A Trip Report to Garhwal, January 2010

#1 Apr 7th, 2010, 13:32
Join Date:
Oct 2008
Location:
Kolkata, India
Posts:
597
Send a message via Yahoo to kausiks Send a message via Skype™ to kausiks
  • kausiks is offline
#1
It took me some time to come up with the writeup, but hopefully this lengthy report will justify the beautiful trip that I had. Photos of this trip can be viewed here.

Trip Planning
This was a trip which was planned for well in advance, something which is very rare for my travels. There were two reasons for doing so: (1) I always love to have some like minded company with me during my travels, but last minute planning makes it very difficult to get one (2) My luck with the Himalayas has been bad in general. So this trip was planned in December when the probability of having clear blue skies is the maximum. So a friend and me, along with our families, boarded the Rajdhani Express from Kolkata to Delhi on Christmas eve and set off for our trip to Garhwal Himalayas. A silent prayer on our lips – Oh God, please, please, please, give us a clear blue sky when we reach there.

Day 1 - 2: Kolkata to Haridwar
The train was an hour delayed in reaching New Delhi, leaving us sufficient time to check into a nearby hotel and freshen up before boarding the next train for Haridwar. Unfortunately that train arrived two hours late at Haridwar, when half the city was closed and the remaining half was in the process of closing. Luckily my friend Utpal has a friend in Haridwar who suggested a hotel where we moved in immediately. It was cold, too cold.
We ventured out in the streets for dinner and only ‘Dada-Boudi’s Hotel’ was open at that time. It is a favorite haunt for all Bengali tourists to Haridwar where hot meal thalis are served – steaming rice with a spoonful of ghee, fries, dal and vegetables. It was great and was welcome after the train food. Steaming hot rice and ghee, with a dash of chilly and brinjal fry….sinfully delicious.

Day 3: Haridwar to Khirsu
The next morning a SUV was arranged for – and it will be with us throughout the trip until we return back to Haridwar. Our driver Mahgal Singh seemed to be calm and confident – has been driving in the area for more than 10 years. Without wasting much time, we started our journey towards Khirsu around 9 AM. But not before we had our breakfast of hot kachoris and a glass of steaming milk tea. It was cold, but fortunately nobody complained and got used to it after some time (and hopefully enjoyed it). Our first destination was Khirsu, a small village 20Km from Pauri, the headquarters of Tehri. Very soon we had crossed Rishikesh and were traveling through the mountains, roughly following the course of the river Ganga. The Ganga looked beautiful from the top – sea green water, sandy white banks and meandering through dense forests. There were a number of rafting camps that could be seen on the banks and they looked so tempting. Brightly colored tents set up on the white banks. Mangal Singh informed that these rafting camps provide various packages where one stays overnight in the huts or camps, camp fires and barbecue dinner at night and then raft to Rishikesh in the morning. It was mentally noted instantly – something I should try sometime later.

Our first halt on the road was at Devprayag – the holy confluence of the rivers Alakananda and Bhagirathi. From Devprayag, the river Ganges is born. The confluence of the two rivers is distinct, the turbulent gray water of Bhagirathi and the calm green water of the Alakananda. We went down to the banks of the river, spent some time and then resumed our journey to Khirsu. The weather was pleasant and it was a welcome break from the heat and pollution of the cities. The air felt lighter and the sky was blue, dark blue – a rarity in Kolkata at present where everything is shrouded in a blanket of smog all throughout the year.

We reached Khirsu around 3:00PM. The view was wonderful from GMVN, where we were staying. The snow capped peaks of Chaukhamba, Kedarnath stood out proudly against the clear blue sky. There was a big garden in front and people were assembThe rooms at GMVN were nothing great, but fine enough for a night’s stay. Lunch time was over and the kitchen was closed, so we ventured out in search of something to eat. There were a couple of shops outside and one of them cooked up some mouth-watering noodles. Actually it may not have been that good, but hot food and hungry stomachs always make a delicious combination. Groups of tourists were scattered on the lawn and enjoying the ambiance and the scenery. We also joined them and spent the entire evening outside until the cold was biting through our clothing.

