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Sunday, June 3, 2018

The emerald alpine lake – Deoriatal

The emerald alpine lake – Deoriatal
Panoramic view of  famed Deoriatal
Having completed of morning Puja at Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath, we commenced with our onward journey towards the Sari village wherefrom the trek to the famed alpine lake known as Deoriatal begins.  The road leads along the same road that one takes for Chopta but bifurcates from main Chopta road, but as the signpost is on the opposite side of the road and is thus, not clearly visible from this side of the road and hence as a key reference for taking the U-turn, the first point of reference that comes into view is the ‘Anjali Tourist Lodge & Restaurant’.  Thereafter, the road actually takes the U-turn towards Sari village from the corner of ‘Hanuman Inn & Resorts’ (check out the video below).
Distant view of Sari village - starting point for trek to Deoriatal - shot from Chopta
View of Mandakini River from road to Deoriatal
Panoramic view of Ukhimath - as we head towards Sari/Deoriatal
         Sari is a very small and a remote village in Uttrakhand, situated at a distance of 12 Kilometers from Ukhimath, it is the base for the trek towards scintillating emerald alpine lake named Deorial Tal (2483 meters).  The trek is about 2.3 kilometers trek from Sari village. Many of the visitors set up camps or hire them at Deoriatal and use it as base for trek to Tungnath Temple and Chopta. One comes across very beautiful bhugyals (meadows) along the road journey from Sari to Chopta.  There are no hotels in Sari village but one can find a few lodges or home stay options, if you explore.  Perched at an altitude of 6,601 feet, the village is quiet & quaint with very little of modern amenities. The villagers go about with their daily chores and lifestyle untouched by commercialization, as we see in the cities in the plains, except for a handful of youngsters enjoying mobile phone facilities. Thus, it also emphasizes that in case you have missed out buying on any of your trekking gear, there is no market in here and you will have to retrace your steps all the way back to Ukhimath to purchase the same. Also please keep in mind that electricity at the village cannot be relied upon as it is intermittent and breaks down in event of any inclement weather hitting the region. You may not be able to charge your electronic appliances here at times, unless you are lucky during the freak weather or you are carrying your own power bank. However, mobile signals of Airtel, Vodafone and BSNL numbers function at Sari.  
Scenic view of Himalayan peaks on way to Deoriatal
A local herder tending to his flock of sheeps
The trek from Sari Village to Deoriatal winds through dense forest of Oak and Rhododendron trees.  I had gauged the steepness of the trek and was seeking some mules to ride on, as being a city brigand I could make out that the trek would be very arduous for me and my family.  However, the contractor with whom I negotiated sought Rs.700/- for onward trip, we therefore decided to trek on ourselves.  However, just ten minutes into the trek we could make out that it was quite tiring, much more that we had anticipated.  However, the mule provider was still waiting below and shouted that he was willing to negotiate @Rs.500/- per mule for one way drop.  This sounded reasonable and hence I agreed and we trekked upwards on mule back, which too was an unforgettable experience (check out the video below).  Fifteen minutes on mule back and half an hour into the trek, one comes across a small temple dedicated to lord Shiva known as the Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple. Locals worship here and a Pundit is available just outside the temple to help you in making your offerings. Made in the early Nagara architecture style, the walls of the temple are plain with geometrically placed ridges made in stone. A rock sculpture of the mythical cow Nandi is strategically placed at its entrance. Inside the temple one can see avtars of Shiva carved in rock. This temple is a landmark before you start towards the first view point wherefrom you can enjoy the panoramic views of the village below. There are several such viewpoints on the way and locals have conveniently opened small tea shops selling cold drinks and water as well.
The panoramic view of Sari village
Deoriatal is beyond this top that requires to be surmounted
The spire of the Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple
Panoramic view of the Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple
White chinned laughing thrush on road to Deoriatal
Chopta as seen from trek to Deoriatal
          As you almost reach the summit of the mountain after the long and arduous trek, one comes across the last the biggest of the ‘dhabas’/local eating joint, which offers tea/water/cold drinks alongwith maggi etc.  One cannot comprehend the majestic view that is going to unfold before one’s eyes, as the narrow kuchha road behind the dhabha leads to the spectacle and offers no clue of what lies beyond until you reach the clearing overlooking the famed Deoriatal.  Yet this stretch I found to be most rich in the avifauna of the region and was able to click a few white throated laughing thrush birds with only a 55-200mm lens attached to my camera.  As one steps out of the oak covered road, the splendor of Deoria Tal opens up before you.  Deoriatal is in itself only a small lake, but the spacious lawns surrounded by dense vegetation around it makes it an excellent spot for camping, sighting distant mountains and star gazing. Local legends associate this lake with certain events of Mahabharata.  As for the legends, it is a mythological belief that the Devas bathed in this lake hence the name, the lake is also sometimes believed to be the “Indra Sarovar” referred to in the Puranas by wandering, Hindu mendicants Sadhus. It is also believed that it was the place from where the Pandavas due to extreme fatigue and arrogance failed to provide answers sought by Yaksha and on drinking its water died, Yudhistara, the eldest of all Pandvas was then asked four questions by Yaksha, which was answered by him and the life of the other dead Pandavas was then restored by Yaksh.
The emerald green deoriatal
Cloud covered Chaukhambha from Deoriatal
The base of the Chaukhamba massif visible from Deoriatal 
Another peak looming across the other side of the deoriatal lake
This is a photograph taken from the internet to show the readers the beauty of Deoriatal
The pen picture of the lake would describe it as an emerald colored lake, surrounded by undulating, soothingly inclined, grass fields that are bounded by a dense wood cover all around. Set majestically in the lap of the mountain, with a backdrop of magnificent mountain peaks, especially Chaukhamba peak that puts in a spectacular reflection on the waters of Deoriatal, is a popular tourist destination for the adventure loving lots.  On the day we visited Deoriatal, it was a bit of damper for me as the Chaukhamba was not visible as it was snowing on its top and hence could not get a glimpse of the reflection on the lake surface.  Yet the trek to the famed lake was worth every penny and after enjoying the environs fully, we started out trek back towards Sari village.  We stopped at the dhaba to have some maggi, so as to get some fuel into our stomach before starting the arduous trek back.  However, there was some smell of either oil or something that dissuaded us from partaking the same and we had to trek back on an empty stomach, which nothing much available at Sari village either.  Accordingly, on the way back we purchased some biscuits, sweet meats etc., as it was almost evening by the time we reached back to Syalsaur.

