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A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Trip to Himalayas with my daughter

 
A trip to the Himalayas has been on my agenda for a long time. It finally happened in May this year when I took off for 9 days with my daughter.
Day – 1 : We reached Delhi from Bangalore on 20th May and stayed at the Ginger hotel opp the railway station. Ginger is located next to the railway station – neat rooms for Rs 1000/ night. We took the Shatabdi from Delhi at 6.50AM and reached Haridwar by 11 AM. The drive to Rishikesh was less than 45 minutes. Haridware & Rishikesh are hot in May and the temeperature was in the 40’s.
Day – 2 : We stayed at the Vasundhara Palace ( Great hotel – 2.5 K / night) and post lunch did a quick tour of Rishikesh – Laxman Jhula , Shivananda Ashram, Walk along the Ganges and finally the Arti. It’s a crowded city and the Ashrams are concrete jungles. It was dissapointing and not what one had expected.
Day – 3 : The next day we left after an early breakfast and drove to Harsil. Its a long drive all along the Ganges – we left at 7.30 AM and reached Harsil at 6 PM. Stopped at Uttarkashi for lunch. Drive was hot – though we were at about 1500 M in the Himalayas. The mountains here are dry all the way to Uttarkashi and the landscape changes post that. Good restaurants are rare – but you can find Maggi in all the small tea shops. Uttarkashi has a few restaurants – but they are OK on cleanliness and service. Too many dams have killed the bubbling Ganga and in many places especially after Tehri the Ganga is like a thin stream.
On the way to Harsil we stopped by a hot water spring at Gangnaini. Water is boiling hot – but again the facilities are poor and not clean. Harsil is a beautiful place – has limited hotels and you end up staying in camps – right on the banks of the river Ganges. We stayed at the Caravan Camp – but little ahead was the Char Dham Camp which had better amenities. The view from Harsil is spectacular. Food at the camps is hot & decent but basic. Days are pleasant ( full sleeve shirt during day) but nights are very cold.
Day 4 : Harsil to Gangotri is a 2 hr drive. Beautiful scenic drive , we are pretty close to the China border and see the Jat Ganga ( a tributary to the Ganges flowing in from Tibet) flowing thru a deep gorge. This also has the highest river bridge in India. We reached Gangotri by 9 AM – crowd was sparse and we could complete darshan by 10. The water here is freezing and its amazing to see people taking bath. Thats the power of faith. We could hardly dip my hand in water for a few seconds to fill a pot with pure Ganga Jal. The trek to Gomukh is a 1 day affair – it’s about 18 Km’s and can be done in 1 day. Not very steep – but the area has no shops – so stock yourself with water / food if you plan to do this trek. The glacier is receding and some say you need to go to Tapovan beyond Gomukh to see it.
We drove back to Uttarkashi after having lunch at Dharali and reached by 4.30 eve. The Char Dham Camp at Uttarkashi is a wow. On the bank of a gushing Ganges the tents are well equipped with electricity , western style bathrooms. Excellent food is served and hot water is available. the camp is green and looks like an ashram from the Ramayana / Mahabharata days.
Day 5 : Since there are no TV’s at the camp – we slept early and woke up by 5 AM. We were on our way to Gupt Kashi by 7 AM. There are two routes to reach Gupt Kashi and we ended up taking the longer one – reaching Gupt Kashi at 6 PM. ( The route Via Kirti Nagar takes lesser time) That was a long tiring 11 hr drive with hardly any restaurants en route. On this route you can spot the Mandakini river.
The Kedar camp at Uttarkashi was also spectacular. Great view and excellent service. The next day morning we were up early and left for Phata – a 15 Km drive from Gupt Kashi. Pawan Hans and another Pvt operate run Helicopter Service to Kedarnath from Phata. the ride takes less than 10 minutes each way and lands at a 10 Min distance from the temple. It costs 8000 Rs (Cash Only) and includes a special VIP darshan pass. The helicopters carry 6 people and run every 10 min. Book in advance since they get sold out.
Kedarnath is a small hamlet in the Himalayas , surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Most people trek the 18 Kms ( steep climb) and it could take you a day to make the journey To & Fro.
We had a great darshan and were back at Phata by 11 AM. Started off for Joshimath and drove thru some beautiful spots. Chopta is beautiful and the forests here abound with wildlife – especially the Musk Deer. Again limited restaurants and you need to manage with Maggi. We reached Joshimath at 5 PM and stayed in a small hotel. Joshimath is a crowded town at 2000 metres and is the base camp for Badrinath.
Day 6: The next day we set off for Auli – a picturesque hill station at 3500M. There is a cable car from Joshimath that reaches Auli in less than 20 minutes ( drive is 14 Kms). Auli is a beautiful Ski Resort – you can see snow capped mountains all around you. We took a small trek ( walking for 3 hrs in this altitude is not easy) and climbed a small mountain from where we could see the Nanda Devi clearly. The cliff lodge at Auli is a RCI property and a proper 3 star hotel with all amenities. My daughter finally got to eat pasta here.
Day 7: We left for Badrinath at 5.30 AM the next day and reached the temple after a 3.5 hr drive. The distance is less than 50 Kms but it’s a narrow road that is very crowded. The Q at Badrinath was like Tirupathi and it would take us 8 Hrs to get Darshan. There is no concept of special pass or VIP tickets and we had to pray from outside and return.
After lunch at the Sarovar Hotel – we left Badrinath at 11 AM and reached Rudraprayag at 5 PM. We drove along the Alaknanda ( a river which originates from near Badrinath). Stayed at a small hotel in Rudraprayag.
Day 8 : Next morning we left Rudraprayag and stopped at the Prayag ( confluence of the Mandakini & the Alaknanda) – its a beautiful site and you can walk down right in front of the merging point. We then drove along the Alaknanda to Dev Prayag where the Alaknanda merges with the Bhagerathi to form the Ganga. Dev Prayag to Rishikesh is a 2 hr drive ( 70 Kms) and we were back in Rishikesh by 11 AM. Enroute we stopped by at Shivpuri – which has over 70 camps for white water rafting.
We had lunch at Vasundhara Palace and took some rest at the Ganga Hotel before we boarded the Shatabadi back to Delhi at 6 PM.
Day 9 : After some sightseeing at Delhi left for Bangalore
A quick summary
1. The Himalayas are majestic and rugged. The cliffs are almost vertical.
2. End May is the best time to travel – come June the rain start and along with that the landslides. The Helicopter service to Kedarnath is also closed during June / July
3. We had a Innova and a Guide with us for the entire trip. The whole trip from Rishikesh cost us 75 K – inclusive of food / hotel. ( Excluding the Helicopter ride)
4. The camps are great – especially the Char Dham Camp & The Kedar Camp.
5. Drives are long – the Innova is very safe , but rarely can you exceed 30 – 40 kms / hr
6. Days are pleasant – no need to pack in too many woollens. Even at gangotri & Kedrnath all you need are full sleeves. Nights are very cold.
7. Food is decent at the camps – en route could be challenges. No curd is available across the route – so you have to manage with Roti / Dal / Sabji – no curd rice.
8. You can see snow at a close distance in the mountains – but to reach the glaciers or the snowy mountains is a 1 – 2 day trek.
9. Credit Cards do not work – we saw an ATM at Joshimath that worked , but the SBI one at Uttar Kashi had no money. So carry cash
10. Our entire trip was arranged by a Rishikesh Based company
Garhwal Himalayan Explorations Pvt. Ltd, Rishikesh (Uttaranchal) India. Their proprietor Rajeev is a thorough professional. He also runs a beautiful camp at Shivpuri and can arrange for white water rafting / treks.

