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The Complete Guide to Kalpeshwar Rudranath Trek
A trek with all colours of mother nature – Vibrant, Serene and Fascinating. The trail covers two of the five Kedar’sKalpeshwar and Rudranath situated in Uttrakhand. The Kalpeshwar Rudranath trail offers splendid views as it passes through thick woods, green valleys, lush green meadows, beautiful wild flower beds and high ridges.
The trail is well defined through village’s en-route with extremely charismatic views. One can easily get lost in mesmerizing views of the magnificent peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti.The initial trail from Devgram to Bansi Narayan is strenuous vertical climb of around 1500 mtr.
However the strenuous vertical climb is rewarded by the grand campsite, surrounded in the clouds, over the colourful flower beds with Bird’s-eye view of lush green meadow and snow-capped Himalayan peaks in the front.From there on to Dumak is an easy trail down the valley passing through Kalgoat.
The trail from Dumak to the high meadows at Panar is demanding, with long, hard climbs, sometimes through leech infected zones especially during and immediately after monsoons. The trail further is easy and offers grand views of the Alpine meadows and deep gorges full of wild colourful flowers and heavenly hamlet. From the ridge between Panar and Rudranath one can see Alaknanda carving its way down to the plains, and the mistysilhouettes of the foothills.
MYTH -The legend of PanchKedar, is aninteresting narration of the efforts of Pandavas to atone for the sins of their fratricide (gotra- hatya) act of killing their cousins, the Kauravas, and Brāhmanahatya (killing of Brahmins - the priest class), during the epic Mahabharata war.
On advice from sages and their trusted benefactor god Krishna they sought Lord Shiva to pardon them and bless them to attain salvation. Since Shiva was annoyed with them for their conduct during the Kurukshetra war, he tried to avoid them by assuming the animal form of a bull or Nandi and hid himself in the Himalayan Garhwal region.
But the determined Pandavas, after sighting Shiva in the form of the bull grazing in the hills of Guptakashi, tried to forcibly hold the bull by its tail and hind legs. But the bull disappeared into the ground to reappear later in his original self of Lord Shiva at five places; in the form of a hump at Kedarnath, in the shape of bahu (arms) at Tungnath, with his face at Rudranath, his nabhi (navel) and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar and his hair (locks) called jata at Kalpeshwar.
Pandavas, pleased with the revelation of Lord Shiva at five places in different forms, built temples at these five places, worshipped him and attained salvation with blessings of Shiva. The temples were later discovered by AdiSankaracharya.
Kalpeshwar houses the famous Kalpavriksha. This tree is believed to fulfill all the wishes of a person. There is a cave temple situated at height of 2134 mtr and Shiva is worshiped here in his matted hair form. Kalpeshwar is surrounded by dense woods and also terraced fields that lie in the Urgam valley.
Rudranath is situated amidst thick woods, here the 'mukh' or the Lord's face appeared and Shiva is worshipped as Neelkanth Mahadev. All around the temple are fragrant flower laden meadows. In the background, are the glittering snow-covered peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi, NandaGhunti. Near the temple is a stream of sparkling water known as Vaitarini - the 'Water of Salvation'. The temple is surrounded by a number of pools - Surya Kund, Chandra Kund, Tara Kund andManasKund - while the great peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti rear overhead.
- The trail is well defined through village’s en-route with extremely charismatic views. One can easily get lost in mesmerizing views of the magnificent peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti.The initial trail from Devgram to Bansi Narayan is strenuous vertical climb of around 1500 mtr.View golden sun rays shining on the snow capped Himalayan peak
- A trek with all colours of mother nature – Vibrant, Serene and Fascinating. The trail covers two of the five Kedar’sKalpeshwar and Rudranath situated in Uttrakhand. The Kalpeshwar Rudranath trail offers splendid views as it passes through thick woods, green valleys, lush green meadows, beautiful wild flower beds and high ridges.