Here is the link to the video of the destination


Sunday, May 6, 2018

UKHIMATH - A DESTINATION IMBUED IN MYTHOLOGY


UKHIMATH - A DESTINATION IMBUED IN MYTHOLOGY

The outer facade of the famed Omkareshwar temple complex in Ukhimath
         After having visited Chopta as the first destination from my so called base camp i.e. Syalsaur, we were ready for our next trip to Deoriatal.  However, being a Tuesday, as per my practice, I had to visit some Hanuman temple, but this time around I chose to visit Ukhimath because of its importance as a pilgrimage destination that finds mention in the annals of ancient scriptures.  Ukhimath is a small little hamlet situated in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand State in India. It is situated at a distance of 41 km from Rudraprayag and is perched at an elevation of 1317 metres above mean seal level and is juxtaposed to another ancient township of Guptkashi, on the Kedarnath route, saddled on the opposite ridge across the valley.  As we started for temple town in the early morning, the weather was clear and very pleasant and we traversed a distance of about 19 Kms. along the same route that we had taken the previous day and reached the temple precincts of the famed Omkareshwar temple. 
As we get ready for the journey - a perfect clear day lights up Kedarnath peaks - view from Syalsaur
This temple popularly known as Omkareshwar Pith is one of the oldest in the country and houses the deities of Kedarnath and Madhmaheswar during the winter months (November to April). During this time the temple of Kedarnath and Madhmaheshwar remains closed. The deities are brought here from Kedarnath after Diwali and from Madhmaheswar in December and worshipped here for six months. These deities are taken back in a procession to their original temples in mid-May and in 2018 the opening of Kedarnath temple is scheduled for 29th of April, 2018. Ukhimath can be used as nodal destination for visiting different Shiva temples of the Panch Kedar fame that are located nearby, i.e. Madhmaheshwar (Second Kedar), Tungnath ji (Third Kedar) and also Deoria Ta l(natural fresh water alpine lake) that we were scheduled to visit later in the day. 

