Rudranath, a journey into the eternal


It will be impossible for me to write what Rudranath journey was like to me. But I will try.

I heard of Rudranath last year after our Amarnath Yatra. We visited Tungnath then but didn’t have time and energy for Rudranath. Somewhere inside my mind I felt I may do this some other time. My idea is to visit the Himalayas once in a year. One Swamiji had told me that it is best to visit Himalayas in September as we get to see many Himalayan peaks clearly. Hence this time I waited till September to start my journey which otherwise might have happened by July at the most.


Initially I was supposed to be accompanied by two people. I lost contact with one person who was in Australia and the other one fell ill on the very day he was to start from his home. So I had to decide whether I will undertake this journey all alone. After some deliberation I felt it is okay to go alone. After all, we come alone and go alone and what is this inordinate attachment to company in between!

I wanted to cover Rudranath, Kalpeshwar, Madhyamaheshwar in this trip. I also had in mind Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers. This was to be the first part of the journey that involved trekking. The second part of the journey was little more into contemplation as I thought of visiting three Himalayan Centers of Ramakrishna Mission in Almora, Mayavati and Shyamalatal. Of the Treks I felt I may not be able to go to Madhyamaheshwar due to possible time constraints. It happened that way eventually.

My choice of Rudranath as my first destination was influenced by various factors. Even though I wanted to visit Hemkund Sahib first, the road was damaged due to landslide and hence Rudranath became an automatic choice. I read few blogs on Rudranath and all of them mentioned that it is a tough trek but the pictures were stunning and made me anxious to go there. I just couldn’t resist the call of Rudranath.

My luggage is usually simple – Couple of Trousers, a sweater, a rain jacket, shoes and slippers, a Camera, a power bank and some eatables with couple of sachets of Electrol powder.

Rishikesh to Karnaprayag

I visited Shivananda Ashrama in Rishikesh on the previous day i,e on 8th September 2019. I have fond memories of this place as I stayed here for 2 months in 2016 while doing the Yoga Vedanta Course. 8th September also happened to be Sadguru Sri Swami Sivanandaji’s birthday. So it was nice being there. After taking part in the celebrations on 8th and meeting some Sadhus on 9th morning, I started for Rudranath around 10:00 AM. One senior Sadhu blessed me by chanting Maha Mrutyunjaya Mantra 4 times before I started. I felt good and assured that everything will go well. It was a bit odd to start alone on such a long journey but immediately I remembered Swami Vivekananda’s Vedantic teaching that all that exists is One. Then I felt Yes! I am not alone, so many people are here and they are all my own. From that moment I never felt being lonely in the trip.

I got a bus immediately to Srinagar from Rishikesh. It was 2:00PM when I reached Srinagar. From there I had to visit Chamoli. I got a Bus till Karnaprayag and was told that I will get shared taxis from there to Chamoli. But despite waiting for close to 2 hours I didn’t get any transportation to Chamoli and hence had to halt at Karnaprayag. But the underlying truth was that I was captivated by Karnaprayag when I reached there and wanted to spend some time there and hence I didn’t complain so much when I didn’t get a vehicle to go to Chamoli on the same day.

Karnaprayag is a beautiful place. It has a confluence of two rivers viz, Alakananda and Pinder. It is believed that one of the notable characters of Mahabharata, Karna did penance here. There is a small temple dedicated to Karna at this place.

After having a haircut and also breakfast in Karnaprayag I started for Chamoli around 11:00AM. Here I met Sakshi Bhandari, a student from Dehradun who had visited Rudranath the previous year. She gave me lot of inputs on the travel route and it helped me immensely. I was also guided by another teacher who was traveling with us to Chamoli.

I reached Gopeshwar, the starting point of Rudranath around 1:00PM. After having light food in one of those small shops I took a Shared Taxi and reached Sagar village from where the Trek started at 2:00PM.

Trek towards Rudranath

This is the Route Map to Rudranath. I chose the second route via Sagar – Liti Bugyal – Panar – Rudranath. This was the steepest but I felt I want to go in this route itself.

