Sitting amongst the mighty and majestic Garhwal Himalayan ranges of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand, Kedarnath Dham Yatra is one of the most picturesque as well as perilous journey anyone can undertake. There have been several instances of the pilgrimage going wrong all due to bad planning and execution. One needs to plan ahead of time in order to avoid unpredictable inaccuracies which may prove to be fatal. This travel guide for Kedarnath trek will definitely come in handy while planning your divine journey.
How to Reach Kedarnath Dham:
By Road – If you are planning on visiting Kedarnath Dham by road by hiring a cab or taxi then one can hail it from Delhi to Dehradun. Upon reaching Dehradun you will be transferred to Haridwar – which usually serves as the base for the Chota Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand. Here is a brief representation of the map which you will be following:
Haridwar – Rishikesh (24 km) – Devprayag (74 km) – Srinagar (34 km) – Rudraprayag (33 km) – Gaurikund via Tilwara, Agastyamuni, Chandrapuri – Kund – Guptkashi – Phata (in case you are opting for Kedarnath Dham Yatra by helicopter) – Sitapur – Sonprayag (74 km)
In case you are planning on trekking then you will be covering a distance of 14 to 16 kms which takes 5 – 6 hours to complete. On a side note, be sure to wake up extremely early in the morning in order to make it back to your accommodation site on time.
By Air – you have the option of booking a helicopter ride to all the char dham yatras. You also have the option of choosing from 2 different sites in case you want to go for a Kedarnath yatra by helicopter.
From Dehradun – you will be boarding a helicopter from the Sahastradhara helipad. The helicopter which takes off from here will drop you off at your destination within 40 minutes.
From Haridwar / Rishikesh – if your plans are of travelling to Kedarnath from Rishikesh or Haridwar then from here you will be transferred to Phata which is the helipad created for the service of receiving helicopter for Kedarnath Dham Yatra.
By Trekking – once you reach Sonprayag you will have the option of travelling in a shared cab. The per person charge for travelling in this cab is rupees 20/- and this cab will drop you off till Gaurikund. You will be trekking further from Gaurikund to Kedarnath which is an uphill trek of 14 – 16 kms and takes 6 – 7 hours to cover. A new Kedarnath Dham trekking route has been constructed after the 2013 Kedarnath cloudburst flooding disaster.
Prior to the flooding disaster of Kedarnath Dham the trekking route included Rambara which was well fenced, well developed and was a designated trekking route. A brand new trekking route has been developed by the government post the devastating flood disaster of 2013. Given below is the newly developed trekking route:
- Arrival at Gaurikund via shared cab / taxi from Sonprayag which is situated at a distance of 6 km.
- Gaurikund to Jungle Chatti via Rambara Bridge which is situated at a distance of 4 km.
- From Jungle Chatti you will make your way to Bheembali.
- From Bheembali you will head on to Linchauli
- Kedarnath base camp will be your next destination which is situated at a distance of 4 kms.
- The main Kedarnath Dham Mandir is located at a mere distance of 1 km from the Kedarnath base camp.
- The best time for you to choose trekking to Kedarnath will be during the summer months when the weather is clear, predictable and it’s the peak season for pilgrimage. May to early July is the best time to go trekking and maybe even beyond the temple for adventurous expeditions.
- The months of monsoon should best be avoided due to the sudden and unpredictable weather conditions. July to September are the time when trekking to Kedarnath is at an all time low.
- Winter months marks the shut down of the entire trekking route due to a heavy snow cover. The visit here impossible and even the idol of the presiding deity is shifted to its winter abode in Ukhimath for the winter char dham yatra circuit.
Kedarnath Trek Features
The overall trekking route for Kedarnath Dham pans over a distance of 16 kms and covering this requires the person to be extremely fit and maintain a good physical fitness level. It is advised for the pilgrims to get themselves medically checked at least 1 or 2 months prior to the commencement of the trek. It is important for the Yatris to know their level of physical fitness and stamina before going on this perilous trekking journey. The timings for the Kedarnath trek from Gaurikund kick starts from 4 am early in the morning and lasts till 1:30 pm in the afternoon. These timings are rigid and never changes since the trekking route goes through the Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary and these timings are decided keeping in mind the sanctuary’s timings. No visitor is given permission to leave after the said specific timings. These high altitude treks are not recommended for people suffering from respiratory or breathing problems.
