Saturday, October 13, 2012

MY TREKKING TO PANCHA-KEDER (KEDERNATH, MADMAHESWAR,TUNGANATH,RUDRANATH AND KALPESWAR) AND LITTLE BIT MYTHOLOGY


It’s hard to resist ,when I get a call from the great Himalayas for trekking there. The myths and mythological flavor of this region makes trekking there more interesting and joyful. This time it was a call from the Panch(five) keders (Kedarnath, Madhamaheshwar,Tunganath, Rudranath and Kalpeshwar) of Gharwal ranges of Himalayas.


According to Hindu philosophy there is a cycle of four  yogas(ages), namely  the Satyayoga(12-11 000 BC), the Treta Yuga(7000 BC till about 3 000 BC), the Dvapara Yuga(It lasted for about 2400 years till 500 BC), and finally the present Kali Yuga(from 500BC).According to hindu mythology  Pancha Pandavas of  Mahabharata(Dvapara Yuga,) established  shiva-linga(symbol of Creation)  in five different forms in these five regions of Himalays to meditate the Lord Shiva for their  ab-solvent and Salvation after winning  the war of Kurukhsetra against KauravasAfter winning the great war of Kurukhsetra  by killing their own blood relations,Brahmins and Gurus(teachers), PanchaPandavas (Judhistir, Bhim, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadeb) were suffering from a feeling of sin and guiltiness . On advice of  lord Brahma, Pandva brothers went to Himalayas for penance and to have the blessings of Lord Shiva(the all-powerful god of creation and destruction). But as Shiva was angry and annoyed with the Pandavas  for their sinful act, he refused to see them and took the form of a bullock to escape them. But he failed to escape the notice of Great Bhima, who caught the back of  the Lord in form of bullock firmly.The greatest of the  all  lords could not but to turn kind-hearted to the Pandavas. He showed the Path to Salvation to the Pandavas.
He advised them to meditate  him   manifesting  his five forms(1) in the form a bullock’s back in Kedernath near  Sumeru ranges of Himlayas,where Mandakini,one of the main tributaries of the river Ganges originates.( Shiva  here is a natural rock resembling the hump of a bull).  (2)In in the form of his Navel in  Madhmaheshwar, situated at the base of Chaukhamba Peak .(3) in the form of Lord’s arms in Tungnath ,near chandrashila peak(4)In Rudra-rup(manifesting destruction)of  Lord’s face in Rudranath and (4)  in his matted hair form in Kalpeswar in the valley of Urgam.
In Kaliyoga(the present and the fourth of the cycle of four ages) ,The Panch-keder were re-established by Adi Shankaracharya, one of the greatest reformers of the time.


KEDE  KEDER DOME







In the early morning of 25th Sept/2012,we(me,Bhupen,Samarendra,Pranjal and
sishir),after having a bath in the hot spring of Gaurikund
HOT SPRING OF GAURIKINDA
RAINBOW IN A ROCK(ON THE WAY TO KEDERNATH)
 started our trekking to Kedernath(14,000+ft). For a while, nostalgia engulfed my mind,as  my first visit to Kedernath 13 years back had occurred to it. 
Kedernath Temple
A Nanga Sanyasi
Kedernath Temple
 But moments after ,it was the annoying and irritating sound of helicopter suppressing the murmur of flowing mandakini(I did not have knowledge of introduction of helicopter service for pilgrimers) , brought me to the reality ,breaking the tranquility of my mind and the sanctity of the holy place as well.  But soon after the glimpse of snow covered peak of Keder dome,where the river Mandakini originates from a cave, enthralled my heart, as it had done earlier too ,13 years back. I enjoyed my trekking to Kedernath,but not thoroughly ,as the sounds of helicopters disturbed me frequently. I took photographs and videos and by afternoon reached kedernath, and had night stay in Bharat-Sebashram there.. I had to miss a visit to Basuki Taal(7 km from Kedernath) as my co-trekkers did not dare to go there, as trekking there is a little bit tough one and they had to maintain their time schedule. I would suggest trekkers and nature lovers visiting kedernath to visit also basuki taal, chora-bali taal(Gandhi Soravar) and the cave where Mandakini originates. I had also have some fun with local people and Sadhus, during interaction with them in Kedernath. One thing I must mention here that local inhabitants here ,did not like the introduction of helicopter service in Kedernath, and I would like the same service to be withdrawn immediately for the sake of protection of environment here.

