When it comes to exploring the beauty and glory of Himalayas, the name that comes to every one’s mind is Uttarakhand – the 27th state of India after it carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. The entire area of 19, 739 square kilometer of this wonderful northern state of India is a real heaven for nature lovers. Tourists from across the world have been coming here since ancient times, to enjoy and explore the beauty of snow covered peaks, glaciers, amazing rivers, mountain falls, deep canyons and the mysterious Himalayan forests as well as glorious national parks. The state of Uttarakhand boasts of the highest mountains of the world on one hand and the dense Himalayan forests with full of rare mountain birds , mammals including the mighty Royal Bengal Tiger, on the other.
In order to better understanding and exploration as well as research, many geologists divide the entire state into several physiographic zones , placed parallel to each other from North to South East. These are Himadri –the Northern zone (that includes Zaskar and the great Himalaya) . This is also the highest elevated grounds ranging from 10000 feet to 25000 feet ((3,000 to 7,600 metres). The other zones adjusten to Great Himalyas are are known as Lesser Himalays (popularly called Himachal) with two linear ranges –Mussoorie and Nag Tibba. The southern stretch adjustment to Himachal zone is known as Siwalik Ranges. The entore area that includes all the three –the Himadri, Himachal and Siwalik is broadly known as Kumayun Himalays. The Southern part of the Siwalik with lesser elevates ranges are locally known as duns (such as Dheradun )
The unmatched beauty and the thrill of the valleys of Uttarakhand have always been the trekkers’ favorite destination. Several interesting treks interlace the Gori Valley with some of the well-traversed trekking routes running along the Munsiyari – Martoli – Milam – Ralam Glacier. The Bageshwar – Sunderdhunga – Pindari – Kafni Glacier trek is another highly preferred trekking route in the area. The Garhwal region is no less attractive as well with several thrilling treks, some of them being the Panch Kedar trek, Kedarnath – Vasuki Tal trek, Gangotri – Kedarnath trek and the Gangotri – Gaumukh – Nandanvan – Tapovan trek. The Panch Kedar trek passes through the five Kedars represented by Kedarnath, Madmaheshwar, Tungnath, Kalpeshwar and Rudranath.
Let us explore the five of the most attractive Trekking routes in Uttaranchal as shared by the trekkers and photographers:
Valley of Flowers
HAR KI DUN TREK
Valley Of Flowers
Unspoiled by human invasion, surrounded by Greater Himalayan mighty mountains and glittering glaciers from all sides lies the most charismatic Valley of Flowers- the gateway to heaven. A world heritage site, this is also the conversion point of Himalayan ranges of Western and Eastern Himalayas.
Come monsoon and as the nature lifts its white blanket to unfold the celebration of colour , the entire valley changes into a carnival of multitudes of exotic flora. The bright colourful carpet embraces the land playing hide and seeks with the drizzling monsoon clouds, like a fairy tale up above the world.
How to reach:
An 11 hours drive from Dheradun (294.5 Km ) will take you to Joshimoth, a small little hamlet in Uttarakhand. Another one hour drive from there will take you to Gobindghat, the nearest place to Valley of flowers one can reach through car. The trek starts from Gobindghat
After the Himalyan Tsuanmi (flood) the trek was rebuilt at many places. Govindghat is at an altitude of 5500 feet and Ghangaria is at 10200 feet. The trek distance is 14 km. The new road is built till village Pulna. Pulna is first village between Govindghat and Ghangaria trek. Now the first 4 km of the trek between Govindghat and Ghangaria is made motorable. You can get pony/ porter at Pulna village. The trek is well-defined and well paved. Although it is steep at many places.
After an one night halt at Ghangeria , Valley of Flowers is approximately 4 km there. The track is narrower and passes through dense forests and uphill mountain trails. Once you reach the valley, one look at the indescribable beauty will take all the physical strain and stress far away.
Best time to visit:
The valley is open for tourists from the beginning of June to the beginning of October, as it’s covered in snow the rest of the year. The best time to visit is from mid July to mid August, when the flowers are in full bloom after the first monsoon rain.
Difficulty level :
The Valley of flowers trek difficulty level is moderate to easy.
trekkers’ view :
” Valley of Flowers can mean many things to different people. For me, it was like soaking in the beauty of nature amid vast meadows and green forests . My camera lens and my eyes had a tough time in deciding what to use.”
