Sunday, May 1, 2011

Enroute to Badrinath (Uttarkashi - Birahi ...Part I)

Day 3 - Uttarkashi - CHOWRANGIKHAL - Kemundakhal - Birahi

After exploring so much the previous day, which included visiting one of the 4 Dhams - Gangotri, the picturesque Harsil and the equated to Varanasi - Uttarkashi among others, today was relatively a non action packed day.

Our next destination, Badrinath was about 325 kms away and we were to cover about 250 kms of it today, finally calling it a day at Birahi. Thus, the 3rd day of our yatra was one of those days when we spent a good part of the day travelling towards the upper reaches of the mountains, towards our aimed stop - Birahi.

As usual, we left our hotel at Uttarkashi quite early in the morning. Vistas of large pine trees carpeting the steep hills,

A clear, cloudless morning on the way to Birahi from Uttarkashi

...the long rays of sun peeking down from the silent sky, the quietly flowing Ganges following us through the verdant valleys,

Lovely morning views on the way to Birahi from Uttarkashi

...the stretch of browns, greys and greens bowing out before the blues,

Clear blue sky and scenic surroundings in the Himalyas in Birahi

– My large picture window seat had a view to die for!

There was a zest in the air and spring-in-the-steps infectious ambiance. It was like taking a ride in the nature’s own enigmatic theme park; one which unveiled the timeless charms of a region that is at peace with itself and also seemed spellbound by its own beauty...

 Tranquil it was but it had its moments of thrill too!

Beautiful roads in the Himalayas covered with pine trees
The Himalayan fox was here...somewhere!!

As we made our way forward, we spotted a Himalayan fox! Pity, it was way too quick and ran away even before I could think of clicking it!!

Our first stop – Chowrangikhal

Two hours after winding up the hills, we reached our first stop of the day – a small village by the name of Chowrangikhal. Khal translates to village in Garhwali, the local language, and Chowranginath is the patron deity of the village, hence the name. The temple was small but very beautiful and serene nonetheless.

The Chowranginath Temple in Chowrangikhal, en route to Badrinath from Uttarkashi
The small yet beautiful Chowranginath Temple at Chowrangikhal

Idol of Lord Chowranginath in Chowrangikhal
Idol of the deity - Lord Chowranginath in the Temple

Our driver suggested we have our breakfast here in one of the roadside dhabas outside the temple and we decided to heed his advice.

The humble dhaba where I had my breakfast - Chowrangikhal, en route to Badrinath from Uttarkashi
The dhaba where we had our breakfast in Chowrangikhal

We were treated to some hot steaming parathas and fresh chana curry on a portable table laid out under the sun especially for us. With the hostile terrain out there, this was really warm, humble, homely sort of place. Priced at a meager Rs. 15 per plate, this was a treat and I thoroughly relished the simple old world taste.

My Paratha getting ready in Chowrangikhal, en route to Badrinath from Uttarkashi
My parathas and tea getting ready

Traditional brick kiln with wood used for cooking food
Traditional brick kiln and wood fire used to cook food

The parathas cooked right in front of our eyes, on brick kiln and wood fire, the traditional Indian way of cooking provided a visual treat as well… it just couldn’t have gotten better! Wow... What a start to the day, I thought!!

Our Travel Route Map for Day 3 of the Char Dham Yatra

Uttarkashi - Birahi travel route map, Char Dham - Himalayas
Uttarkashi - Birahi travel route map, Char Dham - Himalayas
(Click on the map to enlarge)

Color Key for the map

       - Our Route for the day from Uttarkashi to Birahi

       - Halts en route, starting point and destination included

       - The three Prayags of the five Panch Prayags

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  1. wow, seems like a good trip!!.....the roadside dhabas in Utarakhand are always good!!...i remeber once going from rishikesh to dev prayag, we had an awesome breakfast at a roadside dhaba!!!
    looking forward to your post on rest of the trip!!

  2. Just when you think it can't get anymore beautiful, it does!

  3. Hi, Arti. Beautiful story again. The rays of the sun following you scenes keep playing on my mind. That's awesome. Love all the photos too. Happy weekend, Arti. :)

  4. Great pictures...i have been there long back with my parents...and i loved it...both Kedar and Badri..

  5. Great post.I feel as if I traveled there.
    I'm looking forward to reading next post.

  6. Wow - thank you for sharing those magical fingers of sunlight!

  7. I can feel the chill wind and smell the aroma of the Paratta...! Great Arti...I am enjoying your Himalaya posts..!

  8. Enjoying the yatra with you Arti. Way to go!

  9. Summer is up in South and I feel like going to the Himalayas now. Fantastic pictures.

  10. I bet the fox was beautiful, if you had gotten a good look at him. How many different Gods do you worship? I think I would have trouble remembering them...and when you pray, is it in the name of all of them or do you pray to each separately? This is not meant to be sarcastic, i am really interested to know.

