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A Journey Towards Moksha...Char Dham..The Most Worshipped Dham...Kedarnath

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The Land Of  Myths And Legends... Uttarakhand..Abode Of Gods...

Part VI..Towards Kedarnath..Till Rampur..Via Gupt Kashi..

You can't force simplicity; but you can invite it in by finding as
much richness as possible in the few things at hand.  Simplicity
doesn't mean meagerness but rather a certain kind of richness,
the fullness that appears when we stop stuffing the world with things.

After a stay of a day in Uttarkashi we started our journey towards the third and the divine dham...Abode Of Lord Shiva..Kedarnath..One has to start from Uttarkashi early in the morning to reach at the base point of Kedarnath early in the evening as the road is beyond difficult to travel..It now traverses along the Tehari dam..and the new Tehari village..and quite a long journey until we reach Srinagar...So we started early in the morning at 6 a.m. from Uttarkashi..Saying good bye to Holy Gangotri..we started off.. 

                                              Morning Sun Rays

Early in the morning we started for Kedarnath and choose the Lambgaon route which is shorter. Having started early in the morning and the tract being scantily used, the route was not only picturesque but we also encountered jungle pheasant foraging for food & water just next to the road. Further, as we continued our descent through the hills having passed Lambgaon, before reaching Ghansali we crossed the newly constructed bridge across Tehri dam reservoir 

Beautiful spruce trees all over this part of the country. Just awesome landscape!

The very mention of Tehri dam brings one person in my mind, Sundar Lal Bahuguna. His satyagrahas, hunger strikes and the struggles for more than two decades went in vain when the Government succeeded in building massive dam at Tehri across Bhagirathi River.Our journey from from UttarKashi to Srinagar passed along the Tehri dam backwaters for more than 3 hours.
On our way from Gangotri we passed through Tehri, one of the biggest Dams ever built in India

We were getting passed beauty and at some places we were into the clouds and could see nothing in the front except white cool smoke. We were passing beautiful villages and eye soothing greenery of the hills. Suddenly I saw a stagnant massively wide river. I asked Amit about it. He said the river was Ganga and it was stagnant because of Tehri dam which was a few kilometers then.

Mid portion of the lake. Land is being cleared to build a 5 star hotel on the lake

The Tehri dam is located in the Central Himalayan Seismic Gap, a major geologic fault zone. This region was the site of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in October 1991, with an epicenter 500 km from the location of the dam. Dam proponents claim that the complex is designed to withstand an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude, but some seismologists say that earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.5 or more could occur in this region. Were such a catastrophe to occur, the potentially resulting dam-break would submerge numerous towns downstream, whose populations total near half a million.Since 2005, filling of the reservoir has led to a reduced flow of Bhagirathi water from the normal 1000 ft³/s to a mere 2 ft³/s. This reduction has been central to local protest against the dam, since the Bhagirathi is considered part of the sacred Ganges whose waters are crucial to Hindu mythology.

                                               Tehari Dam

Tehri Dam is the primary dam of the Tehri Development Project, a major hydroelectric project centered near Tehri Town in the state of Uttaranchal in India. Located on the Bhagirathi River, the principal tributary of the sacred River Ganges, the Tehri Dam has a height of 855 feet (261 m), making it the 5th tallest dam in the world. The dam's intended capabilities include a power generation capacity of 2400 MW, provision of irrigation to an area of 270,000 hectares, irrigation stabilization to an area of 600,000 hectares, and a supply of 270 million gallons of drinking water per day to the industrialized areas of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. There is another smaller dam 14 km downstream at Koteshwar that will produce 400 MW of electricity, and is still considered part of the TDP hydroelectric plan.

Shot of the bridge from far. Was scared to learn that our car is going to pass through it

The relocation of more than 100,000 people from the area has led to protracted legal battles over resettlement rights, and ultimately resulted in the project's delayed completion.This reduction has been central to local protest against the dam, since the Bhagirathi is considered part of the sacred Ganges whose waters are crucial to Hindu mythology. At some points during the year, the tampering of Bhagirathi waters means this tributary stops flowing.

Learned that it was a one lane bridge over the lake. Surprised to notice that no one was controlling the traffic on either end.

