Kedarkantha trek – Exploring the most famous winter snow trek In India

Every trek in Himalaya is special in its own way, no matter which you choose to ascend to. Because anyhow (1) it gives us a dose of nature which we usually lack in the cities, (2) an opportunity to stretch our physical as well as psychological limits.

But what makes a trek better over the others is, the scenery you get to see when you meander on the uncharted trails or the view you catch the sight of when you finally reach the summit.

Kedarkantha is one of those treks in Himalaya which compels you to behold the beauty of nature in its sheer unadulterated form. Snow-capped mountains to green meadows forest to a frozen lake to a rewarding blissful summit, it offers everything a trekker can wish for.

Kedarkantha trek
Starry night at Kedarkantha base camp

Famous predominantly as a winter trek, Kedarkantha trek starts from a village called Sankari, which is located at a distance of 210 KM from Dehradun.

Usually, winter in the mountains is very harsh in terms of weather. The temperature drops down to minus several degrees and roads too, get inaccessible in most areas – that make Kedarkantha trek even more popular because here you can witness how winter feels like in the mountains.

winter trek in india
Sparkling snow everywhere

Even here too temperature plummet to approx -10 degree at night but this is bearable with a bit of caution and care. This is why you will find a surge of tourists heading towards the base village of this trek Sankri, especially in the month of December, January, February, and March every year.

Dehradun to Sankri

As instructed by the trek organizer, I was standing at Dehradun railway station at sharp 8 am in the morning to embark on our journey to Sankri.

The distance between Dehradun to Sankri is somewhere around 210 km which takes approximately 8-9 hours to cover.

Since this is the first trek I was doing in winter and it quintessentially requires additional gears and clothes because of the extreme conditions one can face at the top of the mountain.

Kedarkantha Basecamp
Kedarkantha Basecamp

And all I was carrying a normal jacket, Nike sneakers, woolen cap, and thermal wear in the name of trekking gears. My trek leader was actually laughing after seeing these but at the same time, they were really supportive. They somehow assisted me to purchase the essential items on the way. Even though a bit late from expected time but we finally reached Sankri at 7 pm in the evening.

Sankri is a small village, much smaller than I had imagined at least. Perfectly straddling the mountains having few hotels and restaurants to accommodate upcoming tourists, two trekking gear shops where you can procure your hiking related equipment and surreal breathtaking scenery all around to make your heart skip a beat.

Hargaon Kedarkantha Trek
Hargaon Kedarkantha Trek

In peak winter, this place even gets snowfall and become meticulously sparkling white.

Sankri to Juda ka Talab

Sankri is the base village for the two most famous treks in Uttarakhand, Har Ki doon and the one we are talking about here, Kedarkantha.

Upon walking 100 meters from the village, there is a diversion, which separates the trail of Kedarkantha from Har Ki Doon.

Most of the trekking companies ( including mine) attempt the Kedar Kantha summit in three parts.

snow trek in India
On the Way to Kedarkantha BaseCamp

(1) They reach Juda ka Talab, (2) Reach Kedarkantha base camp (3) Top of the Kedarkantha peak (Summit).

Trek from Sankri to Juda ka Talab is around 5 km and the steepest one ( As per my experience). I really felt this distance maybe because I was not habituated to high altitude hiking.

I was really on the verge of giving up after hiking for just 500 meters but my trek leader stepped in and pumped me to keep going, which gladly did.

After 3 hours of exhausting, adrenaline-filled hiking, finally, we were in the vicinity of a frozen lake which they call Juda ka Talab. People were actually clicking pictures in the middle of the frozen lake. It was frightening though.

You can picture Juda ka Talab, as a place astoundingly situated at an altitude of 9800 ft. covered entirely in sparkling white snow from all around with a lake in the middle giving a look of sheer embellishment and a gentle breeze flowing from one end to another caressing your face and giving you the experience of heaven on earth.

Sleeping tents of trekking companies or vendors sprinkled here and there along with a kitchen and toilet tents, while mules ( who carry luggage in mountains) have been tied from a rope and fed with just enough food for survival.

snow camping in india
Sleeping Tents

Travelers clicking non-stop pictures and selfies and conversing with each other lightheartedly about life or any random things without the compulsion of making any sense.

Juda Ka Talab to Kedarkantha Base Camp

The next morning, we were eating and sipping tea at an altitude of 9800 ft. and aiming to reach the Kedarkantha Base camp (11200 ft.).

By this time, our trek leader already made us sprint on snow barefooted. We were the only group who were doing yoga and stretching to relax our muscles. We were climbing an extra 500 meters for the shake of acclimatizing.

But if you are enjoying and having the best time of your life, then I believe every pain is worth it.

Now it was time to pack our bags from the magnificent Juda Ka Talab and head towards our next destination, Kedarkantha Base Camp.

The food they served us here was a lot better than what I have tasted all these years running from one fast-food giant outlet to another. Don’t even talk about hospitality. No one can beat people from the mountains here.

Star gazing in Himalaya
Star gazing in Himalaya

Juda ka Talab to Kedarkantha base camp is the shortest distance you will cover in a day on this trek.

This 3 km distance with a slope of approx 60-degree might take 2-3 hours to complete depending on the expertise you have in mountaineering and the luggage you are carrying on your back.

The trail is filled with lush mountains along with snow-covered all around accompanied by trees here and there.

The best part is the base camp. You can witness the mighty Kedarkantha peak right in front of your eyes. For a moment, I thought let’s attempt the summit today only. But then I looked at my eccentric trek leader and refrained myself.

