The Kedarkantha Trek which is often confused with the pilgrimage trek of Kedarnath has many reasons which make it a favorite of many trekkers in India. Year after year, trekkers throng the village of Sankri to make their way to Kedarkantha- one of India’s popular treks. So, what is it that makes it such a sought-after trek in India? Let us find out.
A look at the trek
The Kedarkantha trek involves hiking to the top of Kedarkantha mountain which is about 12,500ft or 3,812m in height. One of Uttarakhand’s most popular treks, it is located within the bounds of Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary which is a biodiversity hotspot and houses diverse flora and fauna. The name Kedarkantha literally translates to Shiva’s throat in Hindi. An old Hindu myth associated with the peak is that once the Pandavas came to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Shiva tried hiding from Bhima by taking the form of a bull. Bhima recognized him and went for his tail. The bull hid underground and when it came back on the ground, Shiva’s body got divided into different parts. The neck fell here and that is why the name Kedarkantha.
To start the trek you will need to reach Sankri, a remote village which is about 200km from the state capital Dehradun. From Sankri there are up to 15 different treks one of which is the summit of Kedarkantha.
Once you acclimatize in Sankri and take in its rich heritage and hospitality, you can start with the hike to the lake Juda ka Talab. This lake completely freezes during peak winters and is a sight to behold. You will be camping for the night and then start your trek the next day towards Kedarkantha base camp. After acclimatizing at the base camp you will start early the next morning so as to make it on time at the peak for the pleasant sunrise.
The descent will be towards Hargaon and then back to Sankri where your trek will end.
The Reason why Kedarkantha is a favorite
The Kedarkantha has become every trekker’s favorite trek in recent years because of many reasons. Here are a few of them:
A Trekker’s Paradise
This hike is guaranteed to give you immense joy giving an elaborate view of the Himalayas. When one reaches atop the Summit of Kedarkantha one can view the amazing snow-capped Himalayan peaks of mountains Kala Naag or Black Peak, Bandarpoonch, Swargarohi among others. Besides this, the sun rising over the Himalayan mountain ranges visible from here can make anyone weak at the knees.
During winters this part of the Himalayas gets snowfall easily and the region gets blanketed with thick layers of snow. This converts the region into a winter wonderland.
A trek that fits all
This is one of the easiest Himalayan treks which gives unbeatable rewards. In other words, the reward that one receives with every kilometer completed is simply unmatchable. For instance, just hiking 3km from base camp to the summit will give you a more explicit view than say, Stok Kangri where you have to walk 7 km to the summit. Even the overall trekking distance is lesser in Kedarkantha which is only about 20km as compared to any other trek in any other state.
Because of the distance covered and altitude, this trek is very easy for beginners and so if you are new to trekking then consider this trek as soon as you can. Having said that, even seasoned trekkers cannot say no to this splendid trek because of how quickly and rewarding it can be. They also visit again because of how beautiful and hypnotic this lake is.
Juda ka Talab
Apart from the Kedarnath peak climb, the next best thing about this trek is the lake Juda ka Talab which is a beautiful lake set at an altitude of 9000ft or 2700m. This water wonder is surrounded by pine trees. The lake becomes a hundred times more charming during winters when its snows and temperatures drop. It freezes and becomes stone cold. You can even take a walk on it and stand in its center. This lake is also a campsite for one night. After camping for a night you can hike to the base camp from here.
There are many Hindu myths associated with this lake. According to one, there were actually two lakes- one above the ground and the other hidden below the ground. They were somehow connected and thus the name Juda means connecting.
Along with the peak of Kedarkantha, this village too is becoming quite popular due to its exotic culture and architecture. The village is said to be over 300 years old. It is the campsite for the trek and even has many homestay options where trekkers get to live with the families of the locals and experience how they live,
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This village is also the campsite to many other treks in the vicinity like:
- Har ki Dun
- Ruinsara Tal
- Dev Kyara Bugyal
- Bali Pass
- Black Peak or Kala Naag Base camp
- Borasu Pass
- Saru Tal
- Bharadsar Lake
- Nalgan Pass
Apart from this, Sankri also has a zipline which is the highest in the state, and also skiing available at the base of Kedarkantha mountain.