A mountain-bound lake at over 15,000 feet is always a sight worth seeing – and this is precisely what you find at the end of the trek to Hemkund Sahib. Known for being an important Sikh shrine and the highest one in the world, the place is sheer beauty.
What you see once you are there depends on the time of the year. A trek in the early weeks of summer may give you clear views of the lake and mountains, although you may encounter a bit of leftover snow from the previous season during your climb. If you choose to go in the monsoons (and cover Valley of Flowers on the same trip), you will have to make your way through rain and mud – although, with a multitude of flowers accompanying you throughout. The usually elusive brahmakamal, the state flower of Uttarakhand, can actually be found growing in the wild along the way to Hemkund Sahib. Plus, there are other absolute beauties like the blue poppy which might make the walk easier (on the eyes, if not necessarily on the feet).
At a height like that, the temperatures are going to be bone-chillingly cold, no matter which day of the year you find yourself there. Visit the gurudwara, sit and listen to the hymns, and then warm yourself with some of the ghee-laden halwa or the hot sugary tea and steaming khichdi in the langar hall. If you happen to be a braveheart, you may also take a dip in the Sarovar. Next to the gurudwara is an ancient Lakshman temple that you can visit too. But be sure to plan your day and wrap up as early as possible, since visitors are not allowed to stay after 2 pm.
Essentials for the trek to Hemkund Sahib are a sturdy pair of shoes (although you will come across devotees trekking over the rocks in mere chappals too), rainproof clothes, and a reliable lathi you can collect or buy from Ghangaria. The trek can be completed by beginners, but be sure to get those legs and lungs in shape before you embark on the journey.
Getting there: Plan a road trip to Govindghat or Pulna, and then a trek or pony ride till the base town of Ghangaria. Here the route splits into two: the Valley of Flowers to the left and Hemkund Sahib to the right.
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