On 26th Sept. in the late afternoon we reached Narayan Kutthi(about 15-16Km from Gaurikund) by a rented car. We managed two porters there, and started our trekking to Kalimatth in twilight. It took about two and half hours or so to reach Kalimatth. The moonlit night helped us to find the foot path,when we were passing through the forest listening the buzzing of crickets and night birds leading  to Kalimatth. We passed the night in the guest house of Kalimatth, the right place for a complete relaxation.

MADMAHESWAR TEMPLE
In the early morning of 27th Sept. we started for Madmaheswar along with two ponies and  two porters for carrying our luggage and two of our co-trekkers ,one of whom had breathing problem while trekking up and the other had knee problem while trekking down . We had passed three villages before we reached Roulek(approx. 7 km from Kalimatth). In Khadada village we took rest in a village house, the very simple housewife of the family greeted us with tea and cucumber with motherly love,which is very very uncommon in our so called civilized city/metro life. From Roulekh we reached Unianah(approx..3 km) by a rented car. After having some refreshment in Unianah, we trekked to Gounder(approx. 7 km) and then to Bontali(1 km from Gounder), where we stayed for the night in the house of a villager. We along with the porters enjoyed the evening puffing hukka under the open sky of full moon night. Next Morning we had to trek about 10 Kms to reach Madmoheswar in the afternoon. I really enjoyed meeting and interacting with local Gharwali people while coming across them during the course of my trekking. Kids, there ,while greeted me saying ‘Namaste’ ,I too reciprocated and offered them almonds, I had with me, and they happily accepted the same. In course of my trekking, taking photographs and videos of breathtaking  sceneries and mountain peaks of  choukhamba  with clouds playing hide and seek with them, recharged me to proceed further.
BUDA MADMAHESWAR(SHIVA-LINGA)
After having  light refreshments in Madmaheswar(10,790ft), we trekked up one Km. to reach the peak of a mountain range ,to visit Buddha(old)Madmaheswar. As chiledrens are attracted to toys, I am attractedto shiva-linga .  In  Buddha madmaheswara, I had the liberty to touch and fondle the unattended shiva-linga there.I worshiped the shiva-linga with a blue flower and fondled it with my heart’s content. In the evening I enjoyed my meditation in Madmaheswar temple.
OFFERINGS MADE BY PARIKHSHIT  SON OF ABHIMUNYA AND GRANDSON OF  ARJUN TO PAY  OBEISANCE TO HIS ANCESTORS AND FOREFATHERS BHISHMA, DHRITARASTRA, GANDHARI , KUNTI AND OTHERS 


 In the early next morning(29th Sept) we trekked back to Unianah(about 17 km) and after having a light refreshment,and a little fun with a Nanga Sanyasi of Abahoni cult there we proceeded to Chopta(about 40km) by a rented car.
We passed the night there in a hotel and had our dinner in the oldest(43 years) dhaba there of Mr.Mangal Singh. I enjoyed my interaction with the old man and his wife.
In the morning of the following day(30th Sept), we trekked directly to Chandrashila(4Km) bypassing Tunganath.
There are two myths about chandrashila—(1) Rama(Treta Yuga,7000 BC to 3 000 BC )after Killing Ravana,a brahmin, came here to meditate Lord Shiva to get absolved and get rid from the sin of killing a Brahmin. (2)Chandrama(Moon) in  disguise of Brihaspati(Jupiter) had had sensual pleasure with the latter’s innocent wife. Brhaspati ,when came to know about the same  cursed chandrama, and who turned into a piece of rock instantly and had been lying there till the Pancha-Pandavas visited this place to  make him absolved.