The next morning I woke up early to catch the sunrise. It was not very dramatic, but every sunrise in the mountains touches the heart somewhere and this was no exception. A few snaps at various angles tried to capture the morning, but its very difficult to portray the mood in our snaps. The remaining members of my team had decided to skip the sunset and woke up to a bright sunny morning. Aheli had ventured out briefly to get a glimpse of the sunrise, but had again taken shelter under the thick blankets and fallen asleep once again. Later when we were having breakfast at one of the shops in the small market, the shopkeeper told us that mostly tourists from Bengal tourists come to Khirsu. The next batch of tourists will start appearing when it starts snowing in end January and April. We were surprised to see frozen frost on the ground and the rooftops. This gave us hope that may be we will be able to find snow at Auli. Fingers were crossed….


Day 4: Khirsu to Ukimath
Another day could have been spent at Khirsu, but we had to leave for our next destination – Ukimath. Ukimath is the winter abode of the Kedar deity. The Kedar deity is brought from the temple at Kedarnath on Deepavali and stays at Ukhimath till Akshay Tritia (approximately mid April). While Ukimath is by itself a wonderful location to spend a couple of quiet days, our main reason for going there was to visit Deoriatal. It was almost 10:30 by the time we checked out from Khirsu.

Rudra Prayag was on the way in between Khirsu and Ukimath. It is the confluence of the Mandakini and the Alakananda rivers. It seemed that all the prayags had some commonality between them – a similar looking temple at the confluence. We spent almost one and a half hour at Rudraprayag. It was off-season for this part of Garhwal, so there were hardly any other people.

After some tea and snacks stop on the way, we moved ahead towards Ukimath. It was a short journey. The road was as usual very picturesque, as we went through tree lined roads with the snow capped peaks making an occasional appearance. We were booked for GMVN, but before checking in we paid a visit to the temple of the Kedar deity and offered pujas.

By this time, it was almost 3PM and our stomachs were growling and the staff at GMVN very efficiently cooked up some quick lunch. GMVN Ukimath was a small property but had a small, neat lawn from where the mountain range was visible. The weather was perfect and we sipped in our hot cups of tea, with the white peaks in front of us against the backdrop of the blue sky. Daylight was gradually fading away and the mountains were gradually changing colors, from white to yellow to dark orange. We spend the evening playing monopoly in our room.

Day 5: Deoriatal
Day five and we were scheduled for Deoriatal. We were pondering whether to leave at five in the morning and catch the sunrise over Chaukhamba or leave later at a leisurely pace. Though the first option was too tempting, but it seemed that the second option would be difficult to execute. Leaving at five in the cold and dark would be difficult. So we targeted to leave at around 8 AM in the morning. Reached Sari after a short drive of 35 minutes. After having breakfast, we started the 2Km steep uphill trek. Our female team members preferred the horse, but Aheli insisted that she will walk. She did walk for 1.5Km before getting up on a horse for the last half Km. As we reached the mountain top after and hour and a half, it was heaven is front of us - too beautiful to describe. It was beyond our imagination. Deoriatal was an experience. We spent a wonderful five hours at Deoriatal before returning to Ukimath once again in the evening. Aheli was exhausted and slept through the entire evening and night. I was slightly worried lest she does not fall sick, but fortunately she recovered the next morning

Day 6: Ukimath to Joshimath

The next morning we were on our way to Joshimath, from where we planned to visit Auli. The initial plan was to stay at Auli. But accommodation in Auli was expensive and with the very little chances of snow, we decided to save some money by staying at Joshimath. The entire route from Ukimath till Chopta was breathtaking. With the entire mountain range standing mightily along the route, we had a journey worth remembering. The scenery was so tempting, that in between we made a brief stop at Makki Dham to take pictures. The atmosphere was calm and quiet and with no other vehicles in sight, it was tempting to just sit there and sip some hot tea. However, our driver Mangal Singh promised more such breathtaking views ahead of us and we moved on.

