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Musk Deer Trip at Kedarnath

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It was a chance visit at Kedarnath musk deer sanctuary. I was curious to view the musk deer from which the musk is produced illegally. The animal is highly held for its cosmetic and alleged pharmaceutical properties, and can fetch U.S. $45,000 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) on the international market. Devinez Musk Arabia Home Liquid Air Freshener  (12 ml) which is sold on Flipkart is priced at Rs 378. Normal price is around Rs 600.

I started the journey from Dehradun which is 9 hours adventure trips along the zigzagging road and dense forests. The drive to the sanctuary winds through Rishikesh-Devaprayag-Srinagar-Rudraprayag-Karanprayag-Chamoli-Gopeshwar and Mandal.

I prepared my first halt at a rafting camp on the Ganges above Rishikesh. There are nearly 24 rafting camps on the Ganges but I prefer the Himalayan River Runners Camp. This is located on lovely white beach of Ganges silt washed down from the Himalayas. The camp offers a wide scope of adventure activities including rafting, kayaking, angling, trekking and rappelling.

Rafting down the Ganges is a memorable experience; there is a team spirit, thrills, spills and great humour. The rapids are of different classes and they keep the adrenaline level high and have funny names like “three blind mice”, “the wall”, “the golf course” etc. After a hectic day in the river the best way to unwind is obviously with a lovely fire, under a starry sky hearing the incessant chatter of the Ganges with the world.

From Mandal, I started my climb into the mountainous forests for the Kanchla karak forest guesthouse at 2700 m. It is also famous for the musk deer farm. The guest house is situated on a slope and overlooks the towering slopes where sharp eyes can spot Himalayan thar and goral.

The thar are wild goats inhabiting the rugged slopes of the greater Himalayas, Western Ghats and mountains in Oman. The musk deer is a rare animal which has greatly poached for the musk which it produces and if you are very lucky you may spot this “canine tusked” animal in the wild. At the musk deer farm at Kachla Karak you can see the delicate lovely animal. The general colour of the coat, composed of brittle hairs, is a slightly grizzled sandy brown. As the name suggests, on the chest is a wide vertical whitish-yellow stripe which extends up the throat to the chin. The ears are tipped with yellow or orange hairs. On the nape of the neck are several horizontal blotches of yellowish hairs. The body slopes forward, as the hind legs are almost one third longer than the forelegs, causing the height at the rump to be almost 10 cm above the shoulder. The ears are large and rounded, generally lined with whitish fur.

More on Musk Deer

Himalayan musk deer are most active between dusk and dawn, alternately resting and feeding throughout this period. At night, musk deer can be seen in the open areas of their habitat as they graze, while during the day, they remain in dense cover. They are sedentary, remaining within a defined home range throughout the year.

The Himalayan musk deer does not undertake any seasonal migrations, remaining in the same area year-round despite harsh weather conditions. A shy animal, the musk deer depends on its sense of hearing to locate sources of danger. When frightened, they make broad leaps, each measuring up to 6 meters in length. Drastic changes in direction are made during flight, and every few jumps the animal will stop and listen.

Reaching Kedarnath

The nearest airport is in Dehradun, 25 km away. The nearest railheads are Rishikesh (234 km) and Kotdwar (260 km), from where one can find trains to Dehradun. Being an important tourist destination, Kedarnath is easily approachable by road from several important places of the Garhwal hills – Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar, Badrinath and Gangotri.

You can stay in Shivalik Valley Resorts which charges around Rs 1500 per night or Camp Nirvana Guptkashi which is little costly, at Rs 3000 per night.

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