Category Archives: Uttarakhand

Travel Guide to Kedarnath Temple 

We always believe some things and trips are bound to happen and you can’t resist them. Yes, that was exactly the scene when we did a trip to Badrinath Dham in 2017 and now Kedarnath Temple road trip in 2019. Honestly, the thought of covering both these religious destinations never occurred to us, but it seems GOD himself, pull us to see his abode and the beauty around it.

Travel Guide to Kedarnath Temple 

Our Itinerary for a road trip to Kedarnath Temple from Delhi

We did the complete trip to Kedarnath from Delhi in 5 days. Our starting and ending point was Noida.

Day 1 – Started our journey at 7:00 am from Noida and took the first halt at Srinagar around 7:00 pm.

Day 2- Started at 9:00 am from Srinagar and reached Gaurikund around 7:00 pm.

Day 3: Trek (via Horses) started at 5:30 am and reached up at Gooda Phul by 10:00 am and further reached the temple by walking around 11:30 am

Day 4: Left from Kedarnath around 9:00 am, and reached Kedarnath base camp by 10:00 am. Took horses and reached Gaurikund around 2:30 pm. Further walked and took a shared cab till Sonprayag and reached there around 3:30 pm. We took our car and left ahead. Reached Rudarprayag at 8:00 pm.

Day 5: Drove from Rudraprayag to Noida via Lansdowne. We started our day at 9:00 am and ended at 11:00 pm.

How to reach Kedarnath

The journey to Kedarnath can be done via road, or by air. For Road, you can check the route we followed and for the helicopter services from Haridwar/ Rishikesh or Phata (15 km ahead of Guptakashi), check & register here. The helicopter service providers at Phata make you reach Kedarnath Temple within 15-20 minutes. So, the to & fro can be done in 2-3 hrs.

Roadtrip to Kedarnath Temple
Ahead Rishikesh – On way to Kedarnath

The nearest airport is at Dehradun whereas the nearest railway is at Haridwar or Rishikesh. Further, the journey to Sonprayag from Dehradun is 252 km, from Haridwar is 237 km and from Rishikesh is 212 Km.

Route from Delhi till Sonprayag:

Route 1 (Distance from Delhi to Kedarnath Temple Sonprayag, 491 Kms) Delhi – Noida – Modinagar – Khatauli – Muzaffarnagar- Rorkee- Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudarprayag – Agastmuni – Guptkashi – Phata – Sonprayag


Route 2 (516 kms) Delhi – Noida – Modinagar – Khatauli –Najibabad –Lansdowne- Pauri – Srinagar – Rudarprayag – Agastmuni – Guptkashi – Phata – Sonprayag

We went via Route 1 and came back via Route 2 i.e. Lansdowne. No doubt the route 2 is more picturesque but it is equally tiring too, especially via returning back.

Road Conditions till Sonprayag

Roads are good and there are many rough patches too. Expect few landslides on the way and at times you will be taking detours and driving just at the River bed. Char Dham Highway project, NH-58 i.e. four-lane roads for 900 kilometers, connecting 4 Dhams i.e. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri is on the go, so there are many roadblocks and traffic will be slow on the way.

Detours due to Landslides - on the way to Kedarnath
Detours due to Landslides – on the way to Kedarnath

Sonprayag to Gaurikund

Further, from Sonprayag; Gaurikund is around 6 Kilometers and can be reached via trek or shared cabs only. Trekking will add another distance of 5 Km to the trek, making the total trek of 22 to Kedarnath Temple. So, a better and most economical option is to go via a shared cab from Sonprayag to Gaurikund. Park your vehicle in the Sonprayag parking zone and move towards the registration counter. After registration, walk for around 500 meters and you will see cabs there. The driver charges Rs.20 per head in a shared cab and jump in.

Sonprayag Parking Area
Sonprayag Parking Area

Gaurikund serves as a base camp to Kedarnath Temple and once you debark here the real trek to Kedarnath Temple begins.

First look of Gaurikund and River Mandakini
First look of Gaurikund and River Mandakini

Gaurikund to Kedarnath Temple

Before Gaurikund to Kedarnath Trek distance was 14 kilometers via Rambara but North India floods in 2013 completely destroyed the older route between Rambara and Kedarnath. So, now the new route laid down from Gaurikund till Kedarnath Base camp distance is of 16-17 Kilometers. Gaurikund Base camp is the point where horses go and are also known as Ghoda Phul.

From Kedarnath Base camp, there is further a walk of 2-3 kilometers till Kedarnath Temple. Thee same can be done via, walking, Palki (Palanquin), or Pithu’s only.

Complete new Kedarnath Trek Route Map

Gaurikund – Rambara Bridge (7 Kms) – In between comes Jungal Chatti (4 kms from Gaurikund) and Bheembali (6 kms from Gaurikund)

Rambara – Linchauli (4 Kms) i.e. 11 kms from Gaurikund

Linchauli – Kedarnath Base Camp (3-4 Kms)

Kedarnath Base Camp – Kedarnath Temple (2-3 Kms)

Kedarnath Trek Route
Kedarnath Trek Route Picture- Road to Taste

Facilities on the way to Kedarnath Trek

The Kedarnath trekking route is paved and barricaded except at the few patches. In the midst of the trek, there are shelters, proper medical facilities, tented accommodations, drinking water, and small shops/ restaurants.

