Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Captivating Snowscape Images From Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand state has many Himalayan destinations visited by devout and laymen. The Garhwal region of Uttarakhand has religious shrines namely, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, which everybody would like to visit at least once in their lifetime. Devoid of high altitude mountain passes, post winter, the destinations in high altitude regions above 8,000’ are accessible from first week of May. Hemkund route opens in first week of June. I have the pleasure of travelling extensively for last several years in various high altitude destinations of Uttarakhand resulting in large number of snowscape images. Some are posted as below.

Image 1 Caption: Way to Badrinath
Description: The most accessible of Char Dham shrines in Garhwal happens to be Badrinath with road connecting it from Rishikesh. The early summer visitors, around mid-May, will see accumulated snow en route at several locations with rivulet flowing underneath. The image was captured from a running bus as we were approaching Badrinath. 

 Image 2
Caption: Mt. Neelkanth at sunrise
Towering Mt. Neelkanth (6590 m) is visible from almost any spot at Badrinath. One needs to get up early in morning around 5 am and pray for a bit of luck so that clouds would not be obstructing the peak. The sunrise spectacle lasts for more than 15 minutes. Following still image is best I could get from my visit to Badrinath in early summer in May 2006.   

Image 3
Caption: Crumbling snow and the rivulet
Kedarnath is arduous 14 km trek beginning at Gaurikund. My three treks to Kedarnath has resulted in many still images and videos. The topography had a different look in each of the visits. Most memorable visit was in May 2007, when there was too much snow alongside the gorges on trek route after walking 7 km and nearing village Ramwada. In the frame the river Mandakini is flowing alongside a crumbling snow formation.

Image 4
Caption: Between Snow walls at Ramwada
With heavy snowfall in winter and roads being blocked with some 10’ of snow, the snow cutters were used to make a pathway way for the trekkers to walk between two ice walls. A drizzle in afternoon is very common in these regions and poncho (cheap raincoat) is really handy for the Yatris. 

Image 5
Caption: Nature’s largesse
Mother nature poured its largesse rather liberally with huge tract of hill slope covered with snow. With the advent of summer the snow gets crystallized and hardens forming a slippery surface. However that did not deter the villagers frolicking on the white surface. Sheep are perched on rocks in the foreground.

Image 6
Caption: Glacial lake – Gandhi Sarovar
For the adventure seeking yatris to Kedar, there is a 3.5 km trek further up the hill to reach Gandhi Sarovar (Chorabari Tal) at the snout of Chorabari glacier. When we reached the bowl shaped valley, the place was almost completely snow bound revealing a small portion of the glacial lake.

Image 7
Caption: Kedarnath peak
From the Gandhi Sarovar, the Kedarnath peak (also called Kedar massif) appeared quite near as if we could touch it. The bright sun lit day made the visual worthy for capture with a deep blue sky background.

Image 8
Caption: All concentration
Trekking on snow on mountain slopes is best attempted before sunrise. What we could do easily on our onward trek to Gandhi Sarovar through snow before sunrise became an ordeal on our return trek when sun shone real bright. The upper surface of snow melting, negotiating the slippery surface required great deal of concentration to retain the foothold. 

Image 9
Caption: Massive back drop
Yatris commencing their return trek from Kedarnath give a dimension to magnificent Kedarnath peak as a huge back drop. The downhill trek of 14 km is completed in 4 to 5 hours.

Image 10
Caption: Mt. Shivling
Some yatris to Himalayan shrine of Gangotri take to the trek of Gaumukh – source of river Ganges. After almost 7 km of trek and arriving near Cheerwasa, the Himalayan peak of Shivling bathed in morning sunlight and caressed by sparse clouds is a visual delight.

Image 11
Caption: Bhagirathi Massif
As trekkers reach nearer to Gaumukh, the Bhagirathi peak looms larger. The trek route, totally barren and full of stones and boulders of various sizes, last few km is the toughest. The river itself is a small flowing stream, gray in color full of silt.   

Image 12
Caption: Snow-view from Tunganath
Tunganath is one of the Panch Kedar shrines in Garhwal Himlayas at 12,500’ elevation. The 4 km trek through steep gradient stone stitched path starts from Chopta. With clouds lifting its veil and making Himalayan panorama visible after a bout of rain and hail storm.

Image 13 Caption: Snow-peak from Madmaheshwar
Madmaheshwar is one of the Panch Kedar shrines in Garhwal Himalayas. After a bout of snowfall and rainfall in the religious town, the snow-peak make its gorgeous appearance above the cottages scattered around the temple. 

Image 14 Caption: Snow-view from Panar Bugyal
Rudranath is one of the Panch Kedar shrines in Garhwal Himalayas. The three and a half days trek from Sagar gives a first night halt at Panar Bugyal ( green meadow ). The snow view in early morning as the yatris come out of their cottage on to the Bugyal is all nature in its pristine glory.

Image 15
Caption: Kedar peak view from Ukhimath
Ukhimath will rank as one of the finest Garhwal destinations. The low altitude makes it a round the year visiting place and gives some of the finest views of Himalayan peaks  like Chaukhamba and Kedar. The following frame was captured from Ukhimath market making way behind the row of shops facing the hgill side.

Image 16
Caption: Mt. Nandadevi view from Auli
Auli is famous skiing resort which one can approach via ropeway or drive a 14 km asphalted road from Joshinath. In summer the panorama of Himalayan peaks is the best attraction for tourists.
The tallest peak is Mt. Nandadevi quite conspicuous by its presence among the lesser peaks.  

Image 17
Caption: Above the snowline
Sri Hemkunt Sahib yatra begins in first week of June after the snow along the trek route of 7 km from Ghangaria is cleared. The yatra is tough but one is rewarded with some of the finest snowscapes he will ever see.

Image 18
Caption: Panchchuli Himalayan peaks
Panchchuli is the formation of five Himalayan peaks in one row and is perhaps seen best from Munshiyari the town in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.

Image 19
Caption: Tallest of Panchchuli peaks
A close-up of the tallest among Panchchuli peak gives a classic pyramid look in a azure blue sky back drop.

Image 20
Caption: Snow peaks at Binsar
Binsar Wildlife sanctuary is a multifaceted destination in Kumaon region of Uttarakahnd. The end to end panorama of Himalayan range is most enjoyable during sunrise. One gets a simultaneous vision of rising sun and spreading of the golden glow on snowpeaks. 


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