If you’re looking for a winter wonderland not too far from home, the Kedarkantha trek is the closest thing to it! And what makes it all the more mesmerizing is the fact that you get to explore this land of awe and magic for yourself on the Kedarkantha trek. With mostly low temperatures, the Kedarkantha weather is also one of the most pleasant and inviting factors of the trek. At the astonishing height of 3,800 m (12,500 feet), the Kedarkantha peak rests in the Sankri range, Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The trek to Kedarkantha takes place in the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and stretches over a period of five nights and six days. Thus, it is more than just an uphill journey to the Kedarkantha peak, with a view that will entrap your mind and soul for weeks to come. The sanctuary adds volumes to your experience with the beautiful and rare flora and fauna scattered around you, waiting to be discovered. You will find yourself smiling at the songs of the Himalayan monal and langoor families lounging in the tree-tops. The road to Kedarkantha is both, smooth and clean, making it one of the most pleasant drives to take in the Himalayas. It is the place to be for anyone looking to lose themselves in the midst of a snow-laden dream, with nothing but small lakes and patches of the plain field breaking the view. The entire Kedarkantha trek route is studded with maple and pine trees, making it breathtaking, to say the least.
A unique treatment of the Kedarkantha trek is the ability to stargaze. At night, when all goes quiet, the sky becomes radiant with stars and pulls you in. Even in the darkness, the snow glistens in the moonlight. This is an experience trekkers can bank on having any time between December and April because snowfall is one of the most reliable facets of this area. The Kedarkantha trek in December is probably the most popularly utilized package for the region, because of the abundance of regular snow. However, its magnificence is not lost on the trekkers even during the summer. The slight advantage of trekking up the Kedarkantha peak in the warmer months is that it is a little more on the easy side, as compared to a snow-covered trail. Either way, the journey uphill is absolutely delightful and once you reach the crest to find the stunning, expansive view of thirteen Himalayan peaks in front of you and the whole world below – you realize it is definitely worth all the effort and time!
Kedarkantha roughly translates to the “Throat of Lord Shiva”. It is a mountain 20 km from Sankri village, standing tall at a height of 12,500 feet. A legend goes back to the Mahabharata era when the Pandavas went to Lord Shiva to ask for his blessings after the Kurukshetra war. Lord Shiva refused to meet them and guided himself as a buffalo instead. Bheem, one of the Pandavas, noticed something strange among the herd of buffalos and refused to let the disguised buffalo pass. This led to a fight between the two. Bheem is said to have ripped the buffalo apart and the Pandavas are said to have built temples wherever parts of his body fell. Kedarkantha was apparently where his throat fell. It is also believed that Lord Shiva used to meditate at Kedarkantha, but since his deep, serene meditation was often interrupted by the cattle and surrounding fauna. This is why he left for Kedarnath.
The Kedarkantha trek covers a total distance of 26 kilometres and takes a period of five nights and six days to cover, making it a beautiful and adventurous way of spending a week away from the hubbub of city life. We cover a host of different places like Sankri village and Juda Ka Talab to even reach the Kedarkantha base camp, thereby creating an upbeat and constantly refreshing experience. If you are looking to get from Delhi to Kedarkantha, the first step is to reach Dehradun. The distance from Delhi to Dehradun is 258.1 km and can be covered via bus, train, or car easily. From Dehradun, you must reach Sankri village, which is at a distance of almost 200 kilometres from Dehradun. The actual trekking experience begins from Sankri onwards. The trekking distance from Sankri to the Kedarkantha peak and back to Sankri is 26 kilometres as a whole. While you don’t have to be a seasoned trekker to be able to cover the Kedarkantha trek, a small period of physical exercise is both, beneficial and advised.
The vegetation goes from dry to lush and coniferous with a rise in elevation. It is important to note that the temperature in Kedarkantha is always on the lower side here. In the summer, it ranges between 20 degrees (day) and 6 degrees (night). In wintertime, it can drop as low as -10 or -15 degrees, which is why carrying multiple layers of insulation, and shoes specific to trekking are a necessity.
Camping on the way to Kedarkantha peak is dreamlike in the lap of the snowy landscape, and a thrilling experience on its own. However, one can embark on many other activities like skiing at Kedarkantha, a relatively new feature of the area, stargazing and landscape photography.
Day 1: Dehradun to Sankri
Distance covered: 188 km
All the trekkers arrive at Dehradun, and we journey together from Dehradun to Sankri early in the morning by road, as a part of the Kedarkantha trekking package. It takes us 7-8 hours of an absolutely delightful drive, during which we witness the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the rejuvenating Tons river that flows through it. If you’re lucky, you even get to see some of the sanctuary’s precious animals! After an exciting drive through the alpine landscape, we reach and check into a hotel at Sankri village. We spend some time enjoying the evening in the village, drinking in the idyllic scenery. Dinner is served, and it is now that the trek leader will give you a briefing for the next day. We shall now rest for the big day!