Track to Kedarnath from Gaurikund
Track to Kedarnath from Gaurikund

Horses/ Ponies/ Palki/ Kandi / Helicopter

Horses, Palki, Kandi and Kedarnath Pithu services are available at the base camp as an alternative to trekking. Remember you can get horses/ ponies easily at the base camps but the chances of getting them on the way are bleak; whereas Kandi and Palki service is available throughout. Rates for Horses/ Ponies is Rs.2500/- from Gaurikund base camp to Kedarnath base camp and Rs. 1500/- for vice versa. Whereas rates for Palki and Kandi varies with weight and you can refer the below chart for the same.

Kandi Rates for Kedarnath

The Helicopter services to Kedarnath are available from Guptkashi (15 km before Phata), Phata, and village Sersi. A helicopter drops the pilgrims just behind the temple and for the revised rates, refer here.

Horses, Ponies, Palkis for Kedarnath Trek

Medical Services

Special arrangements for medical services have been made by the Health Department at all the main stops i.e. at Jungle Chatti, Bheembali, Linchauli, and Kedarnath. Doctors are available for 24 hours and there is an arrangement of medicines, oxygen cylinders, telemedicine, and even airlifting. There is also a 10 bedded hospital with ECG and other modern facilities at Kedarnath.


Accommodation on the way is available at Jungle Chatti, Bheembali, and Linchauli. At Bheembali there is GMVN Bheema Complex and at Linchauli, there are Shivlok Cottages. At Kedarnath, there are several accommodation options. We stayed at Agra Bhawan, which is just next to Kedarnath Temple.

Accommodations on the way to Kedarnath Temple
Accommodations on the way to Kedarnath Temple Route

Shops & Restaurants

There are several shacks and restaurants on the way of supplying cold drinks, buttermilk, biscuits, Maggi, and food. The pricing is higher than the regular pricing but it’s worth as it is tough to get and maintain regular supplies here.

Shacks near Rambara Bridge
Shacks near Rambara Bridge

Best time to visit Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath is cold during most of the year and weather too changes here drastically. So, the best time to visit Kedarnath Dham is May- June, and September – October. Avoid going during monsoons i.e. July – August as there are heavy rainfall and high chances of landslides.

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple opens up on the auspicious day of Akshay Tritiya (which falls in April – May) and closes on Bhai Dooj i.e. after Diwali (October – November). In 2019, the temple opened up on 9th May and probably will close on 29th October.

Kedarnath Temple Timings

The Kedarnath temple timings are fixed from 4:00 am -9:00 pm.

Timings for Kedarnath Trek

Because of the unpredictable weather conditions, there are fixed timings for Kedarnath trekking too. One cannot go up from Gaurikund base camp after 1:00 pm and cannot trek back from Kedarnath base camp after 5:00 pm.

Trek Level: Steep and Tough

Kedarnath Trek
Kedarnath Trek Route Picture

Registration for Kedarnath Trek

As soon as you park your vehicle in Sonprayag and move from the parking there is a Biometric Registration counter. There is a separate queue for men and women. The police personnel sitting behind the window will ask you for I- card verifies your details, take a picture and issue a Char Dham, Yatra Card.  The whole process takes around 15-20 minutes.

Biometric Registration  and Prepaid Pony or Horse Counter at Sonprayag
Biometric Registration and Prepaid Pony or Horse Counter at Sonprayag

Just adjacent to this counter is a prepaid booking counter for horses/ ponies/ palkis and Dolis. One can book the same from here or from Gaurikund counter. We booked for ourselves from Gaurikund at the fixed government rates only.

Char Dham Yatra Card
Bio metric Registration Card

About Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath; is formed from two Sanskrit words where “Kedara” means field and “Natha” means Lord. So, it is known as a place where the “Crop of Liberation” grows. 

Kedarnath Temple

The Kedarnath Temple is located at 11,755 feet in the Garhwal Himalayan range of Uttarakhand, on the banks of Mandakini River (a tributary of Ganga), near the Chorababari glacier. It is a Hindu Temple (Shrine) dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also one of the Jyotirlinga. The temple is 85 feet high, 187 feet in length and 80 feet wide. Its walls are 12 feet thick and are built from extremely strong stones.

Back View of Kedarnath Temple
Back View of Kedarnath Temple

Tokens for Kedarnath Temple

For a visit to Kedarnath Temple, one needs to collect the Tokens. They are available at the Kedarnath entry gate, near the market. Remember, the token is for one person only and the collected token is valid for the same day Darshan only. After getting your token, wait for your number to be displayed on the display board.

Token Counter at Kedarnath.
Token Counter at Kedarnath.

Note: For the next day you need to collect new tokens and the personnel’s are available form 5:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Kedarnath Temple Story

There are several stories of Kedarnath Temple. Some claim it to be built by Guru Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century whereas others claim it to be built by Raja Bhoj of Malwa in the 2nd century.

Colourful Doors of Kedarnath Temple

Acc. to Hindu mythology, the temple was initially built by Pandavas. Pandav Brothers after killing their kin during the Kurukshetra war, wanted to seek forgiveness from Lord Shiva but Shiv was not interested in meeting and forgiving them. So, Lord Shiva left Kashi his abode and came to dwell in this Himalayan range at Guptkashi. However, Pandavas got to know about his presence and they reached here too. To further hide, Lord Shiva turned himself into a bull and got mixed with the grazing cattle. But the Pandavas especially Bhima being too smart tracked Lord Shiva, and on realizing this Lord Shiva tried to disappear by sinking himself head-first into the ground. One of the brothers grabbed his tail and hind limb, forcing him to appear and forgive them. So, the hump is found at Kedarnath whereas the rest body parts are found at four other locations and together these places are known as Panch Kedars.

