Kedarkantha: All You Need to know

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Considered to be one of the best winter treks in India, Kedarkantha is one of those rare Himalayan treks that remains accessible even during winters. those looking to start their journey into the Himalayas or even experienced trekking. The Kedarkantha trek provides a unique and breathtaking experience to trek in snowy trails and get a glimpse of life in the mountains.

kedarnath

 

Thick oak and pine forests, wide-open green meadows, serene lakes, picture-perfect campsites, and panoramic views of majestic Himalayan peaks, the Kedarkantha trek offers the perfect mix of challenge, adventure, and breathtaking views.

Kedarkantha Trek at a Glance

  • Difficulty: Moderate 

  • Kedarkantha Trek: Dense Pine & Oak forests, open meadows & snow during winters.

  • Region: Uttarakhand

  • Base Camp: Sankri (200 km from Dehradun)

  • Kedarkantha Altitude: 6,000 ft Sankri to 12,500 ft. 

  • Kedarkantha Distance: 25 km (Approx)

  • Kedarkantha Trek time taken: 4 days (Sankri – Sankri)

  • Best Season: December - April

Starts from the village of Sankri in Uttarakhand located at 6,000 ft. With panoramic views of snow-capped peaks almost all throughout the trek, the Kedarkantha trek takes one through dense pine and oak tree forests, frozen lakes, and snowy trails towards the Kedakantha peak which is situated at a height of 12,500 feet.it takes 4 days starting from Sankri and back, apart from additional days for traveling from Dehradun.

The mythology of Kedarkantha

Uttarakhand is smeared in mythological references, Kedarkantha is no different. The most popular reference relating to the place comes directly from the Mahabharata, it says Kedarkantha to be the place where Lord Shiva in his bull avatar sought refuge from the Pandavas and meditated in the valley but was disturbed by the locals, he later fled towards Kedarnath. The Trishul of Lord Shiva, erected at its peak, is also believed to protect the valley and its people.

Best Time to do the Kedarkantha Trek

Although the Kedarkantha trek can be done throughout the year, it is one of the few Himalayan treks that is accessible during winters, and hence it is best done during the winter months between December all the way towards the end of April giving trekkers opportunity not just to witness snowy landscapes, also the experience of trekking on the crackling snow. the right amount of snow and devoid of extreme Kedarkantha temperature changes, the trek is not too challenging and hence suitable for even first-timers.

Itinerary for Kedarkantha Trek

Day 0: Arrive at Dehradun

Day1: Drive to Dehradun to Sankri Base Camp

Day2: Juda ka Talab to Kedarkantha Base Camp 

Day4: Trek from Kedarkantha Base Camp to Kedarkantha peak 

Day5: Hargaon to Sankri and return to Dehradun

Kedarkantha Trek – Detailed Itinerary

Day 0: Arrive at Dehradun

Dehradun forms the gateway towards Sankri and is well connected to major cities, the closest and cheapest option is Delhi.

Delhi to Dehradun-

Distance: 260 km

Duration: 7 – 8 hours

By Bus: several overnight Volvo, deluxe, and semi-deluxe buses available from Delhi to Dehradun.

Cost: ₹400 Per ticket

By Air: available to the Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun from most major cities.

By Train: Overnight trains are available from Delhi to Dehradun including the Nanda Devi AC Express which leaves at 11:50 PM from Delhi and reaches Dehradun at 5:40 AM

Cost: ₹150 Per ticket

Day1: Dehradun to Sankri Base Camp

sankri village

Leave Dehradun early in the morning and reach Sankri by evening to catch the beautiful sunset from this quaint little village steeped in natural beauty. This gives you enough time to do some last-minute preparations and get good rest before starting the trek the next day. 

Distance: 220 km

Duration: 10 – 11 hours

Altitude: 6,400 ft.

How to Reach Sankri from Dehradun

One can reach Sankri from Dehradun only by road or by a private vehicle, a bus, or by hiring a private cab.

By Private Vehicle: Dehradun – Purola – Mori – Naitwar – Sankri

By Bus: Dehradun to Sankri from the Mussoorie Bus -stand one at 5 AM & another at 7 AM.

Cost: ₹300 Per ticket

By Cab: hire a shared taxi from Dehradun to Sankri

Cost: ₹5000 – ₹6,000 

Day2: Sankri to Juda Ka Talab

Juda Ka Talab Kedarkantha Trek

Distance: 5 km

Duration: 5 hours

Altitude: 9,100 ft.

a 5 km trail from the base camp in between the green meadows and thick pine and oak forests takes you to the picture-perfect Juda Ka Talab. Juda Ka Talab as the name suggests is a serene frozen lake that once used to be two lakes but has now been together as one.

