SO here I am starting series of Photo stories of a wonderful trip I recently finished. I am not going to make this as a boring Novel rather I will make it chapter wise with few words, information, interesting facts etc and then share lots of photo I captured.
Gaurikund: A small city around 205 km from Rishikesh and it is the last road stop for the great sacred hindu place Kedarnath. Pilgrims spend nights here and start their 14 km long trek by many means which I will discuss in another chapter. Hotsprings , old Gauri temple and connected Hindu stories make Gaurikund very special. During winter Kedarnath temple closes for six months and so Gaurikund.
I fell in love with this city. I fell in love with the atmosphere , colors and sound. River Mandakini flows through this city and you can book the rooms very close to the river and you can hear the river song all time .
Thousands of pilgrims come here every day so the whole city is built on tourist. Shops, hotels, restaurants, temples, hot springs, flowing Ganga river and all are always filled with people .
Town is in the bottom of mountain so it becomes dark quickly and if you stand on a highest point of the hotel you can see how the hotels and shops are packed. There are stairs everywhere and it takes a good effort to go to hotel for eating or a nice hot spring bath or shopping . For those who return from 14 KM trek from Kedarnath it is a total nightmare.
The evenings are most beautiful here. Hotel people are just busy and calling customers all the time. There is a heavy competition and I got friends with some hotel people and took some photos. The different colors coming from the lights are just treat to watch.
One of the most enjoyable moments in Gaurikund city was holy bath in the hot springs. Surprisingly it was just hot enough for a human body. Not too much not very less! None of the hotels give you hot water . They say go to “Kund” ( the hot spring pond) . There is a separate section covered for ladies also. My most of the leg pains are gone when I laid my legs under the hot spring water.
I found the people are most amazing there! Many come from different place from country and work here for 6 months and then take a 6 months vacation. During 6 months of vacation for most no proper home, no family and no leisure ! They live in packed houses and earn money for the next 6 months. Porter families live in small tents. ‘High class ‘ pilgrims think these people can do anything for money or they are over charging etc . But if one can observe how they earn Rs 100 here then then will stop thinking so .
I wish I got some more time to spend in that small town capturing special moments.
Some basic tips to do in Gaurikund for those who are ‘photography’ affected !
- Never try to book fancy hotels. All are same hotels and the prices are not fixed. They charge 100 Rs per day in the off seasons and 500-600 Rupees in the season time. June, July and August are top tourist seasons as the temperature will be around 14-15 degree.
- Book a simple hotel , We stayed in Sunil lodge ( mail me if you need details ) and never stay inside the hotel come outside and enjoy the essence of the city.
- Do not expect TVs, power or hygienic good. We had no such problems but I saw few complaints over the net about the food so I am telling. There are thousands of people who has no effect of the food they take here. It is the problem with us who are not tough enough. If you want to complain about it then you better go for a Helicopter service!
- Do some shopping, have teas in different shops.
- Never ever miss hot spring bath. It is the most enjoyed moment in my life. It is device and full of energy. Shoes , soaps, washing clots are not allowed in the hot spring pond.
- Important things to keep are torch, umbrella, torch and a bottle of water.
- This place is best for shopping sweaters, winter caps, hand glows etc. We found they cost the same what they cost in Haridwar. Maybe it is due to competition.
- If you need a porter , ponies for your trek you just have to wave your hands at them. They will run in to you . Make a deal . You can bargain . there is nothing as fixed price.
- My one last request is do not bargain for 30-50 Rs with the porters. Be liberal. They live in an extreme condition for earning some money and they deserve to earn little money extra.
- I searched over the net and learnt ‘acclimatization ‘ , altitude sickness etc. Some blogs even scared us to the death. I even felt should I go for a medical checkup etc but I was shocked to see packs of people of all age are just walking as if they are visiting a nearby temple. So you need just a will power which takes you there. We felt little difficulties in breathing but after few hours there it was as easy as at home.
Few other technical things:
- Power is not always assured here. SO charge your batteries before and carry many spare batteries. I nearly came to a situation where I thought no photography tomorrow but luckily I got power in the mornings and spent a less sleep night to charge batteries.
- No ATMs in the city.
- Computer accessories are not available.
- There some south Indian dishes available in very few hotels but do not expect a Bangalore’s Darshini hotel taste there. I would suggest rice, curd and roties than some dosa or idlies.
- Carry lot of memory cards with you.
One will be surprised how human conquer any terrain and build his nests around. Sometimes it is surprising but sometime it is horrifying. Those days are not too far where humans conquer more and more acquiring all natural beauties of Himalaya. The buildings will grow and reach Kedarnath and all the natural beauties will lose their shine. The landscapes after Gaurikund were mind-blowing but I had to struggle to keep the plastics, houses , hotels, shops etc manmade things away from the frame. So I suggest you to when you are young and energetic please visit this place. After 5 years ( may be even less ) from now if you visit then I don’t think there will be any natural beauties left here.
Next Chapter coming: Porters of Kedarnath
-Dinesh, Canon 1000d, 17-70mm lensn 50mm , couple of filters.