"It is always the same with the mountains. Once you have lived in them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape." – Ruskin Bond
If you have been to the Himalayas, you may be physically present anywhere else in the world, but your soul remains in the lap of the mountains, and nature has blessed the mountains of Uttarakhand with bountiful of beauty that makes you catch your breath at every sight. From the mysterious labyrinths of deep forests to the whispers of the rivers, from the colours of birds to the colours of wild flowers in the green 'Bugiyals' or meadows, from the ancient lofty mountains standing in quiet meditation to the bubbling waterfalls rushing down like gleeful maidens, Uttarakhand has it all. No wonder it is called 'Deva Bhumi': the land of gods. A journey to Uttarakhand is indeed a spiritual odyssey, and if you are a passionate trekker, Uttarakhand is absolutely the right place to explore.
There are numerous trek routes in Uttarakhand, and some of them have rarely been trodden. Those paths hold the most beautiful and breathtaking treasures for your eyes and your soul. Trekking along the mountain ridges is one of the rarest trekking experiences India has to offer. One of those routes is the trek to the meadows of Pushtara through Phulara ridge. Prepare yourself for the ecstasy of watching the snow-capped mountains at your eye level, while walking along a mountain-ridge.
Let me take you to the trek with a series of pictures painted with words, so that when you experience it in real, you can realize that the description is not even half as beautiful as the place, which will perhaps double your happiness.
The journey starts from Dehradun. In around 7 hours, you will reach Mori camp-site by the river Tons. If you are a water-sports enthusiast, you will be delighted to indulge in river rafting. Mori is a quaint village adorned with the tallest pines, ancient temples, ravines and paddy fields. Several trek routes emerge from the camp site of Mori. The inhabitants in this village believe themselves to be the descendants of Kauravas from the Mahabharata. The village even has a temple dedicated to the worship of Duryodhana.
From Mori you will take the path to Sankri. The tiny hamlet of Sankri is famous for serving as a base camp for treks. It is a delight for adventure seekers. Sankri offers trekking, bird watching, camping and even zipline activities. This picturesque village will at once steal your heart with the surrounding pine forests and glorious snow capped mountains. This is where you leave your vehicle and your worldly worries behind, and start trekking towards Juda Ka Talab.
It is a trek of 4 kilometres from Sankri to Juda Ka Talab through a mesmerizing pine forest. It is a lake at an altitude of 2700 metres. In winter the lake remains entirely frozen. According to local beliefs, once Lord Shiva had opened a lock of his hair and a drop of water fell off his hair to form this lake. Juda Ka Talab is reachable throughout the year except in monsoon.
From Juda Ka Talab we start trekking towards Bhoj Gadi. It is a 4-5 hours of trek, which will take you through a dense forests, along a path rarely traveled. The silence of the forests is broken by chirps and whistles of Himalayan birds. Sunlight reaches you in fringes, filtered through the dense branches and leaves of trees. You will notice pines, silver birches, rhododendrons. As you reach Karsu Thatch, the trees start dwindling and the forest clearing welcomes you with wild flowers and a breathtaking view of Kedarkantha peak. After a few minutes of ascend you will reach the refreshing green meadows, and half an hour of walk will lead you to Bhoj Gadi, our next camp site. Bhoj Gadi is a meadow from where the view of Kedarkantha, Swargarohini, Devkyara and many other peaks will dazzle your eyes. Drink in the beauty with your eyes as much as you can until the sun goes down and spend the night in tents under the stars.
When the morning breaks, wake up to the sight of majestic mountains. Phulara ridge is visible from Bhoj Gadi. It will take around 4-5 hours to reach the meadows of Pushtara, and the memories will be your source of joy for a lifetime. You will get to see several varieties of birds, including the colourful Himalayan Monal, which is even more vibrant than a peacock.
One side of the ridge slopes down to the valley, and another side slopes down into the meadows below.
At the highest point, you will be spellbound to find such a wonderful sight of great Himalayan peaks like Bandarpooch, Kedarkantha, Swargarohini, Vijay Top, Hanuman Top, Sarutal Top, Devkyara and Kala Nag. Around you they stand tall, still, quiet, challenging, protective and yet welcoming those who simply adore their existence.
From the topmost point, the path is a mix of ascends and descends, and after the last descend, the meadows of Pushtara will unfold in front of your eyes. For a moment time will stand still, until you can completely grasp the vastness of it. Green carpeted meadows will please your eyes and relax your senses. You will feel as if you have waited to be here for years. If you take your shoes off and stand barefoot on the soft grass for a moment, all your weariness will instantly melt away.
Pushtara meadows become the abode of little wild flowers in September. The most suitable time for this trek is from the end of May to June, and from the end of August to October. You can take up this trek at other times of the year if the weather condition is right.
When it is time to pack your things and leave the camp site of Pushtara, your heart will be heavy to be parted from such an unscathed beauty. As you descend towards Taluka, you will find increasing number of trees. You will be greeted by little yellow flowers, which to some extent help you ease the sadness of reaching the end, and make you realize the worth of the treasure you have gathered in the last few days. Descending through dense forest, you will observe bands of langoors on trees. Taluka is a little village, from where you can drive back to Sankri. Explore Sankri for the day, and make your journey back to Dehradun with a heart full of precious feelings, and your soul lingering behind, somewhere in the middle of the meadow, on the petals of a little wild flower, or perhaps on the colourful, glistening wings of a Himalayan Monal.