"Gaurikund" Gaurikund by tayloretc
Gaurikund Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 24 photos
Gaurikund appears in a line in one of the minor guidebooks: “Gaurikund is a shanty town of pilgrims, porters, ponies, shops, dhabas and dharamshalas.”* All true, although the guidebook omits some key descriptors. [Hordes of] pilgrims, [hundreds of] porters, [hundreds of tired and poorly-shod] ponies, [a few] shops [selling religious items, some warm clothing, and oxygen canisters], [a couple of] dhabas [serving mostly very basic fare] and dharamshalas [well, I didn’t see any – there are a lot of regular, very basic hotel rooms]. Gaurikund is lucky it shows up anywhere, though. Really, it’s sole reason for existence is as the jumping off point for the 14-kilometer hike to Kedarnath.
There might be two reasons, if you’re Hindu and religiously-minded. There’s a hot spring where pilgrims bathe before beginning the climb to Kedaranth, as well as a temple to Gauri (Parvati), and right across the river is where Parvati/Gauri meditated to become Shiva’s consort. The story goes that it was in Gaurikund that Shiva cut off Ganesh’s head and replaced it with an elephant’s.
The small fenced-in area that encloses the spot where Parvati meditated is now home to a couple of friendly holy men who will show you the actual tree she meditated under, and won’t ask for donations, or even point too hard at the donations boxes. (You will come to appreciate this 14 kilometers up.) (Confession: I don’t know whether she meditated at the hot spring or under the tree, and I can’t find a reliable source either way, but I like the tree version better.)
Gaurikund is located at the end of ~20 kilometers of what could generously be called “road,” in a narrow valley that sees the sun first at 9 am and last at 3 pm, and blocks all mobile and other connection with anywhere, always. The town is all stairs; the 5-story hotel I stayed in opened to roads at the bottom and at the fourth floor. The temple at Kedarnath closes for six months of the year, which may be why I didn’t see evidence of schools, grocery stores, or even of women and children (except pilgrims) in Gaurikund. Most of the porters and doli carriers, and probably others, come here from Nepal for the six-month season of pilgrims. (I asked around.)
Is Gaurikund a destination? No. But if you’re going to Kedarnath (and climbing glaciers is nowhere in your plans) you’ll pass through it; and if you don’t want to spend an hour in a car before starting your climb, this is where you’ll have to stay overnight. Your basic needs for food and shelter will be fulfilled, and you can pay your respects to his consort in a small, gentle way before facing the Lord of Destruction.
*Outlook Traveller Getaways: Trekking Holidays in India, 2005, p. 239.
Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) is government-run chain of accommodation with branches all over the place in Garhwal.... more travel advice
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