Thursday, November 12, 2009

Travel and the Bhagirathi valley

The mountains that one can see in Kumaun- the Nanda Devi group- are very special to me. They are not only stunning in their magnificence, but they have been witnesses of some of my happiest moments.

Unlike Sitla, the Bhagirathi valley does not have a panoramic view of any major peaks. But for sheer drama, it is hard to surpass. No major peaks, but the 'minor' ones are up close and looming over the slightly terrified observer. The sheer immediacy of the mountains is awe-inspiring.

It is difficult to visit the area and not have your trip turn into a pilgrimage to Gangotri, but it can be done and here's how:

Where to stay: Dharali. This is a little village (approx. 100 households, alt 2450 m) with a market on the main road. There are several hotels there which are basic, but adequately comfy. We stayed at the Hotel Shivalik which is rather like any other, except for the startling cuteness of it's young proprietor. Think Jimmy Stewart meets Brandon Lee. Yes, I agree. That is good incentive for choosing that hotel.
When to go:
NOT during the Yatra season. Prices are high, places are crowded and you might as well have gone to Delhi. Early March is when the bugyals (the meadows above the tree line) just begin to flower, but the tourist season has not begun yet. Late October is when the apples are being harvested and the leaves are turning colour. Early November is when most people have left for their winter homes, it is quiet and the world is full of intense colours.
How to go:
The fastest way to travel using public transport is to hop Dehra-Rishikesh-Uttarkashi-Dharali. The journey takes 12 hours if you catch whatever turns up first- bus or jeep. There are some direct connections that allow you to drop one or two stops, but I am not sure of the times.
What to do:
With Dharali as a base, one can go off on short day hikes to Sat Tal ( a group of lakes at approx 2700 m), Mukhba (a pretty village with traditional houses), and Harshil/Bagori (famous for apples and wool). I'll be talking about these in detail in later posts, so stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

make this a book, Chicu.
i would like to hold it in my hand, so
if i ever manage to reach above the tree line
when i am in a meadow
i can open the book and know i'm in a bugyal :)

seriously, you write well.
what you've written today will be of practical help to ntravellers.

and for a not so much of traveller like
i feel like i am actually there