Facilities Available at Kedarnath Trek
There are several alternative methods of covering the pilgrimage distance like mules and dolis / palkis. People have the option of booking these services from the booking counter which is set up at Gaurikund or Sonprayag. The rates are set as per the distance you will be covering. The entire length of the trek is dotted with numerous tented accommodations, small shops, eateries and drinking water services. The helicopter service for Kedarnath Dham commences from Phata.
Kedarnath Trek Essentials to Carry:
- A bottle of water which you can carry anywhere and fill up once you are finished. Remember to keep yourself hydrated throughout the trek.
- A bottle of sunscreen is a must since you will be subjected to high altitude sun conditions which may damage your skin or at the most cause a tan. A good SPF quality of sunscreen lotion should be kept with you at all times.
- A must-have is a raincoat. Since Kedarnath is situated at a very high altitude the weather conditions here are extremely unpredictable and random. Sometimes during the trek, you may even experience heavy rain showers which may prove to be a huge hinderance during your trekking.
- Mobile connectivity in Kedar valley is weak and may be lost in some places. You can carry BSNL sim card if you want to stay in touch with your family and friends. Before going to kedarnath remember to inform all your family members to ensure safety.
- In case of food, you must carry snacks and other such eatables which are high in glucose and will give you a surge of energy when you are starting to get lethargic. Food items like energy bars, chocolates, sweets etc is advised.
- The wind is persistent in these regions even if you go there during the most favourable time. The nights here get very cold and chilly. One must carry a wind cheater jacket or an extra shawl to deal with the situation. This will definitely be a very good decision from your end.
Things to Keep in Mind Prior to the Kedarnath trek
- Make sure you get a full body checkup done before going on this Kedarnath trek.
- People suffering from respiratory disorders and high blood pressures are advised not to stress themselves out by going on this trek.
- In case you opt for travelling through Kandi, ponies or Palki ensure that your bookings have been completed at the booking counter available at Gaurikund / Sonprayag.
- The trekking timings are extremely strict which is of 4 am to 1:30 pm.
- In case you are unable to complete the entire trek in the given time then you have the option of staying in camps which are available at Jungle Chatti, Bheembali and Linchauli.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the terrain of Kedarnath trek?
The trekking for Kedarnath will take you through a very varied hilly landscape here which comprises of steep ascents, plains and gradual descents. However being situated on a high altitude the travel here is very difficult and challenging which should be taken seriously and one should definitely prepare well before going there.
Is the Trekking Journey Safe?
After the disaster in Kedarnath the trekking routes have been newly set up which are safer than the last routes. People still hold a lot of apprehension regarding the journey which should not be the case since all the new development plans have worked towards making trekking journey to the temple capable and better through the government’s sustainable solutions.
Can I stay anywhere en route the Kedarnath trek?
There are Kedarnath camps available at a distance of around 5 minutes from the temple entrance. It is the perfect option for people who either get late for getting back to Sonprayag or wish to seek darshan early in the morning. The tented accommodation here can accommodate a number of people if you do your booking beforehand and it will be easier for you as well.
Can people with blood pressure and heart problems walk up to the temple?
This is a high-altitude trek and the air here is low on oxygen content. People suffering from heart and blood pressure related issues are advised not to do this trek. If you really want to then consult your doctor beforehand for some expert advice. Be sure not to tire yourself out even if you get to go for the trekking. The moment you feel like you are gasping then give yourself a break for 5 minutes and get your breath back before continuing the journey.
What are the food availability through the trek?
There are several Dhabas offering Chinese food, tea and snacks here which are located all along the trek route. This is also a good option for you to stop and get something to eat before heading on for the trek.
We hope that this comprehensive guide for Kedarnath Dham Yatra will be of some use and help you in planning your holy journey accordingly.