We finally reached the Great Tehri dam. And believe me I really felt proud to see the dam.. The beautiful massive engineering wonder was just in front of my eyes, and in dazzling lights Tehri town and her crown the dam was looking like a princess.I salute those behind the dam and thousands of technical personals who are associated with it. India needs to have more structures like these, which will contribute towards her growth and prosperity. Off course while planning these projects, nature must be taken care of.

               Heard that Tehri city was relocated up over on top to build this Dam

After reaching Ghansali, which is a very congested bazar and important transit point of the area and having overcome a short traffic jam due to visit by local MLA, we again proceeded onwards for journey to Gaurikund.We had some refreshments in pipaldali in a good hotel..near Tehari..and proceeded further. After negotiating some really tortorously bending roads we proceeded upto Tilwara, whereafter the road became somewhat even and straighted out.


We finally reached the beautiful town of Srinagar. The place is situated on the banks of river Alaknanda. I found the place to be a modern town with school, colleges, hotels, nice looking markets and health care centre. It was quite hot there and there was no need for any kind of clothing we got used to in previous three days then. We had our breakfast in Srinagar and I bought few packets of cigarettes for the coming days. I didn’t want to pay more for cigarettes in the hills above. When I got back into the van I found out from Amit that we were towards Rudraprayag which was 34kms from Srinagar. The drive as usual was full of beautiful locations and we finally reached Rudraprayag. Rudraprayag is a very important town in Hindu mythology, situated at the confluence of River Mandakani and River Alaknanda

                                  Srinagar - Uttarakhand

Nestled in the foothills of majestic Himalayas and on the banks of Alaknanda River sits the historic town of Srinagar. Srinagar received its name from Sri Yantra, a mythical giant rock so evil that whoever set their eyes on it would immediately die. The rock was believed to have taken as many as thousand lives before Adi Shankaracharya, in the 8th century AD, as a part of an undertaking aimed to rejuvenate the Hindu religion across India, visited Srinagar and turned the Sri Yantra upside down and hurled it into the nearby river Alaknanda. To this day, this rock is belived to be lying docile in the underbelly of the river. That area is now known as Sri Yantra Tapu.

                                        Srinagar - Uttarakhand

We had our lunch in Srinagar..And proceeded towards Rudraprayag which was 34kms from Srinagar. The drive as usual was full of beautiful locations and we finally reached Rudraprayag. Rudraprayag is a very important town in Hindu mythology, situated at the confluence of River Mandakani and River Alaknanda. Amit stopped, and we all went forward to see the place of confluence. The site was beautiful but I was wondering what the river meant in our religion.

                         Road From Srinagar To Rudraprayag


I came back towards the van and asked Amit about it. I was already impressed by Amit’s knowledge about these locations and was sure of an answer. As I knew, he had the answer and told three major rivers form river Ganga, River Bhagirathi having source in Gaumukh, River Mandakini having source from Kedarnath and river Alaknanda coming from Badrinath. He also told me about the ancient temple of Rudranath in Rudraprayag.

            Confluence Of Alaknanda and Mandakini..Rudraprayag

We rolled towards Tilwara.  Through a tunnel we hit the road along the bank of river Mandakini. The road appeared to be a slide hit road with huge chunks of rock lying on one side of the road. It was looking very awful and the road seemed weak to hold on to the amount of vehicles passing on it. Little ahead I saw JCBs were operating, which confirmed what appeared to me. It did not took us long to get passed that road and move towards Tilwara.


                            Road To Tilwada From Rudraprayag

We got passed the beautiful town of Tilwara and after 10km drive we were to reach a place called Agastya muni.It’s believed that Rishi Agastya meditated and stayed there for a long time..And after his name the place is named ‘Agastyamuni’. He is also worshiped in a local temple of Agastya ,a very pious and powerful saint called Rishi Agastya or better known as Agastyamuni..Who made King Vindhyachal  to bow him and remain in its bowing position till he comes back..As King Vindhyachal made himself bigger causing an obstacle for sun rays and the whole mankind was in distress due to lack of sun rays..By the greatness and purity Agastya muni caused Vrindhyachal to get shorter in the sake of mankind..

