My Himalayan Travels – River Ganga & My Route
Sometime in 2015, I decided to venture into the Himalayas. Himalayas and the Ganga river are eternal seductions to many Indians. We are regaled with great stories about the great Yogis and saints who inhabit this area. Besides, the Himalayas look like a father figure standing still and protecting India (the family) from hostile aggressors. As we navigate from the upper recesses of the mountains to the plains we see Ganga morphing from a mischievous girl in the upper regions to a stately maiden in Dev Prayag only to ultimately become the mother for everyone in the plains.
More specifically, the tributaries of Ganga – Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini are the unruly streams who frolic the slopes. There are five significant Prayags (or merges) where other streams merge into Ganga. There are innumerable lesser Prayags as well. The illustration shows the various important tributaries and their merging point with the Ganga. (the various Prayags)
Ganga becomes the curing mother as she descends into Rishikesh and Haridwar. There is scarcely any river in the world which is more venerated than her. The number of hymns, songs, prayers, chants, rituals and stories that have been associated with this river would far exceed anything similar on any other river in the planet. She, verily, becomes the benediction on humanity that is provided by father Himalayas. The mountains of the Himalayas are regarded as not only heaven on earth. They are regarded as the dwelling place for the Gods. So a visit to the Himalayas is invariably regarded as a culmination to a person’s achievements. The stories associated with the various places in the Himalayas add charm. The place ceases to be merely a beautiful haven. It instead becomes a historical place rich with beautiful tales. Nature worship is all about associating God with nature. These mythological stories make visiting these places an amazing experience.
The roads in the Himalayas follow the path of the various tributaries of the Ganga. A short map is given for important places that I wanted to cover in Uttarkhand and Himalayas. Uttarkhand is the Indian state that contains the Himalayas. Many places in the upper reaches of the Himalayas are inaccessible during winter. These places are shown in the map in Red. People and temples move from the red areas to the places below during winter. It is indeed amazing to think about the mass exodus that repeats itself every year.
So I decided to follow the route shown in the map. There are hundreds of other places that are of interest but are not mentioned since these were not in the route that was followed by me. The map also is lax in scale as well as in direction. My basic intent was to cover Kedarnath and Badrinath along with few other places of interest. Panch Badri and Panch Kedar are covered to the extent that was possible. We will talk about all of these as we progress in the journey. I shall also highlight the relevant portions of the map for each day so that you can follow along.
So let us first start with preparations for the journey.