Finally I took the four days off that I desperately wanted to for the last 5 years to take my mother on a piligrimage to Badrinath and Kedarnath. It took little planning but some deep soul searching and a bit of courage as I decided to drive all the way in the little Chevy Spark.
First of all Spark just proved once again that she is the mother of all the fat, overweight and over expensive SUVs. The way spark handled the turns, the water streams, the potholes.. it was so amazing.
I could not spot a single Pajero, CRV, Landrover etc etc on the way to Badri-Kedar. It was , Mahindra Bolero and Scoprios and Sumo’s all the way. So among all these bad boys ( or if you like girls) our little Chevy Spark was truly shining :).
Now Mom is happy, I’m happy and relieved that I was able to take her on this journey. She showed her Bhakti to the lord by doing the 30 km trek- I matched it by driving 1200 Kms in 4 days.
So if you are like me, time and money starved and you want to do this pilgrimage with your near and dear one then here are some tips for you.
First and foremost this pilgrimage can be attempted from any of the rail heads like Dehradoon, Rishikesh and even Kotdwar and Kathgodam. One can definitely fly down to Dehradoon then organise a taxi to take you to the dhams.
Once you reach Dehradoon or Rishikesh- Both Badrinath and Kedarnath can be done in 4 days. The roads are quite good at most places , thanks to the many hydro electric projects that are operational in the area. It is advisable to start early every day. We did Dehradoon to Gaurikund ( base camp for Kedarnath) in 10 hours flat. ( a total distance of 261 kms). From Gaurikund we went to Badrinath via Chopta ( this is recommended as the route is mesmerizing even though the road is quite bad at places). Again it took us about 12 hours for the whole Journey. Before you leave its quite good to check what time the road will close at Joshi-Math. In summers the road closes at 4Pm and at about 5.30 PM. Badrinath to Dehradoon is a long ride, about 370 Kms or so. We did it in 12 hours with 2-3 stop overs.
So 4 days, 1200 Kms and a 30 km trek.
The drive, the places, the villages and towns that we crossed were just amazing. From Dehradoon to Rudraprayag its regular hills. The views start getting better once you have crossed Rudraprayag. My favorite part of the drive was Guptkashi, Kalimath, Chopta, Okhimath, Gopeshwar and Joshimath enroute Badrinath.
One look at the mountains and you will know that if God indeed lives in our world then it has to be here. The God’s do live in these high places.
I will stop now and let the pictures do the talking.