For many years, Roopkund, the beautiful and mysterious lake has held the attention of trekkers not only because of the enchanting landscape surrounding it but also because of the presence of several bones and skeletons that can be seen in its waters. For years no one could figure out what had happened. The mystery has finally been solved by an international team which found out that around 850 AD, a group of pilgrims faced an unusually severe hailstorm which caused hundreds to die.
The trek route to Roopkund lies in the remote parts of Chamoli district in Garhwal which is famous for its high quality treks. The Roopkund trail is a classic case of experiencing both, the beauty and the beast. Only here the beast is equally if not more enchanting.
On one side you get a great opportunity to hike through a beautiful inviting forest section, cross a meandering stream, walk on the unusually green and world famous high altitude meadows called Ali bugyal & Bedni bugyal only to be welcomed by an intimidating high altitude environment where one gets to see Himalayan giants like Trishul (7120m) & Nanda Ghunti (6310m) at very close quarters. As one approaches the higher reaches, the terrain becomes more barren with possibility of having to walk through snow. Roopkund is a small lake in a depression and is mostly covered in snow all year round. The final stage upwards of Bhagubasa can be testing so be prepared for some hard work but rest assured you will be suitably rewarded. On your way back, you will be crossing an almost oasis like place called Wan. It is a small village, the kind that tempts you to hang your boots and settle down in this paradise. To walk on this trail a certain amount of fitness is required especially if you are a first timer for trekking, so do plan you trip in advance and prepare for it.
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DAY 01: Kathgodam – Lohajung (2130m) Drive/250 kms/8-9 hrs
We will meet at Kathgodam railway station at 7:00 a.m. and from here board a vehicle and be driven up to Lohajung. This is a long but interesting drive. You will initially drive along beautiful Kumaon mountains via Almora and Kausani. Later we get into Garhwal region and continue to drive upto Lohajung. On arrival check into guest house. Overnight in a guesthouse/tents.
DAY 02: Lohajung (2130m) – Didana (2550m) Trek/5-6 hrs
Today’s walk is gradual apart from the last stretch to reach Dedina village. The walk is through an enchanting mixed forest abundant in bird life so carrying a bird book will be a good idea. You will cross a few crystal clear streams that means opportunities to experience the ‘Himalayan Bite’, the sting that you get from cold streams and also walk through a couple of villages to appreciate a lifestyle typical of the terrain. After about 4 -5 hrs of walking, initially going downhill and then up again, you will reach the campsite above Didana village getting full view of the trail for tomorrow leading to the famous Ali & Bedni bugyals (meadows). Overnight in tents.
DAY 03: Didana (2550m) – Bedni bugyal (3350m) Trek/6-7 hrs
Today after a steady ascent through thick oak forest we will come to the alpine grazing meadows called Ali bugyal. It’s a super place for taking a break and to enjoy the views of unending vistas in all directions and if the sky is clear you will be mesmerized by the views of the Trishul peak. From here on it’s a pleasure walk till Bedni bugyal with the gradient being moderate. Bedni bugyal is a very fine camping site with vast open views and grazing pastures all around, not to forget the close views of the Trishul & Nanda Ghunti peaks. Overnight in tents.
DAY 04: Bedni bugyal (3350m) – Bhagubasa (4100m) Trek/5-6 hrs
You will start climbing up the slopes of the meadow and trek up to the ridge on top from where there are fine views. You will have to crest another ridge coming to the shrine at Kalu Vinayak. From here there are fabulous views of Neelkanth, Chaukhamba & Hathi peaks. From here on, depending upon the season you will find snow in varying quantities. The terrain also becomes a bit rocky. Short distance from here is the desolated campsite at Bhugubasa. Today in the final stages one might feel slightly out of breath due to the altitude one will get comfortable in sometime after one spends some time here. Overnight in tents.
DAY 05: Bhagubasa (4100m) – Roopkund & Jurangali (4750m) – Patal Nauchaniya (3850m) Trek/7-8 hrs
The day is going to be full of adventure and give you a great feeling of having achieved something. We will start early and mostly make it to the lake in about 2.5-3 hrs. You will climb through moraine, rock gardens and snow patches to reach the periphery of the mystery lake. This trail is steep at sections and there are possibilities of it being under snow for about 9-10 months. Your stamina is sure to be tested. On tricky sections, if required our guides will help you negotiate the trail. If there is not too much of snow around the lake you will get to see human bones and skeletons. Roopkund is a crater like formation in the mountains. The mystery around the lake has apparently been solved recently and these bones and skeleton in such large numbers has been attributed to a massive hailstorm which, centuries ago, caught many pilgrims’ by surprise. There are spectacular views from the region. You will spend some time here and also have the option of climbing up a short distance towards the ridge of Jurangali (20 mins). You spend some time here taking pictures and then retrace your steps to Patal Nauchaniya. This is a long walk down and we will take lots of rest in between. Overnight in tents
DAY 06: Patal Nauchaniya – Bedni bugyal (3350m) – Wan (2550m) – Lohajung – Kathgodam Trek/5-6 hrs & Drive/30 mins
Trek down through the beautiful meadows, jungles of pine, rhododendron & oak to reach Wan, a village you are sure to fall in love with. Visit the village temple and rest for some time. Our trek will end here and we will board the vehicles and drive down to Lohajung. Overnight in tents/ lodge..
DAY 07: Lohajung – Kathgodam Drive/ 7-8 hrs
Post breakfast drive down to Kathgodam. Arrive around 4 pm at kathgodam. The trip ends here.
Mirag, Joshimath, Dist. Chamoli, UTTARAKHAND
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