Kedarkantha Trek

Dehradun | India
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All You Need to Know About the Kedarkantha Trek

Kedarkantha Trek

Much of the economy of the Indian state of Uttarakhand depends on its tourism industry that attracts thousands of tourists, trekkers, and pilgrims from all over the world every year. Nature has enriched this part of North India with all her abundance. Irrespective of the religious inclination, the sheer radiance of nature will make anyone bow down to its power in reverence.

Uttarakhand is home to the Kedarkantha trek- an adventure at 3800 meters in the Himalayas. This trek is characterized by sunrises against the backdrop of regal mountain peaks, picturesque lakes, adventurous trails through the winter forests, vast clearings, the final summit, and mesmerizing campsite locations. The mythological legend about this summit only adds to the charisma of this thrilling trip. It is believed by locals to have a close connection to Lord Shiva, and several lores about his communion with the Pandavas can still be heard from the locals.

A summit trek:

Kedarkantha is an ideal summit trek for the trekking amateurs. Most of the other treks at its height are just passes between ranges, but it is among the few treks that allow the trekker to conquer a summit. Once the trekker moves past the tree line, the summit seems to appear right before them, building up to the anticipation of scaling it.

The Kedarkantha summit offers a sweeping 360-degree view of the Garhwal Himalayas, especially rewarding the trekker with the sight of the Swargarohini (6252 meters), Nanda Ghunti (6309 meters), Kalanag (6387 meters), Bandarpunch (6316 meters), peaks from the Gangotri and Yamunotri range, Jaonli (6632 meters), Draupadi ka Danda (5771 meters), and Jorkanden (6473 meters). One can also easily spot the breathtakingly sprawling expanse of Rupin valley and the Har ki Dun valley in the distance.

The snowy trail:

The Kedarkantha trek best time is in winter. During winters, the long clearings along the trail are covered by a thick blanket of fresh snow. Surrounded by the alpine vegetation of oaks, pines, and maple trees laden with soft, powdery snowflakes, one can experience the wonder of walking through a winter wonderland. The scenery makes for beautiful pictures in winter.

The mythological connection:

Kedarkantha has significant mythological importance in regard to ancient Hinduism. Lord Shiva chose this peak to have his temple built upon and to meditate in peace. But the settlements around him bustled with their everyday life. It is said that the god's meditation was disturbed by the mooing of a cow nearby, and so, he relocated to Kedarnath.

The work of the temple remained unfinished, built only up to the god's neck - thus, this peak earned its name - Kedarkantha. The half-built shrine at the summit remains a marker of the legend to this day. Listening to locals talk about these legends is an enriching experience, especially if one does the Kedarkantha trek solo and seeks some company.

Juda ka Talab:

The Juda ka Talab offers an enchanting view of the alpine lake nestled in the midst of tall coniferous trees. It mostly stays frozen in winter, and one can walk on it at this time of the year. This experience contributes to the rewarding value of this summit trek.

Not just the mountain peak of Kedarkantha but the lake here too has a mythological relation to Lord Shiva. Situated at the height of 2773 meters, the lake is said to be formed when a few drops of water fell here from the constraints of Shiva's dreadlocked hair. According to local legend, this lake is also connected with another lake beneath it. Hence it is named Juda, or connected.

Kedarkantha trek itinerary

Overview of the Kedarkantha Trek

Kedarkantha Trek location and basic information

Kedarkantha is a summit trek located in the heart of the Uttarkashi district in Uttarakhand. It lies under the administration of the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and is best done in winter. It is a popular winter trek, so much so that it has earned the Queen of Winter Treks title.

The Garhwal Himalayas offer enchanting views from atop the Kedarkantha summit. The trail is about 20 km long. The Kedarkantha trek itinerary takes around 4-6 days to cover. The major highlight of the trek is walking through the night and watching the sunrise from the peak.

Kedarkantha Trek cost

The cost of doing this trek is around USD 70 to 135 (INR 5000 to 10000), depending upon the services provided by your trekking company. An experienced local guide will be able to help the trekkers navigate through the area easily. This charge may not be included in the trekking package one opts for.

Cell phone connectivity on the Kedarkantha Trek

There is next to no connectivity or phone network in the Kedarkantha trek. The starting point of the trek at Sankri has decent connectivity, but it is best to assume that one will have no network here onwards. Sankri is also the last point that is electrically connected, so extra batteries and power banks for electronic gadgets should be carried.

