Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Legends of Deoria Taal (Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand)


For the short trip planned from Haridwar in the interiors of Garhwal region, our highlights were a trek to Deoria Taal, a trek to Tungnath temple ( and if possible, the Chandrashila Peak) and stay at the Magpie Eco Camp in Duggal Bitta. With a preliminary information, all I was agog about was our trek to Tungnath Temple (the highest Lord Shiv Temple in the world and a part of ‘Panch Kedar’ group) and it indeed turned out to be a wonderful trek. But I underplayed the grandeur of Deoria Taal. Thanks to all the research done by my roadie friend, Ashish Sharma (@ashish0712).

Saari Village 
After completing the 200 odd km journey from Haridwar to Ukhimath, we were so relieved to see the first glimpse of the mighty Chaukhamba peak which has four summits and the highest (Summit 1) having an altitude of 7138 m being the part of Greater Himalaya. And the air became cooler. After having a simple and yet sumptuous meal at Banswada, we proceeded towards the Saari Village. There are many people who can arrange your stay in the tents or forest houses on the top of mountain near Deoria Taal. We had earlier contacted Mr. Negi. And he had arranged our accommodation up on the hill top near Deoria Taal.

Rhododendron Bloom

We  reached Saari village by 3.15 pm and met Mr. Negi. The plan was clear. We started trekking to Deoria Taal at 4.45 pm. It is a steep gradient 3 km trek and if in no good shape, will make you huff and puff every 5 meters.  However, as you keep on elevating, you are greeted by a wonderful view of the Saari village and the distant snow caped Chandrashila peak which was our destination next day. We were lucky to have arrived here in April as we were greeted by the full bloom of buraans (rhododendron) everywhere on our trek. Such a beauty this Buraans tree is! The flowers of Rhododendron are crushed to extract juice which is supposed to be good for the heart. I rather will ask you to come all the way trekking here both your heart and your eyes will be thankful to you! J

It took us almost 1.5 hours to reach the top where the generous Umendra Bhatt who runs a small restaurant welcomed us. We had the much deserved piping hot tea and Ashish had his power nap for the next half an hour. We walked through the dense forestation for slightly more than couple of minutes and we were simply zapped by what we came across.

Deoria Taal with Chaukhamba in the backdrop
A huge bugyal with an extremely calm lake surrounded by buraans trees on one side and on the other side, just fabulous, Gangotri Range of Himalayas. In the hilly areas, as I heard and confirmed, the weather changes drastically. So by the time we reached the hill top, it had started drizzling and was getting cloudy. At 6.45 pm when the light was fading rapidly, it was getting difficult for us to differentiate between the Himalayan peaks and the clouds. However, the weather cleared slightly and we realized that we were indeed gawking at the grand Gangotri range of Himalaya and the most striking of the peaks was the highest in the region, Chaukhamba. We had seen this first time.. a peak with four summits in four directions and hence the name, Chaukhamba!

With the fading light, the air started becoming colder and we bumped off with the fellow campers who had just lit a bonfire. After spending some time at the bonfire, we returned to Umendra Bhatt’s hotel. Being an eco camp, there is no electricity supply. I had experienced it in the Binsar Retreat in Binsar, Almora in Kumaon region of the same state and now I was in Garhwal. Again a crescent moon night with zillions of stars in the sky. We hardly exchanged words as we were gazing at the sky and were relishing the silence in the jungle. Deaoria taal comes under the Kedarnath Wildlife Conservatory famous for musk deers. In the darkness, I could only spot a leopard cat which looked more curious than me for getting introduced but it shied away.

The hot rotis, potato subzi and rajma (kidney beans) resulted in an exquisite dinner. We talked with Umendra and Sandeep, Mr. Negi’s nephew for a while before falling asleep. How many times do you go to bed at 9.30 pm? It felt as if it is already 12 midnight by that time. Sheer silence and the rhythmic sounds coming from the jungle was indeed a lullaby. It didn’t take much time for us to go to sleep and we had to get up early to capture the morning beauty of the Himalayan range and Deoria Taal.

Greater Himalaya, Gangotri Range
One doesn’t need an alarm or a special effort to get up early in the morning if you are staying in a jungle or in 
the mountains. We got up early and rushed towards Deoria Taal. And this time, we were double zapped. The skies were clear and the snow peaks of the Himalaya were glistening in the morning glory. And Mr. Chaukhamba stood like the most handsome guy in the range directly looking at us. Simple answer to why Uttarakhand is called as Devbhoomi (The Land of Gods). In so many years, I had never come across such a beautiful site… a bugyal with a calm lake lined with rhododendron trees and reflections of the grand snow peaks in the calm waters of the lake.. and in all silence…the sound was silence!

Rhododendron Tree on the bank of Deoria Taal
Deoria Taal is probably the most mysterious lake I have ever come across. I was somehow getting the feeling that there is something very  very clandestine stuff about this lake. The water is strikingly calm. You could see very small fish swimming lazily near the edge. For the time we spent near the lake, no bird came there to drink water or catch a fish. There is this eerie silence surrounding this lake. I enquired to Umendra as well as the forest guards …lo and behold…this turned out to be the most legendary lake I have ever visited in my life.

The famous incidence of ‘Yakshaprashna’ of Mahabharata is believed to have happened at this particular lake only. The same lake where all the Pandavas except Yudhishthir were poisoned to death after drinking the water without answering the Yaksha (the spirit guarding the lake) question. It was only Yudhishthir who answered the questions diligently and revived his brothers.

I also observed stone idols on the banks of the lake. They are dedicated to The Nag Devta (Serpant King). The lake is believed to be the abode of the Serpant King and he’s worshipped there. The lake’s depth is yet to be measured and is supposed to be abysmal. Many scientists have tried measuring the depth of this lake but have failed. Some things go beyond scientific explanation and  you tend to believe them.

It is also said that if somebody dies in the lake after drowning (Swimming is strictly prohibited in this lake) the body comes up only after a month. That’s very unusual. In a normal case, it floats in 24-48 hours. This lake certainly is very very beautiful but at the same time very mysterious too. And it is thrilling to experience these feelings together here at Deoria Taal.
Chaukhamba and The Deoria Taal - Dream Summit

A Vipashyana meditation looking at the Gangotri range of Himalayas and finally spotting a ‘Himalayan Magpie’ was the concluding part of our visit to this enchantingly beautiful place. All I wish is to come back here as early as possible and savour the nature and the stories to the maximum extent.



INFORMATION -

Deoria Taal (Altitude 2387 m) 
12 km motorable road from Ukhimath till Saari Village
Recommended – Vehicle at disposal to roam in this area as the local cabbies charge stratospheric sums for short distances. We hired cab from Haridwar (204 km) and was at our disposal for 4 days for Rs.8400
Stay – Contact Mr. Negi - +91-94102 41543 Devria Tourist Home Stay for very basic stay in Saari Village as well as near Deoria Taal (Rs.600 per head) – No food included
Contact Mr. Nautiyal for accommodation in bunglows for family near Deoria Taal - +91- 97592 44881
Food – Umendra serves delicious but basic food at the hill top

3 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. Trust the information is useful to explore the beautiful terrain.

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  2. lovely photographs and great information!

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