➤ Detailed Itinerary
Day 1Drive from Rishikesh to Helang; 8-9 hours, 241 kmHelang to Devgram; 1 hour drive + 30 minutes trekDay 2Acclimatisation day; Trek to Kalpeshwar; 2-3 hoursDay 3Devgram (6,627 ft) to Bansi Narayan (11,482); 8-10 hours, 12 kmDay 4Bansi Narayan (11,482) to Dumak (7,874 ft); 5-6 hours, 10 kmDay 5Dumak (7,874 ft) to Panar (11,155 ft) via Toli (9,186 ft); 6-8 hours, 12kmDay 6Panar (11,155 ft) to Rudranath (11,811 ft) and back; 7-9 hours; 14 kmDay 7Panar (11,155 ft) to Sagar (6,561 ft); 4-5 hours, 12 km
Day 1: Reach Devgram
- Altitude: 6,627 ft
- Time taken: 10-12 hours drive; 30 minute trek
- Trail type: Initially a paved mud track which becomes cemented as you approach the village.
The journey to Devgram involves 3 steps. You first need reach Helang from Rishikesh, which is an 8-9 hours drive. From Helang, take a shared jeep to Devgram, in Urgam district. It should take you about an hour to reach Devgram. The last 2 km need to be trekked.
The initial trail is a stone paved mud track through green valleys. As you move closer to the village the trail becomes a cemented track. You can see terraced fields and settlements spread across the hills. You occasionally see villagers working in the fields. On the way, you will get a natural water tap shaped in the form of a cow's mouth. Water flows through this all day.
Close to Helang, you'll get to see the beautiful confluence of Alaknanda and Kalpganga rivers.
There are many guest houses in Devgram that offer accommodation and food at nominal rates.
Day 2: Acclimatisation Day; trek to Kalpeshwar and back
- Altitude: 7,217 ft
- Time taken: 2-3 hours
- Trail type: Easy. Initial ascent for 20-25 minutes followed by level walk for 10 minutes. Last 10-15 minutes is an ascent on steps.
- Water sources: Carry 1 litre of water. You'll cross a river around midway, where you can refill
The trek to Kalpeshwar helps with acclimatisation. This is important because you will trek to Bansi Narayan on Day 3, which is at an altitude of 11,482 ft.
The trail from Kalpeshwar starts near Prathik lodge in Devgram. The trail initially climbs up a cemented track through settlements and fields. You will pass through green valleys in about 15 minutes. Proceed keeping to the left of the valley. In 5-10 minutes, you will see a waterfall ahead in the distance.
At this point, the trail becomes level. You walk through lush meadows. You can see the Kalpganga river to your right. This can also be used as a camping site if you wish to camp rather than stay in the village.
Kalpeshwar Rudranath suspension bridge
In another 5 minutes, you will reach a suspension bridge. You will find the steps going up to Kalpeshwar temple once you cross the bridge.
Return to Devgram on the same trail. You will find plenty of birds and flowers en route.
Day 3: Devgram to Bansi Narayan
- Altitude: 6,667 ft to 11,482 ft
- Time taken: 8-10 hours, 12 km
- Trail type: Moderate. Gradually ascending all the way to Bansi Narayan
- Water sources: Carry 2 bottles of water. First source is a stream at Bansa village, 1.5 hours into the trek. Second one is at Bansi Narayan temple, 4 hours away.
Start early today. Eat breakfast before leaving and also carry packed lunch since you will not find any place on the way to buy food.
From Prathik lodge, take the trail going towards the left. The trail passes through terraced fields where villagers grow rajma (kidney beans) and potatoes. This is all part of the Urgham valley. After 15-20 minutes of gradually ascending up this trail, you can spot settlements spread across the valley. Another 10-15 minutes of trekking bring you to a water – wheel. This channels water through a narrow stream call baanchaki or Gharat system to grind grains. Continue on this trail. In 40 – 45 minutes you reach Bansa village.
Bansa village has a beautiful Urvashi temple. This is right next to the water stream. You can take a break here if you wish. The stream water is clean and can be used to refill water bottles.
Kalpeshwar Rudranath temple
Near the temple, there is a sign which says “Bansi Narayan temple 10 kms from here” written in local language. Proceed from the temple and you will soon see a bridge. Take the ascending trail that you get after crossing the bridge. Stay to the left of the stream. The trail now gradually climbs up a ridge. In about 40 minutes, you will come across a small stone temple on the right side of the ridge. Continue on the trail, which now enters a thick forest. The mud trail moves up in a zig-zag way. As you move up the slope the woods get thicker. You will occasionally come across a few boulders. However, through all this, the trail is well defined. At places, it is bounded by a stone wall.
In about 45-50 minutes, you will come across a few boulders on the left side of the trail. This is a good spot to have lunch.
