This journey from Haridwar to Gobind Ghat – the transit station to Valley of Flowers – was the first leg of our trip to Valley of Flowers in Indian Himalayas. This was the overall plan of the trip.
31 Aug 2012 – Arrive in Haridwar
01 Sept 2012 – Drive to Gobind Ghat from Rishikesh. Stay in Rishikesh.
02 Sept 2012 – Trek from Gobind Ghat to Gangaria. Stay in Gangaria.
03 Sept 2012 – Trek to Valley of Flowers. Stay in Gangaria.
04 Sept 2012 – Trek to Hem Kund Sahib. Stay in Gangaria.
05 Sept 2012 – Trek back from Gangaria to Gobind ghat. Leave for Badrinath. Stay n Badrinath.
06 Sept 2012 – Drive from Gobind ghat to Haridwar. Stay in Haridwar.
07 Sept 2012 – Haridwar to Delhi by Night train
08 Sept 2012 – Depart for Bangalore from Delhi.
Our journey to Valley of Flowers started here in Bangalore. The flight from Bangalore to Delhi was uneventful. Thankfully the flight was on schedule. I was surprised when the pilot announced that the temperature in Delhi as 32 degree Celsius. This was at 8 PM on last day of August and it was warm and humid. We are definitely spoilt by good weather in Bangalore!
Our initial plan was to catch night train to Haridwar, which was the rendezvous for the group. There was a goof up in the train reservation and we could not get the confirmation till we left Bangalore. As a contingency plan, we had asked a friend in Delhi to arrange a taxi for us to be dropped in Haridwar. The guy was there to pick us up from the airport and drove us straight to Haridwar.
The journey from Delhi to Haridwar at night was not smooth. The traffic till Ghaziabad or rather Meerut was horrendous. Beyond Meerut, the road was double lane which added to our woes as there was a huge truck traffic. When we reached Haridwar, it was 2 AM. We had asked Hotel Haveli Hari Ganga – where we had already booked our commendation for staying there on the way back – to give us a room to put our head to bed for few hours before joining the group at 6.30 in the morning.
Since, the trek was organised by Indiahikes, our meeting point was Haridwar railway station. We were a group of 15. We met other members in the group. It was a mixed crowd and the members had come from all the places. Some of them had some experience of trekking and few of them were the first timers. A “Tempo traveler and Xylo” was organised for the group and our journey to Gobind ghat began at 7 AM.
We left railway station and crossed Ganga bridge overlooking Hari ki Pauri on the left. Ganga was flowing fast and ferocious – thanks to copious rains in the last week. From now on, the river was to give us the company in different forms til we reached Gobind ghat.
This is a fascinating journey of driving through the valley of Ganga. “Welcome to Dev Bhoomi” proclaimed the signage by Border Roads Organisation – the people who maintain these roads. Yes, this is a drive in “Dev Bhoomi or Abode of Gods”. Surrounded by mountains all around, the road continue to climb slowly. It follows the course of the river which meant that the road has been carved from the mountain with a sheer drop on one of the sides. At many times, we climb up so high that the river looks like a small stream far below. The vistas are spectacular with greenery all around with white cascades of water falls breaking the monotony of green. This must rank as one of the most scenic drives in the country. The terrain is badly landslide prone and we could see that at many places on the way. Fortunately we did not face any road blocks while going though we lost three hours on return.
Let me take you through the picturesque “Journey with Ganges” as we experienced it.
