It is only in India where the joys of trekking can be merged into a beautiful confluence with the pleasures of spirituality. India has loads of treks that are not merely just hiking up to a wondrous location, it is always more than that.
The Himalayan Mountain ranges are especially popular for these heavenly treks that will not only rejuvenate you but also cleanse your soul.
Imagine trekking through the white snow cloud mountains, filled with glaciers that are every flowing with crystal clear waters and the clear blue skies above you. This is truly paradise.
One such lovely spiritual trek is the Nandikund Trek.
I have had the pleasure of embarking on this divine trek after my friends forced me to head over there.
Nandikund Trek is said to lead to one of the holiest abodes of Lord Shiva- Madhyamaheshwar. The Hindu myth believes that the great Neelkanth looks upon the earth from the various high peaks in the Himalayan Mountain Range. Madhyamaheshwar is one such place, where the Lord was believed to have visited to give Darshan to the Pandavas.
The story doesn’t end there. It is said that at first Lord Shiva had rejected to shower his blessings on the Pandavas since the Lord believed that they had committed a grave crime by killing their own brothers. Eventually, Lord Shiva disappeared from there and came back from the ground- but this time in five different body parts. Madhyamaheshwar is said to be the central part of his navel and stomach, and one can worship that in the form of a Shiva Lingam.
Nandikund is not an easy low altitude trek. It is located at about 15748 fr above sea level and is completely frozen during the winters. The trek changes its path and shades with the advent of different seasons.
I went during the summer seasons when I was met with wonderful lush green meadows and clear blue skies. But, during winter the trek takes a different turn, and all around you, you can see white snow falling softly on you, as you try and traverse through the snowy ground.
There are many different paths and trails that you can take, but I decided to choose one of the most popular and picturesque routes. This famous route starts at Madhyamaheshwar, then goes to Kachani Dhar, followed by Pandavsera, Nandukund, Ghiya Vinayak Pass, Bansi Narayan, and Kalpeshwar temples.
My journey started on an early morning in Rishikesh. From Rishikesh, we had to reach Ukhimath, which is known for its lovely temple- Omkareshwar Temple.
After this, we were meant to reach Uniyana, and then get dropped a little before Ransi.
From Ransi the real trail and walk start.
We reached Ransi early morning and ascended up the hill to reach the village. The scenery is absolutely pure and serene, and the fresh air will fill your lungs with pure joy. From here, the path takes you to a wondrous place called Gaundhar. The path till Gaundhar is absolutely fascinating. At times we found ourselves clutching our feet and struggling to walk up the rocky terrain, and then suddenly the path takes a downward way and our bodies feel relieved. The entire path is ascending to a point and then descending. This gives you ample time to rest and admire the scenery.
From Gaundhar we reached till Nanu, which is the last stop before Madhyamaheshwar. Nanu is another lovely village, and from here we had to climb uphill on a relatively easier path, which is about 6 km.
This part of the trail was one of my most favourite. We passed through some amazing dense forests and lush green trees. The leaves of the trees were slowly swaying as the light cool wind passed through the gaps in between the branches of the tree. The soft whooshing of the trees and the melodious chirping of the birds seemed to be playing in harmony, as I felt like getting lost in the forest.
This forest is also said to have different wildlife species where are extremely rare to spot.
The enchanting forest was over, as we moved forward to stay on track. We had planned to reach our campsite by early evening so that we could get enough rest and continue on tomorrow.
We finally stopped near a Bhairon Temple, where we laid out our camps and rested our backs. The energy was amazing. My friends broke into an impromptu song as all of us felt motivated for the next day
We woke up early next morning, and after a delicious breakfast we headed off to Kachani Dhar. This lovely place is actually a ridge at 4000 Mts, and it is flanked by a vertical standing rock at one side and a lush looking meadow on the other. The problem started arising from Kachani Dhar. While the place is absolutely heavenly, the trail from here goes through uncharted territories. That is, the trail doesn’t have any proper marking from here onwards. The terrain also starts getting rocky and rough, and it is hard to find a campsite to stay the night. We eventually managed to set up a camp about 17 km from Kachani Dhar.
The beautiful valley of Pandavsera was only about 4 km from our campsite. We gobbled up our breakfast and headed for the lovely valley of Pandavsera.
When we finally reached the place, I was dazed by the beauty that in front of me. The valley was absolutely green with unique vegetation. The most amazing site is the lovely stream that flows right in the midst of the grassy pavilion. The little stream adds so much more serenity and charm tooth’s little valley. The whole area is covered with different coloured flowers, which resemble small blotches of paint on a white palette. However, the trek was not easy at all. Many times I felt like just going back and resting, but the sheer beauty of the place kept me encouraged.
From here, the elusive Nandi Kund was only 1 km from here. Yet, our legs were too tired to even finish off that stretch. It is possible to visit the Nandi Kund in the evening, but we chose to wait until the next morning, to see the lake in all its glory.
We reached Nandi Kund early in the morning, and at the very first glance, I felt as I was in heaven. The green-blue water radiated and gave out a shine that can only be described as magical. I and my friends were all taken back by the mystic that emanated from the lake.
There is also a small temple which was situated right beside the lake. The temple was fascinating to view, there were some old swords inside the temple, and as per the legend, the swords belonged to the Pandavas. This temple is called the Devi Nanda Temple.
While Nandi Kund was magnificent, there was a lot of garbage that was strewn around by the pilgrims. We felt deeply saddened since it is a huge sin to just carelessly dirty our own planet.
This part of the trail gets really strenuous, but with the amazing view of Nandi Kund on one side and Vaitarani river on the other, you will always feel motivated. The trail goes through a steep slope, and every time I felt like giving up, I stared at the Nandi Kund and tried to derive my motivation and energy from there, and every time it worked. From hopping over boulders to almost crawling, this path is certainly difficult to traverse.
Finally, we reached an easier path and continued walking until we reached Bansi Narayan. The Bansi Narayan temple was absolutely magnificent. This huge temple was built by large rocks, and tell the stories of ancient India. What was found really fascinating were the caves that were near the temple. One can stay overnight inside the caves, which is an incredibly unique and quirky experience.
We commented on our last stretch of the trek. We made out way to the lovely Kalpeshwar Temple, which was going to be our last destination.
To reach here, we had to trek through some lovely meadows and dense forests. There was a point of time where we were walking through a cultivated field of “Rajma”.
The lovely temple of Kalpeshwar is located about one km from the quaint town of Devagram. The temple is very unique and different from the other Kedar Temples, which makes it even more interesting to look at. There are many inscriptions inside the temple, but I couldn’t decipher it. With this lovely temple, as our last stop, my trek had come to an end.
I could feel a sense of accomplishment coming over me. I soon started feeling an essence of gratitude, as I found myself lucky to have embarked on such a magnificent, spiritual and life-changing trek.
You must visit the lovely meadows of Barma Bugyal and Manpai Bugyal. Just lay down on the grass and gaze at the sky filled with fluffy white clouds.
Visit the Shiva Temple in Madhyamaheshwar. The divine power that you will get from visiting this temple is amazing and irreplaceable. Throughout the journey, you will feel that divine presence with you.
Stare at Panpatia glacier (4,200 meters), Neelkanth (6,596 m), Chaukhamba (7,138 m) and Mandani.