From here, the trail climbs up rather steeply now through dense woods. The mud trail is very pleasant through dense oak forest. The valley widens in about 45 minutes. You reach a clearing and get your first clear views of the Himalayan range around.
Around 30 minutes more on this trail brings you the top of the ridge. The trail now moves slightly towards your left. Within a few minutes you reach the Bansi Narayan temple. It takes around 7 - 8 hours to reach this point.
Bansi Narayan temple is surrounded by huge boulders. It is a single structure, built of stone. It is an ancient temple dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu.
Some of the overhanging boulders around the temple provide temporary shade. There is a small stream a few minutes from the temple. This is the only water source here. You can pitch tents here or proceed ahead to the natural cave that can accommodate around 30 – 40 people.
Kalpeshwar Rudranath trek boulders
The cave is 25 – 30 minutes of gradual climb through lush green meadows and colorful wildflowers which are in full bloom in the months of August and September. The trail to the cave crosses the huge boulders beyond the temple. It moves first towards the right and then towards the left. The cave is to your right on this trail. You will see pink wildflowers in full bloom spread over the entire slope just before the cave. It is a little difficult to find the cave since it is middle between boulders spread across the meadows. You get mesmerizing views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks such as Nandadevi, Trishul, Dronagiri, Nandaghunti from the cave.
Lush green meadow at Bansi Narayan
Day 4: Bansi Narayan to Dumak
- Altitude: 11,482 ft to 7,874 ft
- Time taken: 5-6 hours, 10 km
- Trail type: Easy. Gradually descending all the way to Dumak
- Water sources: Carry 2 bottles of water. First source is a stream at Bansi Narayan temple, 15 minutes into the trek. The second source is a stream around 40 minutes into the trek. The third water source is a stream outside Kalgoat, 1.5 hours into the trek.
Wake up early. Engulfed in clouds, Bansi Narayan Cave is an awesome campsite with splendid views of colorful wild flowers spread over lush green meadows with golden Himalayan peaks right in front.
Kalpeshwar Rudranath Trek - Dronagiri peak
Start on the trail back to Bansi Narayan temple. Once you cross the temple, the trail moves to the ridge to the right. You will enter the dense forest in 5-10 minutes. Continue on the mud trail keeping towards the right of the valley. This is a gentle downhill walk through overgrowth and thickets covered with colorful wildflowers. In another 10 minutes, you will cross a stream. The water is good to drink.
The trail, in this section, is shaded by gigantic chestnut trees. You come across a few fallen trees which require a little bit of scrambling to cross over. You will also have to cross a few boulders. Varieties of ferns and fungi appear on the way. At this point, the descent becomes steeper. You will enter a dense oak forest. After 45-50 minutes, the Alaknanda valley opens up ahead. This is Kalgoat village. You can take a break here.
Downhill walk through dense woods
Dumak is around 7 km from Kalgoat. The trail from Kalgoat village to Dumak village is well marked and takes 2 – 3 hours. Continue on the trail that passes through huge boulders and shrubs. 20 – 30 minutes of hike across the village brings you to an old Mahadev temple built of stone. This temple is at the other end of the village - the Dumak side. Just before the temple is a narrow bridge over a small stream - the water here is good to drink. After crossing the bridge you will find a bell and prayer flags tied to a pole.
En route Kalgoat to Dumak
The construction of the poles is such that it forms an entry gate. A new shade has been put up in front of the old stone temple. Continue on the trail that passes through woods and shrubs. If you’re lucky, you might spot a monal. It’s a level walk now. Dumak village becomes visible in the distance after about an hour. Terraced fields appear around you. Also visible are water channels to the fields. You will reach a blue signboard for a pre-primary school in about 40 minutes.
You can either stay at Bhandari guest house, which is around 5 minutes ahead on the trail or camp next to the stream, a little ahead. Bhandari guest house can provide basic food and stay arrangements at a nominal price.
En route Kalgoat to Dumak
Day 5: Dumak to Panar via Toli
- Altitude: 7,874 ft to 11,155 ft via 9,186 ft
- Time taken: 6-8 hours, 12 km
- Trail type: Initial level trail for 25 minutes followed by 45 minutes of steep descent. 3 hours of ascent to Panar from Toli.
- Water sources: Streams along the trail
Start early since it will be a long day. Take the cemented trail that leads out of Dumak village on the other side. It passes through terraced fields. In about 25 minutes, you will reach the end of the ridge. Here, take the trail that goes to the right. This is a narrow mud trail which descends steeply. Stay at right side of the valley. Rudra Ganga river becomes visible in 20-30 minutes.