TUNGANATH

CHANDRASHILA
We had here view of entire Nandadevi ranges of Himalayas including the peak of Trishul, sometimes under clouds and sometimes peeping from under the clouds. I missed to witness the sunrise here and would suggest the visitors here to witness the same. From Chandrashila we trekked down to Tunganath. I enjoyed very much meditating , worshipping and fondling the Shiva-Linga here.

In the afternoon we reached Sagar(31 Km) by a hired taxi for our trekking to Rudranath(11,690Ft), next morning. In Panch-Keder,Trekking to Rudranath is the toughest and one  has to cross the Now-la pass(14,527Km) to reach Rudranath in an all along steep route. Our plan was as usual , two will go on pony’s back and three including me will go on foot.
In the early morning of 1st Oct. when we were set to start our trekking to Rudranath, my four co-trekkers changed their opinion and decided to go on pony’s back to Rudranath to cover the distance in the same day. As I differed to their opinion, I bid bye to them and along with a local guide started for Rudranath on foot, leaving others in Sagar for arranging their ponies for their journey to Rudranath.

Gingaru fruit
The World here is so Shiva-moy(nature or something beyond nature with  it’s  truth and beauty amalgamated with something godly or something beyond  godly ), put my mind in a state of mediation, as I was stepping ahead. After walking for three hours we reached Pung Buggal,a beautiful meadow, where we had a light refreshment in a temporary shed (shop) run by a Gharwali mother. Here I collected some Gingaru fruit (small red colored fruit, himalayn bears are very fond of this fruit) from the bushes and finished them within next three to four hours of my trekking.I shared this tasty fruit with other trekkers that I came across. I enjoyed very much my trekking here through forests with birds singing, crickets humming and springs flowing with their murmuring sound.

CAVE TEMPLE OF RUDRANATH

RANGES OF NANDADEVI FROM RUDRANATH DURING SUNSET
While trekking up in steep routes I tried to keep my breathing, stepping and mind in the same tune, which made me feel less tired. After Pung Buggal I had shorts breaks  in Mouli Khark, Luiti Buggal and Panar. Many trekkers have night stay in the meadow of Panar, before proceeding to Rudranath(approx..6Km from Panar)  on the following day. Around 4 pm, the same day, I reached Rudranath. I had to wait  for about 2 hours till my friends on pony’s back reached there and I was so glad to receive them with big hugs. Earlier I had witnessed the inexpressible beauty of Nandadevi ranges of Himalayas during sunset, what my friends missed to witness. We together visited the cave temple of Rudranath and attended the evening rituals performed by the Purohit(Permanent care taker of the lord Shiva there).
We had night stay in Rudranath in a small chati(house for night stay of pilgrimers).To respond the call of the nature there we had to go nearby bush beyond the boundary of Rudranath Temple with a bottle of water in hand.
In the afternoon of the following day,2nd Oct at around 3pm we trekked back to Sagar, and had our night stay there.
On 3rd Oct, early morning we left Sagar for Helong(55km) boarding on a rented car for our onward trekking to Kalpeswar. We kept our luggage in a hotel in Helong(Halong to Kalpeswar—13Km) and after having our breakfast we had an hour of trekking by the side of the river Alakananda to reach the motor-able road, from where we proceeded to Urgam by a car. I enjoyed my last 4 km  of trekking through Urgam village to Kalpeswar, as I had a lot of fun and interaction with local people there, witnessing  the reaping of local crops by the housewives of the region.
SHIVA-LINGA IN THE CAVE-TEMPLE OF KALPESWAR
After reaching Kalpeswar,I meditated and worshiped the Shiva linga there in natural rock form in a cave temple in my ownway   
My Pancha keder trekking ended,when I  had returned back to Helong with all my great feelings and memories that I had there for the rest of my life.
Early next morning(4th Oct) we boarded on a Haridwar(275 Km)-bound bus. After reaching Haridwar that afternoon, I had my course directly to Har-ke-pouri , where I  had long and repeated  dips  in the cool and soothing water of the Ganges.        Yes I had my bath there only after seven days.