Day-4 Oddithach to Maantalai:
Tired after the strenuous third day, we decided to leave an hour late today. This gave us opportunity to enjoy the beautiful morning at Oddithach camp. As the sun slowly swept the campsite in brightness, everyone was out relishing the much needed warmth, including our sleeping bags and other stuff. I guess that once we reached the Oddithach campsite at the end of yesterday’s ordeal, nobody paid particular attention to the amazing set up – today we were making up for it.
Surrounded by sheer cliffs on the north and south, with the raging Parvati river carving its way through the meadows from east to west, in my opinion this was the best campsite so far on this trek. Moreover, the fact that we were the sole trekkers camping here, made the effort to reach here even more fruitful.
Slowly we started getting ready to leave this stunning campsite to move to our next destination – Maantalai, the place from where Parvati river comes into existence.
The walk to Maantalai takes us through a series of meadows with minimal gradient. The final climb and subsequent descent to this mesmerising high altitude water body is through steep moraines. Maantalai at an altitude of 4107 m (13,474 feet), is nurtured by numerous glacial streams at the upper end, with Parvati river originating on its other end.
The ease of the trail was very much evident in the team’s pace today. Everyone was swift, enjoying the walk through the meadows and spellbound by the snow capped mountains and glaciers. Even the mighty Parvati river slows down in these areas, taking a break from her furious nature to rather calm demeanour, as if admiring the beauty of the meadows she is flowing through.
Up ahead at a distance, we noticed a ridge with a stream originating from its left. Further to its left stood the moraines through which the trail ascended to Maantalai. In a couple of hours, we were at the base of moraines and started our ascent. With the team comprising of few first timers, our progress was slow through the moraines.
After another 45 odd minutes, we were on top of moraines, overlooking the Parvati valley towards north west and Maantalai towards south east. We descended the moraines and reached the rocky shores of the lake, where a small temple with a Shivling stood beneath the open skies. We took some rest at here, soaking in the serenity of this magnificent setting.
Having sought blessings from Lord Shiva for the safe completion of our endeavour, we continued on the trail alongside the banks of Maantalai. Crossing a stream, we arrived at a grassy stretch amongst glacial streams and this was the place where our camp was being setup. By the time our camps got ready, it had started to drizzle, which is quite common at this altitude.
Everyone had an early dinner and got into their tents to conserve energy for the upcoming days. Settled in our sleeping bags, we relaxed while fondly reminiscing about the beautiful Parvati valley – starting from lush green forests, moving onto meadows and today at Maantalai, the origin of Parvati river – it has been an enthralling journey. Tomorrow we will bid goodbye to this mesmerising valley and move onto face the toughest landscapes of this trekking expedition that can be seen ahead of the campsite.