Tired of deadlines, traffic snarls, a total monotonous life had made me confused and wanted to get out of boredom immediately. Mountains have always intrigued and beckoned me from the time immemorial..!
Himalayas are earth’s greatest monuments and truly hold grand forces of nature. In these Himalayan highlands the life is simple, everything so eternal, a living in absolute remoteness.m
It was during my previous visit to Harkidhun valley trek while having a casual discussion about high altitude lakes of Himalayas our porter Vijay Bisht started exaggerating the beauty and religious relevance of Maldaru Taal or Lake of Harkidhun (Har Ki Doon) valley. I was moved by his expression and wanted to explore it soon in the next season.
It was post monsoon and discussion started with friends about less trodden places. Being less visited, serene and being less known the group agreed to visit this paradise without second thought.
Lakes have been considered as abode of gods and worshipped by locals, Situated at an altitude of 15,500 ft Maldaru Lake is one such lake located south east of Osla village in Harkidhun valley - Uttarakhand.
We are group of 6 Intrepid trekkers from Bangalore after a 7 hours of scenic ride starting from Dehradun reached a unknown place known as Geon gad, situated 5 km from Sankri village. We desired to camp because since a member was beginner and to get acclimatized we opted to camp in outdoor. It was a beautiful campsite along a swift flowing stream and overlooking a valley. The night was cold and sky studded with stars. A hot soup followed by dinner made us slither it sleeping bags as everyone was tired.
Next day after a heavy breakfast followed by a briefing from our trek leader we hit the trail. Initially for about 3 km we walked through jeep track amid pine trees. The sound of stream in the bushes and smell of the deciduous pine was soothing. Once we reached the village of Taluka we were greeted by, village folk and snow clad peaks such as Hata Peak and Swargarohini Peak massif dotting the valley. Permits were arranged prior to our entry as we were entering the Govind National Park. We passed through the pine houses and descended to the valley, walked more or less next to Obra gad. The forest was green; the play of light and shadow on the trees was greet to eyes. After walking for about 2 hours we reached a place called Beda ka thatch which is at confluence of Supin river flowing from Jaundar glacier and Rupin river.
From here we took a diversion and started climbing uphill, after hours of hike we were at a Village called Daatmir, snugly perched on hillock surrounded by pine trees. The village folk rushed to us with dismay and greeted us. After paying obeisance to local village deity, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and having a cup of lemon tea resumed our trek. The women folk were busy in herding sheep and collecting grass for livestock. We walked along the pine forest and reached campsite called Vishkopri Bugyal by evening. A vast alpine meadow bugyal was full of gujjars shephards with their livestock. It was beautiful campsite surrounding by green hills and snow Mountains. A campfire kept us warm, followed by a quick dinner. It rained in the mid night and was cold.!
Next morning we woke up to the clinging sound of bells tied to ponies, followed by a cup of hot tea. After having hot and spicy parathas we started early. We crossed a swift flowing stream over a log bridge, and after a steep ascent, walking through pine forest and rhododendron bushes we reached the tip of the hillock. From a distance in the middle of rolling green meadow we spotted the tents. The porters had reached well in advance and waiting for our arrival to serve hot tea and Pakoras. The campsite at Raasi bugyal was a gentle alpine meadow situated at an altitude 3,650m, hanging precariously on a mountain ledge. The snow domes of Ranglana peak pierced the sky to the northwest; on the east, the Manjukta Pass dipped to reveal the Yamunotri temple; and further north and east, the steep ascent opened up views of the sanctuary. It was a long day since morning and being tired we crashed early after a hot dinner.
Next morning we were told that, it was again a long day, we walked through steep meadows, the rain in the upper reaches had made the trail slippery. The path was riot of colours with Bistorta, Geranium and Morina Longifora flowers in full bloom. We had carried packed lunch for trail as it was long day. After a 10 hours of Arduos climb reached unknown campsite in dark. Everyone was dog tired and having hot Khichidi crashed without a word. Wind was blowing all night and was bone chill.
On the fifth day we started early , it was a tiring walk over the boulders. The steep path to the lake is akin to steep paths of life itself. The path underneath one’s feet slides slowly on crumbled rocks and unknowingly one dislodges granite fragments. A prayer follows to keep our ankles safe..!. The mere sight of lake was enough to send us in a trance and we were speechless – as salvation has been achieved.
The Emerald green lake is spread over to 400 m , with boulders and screed covered along the bank with a mountain ridge in the foreground. Its water flows amid rocks to join Supin river below. The mountain reflected in the still water was a sight to behold. Bramha kamal flower is growing profusely on the edge of the lake – which has a mythical association with the creator of the universe. The rare Phen kamal or Nil kamal, a high altitude plant with purple petals with a white fading dot the landscape. We were wonder struck by the gods creation. The calmness of the area was all so overwhelming. View of Swargarohini peak 6252 M and Ranglana Peak 5554 M rising above the ridge in Ruinsara valley was a sight to behold. I was reminded of the famous phrase by Rachel Sazon –
“Nothing is more calming than connecting with god through nature. His beautiful creations, gifts and blessings should never take it for granted but enjoy. ”.
Maldaru lake which holds a special significance for villagers of Osla and the porters who were from this village performed a ceremony by offering Brahma Kamal flowers to deity on the shimmering waters of the lake. Although every day of the trek offered a heady mix of altitude and magnificent locales, the panoramic view of Lake stole the show. After paying respects to mountain god for bring us a safely and for return journey. We slowly descended down the slope cautiously. By the time we retraced the path to base the, porters had moved down with loads.
It was the longest day of the entire trek which took us almost 10 hours. The trek was a steep and slippery descent through forest. We reached Seema by evening and spent night in the Gharwal Mandal Nigam guest house.
On the last day we trekked to Taluka enroute Gangaad village. We reached Taluka by evening and after a bumpy ride in a sumo we reached Sankri in few minutes. Tired, hungry and dusty we reached our tourist bungalow, after a hot shower, we threw our bodies onto the cosy bed to sleep.
Next morning, the members were refreshed and happy of not spending night in cold. Our Porter Prem who greeted us, carrying a heavy load mentioned that he is heading to hills again for a High Altitude trek called Borasu pass. We felt Hats off to these tough Garhwali boys who are strong and sturdy, who could stand the heat and the cold, honest carrying huge loads with a smile on their faces in spite of just one major meal a day.
Looking at the sun rising above the mountains, the smell of deciduous pine, and the sound of monal in the woods – my heart will be yearning again and again to visit these beloved mountains.