Bhagavad Gita mentions Mandakini as one of the most sacred rivers of the Hindus. According to one myth, Mandakini was brought down from heaven to earth by Sati Anusuya, a character of Hindu mythology, who sat on a rigorous meditation to save Chitrakoot from famine. Originating from the Chorabari Glacier close to the Kedarnath shrine, the river flows along the NH107 to meet river Alakananda at Rudraprayag. From there Alakananda continues towards Devaprayag where it joins the Bhagirathi to form river Ganges. Mandakini valley is a u-shaped valley that roughly starts from Kedarnath. The region is easily accessible from Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun. The valley is an absolute treat for the nature lovers. The snow-clad Himalayan peaks bordering the meandering, silver-white Mandakini is absolutely enchanting. Except the time of the Char Dham Yatra, when it bustles with pilgrims and tourists, the valley remains relatively quiet and secluded throughout the year. It is this divinely beautiful Himalayan valley which gave birth to one of the greatest poets of this country – Kalidas. Legends claim that the great Sanskrit poet was born in a small village called Kalimath in Rudraprayag district near Ukimath and Guptakashi. Some mythic tales say that the author of Abhijnanam Shakuntalam, Meghdootam, or Kumarsambhaba was born in an obscure place called ‘Asam’ or ‘Ashram’ in the same region. Whatever the exact place might be, Kalidas’s works display his unflinching love for the Mandakini valley and the beauty of the Himalayan nature. Before settling at the court of Vikramaditya in Ujjain, Kalidas was believed to spend his life in the Mandakini valley region. It is this serene and majestic landscape which taught him his first lessons on the principles of true beauty. One can find plenty of references to the Mandakini river throughout his literary creations. The Kumarsambhaba paints a beautiful picture of Parvati playing with her companions on the sandy banks of the river. Or his classic, the Meghdootam, where he writes: “In the cool tranquil waters of Mandakini, village damsels are seen playing hide and seek under shady groves and trying to ward off heat by splashing water at each other. Their captivating physical charm is successful in drawing the attention of, and even tempting gods.” The Abhijnana Shakuntalam, one the other hand, presents a vivid and beautiful description of the Kanvashram which is located at present day Pauri Garhwal district. If you want to experience the land which had been the source of much of Kalidas’s poetic imagination, come to Mandakini Valley at Rudraprayag fast. Not only these intriguing lores and legends or the stunning beauty of the Himalayan landscape, Mandakini Valley has more to offer to the tourists. The region is ideal for all kinds of adventure sports. The valley offers splendid opportunities of trekking, cycling, rafting and kayaking. Safari through the plains on the banks of the river can be a remarkable experience too. June to September is the best time for the trekkers to visit the region as the trekking routes are not affected by the rains then. There are many famous tourist spots like the Rudranath Temple, Chamundi Devi Temple, Koteshwar and others in the valley and nearby. Chopta, famously known as the ‘Mini Switzerland’ is also quite close to the valley.