Nilkantha Base Camp: Into the Queen’s Nest

Shubham Pokhriyal

Throughout the world, mountains are revered as mysterious places with the power to evoke an overwhelming sense of the sacred. For people of many different cultures, that mystery and sense of the sacred imbue their existence with meaning and vitality. Uttarakhand, often being referred as the Land of Gods, due to a large number of Hindu Temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state is also the home of some of the mightiest and holy peaks of the Himalayas. 

Mt. Nilkantha

One many of such peaks there stand “The Queen of Garhwal” or Mt.Nilkantha. This 6507 meter tall mountain with steep ridges is a beautiful peak, towering high above the Badrinath Shrine. Known as the Adobe of Lord Shiva there is ancient Hindu mythology, according to which there was initially no mountain on the spot where Nilkantha stands today. There was an adage route between Kedarnath and Badrinath. The “Purahita” or the worshiper of the two temples worshiped them in one day. This continued for a long time until due to some sins of the worshiper, Lord Shiva became displeased with him and stood blocking the way as a huge sky-kissing mountain, which is said to be modern Nilkantha.

Views around Base camp

Though it is extremely difficult to go for this peaks climbing expedition, one can get a close sniff of this dramatic peak with a trek to its base camp. A moderate trek of 18kms (9+9) from Badrinath, the nearest road head brings you to close to this enigmatic mountain. The weather here is very dicey especially past afternoon thus it is necessary to start the trek early to get the clearest of the views.

The trek starts passing the Badrinath temple to its left and a cemented path all the way to Charanpaduka, it is believed that the footprints on a rock at this place are those of Lord Vishnu.  From Charanpaduka, the trek route turns steeper. Admire the meadows and views of hoary peaks on the way. If you happen to visit in the months of July-September, you may come across the beautiful Brahmakamal flowers that are sacred as well as are designated as the state flower. 

Their trail is dirt gravel so do look out for carnies to keep the track of the path. Reaching the base camp one get’s bowled-over by the gigantic nests of this peak. A huge pyramid stands tall in all its glory, magnificent and beautiful. The masses of ice and snows from huge glaciers. The surrounding of other higher peak is so close yet their reaches so far away. The solitude adds a certain charm to its beauty.  This could be once in a lifetime moment, the words could fall behind to describe the feeling standing below this very peak. The mountain creates an aura of mystery and sanctity. Sitting here and admiring the mountains times slips very quickly and the weather post-afternoon the weather here turns very quickly almost daily. Adieu to this mountain for the one last time and head back through the same trail.

Adieu to the mountain

This is one of those journeys that leaves a lasting impression on the mind, body and the soul.   

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