Can’t believe! Still feels like a dream.
The Idea of trekking to Gosaikunda came up suddenly in Sujan’s mind while reading a book titled “Himalayan Mountain Cults” at the Library of Kathmandu University (KU). Sujan who is my younger trekking and hiking partner since a couple of years, we both have shared wonderful experiences and adventures during our numerous trekking, we share a strong brotherhood bonding. However, when the idea sparked on his mind, the first person he made a call was me, and without giving a second thought I agreed. To explore this journey, I with Sujan and his friend Khim Bahadur BK from KU, we all decided this trek within a day and started our journey the very next day.
The Journey began from Machhapokhari, Kathmandu in August 2023. We reached Dhunche in Rasuwa District after 6-hour drive. We had lunch at a place called Jimbu Thakali Restaurant. The three of us enjoyed our Daal Bhaat. We knew that for the next two days, we wouldn’t have good and delicious food. And we firmly believed in the power of Daal Bhaat for 24 hours. Without wasting a single minute, we commenced our trek. The trail began with a pleasant walk through the village-side and into the jungle, next to the river, for about 30 minutes, where the first ascent began. After another 5 hours, we had crossed Deurali and Dhimsa before finally reaching Chandanbari. While most travelers advised us to stay in Deurali or Dhimsa, we decided to push on and made it to Chandanbari (3300m) to rest for the night. The hotel charged us 1,100 Rupees each for dinner and a bed.
During the Janai Purnima Festival, the Gosaikunda trek can become highly congested, with teahouses often reaching full capacity. We managed to secure a single room with a large bed meant for six people. We had to search for three other trekkers, and luckily, three kind strangers joined us. One of the strangers said, “Hey! I know you. Do you remember that your company provided IT services to my company ‘New Business Age’ almost 15-16 years ago?” Suddenly, I recalled the project but not his face. Even today, I am unable to identify his face. He is Sanjay Subedi, now an advertising agency entrepreneur, cyclist, and more.
Chatting with strangers while trekking can be enjoyable. It helps you make friends, learn new things, and stay safe. Trekking is an opportunity to meet interesting people and create lasting memories. I met Sujan as a stranger during the Panch Pokhari Trek three years ago. He is now my trekking partner, and this was our sixth destination. Sujan introduced me to Khim, and we met Sanjay today. The four of us easily connected but were unable to connect with the other two strangers. This arrangement made it challenging to get a restful night’s sleep due to the crowded conditions. However, the toilet facilities at this teahouse are notably superior to the usual ones. At least we don’t have to venture into the jungle for our nature call.
We began our second day between 3:00-4:00 am. Walking early in the morning is very refreshing and less tiring. We reached Cholangpaty (3500m) after 2 hours of walking, and then another 2 hours took us to Lauribina (3900m). After having breakfast in Lauribina, we headed towards the Buddha Temple (4200m) before Gosaikunda. The trail from Lauribina to the Buddha Temple is the most difficult and monotonous part of the whole trip. But the beautiful view of Ganesh Himal and Langtang Peaks surrounding us made it worthwhile. After about half an hour on this trail with the view of Bhairavkunda and Nagkunda, we finally reached our destination, Gosaikunda (4380m). Despite several hours of walking, the journey to Gosaikunda proved to be the trek’s most memorable highlight. The serene alpine lake offered a spiritual aura during Janai Purnima. After taking a refreshing dip in the pond, we explored Gosaikunda Lake for approximately 2 hours. This unique blend of nature and culture created lasting memories for us.
The four of us discussed returning back to Dhunche from Gosaikunda, which was about 12-15 kilometers. I had a knee problem while roaming around the Gosaikunda pond, and it was very painful. It was one of those things you get up and say, ‘Okay, we are going to walk 15 kilometers downhill.’ At some level, it’s a crazy thing to even conceptualize. I thought it would be manageable, considering that I am reasonably fit. I calculated in my mind and thought, ‘It’s going to be 15 kilometers in 8-9 hours, no big deal.’ In my two decades of trekking experiences, this was the first time I felt tired, and my legs were not supporting my journey. However, at 9:00 pm, we reached Dhunche and headed back home. Coming down to Dhunche was tough because the paths were made of hard concrete and didn’t offer much support for our knees. The local authorities said that around 40,000 people were at the Janai Purnima festival, so we had to squeeze through the crowds while going to and coming back from Gosaikunda. Surprisingly, even though it was the rainy season, we were lucky to have clear skies for most of the trek, and it didn’t rain much.
Janai Purnima is a major festival in Nepal, and during this time, the paths leading to Gosaikunda become extremely crowded. The local authorities mentioned that approximately 40,000 people participated in the festival. Sometimes, there can be long lines of people trying to reach Gosaikunda, and trekkers have had to wait for 15-20 minutes to get to the lakes. Additionally, the teahouses along the way can be completely full. This situation reminds me of the traffic jams that can occur at Mount Everest.
High Altitude Trek
Before you start your Gosaikunda trip, make sure you’re fully prepared, both physically and mentally. This high-altitude trek demands carefulness, especially if you’re a beginner. Take each step thoughtfully, maintain a steady pace, and take breaks to catch your breath. If you notice any signs of altitude sickness, it’s a good idea to descend right away or think about taking altitude sickness medication before beginning your trek.
Gosaikunda is a sacred alpine lake located at an altitude of 4,380 meters in Nepal’s Langtang National Park. It holds profound religious significance in both Hinduism and Buddhism and is a popular trekking destination renowned for its crystal-clear waters, breathtaking mountain vistas, and cultural importance. During the Janai Purnima Festival, devotees undertake a trek to Gosaikunda to partake in a ritual bath in the lake’s holy waters, change their sacred threads (janai), and offer prayers. On the night preceding Janai Purnima, a procession led by Jhankris moves toward the lake, singing songs and reciting hymns throughout their journey.
It was the great battle between the Demon and the Gods for possession of Amrith, the nectar of immortality, as described in the Hindu sacred book, the “Bishnu Puran.” To attain this nectar, they needed to churn the Samundra (ocean). For this purpose, they used Mount Mandara as the churning tool and Vasuki, the king of snakes, as the rope tied around the mountain. Both the Gods and the Demons began to churn the ocean by pulling the rope in their respective directions.
As the process continued, many dangerous things emerged before the Amrith. Among these was a poison that came from Vasuki’s mouth as he was pulled from both sides. This poison was so deadly that it was believed to have the power to destroy all of creation. Fearing its lethal potency, both the Gods and the Demons prayed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva came to their aid and decided to consume the poison.
Shiva stored the poison in his throat to prevent it from spreading throughout his body. The impact of the poison was so severe that it turned Lord Shiva’s neck blue, and he became known as Neelkantha, which means ‘The Blue Throat.’ Lord Shiva rested by this lake to release the poisons from his body.
Such mythological stories are sometimes invoked to seek permission at home. What’s amusing is that hardly anyone can resist this kind of religious persuasion. Even the well-behaved boy’s grandparents packed traditional Nepali snacks like Makai, bhatmaas, khaate, etc., along with prayer items in his backpack.
Khim Bahadur BK, Sujan Thapa & Gautam Shrestha