Gaurikund Things to Do
Bathing in Gauri Kund
If you are in Gauri Kund, might as well participate in its namesake: take a bath in the hot spring pool called Gauri Kund. It rejuvenates you just when you need it the most after a long and tiring bus ride and before a long trek up to Kedarnath ahead. You might like it enough to do it again when you come back down.
There are separate sections for men and women. Women have a closed room and men have an open pool under the sky and around hotels, restaurants and security cameras. For some mysterious reason women casually gaze about the men's section, the tacit reason being 'I'm looking for someone' =)
The water temperature here is much more relaxing than the furiously hot water springs at Badrinath (Tapt Kund). But do note that water levels of Gaurikund change throughout the day. Around 6pm it will be a puddle, less than 4 feet at 4.30am, highest level I saw was close to 5 ft around 8am.
[Though I wanted to show what it looks like here, didn't seem right to take a picture of public bathing.. with unsuspecting public in it :P ]Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
The End of the Road
In the foothills of the Garwhal Himalayas, Gauri Kund is the end of the vehicular road for pilgrims en-route to Kedarnath. You must proceed either on foot or by donkey to the Temple at Kedarnath 14km away and 1500m up!Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Most have an idea of the immaculately dangerous roads of Uttarakhand, especially towards Badrinath (full story in my Uttar Pradesh Travelogue), but I did not think mules would be such an irritant. Through the 14km up to Kedrnath you constantly negotiate the bumpy path with these gentle creatures. What's not cool is when they pick a dazed momentum or skid on the snow-mud near you as you stand on the edge of a trail with a deep fall behind you. Not cool. Their handlers couldn't be less bothered to guide them better. Then there is the generous presence they leave behind sloshed down with the rain. And this was in off season October!!Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Hiring porters, ponies, baskets, and...
I wasn’t going to hire a porter to carry my bag, but did in the end. This is how many people up here earn their livelihood, and it gave me more freedom to take pictures. (Plus, although it doesn’t feel like much at the beginning, by the end of the journey you’re at a respectably high altitude, and unless you’re used to it, walking is hard enough when you’re not carrying anything.)
There are several options: porters (a person who carries your bag[s]), ponies (mostly mules, all shod in metal, which slips on the worn, wet stone), baskets (carried by a man, mostly for bags, children, or tiny adults), and dolis (chairs carried by four men – reportedly the fastest of the options, and very comfortable)(except that, you know, you’re being carried by four fellow humans). You can hire any of them along the stretch of the trail just above town. (Note, however, that the official rates for all of them are posted a couple of turns up the trail, and are posted in Hindi, and unless you get there and can read Hindi, or know better, you will be overcharged.)
I contracted a porter through the hotel where I was staying. I was overcharged. But he was a decent fellow, honest and punctual, and he did some things for me that were beyond his job description. There are people selling all forms of transport everywhere along the trail, though, and you should have no problem getting the correct rate if you know it in advance and have the patience and fortitude to negotiate.
Gaurikund Tourist Traps
The Horse Men of the Himalayas
The local "horse men" are not wranglers or jackaroos, but luggers who'll carry your bags. They'll meet you at the bus stop and want to lug all your bags, but have some consideration and insist they share the load with another. For US$5 they'll kiss your feet!
Unique Suggestions: From my experience they're honest and hard-working. Be respectful.
Fun Alternatives: You can always carry your own bag!