An idyllic trail that will astonish trekking enthusiasts, The Roopkund Trek in Uttarakhand is home to the mystical ‘Skeletal Lake’. The enchanted Trishul Peak that offers a picturesque sight during this stimulating expedition surrounds it. The trail points you to the frozen Roopkund Lake with its pious offerings in Nanda Devi, to create an all-embracing experience with the richness of culture, nature and adventure. You will witness opaque forest expanses with torrential streams across the savannahs as you meander into the generous wilderness of nature through the regions of Loharjung, Didina, Bugyal and Bhagwabasa among others. Arriving at the ‘Mystery Lake’ that houses remains of calamitous pilgrims will make you shudder, especially with the majestic vision of Roopkund Glacier, Choukhamba and Nandaghungti peaks in the backdrops .
The starting point of this trek is at Kathgodam, a small town in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. It is accessible by railways and roadways, which are the only two ways to arrive in this beautiful clandestine settlement. The closest airport is the Pantnagar Airport, which is 71 kms away – you will have to rely on road transport or rails to arrive in Kathgodam. With well-connected rail systems, the Kathgodam Railway Station is linked to all major cities through standard trains. You can also travel by private or state run buses that ply from Nainital, Rudrapur, Moradabad, Chandausi, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Delhi among others.
Best Time to Visit
The Roopkund Trek takes you from the charmed Kathgodam Township through Loharjung, Didina, Bugyal, Lotani, and Bhagwabasa to reach Roopkund. With a moderate climate that persists for most months, summers last from April to June with a temperature that falls below 30°C. Winters lasts from December to February and can be quite harsh with temperatures dipping below freezing point. The months from July to November are considered to be appropriate to visit, with cool amiable winds that allow you to experience nature’s best-kept secret of the Himalayas.
Required Entry fees at certain check points, permits for the trek and obligatory forest camping charges in the region for the entire length of the trek will be required. Please carry your identification cards such as driving license or voter ID along with a passport size photo, a medical certificate ensuring your fitness for the trek and a disclaimer certificate ensuring your submission to voluntarily participate in this trek. Permits can be obtained at Loharjung where you have to pay camping charges to the Forest Officer.
Advice & Expectations
This expedition is the perfect experience to enjoy the thrill of the Himalayas yet it holds extreme conditions and is generally considered to have a moderate to hard level of difficulty. Prepare thoroughly with regard to clothing and other protective gears to endure the unpredictable mountain weather, as it may get very cold. Keep your trekking gear safe and always keep essentials such as wind-proof jacket, dry socks and caps at hand. Make sure you choose correct and good quality footwear and fitted boots to avoid frostbites. Wear the right kind of socks to facilitate blood circulation. Carry a sturdy sleeping bag that is durable and comfortable. Carry a good quality backpack that can ensure harsh conditions of wear and tear, especially with a plastic or waterproof lining. Carry your identification proof as you might be expected to furnish it with the officials.
Things to Carry
- Durable good-quality trekking shoes
- – Camping shoes for crossing streams
- – Thick woolen socks
- – Thermal inner wear
- – Heavy fleece clothes
- – Torch
- – Whistle
- – Covers to store used/wet clothing
- – Winter jacket and water proof coat
- – Trekking pants
- – Woolen cap, gloves, etc.
- – Sunglasses
- – Sun screen lotion and other toiletries
- – Water bottle
- – Trekking pole
- – First aid kit
- – Personal medication
- – Swiss knife
Kathgodam – Kathgodam is situated adjacent to its twin town of Haldwani in the state of Uttarakhand. Literally meaning ‘timber depot’, Kathgodam is the centre of trade and commerce of the district. This charming town rests at the foothill of the Kumaon Ranges in the Himalayas and is its last railhead. It is perched at 554 meters and was an overlooked hamlet until the British took it on the Railway Map in 1909. The River Gaula and its dam located here is a superlative picnic abode. It is also adjacent to the Corbett Falls and the Bhimtal Lake, which is a famous romantic paradise.
Loharjung – A tiny settlement that is sited at the edge of a mountain, Loharjung has a striking view of the basins of Nilganga. It offers a placid and private abode to travellers, most of who pass through here to go across to the other charms of the area. Few restaurants are available here and very few lodging facilities are present. This is where you can obtain permits for your trek and enjoy amidst the serenity of nature.
Didina – Situated in the mountain terrains of Chamoli District, Didina boasts of mixed forests and beautiful meadows. Silk Worm rearing is a famous occupation in this village while the villagers also engage in farming of potatoes in the cultivable land along with goat and cow rearing. If offers a picturesque beauty along the ridge of farms with small houses that are scattered randomly across the village.
Ali Bugyal – Located at a majestic height of 3400 m, Ali Bugyal lies atop a mountain while treading through thick vegetation of oak, rhododendron and birch trees. With beautiful grassy terrains and green stretches, Ali Bugyal offers an enchanting view with misty winds and colourful treats. Horses and cattle commonly graze the area while a view of the Trishul Peak and Mrigthuni Peak forms an amazing backdrop to this mesmerising location.
Ghora Lotani – Literally meaning ‘Horse Return’, Ghora Lotani gets its name from the fact that the trekking route beyond this point does not allow horses to proceed, which thus have to return back. Barren lands and boulders smuggle the spread of the region while clouds of mist enclose the beautiful hilltops. Vegetation is not developed here and drinking water is not available which makes it a fleeting region for travellers to pass through.
Bhagwabasa – A noticeably isolated location is what stands at Bhagwabasa with stone blocks on all sides of the trail. An array of abandoned stone huts ranging in size can be seen here and were rented out to trekkers in the past. These huts now stand destroyed but yet offer a great view amidst the misty backdrops with abundant cloud cover. The peaks of Nanda Ghunti, Trishul and Kali Dak can be clearly sighted from here.
How to Reach
By Road:- You can reach Kathgodam by bus as there are many governments and private buses available. Kathgodam to Lohajung is another 200 kilometres which take around 10 hours to reach.
By Train:- From Delhi, you can take a 4-hour train to Kathgodam, but you’ll need to book the tickets way in advance. You can book tickets on Delhi-Kathgodam Shatabdi or Ranikhet Express.
By Air:- To save time, you can even fly from Delhi to Pantnagar and then proceed to Lohajung in a taxi. Ideally, you should fly to Delhi, reach Kathgodam in a bus (from ISBT Delhi Anand Vihar) hire a cab to Lohajung, for the most scenic trip.