|Panoramic View of the Mighty Himalayas|
From hereon, since there was no more altitude to be gained, it was mostly a level ground and after crossing Pitardhara (slang for Pitrudhara), we were descending towards a place called Panchganga. It’s wonderful how places are named in these mountains.
So we enquire with him about how far is Rudranath from here and if we can find a place to stay there. He advises us to stay in his hut as it’s not occupied at the moment, refresh ourselves with some food, and go visit the temple of Rudranath which is a little more than 30 minutes of walk from here. We thought of that as a good idea since it would save us that much of walking back the next day – as we had to go back the same way to Anusaya Devi, and further to Chopta, our destination for the next day. Also, it started raining quite heavily (we were so lucky to had arrived in the nick of time). Thus, the man cooked us the staple, Maggie and put some potatoes in the fire for us to munch on. Roasted potatoes with Ash Flavor. After indulging in the 7-star mountain cuisine, we spread ourselves wide and long and waited for the rain to stop. I dozed off while Hrishi and Jayesh chatted up with the man. A few more men and a woman passed by the hut all drenched in the rain while we were blissfully cozy in the blankets. They just continued towards Rudranath, without as much of a bother for the rain. God, I couldn’t imagine doing that. But that’s what holy pilgrimage and pilgrims are about in India.
The rain must have stopped after an hour or so. Seeing that it would not rain again, we set off towards the highest Panchkedar temple, Rudranath. Rudra by the way in Sanskrit means fearsome and Nath means master, lord, ruler, God. Shiva is Rudra. And this one being particularly tough to reach, goes by the name. With Kuldeep again in the lead, we reached the temple. Now this place more than just a hut or a temple. There are proper houses built of rock and with a proper tin roof. It’s but natural for some pilgrims must want to spend a night here before moving on. They must be catered food and a comfortable place to stay. And then at the end of all these houses in a row is the main temple, a rather small and unassuming one for its name. The foot trail ends here. One can’t go any further than this unless one wants to go climbing the Rudra mountain situated behind the temple. At the time we reached here, the mountain looked even more menacing with clouds gathered at its peak, giving it an ‘out-of-bounds’ look.
When we reached the hut, there was a whole new set of people chatting with our host for the night. We joined in the revelry. In a short while, another sadhu, who goes by the name Mauni Baba for he keeps, maun, a practice of shunning the words altogether for communication. He never talks, only uses gestures to communicate. We could hardly understand his gestures. But apparently people here have got used to him. They seemed to understand as Mauni Baba as seamlessly as if he had been talking like the rest of us. They told us that he’s a weirdo of sorts. Yeah, here that’s not a rarity either. And I’m sure the natives here think of us the same way. Why would anyone come this far just to seek a little getaway from the colourless urban life?! There are sadhus and then there are us. Both on a quest, albeit of different sorts (or is it really the same?!). And both love smoking ganja. So we roll our daily dose and after a hot meal go for a doze. Next day is when we kind of begin our return journey. Although with one more Kedar to visit on our way back.