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Harkidun, The God’s Valley

The mesmerizing Harkidun Valley had long remained isolated due to some beliefs and misconceptions of ancient time which still haunt some individuals. It is only recently that the valley has got the exposure that it deserve but still is very least explored. The awe inspiring Harkidun meadow is dominated by the Swargarohini peak atop the Jaundhar glacier and the Bharasu pass that leads to Chitkul in the Sangla valley in the Himachal Pradesh. The Yamuna river valley ends at Nowgaon form where one road diverts to Yamunotri while the other enters Purola. Jarmola Dhar ahead of Purola is one of the most beautiful pine forested areas in the entire state of Uttarakhand.

The whole geography and the feel drastically changes after the Jarmola pass and an amazingly beautiful region, almost a complete new world, follows. This area of Jaunpur is known as Rawaein. The entire stretch is picturesquely adorned with tiny wooden houses and a few Van-gujjar (nomadic herdsmen) huts. The downhill route lands at the block of Mori which is the dominion of the Tons Valley. One road goes to Himachal Pradesh via Hanol and Tyuni from the Mori Barrier while the other enters the gripping Harkidun valley, the domain of Duryodhana and Karna of the epic Mahabharata. Mori village is the vantage point of some of the very less explored hidden wonders of nature that includes high altitude meadows, pristine glaciers, world famous peaks and distinct passes. Legend has it that Duryodhana and Karna of the epic Mahabharata had fallen in love with the beauty of the valley and had spent some time in the area seeking permission from Mahasu Devta as both the warriors were hardcore devotees of Lord Shiva.

Their temples still dominate the villages of the valley. Netwar is a small hamlet on the confluence of Rupin and Supin rivers which becomes Tons from here onwards. The village is scenically located on the Harkidun route which runs parallel to the Supin River which comes from Sankri Village. The people of the area speak a dialect which is very discrete from the rest of the Jaunpur-Jausaar region and rather resembles to that of neighboring Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh. A temple of Karna is one peculiarity of the village. Netwar is the starting point for the Rupin pass trek which goes through the unique tribal villages of Dodra-Kwaar. A GMVN guest house and a Forest Rest House stand isolated next to the village. Netwar is also the entry barrier for the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary which leads to Sankri village which is the motor road end for the trek further to the Harkidun Valley, Bharasu pass, Ruinsara Lake, Kedarkanta peak, Jakhol village and Saruka Lake. However, a dirt track, which is trodden by the local jeep drivers only, takes further 11km to the village of Taluka. Sankri village is adjacent to the less populated Saur village which is perched atop the confluence of Obragaad stream which gushes down from Duni-Bhitri region and the Karmanasha stream which originates from the Harkidun meadow. The logically designed deodar wooded house makes it a visual delight.

There is one GMVN guest house and a Forest Rest house at Sankri. The temple of Someshwer (earlier believed to be of Duryodhana) stands in the middle of Saur village. A steep 5km trek atop Saur village takes to the breathtaking meadow of the Kedarkanta peak which provides a commanding view of the entire Rawaein region and the greater Himalayan wall. The tiny Judatal Lake is beautifully located en route amidst thick forest just a km from Saur village. Towards the northern end of Sankri, Jakhol is the biggest and probably the oldest village of the entire Harkidun valley. All the deodar wooded houses are layered with stone slab roofs. A diversion about 2 km before Sankri leads to Jakhol village after crossing the iron bridge over the Karmanasha stream.

The serpentine stretch of about 500 meters after the bridge is very narrow and spine chilling which is a good deal for the adventurous spirited ones. The temple of Someshwer is the nucleus of the village. A gradual ascent of about 2 km leads to beautiful Saruka Lake which is also the waterhole for the wild beasts and other mammals of the region. The lake is also an important ritual site for the locals. Jakhol is also one of the starting points for the trek to the Sirga top and Sirga village which give a fantastic view of the region. A GMVN guest house and a Forest Rest House are perched over the village. Coming back to circuit, Taluka village is an amazingly beautiful site 11km from Sankri on the Harkidun route. The lush buck weed fields amidst wooden houses make it a picture perfect sight. Local jeeps plea up till Taluka only and it is all trekking route beyond this point. A few minutes’ walk from Taluka takes to a diversion of routes which unite again after 6 km at Gangaar village.

An almost leveled surface track along the Karmanasha stream takes to the village of Gangaar while a steep climb form the diversion takes to the hidden village of Dhatmeer village from where a leveled surface and then a downhill route with numerous streams leads to Gangaar village from where a 4 km trek leads to Seema, the last habitation in the route beneath Osla village. An exuberant 8 km trek from Seema takes to the heavenly picturesque and very less explored Harkidun meadow (3565 meters), the abode of the Swargarohini peak (6096 meters), Jaundhar glacier and Bharasu pass. The vast meadow of Harkidun is adorned with tall alpine trees and is intersected by the Karmanasha stream. The variety and density of wild flowers during monsoon ranks Harkidun next to the Valley of Flowers. The only manmade structures in the Harkidun valley are the GMVN guest house and the Forest Rest House.

On the western side of the valley stands the majestic Swargarohini peak over the Jaundhar glacier while the vast meadow in the north takes to the Bharasu pass which leads to the Sangla Valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is a belief that the Harkidun Valley is inhabited by celestial beings and fairies. On the way back from Harkidun, an enchanting 11km route from Seema leads to the beautiful Ruinsara Lake which is picturesquely located on an isolated meadow. There is no place for a night halt, however there is ample space for camping and a rock shelter. The trek is advised to be undertaken with a local guide.