Day 2: Sankri to Juda-ka-Talab
Distance covered: 4 km.
Today marks your first day of trekking. After a wholesome breakfast, we make our way out of Sankri village and start the steep climb up the hill to Juda-ka-Talab. We have 4 kilometers to cover. The climb is steep since the lake is located at a height of 9,100 feet. The path uphill is an image painted in the warm colors of fallen maple and pine leaves. A few bridges that penetrate the dense forests await us. The scenery is irresistible and worth every step of the way, dotted with hares, langoors, and other such beautiful, harmless fauna. The sound of nearby streams wafts in and out of your ears as we make our way to the lake, along with the crisp sound of leaves under your feet.
We also witness some heart-warming scenes of rural life in this region. Women with firewood and men taking their cattle out to graze, all against the backdrop of the breathtaking landscape. Juda ka Talab is a vision of wonder under the clear, blue sky. Trekkers can take their time to relish the vegetation and scenery.
A lovely lunch is provided to the trekkers, followed by some group activities to keep up the morale and spirit. A delicious dinner awaits the adventurers too! We will be camping here for the night, under a blanket of stars.
Day 3: Juda-ka-Talab to Kedarkantha Base Camp
Distance covered: 8 km.
Excitement is building up as we start our trek towards the Kedarkantha base camp. After breakfast, we begin our 4 km-long journey. The trail, though steep in some patches, is not difficult to follow. The route to the Kedarkantha base camp is dotted with small lakes and the land is far away from any sort of pollution or human disturbance. The trail snakes through oak-laden forests, wide meadows, and more evidence of remote life. You know you are close to the base camp when you see the arch of the Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch, Ranglana, and Kala Nag ranges before you. Here, a piping hot lunch will be provided. The evening will be peppered with fun experiences like group games or an acclimatization walk to familiarize yourself with the area and the terrain. Afterward, the trekkers can rest while enjoying some evening snacks and soup. The rest of the evening is mostly free. Dinner will be served early as the trek begins tomorrow!
The night ahead is going to be the trek’s most memorable one. You will watch the galaxy unravel its wonders to you on the canvas of the sky, creating an unforgettable picture that no camera can do justice to. Take a moment to remember it. The temperature at the Kedarkantha base camp may drop very low at night. Make sure you have enough layers on to keep yourself warm.
Day 4: Kedarkantha Base Camp to Kedarkantha Peak; Descent to Hargaon Camp
Distance covered: 5 km.
Today, we shall cover the Kedarkantha peak, and climb 1,250 feet higher than the base. Afterward, we shall descend from the peak to Hargaon village, once again. The trek ahead is moderately difficult, but with a little bit of determination, we will be able to cover the distance in 6-7 hours. Today, we commence at the early hours of 2 or 3 am so that we can witness the glorious sunrise at the Kedarkantha peak.
After breakfast and a lovely feast of the sunrise, we commence. We first make our way through a few more thick patches of oak trees. The trail is mostly simple and facilitates enjoying the route uphill. It only gets slightly difficult as we get closer to the peak.
As we reach the Kedarkantha peak, along with the grand view, we are greeted with a small shrine of rocks, which is considered to be holy by the locals. The energy radiating from this religious space is something that entrances one and all. The view from the top, however, is what captivates you the most. Thirteen peaks (name of the peaks, I will do it) of the Himalayas all bask together in the glory of the sun. We make a brief stop here. All this beauty deserves some admiration.
Our descent is a beautiful route crossing many frozen streams and more wildlife and flora. We stop for lunch at the Kedarkantha base camp and have quality conversations about the wonderful views we have been blessed with. Afterward, we make our way downhill steadily to the Hargaon base camp. Here, we set up tents for the night, light up some campfires, and spend some quality time having dinner with our fellow trekking buddies before retiring to bed.
Day 5: Hargaon Camp to Dehradun
Although there is a sharp drop in our altitude today (8,900 to 6,400 feet), the trek from the Hargaon Base Camp to Sankri is relatively simple and takes only a little over four hours. It is time to say goodbye to the base camp, but with a lot of memories in your heart and tonnes of trekking experience under your belt. Through endless pathways full of oak and maple, we witness the phenomenal view of Har Ki Dun. It is wondrous how nature’s splendor has been spread across for us like a picture to see. This is one of the greatest achievements of the universe.
We make our final journey to Dehradun via road, over a 7-8 hour stretch, including breaks for food and refreshments. It is the same alpine road that you crossed on your way uphill, but you feel changed and content after such a wholesome experience. By late evening, we are back in Dehradun. Trekkers looking to travel on Day 6 itself can be dropped at the bus stand or the railway station, as required. Anyone wanting to spend the night in the cozy city of Doon can make their bookings accordingly. For this time, our journey ends here with lots of happy memories.
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