There is another Hindu story, in which a Hindu Deity Nar Narayana performed a severe act of austerity and on getting pleased, Lord Shiva appeared in front of them to grant their wish. The Deity requested Lord Shiva to stay here in the original form i.e. Jyotilingam for the welfare of humanity. Shiva granted their wish and Kedarnath became his abode.

Now, the most interesting story is that Geologist believes that the Kedarnath temple remained hidden under the snow for 400 years during the Little Ice Age-era i.e. from 1300to 1900 AD. The yellow lines on the temple structure completely depict the glacial activity it had undergone.

New Bridge at Rambara
New Bridge at Rambara

Inside Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple is an ages-old stone temple. Its architecture truly looks quite stout and that has been proved, as it still stands magnificently even after all the natural calamities and catastrophes.

Climb 3-4 stairs and you enter the first hall of the Kedarnath Temple. The Temple is dark and gloomy form inside, It houses statues of the five Pandava brothers (Bhim, Nakula, Yudishitra, Arjun and Sahadeva) and their consort Drapudi, Lord Krishna, Nandi- the vehicle of Shiva in the center and Virabhadra (one of the guards of Shiva). Another beautiful silver door decorated with Om makes you enter the main hall. In the center of the main hall, is a conical or triangular-shaped stone considered to be the Dhad (Torso) of Lord Shiva. The stone was completely covered in ghee and butter by pilgrims. Earlier the pilgrims used to pour milk and water on Shivlinga but now the management has stopped it. The statue of Shiva and other deities are also installed in the main hall.

Kedarnath Shivling
Kedarnath Shivling

Outside Kedarnath Temple

As you step out the temple and start circumvallating around the temple; you will see the temple is surrounded by snow-covered peaks from all three sides. On the front, there is a huge statue of Nandi.

Bull Nandi at Kedarnath Temple
Bull Nandi at Kedarnath Temple

And rest on all the sides, dozens of Sadhus and Saints, half-dressed half-naked are sitting in various colorful attires. They are Lord Shiv devotees and live a hard tough life, like him.

Saints at Kedarnath Temple
Saints at Kedarnath Temple

On both sides there are beautiful colorful doors that resemble the ones from Badrinath Temple and at the back is an Amrit Kund. Some Pilgrims just wanted to just touch and taste this water whereas others wanted to fill the bottles and take back home.

Just Like Bheem Shila in Mana village near Badrinath temple, there is a huge Shri Divya Bhim Shila behind the Temple. This stone is believed to be the one that protected the temple from devastation during the 2013 North India flash floods. But the locals or priests have another story to it. They believe the Shila is just another stone that came down during natural calamity towards Kedarnath Temple and it is the pilgrims who have made a temple around it and now consider it to be sacred.

Shri Divya Bhim Shila
Shri Divya Bhim Shila

Accommodation at Kedarnath

At Kedarnath, there are several accommodation options from Hotels to guest houses to Bhawans. During our visit, only a few of them were operational whereas the others were closed or in bad shape due to the extreme snowfall in winters. The government claims to have made an arrangement of 3000 pilgrims but we really doubt that.

Kedarnath accommodation

GMVN (Garhwal Vayu Mandal Nigam) the government authorized tents were also operational at Kedarnath but they were far from Kedarnath Temple and charges were Rs.900/- per bed for 6 Bedded huts, Rs. 750/- per bed for 10 Bedded huts and Rs. 300/- for tents, with common sharing washrooms.

GMVN Accommodation at Kedarnath Base Camp
GMVN Accommodation at Kedarnath Base Camp

We stayed at Agra Bhawan, just next to the Temple, where a four-bedroom with attached washroom costed us Rs. 3000/- and 1 bucket of hot water costs around Rs.80/-. Another good option we recommend to stay in Himachal Bhawan just opposite Agra Bhawan and near to Temple.

The view of Kedarnath Temple from Agra Bhawan
The view of Kedarnath Temple from Agra Bhawan

Food and Market at Kedarnath Dham

As you leave the Kedarnath Temple and move down the stairs, start the Kedarnath Haat Market. During our visit, there was lots of snow around the shops and the whole of the market looked closed only.

Kedarnath Haat Market
Kedarnath Haat Market

20-25 steps down from the Kedarnath Temple is a food shop that serves Indian food, Tea, snacks, etc. Just opposite to it there was another operational Dhabha.

Food Shop at Kedarnath
Food Shop at Kedarnath

Another option for getting food is the guest house or Bhawan, where you are staying at but we opted to have it in the market itself.

Kedarnath Haat Market from Temple side
Kedarnath Haat Market from Temple side

Weather at Kedarnath Dham

Kedarnath is really unpredictable in terms of weather. If one moment it is sunny, another moment the weather can take a twist and it will be snowing. You will find banners everywhere on the route quoting you to carry Warm Clothes, Raincoats, and Umbrellas with you, and they actually make a lot of sense. We experienced all types of weather in a single trip.

Views of Kedar Valley
Views of Kedar Valley

Here, the Day temperatures vary between 5- 10 degrees Celsius whereas the night temperatures can go low to -5 degree Celsius too.