You will reach the river in about 45 minutes. The view of the river as you cross it over the cemented bridge, is stunning. This is a good spot to take a break and refill your water bottles.
River flowing down the thick woodlands
After crossing the river, the trail moves towards the right, ascending into the woods. After 20-30 minutes, the trail becomes level. It turns left, where you will cross a few streams. Continue on the trail that ascends from here. It keeps getting steeper. You will notice it climbing up a ridge in 25-30 minutes. In about 45 minutes, you will reach the end of the ridge, and enter the huge meadows of Toli.
The trail up from the river till Toli is infested with leeches, especially in the months of August and September. Toli has huge green grasslands with a beautiful alpine lake, surrounded by thick forest. You can also see a few temporary settlements used by the shepherds. The meadows of Toli are filled with cattle grazing in the summer and monsoon. This is a good place to break for lunch.
From Toli, the path becomes a little tricky. There are very few landmarks. Continue on the trail that moves towards your right. The trail gently climbs up the ridge. You almost reach the end of the ridge in 30-40 minutes. You will see a small meadow over the ridge.
Toli tal meadow
Here, the trail moves to your left. It traverses the meadow and gently climbs up a ridge. Keep climbing up to the left till the ascent that becomes steeper. After 45-50 minutes, you notice the vegetation becoming thinner. Continue on this trail till you reach the top of the ridge. From here, the path moves around the mountain to your right to the sloping meadows of Panar (11,155 ft). It takes 2-3 hours from Toli and 6-8 hours from Dumak to reach Panar.
Panar has a tourist hut and a shepherd settlement nearby. Both provide food. Pilgrims also stay in the cave which is a few metres above the Panar meadows on the route to Rudranath. From Panar you can see beautiful snow capped mountains of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda ghunti and the Bandarpoonch massif. In the month of August and September Panar turns into a carpet of pinkish red flowers. There is a thin water stream a few metres below the tourist hut. The water from the stream can be used for drinking and cooking.
Day 6: Panar - Rudranath - Panar
- Altitude: 11,155 to 11,811 ft to 11,155 ft
- Time taken: 6-8 hours, 12 km
- Trail type: Moderate. Gradually ascending trail to Rudranath.
- Water sources: None till you reach Rudranath. Carry 2 litres of water.
Start in the morning, after breakfast. Take the trail that moves towards the ridge to the left. You will see some huge boulders and snow-capped peaks to your left.
The trail gradually climbs up the ridge. You will notice some undergrowth on the way. After 25-30 minutes of ascent, you can see the Panar meadows below. In another 30-40 minutes, you reach a huge overhanging boulder on the left. From here, the scene is magnificent - the vast green meadows of Panar below and snow-capped peaks in front, engulfed in clouds.
Continue on the trail that climbs up the ridge. As you climb up you see huge boulders on the right and in the front.
Kalpeshwar Rudranath trek peaks
Continue on the trail, till you see huge boulders on the left and a lush green valley on the right. It takes around 1.5 – 2 hours to reach here. You will shortly reach a stretch where there are huge boulders on either side of the trail. From here, the trail is well defined. This is a stone path, mostly a gentle trail with a few gradual ascents. This ridge between Panar and Rudranath has unmatched views of the Himalayas. You are surrounded on all sides by snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys.
Meadows on the way
A narrow ridge on the left connects Rudranath to Mandal forest and Anusuya temple. This is a beautiful trail that passes through the Mandal forest. You have the option of taking this trail on your way back from Rudranath.
Proceed ahead on the trail. You are now surrounded by colorful flowers and shrubs. Notice the temporary shepherd settlement made of stone to your left. Continue on the mud trail that gradually ascends, keeping the valley to your left. You will soon see prayer bells and flags in the distance. It takes 15-20 minutes to reach them.
Kalpeshwar Rudranath trek highest point
This is the highest point on this trail. It takes 3-3.5 hours to reach here from Panar. The trail now descends into the valley. You see bright flowers and shrubs around. This valley is known for medicinal herbs. Continue on the trail as it climbs up a ridge. Spread over a couple of hundred meters on either side of the ridge are colorful wildflowers and a lush green meadow.