View of the inner courtyard of Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath
Typical pahari style painted frames in Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath
            Ukhimath temple dates to the time of Mandhaata, ancestor of Rama.  It is believed that the wedding of Usha (Daughter of Vanasur) and Anirudh (Grandson of Lord Krishna) was solemnized here. This place was named as Ushamath after the name of Usha and is now known as Ukhimath.  Ukhimath is also written as Okhimath and the temple is known as Omkareshwar.  There are quite a few mythological anecdotes associated with this destination and the name of the temple as Omkareshwar is related with story of Mandhaata.  According to one of the legends, the emperor Mandhaata, during his last years of his reign gave up everything, including his empire and came to Ukimath and did penance for 12 years by standing on one leg. At the end Lord Shiva appeared in the form of ‘omnipresent sound of Omkar', and blessed him. From that day onwards this place came to be known as Omkareshwar.  Ukhimath has many other ancient temples dedicated to several Gods and Goddesses such as Usha, Shiva, Aniruddha, Parvati and Mandhata.  The anecdote associated with Mandhaata is quite intriguing, it is written in the ancient scriptures that Yuvanashva, Mandhaata's father, had one hundred wives but no children. So his guru advised him to perform ‘Putrakameshti yoga’ to beget a child. The sacred water that was generated from this yaga was supposed to be given to his wives, the next morning.  But destiny played a different hand or rather a prank with him and that night Yuvanashva, who was feeling thirsty at night, so he got up and drank the sacred water without realizing that it was the holy water and not the normal water that was kept alongwith.   Thereafter, Yuvanshava started having intense pain in his chest and within a few days Yuvanashva's chest got torn open and therefrom emerged a child, was born as Mandhaata.  Normally, whenever a child's birth takes place from the mother's womb, she feeds the infant with her breast milk to satisfy his hunger and then the child becomes calm and quiet.  However, in this peculiar case ast the child that was born from Yuvanashva's chest, it started crying.  Yuvanashva could not feed the infant, so it started sucking its own fingers.  Lord Shiva had blessed that child with nectar (Amrit) in his fingers. Thus sucking his fingers and satisfying his hunger and thirst, the child grew up and in course of time became an Emperor. This emperor, during his last years gave up everything and did penance for 12 years by standing on one leg.  At the end Lord Shiva appeared in the form of ' the omnipresent sound of Omkar', and blessed him. From that day onwards this place, where the present temple stands came to be known as Omkareshwar.
The main temple base of Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath
The Chatri shading Nandi bull in front of Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath
The statute of Mandhata inside Omkareshwar temple complex in Ukhimath

             There is another interesting ancient anecdote associated with Ukhimath, Okhimath or so called Ushamath of ancient times.  Ushadevi, was the daughter of the devil king Banasura, who used to reside at Ukhimath.  Ushadevi had a close friend whose name was Chitralekha. Once, in her dreams, Ushadevi saw a very handsome prince and in her dreams she instantly fell in love with him and married him. Not only this, she even experienced a physical relationship with him in her dream.  The next day she described her dream to her close friend Chitralekha and told her to search for this prince as Usha had decided to marry him in real life too. Hence, Chitralekha started making portraits of all the princes on this earth. After observing all the portraits, Usha was able to identify the prince who had appeared her dream.  Usha asked Chitralekha to cast a magic spell to locate his whereabouts and bring him to Ukhimath. The name of the prince was Anirudha, the grandson of Lord Krishna, and he was staying in Dwarika.  Ushadevi with the help of her friend Chitralekha brought him here to Ukhimath, where Anirudha and Usha started living together. When Usha's father Banasur came to know about it he got angry and put prince Anirudha in prison.

The temple spire of Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath

Close up of the temple top of Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath
          Lord Krishna came to know about the imprisonment of his grandson Anirudha and attacked Banasur. A fierce battle took place. There was no sign of vicotry on either side and it became a stalemate, because Krishna himself was God and Banasur had the blessing of Lord Shiva. Thus, there was no sign of this fierce battle ending soon.  At this juncture Lord Kedareshwar appeared there and placated the anger of either side by consoling them.  With the blessings of Lord Shiva, the marriage ceremony of Usha and Anirudha took place in Ukhimath.  Even today you can see the place where they got married. In the beginning this place was known as USHA MATH later it changed into UKHA MATH and now it is popularly known as UKHI MATH.
Worn out sculptures of temple pillars that pre-date history
The panoramic view of the old temple complex behind the Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath 
The bill board displaying historical facts about Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath

             The temple precincts and the holy shrine therein is built in the North Indian Nagara style of architecture. The temple houses, a navel-shaped Shivlinga, made of black stone and is located in the sanctum sanctorum. Furthermore, there are shrines of both Shiva's consort, Parvati, and Ardhanarishwara, an image of half Shiva and half Parvati. To the right of this temple is a small shrine of Maa Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of art and learning. It is wholly made of marble.  Ukhimath is dotted with several artistic ancient temples dedicated to Usha, Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Aniruddha and Mandhata. Ukhimath is mainly inhabited by the Rawals, who are the head priests (pundits) of Kedarnath.  Snow-capped peaks of the splendid Himalayan range are distinctly visible from Ukhimath. From Ukhimath on a clear day one can see the beautiful view of Kedarnath peak, Chaukhamba & other green beautiful valleys that sprawl alongside the lower reaches along the enchanting Mandakini River.  Having performed puja at this ancient temple town and especially when both the deities of Kedarnath & Madhamaheshwar were being housed there, made our souls feel blessed and rejuvenated.

