MY RATIONALIST HUSBAND INSISTED HE WAS NO PILGRIM, BUT AT THE END HE WAS CHANTING "HAR HAR MAHADEV"
There is nothing like a retreat in the Himalayas. All the more if that includes Kedarnath, the abode of Lord Shiva. My professed rationalist husband insisted he was no pilgrim, but a holiday lover, only to escape the scorching heat of Delhi.
But once on the narrow, 14-km uphill trek from the Gaurikund base camp for the Himalayan shrine, I found him fervently raising full-throated chants of Har Har Mahadev, Jai Bhole Nath and Jai Baba Kedar, along with fellow travelers. He was no less a pilgrim than anyone else.
Was it the magic of the Himalayas? Or the ambience suffused with the spirituality that had converted a hedonist, holiday lover into a pilgrim? I am convinced it was the grace of the Lord that had brought the metamorphic change during the day/s trek. Even as my husband insisted he was more of a tourist, it was his subliminal faith in the power of Shiva that made him flow with the tide.
A dip in Gaurikund, the hot water pond named after Shiva's consort at the base camp, prepares you for the adventurous journey and the ensuing spiritual experience.
Even if you are not the religious type, I would say Kedarnath is a perfect getaway from the plains' summer heat. The trek is through the Nandankanan Himalayan Wildlife Sanctuary, punctuated with cascading waterfalls.
The craggy, rugged, narrow path, littered with heavy snow, lends a romantic touch to the journey.
Even as the trek almost saps you of all your vitals, the breathtaking scenery all around is its own reward. On sighting the dome of the shrine as you ascend the last lap, you get to feel that the super human effort was worth it.
With the jingling of temple bells as the background score, the scene is just spellbinding.
The religious merit of the pilgrimage apart, even for an adventure seeker, the journey itself is cathartic. It rejuvenates your body, sooths your mind and elevates your soul.
A must visit for those wanting to experience spirituality.