  11. Those hills and valleys look much like the ones here in the western US.

  12. Such beautiful pictures:) They complement the post well. Hope you had some wonderful time:)))

  13. Ah! wot a pleasant morning it is.. :)
    Even i want to travel with u artii.... :((
    I'm missing all this beautiful places :((

    Jealous of u :P

  14. Lovely pictures, i can smell the fresh air! Wasn't Sri Ramakrishna living in Badrinath? Have a great day Arti!

  15. @Ginny

    In our religion, Hinduism, we worship a number of Gods around 33 crore in all at the same time we do believe that there is only one Supreme God. Out of them, the most fundamental are the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. But many other Gods such as Ganesha, Krishna, Lakshmi, etc are also widely recognized and revered by all Hindus across the world.

    Devotion to these various deities is based mainly on one's region, culture, tradition and needs, and even when devotion is given to only one, the existence of others is acknowledged and respected. For eg. for gaining knowledge and understanding, one prays to Goddess Saraswati; for removing all obstacles and ensuring success, we pray to the Lord Ganesha, etc.

    This concept can be better understood with this quote – “We cannot experience the sun itself but we can experience its rays and the qualities, which those rays have. And, although the sun’s rays are many, ultimately, there is only one source, one sun. So the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism amount to thousands, all representing the many aspects of the Absolute or The Supreme”

  16. Lovely pic and narration.
    When I visited Badri, I had no craze for photography at that time and have only 4-5 photos of Badri. But your blog is compensating all that.Thanks

  17. Amazing pics , Paratha looks hot .

  18. I don't think I would mind a long journey when you had scenery like that, absolutely stunning. I would never have guessed this was in India. And having fresh homemade curry? Mmmm.

  19. This looks wonderful – delightful vistas. Thanks for showing us this.

    Have a good week, Boonie

  20. a wonderful place to visit... nature combined with tradition and antique things... well, its such a lovely place... gives such a wonderful feeling to read this particular entourage...

  21. What a peaceful- beautiful place! The pictures are so soothing n nice..
    US Masala

  22. Very beautiful pictures! I really liked the one that looked like it was terraced.

  23. all i can say is OH WOW!

    gonna love following your blog!


  24. This is a very good answer, and I finally understand it now. Thanks a lot.

  25. I'm born and brought up in Haridwar. So can relate with these pictures very well. After coming down to Bangalore, one thing which i miss the most is the very famous highway dhabas nearing delhi. There is no chance of stale food in these dhabas. Fresh , hot and cheap :-).
    Nice photos

    Hamaree Rasoi

  26. @Martina Sri Ramkrishna Paramhans in Badrinath? I am sorry but am not too sure on that, Martina.

  27. Some fabulous captures...a perfect place for spiritual freedom amidst the beauty of nature.

  28. This parathas looks really delicious. Made in Iron pan and real heat, not like my one on electric heater. They will never get like this. seufz. I like your photos. lg Tina

  29. Your blog took me to the travel. The place is spiritual and divine. The quote in your comment is very good. I think Hindu and Buddhism have many things in common. The number 33 is the significant one in Buddhism! Thank you, I enjoyed your blog. Have a nice week!

  30. Hello,Arti.
    You took a wonderful trip and have posted beautiful photos. The himalayan fox reminds me of the mountain drive way Kasuga in my town. I am interested in the last photo very much.
    Please have a nice weekend!!

  31. Beautiful scenery! I think you needed and deserved a relatively non-action packed day at this point in the trip. (I know I would!).... It sounds and looks like a beautiful day; I loved knowing about the traditional way of cooking and I am glad you liked it! That's the kind of thing we'd love to do. Thank you again for sharing this beautiful trip .

  32. I've always wished to go to badrinath, kedarnath, haridwar and hrishikesh but haven't been lucky enough...really enjoyed these spectacular pictures though :-) Those parathas look yumm!!!!

  33. Another great compilation of a wonderful journey :)

  34. The dabbas in these parts of the world serve very good food i suppose, because of the quality of water.

  35. Beautiful scenic place. Some day I would definitely love to be there.

  36. The pictures are breathtaking and equally amazing is your explanation of Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism...

  37. After seeing these beautiful pics and ur descriptive I wish to visit this place very soon...

    Nice and useful post...

  38. Pictures are awesome, so as the nature...

  39. Hey...really nice pictures....hopes u had gr8 time.

  40. Awesome post...Loved every bit of it..i always wanted to visit badrinath but couldn't actually.. :(

    and after reading this post. i JUST WANNA GO THERE!

  41. lovely writeup and great pics..loved the rays of the sun esp


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