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Adi Kailash or Chhota kailash by Payal Batra

I use to travel every year to some place preferably in the Himalayas. But this year I could not made up my mind about the place. Suddenly one day my friend from Bombay called me up and proposed a visit to Adi kailash (in Pithoragarh district of Uttaranchal) being organized by Kumaon Mandal Vikash  Nigam. I was exited and gave my consent. There was not much botheration as KMVN has to take care of transport, boarding and lodging.

Adi Kailash and Parvati Sarovar are situated at an altitute of 15500 feet and are the replica of Mount Kailash and Mansarover in Kumaon Himalayas. Even the route is same up to Nabhidhang. The base camp for Adi Kailash is Tawaghat at the confluence of kali and East Dhauli rivers and there is a trek of about 100 Km. The route covers splendid panoramic views of Himalayan peaks, lush green valleys, dense forests along the Kali river. We also get a chance of understanding the social and cultural life of Bhotia tribe living in the Chaudas, Byas and Darma valleys. Travel permit is required from the District Magistrate, Pithoragarh.  

Day-1-Delhi to Almora-350 Km: We started by a deluxe bus of KMVN. We are 21 people in all with a guide. We started from Delhi early in the morning of 21 August, 2004. Passing through Gaziabad, Hapur, Garh Mukteshwar, Muradabad and Rampur we reached Kathgodam the last Rail Head on the foot hills of Kumaon hills. The hilly area strats from here. The route passes through Ranibagh from where a road leads to Nanital on the left,  Bhimtal the lake town and Bhowali where fruit orchards are located, Garampani where small eating points providing Alu Gutka (fried Potatoes) ,  Pakoras  and Raita. Khairna is the next point from where a road leads on the left to Ranikhet. We reached Almora (1650 Meters) in the evening and stayed at Holiday Inn of KMVN located between the tall Deodar trees. Almora is a beautiful hill station where Vivekananda meditated in a cave at Kasardevi.

Day-2- Almora - Didihat: We started early in the morning and visited the ancient temple of Jageshwar temple complex (one of the 12 Jotirlingas) situated in the magnificent dense forest of Deodar trees and offered  prayers. We also visited the cave temples Patal Bhuwaneshwar. In the evening we reached Didihat (1900 Meters) situated on the hill top presenting splendid views.

Day-3-Didihat - Dharchula - Tawaghat - Pangu: After passing through Askot, Ogla and Jauljibi we reached Dharchula (1000 Meters)  situated on both banks of Kali River. On the other side of river it is Nepal. We did some shopping as it is the last market. We left the bus a Tawaghat and walked 8 Km up to Pangu and stayed there for the night.

Day-4-Pangu - Narain Ashram - Sirkha (16 Km):  An ascending trek along the Kali river leads to Narain Ashram (founded by  Sri Narain Swami in 1936). It is a beautiful, clam and quite place surrounded by wild flowers. By the evening we reached Sirkha and halted there for the night.

Day-5-Sirkha - Gala (16 Km): After a steep climb we crossed the Rangling top walking through a beautiful hill jungle. Now starts a nice and relaxing  descent on a carpet of leaves and across a log bridge. In the late afternoon we reached Gala (2440 Meters).

Day-6-Gala - Budhi (18 Km): After 2 Km from Gala there is steep descent from Jipti and a climb down of 4444 steps led us to Kali river at Lakhanpur. Again a climb up to  Budhi (2740 Meters) we enjoyed the numerous springs and  water falls  and  sometimes the herd of sheep blocking our way. Nepal is situated across the river and presents a splendid view of Adi-Nampa peaks.

Day-7-Budhi - Gunji (17Km): After climbing a 3 Km steep trek we reached Chhiyalekh (3350 meters) a vast plateau full of colorful wild flowers and marvelous view of Annapurna and other peaks and glaciers. Gunji village (3220 Meters) is situated at the confluence of Kali and Kutti rivers.

Day-8/9-Gunji - Kalapani - Nabhidang (18 Km) and back Gunji: Instead of going to Kutti we proceeded to Kalapani and then to Nabhidhang. This trek leads to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake. Next is Garbyang village with leaning houses on the confluence of    Thenker  and  Kali rivers. 10 Km from Gunji along clam and silent Kali river is Kalapani the origin of the river Kali is a  place of indefinable beauty  adorned with Pine, Bhojpatra and Juniper forests and surrounded by snow clapped peaks. It is said that at this place the Great Sage Vyasa meditated and the valley is called Vyasa valley. Here is a  temple maintained by ITB Police jawans. They also offer tea, snakes and food to visitors. Nabhidang (3930 Meters) is 8 Km from Kalapani. The way is full of scenic beauty with colorful wild flowers. It is also home of exotic  bird Monal and Musk Deer. Nabhidhang presents and breathtaking view of Om Parbat. This the last camp in India for Kailash - Mansarovar yatra. Border of India with Tibet, Lipulekh pass is 7 Km from here After night halt at Nabhidang we returned next day to Gunji to undertake our further jurney to Adi Kailash.

Day-10-Gunji - Kutti ((19 Km): From Gunji we walked along the bank of Kutti river presenting the panoramic view of snow clapped peaks and Bhojpatra forest. Kutti (3600 Meters) is the last village on this trek. The local people are called Bhotias. It is said that the village is named after Kunti the monther of Pandavs who stayed here for some time. There is a Pandava Fort. The houses have beautiful engravings on doors and windows.

Day-11/12 - Kutti - Jeolingkong: This is the last stretch to reach the base of Adi Kailash (6191 Meters). At Jeolingkong we were welcomed by the snow clapped peaks all around and strong winds. There is a seasonal ITB Police check post and KMVN rest house. We stayed at Jeolingkong for one day for sightseeing. Our long cherished dream fulfilled as we looked up on the magnificently crafted snow clapped peak of Adi Kailash and Parvati Mukut opposit it. On the feet of Adi Kailash is Gauri Kund reflecting the shadow of the peak. Parvati Sarovar is located nearby. Altough we did not see, it is said that this lake is visited by Swans.

Next day  we returned to Kutti and then Gunji and took a alternative route to Tawaghat via Mangti Nala. From Dharchula we took another route to Kausani via Thal, Chaukori, Kanda, Bageshwar and Bajnath. After a night halt at Kausani we came back to Delhi via Kathgodam- Moradabad satisfied and mesmerized with a divine feeling despite tiring journey.