Shri Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2019

Hemkund Sahib

Overview

Shri Hemkund Sahib or Shri Hemkunt Sahib is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand province of India. Devoted to Guru Gobind Singh, Shri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara (place of worship) located at an altitude of 4630m, is the highest shrine of Sikh community. This holy place is surrounded by seven snow-covered peaks(Saptshringa) and is situated on the shores of pristine glacial lake called Hemkund (literally meaning Ice lake). This trek is majorly divided in two phases namely GobindGhat-Ghangaria and Ghangaria-HemkundSahib. It is around 20 Kilometers long arduous trek with steep inclines at the ending phase of the trek. There are many means of transports available to reach GobindGhat which is the last motor-able point. During the Yatra time (Pilgrimage Trek) food stalls and eateries are available alongside the trail and home-stays are also easily available at Ghangaria and GobindGhat. It takes around 2 days to reach the shrine and the trek difficulty is somewhat similar to the famous Roopkund Lake Trek.


Shri Hemkund Sahib Opening Date 2019 is 25 May 2019.


Shri Hemkund Sahib History

According to Hemkund Sahib history, Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru (spiritual master) of Sikh Religion, indicated in one of his holy compositions namely, “Bachitar Natak”, that in one of his previous births he had meditated on the shores of a lake surrounded by seven snow-covered peaks known as Saptashringa. He also mentioned that, it is the same place where Pandu the forefather of Pandavas ( five brothers of Mahabharata era) meditated. So taking a clue from these compositions some dedicated true sikhs discovered this heavenly holy place with lots of hard research and efforts. Sant Sohan Singh, an Indian Army ex-serviceman first found this holy place in 1934.

The first gurudwara, 10*10 feet. was built in 1935. Later on, General Harkirat Singh was given the reponsibility to construct a larger gurdwara. Under his remarkable supervision and with the help of many revolutionary men such as S. Manmohan Singh Siali ( the Architect), S.Sahib Singh( the constructor), S.Gursharan Singh (Civil Engineer,Builder), Dr. S. Inderjeet Singh(renowned humanitarian and financial wizard) and many other notable personalities, the successful rendition of project from mind to paper and eventually to present day Gurdwara was completed in the year 1968. Despite all kinds of hardships and limitations imposed by nature, geographical location, technology, improper infrastructure and lack of transportation the Goliath task was successfully completed. It is a symbol of human courage, herculean efforts and the utmost dedication. An epitome of never dying human spirit that stands tall despite all the obstacles that hinder the achievement of the final objective.

The Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara is famous for its distinct style of architecture. Unlike all other Gurudwaras in the country that follow a unified style of architectural design this one stands unique. It is only kind of a gurudwara that has been designed in a pentagonal shape. Situated amidst lofty snow capped peaks, the reflection of this star shaped or inverted lotus Gurudwara in the bluish-green icy water of the pristine Hemkund lake is a picture to behold. Access to this holy place is only available for a limited period of time from the month of May till mid October. Throughout the months of October till April it gets covered under the thick layers of snow and is practically inaccessible to the pilgrims and trekkers. As Guru Gobind Singh is revered equally by the Sikhs and Hindus, this holy place has today become a popular pilgrimage center for both the communities. Hemkund lake also holds importance in Hindu Mythology. Before being discovered in 1933-34 A.D this sacred place was already known to villagers and locals of the nearby valleys. It was called as Lokpal and was the pilgrimage place for the local folks. The stories about this place can be found in Hindu puranas (ancient mythology volumes) and epics.

Hemkund Sahib

According to one legend it was the meditation ground for the Laxman ( younger brother of the Hindu deity Rama). Story goes like that during the war with devil king Ravana, Lakshman was mortally hurt and was brought to this holy lake called Lokpal. Here he was administered the Sanjivini (life-giving) herb, brought by Lord Hanuman and he revived. As a gesture of happiness the Gods showered the flowers from heaven and those very flowers got rooted nearby, hence forming what is now known as the Valley of Flowers. Other story goes that in his previous incarnation Lakshman was a seven headed serpent and performed meditation under the lake Lokpal. Another story goes that many sages and hermits performed tapasya(austerity) at this sacred place, amongst them Rishi Medhasa (as mentioned in Markandeya Purana) is the prominent one. Likewise there are many other legends which have been passed from one generation to other. Traditionally Lokpal was a pilgrim place primarily for women belonging to Garhwal and Bhotia community living in nearby valleys. These women visited it thrice annualy during summer time. These women, out of reverence and sanctity of lake, used to ascend the peak bare feet, dressed only in one single large piece of unstitched cloth. They use to leave their footwear and garments at the last halting point amidst the fir trees. This last halting point became what is today the base camp for Shri Hemkund Sahib yatra and is called as Ghangaria because of the Ghangra like dresses these women pilgrims left behind at this place.

