteries. Even today, the local people witness the presence of fairies. According to a popular belief the Vedas were written in sylvan haunts of Bedni. Regularly visited and worshipped temple of Goddess Nanda Devi is situated amidst the meadow.
A 08 Nights 09 days trip which involves trek to one of the high altitude Himalayan lakes and spiritual journey to one of the four most sacred place and source of second most important river of Northern India. Best Time: June to October
DAY 00 Arrive Rishikesh.
Arrive Rishikesh & transfer to Hotel. Dinner & overnight hotel.
Day 001 :Rishikesh - Lohajung (260 kms / 10 hrs)
Early morning drive to the small hamlet of Lohajung (2213 m), from where the trek begins.
Day 02: Lohajung - Didina 2439 mts / 06 hrs walk
In the morning our team of porters will arrive and we will set off on the first stage of our trek. We have a steady climb up to the Lohajang Col at 2590m which we cross to reach the valley of the Bedni Ganga. We descend on the north side of the pass down to the river before climbing back up to the little village of Didina (2439m) where we camp.
Day 03: Didina – Bedni Bugyal
Today is a steep trek through oak trees and large stands of bamboo up to Ali Bugyal. From here we can enjoy an expansive view of the Garhwal peaks. We continue trekking through thick forests as far as Bedni Bugyal (Bugyal means meadow in the local Garhwali dialect). Very occasionally the brown Himalayan bear can be encountered on this section of the trail, but it is an elusive animal. From Bedni Bugyal we have an excellent view of the various summits of Trisul (7120m) and the peaks of the north of Garhwal. Bedini Bugyal is a charming green meadow adorned with a myriad of colourful flowers. There is a lake situated in the middle of the meadow where Hindu pilgrims come to bathe, and nearby is a small temple.
The trail's just to the right of the Didna camp site, hanging over the shoulder of Didna village. You cross the village and immediately afterwards the trail veers right and gets steep. Soon, you are amidst oaks and you can catch glimpses of Didna's rooftops below you. 10 mins later you come across a stream. Stop to catch your breath and fill in your water bottles. This is the last water point and there isn't any water source until Bedni, 4 hrs away. The water's cool and crisp and feeds the Didna village.
The climb through the dense oak forest is seductive. Sun beams light up the moss laden bark of the tress. A brown carpet of leaves marks the trail. The air is cool enough to make your sweat cold. Around you is a dense foliage of green, and as you climb the sweet smell of moist earth lingers around.
It is a 2,500 ft climb from Didna to Ali. Quite a bit if you are not used to climbing. Take it nice and slow and enjoy the views. It is perhaps one of the best that Himalays has to offer through dense oak forests..
The forest starts to thin after about 2½ hrs of climb (make it 3 if you are slow)Suddenly, abruptly, the oak falls behind you and stretched in front of you is a largest, greenest rolling carpet ever laid out for you. You've arrived at Ali Bugyal..
All tiredness forgotten, you soak in the mesmerising sight of the undulating meadows of Ali Bugyal. You are on the top of a ridge that spreads in every direction. Acres and acres of green meadow scooped out of the mountainside..
Clouds drift in from below, glide over the ridge and slide down the either side, all in a slow swift motion. You watch countless horses grazing on the bounty of nature. Foals tearing themselves across the turf in an uninhibited abandon, just being themselves..
The climb over, leisurely walk your way to Bedni Bugyal, 5 kms away and more or less at the same level. If you are tempted to take off your shoes and allow the feel of the carpet on your toes, just go ahead and do it!
Day 04: Rest day at Bedni Bugyal for acclimatization Overnight: Tent
Day 05: Bedni Bugyal - Baguabasa (4100 m) Trek 4-5 Hrs. Overnight Tents.
After 2 hours of gradual climb up, uninterrupted views of Trisul range and Nanda Ghunti can be appreciated. The trail crosses a hump to reach Bistola and then climbs up to Baguabasa, an improvised stone shelter that is generally used by local pilgrims.
(4 - 4½ hrs.
Level moderate: Easy assent at the beginning, gradual decent followed by a stiff climb in the middle. Easy walk at the end).
There's is a big change in the days trek. You start at the meadows, gradually climb out of them, make a steep dash to gain height and finally camp on the snow line. The day's trek will also see you climbing from 11,500 ft to 14,500 ft. For the first time on the trek you will feel the effects of altitude and thin air.
Start your day early again. You want to be in Bhagwabasa as early as possible to acclimatise yourself to the altitude before your final push to Roopkund. The trail to Bhagwabasa climbs out of the Bedni campsite in a gradual, easy meander. From your Bedni campsite you can follow it with your eye for 3 kms before it disappears into a saddle in the mountain.
It makes sense to break the day's trek into smaller stages.
Stage one: Bedni Camp site to saddle on the mountain, where the trail crosses over.
Stage two: Gradual decent to Patal Nachauni over the Ghora Lotani meadows.
Stage three: Steep climb to Kalu Vinayak.
Stage four: Gradual decending snow line walk to Bhagwabasa. Overnight: Tent
Day 06: Baguabasa - Roop Kund (5029 m) and back to Baguabasa
Stupendous views of Trisul and the mountains around. An arduous and spectacular trek for about three hours gets us to Roop Kund, a holy lake surrounded by glaciers and high peaks and situated on the outer rim of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. Every 12 years thousands of devout pilgrims, carrying a golden idol of the goddess Nanda Devi, undertake a difficult trek to this holy lake from Nauti village, near Karnaprayag.
From Bhagwabasa it is about 5 kms to Roopkund. The stretch isn't long, but the entire bit is on snow patches. At some parts the slope is steep but most parts are easily trekkable.
It takes about 2 hrs to climb up to Roopkund. Make it 2½ if you are slow. Ideally, if you have started at 5.00 am then you are going to get to Roopkund by 7.15. The climb is deliriously exhilarating. The last stretch of climbing over the rocky flank on the left, requires some clambering, but is over in 10 mins. The final bend on the snow shoulder will get your hearts pounding. Roopkund is right over the edge, two minutes away and yet you can't see it unless you get there.
Day 07: Baguabasa - Wan (2450 m)
Return trek to Badni Bugyal. The trek then makes a long, steep descent through a fine forest of firs and rhododendrons and across a beautiful clearing with much of the track being paved. After crossing a river, a short climb leads to the main valley, at the head of which is Wan.
Day 08: Wan - Lohajung trek
Morning after breakfast trek to Lohajung. Arrive and check into Lodge.Overnight: Lodge
Day 09: Lohajung - Rishikesh
After breakfast drive to Rishikesh. Tour Terminates. One can take the train to Delhi or stay overnight.