Perched amidst the mountains laden with snow, the Kedarkantha trek is one of the best winter treks in India. It is a trek recommended for all, regardless of prior experience and perfect for beginners. The Kedarkantha trek is a part of Govind national park in Uttarakhand.
The trail starts from Sankri, a village that is the base camp for most trekkers. The trek boasts of many mesmerising views from the beautiful campsites, thick forests of pine trees and a 360-degree view of the mountains. At a height of 12500ft, the Kedarkantha peak gives you a jaw-dropping view of the early morning sun as it rises in the mountains. The best time to do the Kedarkantha Trek is December to February when the mountains are engulfed in snow.
Lord Shiva and the Kedarkantha!
The Himalayan ranges have a deep connection with the Hindu Mythology and carry many tales in its mountain folds. One such legend of Kedarkantha is about Lord Shiva’s attachment to Kedarkantha. It is believed that Lord Shiva sat on the top of Kedarkantha for meditation but moved to Kedarnath instead, due to disturbances from the local villages. A small shrine sits at the top of Kedarkantha dedicated to Lord Shiva, adding life to this story.
Heading to Kedarkantha: How To Reach?
The Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun is the closest air service available. You can also choose to go to Dehradun via train. The base camp village Sankri is about 200km away from Dehradun and can be reached at most in 10 hrs.
The trek is around trail and the route to the Kedarkantha peak is such: Dehradun–Sankri–Juda Ka Talab–Kedarkantha Base–Kedarkantha Peak–Hargaon–Camp Sankri
Accommodation Near KedarKantha:
Upon reaching Sankri you can stay overnight at the homestays in the village. Since Sankri is the starting point of the Kedarkantha trek there are many dhabas and hotels available for food and stay. There are guesthouses available in the village for trekkers.
You can cover the peak summit in a 5-7 day trek. Most travel agencies offer a week-long trek schedule, with their pick-up points at Dehradun.
The Kedarkantha Trek: The Must-Sees:
The Kedarkantha trek is a picturesque route and is perfect for photographers to capture the raw beauty of nature. The view of pine trees dusted with snow as well as the grandeur of the Himalayas in the background is a feast to the eyes. Trekking in the knee-deep snow with the panoramic view of snow-clad mountains is mesmerising. Starting from Dehradun, the drive to Kedarkantha takes you through Mussoorie and other high altitude villages like Purola and Mori before finally bringing you to Sankri. The section after Purola until the base camp curves through a dense pine forest. As you drive further, the Tons River joins in, flowing softly alongside the road. It is definitely one of the most beautiful drives in the Indian Himalayas.
The Kedar Kantha trek is known for its beautiful campsites. Khujey is a meadow surrounded by forests on one side. Bhoja Dadi is a remote campsite in the wilderness near the summit. The best campsite is by the Juda Ka Tal Lake. The legend says that Lord Shiva opened his locks here and the water dripped from his hair formed this lake. The lake is frozen blue in the winters, adding magical vibes to the campsite. In the summers, the lakeside is an abode for many birds and is ideal for bird watching. After a long day of the trek, you can sit by the campfires and experience scenic sunsets here.
From the top of Kedarkantha, you can clearly see and recognize some prominent peaks such as Bandarpoonch, Kalanag and the four Swaragarohini peaks. These peaks are known for their unique shapes and their climbing histories. These peaks have fascinating legends about them – Swaragarohini hails its name from the legend of the 5 Pandavas setting out to the heavens after the Kurukshetra war. It is believed that they treaded these mountain ranges and hence is named the ‘passage to heaven.’ Kalanag is named so due to its shape, which represents the hood of a serpent. The Bandarpoonch peak which means ‘tail of the monkey’ gets its name from the Hindu deity Lord Hanuman. Fun Fact – The legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay was a part of the first team to ever summit Bandarpoonch back in 1950.
You can also see the Gangotri and Yamunotri mountain ranges, Chanshil Pass, Kinnaur Kailash ranges and the Har Ki Dun valley from here. The views feel extremely rewarding after the adventurous summit climb.
Back at Sankri, the village is culture-rich and unspoilt by the chaos of the metropolitan cities. The villagers are very welcoming, the local lifestyle – their traditions, rituals and festivals are colourful. You can take an extra day simply to explore this hamlet, try the local cuisine and experience the life here.
Basic Requirements For The Kedarkantha Trek:
- Despite being an easy trail, the Kedarkantha trek involves three days of constant ascent until you reach the summit. Hence it is important to build your cardiovascular endurance for the trek. Start training for your trek much before your trip. You can start by jogging every day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed exercises that tone your body and make it trek ready.
- Plan and pack accordingly for a winter trek, with an adequate number of warm clothes. You can also consult your instructor for advice. To ensure that you walk on harder snow, you will start early on the summit day when it’s still dark. Make sure you pack or rent headlamps and torches.
- Pay attention to the instructor or guide during the trek for your safety. Take sufficient time to get accustomed to the climatic conditions of the higher altitudes. Stick to the schedule and avoid trekking at nights.
- Consult your physician before undertaking the trek. Do not consume alcohol or any other intoxicants before or during the trek. Carry basic medications, specific pills (if any) and a first-aid kit during the trek. If you have any medical condition that could affect you during the trek, inform the instructors about it.
- The trek takes place in an eco-friendly zone. Do not encourage littering in the campsites or the surroundings. Keep extra bags to collect the garbage and dispose of it properly after completing the trek.
The Kedarkantha trek is extremely popular amongst trekkers because of its easily trekkable summit climb. The kind of confidence you gain after conquering a peak is almost life-changing. Usually, it is an experience enjoyed exclusively by the extremely adventurous mountaineers. With Kedarkantha, you get to feel it even if you are just a beginner. If you are looking for an escape from reality, seek out the Kedarkantha trek this winter and experience nature in her purest form.
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