The more dangerous and difficult is the journey to a pilgrimage site the more rewarding it seems. And there are quite a number of places in India especially on the Himalayas where thousands of people embark on such journeys every year to fulfill their wishes and worship.
Hemkund Sahib is such a site which is extremely popular among the Sikhs. It is located at an elevation of 4636 meters on the Garhwal Himalayas, in the Chamoli district of the state of Uttarakhand.
Hemkund Sahib is a Gurudwara alongside a pristine lake. A temple dedicated to Laxmana is also present and you may also visit a famous flower valley nearby.
The present Gurudwara was designed in the 1960’s by Siali Luddu who was chosen by Major General Harkirat Singh as the chief architect. Pentagonal in shape, and one of the most complex designed Gurudwara in the world, it was quite a difficult build in these cold frosty climatic conditions.
The place is built in the honor of Guru Govind Singh, one of the great Gurus of the Sikhs.
The gurudwara remains closed from the month October to April. During the month of May, Sikhs reach the place and clear the pathway and repairs any damage suffered by the road or trail because of the extreme climatic conditions so that others may visit. This act is also called Kar Seva and said to be an important concept of Sikh belief.
The sacred and picturesque Hemkund Lake is just beside the Gurudwara. It is said to be auspicious to take a dip in this lake and the pilgrims who visit here does so. It has been mentioned in the Hindu Mythology, the lake used to be known as Lokpal. Laxman, brother of Lord Rama is said to have used it as his place for meditation to recover from the injuries he received in the war against Lanka King Ravana.
The way towards Hemkund Sahib:
Reaching Hemkund Sahib is not quite easy. From Govindghat one needs to trek to Hemkund. Govindghat lies on the banks of the river of Alakananda at an altitude of 1828 meters. Following the route Pulna-Bhuyander village, you will be surrounded by mind-blowing sceneries. Laxman-Ganga river is alongside the path. After steep trekking of about 13 km, one will reach Ghangharia, from where the trek will become difficult.
Ghangharia is 6 km from Hemkund. Two paths break from Ghangaria, one leading to Hemkund and the other to the Valley of Flowers. Pilgrims visiting the Gurudwara often choose to visit the valley of flowers on their return journey from the kund.
A little about the Valley of Flower:
Valley of Flower, a national park is an amazing place with panoramic views. It is said that the rare Brahma-Kamal blooms in the valley once in 12 years.
How to reach:
There are several routes to reach this place. Buses and Taxis run from and to Govindghat from major cities of Uttarakhand and Delhi.
The nearest rail station is that of Rishikesh and the nearest airport is that of Dehradun.
Whatever the mode of transport you chose the roadways will lead only to Govindghat, thereafter trekking is the only way to reach Hemkund.
When to visit:
As the kund is inaccessible in the winters, the best time to visit this place is from May to October. Visiting in May-June is quite rewarding as you will find the valley of flowers in full bloom in this time of the year. In the monsoons, extreme precaution is essential from the trekkers.
In 2013, quite a portion of Hemkund Sahib was destroyed including the langer hall and footpath due to a massive flood.
Featured Photo by anirbanbiswas_c8