Helped by a Higher Power in Hemkund Sahib #BlogchatterA2Z

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Hemkund Sahib 1_1

This post is written for the theme “26 Places, 26 Memories” for the #AtoZChallenge.


This Gurdwara or temple of the Sikh religion is located in Uttarakhand in India. At an elevation of over 4000 metres, the pilgrimage site comprises a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks. The place is closed from October to April due to weather conditions.

I visited Gurdwara Shri Hemkund Sahib Ji in the summer of 2002. We were a large group consisting of my maternal grandfather, my paternal aunt with her husband and two daughters, my parents, brother and I. Receiving blessings at this faraway mystical place was wonderful, but what really stands out was the journey there and back.


We began our trek early in the morning. My brother at age 12 was the youngest, and my grandfather at 71, the oldest. It was Sangrand, the first day of the new month in the Punjabi calendar, which made it a popular and crowded day to visit. It took us nearly 18 hours to trek the 6 km stretch to the temple, break for lunch and blessings, and walk back to the village of Govinddham.

Our group faced many hurdles. I slipped on some glacial ice, poised to fall to my death if my cousin hadn’t firmly caught my arm.

Mules were scarce, so my aunt and cousin, who found the climb difficult, sat in baskets attached to the backs of men who transported them to the top. They were separated from us early on.

My uncle and I suffered from Altitude Mountain Sickness, due to the sudden lowering of oxygen levels. We kept stopping to throw up, slowing our ascent further. Upon reaching, we rushed through blessings and langar (community meal), to return before sunset.

On the way down, we finally found mules for my grandfather and uncle, who’d bravely withstood the journey till then; and our group was divided once again. For a time, my brother and I were separated from our parents, but were thankfully reunited soon.

The last leg, however, was the toughest. Darkness had swiftly fallen, and we had one last glacier to cross before reaching Govinddham. My father took charge of me, and held me through the glacial crossing, while my mother was responsible for herself and my brother. She wasn’t strong enough to manoeuvre him and herself and was losing hope when he kept slipping. Terrified for his safety, she looked up to the skies and prayed for a miracle- and it came. A man appeared as if from thin air, and asked her, “ki hoya, behenji?” (what’s the matter, sister?). Quickly assessing the situation, he held my brother and her firmly, and carried them through the slippery ice. Before long, he’d dropped the four of us to safe ground. As we stopped to drink water from the stream, he disappeared as quietly as he’d come. We never saw him again.

On the way up, we had complained incessantly about the harsh climb, and the futility of undertaking this difficult exercise. Later, tucked into our comfortable beds, we realised the journey had been a test of faith. Whether we passed or not, our belief in a higher power was definitely restored 😉

Come back tomorrow for the letter I and another story!

Hemkund Sahib 1_Hemkund Sahib 2

Dead-tired after a gruelling trek to Hemkund Sahib, circa 2002.

H for Hemkund Sahib


*Unless specified, the copyright in all pictures belongs to nooranandchawla. 

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A for AmritsarB for BhopalC for CambodiaD for Delhi,  E for England, F for France, G for Gwalior

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  1. You have a Pandora’s box full of stories and anecdotes and each one is more interesting than the previous one. This trek is on my bucket list and wish for it to happen soon 🙂 .

  2. Nice post. I love trekking in the Himalayas. Yes it can be difficult if all of a sudden oxygen in the atmosphere is reduced at certain altitude. I think you should have stayed back at Hemkund Sahab for the night. We elderly and unwell walkers, return journey could have been dangerous. But if god is with you, who can harm. “Raab Rakha”

  3. When we went to Vaishno devi we kids couldn’t stop cribbing about why Matajis always selected the most inaccessible places to settle down. Reading your post I realise that it is a test of our faith.
    That must’ve been scary, Noor. God sends help in his own mystical ways and never ceases to amaze us with his love and blessings. Lovely pictures!

  4. I have heard so many such instances, Noor and I have no doubts that t was a hugher power who helped you’ll. Beautiful memory, may you all always be protected and blessed.

  5. This was such a thrilling read full of adventures. The Mystery man in the last leg of the journey added to a sense of suspense. You have indeed traveled all over the world and that’s why your stories are so full of life and colors

  6. Hemkund Sahib and trekking up to reach the Gurudwara definitely seems to be a spiritually enhancing and enlightening journey. I have never trekked in my life and would definitely like to try it pout some time. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. Such travels have made you the resilient women that you are today dear and I too believe in miracles done by God to support his true followers like the man who came to help you dear

  8. Wow…all the memories from the trip came flooding back…awesome writing Noora. Have been reading all of them and this one was special😘

  9. This trek is on my bucket list and I hope to tick it off in 2020 on my visit to India. Love your story Noor.

  10. Woah 🙊 thank god your cousin caught you soon! And God bless the stranger who helped your mum. Waiting on the next travel post! 😊

  11. I truly believe God helps his children always in ways we dont understand. You have him always by your side no matter what. Hope to visit Hemkund Sahib atleast once in my life.

  12. Feels so good to hear/read such stories. These are the tales that restore faith in humanity and the supreme power above us!

  13. Beautiful. May u stay blessed always. One such man helped us when we were lost in narrow lanes of mathura. He brought us till the lane of shri banke bihariji temple in vrindavan and disappeared.

  14. Beautiful scenaries and lovely experiences make a holiday a memorable one. I didn’t know that one has to trek up to Hemkunt Sahib. Your post gives me an idea about this religious destination. Will try and plan a trip soon

  15. I’ve been loving your AtoZ posts so far, what a lovely theme to begin with! And this post particular reinstates our faith in a higher power. Must be quite a memory 🙂

  16. This is such an experience. Got goosebumps reading this. Remembered a similar experience in childhood. Hemkund Saheb is indeed a mystical place and hope to visit some day. I am sure when we get there we will remember this incident you have described.

  17. This is a great write up Noor. This really looks like a tough trek. I havnt heard about it, Glad you shared it here. DO drop in to check my take on H too #a2Z challenge

  18. I remember the travel to Hemkund Sahibji, I was in school and was returning from aunt;s place in Punjab when Dad decided to visit the Gurudwara. I was scared to touch the boiling water of kund after seeing a sevadar using the hot geysers water for boiling rice to be served in Langar. Seeing my fear, he told me ‘bacche Babe da naa lo, te snan kar lo’, I was still not sure but somehow kajoled my inner spirit and touched the water, To my surprise, it didn’t feel hot at all.
    The same water just boiled pot filled with rice, but was so relaxing on skin. That’s sure something heavenly.

  19. Good to know about the place and your trip through this post. I have not been to Hemkund sahib but would love to visit it.

  20. I have been dreaming of visiting Sri hemkund Sahib for long . Lets see when The supreme power invites me . Enjoyed your post.

  21. On my last to last visit to hemkunth sahib in 2005 or 06 i believe, we were trekking to govind dham group of boys were making joke that babaji should have medidated in bombay local pakad kar darshan kar aate and suddenly his tight back pack felt off his back, like some one pushed the bag to ground, and they were quite after that all way, i believe they gained the belief in babaji’s power.

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