Here is the link to the video for the destination -



Sunday, April 1, 2018

Enticing Chopta


Enticing Chopta

Panoramic view of Chopta - the so called mini Switzerland 
         After having rested for the night at Syalsaur, I got up early in the morning and was rewarded with a scintillating view of the Kedarnath peaks lit up in the morning sun.  I wandered around a bit, trudging up to the main stream of Mandakini River and saw some fishermen, who had placed nets across the stream at a few places, go waist down in the icy cold water to collect their catch, really some hard work indeed.   After returning back to the TRH and having had a hot cup of tea, I retired back to my room to have a bath, before embarking upon the days scheduled trip to the famed Chopta village.
Glorious view of Kedarnath peaks from Syalsaur early in the morning
Having had a heavy B’fast, as we did not expect to find many eateries on the way, we commenced our journey for Chopta at around 10.00 A.M.  The sky was a clear blue and the sun had made its grand appearance for the day, slowly warming up the environ that was still laden with the cold ground frost permeated air.  We traversed a distance of 14 Kms. along the Mandakini River upto Kund, wherefrom the road crosses over the Mandakini River and heads towards Kedarnath and the other one heads straight on uphill towards Ukhimath.  We traversed on an uphill drive for another 5 Kms. before we reached Ukhimath, which is the famous temple town housing the Kedarnath deity during the winter months and I will describe in detail in the ensuing blog.  We had to travel another 29 Kms. from Ukhimath before we could reach the destination for the day i.e. Chopta.

The signpost near Ukhimath
A deep gorge with a village home perched precariously on way to Chopta
Flock of sheep being herded along the road to Chopta
         From Ukhimath, instead of heading towards the main township, one continues along the main road and crosses small villages en-route namely Karokhi, Mastura, Dihara and Dhankund before one reaches Makku bend, wherefrom one roads heads for Makkumath.  Thereafter, the road gets steeper and more curvaceous and you traverse through some virgin Oak & Rhododendron forests and as you start nearing Chopta, a multitude of sign posts crop up showing presence of resorts etc., until you reach Dugalbitta that has a small hotel and some campsites strewn across and thereafter, one crosses Baniakund before finally reaching Chopta.  Being winter, snowfall had taken place in the region a few days earlier, hence some parts of the road was still covered in ice and there was snow along the sidewalks of the road.  The journey to Chopta appeared to be more tantalizing now.
Going past Baniakun en-route Chopta
As I have described that it was pleasantly warm when we had started our journey in the morning and there was a lot to rumbling & grumbling, when I had instructed the family members to don proper winter clothes that we were carrying.  However, no sooner we had alighted from the Car that a strong gust of icy cold winds hit us with gale force.  Some of us, who were still skeptical about donning the winter clothes, quickly dived back into the Car and piled on the jackets and caps et al.  Chopta is a small nondescript little village that is dotted with a number of eating joints, to ensure some grub for the ever hungry tourists, albeit everything is sold at much above the marked price.  Still it is a luxury to get the goods made available in these hostile environs by the local traders.
Panoramic view from Chopta village
Panoramic view of Chopta - towards Tungnath - from Chopta village
The starting point of trek towards Tungnath from Chopta
       As we had a sumptuous B’fast before commencing with the journey, we started our climb towards Tungnath immediately.  One has to pay a fee of Rs.150/- per person for entry, as this entire place comes under the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and this fee is collected by the forest department.  However, if you are a student and carrying a valid ID, there is a fifty percent discount.  Having procured the tickets, we started trudging towards our next target i.e. Tungnath temple.  Tungnath is the highest Shiva Temple in the world (3680m) and is one among the Paanch Kedar Shrines. It is believed to be more than 1000 years old. The temple is closed during the winters and the deity is shifted to Mukku village. Tungnath temple opens its doors to pilgrims in the summer around the end of April and shuts down in November in winter.  As per the mythology, Lord Shiva had taken the form of a bull in order to avoid the Pandavas, who were seeking his blessings for their sin of having killed their own kin.  However, Bhima spotted him and Lord Shiva in bull form went into the ground to escape the Pandavas, but Bhima caught hold of its tail so that it could not escape. Several parts of the bull then cropped out of the ground at five spots and accordingly the Panch Kedars were formed. Kedarnath temple is dedicated to the hump of Lord Shiva and is the most famous Paanch Kedar shrine. The other Paanch Kedar shrines are at - Tungnath, Madyamaheshwar, Rudranath, and Kalpeshwar.  At Tungnath temple, Lord Shiva’s arms are worshipped.