Contact Details of tour operator  :  0135-244 22 67,  244 26 67, 243 34 78, Cell No : + 94 120 50 478,  9758164778 ( Rajeev ),  + 94 107 97 790 ( Krishna). www.thegarhwalhimalayas.com  or  www.thehimalayas.in

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8 Comments

  1. Amit

    Excellent pics & descriptions boss….The summary is very handy when i plan to go there…How did u manage without curd rice ???

    • That was tough – the day we came back back home we gorged on Rasam . Sambar & Curd Rice

  2. Avishek

    Hey sir, great writeup & stunning pics 🙂

    the language made me travel with u, but somehow I can’t travel to hilly locations on road as I have motion sickness

    Bye

    • The trick to avoid nausea is to walk every hr for a few minutes. also the nausea effect is bad in the morning – and then it goes away.

  3. Ganesh

    Lots of useful details. Would you recommend elders for this trip (70+)?

    • Met lot of elderly people. If they are Ok with long hrs in the car – no problem . Avoid Yamunotri – that’s a steep trek. For Kedarnath – do take the Helicopter – else its a tough trek.

  4. Vasudev Tantry

    Hi! VAK, Very informative…..Hope to do it someday myself 🙂

    Tantry

  5. papiya

    Vak,
    Had been wondering how was your trip and finally read your blog! This is soo cool. No curd?? Bet you didnt know that before going else you wouldn’t have gone 😉

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