Top of the World – Day Three at Kedarnath

Dated – May, 2013

The most spell-binding moments in life happen in the least expected places. And when it happens, there’s a sense of calm that comes over. You’re standing among thousands, yet in that one moment you could probably be the only person in this world. These moments just take your breath away. It struck me with such a force today, I almost had tears in my eyes. We were standing in front of the Kedarnath temple. Ice capped peaks towered over us. Last remnants of sunlight glistened on the ice. And suddenly, candles were lit and everyone started singing. A single voice of devotion. The kind of music that just seeps inside and becomes a part of you. I was humbled. I am not god fearing and I stay away from temples. But today, when the bells chimed and Om Jai Jagdish hare drifted over the mountains, it was life changing. Maybe, these moments happen to make you realise that life should be a culmination of such amazing things, and not a constant rant of all that’s wrong.

That’s as serious as I will ever be. Now, about the mule ride to Kedarnath! Rudraprayag was just a night halt. The hotel balcony opened to the two rivers merging – a very welcome view to wake up to. So, Kedarnath is a 14km uphill climb from the base. Your options are to walk, take a mule or take one of those things where people carry you. Last option was obviously ruled out. Dad is seriously considering writing to the authorities, as he calls them, about the perils of such inhuman work. 🙂 Walking was ruled out too. So, we were left with the good ol’ stinking mules.

The route is full of shit. Literally. And there I was, with my sun glasses and my ipod and a super oversized raincoat and not to forget, my Nikon. I am sure there was a degree of humor and pity in the smiles I got on the way. My mule had a mind of its own. Hit quite a few people too! They gave ugly stares and i shrugged. Didn’t really have any control over the darned thing after all! It was almost fun till it started pouring! And I went in a frenzy to protect my camera. As if that wasn’t enough, a hailstorm followed right after! Got pelted cruelly by pebble sized ice. You know those old times when the teacher would say -take out your hand! And then you get rapped on the knuckles. Well, imagine such continuous punishment for 15 minutes. I literally have not ever been this drenched or cold or scared (for my camera)!

Finally, my ride decided to take a breather. Do you know how unbelievably nice a steaming cup of tea and a hot plate of maggi feels after getting drenched at 5 degrees! I don’t think words have been defined to describe such elation!  With a bit of warmth restored, started the second leg of the journey. There is a turn you take enroute and suddenly,  these stunning white ice capped mountains loom ahead.  You can’t do anything but gape at the view. And then, someone points out that the destination is somewhere very very close to those mountains. I had Jagjit Singh and Gulzar for company and with the journey getting prettier by the minute,  the bone chilling cold was easily forgotten.

Blessed tea after getting drenched
View enroute

That evening’s aarti at the temple was what I wrote about. Next morning, we woke up at 3am for puja at the temple. I had an added incentive of catching the sunrise. Sunrise, when you are surrounded by snow capped mountains is a sight to behold. One peak after another starts getting lit in bright shades of orange and yellow. With the temple in front, and hymns in the background and the peaks changing colour every minute, it was surreal.

Peaks getting lit at sunrise

We started our 14km hike back to the base. The route is horrible for walking. Well, there was no room for complaining. My parents happily trudged along and so did I. With legs like jelly, we reached the base. All said and done, I found faith in this one day. Probably you would too. Even if you don’t, there’s always the view to impress you. Tomorrow we head to Badrinath.

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