|Ganges flowing ferociously. You will encounter Ganges as soon as you depart Rishikesh and the river will give you company throughout.|
|Panoramic view of Ganges Valley|
|The road is constructed in such a way that it is at the edge of mountain with river flowing below. Notice the landslide which had occurred in August shutting the road for two days|
|It is different shades of green everywhere|
|A village perched high in the mountain|
|The landscape throughout the journey mesmerises you with waterfalls, tall peaks, colourful paddy fields, pine tress etc. Look at the next few pictures. Of course, Ganges will continue to give company.|
|Dev Prayag – The confluence of rivers Bhagirathi and Alakananda forming Ganges. Bhagirathi originates from Gangotri and Alakananda from Badrinath. You can notice the colour difference. Alakananda is darker and Bhagirathi is lighter.|
|A Suspension bridge over Bhagirathi in Dev Prayag|
|Panoramic view of Alaknanada valley as we start climbing towards Joshimath|
|First sighting of snow covered peaks as we approach Joshimath. The peaks are taller and landscape changes into deep valley between Chamoli and Badrinath. This stretch is the best of the whole journey and also highly landslide prone.|
|Bridge over Alakananda in Joshimath|
|Panoramic view of Alakananda valley @ Joshimath|
|The stretch between Chamoli and Gobind Ghat is the most picturesque as well as risky. Notice the road at the edge of valley.|
|Joshimath town overlooking Himalayas|
|We encountered two landslides on our way back and lost three hours. This was fresh and had happened five minutes before our arrival. Notice the size of boulders!!|
|Pilgrims from rural India returning from Badrinath relaxing in the sun and waiting for the road to clear. The women were sitting in one group and men in another. Separately. No intermixing here!!|
|I clicked this mountain and the pine trees enveloped by clouds (below) as we waited for the road to clear|
|Driving in these hills is risky. Never know when the rocks come cascading|
|The road cleared finally|
|The rocks which cascade from the top!!|
|There are some bad stretches too….|
We finally reached Gobind Ghat around 6 PM. It was turning cold and the long hill journey had made all of us tired. A hot cup of tea served on our arrival was definitely refreshing.
The next day would be a grueling trek of 14 KMs to Gangaria. Having seen the vistas of Himalayas on the way, we knew we would not be disappointed as we climb to the village of Gangaria.
Here are the videos we had shot of the journey
a) Don’t be in a hurry to complete this journey. This has to be savoured slowly.
b) Start your journey from Haridwar or Rishikesh. It is recommended to hire a taxi or drive your own vehicle which will give you independence to stop and enjoy the vistas of Himalayas.
c) If you are driving, make sure you are following etiquette of hill driving strictly. If traveling in hired taxi, do not unnecessarily disturb the driver and make sure that driver does not engage himself on cell phone while driving.
d) If you are driving, concentrate on the road and don’t look at the sceneries.
e) Along the way, you encounter many confluences of tributaries of Ganges. The places are called by last names “Prayag”
f) The complete distance can be covered in one day. However, if you want to explore the places on the way which have their own charms and interesting places, you can break journey in Rudra Prayag.
g) The route is prone to landslides, especially in monsoon months of July – September. The journey is very picturesque during monsoon with greenery, water falls, roaring rivers. But at the same time, be prepared for road blocks due to land slides.
h) The most picturesque part of the journey is between Chamoli and Gobind Ghat and then onwards to Badrinath.
i) Make sure you have a good binocular which will help you enjoy the nature better.
j) There are dhabhas and also some “resorts” on the way. Though food is not an issue, condition of rest rooms is lot to be desired. If possible stop at Gharwal Mandal Vikas Nigam resorts for bio breaks. They are best bets.
k) If you get stuck in an emergency report to nearest Border roads organisations detachment or army camp.
Postscript – I have attached the pictures which were taken on the way back as well to keep it aligned with the subject. Since we were travelling independently on the way back, we were able to enjoy the journey better as we could stop at many places. Details about Rishikesh and Haridwar will be covered in separate posts later.
a) Gobind Ghat – Transit station for start of trek to Valley of Flowers
b) Gangaria – A small village which comes to lfe fro four months when the Valley of flowers and Hem Kund sahib is open. Base camp to explore both the places.
c) Prayag – Confluence of rivers
d) Dhabha – Roadside hotels serving snacks and meals
e) Gharwal Mandal Vikas Nigam – State owned tourism organisation of the state of Uttarakhand
We will continue with our journey to Valley of Flowers………
You may like to click on the following posts on our journey Valley of Flowers here
Valley of Flowers 7 – View from the Sky!
Valley of Flowers 6 – Trek to Hemkund Sahib!
Valley of Flowers 5 – Colourful flowers of the valley!
Valley of Flowers 4 – Trek from Gangharia to Valley of Flowers
Valley of Flowers 3 – 14 KMs trek to Gangharia!
Valley of Flowers 2 – Journey with Ganges!
Valley of Flowers 1 – A paradise on earth!
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