Our next halt was at Chopta, the mini Switzerland of India. Normally at this time of the year, its supposed to be snow covered, but for the last 2 years, snow has been delayed. But all the shops were closed except a solitary tea and food stall in the main bazaar. The entire area was deserted baring two other parked vehicles and there drivers. The occupants of the car were on their way towards Tunganath. We dropped the idea of going to Tunganath as everybody was a bit tired after the trip to Deoriatal the day before. Also, the concrete paved walking road was to some extent repulsive to me and instead we settled down for some breakfast. Tables and chairs were laid down almost in the middle of the road as we gorged on alu paratahas and garam chai. The shop owner tried to make us comfortable in every possible way – from making extra large parathas, providing hot water to wash our hands and extra glasses of steaming tea. But let me not divert the topic to food and let me come back to Chopta. Chopta is beautiful – with the undulating mountain ranges, the snow clad peaks and the large open sloping valleys. No wonder it is known as mini Switzerland. We spent a good two hours at Chopta, walking around before proceeding towards Joshimath.

En route we stopped on the banks of Garuda Ganga at our drivers insistence. It is believed that if you collect the pebbles from this river and keep it in your room, snakes will never enter your room. Its not that we have snakes loitering around our houses in the cities, but we still respected his faith and collected some pebbles to carry back to our homes. By this time two things had happened once we crossed Chamoli. The roads had become wider and cars were moving at high speed. So less time to reach Joshimath. And the mountains had become barren and brown in color. As we moved on, they seemed bigger and bigger and seemed to look down upon us from the top.

Joshimath was a big market, the GMVN accommodation was bad – it was a mundane place without any characteristics of its own. It was a big contrast to the earlier places that we had been visiting. Later I realized that Joshimath was a major transit town to a number of destinations – Kedarnath, Hemkund Sahib and the Valley of Flowers. However we explored the eateries and the local shops before settling down for some momos and noodles in a shop. It was cold, really cold now and all our jackets and gloves were heaped on us. But the biggest disappointment for us was the cable car to Auli – it was under maintenance and not operational. It meant that we had to use the road to reach Auli, which was the last thing in our minds. At this point, the driver sensing business opportunity, asked for extra money to travel to Auli. Being at the receiving end, we agreed after some extent of bargaining.

Day 7: Auli
The road till GMVN Auli was wonderfully maintained, but beyond that for some unknown reason, it was a nightmare. The first view of Auli was both awesome and disappointing!! Awesome, because of its height, nearness of the giant peaks, close view of the mighty Nandadevi, the barrenness all around. Disappointing, because of snow only on the higher slopes and a man made pool of water in the otherwise natural territory. It was almost a 30 minutes walk up the gentle slopes of Auli to the pine trees where there was some snow. By the time we walked past the non-functional cable car towers and cable car station and its adjacent coffee shop, several local ski-guides and trainers approached us for availing their services. Aheli was definitely skiing while I was not – the snow was too little. There was the usual haggling over the prices till it was finalized at Rs 300, way down from the initial quote of Rs 500. After that, the next one hour was pure fun. People were falling on the snow in their attempts of first-time skiing. My daughter was one of them, but she also enjoyed, overcoming her initial fear, gliding over the snow and falling flat on her back!! But after an hour and a half, we were freezing in the cold wind of the upper slopes and it was time for some hot hot coffee. A downhill walk to the lower part and very soon we were in the coffee shop sipping hot coffee, or tea of having steaming Maggi noddles.
Although I had planned to stay back till evening to catch the sunset in the backdrop of Nandadevi peak, it was dropped for two reasons. Other members of my group were not very enthusiastic about it and around three in the afternoon Nandadevi was enveloped in the white clouds. We returned to Joshimath around evening and spend the remaining hours exploring the market and the bus stand.

Day 8: Joshimath to Haridwar

It was time to return – not mentally buy physically to our origin. The journey from Joshimath to Haridwar was to be the longest one in our trip. So an early start was planned and surprisingly we were on the road by 8 AM. But not before a golden yellow sunset on the rugged brown mountains in front of our hotel. Breakfast was at Nandaprayag.