                                       Road To Agastya Muni

                        Agastya Muni On The Banks Of Mandakini

                                Cultivation Near Agastya Muni

We were by passing beautiful villages and small towns of the hills. We crossed a place called Kund and reached Guptakashi.The legendary town of Guptakashi at an altitude of 1479m above sea level. Sonu told after lord Shiva vanished from Kashi (Varanashi, UP) he lived in Guptakashi for a while. There are two ancient temples in there, one is of Sri Chandra Shekhar Mahadev and another one is of Ardhanarishwara. “Secret Kashi, that’s what Guptakashi means”, I thought but the obvious question was why did lord Shiva fled from Kashi.

                                              Town Of Guptakashi

In Guptakashi we all went in for the dharsana in Viswanath temple. Stairs from side of the road took me to the beautiful temple of Viswanath. It is an ancient temple and inside there is a kund (tank), where there are two bull head structure made up of probably brass. From one bull head mouth the water from the Yamuna flows into the kund and from the other one just adjacent to it, flows the water from river Ganga.

                             Vishwanath Temple @ Gupta kashi..

After the visit . We moved towards Gaurikund, a place 1982m above sea level.We went passed a town named Nala.At there goddess Durga is worshiped in the form of Lalita Devi.All these places are somewhat related to the Epic..Mahabharata..After Pandavas won the war in Kurukshetra defeating Kauravas and successfully ruling there, they decided to repent for their sins committed during the war. They all set out on a yatra to Varanasi in order to be blessed by lord Shiva and be absolved from the sins of killing their own brothers, Guru and killing holly cow. Lord Shiva, unwilling to give them any dharsana fled to Guptakashi in Uttarakhand..

                                Vishwanath Temple @ Gupta kashi..

On getting detected by the Pandavas who were looking for him all over, Shiva went to Kedarnath. Pandavas followed him and went to Kedarnath. Shiva didn’t wanted to give dharsana to the Pandavas and assumed the form of a bull and started grazing among the cattle, but even then couldn’t escape the detection by the Pandavas. At dusk, when it was time for the cattle to get back home, Bhima, the gigantic stature and of great courage and strength, stretched his legs across the mountains, which stands on either sides of Kedarnath valley, in order to identify Shiva. All the cattle passed under his legs except Shiva, whom Bhima noticed. As Bhima bent down to catch hold of him, Shiva sank into the earth and only his back portion, the hump, could be grabbed by Bhima. Shiva being pleased with the determination of the Pandavas, exonerated them from their sins and gave them dharsana and asked them to worship his hump..The temple of Kedarnath was constructed by the Pandavas..In fact all the temples of panch kedar are also constructed by Pandavas..

                          Landscape enroute Guptakasi -Kedarnath

The effects of the change in altitude could be felt. The cold and the soberness of nature warned the entrant of divine territory. As if on cue, the road got steeper and rougher, requiring constant maintenance because of the regular upheavals of nature.The road passed through extremely dense forests with the occasional stream flowing over the road itself. The curves were tighter. There was a marked change in the temperament of the drivers as they concentrated on the road. In the silence was heard only the sound of nearby waterfalls, apart from the occasional screeching of the hot brake shoes and the groans of the heavier vehicles.

                       Morning mist enroute Rampur to Kedarnath

We reached a place called Ramapur which was few kilometers from Gaurikund..Heera sing Rawat was waiting for us ...Heera sing is having a beautiful and cozy homely small but sweet hotel..He is rendering services to the tourists from last 25 years.It was 8.30 in the evening and all of us were tired..Had a hot and refreshing tea..After getting freshen up all of us headed towards our dinner...oh!what a tasty menu it fulkas,Tasty Aloo Gobi,Pickles,Dal Khichadi,and Curd..It was very tongue tasty and we were very satisfied by the menu..We were supposed to start early in the morning for Kedarnath so we all got into our rooms and started arranging the stuffs to be taken for Kedarnath..tomorrow we were supposed to halt at Kedarnath itself ..All the nights in the tour, rivers played the melody to help me sleep and In Gaurikund, river Mandakini was doing the same task for me. I set a morning alarm at 4 o’clock