I along with 3 others went further for acclimatization and I hurriedly left my daysack in the tent itself in which I usually carry a water bottle. After controlling my thirst for almost one hour, eventually, I had to quench it by drinking the water from a flowing stream, which was seemingly the better version of Bisleri.

The rest of the time, we did what we very often supposed to do. Having real conversations rather than tagging and messaging people on apps.

Kedarkantha Trek
Kedarkantha Trek

We sang karaoke together, teased each other, clicked countless pictures, and then finally at night we put ourselves inside the sleeping bag and slowly closed our eyes thinking about the subsequent day which was also D-Day of the trek.

Kedarkantha Summit

We had decided to leave the camp at 4 am in the morning so that we can reach to the top early and have the best view possible.

But does the plan ever work as expected?

By 6 am, we were still there at the camp, calling each other names, and then finally we looked towards the Kedarkantha peak one more time and left the premise.

During the entire trek, our team was quite famous among other teams because we were the ones who were taking the least possible time to cover the distance.

Even on the summit day, the team who had left the camp at 4 am in the morning reached the top alongside us.

Kedarkantha Summit
Kedarkantha Summit

When we left the tent, it was still dark. Dawn was upon us but not entirely. I was wearing all the possible gears I could to save myself from the freezing cold. A torch in the left hand and trekking pole in the right.

The first km from the base camp to the summit is the best part of the trek. I mean there is hardly any moment when you wouldn’t want to stop and behold the beauty the surrounding was blessed with.

It all looked like a fairyland. Sparkling white everywhere with a rising sun above the head. Sound of the beetles reverberating from all sides and the mighty peak right in front of the eyes.

Along with sheer ecstasy, we were also feeling sad because we knew like every other moment, “This too shall pass”.

Snow trek in India
Snow trek in India

The last 500 mt. was the steepest of the entire trek. Being an amateur in trekking, most of us were stopping after every 200 mt. of ascending. Our trek guide “Veerendra“, we used to call him Veerendra Bhai was accompanying us without showing any kind of nuisance.

But still, we were the least miserable one. The rest other groups were on the verge of giving up.

People in the mountains astonish me a lot. Because they really do a lot of struggle to meet their needs. They even open a maggie and tea shop at an altitude of 11ooo ft. surrounded by 6 ft. thick snow walls so that they can earn something to feed their family.

It was a matter of just 3.5 hours from base camp when we were standing right at the top of the KedarKantha peak.

No matter how many peaks you have ascended in life but the first-ever summit still holds a special place in the heart. It’s altogether a different feeling.

I was esctastic, elated, blissful, thrilled all at the same time.

From the top, one can see many other famous peaks of Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh like Trishul, Har Ki Doon (valley), Kalanag, Swargarohini, Bandarpunch, Rupin valley.

Like every other peak in Himalaya, you can find a small Shiva temple reverberating the positive energy here, at this peak too.

Kedarkantha Peak
Kedarkantha Peak

Descending hardly takes any time in the mountains ( still do not hurry). It takes even less when you have an option of sliding through the snow for a good distance repeatedly.

Kedarkantha Base Camp to Hargoan

While descending back to Sankri from Kedarkantha base camp. We took a different route ( It’s not only us. Almost every trekking group does this in order to explore more of Himalayan trails).

The trail from base camp to Hargoan is not the usual snowy one. Rather one has to pass through thick forests filled with slippery slopes. Distance is short but it is a tricky one. One has to be extra cautious to avoid any injury.

Even though I didn’t expect much from Hargoan but still I found this place extremely blissful. A serene, quiet place, with snow all around and few tents in between.

kedarkantha trek
kedarkantha trek

It was a perfect place one can imagine to sit back alone and introspect life.

Hargoan to Sankri

Now end of the trip was impending, so does the despondency in us.

Passing through the tick and prolonged forests devoid of any snow for almost three hours, we finally reached Sankri around 3 pm in the afternoon.

A sharing hotel was already booked and we didn’t have a bath for four continuous days. So the first thing we did after getting here is having a hot water bath. The rest of the day passed by beholding and experiencing this small quintessential Himalayan village.

best trekking destinations in India
On the way to Juda ka Talab

Sankri to Dehradun

The next morning, the vehicle which was supposed to drop us in Dehradun arrived on time. The entire day, I was looking at the mountains from the window of the vehicle and thinking about all the things I would miss about this place and people.

After reaching Dehradun, We stopped by at a restaurant to celebrate our successful trip. And finally parted our ways with a promise that someday we would meet again on a trip like this.

What is the cost of kedarkantha trek?

It is somewhere around 6500 INR to 10000 INR, depending on the company you opt.

I booked Kedarkantha trek in 6500 INR with a trekking company called Moxtain. They were really friendly and professional.

Please read inclusions and exclusions carefully before booking the trek.

What is the best time for Kedarkantha Trek?

Kedarkantha predominantly famous as winter trek and the best time of doing this trek is somewhere around December to March.

I did it in December. And I believe it was the best time because the crowd was less and freshness was still there as not many people went on this trek by then.

Is Kedarkantha trek easy?

I will rate Kedarkantha trek as moderate. It is steep but the distance is just 13 km each side.

The highest altitude is 12500 ft. and you get adequate time to complete this trek. Most of the trekking company keeps 4 days in hand for Sankri to Sankri which is very flexible and relaxing.

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