The first glimpse of the 2 heaven lakes at the feet of the mystic mountain had knocked me senseless for a while. (Read – Rocky Paths lead to heaven). We were reaching the end of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek and the last few days were eventful as we trudged from lake to lake with nature’s virgin beauty unfolding in a new avatar at every bend. I was excited to say the least since we were getting to spend a day next to the twin lakes ( Gangbal and Nundkol) at the feet of Harmukh Peak was a bonus of sorts. I had a song on my lips as we pitched our tent and spread our sleeping bags. I sat in the tent, resting my tired legs peeping out to catch a glimpse of the sunset across the Harmukh Peak. The glowing rays of the setting sun was a golden drizzle and I wished to run across and get bathed in its divine purity, but the legs decided otherwise. I went to bed early that night controlling all temptations to join the group in the next tent who were crooning romantic melodies. As I snuggled into my sleeping bag, I was all excited for the sunrise next morning.
I woke up very early and emerged from the tent dressed in layers to battle the sub zero chill. It was close to 4 am and the sky was peeping through the starry veil like a coy bride. I joined the party silently, reclining on a big rock for support looking up to admire the night with a view. The endless vast expanse did not seem to have a beginning and its pristine beauty lulled me to sleep. I woke up with the singing birds when the sky was turning pale crimson. The mountains were smiling at their reflection in the clear waters of the lake. What clarity!! I thought; There was a whisper in my ear to live the moment. We are also born with clarity which is lost little by little as we find our way through life.
Soon, Harmukh peak was aflame and bathed in the golden sun. As I bent over in sun salutation, I was counting my blessings for the heavenly moment and thanking life for bringing me here. As I stretched into yoga poses observing my trek mates gliding in and out of Tai Chi movements, I wanted time to stand still.
After a while, went exploring the holy Gangbal lake across the stream. I stepped gingerly on the large stones to cross the stream meeting my shadow on the way. Gangbal Lake is also known as Harmukt Ganga often compared to Hardwar. It is a pilgrimage in Kashmir Shaivism and many Kashmiri Pandits undertake the journey in September through steep treacherous climbs for salvation. I did not have the courage to take the dip in icy cold water and splashed some on my head and face instead. By noon, grey clouds floated by !! In my house in the plains, I welcome them with open arms, often with a song or a quick jig but here they were clearly unwelcome. I did not yet have my fill under the sun next to the heaven lakes. After floating in and out for a few hours, they comfortably settled across Harmukh peak. Later in the evening, we gathered around a bonfire to celebrate our time in the hills, of friendships that were made while we trekked, of feelings that we shared under the stars;of experiences that will last a life time.
Travel Tip: This journey is a part of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. I traveled with Indiahikes and click on the link to know more – Planning the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
Related Posts: To know more about the trek route experience