Abhishek Biswas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chopta – Tunganath -Chandrashila
Chopta –tungnath chandishila trek is not only about highest shiva temple in the world , it’s not about the one of the most colourful trail with rhododendrons red and pink all around in summers and springs , this is not about the mysterious beauty of hide & seek with mist and rain in monsoon, nor this is only about the mesmerizing views of forest greens and snow white glaciers in winters or a paradise for rare Himalayan birds including elusive monals – the memory of this trek is all of these together and much more. Perhaps this is one reason no travelers can stop themselves from the urge of visiting this place again and again. The sun rise from the 13000 + feet Chandrashila, almost literally floating among the clouds is one experience that perhaps no one can ever forget in his or her life. Tungnath is located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila. The temple is believed to be more thatn 1000 years old and is the third (Tritiya Kedar) of the Panch Kedars.
How to reach:
Distance from Haridwar to Chopta valley is 186 km . Chopta is located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and lies on the Ukhimath – Chamoli – Gopeshwar road. It is advisable to halt for a night at Chopta. The green valley which is also a part of Kedarnath Wildlife sanctuary is indeed worth spending and exploring the Himalayan birds. The trek ideally should be started from Chopta next day early morning.
The well defined and well paved trekking route from Chopta to Tungnath is approximately 4.5 km from an elevation of 8,790 feet to 12,070 feet. Although the 3 to 4 hours trek, depending upon the speed , is among the ‘easy treks’ of the trekking books , but there are steepness , specially towards the end of the journey. But, this is also one trek with one of the best scenic beauties around. While the tall and dense deodars, pines covered the blue sky in some places, there are also green open meadows with white ponies and sheep grazing around. In blooming season you will be welcomes by rainbow of colourful rhododendrons all through your trekking routes. There are occasional temporary ‘tea and juice’ points on the way, where one can relax, get refreshed. There are a few options of night stay at Tunganath with very basic facilities. The trek to Chandrashila from Tungnath is a steep 1.8 hours distance can be covered easily in one hour. One must start as early as possible to catch the magic of sunrise at Chandrashila. A 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan sunrise is an out of the world experience that can only be experienced and felt.
Best time to visit:
The best time for Tungnath trek is when the temple is open in the month of May (summer) you can also trek during the winters from Jan and March to make the journey more exciting. Even many trekkers prefer visiting there during the month of august and September to enjoy the monsoon trek.
Difficulty level :
The Chopta to Tungnath : Easy
Tungnath to Chandrashila : Moderate
Trekkers’ View :
” It was my first ever hiking by the moonlight to the Moon Rock with two other beautiful souls. This is better to see something once in your own eyes rather than hearing about it thousand times… So, I decided to die with memories, not dreams and went for Tungnath-Chandrashila last year, my first ever trek. What an experience it was!!! Awesome…amazing…astonishing – an experience that I will cherish forever… There is something very magical about hiking at night by the moonlight … amidst a scary and unfamiliar night- landscape, we found ourselves confronted with our fears, slowly embracing it, which finally turned into bliss. “
Moumita Dasgupta , email@example.com
Har ki Doon
One of the most popular treks and a winter delight for the trekkers around the world is Har Ki Doon Trek. A world of beauty Har Ki Doon is a canvass of a landscape artist is indeed an experiences that one remembers for its beauty and thrill alike. Situated at the Western zone of Gharwal Himalaya in Uttarkashi district, Har Ki Doon is accessible both in summer and winter seasons.
The cradle shaped valley is in the heart of Govind Ballav Pant National Park at an altitude of 11699.48 feet. The trek offers a spectacular view of virgin land of sacred Himalaya. Surrounded by snow-covered peaks and alpine vegetation, Har-ki-Dun is, hands down, one the most beautiful trekking destination that showcases the unprecedented natural beauty of Uttarakhand.
How to reach:
The nearest motorable location is Sankri Village. This is approximatey 200 km from Dheradun. One can take a local bus from Dheradun (limited number) or drive down to Sankri Range which is well connected with most of the important towns and cities of Uttarakhand. The drive from Dheradun to Sankri takes around 10 hours.
