Winter in Kedarnath
In November 2005 my daughter Fiona and I went to Kedarnath the day before the temple closed for the winter. It was snowing for much of the walk up, but we arrived before dark and got settled. It was very cold as night fell (even colder in unheated concrete buildings) but the hotel had plenty of bedding. This photo was taken the next morning as the sun was just coming up, and the hills covered with new snow.
There were still people on the trail the day we climbed to Kedarnath, although they were few and far between. Here's one family who we met near the start of the path, who were from Gujarat, and insisted on having their picture taken with Fiona (the two older ladies look a lot like sisters).
It was very different from the summer season, when thousands of people go up to Kedarnath every day, and one is never far from others.
|One of the things I really wasn't expecting
was that the settlements along the way were virtually deserted (and since
many of them had removed their roofs, it was actually pretty spooky passing
through those places. In retrospect, of course, it makes perfect
sense--the people in these settlements earn a living from the pilgrim
traffic, which slows down in the time before the temple closes, and people
reach a point where they just decide to close up shop for the year because
business is too slow.
Some of the buildings are permanent (masonry and tin roofs), but most are temporary structures built of wood with plastic roofs.
|Here what we saw when we finally arrived at Kedarnath--buildings locked up (with cloth tied around the locks so they wouldn't rust) and stones and plastic on the door jambs to keep the snow from sifting out. When I passed the first set of shuttered buildings I got a little concerned--because it was already 4 oclock, and getting dusky--but I followed the noise of a tape player to a place that was open and which had a room for us. There were probably only 30 people in the town that night--virtually deserted.|
|During the night it probably fell into the 20s (Farenheit), and it felt very cold. As we were leaving the next morning (with the temperature in the pleasant 40s, and lovely sunshine) we came upon this section at the edge of town where a water tap had been left on flowing (as many taps in India do--they just don't turn off), the tap is the lower left part of the picture. As you can see, the flowing water froze solidly across the entire path, and was probably 2 inches thick in places. This sort of severe weather is the reason Kedarnath has to close in the winter; the locals told me that the snow comes up to the second story of the buildings, and that even the birds move further down (the mice are the only living creatures who remain there).|
|Here's a shot of the town--which always looks so small compared to the vastness of the mountains--and a couple of Bengali pilgrims, who have probably never even seen freezing weather before, trying to figure out how to walk across ice, which was clearly an adventure. We kept hitting ice patches (where little trickles across the path had frozen in place) until the second mile, at which time we were both a little lower down, and the sun had started to do its work.|
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Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 28 January 2006