Kedarnath Yatra: Pilgrimage or a tourist spot?

There were times when Chardham Yatra was like a retirement wish for aged/retired people. Person who has completed all his responsibilities in his family and society can peacefully go for a self vacation for freedom of all his sins done in his/her life by doing this Chardham Yatra.

I still remember whenever I heard about  someone went there, I used to get excited in my school hood. My grandmother has visited all the major pilgrimage in her life including Chardham. She used to tell stories about her spiritual journeys. Since than, I was quite fascinated towards travel life, specially Spiritual Travel is a legit thing. But the real meaning, is comes up with life experiences.

Kedarnath Entrance

Finally in last month of May ’23, due to god’s grace, I witnessed Shree Kedar Darshan, and it feels unimaginable to fulfil your long live dream of life. The aura of temple is so soul satisfying, which looks more mesmerizing in ‘Aarti’  during every Day and Night. Fortunately, I reached at temple at 5 pm, and Aarti starts at 7 pm, which gives me time to relax for a while and gain energy to attend the Aarti. All my sickness, fatigue, drowsiness went vanished away.

The Kedarnath Journey was once in a lifetime experience to me, but it literally comes up with so many challenges which I witnessed during my Yatra. When you get any chance to visit there just be mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming difficulties  you might face during your journey.

The Uncertain weather

Kedarnath Basecamp

The weather of Kedarnath is as certain as our lives. I encountered each kind of season in one day. Sunny to cloudy, Cloudy to Raining, Raining to Hail-raining, Hail Raining to Snowflakes, Snow flakes to Sun shine again. So if you want to be prepared for good/bad, as per my experience, Kindly keep your Jackets and raincoats with your always.

Overcrowding makes trekking way more difficult

Kedarnath Basecamp

When I entered in Gaurikund, the place was so narrow that I was unable to move a inch by myself. People who were returning from the trek was crushing who were going upward. A women in front of me with almost 8-9 year child, was struggling to move forward a lot. Someone push her child due to which he fell down in crowd . The women and her child starts screaming, then few gentlemen help us to move forward. Imagine now I have to find a room for me in this situation. 

Still, If you have decided to trek by yourself in Kedarnath, you will be dealing with lots of hassles during the trek. The path is less in width and goes steeper along with journey, where you will be dealing with the uneven rows of Pony Rides with owners, Pithu(Carrying pilgrims on their back), Doli(Lifted by four person) and trekkers. Now multiply this scene by 2 (as returning pilgrims). I couldn’t counted the numbers of kicks I received during my trek of another person’s sitting on pony or Pitthu. Countless time, I got pushovers by Pony’s and pony riders to make ways.

Everything is expensive

From Gaurikund(starting point of trek), you will feel poor all the way around till end. In very beginning, the prices of every single thing is either thrice or double. When we reach at Gaurikund, it was weekend, due to which the place were heavily overcrowded. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the booking in Gaurikund, because everything showing online was way expensive. I thought, I will manage to find any good hotel at the moment in pocket friendly prizes. 

I found out that even worst kind of room was at costing of 6k-7k minimum, where neither food nor warm water was provided. Somehow I managed to get room at 3k, which looks like a  army bunker in any war zone. As a traveler, I dont spent much on stays rather I like to spend my money on experiences, and trust me, this was the most expensive and worst looking room I ever been in.

After all these hassles, I went for a dinner, which was again way more pricy. While having dinner, I was so frustrated with my experience, I started rethinking to move towards Kedarnath. I decided to return back in the morning. But once I hit the room, changed my decision, because Kedarnath was my big dream always and I couldn’t return from Gaurikund.

Elliteness is Killing the aura

Kedarnath Temple at Night

I observed ellitiness in every aspect of my entire trip. Locals were treating normal class people in very bad way. If you have money, than you will get everything in your plate. Even you can have “Special Darshan” in temple. Just book a Helicopter till the gate, and neither you have to stand wait in 100-200m lines of pilgrims at the token counter, nor you have to stand in darshan line at the temple. In 2000 you will get Darshan and in 10k you may have whole hour for “Luxury Darshan”, as I heard and observed. whereas normal person can barely get a glimpse.

The actual distance of trek is far more

Trek of Kedarnath

As I planned my yatra in accordance with google search, it states that the trek is of 14km to base camp and 2 km more to temple. But as per locals, the trek is 22km from Gaurikund, which I didn’t believed till I completed, because as per their behavior, they are treating pilgrims just like a ATM machines, So I thought they might are manipulating me to book a pony ride or Pithu ride. I went there to trek by myself. During the entire trek, every person returning was claiming same thing. In last kilometers, even I started believing that trek is not just of 16km, its way more than that. When I reach at my tent location I almost got convinced about false distance mentioning. At Kedarnath, the monk told us that before 2013 flood, the trek was 16km but after rebuilding a new way, now the distance has been extended.

Monks in temple

Despite all these challenges, I faced during my yatra, the moment I reach at the temple, every problems seems to disappear for a moment. Every issues I had, seems unreasonable. “Its all worth it” for that feeling. The aura of the temple is something I cant express in words, all my pain, sorrows, anger got vanished. It was a life changing moment for me. I reach at the temple around 6 pm attended Aarti and darshan but still I dont wanna leave the place. I sat with monks and enjoyed listened about Shiva stories till 10 pm. Even than, I didn’t want to leave but my dinner was supposed to wrap up at 10pm. I ran backward towards my tent and had dinner and had one of the most peaceful sleeps  in my life.

Next morning, I spent 1-2 hours at the temple, and with a heavy heart and no will, I slowly starts trekking backwards.

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