Day3: 30th July 2012 : Today my plan was to reach Gaurikund by evening, or as near to Gaurikund. I had told the hotel manager last night to wake me up early incase I do not hear my mobile alarm. Before, the manager came to wake me, I was already awaked. I had my morning chores and left for the bus-stand which was nearby. Here the bus was already parked, I enquired about it, and entered one of the bus. The bus service is called Bhuk Hartal (Hunger Strike) because if you get stuck in the mountains, then you have nothing to eat for days sometime even week. Bhuk Hartal is a private bus service, but has extensive network in Uttarakhand. Even though I was going to Gaurikund and the bus was not, they still tell that we will drop you at your destination. They dropped me at Rudryaprayag, from there another connection and so on.
The bus started half hour late, but the driver was good. As soon as you leave Rishikesh you hit the mountains all the way till the Gaurikund, so the dangerous road starts as soon as you leave Rishikesh. The bus had hardly any passengers in it, as it was off-season. I met one guy from Lonavala who was also heading towards Kedarnath. For next couple of days he was my partner. Also, in-between a couple of Russian(mother and son) entered in the same bus where heading in same direction. After an hour of bus ride I started taking snaps of the surroundings which where lush green in rains. Also, it had started to rain. In rains, travelling on mountain road becomes hazardous, as there are frequent landslides in this part of Uttarakhand. If visiting in monsoon, then plan for some delay and have some extra days in your itinerary.
The bus took its first halt just before Devaprayag for breakfast and tea. I had a couple of parathas and tea, the weather was cool and slight rain outside. Here all along the roadside there are plenty of dhabas or eating joints. Devaprayag is the confluence of the river Alakanda and river Bhagarathi. After 20 mins of break the bus journey started again. Our next prayag(confluence of rivers) was Rudraprayag, before that the bus goes through Srinagar city, one of the important city in Uttarakhand. It was former capital of Gharwal. The bus takes passengers for shorter distances too. One such passenger was and Indian Army soldier posted in Pune, who happened to visit his hometown during leave, he advised me not to travel in monsoon in Gharwal region as the chances of getting trapped in-between journey are high.
Till Devaprayag river Ganga runs parallel to road, from Devaprayag to Rudraprayag river Alakananda runs parallel to the road and from Rudraprayag its the river Mandakani which runs parallel to the road all the way till Gaurikund and Kedarnath up further. You will always be listing to the roar of the river throughout your journey. By 11.30 pm we reached the town of Rudraprayag, here we were told by the bus attendant that we have to change the bus and go in a different bus. The bus was
parked on the other side of the road and we all went and sat in that bus. This bus started after an hour or so and it was raining heavily by this time. This bus was also not a direct bus, we went till a city called Kund and there we four got down at a junction. From Kund me and the guy from Lonavala boarded the state bus of Uttarakhand which was going to Gaurikund, our final destination. We wasted a couple of hours in-between due to bus transfer.
This bus was packed, infact I had to stand till guptakashi, it had a lunch break at gupt kashi. Here I had the most wonderful lunch of the whole trip. It was simple dal and basmati rice, along with couple of roti, but the surrounding and the cool weather made it an awesome environment. The road from Guptakashi to Gaurikund is the most dangerous one, in fact from Kund itself the bus starts climbing rapidly. At few places its just one-way.
Finally we reached Gaurikund by 5:00 pm, me and my friend had a shared room, which cost Rs75 per head. Had my dinner with him in one of the dhaba and called the day off. There was power outage that night, so we where sleeping in dark.
The bus ticket cost Rs 260 from Rishikesh, the room rent was Rs 75 shared, and the food cost for the day was Rs 250.