During May when the Hemkund Sahib trek is opened, a ritual is performed by the Sikh people which is known as Kar Sewa (Selfless Service). In this ritual they volunteer along with local village helpers and labourers to clear the snow covered trail to Gurudwara and repair the pathways of Hemkund Sahib route that have been damaged. The initial point to this trek is GobindGhat which is around 26 kilometers from Joshimath, 290 Kilometers from Rishikesh, 320 kilometers from Haridwar, 530 Kilometers from Delhi NCR and around 700 kilometers from Amritsar. Devotees and avid travellers from all around the country head for Shri Hemkund Sahib on bicycles, scooters, motorbikes, car, buses and trucks. Hemkund Sahib Trust has been formed which manages the Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara. This trust is also responsible for constructing and managing Gurudwaras all along the path from Haridwar (starting point of journey in mountains) to Hemkund Sahib. Gurudwaras are located at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Srinagar, Joshimath, GobindGhat, Gobind dham and are constantly upgraded to facilitate the ever-increasing number of pilgrims.


Also Read: Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek. If you are planning for your first trek then may be this trek can be a great start.


Trek Itinerary

Hemkund Sahib Trek is approx. 21 km from Gobindghat, the last motorable point. There are two ways for pilgrimage:

  • One is to take a helicopter from GobindGhat upto Ghangaria (skip 14-15 km trekking part) and then trek from Ghangaria upto Hemkund Sahib or hire a pony( around Rs. 700, one way, though rates may vary). Other way to complete the Trek in 1 day is to hire helicopter services upto Ghangaria, then hire ponies from Ghangaria for both up and down journey. As far as Hemkund Sahib Helicopter services are concerned, they are weather dependent and totally unreliable during the monsoon periods(July-August). Tickets need not be taken in advance and it only takes 8 minutes flying time to reach Ghangaria.
  • Second is to trek whole way from GobindGhat to Hemkumd Sahib or hire ponies(Rs.1000 for one way). This whole trek i.e, GobindGhat-Hemkund Sahib-GobindGhat can be completed in one day if one starts early around 5 a.m and hire Mules for up and down yatra. Mules take 8-9 hours upto the holy Gurdwara and descend down to Gobind Ghat in 4-5 hours. Otherwise trek usually takes 2 days to complete but it might also take 3 days depending upon the speed of the trekker and the time of the day when journey begins. Day 1 GobindGhat – Ghangaria. Day 2 – Ghangaria – Hemkunt – GobindGhat/or Ghangaria. If second day journey ends at Ghangaria then Day 3 – Ghangaria to GobindGhat.

Day 1

Ghangaria
Ghangaria


On first day start trek from GovindGhat and halt at Ghangaria for overnight stay. It takes around 8-10 hours time to cover this 14 k.ms trek. Recently road has been constructed from GobindGhat upto the village Pulna. It covers 3 K.M. of distance. Only motorbikes, local taxis and car belonging to villagers are allowed beyond GobindGhat upto Pulna. Pulna is the winter settlement of the villagers. It has small eateries and staying accomodations with parking available only for motorbikes. The whole trek upto Ghangaria is alongside the mighty river Hemganga or LakshmanGanga, which has its origin point at Hemkund Lake. The river finally merges into Alaknanda. During the year 2013 the series of cloudburst and flash-flood played havoc in the province of Uttarakhand. Worst affected were Kedarnath Valley, Badrinath valley, Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers. In this catastrophe, Pulna village was destroyed completely by the devastating deluge coming from the top of the saptshringa peaks. Few villagers who survived were rehabilitated at new location. Remnants of the old destroyed village houses and automobiles can be seen from the new location of the village. Along the trails upto Ghangaria the destruction caused by the ruthless dance of the mighty nature can make you tremble and bring the realisation that our existence before divine nature is so meak and tiny. The trail upto Ghangaria is stone paved but steep. Never-ending lines of pilgrims can be seen throughout the trail. A vast number of people from all over India and abroad visit this sacred Shrine and take a dip in holy icy lake. Many trekkers also throng this place to see the unique marvelous gurudwara constructed at most inhospitable location and also the tempting Valley of Flowers. They all bravely face the harsh conditions, and daunting route to get the glimpse of exquisite beauty and grandeur of the sacred Gurudwara situated on the shores of pious lake. The vagaries of nature, steep endless trails and unpredictable climate, nothing diminishes the enthusiasm and devotion of the pilgrims. Around 5 K.M. from Pulna there is a village known as Bhyundar.

Valley Of Flowers
Valley of Flowers

Till Bhyundar, the trail is not that difficult and requires moderate physical fitness. From Bhyundar to Ghangaria the trail gets tougher and steeper. Ghangaria which can be considered as a mid point of this trek is the last village on this trek. It is the base camp for Hemkund Sahib trek and Valley of Flowers trek. At this place their are numerous options to have a relaxing stay. Gobind dham gurudwara, forest rest house and many other private hotels are available where both pilgrims and trekkers can halt for the night. GMVN also has its tourist Rest house here. It can be booked online by visiting www.gmvnl.in There are many shops and restaurants also around this place.