Rains while coming back from Kedarnath Temple
Rains while coming back from Kedarnath Temple

What you need to wear for Kedarnath Trek

For the Kedarnath trip, one needs to pack and wear clothes in layers. While walking or at some places, you may feel hot and removing layers but be really cautious. The clothes you must wear are:

  • Inner Layer
  • T- Shirt
  • Fleece Layer
  • Jacket (Wind and water proof)
  • Gloves and Cap

Packing for Kedarnath Temple Trek

At Kedarnath Dham, you have limited options for everything from living to food, so just pack a small backpack. The must in the backpack should be a towel, toiletry kit, an extra pair of your clothes, medicines, and a small portion of energy food like nuts, chocolates, or energy bars.

Dressed in Multiple Layers for Kedarnath Trek
Dressed in Multiple Layers for Kedarnath Trek

In case of emergency, there is a medicine shop and relief center at Kedarnath, from where one can make a purchase.

Facts about Kedarnath Temple

  • Just like Badrinath Temple, Kedarnath Temple is a part of Badrinath and Kedarnath Temple act
  • The head priest of Temple belongs to Karnataka and is known as a Raval
  • Raval does not perform the puja in the temple. The pujas are carried out on the instructions of the Raval by other priests.
  • The Raval moves with the deity to Ukimath during the winter season
  • About 6000 pilgrims visit Temple every day during the season
  • Temple opens for only 5-6 months and during rest months it is engulfed among the snow

Places around Kedarnath Temple

Bhairon/ Bhairav Nath Ji Temple

The Bhairo Nath Temple, located at a very short distance from Kedarnath Temple is known as a guardian of the Kedarnathji. It is believed that Bhaironathji guards the Kedarnath Temple by keeping away the evil while the temple remains closed. Therefore the Bhairon Nath Temple is visited ceremoniously at the opening and closing of Kedarnath.

Bhairav Nath Temple at Kedarnath

During our visit, the Bhairav Nath Temple was yet not opened. So, the Aarti ceremony was not even performed at the Kedarnath Temple.

Kunds at Kedarnath

It is said that there are several Kund at Kedarnath but still many of them haven’t been revived after the 2013 Disaster. The one we could see clearly was Google Kund.

Google Kund

Around 0.5 Km from Kedarnath Temple, there is an interesting semi-frozen Kund known as Google Kund.

Google Kund at Kedarnath
Google Kund at Kedarnath

Chorabari Sarovar / Gandhi Sarovar

At a distance of 3 km from Kedarnath Temple, at 12,795 feet lies a beautiful lake known as Chorabari Sarovar or Gandhi Sarovar fed on Chorabari Glacier. The trek to Lake passes through green grasslands and it is advised to carry the trek during the morning only as temperature and weather changes here drastically.

Gandhi Sarovar
Gandhi Sarovar

The Sarovar was initially known as Kanti Sarovar and was renamed to Gandhi Sarovar in 1948 when the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed into the Sarovar. But now, no more the lake exists as the glacier has resided.

Vasuki Tal

Vasuki Tal lies at 13, 566 feet, and can be reached by trekking for 8 kms from Kedarnath Temple. The trek is said to be extremely steep, difficult and can be carried only under supervision. Vasuki Tal is surrounded by high mountain peaks and offers a view of Chaukhamba peak.

Vasuki Tal and Brahma Kamal Flower
Source: Atlas Travels

There are several beautiful, colorful flowers around the Vasuki Tal and one of the famous flowers is Brahma Kamal. During winter the lake is completely frozen. 

Rudra Meditation Cave/ Modi meditation Cave

Around 1.5 kilometers from Kedarnath Temple, at GMVN, in isolation are available underground mediation caves known as Rudra or Modi Meditation caves. The caves have a window for the direct view of Shrine and can be booked at Rs.990/- per day, for a maximum period of 3 days. They are equipped with electricity, water, heater, attached toilet, and phone to call authorities in case of emergency.

Rudra Cave or Modi meditation Cave
Rudra Cave or Modi meditation Cave

Before dwelling into the cave, one needs to undergo a medical test at Guptakashi and only those found medically fit can stay here. And only one person can stay at a time inside the cave. For more details and bookings check here.

Shankaracharya Samidhi

The resting place of Adi Shankaracharya is an extremely renowned place in Kedarnath. The hot water spring present there is believed to remove all the suffering of the devotees.

Places to stay in Base Camp Gaurikund

There are several hotels, guest houses and Bhawans to stay in Gaurikund but if you have no prior bookings then availability will be completely on your LUCK. We went prior booking and trust me, we had a tough time finding one for ourselves. Finally, we got a room in the market at Subash Hotel, with the attached washroom. 4 of us (We and our parents) accommodated in a 3-bedroom which costed us Rs. 1500/. And a bucket of hot water cost us Rs. 60/- per head.

Note: Hotels, guest house people don’t take advance bookings in Gaurikund, even on giving advance and pricing changes every day. The maximum they can charge is Rs.3000/- per night.

Evening view of Gaurikund Market
Evening view of Gaurikund Market

Our Experience on Horses

Honestly, this was the first time we had covered the journey on a horse and it was not at all an easy task. If our horseman had not been so cooperative and good, we would have not been able to do this journey.  The process of ascending is much easier than the process of descending.

Kedarnath on Horses

The tip to remember here is to bend forward while climbing upward and bend backward while climbing down and hold the saddle tightly.

