The mission was to trek to the glacier called Gaumukh, a tract of 8km by 24km ice-body, the origin of the holiest of holy rivers Ganges or Ganga, highly revered by Hindu believers over millennia. The final destination of the trek had to be Tapovan, a wide-open meadow at the base of the picturesque Shivaling Peak could only be reached if snaking through the boulders and chunk of icebergs that remained on the surface of the glacier followed by a steep thousand feet climb. At the source, the Ganges named after ancient King Bhagirath, read Gangotri Tales to know the Hindu Mythology involved, as River Bhagirathi and confluences with River Alaknanda at Devprayag to become River Ganga that flows from north of India towards east covering a distance of 2480km to the Bay of Bengal.
The usual brownish trekking path slowly gets converted into a red coloured path due to the presence of those beautiful mountain flowers, which seems to be welcoming the exhausted trekker into the majestic world of marvelous nature by spreading it’s petals along the visitor’s path. These beloved red coloured himalayan flowers are known as Rhododendrons. They rule the flora kingdom with their variety of colourful relatives. The national flower of Nepal which is ‘Lali Guran’ or ‘Red rhododendrons’; the state flower of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, has earned loads of reputation for it’s medicinal properties, uses in religious purose as well as for it’s capitvating beauty.
Rhododendrons are blessed with over 1000 natural species, including many bushy species and a number of trees that grow to heights of up to 30 meters. But the Himalayas are the home to the largest variety of their species. Of all these species the most renowned one is ‘Rhododendron arboreum’ known as Gurans or Burans in different pahadi languages. The tree is found in Himalayan hills ranging in India, Bhutan and Nepal. It has also flourished in Nilgiri hills of South India. It is also found in mountains of Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar.
Now as in humans one starts to lose physical strength at the peak of age, the colour of these flowers start to fade as one goes to the peak of its homeland, just saying. Continue reading “The beauty of Rhododendrons”