It is known all over as the mystery lake. It’s a place nestled in the Himalayas which has lots of folklore attached to it’s name. But it has much more than this. This is one amazing trek in the Uttarakhand Himalayas that just has amazing contrasting landscapes just about as you cross each ridgeline. The trail takes you from a remote and mesmerising village of Lohajung, through gushing river crossings, verdant meadows, alluring ridge lines, dense green forest and finally though snow and Ice to a mystical lake nestled at an inspiring altitude of 5029 metres. This is one complete trek for any person who inspires to have the elements of Adventure, thrill, self discovery and endurance in one trail.
Lohajung which is the roadhead base camp for the trek is located at an elevation of 2350 metres. It is around 210 Kilometres from Katgodam. It is a small sleepy village which gets active once the Roopkund trail opens. It is the last electrified village on this side, but rarely has electricity, so get your gadgets all charged up before you reach here.
The trail descends from Loharganj towards a stream known as Neel Ganga. The path is well defined and is covered with a forest of Rhododendron and Oak. There is a bridge to be crossed across the river. Its about an hours climb from Neel Ganga which gets a bit steep at times till you reach the village of Didna.
Didna is a picturesque village located at an elevation of 2660 metres. The village is surrounded by a dense green jungle. It has about a 30 households.
From Didna its a climb right from the start. You walk through a thick forest, which is mainly of Oak and Rhododendron. After an hour you reach a grassy patch which is known as Tol Pani. The ascend gets steeper from here as you walk on a path which zigzags until you reach the top of the ridge.
The top is lush green and the meadow is long. This place is known as Aali Bughyal. This place offers a enchanting allround 360 degrees view. You walk along this mersmerizing rigdeline for sometime until you reach a small col. From here the trail starts to ascend again gradually. After about 2 kms after there is a turn from where you will get the first glimse of the meadow of Bedni Bughyal.
Bedni bughyal is yet again a lush green meadow, with a water body in the centre which is known as Bedni Kund. There is a amzing view of the mighty 7120 m high Trishul peak from here. It is one of the most beautiful camping sites in the western Himalayas.
Its a relatively easy trek from Bedni till the campsite of Pathar Nauchani. You cross over to the other side of the ridgeline at a place called Ghora Lautani. The tree line almost diminishes after this point. Pathar Nauchani is a small meadow situated below a ridge at an elevation of 3880 metres. This place has some wonderful views of the snow clad mountain right in front of you especially mt Maikpoli.
The trail starts to ascend as soon as you leave Pathar Nauchani. It gets steeper as you go higher. There are exellent views of the valley below as you walk up the zig zag trail. The last part does sure test your endurance level. At the top of the ridge is called Kalu Vinayak. This place has a temple dedicated to lord Ganesha. This place offers a magnificient view of the Mt Trishool massif. You can see the entire trail till Roopkund from here.
From Kalu Vinayak its a relatively easy walk to wards the campsite of Bhagwawasa. Bhagwawasa is a situated at an elevation of 4300 metres and has just enough to make up for a camping place. The place has lots of rocks around with patches of snow.
The trek starts early in the morning as soon as 3 A.M. from Bhagwawasa. Headlamps come in handy here, as they keep your hands free. The trail is well defined in the beginning. The amount of snow depends on the season in which you are doing the trek. there is more snow in May and June, and gets less as the monsoons set in. Post monsoon the path is devoid of any snow. The path gets narrower and steeper as you climb up. you can feel the effects of altitude, and you have to really push your limits as you are nearer to the lake.
Roopkund lake is situated at an elevation of 5029 m just below the Junargali Ridgeline. As all high altitude Himalayan lakes this is considered holy. Every 12 year there is a yatra till this place by the name of “Nanda Devi raj rath yatra” . The lake has many remains of human skeletons around it. There are many stories about these skeletons. The most prominent of the stories being that these were men who got struck in a hailstorm during one such yatra.
We successfully hosted 239 Roopkund trekkers in the summer of 2016, spread over a period of 8 weeks and 16 batches and out of which 224 (over 94%) successfully scaled the Roopkund. Remaining 15 will wait for their second chance and bravely respected the safety protocol.
Thanks to all the trekkers, the staff and the mighty mountains for making it a big success.
Photos courtesy: Dr. Pranab Kumar Dutta