February-May and September-November are great months to go trekking in the mountains of Nepal, but if you want to trek to the sacred lake of Gosainkunda, plan to reach there during the full moon day around the end of August so as to be a part of the Janai Purnima festivities. It’s the time when thousands of Hindu pilgrims congregate at the lake to change their janais, the sacred thread worn around the body by Hindu Brahmins. At the same time, be warned that you might face some difficulty in getting accommodations then, which even if available, could be at hiked-up rates. You could, of course, camp outside, but again, be warned, the temperatures could be freezing cold, and there could be rain as well. The trails are also liable to be wet, muddy, and slippery, and dark.
So much for the warnings. Now, coming to the trek itself, it begins at Dhunche (3,300 m) in Rasuwa district, which you reach after a 7-hour bus drive from Kathmandu. The drive up the mountains, as expected, is sure to test your nerves. After halting at Trishuli for lunch, the bus groans its way up the last 50 km, sounding as weary as the travelers inside it. However, your frayed nerves will be stilled somewhat by the fantastic views of gorges, waterfalls, and forests.
Dhunche is a modernized town with all sorts of amenities. After a much needed rest, you’ll now begin your trek. The walk is all uphill, and it’s tiring no doubt, so the overnight halt at Chandanbari is a big relief. Note that there’s a dairy around here that sells some fantastic cheese. You might want to try some. The next day, after a hearty breakfast (with plenty of cheese, no doubt) you start walking again till you arrive at a village called Cholangpati where you stop for lunch. By this time, you might be feeling a bit light-headed because of the altitude, so breathe easy and drink lots of water. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a very real danger. Next, you reach Laurebeena, and you will have started noticing that the landscape is becoming pretty barren. By sundown, you should have passed Saraswatikunda and Bhairavkunda, eventually reaching your destination, Gosainkunda.
Although it’s a moderately hard trek, if you are going there during Janai Purnima, then the many pilgrims you meet on the way, including some pretty old people, will surely add to your enthusiasm. Even otherwise, and at other times, the sight of the gushing waterfalls, the deep gorges, and the mysterious ravines, along with spectacular views of Ganesh Himal, Manaslu, and Annapurna, ensure that you have done the right thing by trekking here. At the same time, do pray for good weather, since the perennial mist prevalent at these heights is likely to play villain and deprive you of the opportunity to have grandstand views of the majestic Himalayan peaks.
Gosainkunda lake is situated at an altitude of about 4,315 m within the Langtang National Park. It should be mentioned here that Langtang is located to the north of Kathmandu bordering Tibet and the whole region is protected as the Langtang National Park. It has a number of high peaks including Langtang Lirung (7,246 m). Some 5,000 people live here, mostly Tamangs. Typical Himalayan flora such as deciduous oak and maple and evergreens like pine, along with many types of rhododendron grow here. The Himalayan black bear, the goat-like Himalayan Tahr, and red pandas are also found in the park. As for the lake, a large rock lies at its center, which is believed to be a symbol of Lord Shiva. According to religious belief, the lake water is channelled directly to a tank located at Kumbheshwar temple in Lalitpur, 60 km southwest from Gosainkunda.
After testing your courage once more—a plunge into the freezing waters of Gosainkunda that’s sure to clear your head as nothing else can—and a good night’s rest, you begin the return part of your trek the next morning. The descent should be easier you might think, but isn’t really. It’s as challenging as walking uphill. Anyway, the journey back to Dhunche entails a full day’s hike. You can add Tatopani (‘Hot water’) to your itinerary as well. Tatopani is a hot spring that flows though mineral-rich rocks and is believed to have healing powers. A one-hour bus ride from Dhunche takes you to Syabrubesi from where a 4-6 hour uphill trek takes you to Tatopani. A long soak in one its hot water pools will be the ideal way to rejuvenate your tired body and refresh your mind.
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