Things to Remember before taking up Kedarnath Trek

  • Check the weather forecast before planning the trip. Also, inquire about the weather at Sonprayag check post and then at Gaurikund check post. Further government has made special rules for the continuation and discontinuation of the trek.
  • Get a medical checkup done before going for a Kedarnath trek
  • People with respiratory disorders, cardiac disorders, and high blood pressure should take special care
  • Remember while trekking to Kedarnath doesn’t exert yourself too much. Do not lose your breath while walking and halt if you think that you are experiencing shortness of breath.
  • Hire a pony/ horse/ palki from the base camp itself, if you have made up your mind to trek with them. Also check, your horseman is not less than 18 years, as they are not allowed to ride passengers up and down
  • There are fixed trek timings. Also, if personnel’s stop you going further beyond one-point it’s for your safety and please abide by the rules
  • There are accommodations available on the way at Jungle Chatti, Bheembali and Linchauli
  • All mobile networks work well at Kedarnath. The best ones were Vodafone, Jio, and BSNL. Airtel was showing 4G but the signal was playing hide and seek
  • Be safe and cautious from falling stones especially during rain and snow. Recently one pilgrim from Punjab was hit by a shooting stone and she died on the spot.
Kedarnath Valley
Kedarnath Valley

Overall Experience

Trek to Kedarnath Temple is quite challenging and one actually needs a good fitness level to do it. The lofty snow-covered peaks, verdant grasslands, and River Mandakini makes the trek to Kedarnath unforgettable. The facilities and cleanliness on the way and at Kedarnath Temple are completely beyond expectations. Incredible India is definitely doing a great job to make Char Dham Yatra seamless.

Places of Interest on the way to Kedarnath

Devprayag – where Sangam of River Alaknanda and River Bhagirathi happens

Rudraprayag – where Sangam of River Alaknanda and River Mandakini happens


Sonprayag – where Sangam of River Basuki and River Mandakini happens

Agastmuni / Augustyamuni – 20 km from Rudraprayag lies the Agastmuni Temple built in the name of famous Saint Agastya

Agastmuni Temple
Agastmuni Temple

Guptkashi – is believed to be a place where Lord Shiva hid from the Pandavas. The place has two temples. Viswanath temple has several incarnations of Lord Shiva. Ardhanareeshwar temple, on the other hand, depicts Lord Shiva in the form of half-man and half-woman. In addition, there are two streams of water located in the temple, which symbolize the two holy rivers, Ganges and Yamuna.

Gaurikund – Gaurikund the base camp to Kedarnath, houses an ancient temple of Goddess Paravati. It is said that Goddess Paravati meditated here for a long time to win Lord Shiva as her husband. There is also a common hot water spring here. For Ladies, there is a separate one too but currently, it was not operational.

Ukhimath- is the winter abode of Lord Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar

Triyuginarayan Temple – located at a distance of 5 Kilometers from Sonprayag, is a Temple where Lord Shiva tied the knot with Goddess Parvati. Tourists visiting this sightseeing place can also make a visit to other attractions such as Vishnu Kund, Rudra Kund, and Brahma Kund.

Travel Guide to Kedarnath Temple 

Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba- The Himalayan Viagra

Hey, stop the car and look over that mountain, he is my father and brother – said a local girl whom we gave lift while travelling in North Sikkim, India. Our driver immediately halted the car. We came out and saw not two but a caravan of people literally lying and crawling the high mountain slopes at an altitude about 13000 feet.  I asked her in astonishment what are they doing there to which she replied, they are collecting Yarsagumba. That was the first time we heard the name Yartsa gunbu and there we made up our mind to find more about this Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba.

Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba

What is Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba?

As the name says, the caterpillar fungus Yarsagumba is a combination of Caterpillar and Fungus (mushroom). It is found at an altitude above 3500 meters i.e. above 11,500 feet in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan.

How is it formed?                                              

Just prior to rainy season, the Himalayan Caterpillars which are found deep in moist soil, while feeding on plant roots, gets infected by the cordyceps fungus. During winter and fall, the fungus slowly and steadily buries itself completely in the caterpillar body, making its way out through the insect head. Insect almost dies during this period, as its whole energy gets used by the fungus.

Yarsagumba - The Himalayan Viagra

With the arrival of spring, the overlying snow starts melting and the fungus forces its almost dead hosts towards the surface, before sending a dark brown spore filled stalk through their heads. So, the combination Yartsa Gumba is also known as “winter worm summer grass”

Why & How is Yartsa Gumba collected?

The caterpillar fungus Yarsagumba is the world’s most expensive fungus and has unbelievable medicinal benefits. Indeed, its price is much more than the precious gold, diamond, platinum and other metals. So, it is collected by locals as a source of income for their living and this helps them to pay for their food, clothes, medical bills, and education. The Himalayan Gold Rush allows them to eke out a living which otherwise they would have just imagined.

Searching Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba
Searching Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba

The medicinal herb collectors work in May – June months. Their work looks simple from down but it is quite laborious. They crawl on the steep slopes in cold and sometimes rain, wearing multiple layers, improper shoes, in low oxygen to spot the extruded dark stalks of herb separating it from the sedges. After spotting, digging them out is even trickier as turf in these areas is thick and it’s important to keep the two parts i.e. fungus and caterpillar intact as one piece. Even if one breaks off, the herb loses its value.

Apart from income, locals take this work as a social hangout time with their friends and that is what we say is the positive side of life.