Day3: Juda ka Talab- Kedarkantha Base Camp 

Distance: 4 km

Duration: 3 hours

Altitude: 11,250 ft.

From Juda Ka Talab, a 4 km trek through thick pine forests, opens up to a beautiful  mountain whose views lead you to the Kedarkantha Base Camp located at 11,150 ft. you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding snow-clad peaks including Bandarpoonch, Swargarohini, Kala Nag, and Ranglana. The Kedarkantha peak is visible from here.

Day4: Kedarkantha Base Camp- Kedarkantha peak - Hargaon


Distance: 6 km

Duration: 6 – 7 hours

Altitude: 12,500 ft. to 8,900 ft.

The Kedarkantha summit is marked by a Trishul pointing to the sky which is around 2 hours away from the base camp and many several routes leading to it. It is advisable to start the trek before dawn (as early as 3 AM) in order to catch the mesmerizing sunrise (usually around 7 AM) from the top of the peak. Though the trek starts with a gradual ascend, as you get closer to the peak, it becomes more challenging with almost 80-degree inclines.

Apart from the breathtaking sunrise, the Kedarkantha summit offers 360-degree views of the surrounding Himalayan ranges including Gangotri, Yamunotri, Chanshal Pass, and Kinnaur Kailash ranges.

From the summit go back to the Kedarkantha base camp and further down towards the Hargaon campsite.

Day5: Hargaon to Sankri/Dehradun

Distance: 6 km

Duration: 4 hours

Altitude: 6,400 ft.

from Hargaon to Sankri is well marked along a stone-paved route and takes relatively less time owing to the descent. You get some beautiful views of the Har ki Dun valley along the way. Once back at Sankri, you can either choose to spend the rest of the day at Sankri and explore the beautiful Himalayan village or head back to Dehradun the same day.

Buses are only available from Sankri to Dehradun at 5 AM & 7 AM every day and take around 10 hours to reach.

Accommodation Options During Kedarkantha Trek

Stay at Sankri

It is a remote village with a limited number of stays and a few hotels for accommodation. Homestays offer budget-friendly options while giving you an authentic experience of the Himalayan way of life. However, the prior booking becomes mandatory during the winter seasons from December to March as this is the peak trekking window in this region. Do note that Sankri does not have ATMs or Banks, hence carry sufficient cash with you before your arrival here.

Stay During Kedarkantha Trek


Other than at Sankri, there are no homestays all throughout the Kedarkantha trail, and relying on the existing campsites on the trail or camping on your own is your only option. trekking with any organization or opting for a trekking package that includes accommodation you would not have to worry about the same as you will staying in their designated campsites along the trail.

If you plan to camp on your own, you will have to carry all necessary camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags, liners, etc. The same can also be rented out from Sankri.

Food Options during Kedarkantha Trek

Apart from Sankri, there are very limited tea houses along the trail that offer a few simple options like Maggi and some snacks. though, the chances of them being open are uncertain and hence should not be entirely relied upon. Those wanting to trek by themselves will obviously have to carry the required supplies along with a portable stove and fuel.

Permits & Local Guide for Kedarkantha Trek

As a mandatory rule enforced by the authorities of Govind Vihar National Park, Kedarkantha trekking permits are issued only if you are accompanied by a local guide registered with the forest department. The local guide will also help you with getting the required permits from the forest office at Sankri. 

Hiring a local guide not only ensures your safety by making sure you stay on the right trail and help deal with emergencies and other uncertainties while on the trek, but it also gives you an interesting insight into the local culture and geography of the region. Pre-booking a local guide is essential, especially during peak seasons.

Things to Know Before Attempting the Kedarkantha Trek

  • There are no ATMs after Mori, so carry a sufficient amount of cash from Dehradun itself for the entire trek.

  • There is no mobile connectivity after Purola. Only a sparse BSNL network is available in and around Sankri.

  • Pre Booking of accommodation, guides, and equipment is compulsory in the peak season between November to January.

  • Pack light as you will have to carry your backpack for the entire trek. It is advisable to keep your backpack weight under 10 kgs.

  • Choose for train travel to Dehradun while coming from Delhi as the same is more comfortable and avoids delays.

  • Hydrate yourself all throughout the trek starting from the time you wake up.

  • You can opt to trek by yourselves along with a local guide or choose to go with one of the many organizations that conduct the Kedarkantha trek. The latter ensures that all your accommodation, food, and other formalities are taken care of for a hassle-free trekking experience.

  • Be a responsible trekker and make sure you do not litter the trail and surrounding areas and bring back any waste or plastic items and dispose of the same responsibly.

 

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