Rudranath shrine becomes visible at a distance after an hour of hike. The trail descends first and then ascends. In 25-30 minutes you will reach a brightly painted tourist hut. It has 2 rooms that are used by pilgrims and tourists who wish to stay overnight at Rudranath.
Continue past the tourist hut. In a few minutes you will come across a small stone idol and a temple dedicated to Devrishi Narad. Further up the trail notice settlements to the left. These belong to the temple priest and locals.The Rudranath shrine will be to your left and the lush green valley, to your right. It takes around 4.5 hours to reach here from Panar. Rudranath shrine is surrounded by huge rock walls and boulders. It is bounded on each side by a pond - Surya Kund, Chandra Kund, Tara Kund and Manas Kund. The Bandarpoonch range is very prominent from here. There are places around the temple that serve lunch. Return to Panar after lunch.
Day 7: Panar - Sagar
- Altitude: 11,155 to 6,561 ft
- Time taken: 4-5 hours, 12 km
- Trail type: Easy. Gradual descent all the way.
- Water sources: Carry 2 bottles of water from Panar
Start after breakfast. Take the stony mud trail descending to the left from Panar. This brings you down the ridge in a zig-zag manner. The grasslands of Lunti Bugyal become visible in 15-20 minutes. You will reach Lunti Bugyal in another 10 minutes.
From Lunti Bugyal, continue on the trail that moves towards your left. The trail enters a dense forest in 15-20 minutes. This is now a mud trail but it is well defined. You will reach a water stream in 45 minutes. Cross it over the cement bridge. The trail descends into woods after the bridge. A beautiful meadow becomes visible in the distance in 25-30 minutes. It will take you another 15 minutes to reach this meadow. It is surrounded by forests on all sides.
Sakleshwar Mahadev Mandir
You will find a few tea stalls here that sell tea and snacks to pilgrims. A shade has been put up to shelter tourists from rain and sun. Colorful flags mark the boundary of the area.
Continue on the trail that enters another forest from the meadow. In 30-45 minutes, the forest clears and you will see terraced fields to your left. Sagar also becomes visible. Continue moving down the well-defined trail that moved through the fields. There is a stream just before Sagar. From here, the trail becomes narrow and passes through rocky steps all the way to Sagar.
Sagar bus stop
The trail passes through shops and huts before reaching the road. The bus stop is at the end of the steps that lead to the trail. On the other side of the road is the entrance to the Sakleshwar Mahadev Mandir. The Mandal – Gopeshwar road passes through Sagar village and you can get shared jeeps/buses going to Gopeshwar from here. It is around 5 km from Sagar village. From Gopeshwar one can go to Chamnoli village from where you can get frequent buses to Haridwar and Rishikesh.
How to Get Fit for the Trek
This trek requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. Make sure you are able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover carrying your backpacks and trekking along with your backpack is not a very easy task. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises - stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here's a guide to help you get fit for the trek.
Working out indoors
If you can't go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here's a video you can use to work out indoors.
What to Pack for the Trek
- Trekking shoes: The trek distance is long and you will have to walk for long distances which need you to have comfortable trekking shoes. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
The Kalpeshwar Rudranath trek happens in summer (Mid May-mid June) or post monsoon. So carry a poncho, in case you experience pre-monsoon showers or sudden rainfall post monsoon.
- Three (Five in Winter) Warm Layers: You will be trekking and camping at high altitudes. So make sure you have the apt clothes for the climatic conditions. It will be cold at the higher altitudes so make sure you have at least three layers of warm clothes to protect yourself.
- Two trek pants: One pair of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case the first one gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair. Wear full length trek pants, especially if you plan to trek after monsoon. The trail is infested with leeches after monsoon in a few sections.
- Two collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. There might be snow in Har Ki Dun Valley or from Kalkatiyadhaar (depending on the season you are going in), so carry a pair of sunglasses.
- Suncap: The sun is more harsh at high altitudes so wear a suncap to protect your face and neck.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries (Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste). If you intend to use wet wipes or sanitary napkins, carry a zip lock back to put the used napkins and wipes. Bring this back down with you from the trek. Do not dispose these items in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. This is more hygienic.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox - 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene - 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze - 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
➤ Difficult Sections
The Kalpeshwar Rudranath trek is a moderate trek. The trail involves some steep ascents and descents, as well as walking through boulders.
➤ Trek Contribution
Author: Vinita Chattwani