History of Caterpillar Fungus

Yarsagumba and its medicinal value is not a new discovery. Tibetans discovered its value 1500 years ago. The Tibetan Sherpa’s used to leave animals into jungle for grazing. After somedays, they observed that the animals had gone more active, the ones not reproducing were reproducing and they were not even getting ill. The human curious nature, made them chase animals in the jungle and there they found the miraculous Yarsagumba.

Medicinal value of Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba

Yarsagumba, also known as Himalayan Viagra is an aphrodisiac and is used to treat hypo sexuality. Apart this it also acts as antitumor, antioxidant, antidepressant, ant arteriosclerotic, and anti-inflammatory. It can cure night sweats, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, asthenia, arrhythmias, diabetes, Jaundice and other heart, respiratory, renal, and liver diseases.

Boon, Bribe, Curse, Crime or Conflict

By now, we all know a brief about the caterpillar fungus Yarsagumba and the miraculous wonders it can do, but do you know the other effects it has brought with it. Its demand has already overpowered its supply.

Earlier the herb was only available to Elites but the trends started changing in 1993, when the three Chinese runner set a record of 1500 meter in 3 minutes 50 seconds at World Championship athletics and later their coach claimed that the success of her athletes is due to consumption of Yarsagumba and turtle soup. This incident raised the value of commodity and had put it on the world map.

During this time, Hong Kong, Singapore used to be the largest consumers but by 2004 China became the largest markets and its price increased by several folds. Chinese consume it every day in their meals and it also replaced Champagne as a gift.  Indeed, people started using it as a bribe too. The larger the piece, the more value it has. Daniel Winkler the Yarsagumba expert says “that a businessman looking to impress in China wouldn’t pull out a fine pinot noir to flaunt his wealth; he’d cook up some nice goose or duck and fill it with $1,000 worth of caterpillar fungus”.

Note: In 2008, one kilogram of Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba was traded for US$3,000 (lowest quality) to over US$18,000 (best quality, largest larvae) whereas in 2013 its price surged to US $ 25000 -$75000. 

Caterpillar Fungus Yartsagumba

Because of this surging demand and high pricing, the production brought every villager, including women and children for collection, which clearly meant every single piece of Yarsagumba was plucked and not even an inch of fertile land was spared. All this got detriment to the natural reproduction process and hence leading to sharp decrease in production. Apart this, other factors which are considered responsible for decline in production are change in climatic and soil conditions, grazing of cattle and other environmental changes.   

The medicinal fusion Yarsagumba too has led to crimes and conflicts among villagers. In 2009, in Manang District, close to the Nepal-Tibet border, a large posse of local men and boys, upon hearing of interlopers picking Yarsagumba in their meadows, had beaten two of the suspected poachers to death, throwing their bodies down a deep crevasse and killed rest with sticks and stones.

Yarsagumba in India

The Caterpillar fungus Yarsagumba also known as Keeda Jadi is found in Uttarakhand (Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Munsiyari, Bhageshwar and Uttarkashi) and northeast India.

Collection sites of Yarsagumba
Collection sites of Yarsagumba

Also Read: Monal Tourist Home in Uttarkashi

Common names of Yarsagumba

There are several name for Caterpillar fungus. In Tibet it is known as Yarza Gunbu, Yarshagumba, Yarchagumba whereas in Bhutan it is called yartsa guenboob. In Nepal and India, it is known as keera jhar, keeda jadi, keeda ghas or ghaas fafoond. And in China, it is called as Summer Grass Winter Bug.


After talking to locals and on research we found that very human in the upper Himalayas during favorable season runs to collects Yarsagumba. Each collected piece is like a fate changer to them. It helps them to travel, buy good food and clothes. But with the recent trends, production is declining at a high grade and it can even extinct if the same trend continues.

Caterpillar Fungus Yarsagumba - The Himalayan Viagra

Chakrata – The unseen land of Uttarakhand

Some experiences stay with you even after you come back home. The sky turning colorful and then fading shades, the scintillating lights in the valley, the cool breeze and that silence at night, well defines our feelings for this heaven – Chakrata in Uttarakhand.

The clouds were roaring and we could see lightning making patterns, MET department had forecasted storm and heavy rainfall alert in Uttarakhand. We were bit anxious to travel to the upper Himalayas but not to the lower ones. To satisfy the arisen wanderlust; we planned to make a weekend trip to the offbeat unexplored gem Chakrata in Uttarakhand.

Chakrata - The unseen land of Uttarakhand


Chakrata, a cantonment lies at an elevation of 7500 feet in the Garhwal Himalayas in Dehradun district. The hill station lies approximately 89 kilometers from Dehradun city and 323 kilometers from Delhi. It was developed by British rulers as a summer retreat for the high executives, exactly like all other cantonments of India.


Historically, Chakrata falls in Jaunsar – Bawar region where Jaunsar refer to the lower part of valleys and Bawar refers to the upper snow clad region. The region is enclosed by River Yamuna in the east;  River Tons in the west; Himachal  Pradesh and Uttarkashi in the North and Dehradun in the South. The habitats of this area call themselves Jaunsaris and trace their origin back to epic Mahabharata.

Sunset at Chakrata

The green town Chakrata has a population of 5000 and is completely circumscribed by deodar, pine and spruce trees making it hardly visible from outside. The hill town has few well spread beautiful homes with simple smiling Pahadi people, who can leave you smiling too with the experiences to cherish forever.

