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Photographer's Note

This photo was taken at Gandhi Sarovar, a 3.5 kms walk from Kedarnath.
The person in the photo is one of Kedarnath's priests, referred to as Maharajji. They come here on the day the temple opens and worship Kedarnath daily for six months, every year. They live in austere rooms. They wake up at 0430 hours and worship Kedarnath from 0530-0600, after which they can offer their services as priests of Kedarnath to the pilgrims. They accept prasad from Kedarnath between 1530-1600 hrs after which they do not consume anything. Every Tuesday, they walk up the 1.5 kms path to worship Bhairav, before noon, preferably.

Maharajji had known us from 2000 and he accompanied us on the walk to Gandhi Sarovar/Chorabari glacier in 2008. He walked on his own, away from the path and was always ahead of us. He climbed up the glacier as it was quicker and he knew how to. On the way back we found the slope too steep at several places and found his steady hand waiting for both of us.

A young couple he knew had walked the same path in August 2008: the wife was swept down by a sudden gush of the largest waterfall on the way; the husband tried to save her; he did and was himself swept away. The husband's last rites were performed at Kedarnath. He told us the reason for his accompanying us after we were safely down at Kedarnath, at 3584 mts above MSL.

The snow seen behind Maharajji feeds the glacier from which the Mandakini flows out. While waiting for us to come, he stood on the rock as if it was the most natural thing for him to do and my husband took this photo as if it was the most natural thing for him to do.

The walk is tough due to the altitude on the way up and the steep slopes on the way down. The walk at this altitude must begin early in the morning as the weather can change into any form after noon. We got a few hail showers on the way back as we were late.

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