Day 2

Start trek early in the morning from Ghangaria as the trek is quite steep and difficult because altitude gains fast in little distance. The Hemkunt Gurudwara is 6 km from Ghangaria and it takes around 4-5 hours to reach the much desired destination. Around 1 k.m uphill from Ghangaria the route diverges. The trek to the left goes towards Nature lovers delight, The Valley of Flowers and the straight path leads to Shri Hemkund Sahib. The weather is always unpredictable and swings to extreme any time in Himalayas therefore it is recommended to reach Gurudwara by 2 p.m last. Moreover, overnight halt at Gurudwara is not permitted except for the Sevadars (volunteers). Pilgrims are sent down to Ghangaria after the last Ardhas(prayer) held around 2 p.m. Once you reach at the holy place all tiredness vanishes. Heart and soul is filled with peace and tranquility. Instant gratification is felt looking at the surreal landscape and gaspings never stops while looking awestruck in wonder at the striking perfection. The glacial lake with its freezing crystal clear water is 2 k.m. in circumference and reflects the image of Gurudwara and surrounding Saptashringa peaks pefectly. These Saptashringa peaks are collectively knows as Hemkund Parvat(mountain). The glaciers on Hemkund Parvat and Hathi(elephant shaped) Parvat are itself the source of pious glacial Hmekund lake. Take a holy dip in the icy Hemkund lake, visit the Gurudwara, offer your prayers, relish the langar and enjoy the captivating and enchanting views. Nearby the lake is an ancient Lokpal or Lakshman Temple where Lord Lakshman meditated in the Golden Satyug period. Exotic flowers like Brahamkamal, Blue Poppy and Potentilla(Vajradanti) can be seen blooming around the lake or some 100-200 feet above it. After spending some leisure time and feeling rejuvenated by the utmost positive energy and vibrations head back to Ghangaria. Stay at Ghangaria for overnight halt if you reach this place by 5 p.m. or if you want to extend your journey and wish to visit the nature’s delight, The Valley of Flowers. Otherwise if you descend down from Hemkund Sahib early then you can trek back upto GobindGhat straight.

Shri Hemkund Sahib
Shri Hemkund Sahib

How To Reach Shri Hemkund Sahib

By Bus

The nearest motorable access to Shri Hemkund Sahib is GovindGhat. It is also the last stop for Hemkund Sahib Pilgrimage on Joshimath -Badrinath route. One can easily board a state transport bus or can rent taxi from major cities of Uttarakhand like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Rudrapryag, Srinagar, Chamoli etc. Although there is no direct service between New Delhi and Hemkund Sahib but you can reach Haridwar or Rishikesh from Delhi and further can reach here by bus. The National Highway 7 which connects Rishikesh to Badrinath is still under construction at many points and it can some times take more time than expected because of the traffic.

Note: If you are travelling from New Delhi, then you can book a direct bus of UTC (Uttarakhand Transport Corporation) from New Delhi Kashmere Gate ISBT to Srinagar, Uttarakhand. And from Srinagar, you can easily get shared cabs or local buses for Gobindghat. Fare may vary accordingly.

By Train

The nearest Railway Station to this place is Rishkesh railway station which is 280 kilometers from GovindGhat. Although, it is suggested to board a train till Haridwar because frequency of trains for Rishikesh from major cities of India is low in comparison to Haridwar. From Haridwar buses and taxi are available for Govindghat.

By Air

The nearest airport to GovindGhat is Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun. From Dehradun, Private cab or a Shared Taxi or State Transport Buses are available easily. One should prefer to leave for Gobindghat or Joshimath early in the morning as it may take you more than 8 hours to reach.


Best Time To Visit

Shri Hemkund Sahib yatra is open for 5-6 months i.e, from May to early weeks of October. Best time to visit Hemkund Sahib is months of May, June and September. When the Yatra opens up in May the trek is snow bound from the last 2-3 k.ms of trail up to holy Gurudwara. In the months of July and August it rains heavily here and consequently turns the trail into a treacherous terrain. Moreover, during monsoon time its all cloudy, and no natural scenic beauty is visible. Post-monsoon sky opens up, all around its green and glaciers visible clearly. Trees Shrubs, Herbs, Flowers, Streams, Waterfalls and River full of gushing water makes you feel like as if in heaven.


About

Hi, I am Karan and I love writing about isolated destinations. My life revolves around the change in Longitude. I drink Room Temperature Water and Smoke only Oxygen. I believe that Vacation Calories don't count so think less and Travel More. I am on a mission to travel the world and this Bio pretty much Sums Up my Life!

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