Trek to Satopanth Tal: A high altitude alpine lake

Amidst the snow clad mountains and sun kissed meadows, Satopanth Tal, located at 4,400 metres above the sea level, requires 6 nights and 7 days in hand. You can choose oceans over mountains if you would like to, but there is no way that a high-altitude alpine lake with significance in Hindu mythology would not mesmerise you. Only if mere words can describe the beauty and significance of this place. The story goes that Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh took a bath in the lake on an auspicious day and meditated, together. Here, certain species of birds are found which are known to keep the lake clean by picking up the pollutants. These birds, which are not found anywhere else are believed to be Gandharvas disguise, guarding the lake against the evil forces. Following the Alaknanda river as you keeping trekking, you will come across mighty peaks like Chaukamba, Swargarohini, Neelkanth and Balakun and; various glaciers.

Why I chose this trek?

A Himalayan lover and a person who wouldn’t miss a chance to dip feet in any waterbody, a high altitude alpine lake only made it difficult for me to not miss a chance to advance in this trek. The sight of a lake being hugged by mountains was unimaginably captivating.

How I did my trek?

Brief itinerary:

Day 1: Dehradun to Badrinath

Day 2: Badrinath- Mana- Dhannu glacier

Day 3: Dhannu glacier- Chamtoli bugyal- Laxmi Van

Day 4: Laxmi van- Chakrateerth

Day 5: Chakrateerth- Satopanth tal- Chamtoli Bugyal

Day 6: Chamtoli Bugyal to Badrinath

Day 7: Badrinath to Dehradun

DAY 1: Dehradun To Badrinath

Starting early from Dehradun to Badrinath in order to reach as soon as possible, the 12-15 hour drive offers scenic views of various religious towns like Rishikesh, Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Chamoli Gopeshwar and Joshimath. I reached Badrinath in the evening, went straight to the room, changed my clothes and headed out to explore the town. To my surprise, this auspicious town is not only religiously inclined in the name of Badri Vishal but has a lot more to offer. There are various things that you can do in Badrinath from visiting the last temple of Char Dham to hiking in offbeat trails. If you’re a shopaholic, then you’re in luck because the streets of Badrinath are full of items like jewellery, clothes and books. Besides this, I also went by the river and sat there for hours to enjoy the serene views with nothing but the river making gushing noise in the background. There is nothing that the sound of river cannot heal. Badrinath also offers variety of places to stay- guest rooms, hotels and even ashrams!

Day 1

DAY 2: Badrinath- Mana- Dhannu Glacier

The starting point of the trek is a small village called Mana, known to be the last village of India before you hit the Tibetan border. Mana is also known to be a seasonal village where in the locals stay here for a few months and to avoid the harsh winters they go back to Chamoli Gopeshwar. Only the government remains behind during the winters. This small village offers a variety of things to do like shopping local handicrafts, you can also visit the Ganesh and Vyas gufa. While heading towards the glacier you will also come across the very famous Bhim pul and the only outlet of Saraswati river. The Bhim Pul is a part of the Hindu mythology in which one of the five brothers, Bhim, pushed a huge boulder ahead for Draupadi to cross the Saraswati river. Mana also leads to the Vasudhara waterfall claimed to be very auspicious. It is believed that those who can get close enough to the waterfall for the water to fall on them, are considered to be very lucky. Besides this, if you’re not interested in doing the “touristy things”, you can always find a quite spot or talk to the locals around who are very joyous and giving! After a few km, you will hit the glacier and crossing it will not be very difficult, but not too easy as well. For this part of the trek, it is recommended that you find some support on the way, like rocks. Or you can use a stick to get a firm grip. After crossing the glacier, you will come across meadows of various kinds- some full of flowers, some full of dry grass. On reaching the first campsite, you can sit back and enjoy the views around. From the camp, you can spot the Vasudhara waterfalls on the opposite side and Mana on your way back.

Day 2

DAY 3: Glacier to Laxmi Van

The second day of trekking starts at 9am from the first campsite. The second campsite in not too far ahead but involves technical trekking as you will come across rocky terrain along with green meadows. The technicality of this trek will try to wear you down but constant breaks and support from the team will make your walk relatively easier. On reaching the second campsite, you can go by the river and click pictures. Or you can sit by the camp and enjoy the view of peaks around you. From this campsite, you will see the Vasudhara waterfalls disappear and see Chaukamba and Swargarohini trying to peak out as you move up ahead slowly. Apart, from being outside in the cold temperatures of Himalayas, you can also sit in the kitchen and warm up yourself by the stove.

Day 3

DAY 4: Laxmi Van to Chakrateerth

From the second campsite, the terrain changes completely and turns into a steep snow sheet. Everything ahead is covered in snow and the climb is not easy. It is recommended to keep a stick in handy for you to get a good grip while climbing the entire time. You will also hit rock covered with snow after a few km which will further add strain to your knees. Those who seek adventure in every little things will definitely enjoy this part of the trek. While trekking from second campsite to the third, you will come across hundreds of waterfalls and hence this place is known as Sahastradhara (literal meaning- thousand springs). If you’re in luck and the sky is clear, you will get to see Neelkanth on your left while heading towards chakrateerth. The peaks of Chaukhamba and Swargarohini remain illusionary till the time you reach chakrateerth.

Day 4

DAY 5: Chakrateerth to Satopanth Tal to Chamtoli Bugyal

From Chakrateerth it is important to head out early because camping by the lake is not permitted so return to Chamtoli Bugyal (a meadow between Dhannu glacier and Laxmi Van) by the evening is very important to set up camp on time. The trek from Chakrateerth to the lake is, again, strenuous and hence requires technical support. But all of this would not matter once you reach your destination. Time will freeze by the lake; the beauty of the surroundings will give you peace and the aura of the lake will do justice to your walk. Nothing could have been more serene than gushing winds, broken glaciers and mighty peaks surrounding our existence. A vast open field, setting up camp at Chamtoli Bugyal was pretty easy and quick. Full of variety of small flowers, you can also spot rhododendrons peeking through the bushes of the mountains. It is simply incredible how one type of flower can have infinite shades. You will also come across thick barks of tress on which ancient Hindu mythologies like Vedas and Puranas were written over time! These trees are known as Bhojpatra.

Day 5

DAY 6: Chamtoli Bugyal - Mana - Badrinath

In order to explore good parts of Mana and Badrinath, we left early from the last campsite. On reaching Mana we took a break, explored the places around and we even helped the local economy by buying locally produced items! If you have energy remaining, which you will, on reaching Badrinath you can do various things before hitting the bed.

Day 6

DAY 7: Badrinath to Dehradun

We left early from Badrinath in order to tackle the yatra (pilgrimage) traffic headed towards our way. If you’re still not done exploring Badrinath, you can always stay behind and enjoy the bustling town.

Day 7

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