At the crack of dawn, I boarded a bus headed towards Lambgaon and got down at Chaurangikhal. These are the names of some unpopular places in Uttarakhand – one of the beautiful northern states of India, nestled in the laps of the majestic Himalayas. I had started the bus journey from Uttarkashi – a major town in Uttarakhand, which is well known for its proximity with many important religious destinations and as a gateway to several extreme and adventurous spots.
Chaurangikhal is a pitstop for buses heading further into the mountains towards the far off Himalayan villages. It is also known for the Chauranginath temple.
As I devoured Maggie and chai, I was in two minds whether to hike on my own or take help of a local guide. As if reading my mind, the restaurant owner told me a lot of people hike on their own and that it is a decently well-trodden trail frequented by locals during one particular religious annual fair at the Nachiketa lake – which is where I planned to go. After these inputs I felt confident and started walking towards the forests of Mukhem range. The guard at forest check-post further helped me with information about the trail, and some useful, handy tips to check and know whether or not I’m on the right path.
I walked through a beautiful rhododendron forest, accompanied by refreshing sights of the far away mountains, listening to the calls of birds most of whom I couldn’t see, sounds of leaves rustling as the mountain wind passed by and many other soothing sounds of the forest. The sky was overcast for a while adding a dramatic look to the scene but cleared to a reveal a lovely blue, soon. After walking for about 3ish km, I reached the Nachiketa lake inside the forest. The thing about such hikes is though there aren’t things that you can point out and say “this is stunning” or “that was amazing” but the whole experience of meeting and talking to new people, walking and exploring a place on your own, listening to sounds and taking in views that are exclusively for you at that moment – is so special.
Around the lake, there was an old temple which was closed, and a hut. The baba who lived in the hut spoke little to me, asked if I wanted some chai. I declined politely. After talking for a couple of minutes, he went inside his hut to resume meditation. I left him alone and walked around the lake, found a spot to sit for a while listening to the sounds of silence. As the skies started turning grey again, I thought of starting back to Chaurangikhal again for I had to catch the last bus headed back towards Uttarkashi.