How Difficult is the Kedarkantha Trek?

Experts have classified Kedarkantha to be an easy to moderate level trek. The ascent in this trek is gradual and steady. Vast clearings intersperse the steep sections. The steady altitude gain of around 1670 to 1830 meters for three consecutive days is easy if the trekkers are mentally and physically prepared to take on the journey. The trek of 4-6 days is not too demanding, but at the same time, one has to prepare well to deal with every eventuality.

The snow is especially thick in winter, and the trekkers require an experienced local guide to help them navigate it. The day you push for the summit is long, and it takes around 8 hours. The steep climb and descent make it a challenge for the trekkers. Although it becomes moderately challenging during the winter months, you can expect a pleasant experience of trekking to a summit with proper gear and safety measures.

Best Time to Visit the Kedarkantha Trek

The Kedarkantha trek itinerary can be covered anytime in almost ten months of the year, barring the monsoon months- July and August. Each season displays a different side of the mountains and is equally good. But Kedarkantha is mostly popular as a winter trek, done in December, January, and February.

Spring and summer

Trekkers who seek the quiet company of nature might do well to embark on this trek in the summer and spring months. Beautiful rhododendrons adorn the trail, and the rolling grasslands make for an enjoyable experience. April flaunts a stunning range of colors while June brings in occasional rainfall on the trail, although the weather remains very mild and comfortable.

Autumn

The trek is considerably less crowded and vibrant in autumn, with its greenery fresh out of the monsoon. September and October are unarguably the best months to enjoy the lush green meadows. The scenery is crisp with a clear sky, giving one the perfect light for photography. As November approaches, the air gets colder, and winter sets in slowly, but the scenery slowly taking on an orange hue is a mesmerizing sight to watch.

Winter

According to many trekkers, the Kedarkantha trek best time is winter, and this claim is not without any base. The fresh snow covers the stretches on the trail like the white carpet. The surroundings look brilliantly bright with the sun's rays reflecting on the snow in the daytime, and the fairytale-like experience is unique. But the crowded nature of the trek during this time may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Kedarkantha Trek cost

Gear Guide and Checklist for the trek to Kedarkantha

For the trek to Kedarkantha, one should pack light, keeping in mind to stay prepared for all eventualities.

Apparel and footwear:

A summit trek usually requires a lot of warm clothes, but Kedarkantha is an easily manageable one. 2-3 quick-dry, polyester, full-sleeve t-shirts, and 2-3 pairs of sweatpants or track pants can be packed to layer up easily. The trekker must take a thermal innerwear set to deal with the chilly, snowy temperatures in winter. Light fleece sweaters layered with padded, down jackets with a hood will also help maintain optimum body temperature. You can opt for a good-quality, lightweight poncho to ward off the occasional downpour when traveling during spring or summer. 

Woolen caps or balaclavas worn under the hood of the padded jacket in winter will not let you lose heat from the head. Woolen mufflers, woolen gloves, and woolen socks are ideal for a winter trek. Several pairs of synthetic sports socks will be ideal during the daytime treks. Layering up with a pair of woolen socks will keep the trekkers warm at night.

High-quality, waterproof trekking boots with microspikes and gaiters will help with the grip while traversing the snowy trails. It will also protect you against small rocks and debris that may enter any normal boot.

Other Accessories:

UV-protection sunglasses and a sun cap will protect your eyes and skin from harmful rays of the sun on the snowy slopes. A headlamp and battery-powered torches are essential for this trek as it involves nighttime trekking. A pair of sturdy trekking poles will help the trekkers navigate properly.

Since one would have to live in camping tents, having your own set of reusable cutlery is necessary. Stainless steel utensils are ideal for packing as they are easy to wash and non-reactive. A steel plate or a lunchbox, a spoon, a fork, and a mug will suffice for the trekkers to use during the trek.

Backpacks, waterproof covers, and sleeping bags:

For the Kedarkantha summit trek, a 40 to 45 liters capacity backpack is necessary. Additionally, a fanny pack is required for packing the trekker's electronics and other essentials. Offloading is allowed in Dehradun.

Bringing waterproof covers for the backpack is necessary because one can never tell when the weather in the mountains will change. Your electronics, wallet, and essential documents should be packed in water-resistant bags to protect them from damage.

