(Continued from https://theescapades.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/part-1-rishikesh-the-adventure-begins-april-21/)

The 16 km of rafting on the morning of 22nd magnified our hunger in enormous proportions. Meanwhile our driver drove back to Rishikesh Transport Authority for the mandatory registration and permit. After a magnificient meal at the wanderlust camp we packed for our adventure ahead and resumed our journey by 12 noon for the next stop – Ukhimath.

The drive

Ukhimath is ~200 km from Rishikesh and the drive is mesmerizing. On this drive you would pass by the Himalayan towns of Devaprayag -> Srinagar -> Agatsyamuni -> Rudraprayag.  Finally at a small village called Kund, the road bifurcates: to the left is the road to Guptakashi that we will visit later, the ~10 KM stretch of the  road straight ahead will take us to Ukhimath. Some websites quote the driving time from Rishikesh to Ukhimath to be around 3 hours. However, we stopped a couple of times enroute to enjoy the scenery and reached Ukhimath in about 5 hours.

Rishikesh to Ukhimath Roadmap

~ Don’t rush on the mountains because you may miss such breathtaking moments as this:

Scenic fields on Mandakini banks enroute Ukhimath

The Stay

We reached Ukhimath at 5:00 PM. Our destination, the GMVN tourist rest house is about the first major establishment located on the Ukhimath-Chopta road.

The GMVN tourist rest house at Ukhimath – a good place to stay

I have learnt that if you are visiting Uttarakhand and are looking for not-exorbitantly-priced options to stay, GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam), a Government of Uttarakhand Tourism Enterprise, is a decent deal. They offer a number of accommodation options to chose from. Besides price advantage, the best thing about the GMVN rest houses is that they are mostly located on prime spots offering the best views of the area. Their kitchen/restaurant facilities are decent and reasonably priced. You can book for GMVN online at http://www.gmvnl.com/

This guest house would be our home away from home for the next 3 days. From here we would explore the next destinations on our agenda until moving to Gaurikund for the finale. The following are some moments I captured during our stay at Ukhimath:

Clouds billowing over Himalayas near Ukhimath
Beautiful hilly morning after rains in Ukhimath

Ukhimath is located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 1,311 m (4,301 ft) above sea level. It is a the winter abode of Lord Kedarnath. Every year before the Kedarnath temple is covered by snow and unreachable for devotees, the Lord Kedarnath is brought to Ukhimath on palanquin with much fanfare. He returns to his home when the snow starts melting with the same festivities. This year we have been fortunate enough to witness his return.

The town of Guptakashi is located on the opposite mountain. It appears like a conclave of fire-flies at night.

Town of Guptakashi on a rainy evening as seen from Ukhimath
Morning spilled over Guptakashi as seen from Ukhimath

We also had a lot of opportunity to bike on Ukhimath-Chopta Road:-

Biking around Ukhimath
Biking around Ukhimath
Biking around Ukhimath

We will visit the pastures (called ‘bugyal’ in local language) of Chopta, trek to the 1000+ years old Shiva temple of Tungnath and finally climb the Chandrashila peak in PART 3.

I hope you liked Ukhimath :). Thank you for dropping by and reading this post. If you have any questions about my stay at Ukhimath, please leave your comment or write to me.