Gangotri and Yamunotri are one of the holiest places where the rivers Ganga( or
Ganges) and Yamuna, respectively originate. Yamunotri temple is perched in the western region of Garwhal Himalayas at an altitude of 3235 m (10,614 ft) whereas the shrine of Gangotri, is situated at an altitude of 3,200 mts flanked almost right opposite in the Bandar Poonch Peak (Altitude 3615M). My wanderlust and love for treks had brought me to these wonderful destinations. Gangotri can be reached by a motor able road right till the end through long winding roads. After having visited Gangotri, we decided to trek to Yamunotri. We arrived at Hanuman Chatti, which is on the foothills of ascent to Yamunotri. It was getting dark and we looked around for accommodation, as we had not booked in advance! With a bit of struggle we managed to get a place to stay overnight as the only state government owned hotel was not available. Beyond Hanuman Chatti, one has to trek an arduous, meandering, route 13 km long , to reach Yamunotri. The attached map shows these locations including the trek route from Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri.
The weather was clear and the sun shone brightly as we commenced our trek the next morning. We had walked for almost four hours with a brief halts. My daughter who was eleven year old then, was bubbling with excitement! The winding route was strewn with boulders on either side. An occasional glimpse of the sparkling clean Yamuna flowing with gusto was a feast for eyes. In the backdrop were the snow clad peaks which appeared to be strewn with silver in the strong sunlight. The serene, tranquil surroundings, gurgling streams, occasional sighting of same rare birds, and dense alpine forests made for an ideal trek. There were relatively few trekkers here due difficult terrain.
We stopped over to have a cup of tea at a small stall near Janki Chatti. The stall was erected on the overhang of the precarious mountain edge, raised about seven meters from ground level, with wooden planks. As, the tea was being prepared, there was a loud crash! I blacked out and descended vertically into a black hole for a few seconds! I heard shouts, and tried to regain my composure, to find my wife too following me! My feet hit the haystack on the solid ground below with a thud! She managed to hold on to the supporting wooden poles which were holding the wooden floor. I had fallen almost seven meters from the place where I stood a moment ago. I looked up, to find a gaping hole and my wife dangling just over my head. I assured her, as I grabbed her from the feet below. Our daughter, who miraculously held her ground, was hysterical. I assisted my wife to climb down to the bottom. We, fortunately sustained minor scratches and were otherwise unhurt! The wooden floor where we stood had given away leading to the crash! It was a miraculous escape. After the tea break we continued with the trek. The light was fading as darkness was slowly engulfing. It became very cold due strong winds. We often had to tread the cold water streams making our feet wet and very cold. To make matters worse, the climb was almost at an incline of 60 degrees for the last one kilometer leaving us gasping for breath! Then, suddenly, we saw the wonderful sight of frozen River Yamuna at a distance, from where the water trickled into a stream! We had reached in almost eight hours and soon found a small rest house to retire. It had been a very hard trek including a miraculous escape. At night it was freezing cold and despite sleeping bags and woolen blankets we could not sleep well. The next day we were rewarded with some rare breath taking spectacle of cascading Yamuna from the ice overhang. We visited the shrine, had a dip in hot water springs which was soothing, before commencing our descent! The locals cheered us when we reached the spot where the accident had occurred the previous day. The memories of this great trek remain firmly etched notwithstanding passage of time!