                           Mountains enroute Kedar

             Mountain goats relaxing Enroute  Kedarnath

                            ॥ ॐ नमः शिवाय॥
             अथ श्री शिवमहिम्नस्तोत्रम्‌॥

महिम्नः पारं ते परमविदुषो यद्यसदृशी
स्तुतिर्ब्रह्मादीनामपि तदवसन्नास्त्वयि गिरः ।
अथाऽवाच्यः सर्वः स्वमतिपरिणामावधि गृणन्‌
ममाप्येष स्तोत्रे हर निरपवादः परिकरः॥ १॥
O, Lord Shiva, remover of all types of miseries, what wonder is there, if the prayer to you, chanted by one who is ignorant about your greatness, is worthless! Because, even the utterance ( speech ) of Brahmaa and other gods is not able to fathom your merits ( ie, greatness ). Hence, if persons with very limited intellect ( and I am one of them ) try to offer you a prayer, their attempt deserve your special favour . If it is so, I should not be a exception . Hence, (thinking like this ) I begin this prayer . (1)

अतीतः पंथानं तव च महिमा वाङ्मनसयोः
अतद्व्यावृत्त्या यं चकितमभिधत्ते श्रुतिरपि।
स कस्य स्तोतव्यः कतिविधगुणः कस्य विषयः
पदे त्वर्वाचीने पतति न मनः कस्य न वचः॥ २॥ 

 O, Great God, so great is your majesty that it cannot be reached by speech and mind . Even the Vedas also, having become surprised, confirm your greatness by only saying `Neti', `Neti' (not this, not this) while describing you . Who can praise this type of greatness of yours? With how many qualities is it composed? Whose subject of description can it be ? And yet even then whose mind and speech are not attached to your this new Saguna form(2)                             

मधुस्फीता वाचः परमममृतं निर्मितवतः
तव ब्रह्मन्‌ किं वागपि सुरगुरोर्विस्मयपदम्‌।
मम त्वेतां वाणीं गुणकथनपुण्येन भवतः
पुनामीत्यर्थेऽस्मिन्‌ पुरमथन बुद्धिर्व्यवसिता॥ ३॥ 
O, Paramaatmaa (Greatest Soul), as you are the very creator of speech of the Vedas, which is like highest type of nectar and as sweet as honey, how can even the speech of Brahaspati (Guru, or spiritual guide of gods) surprise you ? (ie, the speech of even Brahaspati is worthless before you). O, Destroyer of Three Cities of the demons, thinking that my speech may become purified by this act, my intellect (Buddhi) has become prepared to sing your greatness .(3)

तवैश्वर्यं यत्तज्जगदुदयरक्षाप्रलयकृत्‌
त्रयीवस्तु व्यस्तं तिस्रुषु गुणभिन्नासु तनुषु।
अभव्यानामस्मिन्‌ वरद रमणीयामरमणीं
विहन्तुं व्याक्रोशीं विदधत इहैके जडधियः॥ ४॥

O, Giver of Boons, your greatness is the cause of creation, maintenance, and destruction of the whole universe; this is supported by three Vedas (ie, Rigveda, Yajurveda, and Saamaveda); it is distributed in the three qualities (ie, Satva, Rajas and Tamas) and three bodies (of Brahmaa, VishhNu and Mahesha). Such is your greatness but certain stupid persons in this world are trying to destroy it by slander, which may be delightful to them but is really undelightful .(4)  

 किमीहः किंकायः स खलु किमुपायस्त्रिभुवनं
किमाधारो धाता सृजति किमुपादान इति च।
अतर्क्यैश्वर्ये त्वय्यनवसर दुःस्थो हतधियः
कुतर्कोऽयं कांश्चित्‌ मुखरयति मोहाय जगतः॥ ५॥
If the Paramaatmaa (the Greatest Soul) creates the three worlds (ie, thewhole Universe), what is his gesture ? What is his body ? What is his plan? What is his basis (support)? What are his means (instruments,resources) ? These are the useless questions raised by some stupid critics, in order to mislead people, against one (i.e., you) who always remains incompatible to senses .(5) 



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