A dream trek for the lovers of the mountains and the beauty associated with them. The trek goes through some of the most isolated villages in India. The simple, uncompleted life of the villagers away from the cities and so called modern civilization can easily be felt there. If you are there during the month of Dec to March you will have the thrill of walking through the thick snow covered valley.
It’s a weeklong trek which required physical fitness and a keen interest of exploring nature on foot. Anyone who has experienced the mesmerizing journey of Har Ki Doon would have stories to share for lifelong. The camping by the deep blue mountain river , the dense forest surrounded by the Himalayan peaks like Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch, Blackpeak and , ofcourse, pasing through those ancient villages , which are known to be as old as 2000 years- every aspect of this trek is an unforgettable experience.
Many organizers are following this itinerary while taking Hr Ki Dun trek:
- Day 1 – Dehradun to Sankri ( Drive )
- Day 2 – Sankri to Pauni Garaat via Taluka
- Day 3 – Pauni Garaat to Kalkattiyadhaar
- Day 4 – Kalkattiyadhar to Har Ki Doon & back to Kalkattiyadhar
- Day 5 – Kalkattiyadhar to Pauni Garaat via Osla
- Day 6 – Pauni Garaat to Sankri via Taluka
- Day 7 – Sankri to Dehradun( Drive )
Best time to visit:
The ideal time for this trek is during summer – April to June & Post monsoon – September to December. During winter trekkers can enjoy the snow covered valley trek.
All season (Except winter): Moderate to Difficult
During winter: Easy to Moderate
Trekkers’ View :
Har ki Doon- Valley of Lord Shiva…. I was lost in the beautiful landscape with different terrains, majestic mountain view with lush-green valley … it truly is the way to the heaven. On this trek, whenever I began to question why was I taxing my non-exercising body to treks regimen …. the magnificent views just left me speechless and feeling really at peace.It is something to be experienced.
It’s said that, some places do not need an introduction; they need to be seen to believe. Kedarkantha is one of them. The word “Kedarkantha” comes from the image of Lord Shiva sitting on the top of the Himalayas and giving blessings to the entire world.
Kedarkantha is one of the best snow treks in the Indian Himalayas as it is situated between the Mighty Dhauladhar range and the great Himalayas. The summit of the Kedarkantha peak is 12,500 ft. from where one gets to see Godly peaks like Swargarohini, Black Peak, and Bandarpoonch.
How to reach
The base camp is Kotgaon ( 6,800 feet ) Dehradun to Kotgaon by road takes around 10-11 hours drive for a distance of 185.5 km.
The total trek distance is 23 kms, which begins from the beautiful village of Sankri in Uttarakhand.Sankri is located about 180 Kms from Dehradun. When it comes to trekking, Sankri is quiet a tailhead as it’s the starting point for some famous treks as Har Ki Dhun, Bali Pass & Borassu Pass to name a few.
Day 1: Drive from Dehradun to Kotgaon (It will be Sankri if the snow levels are high during your trek period)
Day 2: Trek Kotgaon (6,800 ft) to Khujey (9,400 ft); 5 hours
Day 3: Khujey (9,400 ft) to Odari (10,800 ft); 2 hours.
Day 4: Odari (10,800 ft) to Kedarkantha summit (12,500 ft) and then on to Odari; 7 hours
Day 5: Trek Odari to Sankri (6,800 ft); 5 hours
Day 6: Drive from Sankri to Dehradun. It is an 10-11 hour drive to Dehradun.
Best time to Visit
Being a winter trek, it’s open from December – March, but the best time to visit would be Feb & March if you want to do the summit hike. If one is interested in seeing plenty of snow and snowfall, Dec and Jan would be the best time to go. Hence each season has something very different to offer in terms of terrain, difficulty and weather.
Kedarkantha trek is ideal for both beginners and experienced trekkers. For the novice, it is a great start to enter into the world of trekking. It’s an easy-moderate trek, given the fact that it’s easy in the initial days but tends to get tricky as you move forward towards the summit push. The summit is a steady climb at almost an inclination of 45 to 60 degrees. At many places, especially in snow, it gets a bit challenging.
The Kedarkantha experience was shared by Mr. Harshvardhan Singh , A Delhi based CFA professional and a passionate traveler & trekker .