Monday, May 4, 2009

Over to Uttarakhand: Peaks

Uttarakhand has some of the highest and most beautiful peaks of the Himalayas in India and we're really lucky to catch perhaps some of the best views of these peaks. Before writing this blog I searched the Internet for the pictures of the peaks that we've seen and captured in our camera. I was delighted and also surprised to find out we got better views than most of the ones published. 

From whatever I learnt I can recognize the following peaks: Chaukhamba cluster of four peaks (highest one 7138m), Neelkanth (6597m), Gauri (Ghori, Ghoda) Parbat (6708), Hathi Parbat (6727), Dunagiri (7066), Nanda Devi (7817), Trishul (7120), Nanda Kot (6861) and Panchchula (5904).

Gauri (left) & Hathi Parbat (right): Seen from Gorson's Meadows, Auli

On the way from Karnaprayag to Joshimath along NH58, close to Pipalkoti the Gauri and the Hathi Parbat are visible to the left. From Gorson's Meadows, the view of both the peaks is much clearer. From what I could understand from our local guide at Auli, Gauri Parbat is also called Ghodha or Ghodi Parbat, perhaps to associate with the close by Hathi Parbat. As can be seen in this snap the two peaks really look like twin peaks. The Valley of Flowers is at the base of the Gauri Parbat.

Dunagiri: Seen from Gorson's Meadows, Auli

Dunagiri, one of the most photogenic peaks of the Himalayas was close to us for three days during which we stayed at the Clifftop Resort in Auli. Though not visible that clearly from the resort, it appears in its full splendour and magnificence within a stone's throw (less than 25km) from Gorson's Meadow, an easy 3km trek from the resort. The view that we've captured here is better than all the snaps of Dunagiri that I could see in the Internet. The green surroundings of the gentle slopes of the Gorson's Meadows and the spotless blue sky provide a mesmerizing ambience for the milk white almost-symmetrical Dunagiri peak which looks like a perfect triangle near the pinnacle. I've learnt that the peak provides a wonderful view along the trek through Kunwara Pass

Nanda Devi: Seen from Auli

Like many people I also didn't know that Nanda Devi, at 7817m, is the highest peak of India, if we discount Kanchenjunga (8598m), which is partially in Nepal. It's the most wonderful peak I've ever seen. It has a beautiful sculpted shape with steep slopes, which make Nanda Devi one of the toughest to climb. The shape is so unique that it can't me missed even from a distance. We first saw the peak from Binsar, but not very clearly. The shape is so unique that even my 6 1/2 year old kid identified the small portion of the snow capped peak, hidden behind many layers of mountains, from Binsar. It took us another 2 days before we could get a proper view of Nanda Devi on our way from Garjiya, in Corbett, to Ranikhet. Different sides of Nanda Devi are visible from Auli and Ranikhet. The two views are very much like the mirror image of each other. The view of Nanda Devi from Auli, at an aerial distance of less than 25km, is so serene that it's really trivial to understand why it occupies such a divine status in mythology and ancient literatures. Till 18th century it was the highest peak known to mankind. The Nanda Devi National Park around Nanda Devi along with the Valley of Flowers are inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

As seen from Auli (From left: Chaukhamba, , Neelkanth, Gauri Parbat, Hathi Parbat, Dunagiri & Nanda Devi)

This is a wonderful snap taken from our resort at Auli. 6 high peaks are visible in a line. To the leftmost are the Chaukhamba cluster of four peaks, located to the west of Badrinath. Neelkanth is the peak overlooking Badrinath. To its left are the twin peaks of Gauri and Hathi Parbat. Further east are Dunagiri and Nanda Devi.

As seen from Auli (Chaukhamba cluster of peaks & Neelkanth)

The Neelkanth peak is a pyramidal mountain, at the base of which is Badrinath. As we were some 45km from Badrinath, we never came quite close to Neelkanth. So the view is not as clear as that of Nanda Devi or Dunagiri.

Trishul & Nanda Devi: As seen on the Ramnagar-Ranikhet road

The above snap was our first glimpse of the snow capped Himalayas. We're travelling from Garjiya in Corbett to Ranikhet. We'd already been to Binsar, which is quite famous for its fascinating views of the Himalayas, a few days back. But unfortunately we couldn't get any vew of the snow capped peaks from Binsar. The only snow we saw was of a fragment of Nanda Devi, discovered by my kid. We're eagerly awaiting to get our first glimpse of the mighty Himalayas. After about 2 hours of drive from Garjiya, immediately around a curve on the road, we suddenly got the view of a long range of Himalayas with some of highest peaks of the world - our first glimpse of the snow capped high Himalayas. The route between Garjiya and Ranikhet is quite adventurous. It's not a national highway, and not maintained properly. The narrow road, without any barricade along the open steep valley, winders treacherously along a barren mountain crest. One side of the road always overlooks very dangerously a deep valley. As our Indigo was meandering slowly on the bumpy road we're just too concerned about our own safety and were praying that our driver finally manges to cover the entire stretch without any mishhap. It was exactly during such a not-so-entertaining drive we suddenly got this view. We're mesmerized beyond any description. In a moment we forgot all the tensions of the risky drive and got totally immersed in the beauty of the range. To the lesftmost was the trident shaped Trishul, to its right was the southern part of the Nanda Devi - the peak that never went out of our sight for the next four days. To the east of Nanda Devi were Nanda Kot, Panchchula and many other peaks which I can't identify. We happened to get an uninterrupted view of a range of the Himalayas, stretching for a few hundred kms, at  a distance of some 150-200km from us. This in undoubtedly one of the best views of our entire trip. The summits of the fully snow capped high peaks extend above the clouds at many places, thus making the lower parts invisible. The dazzling snow covered landscape glows like a huge piece of glass floating in the sky.  Even the much closer views of the same range from Auli was not that much enchanting and mesmerizing as that of the first glimpse.

Nanda Devi & Trishul: As seen from Auli

This snap is of the northern side of Nanda Devi and Trishul - an exact mirror image of the previous snap from near Ranikhet. The trident shape of the Trishul is much more clear in this snap as Trishul is within 50km of aerial distance from Auli.

1 comment:

vivek said...

Wow !!! A W E S O M E pics sudipto...
Went through the entire blog ...this made me nostalgic of my childhood days of 9 yrs i have spent in uttranchal ...