It was exceptionally cold at Nandaprayag and people (including us) huddled in parts of the road which was getting some sunlight. Our driver was getting restless by this time and his driving was suddenly transformed – from careful driving to rash driving. Obviously he was in a hurry to get back home. We crossed Karnaprayag on the way, but did not stop. Aheli was complaining, but the others were tired. While some slept through the journey and the others enjoyed, we were back in Haridwar in the evening, stopping for lunch at a roadside eatery and a big traffic snarl before entering Rishikesh.

On reaching Haridwar, we dumped our luggage in a shop and went hotel hunting. It was almost seven and after a long journey from Joshimath, everybody was tired. The first choice was Anand Bhavan dharmsala, but there was problem with hot water. The next choice were the hotels on Har-Ki-Pauri ghat, but they were too pricey (nothing below Rs 2500). After an hour of looking around, we zeroed down on Rajasthan Guest House having huge rooms at Rs 500/per night. Big clean rooms and toilets – very much meets our requirements.

Day 9: Haridwar

The final day was spent on the ghats of Har-Ki-Pauri, shopping in the markets and a brief visit to Baba Ramdev’s place (not suggested, it looks like a luxury resort). In the evening we were just back in time for the arati on the banks of the Ganga. The arati was short, but enchanting. I have heard that the arati at Benaras is longer. Dinner was sweets and namkins. Although I am not too fond of sweets, these tasted different and I gorged on them – rabri, jalebis, pedas and gulab jamuns. All fresh and mouth watering…. It was then we could see the fog descending on Haridwar, dense fog that reduced visibility to less than a meter…

Day 10 - 11: Haridwar to Kolkata
We were to leave for New Delhi early morning by train, before sunrise. It was the end of a wonderful and memorable trip. Though actually the end was not as sweet and Rajdhani reached Kolkata 24 hours late due to a series of accidents in North India, but that’s another story and I will not let it spoil the mood created by our wonderful journey.
Pindari Trek My Photo Album My Travel Blog


It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~Herman Melville
#2 Apr 7th, 2010, 14:26
Join Date:
Apr 2008
Location:
Chennai
Posts:
2,004
  • Gametotravel is offline
#2
Nice account.

About Auli; were you refering to the cable car or chair lift? As I was there in Joshimath and Auli between 23rd and 25th of March . The cable car worked perfectly fine but the chair lift was not working and had not been working for sometime.

At that time Tower 8 stop had little snow but further up at tower 10 /Gorson skiing was very much happening.
#3 Apr 7th, 2010, 14:59
Join Date:
Oct 2008
Location:
Kolkata, India
Posts:
597
Send a message via Yahoo to kausiks Send a message via Skype™ to kausiks
  • kausiks is offline
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gametotravel View Post Nice account.

About Auli; were you refering to the cable car or chair lift? As I was there in Joshimath and Auli between 23rd and 25th of March . The cable car worked perfectly fine but the chair lift was not working and had not been working for sometime.

At that time Tower 8 stop had little snow but further up at tower 10 /Gorson skiing was very much happening.
In December-January, due to a technical fault, the cable car from Joshimath to Auli was not working. So we had to go by road. Did you get lots of snow in March end?
#4 Apr 7th, 2010, 15:17
Join Date:
Oct 2004
Location:
Calcutta
Posts:
2,853
Send a message via Skype™ to somnath
  • somnath is offline
#4

Thumbs up Great !

Great trip report, Kausik ….. thanks for sharing.

- cheers
Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.

