Kartik Swami temple – a platform for viewing Himalayan vistas
|The majestic view of the Himalayan ranges as seen from Kartik Swami temple|
I had read about this destination with awe and had seen the photographs of the spectacular vistas of Himalayan ranges on the internet. Accordingly, visiting Kartik Swami temple was the last, but not the least in order of priorities for me. I had kept this trek for the last leg, so that even if we got tired, it would be the last trek of the trip. Having visited Deoriatal the previous day and that being a tiresome journey, sans any food etc. we all got up late in the morning, including the driver. The ladies of the group i.e. my wife and daughter had started mumbling and grumbling about the trek to Kartik Swami temple, when they heard that it was a 3 km. trek one way. Therefore, I had no other option than to drop them at Syalsaur and my Son also volunteered to stay back with them. Thus, I visited the famed Kartik Swami temple on my own.
|View of Kedarnath peaks from Syalsaur as we start for Kartik Swami temple|
|As the road construction activity is underway the vehicles stop on either side|
|Going past Mohan Khal en-route Kartik Swami temple road|
Katik Swami temple is a small temple dedicated to Lord Kartik, son of Lord Shiva & Parvati, placed on a ledge that offers 270º view of the Himalayan ranges. It can be reached by trekking for 3 Kms. from a nondescript little village called Kanakchauri. This village can be accessed both from Rudraprayag as well as a small village called Banswara on Kedarnath Highway, about a kilometer from Syalsaur. Kanakchauri village is about 40 kms from Rudraprayag on the Rudraprayag - Pokhari route, whereas from the road at Banswara, it is about 37.9 Kms. from Syalsaur. This road is a narrow and due to ongoing road construction work for another road, connecting some of the villages in the hills, which was taking place, due to displacement of rocks in the process, we had to wait mid-way for about 45 minutes or so. But this road being used mainly by the local villagers falling in this route, namely – Gair, Kanyas, Akauri etc., till one reaches Mohankhal, which is the nodal point wherefrom the road from Pokhri meets, it is a smooth ride with very few vehicles traversing along this road patch. Kanachauri village can also be approached from Karanprayag, which is about 40 Kms. from Pokhri and it is another 15 Kms. from Pokhri to Kanakchauri.
|Terraced fields and small villages perched on mountainsides en-route Kartik Swami temple|
|First view of the Kanakchauri village and ridge astride which is the famed Kartik Swami temple|
|The first view of Chaukhamba massif on trek route to Kartik Swami temple|
Kanakchauri village is a very small village and total length would not exceed 150-200 meters along the main road, wherein numerous shops catering to local requirements as well as eateries dedicated to tourists run shop. In case of heavy rush of tourists, there is not ample space available and the road, being quite narrow, parking is definitely a problem here. The Mayadeep group has a reasonable rest house constructed mainly with bamboo here and they quote a price of Rs.2000/- per night for each such bamboo hut. However, I have come across blogs wherein it has been claimed that bargaining can give you a good deal of around Rs.800/- per room per night also during lean seasons. The trek route for the famed Kartik Swami temple is easily identifiable by a gate constructed on the road side leading towards the trek route. Although, there are no sight to any Himalayan peaks visible from the village road itself, but a few hundred meters upward trek would make them visible. The trek route is about 3 Kms. and takes about two hours’ time at a medium pace and the trek runs through a pleasant and virgin Oak and Rhododendron forest and the stillness is broken only with a twig or two breaking under your shoe or that of a bird chirping somewhere in the canopy and the gradient is moderate.
|A Nuthatch bird on trek route to Kartik Swami temple|
|The description hoarding on trek route to Kartik Swami temple|
|The hut of the temple priest of Kartik Swami temple|
|A display poster erected by Uttarakhand Tourism near Kartik Swami temple|
Nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3048 meters (about 10,000 ft) in the Rudraprayag district of the State of Uttarakhand is the temple of Kartik Swami. Kartik Swami temple is perched on a spur of a ledge, in a serene and beautiful location, that provides a spectacular panoramic view of some of the highest mountains peaks of the Himalayan ranges in India. The snow laden peaks of Bandar punch are visible to the west. In addition, the peaks of Kedar Dome, Meru, Kedarnath, Neelkanth, Trishul, Nanda Ghunti and Nanda Devi group of peaks are also visible from Kartik Swami. The main attraction of Kartik Swami is the mighty Chaukhamba peak which appears, as if as, it is framed as the temple’s background. En-route, just before you take onto the huge stone steps for the final assault on the ridge to reach the temple top, is the home of the priest of the temple, who stays in a basic concrete house (an ashram), which is less than 1 km before the temple and he will accompany travelers/devotees to the temple, if required. There is something mystical about Kartik Swami temple trek, as on the way you find broken bangles and vermillion (sindoor) all along the path made as offerings, while the temple complex has a lot of bells hanging around it. The ever interrogative mind of mine was getting vexed to know about the mythology of the place and hence I made some research on the internet, searching for answers to my query.
|The pen nib like peak_Janhukoot peak as seen from Kartik Swami temple|
|Panoramic view of the famed Kartik Swami temple|
|The main temple doorway of Kartik Swami temple|
|The idol of Lord Kartikey in Kartik Swami temple|
|The mighty Chaukhambha peak as seen from Kartik Swami temple|
Mythological anecdotes relate this place to Lord Kartik Swami, who is the elder brother of Lord Ganesha and according to Hindu mythology, he is considered as “God for War and Victory.” He is also known as Murugan Swami in Tamil Nadu, Subramanya in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and Kartikeya in Bengal. The temple encompasses an idol of Lord Kartik Swami carved on a marble rock. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva (the destroyer) told his sons Ganesha and Kartikeya that one of them, who will be the first to take seven rounds of the universe will have the privilege of being worshiped first. Ganesha took seven rounds around Shiva and Parvati, stating that he saw the Universe in them, while Kartikeya faithfully circled the universe. Impressed by Ganesha, Lord Shiva gave him the honor of being worshipped before anyone else. While Lord Kartikeya was taking his final round, he encountered Narada Muni (albeit intentionally), who informed him that he had been made to look like a fool by circling the Universe and that Lord Ganesh had already been granted the boon. Angered by this kind treachery, Kartikeya sacrificed his body and gave his flesh back to his mother Parvati and his bones to Lord Shiva as an ultimate sacrifice.
|As the evening sets in we head back to Syalsaur from Kartik Swami temple|
Having visited the temple and spent some quality time there, we traversed back through the serene trek through the Oak and Rhododendron tree forest and reached back Kanakchauri in about an hour’s time. As we were totally famished by this time, myself and my driver, who had accompanied me to the temple top, ate some noodles with eggs and tea, which was so sweetened that I could only have one gulp, before discarding it. Thereafter, as we were about to make our way back, a forest worker requested for ride upto Mohankhal as he had missed the last bus. We dropped him at his desired destination and made our way back to Syalsaur and thus, ended my winter sojourn for the year, albeit visiting a few more destinations on our way back.
Here is a link to the video of the destination -