The trudge towards Tungnath begins in the right earnest
Fresh snow scattered all around - on way to Tungnath
Sign of life on a dead looking tree - a single flower
Due to the snow and extreme cold conditions, the snowfall that had occurred a few days earlier had failed to melt away, instead a thick coat of black ice now covered the road at many points and was quite treacherous.  We trudged along cautiously, stopping over here and there to catch our breaths, in the rarified air.  After trudging for about two hours or so, we reached a point where there was a meadow, with a small makeshift house cum tea stall, but due to snow it was closed.  We frolicked in the snow and enjoyed some quality time, trying to rejuvenate our slackening energy levels for further climb upwards.  However, I suddenly spotted ominous looking cloud tantalizing closing over the nearby peak and in no time at all the entire valley started to be enveloped by it.  As such the road was treacherous at many parts because of the black ice and even a slight drizzle would have rendered it unusable and could have resulted in really nasty fall and consequent damage to limbs.  So with a sense of despair, I decided to trudge back, better be safe than never and bid adieu to Tungnath with a small resolve of returning back in near future.  But a word of caution, Chopta is fast becoming a commercial destination and there were hordes of visitors, creating a cacophony of noises, shouting at top of their voices, this does not augur well for a designated ‘Wildlife Sanctuary’, therefore, the issuance of permits is required to be restricted and may be issued online for specific number of persons only and they should also be made to give an undertaking of good behavior, once inside the sanctuary or else in a few years it will lose its charm & charisma.  I could not spot a single exotic bird during the entire trek.

Snow covered slopes all across 
Fresh snow scattered all around - on way to Tungnath
Ominous clouds surrounding the peak en-route Tungnath
The clouds enveloping the entire valley - an ominous sign indeed
        However, for the readers I have made some research on the internet to gouge out some information about Tungnath, so that they do not have to refer to other blogs for information.  The trekking distance between Chopta to Tungnath is 4 kms and usually takes around 2 and a half hours to cover for a young personAround ten minutes before you reach Tungnath, there is a small detour to a peak called Ravanshila. It is said to be the place where the demon king Ravana meditated to please Lord Shiva.  The path to Chandrashila starts from Tungnath temple itself. It is clearly marked and cannot be missed. Distance of Chandrashila Peak Top from Tungnath is approx. 1.5 kms and even though it’s a steep climb, the distance can be easily covered in 1 hour. There is a small temple at Chandrashila and from the top one can savor grand 360 degree panoramic views of the Kumaon & Garhwal ranges.  According to a mythological legend, Chandrashila is the place where Lord Rama performed penance after killing Ravana, so as to absolve himself of the sin having killed a Bramhin.
My watch altimeter showing the altitutde at Chopta village
Photographing myself
As the sun sets - view of Guptkashi - across the valley
By the time we reached back down at Chopta about three & half-hour’ time had elapsed since we had started our ascent and we were a famished lot.  Cold winds had gathered speed and it was bone chilling, we ordered some hot cups of tea/coffee to one’s liking and we had some Maggi tossed in with eggs and fried in butter, but the driver, who too had trudged alongwith us, preferred a ‘thali’ i.e. a complete meal.  I placed my watch on the table and set up the altimeter, which showed that we were perched at an altitude of 2820 meters, the warmth of my hands showed the temperature at 25 degrees Celsius and time 3.38 P.M.   By the time we finished our meals, it was almost 4.00 P.M and the temperature had started plummeting and as we retraced our steps back to Syalsaur, I took a few photographs of valleys and Guptkashi, the sister town of Ukhimath perched just across the valley traversed by Mandakini River.  Thus, ended the day late in the evening, as we gorged in some more ‘pakoras’ (chickpea flour based fried food) and tea on returning back to Syalsaur.


