Long trek to Tapovan - the heavenly field in the mountains.
Bhojwasa Travel Blog› entry 8 of 21 › view all entries
October 9th, 2007 – by: ashishrb
The day was like no other in recent memory. Cold beyond anywhere I'd been in the past few years. And on top of that the big group started waking up at 04:00, all sorts of alarms going off and the general din starting. I somehow managed to grab some more shut-eye till 06:30. Dark and chilling, the water has iced over at places.
Instead of going down towards the river though, we started climbing. Tapovan is on the other side of the glacier, at an altitude few hundred meters higher than Gaumukh. We started toward the Gangotri glacier, and soon were crossing it bit by bit.
As I moved upward, I could see on one side of the glacier the Kali river going into it and the peak of Mt Kailash through its valley. Through the same valley is the path of Neer-tal apparently. Further along, at the base of the Bhagiratha peaks one can make out the plateau area of Nandanvan. We were moving towards a steep rocky ridge beyond with lay Tapovan.
After some excellent chai that the guide made at Shimla baba's place, and some parathas for lunch we relaxed for a while. Watching a family of mountain goats grazing in front of us, taking in the sights and the fantastic panorama. This place is really amazing - a huge flat field, right at the base of Mt Sudarshan, which dramatically rises above it. The view from there consists of the glacier stretching across on both sides, Bhagirathi peaks and Nandanvan across from it, Khada-patthar (Kedar dome) in the distance and some parts of Neru visible, not forgetting the majestic view of Sudarshan. There were a few tents set up right at the base of the mountain in the snowed up field.
In a little more than an hour we set off again, to get back whence we came from (in a manner of speaking). On our way down the steep slope from Tapovan to the glacier, we saw several groups making their way up with their porters to set up camp. Surely not my kind of place/weather to camp in ... brrrrr! After 3-4 breaks we descended to Gaumukh, some distance from the actual cave since there's always a danger of falling rocks or cracking ice there. I took another holy wash in the Ganges and filled up on the purest "ganga-jal" (Ganges-water) there is. I ate the rest of the paratha there, and fed some of it the to some of the stark black Himalayan Mynah birds.
After starting back again, we took another long break (no thanks to the guide). I just chilled out, spacing out, gazing into the river and examined the "damage" to my feet, while the guide happily yakked away with some guy this he knew. After this we walked non-stop, to cover the 4 km back to the lodge at Bhojwasa by 16:00. No sooner had I reached and begun to relax, than a Bengali family arrived at the lodge and noisily arguing/negotiating about accommodation there. Those buggers wanted a "suite" to stay in - a tent/dorm that was the only thing available at this bleak place. All sorts of arguing and noise broke out in the family - although amusing at first, it got to be pretty boring and even disgusting shortly. So I decided to get away from there. I chatted up one of the police guys posted there, and he led me to the shack of this research group there.
After a decent dinner, I really needed to stay away from the dorm, so I walked around in the dark and sat in the relative quiet near the river. Somehow managed to catch some sleep later - amidst the group's yakking till 10 in the night, one loud snorer, and alarms at 5 the next morning. Sigh - what a unbefitting evening to an awesome quiet day of trekking and chilling out.
-- Ashish Bhambhani
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