First, Kedarnath is a dream destination for any Hindu or Shiva Followers. So was for me and was excited to core for experience it would give me.I decided to visit Kedarnath mainly cause of the aura around its temple and also the beautiful nature over there.
I was definitely not a bit disappointed about the powerful presence of nature in Kedarnath. I also admired the temple built in the beautiful Himalayas.
The sight of this magnificent temple and the hill behind it will take anybody’s breath away for a moment. It’s way too beautiful a sight for eyes and no wonder so many people throng to visit Kedarnath, even after 2013 floods. The Nature’s vibrancy is at its best here and can’t find enough words to describe the presence in Kedarnath.
But what hit me hard was the unorganised structure in Kedarnath. More than anything I was really hurt at the protocols and mindless rules present there. Adding to all this is the amount of unpleasant things that happens for the sake of money.
Let’s get into detail now. We were forced to park our vehicle in Sonprayag, which is 6kms from Gaurikund. As we all know, Gaurikund is the start point of 18 kms Kedarnath trek. Parking far away from main trek point is a good thing to do anytime. But without efficient alternative transport system, it would be terrifying.
It was indeed terrifying to see a queue of 1 km for getting a cab to reach Gaurikund, which is 6 Kms. To spice up things, we were informed to stand in another crowd mess for getting a pony or Palkies( For those unable to trek ). If this is not enough you have one more thing coming i.e Biometric Registration. Plz note that the Biometric registration has been made mandatory for everyone visiting Kedarnath.
There was another long queue for biometric registration and it will easily take 2-3 hrs to get it done. Now wait all this is a legal picture. There are many illegal cabs traversing to and fro to Gaurikund. They will charge rupees 100 – 200 for 6 kms per head. Sometime this charge will increase incessantly if the crowd is more. So this whole cab nonsense is a set up to make money through cabs. Imagine the amount of money they can make if they charge 200 Rs per head for a ten minute drive. If one can’t afford so much money, then there is always a Km long queue to join.
All this drama is happening before beginning the trek. We started our trek after 5-6 hrs of Pre trek formalities mentioned above.
Then we begin our trekking to Kedarnath shrine and the trek was beautiful. Only unpleasant factor during trekking is the smell of horse piss and shit. The smell is really pungent and strong. If high altitudes doesn’t make you shortage of breath, I m sure this smell will. This smell will be your companion till you exit Kedarnath limits.
We visited in the end of May month and the crowd was high. Only 10 percent of the devotees will trek on foot and the rest all will opt for Ponies or Palkies. So don’t be surprised if ponies doesn’t give you way, which they won’t.
The trek is 18 kms one way and in total you will be trekking for close to 40 kms. Trekking will not be calm and pleasant as you have fight yourself to find a way in between ponies and Palkies. They will sometime push you aside or even down cliffs and make their ways. So don’t even dare to compete with Ponies and Palkies.
I asked quiet a few localites there and was shocked to hear that there are whopping 10000 ponies in Kedarnath. Can you imagine 10000 ponies and the amount of shit they create in those narrow walkways. I will leave that to your imagination now. You will have to trek along with nearly 10000 ponies and their shitty ways.
We took almost 4.5 hrs to reach the Kedarnath shrine. The view of the Himalayas at the top will surely blow your mind and it’s simply amazing. I was blown to see such an amazing play of nature with its colours. Now we slowly and calmly moved towards the main Shrine.
The scene near the beautiful shrine is totally unexpected. The temple was serene from outside itself and the presence of many Aghoras around the temple made it much more vibrant. But wait !!. Queue again.
One side there is a queue which takes atleast 6 hrs for darshan. That’s fine, I was prepared for this kind of stuff. But On the flip side, there are many agents or brokers there who will get you the access to the temple for 5000 per person.
Yes, you heard it right. Just 5000 per person to get you darshan within 1 hour. Because of these agents, the main queue for darshan was almost not moving. People were stranded in the same position for hours, while the ones who can shell out 5K were finishing it within 1 hour.
We couldn’t get the darshan in fact as it started raining and weather went bad all of a sudden. The weather here is totally unpredictable and it rains all of a sudden.
But I didn’t feel like missing the darshan, as the Himalayas themselves looked like God for me. Especially the hill beside the temple has a peak which looks exactly like Lord Shiva idol, inside Kedarnath shrine.
I tried for an accommodation in Kedarnath but as there are very few tents we couldn’t find any. So we had to rush back to Gaurikund, as the ponies were all heading downhill. If we don’t get back now then it’s really hard to climb down in dark.
I know we can’t expect any facilities in such a challenging place. No blames on that front. So we climbed down slowly and reached Gaurikund at 6 pm.
In Gaurikund there was the same scenes. Almost 2 km queue for getting a cab to reach Sonprayag back. Just imagine the plight of people stranded in a 2km line, after 40 kms of ardent trek.
We decided to walk instead of waiting for a cab. We hardly walked for 500 m and again the same dirty job of cabs. Offering to drop till Sonprayag bridge for 200 rs per head.
As almost everyone were tired, people were jumping in to get a place inside cab.
There are police everywhere but it’s of no use. The show over there is well planned to loot people and make money.
It’s really unfair on part of the Uttarakhand authorities to have such a faulty practices in Kedarnath. A place of such stature needs much better planning and tourism friendly rules. The level of corruption near the shrine and everywhere around Kedarnath is at peaks. So government and the concerned authorities must immediately take actions to retain the serenity of the place.
Having said all this, one cannot ignore the powerful shrine and Of course the Nature.
If you are not the one capable of handling such irregularities then there is always a Helicopter service available. One has to book the chopper service well in advance.
The Himalayan beauty is in full play with snow fall almost everyday in Kedarnath. The snow cladded mountain offer a great treat to your eyes. The snow mountains are all around Kedarnath shrine and landslides happen almost everyday.
So Kedarnath was a mixed bag for me, but I feel the place has lot better experiences in store. Few changes will make a Himalayan difference for the devotees and tourists. I hope this blog will be useful before planning a trip to Kedarnath.