To keep yourself warm and comfortable at night, a thick, good-quality sleeping bag will be essential.

Toiletries and hygiene products:

A personal set of toiletries should include a toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, moisturizer, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and deodorant for their daily needs. For cleaning up quickly, toilet paper, tissue rolls, and wet wipes will be necessary. For maintaining menstrual hygiene, women should carry an adequate number of tampons, sanitary napkins, or menstrual cups on the trek. 

Medical kit with first-aid:

A trekker should always keep in hand common medicines like paracetamols, antihistamines, anti-nausea medicines, antacids, and painkillers. A simple first-aid kit containing bandaids, crepe bandages, antiseptic liquid, ointment, gauze swabs, insect repellent cream, and a pain-relieving spray should be able to treat any minor sprains or injuries. Water-purifying tablets should also be carried as visitors often tend to fall sick because of the change of drinking water.

Important documents:

Whether it's a trekking group or a person doing the Kedarkantha trek solo, they must carry a government-issued photo ID with address proof, a few photocopies of it, and two passport-sized photographs. Foreign trekkers should keep their passports and visas carefully as they are necessary items. 

The Kedarkantha trekking trail falls in the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park. The permit to enter this region comes at a fee of USD 2 (INR 150) for Indian nationals and USD 8 to 9 (INR 600) for foreign tourists for 3 days and 2 nights. This can be extended upon request with extra charges.

Kedarkantha trek best time

Kedarkantha Trek Itinerary

The Kedarkantha trek itinerary looks very short but is extremely rewarding with the adventures it has to offer. The starting point at Sankri can be reached from Dehradun by hiring a car for a 187 km ride that will probably take around 6 to 7 hours. The Yamuna and Tons river will accompany the visitors as they are taken through pine forests. The trek starts the following day.

  • Day 1: The first day starts with the trekkers setting out from the Saur village. Several suspension bridges and little blocks of hamlets can be found at this high altitude. It is a picturesque trail, like something out of a Christmas greetings card. The day's trek is a 4 km distance that takes at least 3 to 4 hours because of the steep gradient. This night's campsite would be at Juda ka Talab so that one can gaze upon the starry night sky right above the frozen lake with wonder.
  • Day 2: This day will take the trekkers to the base camp (3430 meters) of the Kedarkantha trek. The Gujjar huts dot the way, letting the other trekkers rest here for a while. Several peaks of the Himalayas can be seen from this summit, including the Bandarpunch, Kalanag, Swargarohini, and Ranglana. The distance to be covered might seem to be a short stretch of 4 km, but the steep slope of the Garhwal Himalayas here will make the ascent very slow. The summit of Kedarkantha itself can be seen from here. This makes the trekkers thrum with excitement for the next day's climb as they retire into their tents for the night.
  • Day 3: The third day entails 6 to 7 hours of trekking to cover 6km. Even the Gangotri and Yamunotri ranges and the Kinnaur Kailash summit accompany the trekkers along the beautiful trail. Watching the sunrise at the summit is the most magical feeling in the whole trek. The trekkers are required to return to the basecamp by sundown after spending some time at the summit. The last night is spent here, getting ready to descend the next day.
  • Day 4: This is the last day that the trekkers will be able to walk on the trail. It will take around 4 to 5 hours to cover a 6 km distance of the trail, and trekkers finally reach the Sankri village, bidding adieu to the soaring mountains as they prepare to leave for Dehradun the next day.

Getting Fit For Kedarkantha Trek

The trek to Kedarkantha is not too demanding, but one must build cardiovascular strength before embarking on the trek. The steep climb requires the trekker to physically be at their top, even more so if they're doing the Kedarkantha trek solo. The trekker can increase their stamina by doing regular exercises like jogging, walking, cycling, swimming, squatting, and skipping ropes.

The trek to Kedarkantha peak does not involve any technical climbing or dangerous territory, but it is best to prepare yourself for all consequences. Nothing is unachievable with grit and determination. Practicing yoga and meditation will help develop the composure, determination, and mental resilience needed for this trek.

At its height, Kedarkantha is the only summit trek in Uttarakhand beside Chandrashila. The trekkers should take good care in choosing the proper trekking equipment, especially if they are traveling in winter. For many trekking enthusiasts, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach a summit. So, with proper preparations and precautions, this experience will forever remain a memorable one for them.