How much walking will be required? What is the difficulty level?
A: Treks can range from 2.5 miles (4 km) to 7.5 miles (12 km). Average treks will be 2.5 miles to 4 miles. Treks range from easy to moderate difficulty.
Q: How can I prepare for this pilgrimage?
A: Physical fitness and overall good health are important elements for a spiritual excursion like this. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you begin a regular practice for conditioning your body. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful to prepare for trekking and high altitudes. One method is fast walking, building up to a steady pace on inclines, hilly terrain, or stairs, and increasing distance.*
The yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) of kapalabhati, bhastrika, and nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) are also good preparation, as is the practice of agni sara to energize the solar plexus and help sustain vitality. These practices are best done regularly, starting with a few repetitions and progressing gradually according to your capacity. If you don’t know these techniques, we recommend that you take a pranayama or hatha yoga class with a qualified instructor. Yoga International.com provides instructional articles and videos on some of these techniques, including contraindications, as do the books Path of Fire and Light, Vol. 1, by Swami Rama, and Science of Breath, by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD, and Alan Hymes, MD. These can be ordered through Himalayan Institute Press at 800-822-4547, press 4, or online.
Q: What will the weather be like during mid-March?
A: Weather and temperatures can change suddenly in the mountains. We will primarily be in the mid elevations, which are less extreme in terms of weather conditions. Generally, in March, the days are sunny with daytime temperatures around 60°F–90°F (15°C–32°C), and evenings ranging from 20°F–60°F (-7°C–16°C). Be prepared for a full range of temperatures and conditions, particularly when trekking to higher elevations and when camping.
Q: What are the altitudes for the key pilgrimage sites and main treks we will be doing?
A: See the detailed itinerary below:
Day 1—March 13: Dehra Dun to Sursinghdhar [6,233 ft/1,900 m]: Arrive at Dehra Dun Airport and transfer to Sursinghdhar by motor coach.
Day 2—March 14: Sursinghdhar: Sightseeing, hiking, and free time for acclimatizing and practice.
Day 3—March 15: Sursinghdhar: Trek to Surkanda Devi shrine (10,000 ft/ 3,048 m), and free time for acclimatizing and practice.
Day 4—March 16: Sursinghdhar to Kund [6,200 ft/1,890 m]: Transfer to Kund by motor coach; free time in afternoon.
Day 5—March 17: Kund: Hike to Triyuginarayan shrine (6,500 ft/1980 m); visit Guptakashi temple (4,327 ft/ 1,319 m) on return to camp.
Day 6—March 18: Kund: Hike to Makkumath shrine, winter seat of Tungnath shrine (5,420 ft/ 1,652 m); return to camp; evening satsang.
Day 7—March 19: Kund: Drive to Narayankoti; hike from Narayankoti to Kalimath shrine (4,048 ft/ 1,233 m); afternoon, time on the bank of the Mandakini Ganga; evening visit to Ukhimath temple, winter seat of Kedarnath shrine (4,592 ft/ 1,399 m).
Day 8—March 20: Kund to Deoria Tal [ 7,813 ft/ 2,381m] to Chopta [8,790 ft/2,680 m]: Drive to Sari village and hike to Deoria Tal; drive to Chopta and camp overnight just beyond Chopta.
Day 9—March 21: Chopta Camp/Tungnath/Chandrashila [13,000 ft/4,000 m]: Hike from Chopta camp to Tungnath/Chandrashila; return to Chopta camp for overnight stay.
Day 10—March 22: Chopta to Kund: Leave Chopta camp and drive to Mandal; hike to Anasuya Devi (6,725 ft/2,050 m); return to Kund for overnight stay.
Day 11—March 23: Kund: Free time at Kund; optional afternoon activity; evening satsang and bonfire.
Day 12—March 24: Kund to Jayalgarh [1,968 ft/600 m]: Drive from Kund to Jayalgarh; early morning optional river rafting (additional charge); brief stop at Rudraprayag (2,273 ft/ 692 m); afternoon swimming and beach time on the bank of the Alaknanda Ganga; closing session and farewell dinner.
Day 13—March 25: Jayalgarh to Dehra Dun [1,427 ft/425 m]: Drive from Jayalgarh to Dehra Dun, packed lunch along the way; pilgrimage concludes with drop-off at Dehra Dun Airport.
*Dates, itinerary, and schedule are subject to change.
*Consult with your physician before beginning this or any exercise program. If you experience any unusual discomfort, discontinue exercise and consult with your physician.