My Travel Pix...1
My Travel Pix...2
My Travel Pix...3
#5 Apr 7th, 2010, 16:33
Join Date:
May 2009
Location:
Dilli & Uttarkashi..
Posts:
3,454
Send a message via MSN to tilak2909 Send a message via Yahoo to tilak2909 Send a message via Skype™ to tilak2909
  • tilak2909 is offline
#5
nice write up kausiks, loved reading it
#6 Apr 7th, 2010, 17:43
Join Date:
Feb 2010
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
481
  • deepmajumder is offline
#6
a nice account kausik. hope i can be there sometime.
Thanks,
Deep
visit my blog at http://yougodeep.blogspot.com
#7 Apr 7th, 2010, 18:13
Join Date:
Apr 2008
Location:
Chennai
Posts:
2,004
  • Gametotravel is offline
#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by kausiks View Post In December-January, due to a technical fault, the cable car from Joshimath to Auli was not working. So we had to go by road. Did you get lots of snow in March end?
In Auli there was snow in smaller patches whereas higher up in Gorson (which can be reached by cable car but does not have staying option) skiing was happening which infers that there was plenty of snow.
#8 Apr 8th, 2010, 02:03
Join Date:
Jan 2010
Location:
Gurgaon
Posts:
536
  • Traveller on wheels is offline
#8
Good trip report.. Was worth the time you spent on write up
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
#9 Dec 15th, 2010, 14:51
Join Date:
May 2008
Location:
New Delhi
Posts:
3,602
  • sagarneel is offline
#9

Driver's contact info

Here's a quickie:

I am planning Khirsu/Duggalbitta/Ukhimath during end Jan...can any one share the contact details of a reliable driver in Haridwar? A small car (Indica/Zen) will suffice. I would hire the car for 4-5 days, what will be the per day cost (in Kumaon it was 1200 bucks per day for an Alto last year, is it different in Garhwal?)

Sagarneel.
#10 Dec 15th, 2010, 15:25
Join Date:
Feb 2010
Location:
mumbai
Posts:
93
  • 2069 is offline
#10
great report
#11 Jan 7th, 2011, 21:54
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Location:
Bangalore, India
Posts:
244
  • sasanka is offline
#11
I am planning to visit in mid march with my 3 year old son.
Please tell me whether it is feasible in mid march from weather, accomodation point of view.

How is accommodation condition in Khirsu and Ukhimath ?
Cheers,

Sasanka
Treasured Vacations
#12 Jan 7th, 2011, 22:11
Join Date:
May 2009
Location:
Dilli & Uttarkashi..
Posts:
3,454
Send a message via MSN to tilak2909 Send a message via Yahoo to tilak2909 Send a message via Skype™ to tilak2909
  • tilak2909 is offline
#12
@sasanhka, GMVN accommodation is available at both khirsu & Ukhimath... it is possible in march but it will be very cold and you will find snow at tungnath also...
some pics of duggalbitta taken 5 days back... winter ride
#13 Jan 7th, 2011, 22:26
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Location:
Bangalore, India
Posts:
244
  • sasanka is offline
#13
Thanks Tilak for the info.
I will check the weather and take a final decision.
#14 Jan 10th, 2011, 16:13
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Location:
Bangalore, India
Posts:
244
  • sasanka is offline
#14

Ph no of Mangal Singh

@Kaushiks

Can you give me the mobile no or any contact information of Mangal Singh please.
I am finalising on the dates and budget for the trip.
#15 Jan 11th, 2011, 10:03
Join Date:
Oct 2008
Location:
Kolkata, India
Posts:
597
Send a message via Yahoo to kausiks Send a message via Skype™ to kausiks
  • kausiks is offline
#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by sasanka View Post @Kaushiks

Can you give me the mobile no or any contact information of Mangal Singh please.
I am finalising on the dates and budget for the trip.
His phone number is 9410595280

Similar Threads

Title, Username, & Date Last Post Replies Views Forum
McleodGanj Trip Report - Feb 2010 Feb 16th, 2010 14:39 8 1709 Himachal Pradesh
Moving to Mumbai in January 2010 Dec 19th, 2009 17:35 5 1691 Moving to Mumbai
Trekking and climbing January 2010 Nov 8th, 2009 15:40 4 807 Trekking and Mountaineering in India
Rajasthan Trip in January 2010 - Itinerary and questions Oct 20th, 2009 00:42 18 2187 Rajasthan
January 2010 Trip Plan for Rajasthan, please help plan Aug 5th, 2009 02:00 16 2410 Rajasthan


Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2014
Page Load Success