Nanda Devi, Kumaon's Defining motif
If one were to conclude the defining trope for Kumaon hills, it would surely be Nanda Devi Peak. Dazzlingly clear, it is a colossal mountain peak in Great Himalayan Ranges. It stands tall at 7816m & is the highest mountain on the Indian side of the Himalayas. The cosmic peak dominates much of the geographical landscape of Kumaon & leaves its spectators with enigmatic & incomprehensible moments often bringing one to tears.
Over 1000 years Nanda Devi peak has modelled the very culture of this Himalayan kingdom with an inimitable imprint. The humans of Kumaon personify the peak as DEVI NANDA, one of many avatars of the Hindu goddess Parvati. She is the presiding deity of the mountains & all the material abundance is born out of her.
When in Kumaon, it is out of the question to miss the splendour and magnificence of this mountain range steeped in tales of Goddess Nanda
Journey Through Kumaon
On a journey to Kumaon, this paradigmatic peak is visible atop every mountain you cross. The deeper and higher you travel in the valleys of Kumaon, the more radiant and glaring views of Nanda Devi Astonishes you. Covering nearly 120 sq km, the Nanda Devi basin is a natural field of snow and was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1988.
One can witness this majestic peak up close through a trek to its base camp that starts from Martoli near Munsiari and might take up to 15 days to reach East base camp.
The Devi Myth
The hill folk recognises Nanda as one of the indcarnations of Hindu Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. She demands fairs, festivals and has folklore sung about her in every household. Devi takes on many forms as and when needed, but here in these mountains, it is her incarnation as Nanda Devi " The pleased one' or the 'River of Joy'.
Her adobe sits atop the mountain that bears her name while the sister peaks are her vassals and attend to her needs.
While mount Trishul is dedicate to her consort Lord Shiva, the other sister peaks such as Nandakot, Nanda Bhanar, Nanda Khat an Nanda Ghunti are named after different needs of Devi.
Every 12 years, A unique Yatra called Raj Jat Yatra is undertaken by thousands of pilgirlms in memory of the Devi, arduously trekking right upto the mountains base.
The yatra symobolises the devi's return to her spouse, Lord shiva who sits atop prisitine Mount Kailash. The Yatra starts from Nauti Viillage in Garwal hills which is taken as her father's home.
For no less a reason is the Kumaon region often referred to as "the land that lies under the shadow of the Devi "