Entry point from Sagar towards Rudranath

At this place one person told me to reach till Mouli Karak on the same day. I also felt that it is possible.

The initial part of the trek towards Rudranath is quite enjoyable and easy. While trekking here I was wondering why do people say that Rudranath is tough and thought that after returning I will tell the whole world that it is easy! lol! The tough part was yet to present itself. I met couple of youngsters en route who were returning from Rudranath. They were returning happily after spending 3 days in this journey. They promised me that I am going to enjoy Rudranath :).

After a journey of about 1 and 1/2 hours I reached Gongolgaon where I met Sri Gajender Singh ji who runs a small hotel which also provides simple accommodation. He volunteered to keep my extra luggage at his place. I had to do this. I desperately wanted to reduce my luggage. Thanks to Gajender Singh ji I was able to reduce my luggage by 2/3 and carry only the essential luggage for the rest of the journey. I told Gajender Singh that I intend to reach Mouli Karak on the same day and he replied that it will be very very difficult for me to reach there before it gets dark and that I better stay at Pung Bugyal. On my insistence that I want to reach Mouli Karak he advised me to walk as fast as I possibly can.

Taking leave of him and with a light luggage I moved forward enjoying the scenic beauty of Rudranath, gushing water falls and lush greenery. I took it a little easy as I felt I may probably stay at Pung Bugyal itself. It was 5:30PM when I reached Pung Bugyal. I asked the shop-keeper whether I will be able to reach Mouli Karak. He said yes. But two people who were coming down from there forbade me to go. They said it is far too steep and is not possible to reach there before 9:30PM! I thought for a few minutes and felt let me take this risk of trekking in jungle in dark night and see what happens!

The beginning of an unforgettable ascent.

The route from Pung Bugyal to Mouli Karak is steep beyond imagination. The inclination is almost at 90 degrees. It can shake your confidence that you are going to trek up a mountain that looks stretched up to the sky. I decided to walk a little faster. Just about a Kilometer into the Trek a Policeman and his assistant were coming from the other side. They told me to return back to Pung Bugyal as it is too dangerous to go further in the night. I told them that I feel confident about going forward. After few minutes of discussion they let me go forward. The journey was tricky. It was so beautiful that you want to enjoy stopping now and then but you also notice that it is getting dark and you have no idea how far you have to go still. I tried to balance.

Till about 7:30PM I was able to move quite comfortably. Then it got darker. There are no lamps en route and even the moon was peeping out quite reluctantly. There is only one walking route and I am all alone in that jungle trekking up a mountain and surrounded by trees and bushes! I didn’t carry extra torch this time as I trusted my iPhone to guide me through. But iPhones have a problem in cold temperature. They get switched off. That has been my experience with my earlier 5S and the current 6S plus. I had taken a big risk with that. But anyway I had no choice there. Thankfully it didn’t get switched off.

Too good to miss out even though it may get dark soon 🙂

It was also a time to test my belief in the Vedanta Philosophy and call out my internal strength and whatever faith that I could have in God. It was quite tricky. At the most I will die if attacked by a wild animal, I thought. And then I thought I will have to die someday and why should I fear death! Then Vedanta – the Soul never dies, we are one eternal infinite self, body is only a temporary abode, etc. Then the Story of Bala Gopala and Krishna! Ah! That was all good. Even though the road was quite steep, I was able to march on. But I had no idea when I am going to arrive at Mauli Karak! There were no sign boards, no milestones, nothing! Moreover it was getting darker and darker and also a cloud cover! I got couple of phone calls just then. It gave me the assurance that human beings are still there somewhere. It was almost 9:30PM when I found a shed. That I understood to be Mouli Karak and called the person who was inside. He came out and assured me food and accommodation there. Got dinner prepared by him and then stretched out my legs for some rest. That was an awesome unforgettable journey in a mountain covered by a Jungle. I will never ever forget those 2 hours of journey in darkness. While coming back in the same route, I thought did I really go up in this route at 9:00PM in night!

Tent at Mouli Karak

Towards Rudranath – more Refreshed!

