"Badrinath" – Popular in India for Char Dham Yatra, or as I call it "Once in a life time Pilgrimage"! It lies within the beautiful folds of Garhwali Himalayas, a place that is abode of Gods. But its beyond Badrinath where lies a hidden treasure - "Jewels of Nature" scattered around the shrine which most of us are not aware of.
Haridwar is the most prominent rail head, which in turn, is very well connected to Delhi by Train and Road. Jolly Grant in Dehradun is the nearest Airport that serves Haridwar.
Once in Haridwar, it's a road journey all the way. The beautiful journey take you along, initially The Ganga, then subsequently The Alaknanda, Pindari and Mandakini rivers crossing the famous Dev Prayag, Karan Prayag, Rudra Prayag and Vishnu Prayag all having great religious significance. The administrative hub is the Joshimath from where it takes leisurely approx 2 hours to reach Badrinath. Generally the road closes post snowfall due to inaccessible conditions.
Badrinath Town has various inns and hotels for people to stay and subsequently there are open grounds for people who want to go Camping. After having bathed in the hot water springs and invoked blessings of Badri Vishal, you are ready for exploration of what lies beyond.
A Venture into Nature : Three days window
Moving out of Badrinath, one walks to village of Mana which is amidst the lush footholds of the mountains. During this trek you will come across the mighty Neelkanth Mountain peak, one of the most formidable mountain peaks in India. Upon arriving at Mana, you can get administrative support for stocks supplies, ponies and porter. The view of Mana village is breathtaking on a sunny day.
The Saraswati River
Just at the end of village is the Fabled Gushing torrent called River Saraswati which enters into Alakhnanda, which according to legend comes out again on surface of earth only at Allahabad, The sound made by the river is so deafening, that people have to literally yell close to the ear to be audible enough.
Next in Line - The Vasudhara waterfalls
On trekking for about 3 odd hours, from Saraswati River one encounters the breathtaking view of Vasudhara waterfalls. The crystals of water can be seen floating and the smell of the ions gives an intense relaxing feel. Further ahead is a grassland and a barn generally used by the Gujjars (Nomadic Shepherds). The beauty is breathtaking and unfathomable. This place merits a night stay and arrangements for same need to be catered for by oneself. A camp fire and a small entertainment programme is something one shouldn't miss to cherish this place to the fullest. However care has to be taken for the sudden drop in temperature during the night due to windchill factor. Banks and fast current of Alakhnanda river should be strictly avoided in the evenings & nights. Morning sunrise is a splendid surprise, which shouldn't be missed at all.
Post this area lies the Bagnue Nullah, which needs to be crossed, if a local stone bridge is not existing. Generally the current and depth is very low, but the current is too fast to be taken lightly. You must choose the closest point and people need to secure each other by ropes. It is an out of world experience to cross this Nullah, and no one can forget this experience in his lifetime. Care needs to be taken by judging and acclimatising to the temperature of the water. Slippery rocks especially close to the banks need to be negotiated with extra caution. Not more than two people should be crossing the river at a time.
Tapads and Moraine
Moving ahead you see the fringes of Satopant glacier. On either side of these glacial ridges are the lush green land structures with rivulets called tapads. Mosses, poppy flower and other coloured growth make you feel like you are in own mini "Valley of Flowers".
Finally the trek reaches the area which resembles a massive junction Mega Highways. Mighty glaciers of Satopant and Bhaghirathi, Kharak meet here and it forms the emanating point of Alakhnanda River. In the middle you see the fabled Chaukhamba Ridge. To move further ahead one has to move to left highway that is the Satopant Glacier and almost a half days trek leads you to Satopant Tal (lake).
Legend has it that "Pandavas" of the Mahabharata fame - took a dip here before climbing the mountain Swargarohini to go to Heaven. A night stay at the lake is like you touching a step in heaven - So blissful !!
The day of return is most difficult as one peep into this kind of natural beauty makes a man gasp for more. It is as if your feet have grown roots as they say and won't move at all to leave the place. But at the same time the journey back mostly down slope is very relaxing and nostalgic as well.
Important Tips to consider during the trek: