Trek to Mandani Valley

“If you want to see heaven in the living life, visit Mandani.” A local person introduced Mandani with these words, during my Madhymaheshwar visit in 2008. I was curious  to visit mandani since than. October 2010, now it was the time to visit Mandani. We finalized the following schedule : Ransi on 6th , Paturi on 7th , Dagla on 8th , Mandani on 9th , Yeonbuk Col Base on 10th , Mahapanth on 11th and Kedarnath on 12th.
 But plans always require nature’s support for proper execution. Land slides at Selubagarh gave a 4 hrs. break to our journey and we could reach Ukhimath by 10 PM on 6th instead of Ransi. But our passion send us Uniana by 8:00 AM next morning. Devendra was waiting with his team and we reached Ransi before 9:00 AM. Ransi is better option for night stay, one will get the room in less amount and next morning he has good time to select guide / porters if required. After lunch we took blessings of Rekeshwari Devi and started day 1 trek at 11 AM. After 3-4 hrs of steep climbing we camped at Sanyara bugyal. Sanyara is an ideal and beautiful camp site which provides excellent view of Budha Madhymaheshwar, Panwashera Area, Tungnath & Panwali area.

 Next day on 8th we started our trek by 8:00 AM and target was to reach Dagla after crossing Dwarakhal pass. But steep climb on dense forest, long walk on rocky terrain and rain, forced us to stay in Dophan. Today we had tough & dangerous trekking. It was a good adventurous photographic trail but rain didn’t permit me to take out my camera in many places. We camped in a area which was being used by shepherds and who had left the place now. It was not a good camp site, the land slope forced for night climbing inside our sleeping bags.

 We couldn’t see anything in evening due to rain & fog but we forgot the tiredness of last day, after seeing the morning view of mighty Chaukhamba with other Himalayan peaks. First rays of the sun convert the scenery in a beautiful painting made by supreme power.

 9th October, Weather was not favoring us today and the clouds covered the whole area after few minutes of sun rise. We left the camp site around 09:00 AM. From Dophan to Dwarakhal, the route goes though rocky terrain and mostly it’s a steep climb. After 2-3 hrs. trekking we were at Dwarakhal Pass. Himalayan peaks were hidden under the clouds layer but surrounding nature worked as a tonic. We rested here for 15 min and within 30 minutes, we were trekking in grass land after descending on bolder zone. Today’s target was to reach Mandani bugyal but our eyes were unable to find it even after 1 and 1/2 hrs. trekking from the dwarakhal, Sudddenly from  a corner we saw some tents. Oh that is mandani but it’s still a long descend trail and I could reach there after 1 hrs. trekking.

 Mandani is a 3-4 km. long and 1 km. wide valley, which starts from the base of Mandani Peak . A river flows in center. All the flowers are ended now but definitely it would be one of the beautiful valley of flower in Garhwal Himalayas. Abounds with natural beauty Mandani is a Pilgrimage place. As per the legend Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahisasur at this place and she is worshipped as Mandani Mai by the local people. An old temple is also exist here. Today’s trail was so long but the camps were setup in a good plane and soft land so I could take a good sleep and got the feeling of my bed. 

 10th October, There are two different trails to reach Kedarnath from Mandani. One goes through Simtoli Bugyal, Kham Bugyal and Kham Pass. Max. altitude in that route is 4400 mts. Second route goes via Yeonbuk Col , Bisali Col and Mahapanth Col and max. altitude is 4750 Mts. in this route. We had already decided to follow the second route so after puja and breakfast we started our trek towards Yeonbuk col base camp. 
 To reach the Yeonbuk col base camp, one has to scale the whole mandani valley, which eliminates the tiredness of previous journey and gives energy for the remaining trek. After 1-2 Hrs. relaxed journey, Approx. 4-5 km. steep climb starts and one can reach to the Yeonbuk col base camp within 2-3 hrs after crossing small rivers and rocky terrain. Soon we were in the Yeonbuk Col base camp but now the weather had changed and snow fall welcomed us when we reached at base camp. It was also a good camp site and the first highest camp site of this trek at approx. 4400 mts. but heavy snowfall forced us to go inside our sleeping bags early. It was a good evening and FM Radio was entertaining us by old songs of K.L. Sehgal, Hemant Kumar with regular updates of commonwealth games.

11th October, Our today’s trek was in the high Himalayan terrain and we had to cross three high altitude passes, Yeonbuk Col (4650 mts.), Bisali Col (4750 mts.) and Mahapanth Col (4600 mts.), which was definitely a tough task. Due to previous day snow fall and bad weather we could leave the base camp site around 10:30 AM. After 1-2 km. from base camp we were crossing the boulder zone which was filled by snow. Now Snow level was increasing and it became more than 3 feet in Yeonbuk Col.

 It became foggy but we could see the Bisali Col from here. Whole area was covered by snow. Distance between Bisali Col and Yeonbul Col is approx. 1.5 to 2 km. but it took approx. 1-2 hrs. to reach there due to snow and high altitude. All the team members were at Bisali Col by 01:00 PM. We stayed there for 30 min and follow the fwd. trail after Puja. Now the weather became bad and we were not able see beyond 50 mtr. most of the time. For approx. 1 hrs. we walked on snow field, getting down, climbing up.
 The route from Bisali col to Mahapanth was adventurous and amazing. I saw the heaven when I reached at the top of a ridge. But the weather became worst and we were struggling to find out the trail for Mahapanth Col. Suddenly  heavy snow fall started and had to camp. We setup the tents within 5-7 min and slept early after eating khichari.

 12th October, When we got up in morning we found ourselves at Mahapanth Col. Sky was clear and we saw the trail to Gandhi Sarovar in the lower valley. Today all the team members were happy as the sky was clear and our target Kedarnath was not so far. We enjoyed a nice photo session at the top and left the camp site by 11:00 AM. We had to follow a descend trail from here. The trail was covered  by snow till the next 2 km. and now we were descending in boulders area. I think that was the most dangerous patch of the whole trek. We had to descend more than 750 slope and the trail was through slippery boulders.

 We reached Kedarnath by 02:00 PM and visited Bhairav Gupha in evening. View of Kedar valley and Himalayan Peaks were amazing from Bhairav Gupha. 

Morning at Mahapanth Col