A Scenic spot at Chakrata in Uttarakhand

Chakrata is an access restricted military cantonment. It serves as the permanent garrison of elite Special Frontier Force (Est. 22), the only ethnic Tibetan unit of Indian Army, raised after Sino – Indian War of 1962.

Also Read: Mukteshwar- The cocktail of calmness and serenity

Attractions of Chakrata

The secluded hill town Chakrata apparently looks quite green, shadowed and silent but it offers quaintest experiences to its travelers and tourists.  The place has some major attractions, which should be on your list too for adrenaline rush.


Tiger Fall

The 312 feet high fall lies completely hidden among the mountains and can be sighted from above just as a normal stream. The waterfall can be reached via trekking 5 kilometers through the oak and rhododendron trees or by car till one point and then walking for almost 1.5 kilometer. The charges for taking vehicle down are mere Rs 30 per person.

Trail to Tiger Fall, Chakrata

The fall looks mysterious and leaves one spell bounded. There are only 2-3 shacks nearby so the place is quite clean and not much commercialized as compared to the other falls. The fall is believed to make roaring nose like Tiger after plunging down into a small pond, hence named as Tiger Fall.

Tiger Fall in Chakrata, Uttarakhand

Note: The trail as well roads leading to the fall is quite narrow and can get quite slippery after rains. So, be really careful while driving as well walking.

Also Read: Bhalu Gaad Waterfall


Deoban is formed from two words – Deo meaning Deodar and Ban meaning forests. So, it is a thick Deodar forest area at 10,000 feet, 18 kilometers away from Chakrata. The place is a natures paradise with unprecedented beauty and a heaven for adventure junkies.

Roads to Deoban naer Check post

From Chakrata Toll barrier (Entry Fee: Rs 160/-), drive till Forest Guest house.  Park your vehicle outside and walk to the Vyas Shikhar point, to get the panoramic view of Himalayas. Unfortunately, we could not get the expected views, because of heavy clouds, still it was a drive to remember. The Vyas Shikhar too has an interesting history. It is believed that Sage Ved Vyas wrote the Hindu epic “Mahabharata” at this place.

Driving through Deoban, Chakrata

Deoban is a paradise for bird watchers. Make sure to turn back by 6 pm as the place gets pitch dark and looks haunted after that.

Driving through Deoban, Chakrata

Note: The road to Deoban is quite narrow, steep and unraveled. Expect lot of traffic jam by cows, buffalo, and sheep. After rains, the roads get too slushy, so drive with full concentration and be really slow.

Also Read: Binsar


Chilmiri Point

The Chilmiri point is a wide, green plateau and locally famous as the sunset point. It lies 4 kilometers from the Chakrata market. The road to the point is steep but well graveled. After reaching meadows, further a steep road goes up towards the canopies and prayer flags. Do walk or drive till there to get one of the best views of the valleys.

Chilmiri Neck, Chakrata


Kanasar, another Deodar forest near Chakrata is rated as Asia’s best Deodar forest. It lies 25 kilometers from Chakrata market on Chakrata – Tuini Road.  The meadows here are famous picnic spot. The place houses Asia’s oldest, biggest and largest deodar trees. One of them is claimed to be with a diameter of 6.5 meters.

Kanasar in Chakrata

The proud Kanasar temple lies in between the meadows and just nearby lies the Forest Rest House at an elevation of 2166 meters. The Forest Rest House can be booked prior visit and the place gives the mesmerizing and astounding views of thick green woods. So, Kanasar is a delightful place for all camping enthusiasts, trekkers and tourists.

Note: The roads to Kanasar is completely an off road drive. There are mud roads with lots of pot holes.

Budher Caves

The Budher caves lie at an altitude 2738 meters; at a distance of 30 kilometers from Chakrata. These stalactite and stalagmite caves are also known as Miola Caves as they were discovered by German Explorer named Miola. Mythologically, the caves are believed to be built by Pandavas and they extend up to 150 kilometers in length.

Budher Caves, Chakrata

The caves can be reached by driving till Budher Forest Rest House and then trekking further for 2.5 – 3 kilometer till Moila Top. The trail to cave is really narrow but equally breathtaking. The entrance to the Budher cave is surrounded by the beautiful green meadow. Just like Kanasar there is an ancient Temple here.

Note: The route inside the caves is really complex and tedious, so don’t attempt them without a guide.

Apart from these, there are other attractions nearby like Mundali Meadows, Kimona falls, Lokhandi, Ram Taal, Kalsi, Lakhamandal etc.

Also read: Harsil – The virgin village of Uttarakhand

How to reach Chakrata

Chakrata can be reached from Delhi by car, bus, train or cab. The nearest airport and railway station is at Dehradun. From there one can hire cab or take a bus to reach Chakrata.

Acc. to AllGudThings, the best way is to take a self-drive road trip. There are two routes and we opted for route 1 because it is a highway and to avoid heavy traffic at Meerut and Saharanpur.

Route 1: Delhi – Panipat –Karnal – Yamunagar – Ponta Sahib- Chakrataa

Route 2: Delhi – Ghaziabad – Meerut – Saharanpur –Dakpathar – Chakrataa

Total Time taken to reach: 8 -9 hours with 1-2 stops

Condition of Roads: Excellent, fully graveled highway roads. The steep roads start only after Ponta Sahib


Best Season to Visit Chakrata

Chakrata can be visited throughout the year except few areas like Deoban which gets cuts off by road in winters because of heavy snowfall. Rest, the town has pleasant temperatures during summers and freezing temperatures during winters despite being at lower Himalayas.

