Monday, December 19, 2011

Why Satopanth???

Satopanth Tal (Lake) is a holy lake at an altitude of 15,100 feets from the sea level in the Uttarakhand state of India more precisely in the Dev Bhoomi.  The lake is considered to be of religious significance to the Hindus. It is believed that the Pandavas trekked through this route trying to reach the Swarga.

But unfortunately the Pandavas died on the way to Swarga at different places on this trek trail. It was Yudhistir, who could only reach upto Swargarohini where a Rath came to take him to the Heaven. In Hindu mythology it is believed that Lord Bhramha, Lord Vishnu (Narayan) and Lord Maheshwar (Shiva) visit Satopant Tal on Ekadashi day to take a dip in the lake.
We planned to take a bath in the lake on the Ekadashi day and also perform puja.
We moved towards Swargarohini ice fall after establishing our base camp on the banks of Satopanth. We spent 3 nights at Satopanth Tal.

Day 1 (Mana - Bandhar) 13 kms

Bhim pool at Mana
Satopanth lake is triangular a lake of serene water has a perimeter of about half a kilometer. It is about 25 Kms. from Badrinath. At 6 A.M. our jeep driver came to our hotel at Badrinath and we started for Mana. Our guide Mannu Rawat was waiting for us. After having tea at his house we started our trek.

After crossing river Alakananda we reached Mata Mandir. We asked Mataji's blessings and moved forward. The trail was really very narrow but was not dangerous.

Me and Mannu Ji
After reaching Chamtoli we had our packed lunch that was brought from Mana. 
The place was full of greenery  and trekking was enjoyable. We could see the Vasudhara falls on the other side of Alakananda.

 After crossing Laxmi Van we moved forward to Bandhar. Our night halt was at Bandhar which is 12 kms from Mana.
Vasudhara Falls
Mannu Ji cooked for us. Our porters Monoj and Moti pitched tent for us. We enjoyed the hot dinner in the chilled weather.

Day 2 (Bandhar to Satopant - 13 kms)

At dawn we started from Bandhar. Our destination was Satopanth Tal. Our guide Mannu Ji told us that it would be long and tough trek through out the day. We understood that during the day.

Neelkanth from our camp

The trail was through bolder zones. We crossed the Sahasra Dhara and the Neelkanth Base Camp on our way. Specifically, there was no trail, we just followed Mannu Ji as moved forward. We saw the Alakapuri glacier, which is the source of Alakananda river.

My Guruji
Some parts of the trekking route was so steep that we had to sit and rest for a while. We felt how tough it was for the Pandavas to cover this region. This boosted our energy to move further.
Alkapuri Glacier
Sahashra Dhara
We had our lunch at Chakrateerth.

Many trekkers camp here before reaching Satopanth. But we had to reach Satopanth so, we just took a lunch break here.

After Chakrateerth, the trail was really dangerous. It was not only steep but also full of bolders. We had to cross a glacier covered with moraines. These parts are really risky without an experienced guide. Otherwise, one may lost his way and may get into the crevasses. 
 After a tough trek we reached Satopanth Tal in the evening. Our porters reached before us and they made all the arrangements at Satopanth Tal. They welcomed us with hot tea which really made our tiredness vanish instantly.

Day 3 (Satopant-Swargarohini)

Bala Kund Peak
Last night it was raining throughout the night. But we were lucky enough because clear sky and the gigantic peaks greeted us in the morning. After breakfast we started for our day trek towards Swargarohini.

Way to Swargarohini
It was the toughest part of the whole trek. Most of the trekkers return from Satopant Tal and very few mover forward towards the Swargarohini Ice Fall. The road was very narrow and can be compared with an edge of a sword. We reached Surya Kund without much trouble. But the most dangerous part of our trek was crossing the moraine. It was full of crevasse.

With Bisada on the moraine
Somehow we managed to reach Som-Kund. From Som-Kund we could see the Swargarohini Ice Fall more clear. We were lucky enough to get a nice view of it for a while but the weather started to deteriorate. It was getting worse and we had no provisions for night stay on the way with us.

Swargarohini Ice Fall
Our plan was to visit Vishnu Kund and return back to Satopant on the same day. At that moment we had to decide whether to move forward or return. Ultimately, we decided to return as it was wise to return rather get ourselves in trouble.

Later we understood that it was a wise decision. On our way back, it started raining. We somehow, walked slowly over the moraines and then through the narrow trail. At last we returned back to Satopant Tal which we made as our base camp for Swargarohini. It was then raining heavily. We had to confine ourselves in the tents and enjoy the rain with hot Khichri, pappad and potato chips.

Day 4 (Puja at Satopanth Tal)

Satopant Tal
Our Hindu mythology has a belief that Ekadashi is the most auspicious day at Satopant Tal because the three Gods, Lord Bhramha, Lord Bishnu and Lord Shiva comes here to take a dip in the lake. It is also believed that if a person take holy dips in this lake he or she will never reborn and return to this world. 
Dada performing Puja

We chose this day to take a holy dip in the Satopant Tal. It was really challenging for me to take dips in the chilled water of Satopant Tal at an altitude of 15,100 feets. But with Gods' grace I didn't have any problem. My Dada performed a whole puja on the banks of the Lake. We spent the whole day at Satopant Tal and I enjoyed the scenic beauty over there. Tibetan crows are found here in a large number. 

Tibetan Crow
It is also believed that if any thing falls in the lake, these birds pick up those things with there beaks to keep the lake clean. It was really an amazing fact though I didn't experienced anything like that. The day at Satopant Tal was really a life time experience. At evening it again started raining and the weather really got worst.

Day 5 (Satopanth Tal to Chamtoli)

Struggling over boulders
After three nights at Satopanth Tal, the moment arrived when we had to leave the holy lake and get back to our normal life. We realized that it was most disappointing moment. The road felt more rough to us.

Roaring stream
Next came the most challenging moment of our trek. The night before rained very badly and we discovered that the streams en-route were roaring with the flow of rain water. We somehow managed to trek over the terrain. As we were near to Sahashra Dhara, it started to rain. We covered ourselves in rain-coats and walked like a tired mule. We just followed our guide and porters. Visibility was too low. We kept short distance between ourselves so that we don't lose the trail.

Cooking tent at Chamtoli
At last we reached Chamtoli Bugiyal. As per plan we camped here. My Dada took the job of cook and prepared a delicious "Khichri" meal for all of us. It was our last camping of this trek. The next day we would reach Mana if everything goes right.

Day 6 (Chamtoli - Mana)

Dada in good mood
Beside Alakananda
It was our last day of the trek. We were really feeling great as our trek was a grand success. All of us were safe and healthy. But our soul was still missing the ambiance of Satopanth Tal and Swargarohini. We will again return to the concrete jungle of Kolkata and involve in our daily activities.