Adorned in glazing white
I am reminded of the resounding words of the poet, W.H. Davies, as i talk about the Satopanth Tal. He says,
“What is life full of care,
there no time to stand and stare;
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night”
In the midst of snow clad mountains adorned in nothing but speckles white, rising above the sea level by about 4600 meters the lake stands (as described by the poet) full of stars. In the Indian state of Uttarakhand is the Satopanth Tal. Exactly speaking, the lake is 25 kilometres from the holy place of worship for Hindus, Badrinath, after the hurdles of Lakshmiban and Chakratirtha are crossed. While we go up the hill, we will see the Surya Kund and the Chandra Kund, two tiny streams, are seen flowing playfully in the Himalayas. The triangle shape of the lake is a major factor of attraction too.
The lake has a lot of religious significance. Firstly, the villagers of Mana sprinkle the ashes of the dead in these holy waters so that the dead get liberation from the circle of life, which is a very important concept in Hinduism. Also, once a year, on an auspicious day, the Trimurtis or the three main Hindu Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - are said to take a bath in this lake. Secondly, as the name suggests, it is the path of the truth, hence, the Stairway to Heaven. It is also believed that the mighty characters of Mahabharata, the Panch Pandavas, along with Draupadi, passed from here when they were ascending to Heaven.
At different places through the trip you will find the name of the Pandavas along with their name as a tribute to the heavenward journey. At Mana we will find the first memorial of the Pandava king with the name of Bhima called the ‘Bhima Pul’. The stone bridge is believed to have been made by Bhima for Draupadi so that she could cross the mighty river Saraswathi. Next is at Lakshmi Ban, where Draupadi is supposed to have kicked the bucket here. Next comes Bandhar. The stream here is known as the stream that helped Yudishthir quench his thirst and is said to have been made by Arjuna’s arrow. Bhimbar is the next halt at retracing Pandava’s path. The pillar made of huge boulders reminds us of the place where Bhima breathed his last. At Chakratirtha, it was Arjuna’s place of death. Yudishthir and his pet dog were the only two reached heaven.
The third story is a legend that believes that goddess Lakshmi (Hindu goddess of riches) and Lord Narayana meditated in Chakratirtha and Lakshmiban. During their meditation, Narayans set aside his popular Sudarshan Chraka on the valley. The Chakra got submerged in the earth below, by the load of the weapon and formed an amazing circular pasture and a lake circled by mountainous ranges.
The place has an historical importance too. Mount Satopanth is a very famous and taxing peak in the route of the Himalayas. It was firstly tried to reach from both the sides, North east and north west by Austrians in 1938. However, the first people to reach the peak were the Swedish people in 1947.
This place, Satopanth, is exceptionally stunning but the drawback of it is that it is a little deserted but filled with opportunities for unlimited and unexplored adventures of mountaineering. Another problem is that tents cannot be made, so one will have to stay in the caves during nights. From the peak, one can see the scenic beauty that cannot be witnessed elsewhere, with sights of the Shivling, Thalay Sagar, and the horrendous pillars of Bhagirathi III. These pillars are known as "El Cap with a Droites facing North above 6000 M".
Also, one major attraction here is the Vasudhara Falls. These cascades fall from an elevation of approximately about 125 meters, though you will feel only a few droplets falling on you because of the height, plus the valley below with its foggy appearance.
Travelling across the Satopanth glacier and after hours of violent roads for hiking on the perilous moraine, one will see the lake. The very first point that will stun a person is the odd otherworldly or heavenly ambient lake, peaceful and relaxing. The amazing shape of the lake is even more stunning.