Here is the link to a short video of the destination -


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Syalsaur – the non-existent village


Syalsaur – the non-existent village
(A photo blog)
As the morning sun lights up the Kedarnath peaks - view from Syalsaur
After spending some quality time at Devprayag we headed toward the final destination of the day i.e. Syalsaur.  From Devprayag, the road runs along the right bank of the river Alaknanda for a distance of 29 km up to a small township Kirtinagar, which was founded by one of the former Maharajas of Tehri Garhwal named Kirti Shah. Here Alaknanda is crossed over on a bridge to its left bank and then after traversing a further distance of 6 km comes the town of Srinagar. The road from Devprayag to Srinagar is all level driving without much of climbs or downhill runs.  The road traverses through some small villages namely Bagwan, Maletha and Kirti Nagar.  After crossing Srinagar, which is also a significant and historically important seat of modern learning, associated with the Garhwal University established here by the British in late 1920’s, is still known to be a seat of learning, where NIIT and other modern teaching establishments flourish.  The township of Srinagar is also known for the holy temple dedicated to Goddess Dhari Devi.  The statue inside the temple is said to change its colour in the reflection during various phases of the day.  Despite protest by locals for not disturbing the temple, which was to be relocated from original position due to construction of dam downstream, the relocation was undertaken on 10th June, 2013 and within three days the devastation in form of unprecedented floods shook the entire region on 13th June, 2013 wherein thousands of human lives and livestock perished and caused irreparable loss to property.  The devastation that took place is still attributed by the local people to the wrath of Goddess Dhari Devi. 
As River Alaknanda meanders beyond Devprayag

Green terraced fields on the road side
Approaching Srinagar town
The River Alaknanda widens as we near Srinagar town
Traversing a further distance of 33 Kms. alongside the Alaknanda River, we reached Rudra prayag, which is another confluence on the holy Ganga River.  This confluence is that of Alaknanda River with Mandakini River flowing in from Kedarnath.  I will provide you all with a brief detail about this destination in one of my ensuing blogs, as due to paucity of time, we did not have a stop over here during our journey, so as to reach Syalsaur in time i.e. before the evening set in.  From Rudraprayag, the road again bifurcates, the road that runs along Alaknanda River heads towards Badrinath and the other one that crosses the Alaknanda River heads towards Kedarnath and this road runs along the mesmerizing Mandakini River.   Having gone past small, but well known townships of Tilwara and Agast Muni and after having traversed a distance of 28 Kms. from Rudraprayag we finally reached Syalsaur, which is actually a non-existent village, with only wilderness and a single house and a silk breeding center, parked in between the villages of Chandrapuri and Banswara of Rudraprayag district of the Uttarakhand State.  Having covered a distance of 165 odd kilometres during the entire day, that included a small stop over after Dev Prayag in a small home run café of sorts, where we had some really nice noodles & Coffee, we reached Syalsaur late in the afternoon and as the lunch hour was over, we ordered some pakodas etc. being famished and tired.  Being the only occupants of the TRH, the entire staff was ready to receive and provide for us and we enjoyed our grand stay.
The gate leading upto Dhari Devi temple near Srinagar
Distant view of Dhari Devi temple 
Headed towards Rudraprayag
Going past Tilwara
Going past Agast Muni
Reached Syalsaur finally
This nondescript little destination i.e. Syalsaur, which houses the Tourist Rest House run by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. (GMVN) is perched at an altitude of about 870 meters above mean sea lever (MSL) and provides for accommodation in bamboo cottages that are speckled alongside the pristine Mandakini River, with its turquoise water spluttering on the rocks and the distant Kedarnath peaks looming over the valley.  It is a very beautiful location, calmness and serenity personified and for the tormented souls, to spend a few days in bliss, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Pilgrims to Kedarnath can stay here, the holy place is about 55 km from Syalsaur.  Being a virgin destination, Syalsaur itself was home to about thirteen odd hotels, constructed in a row facing the serene Mandakini River.   All of them, including the GMVN run one, were destroyed during the ravaging floods of 2013 and I have garnered some photographs from the internet showing the location of the GMVN run TRH then and you can compare the same with my present video.  The only hotel that withstood the ravage and remained standing was built away from the river. 
The Kedarnath peaks - early morning view from Syalsaur
Photo sourced from internet to show the pre-2013 position of TRH at Syalsaur
Photo (2) sourced from internet to show the pre-2013 position of TRH at Syalsaur
Here is the link to the video for the destination