After having my morning Tea at Mouli Karak and dropping almost all my luggage except my Camera and a Water Bottle, I started for Rudranath. I was told to reach there by 12:30PM before the temple closes and that otherwise I will have to wait till 4:00PM for darshan. My journey got delayed at the start because of rain. Then I thought I won’t be able to make it before 12:30PM. In a way it was good because you can then go on leisurely as the temple only opens at 4:00PM.

From Mouli Karak the next stop is Liti Bugyal and I didn’t stop there. I went forward to Panar Bugyal. Panar Bugyal is a beautiful place where you can have refreshments and also stay. I had my breakfast here. I also made some new friends here. After spending almost an hour at Panar I proceeded towards Rudranath. One thing we should remember in Uttarakhand is that we should not trust local people when they speak about distance. If they say 1 Km, it is most likely to be at least 3 Kms. They say Sagar to Rudranath is 18Km. But it is almost 30KM! :). If they say 2 minutes walk, understand that it is 15 minutes! and so on!

The common Himalayan breakfast and lunch.
Panar Bugyal
Rudra Anuvaka I chanted en route
With couple of new friends

From Panar Bugyal, Rudranath opens up. Now you are no more in a jungle area, it is free mountains and plants, flowers and an easily walkable route. It is the best part of the journey. The route is brilliant and is very pleasing to the eye. You will feel that it is worth all the effort reaching there. The route looks long and gives a feeling that this route extends upto infinity. Even in a spiritual sense you will feel that the road to Ultimate reality extends almost till eternity but is intercepted by a Personal God (Rudranath here) to make it easier for us.

After having a Tea at Pitrudhara, I continued towards Rudranath. But it was tiring. Even when the Temple becomes visible at a distance, it is still very far and a roundabout route. I was totally exhausted when I arrived at a distance of 2KMs from the temple. All my interest in photography had been done with. There was nothing available to eat and I had fully digested the Maggi that I had for breakfast. It was 4:00PM when I reached the Temple that just got opened. I got some energy and felt relaxed after meditating inside the temple for about half an hour.


It was also September 11th, the day on which Swami Vivekananda had delivered his historic address in Chicago. I made an extempore video looking back on Swamiji’s life and important teachings.

The relevance of Swami Vivekananda
Rudranath Temple
Just adjacent to the temple

Evening Arati to Lord Rudranath

The Evening Arati to Lord Rudranath happens at 7:00PM. The face of Bhagavan Rudranath will live in your memory forever. It is very absorbing and brilliant. I have never seen anything like that. The Arati goes on for close to 40 minutes. The priest here is very well educated and speaks very fluent English. He has a BTech degree and is well versed in both Science and Religion. It was a pleasure talking to him. He has promised to meet me when he comes to Bengaluru sometime in December.

Contrary to my original plan of going back to Mouli Karak, I had to stay back in Rudranath as I attended the evening Arati. I made some new friends here – a couple and their guide. We stayed in a small hotel near the temple and had our dinner there. I went again in the morning to have darshan and got an opportunity to speak to the priest Sri Ashish Tiwari for quite a long time. As said earlier he has a very deep knowledge on many things and he is himself very meditative and is an advanced Sadhak.

I left Rudranath at around 8:00AM. My first assignment was to reach Mouli Karak and pick my luggage. I thought of reaching Sagar village by the End of Day. As I was already familiar with the route it was not so difficult to plan my return journey. I reached Gajender Singh ji’s shop around 5:30PM. It will take another post for me to write about Gajender Singh ji’s noble heart. He advised me to stay back at his place for that night as it will be expensive also if I were to stay in Gopeshwar. At Gajendar Singh ji’s shop it is Rs. 300 for one night stay and dinner. It is almost the same in other shops en route Rudranath except in Rudranath itself where they charge Rs. 400.

I took leave of Gajender Singh ji in the morning and reached the Sagar village in about an hour. The name of Sagar village is derived from the King Sagar Chakravarthi who is one of the ancestors of Lord Sri Ram. There is a temple built at a place where he did penance. I visited that place and also got my noon prasad there. It was a very satisfying visit to Rudranath.

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