Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Deoria Tal Trek & Unusual Guide


Since 1984, on my Himalayan Treks in Garhwal Hills, I seldom availed of  a guide. My treks were mostly along routes which had religious shrines, a well defined stone paved trails and were trodden by many. A few treks which resulted in routes sans religious importance, along with my small group, did pose some problems. One such treks in summer of 2007, which resulted in our group getting lost and finding our way rather uncharacteristically, is Deoria Tal trek, which is worthwhile recounting. 

We left Ukhimath after offering prayers at the Omkareshwar temple in a colourful compound. The Shiva temple here serves as the seat of Lord Kedarnath during six months in winter, when the snow covers the entire upper Himalayas.

When we arrived at Saari village, the base for the trek, in early morning, not a soul was on the road. Our driver left us at the stone paved trek route starting at the base of a hill. We started the steep climb and got the bird’s view of Saari village after about half an hour. 

Saari Village View From Top

Further ascent brought us to a place where the stone paved road ended but Deoria Tal was not in sight. We simply did not know which way to proceed and were ruing the fact that we did not have a guide. As minutes passed, we were becoming more restless; our goal of reaching Deoria Tal before 8 pm appeared hopeless. In the gloom appeared the sunshine in form of five village women, with sickle in hands, looming on top of the hill. As if understanding that we have lost our way, they waved at us to climb up. We were just immobile and did not realize what to do? Looking our predicament, the youngest one of the women, raced down hill where we were and escorted us to where the group stood. The villagers on a grass cutting mission in the hill, told us the way to the Deoria Tal with a shepherd dog named Kaloo to escort us. We had some photo shoot of five of our pathfinders done before departure with Kaloo the guide posing in the foreground. 

Village Belles - all smiles

Kaloo took off on his own as if it was a normal ritual for him to escort the hapless and lost tourists on way to Deoria Tal. After another half an hour we passed through a mud track full of dense growth of trees on either side and came to an opening overlooking the grandiose Deoria Tal. On a sunlit day, with a gentle breeze blowing, the reflection of green foliages on lake water, with a back drop of Chaukhamba, the Himalayan snow peak looked awesome. The place around was green carpet of Bhugyal, with stone slabs forming a walking path around the lake. This place will rank as one of the finest lake views we have seen in Himalayas.

Deoria Tal Close View

Having spent some time around the periphery of the lake and savoring the Himalayan view, with Chaukhamba peak looming ahead large and gigantic. We ordered for breakfast from the only dhaba in this destination. Aloo Parathas and Maggie noddles compensated for our burnt out calories due to our mornings trek and some reserves for our return trek.

Return trek was no problem this time. Kaloo showed us the way once again, taking us through a stone paved trek route and then disappeared to his destination. We checked with one dhaba en-route to ensure that we did not get lost again. The amby was waiting at the right place to pick us up; the driver realized that he left us at the wrong place to commence our trek. Thus memory of Kaloo our unusual guide for ever remains in our memory, whenever we remember Deoria Tal trek. 

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