Walking on a snow-covered tapestry adorning the Himalayan landscape as the cold mountain air tints your cheeks, savor the picturesque vistas as you make your way to the Kedarkantha Summit. Perched at an altitude of 3810 meters, the Kedarkantha trek in Uttarakhand, despite its altitude, is relatively easy and can be traversed by beginners as well. It is believed that Kedarkantha, which literally means the ‘throat of Lord Shiva’, has mythological relevance and is visited by pilgrims as well. Therefore, this scenic location has something in store for everyone. In particular, the fact that this is one of the accessible winter treks in the Garhwal Himalayas, makes it popular among trekkers who wish to experience snowfall in the high-altitude regions.
How to Reach?
The starting point for the trek is the quaint village of Sankri which is at a distance of 200 kilometers from Dehradun. You could either arrive at the Jolly Grant Airport or the Dehradun Railway Junction as per your convenience. There are buses available from these locations which will take you through the alpine terrains to your destination. From Delhi, you can also hire cars or drive along the scenic routes.
Best time to Visit
Except for the monsoon months when the trails become slippery and prone to accidents, Kedarkantha can be visited all throughout the year. However, if you are looking forward to the exhilarating experience of walking on snow, holding the powdered frozen particles in your hands and engaging in snowball fights or building a snowman or going skiing, then you must visit during the winter months of December to the beginning of April. That being said, if you cannot handle the frigid temperature, do not worry. The summer months of May and June and the autumn months of September, October and mid-November, bring you closer to nature in their own ways. You can see the verdant landscape adorned with vibrant wildflowers in the first half whereas in the second half, the trail is covered with leaves in the shades of orange, yellow and brown. The crunching of the leaves as you make your way through the alpine woodlands coupled with the melody of the exotic birds ushers in a sense of tranquility that you will seldom find in the cities.
Covering a total distance of 20 kilometers, on day 1, you will be heading towards the offbeat village of Sankri in the Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand which serves as the base camp for multiple treks such as the Kedarkantha Trek and the Har Ki Dun Trek. You can spend your day by visiting the cascading Kempty falls, the Lakhamandal Temple to seek blessings, and go for the Sankri Zip Line Ride. The route to this place passes by the scenic locations of Nainbagh, Mori and Purola which are adorned by lush alpine forests and azure waters of the rivers Yamuna and Tons. After traveling for close to 8 hours, rest well in the lodging facilities. The next day, after checking out of your hotels, leave for the frozen marvel at an altitude of 2700 meters, the lake known as Juda ka Talab. It is believed that when Lord Shiva decided to meditate here, he created this waterbody using a strand of hair from his ‘Juda’ (hair bun) and now it supplies water to other nearby streams.
The coniferous trees covered with dusty snow particles surrounding the frozen crystal look straight out of a fairytale. You will be trekking for about 4 kilometers before you reach this place and the trip is worth it. On day 3, trekkers will be moving towards the Kedarkantha Summit at the highest elevation during this trek, 11250 ft, and it will take approximately 3 hours to complete this trek. A line of Oak and Pine trees with the colossal peaks of Bandarpoonch, Kalanag (resembling the hood of a snake), Swargarohini and Ranglana peaks in the background, serve as the perfect muse for a photographer’s camera. As you watch the evening sun light up the entire Har Ki Dun and Rupin valleys,appreciate the raw beauty of nature and cherish these moments.
If you are up for adventure sports then you can go for Kedarkantha Skiing and offer prayers at the pious Shiva and Ganesha Temple at the summit before you descend to Hargaon. On day 4, the descent becomes a little steep and you will have to tread carefully. Once you reach the serene Hargaon campsite, rest well after a hectic 12 kilometer trek and fall asleep under the starlit sky. On the last two days, head back to Dehradun via Sankri and bid goodbye to the beautiful Himalayan region.
When you decide to move out of the concrete jungles of the cities and head towards the verdant forests, you will understand the healing power of mother nature. Once in a while, it is necessary to let go of your worries and immerse yourself in nature’s serenity. The Kedarkantha trek takes you on a spiritual journey as you spend more time with yourself and attain some measure of peace, away from the cacophony of the cityscape.