Summers March to June and have temperature between 10 -30 degree Celsius

Monsoons -July to September and roads become highly slippery

Autumns– October to November

Winters – December to February and temperature lies between -5 to 15 degree Celsius


There are limited stay options in Chakrata. We could find only 4 hotels – Hotel snow view, Hotel snow valley, Himalayan Paradise and Uttarayan. The Himalayan Paradise is the most famous one and it lies around 7 kilometers from city. We stayed at Hotel Snow Valley which is situated at a perfect location, bit away from the city but still quite accessible. After staying we found that hotel snow view and valley was one property earlier and now is divided into two.

Hotel Snow Valley, Chakrata

The Hotel Snow Valley has descent rooms with attached washrooms and some of them offers the perfect valley views. Food tastes exactly like home food. So, do enjoy some sitting in the open; admiring mountains and greens.

View from Hotel snow valley, Chakrata

Also Read: The valley view Homestay, Ranikhet


There are no cafes or big restaurants in the cantonment town. The only place to relish complete meal is Sher-e –Punjab Hotel in Sadar Bazar, which opens till 10:00 pm. Also, try one of the best Momo’s at Chandna’s food joint.

Sadar Bazar / Market of Chakrata

Important Points

-Chakrata is a cantonment area, so obey the rules and regulations

-Drive carefully as the roads are narrow and get highly slippery after rains

-Do remember to carry some woolens in summers too as the temperature changes here drastically

-There are limited food and stay options in Chakrata

-For staying in Forest Guest House, make the reservation prior your visit. There is no scope of reservation on the spot

-There is no petrol pump in Chakrata. So, get your vehicle fueled up at Vikasnagar

-There are plenty of ATM’s in the market, so don’t worry about cash

-All mobiles networks work here except at few places, where you get only 2G connection

-Do not litter anywhere in the mountains and do get back your trash

Chakrata - The unseen land of Uttarakhand

 Overall, Chakrata is a perfect weekend getaway for those who are in search of peace and want to experience the serenity of nature, away from city’s hustle bustle.

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Bhalu Gaad Waterfall near Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand

India is a home to some of the magnificent waterfalls. The falls are torrents which can carve, shape or break the rocks, smash the trees and logs coming in between to make the way for gushing water but we still feel they are the most captivating marvels of nature. The sight of the flowing crystal clear water, thundering roaring sound; not only brighten up eyes and soul but makes body relaxed and rejuvenated after the tiring day too. On our recent trip to Mukteshwar town, we visited one such newly discovered, endearing fall known as the Bhalu Gaad waterfall.

Bhalu Gaad Waterfall near Mukteshwar, UttarakhandThe Bhalu Gaad fall is a 60 feet high fall from the undiscovered source. It is a mixture of horseshoe and plunge shaped waterfall. The water flows continuously throughout the year maintaining contact with the rock bed before turning to Plunge at the bottom. Indeed, the waterfall completely turns to plunge shaped when the water flow increases during the rainy season. Being recently discovered it is cleaner & less touristy as compared to other waterfalls of Uttarakhand.

But slowly the Mukteshwar town is gaining attraction, and the fall will enlist in the attractions of Mukteshwar. There is rainbow seen at the bottom of Bhallu Gaad Waterfall, so locals name it a Rainbow waterfall.


The word Bhalu Gaad comes from two words Bhalu and Gaad where the word Bhalu means Bear and Gaad means stream in the Kumaoni language. So, it is believed to be a good location for Bear sightseeing. But luckily or unluckily we didn’t spot any during our trail walk.

How to reach Bhalu Gaad Waterfall

The Bhalu Gaad waterfall lies 10 kilometers from Mukteshwar town and 5 kilometers from the Club Ten pine lodge Mukteshwar. To reach the falls, drive from town to village Dhari. Park your vehicle in the open area near a roadside shack and from there trek for almost 2 kilometers into the woods.

Crossing Stream and trails to Bhalu Gaad Waterfall

The hike is a beautiful walk through the dense jungle with continuous ascents, and descents. The river flows along the trail and birds chirp throughout making the whole walk and place idyll. We crossed three streams in between the trek and at the end, there are huge rock boulders, which need to be climbed up and down to touch the natural clear pool filled with chilling water.

Stream on the way to Bhalu Gaad Waterfall in Uttarakhand

The total time to complete one side trek lasts from 45 minutes to an hour.

Tips for Visiting Bhalu Gaad Waterfall

  1. The hike is of an easy level, considering you need to cross the stream and climb rock in between.
  2. Ideally, visit the fall only between sunrises to sunset.
  3. There are no shacks near the fall, which is really good. So, carry your water bottle and snacks along. And remember not to litter around. Bring your wrappers and bottles back, to keep the fall and trails clean.
  4. The guide is available at the shack at Rs. 200/-. Hire him only, if you don’t want to catch the wrong trails and reach the unexplored villages.
  5. Entry to the Bhalu Gaad waterfall is free and the site can be accessed throughout the year.

Overall, the walk to newly discovered Bhalu Gaad waterfall is adventurous and it is a bird lover paradise too. We would have loved camping and watching stars near the fall, provided it was allowed.

If you like Bhalu Gaad Waterfall, please share it with your family and friends.

Bhalu Gaad Waterfall in Uttarakhand

Also Read, post on Mukteshwar Town.