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Meghna Paul Mar 10 2014

What is the best trekking trail to Gangotri-Gaumukh and beyond?

Benazir Khan Mar 10 2014
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes



Distance - 8 km
Time - 3-4 hours
Level - Easy

Before you set out on the trail from Gangotri (3,046m), popular custom decrees that you visit the Ganga shrine half a kilometre upstream before taking to the pilgrim trail that runs above the temple, and begins in the last stands of forest at the edge of the road into town. It is a well-maintained path, hugging the
river on its path from east to west. The forest thins rapidly, and one is soon in a
landscape of brown and grey, relieved by the stream below, and the symmetrically
framed views of the mountains in front.

A photo of mountains in Uttarakhand (by Nagesh Kamath)

The traditional first stage of this walk is to Bhojbasa, 13 km away. But since the starting altitude is considerable, progress is slow, and if one is unsure of acclimatisation, it may be prudent to do the half-stage, to Chirbasa (3,350m), where a small group of chir pines is a relief in an otherwise desolate landscape. On both sides of the trail, dhabas offer simple fare, as well as a carpeted platform to sleep on and an ample supply of quilts. If you want to tent for the night, go down to the river, where there is charming camping to be had among groves of silver birch. There is also a forest bungalow, too decrepit to offer shelter, but with a water-point and flat grounds well suited to a cluster of tents.



Distance - 5 km
Time - 2-3 hours
Level - Easy

Above Chirbasa, the valley widens, and offers views of snow-clad peaks in the
south. It is a gentle walk to Bhojbasa (3,800m), running virtually due southeast
along the river, the Bhagirathi peaks ever a beacon to the source of the river.
Bhojbasa is the widest point in the upper valley, and camping here at night
offers magnificent moonlit views of the Bhagirathi peaks. There’s an excellent
langar at Lal Baba’s Ashram, or more commercial fare at GMVN ( Rishikesh Tel:
0135-2431783; Tariff: Rs 320), which also offers solar lighting and hot baths.



Distance - 9 km
Time - 4 hours
Level - Easy-Tough

The first four kilometres upstream from Bhojbasa are surprisingly flat, and
though the valley narrows, the path runs smoothly above the river, and is fringed
by a grassy meadow. With about a kilometre to go, the terrain turns rocky, and
one has to pick one’s way through rocks and boulders, down to a sandy beach
sheltered by piles of granite. Incidentally, the beach is a great place to camp.
Follow the broken path along the river’s edge to the very foot of Gaumukh
(3,969m), and look up at Shivaling Peak (6,543m) almost vertically above. In
autumn, the water is a shallow stream of grey-blue, and you could wade out to the
middle. In summer, one is well advised to keep to the banks.

A photo of Shivling Peak (by Anirban Biswas)

As one approaches the glacier, the path becomes a bit tentative, and if one
wants to make the trip to Tapovan (4,463m), it is best to leave Gaumukh
before noon. Despite the shifting nature of the route, the orientation is quite clear,
and little piles of stone on the higher rocks regularly mark the trail. Climb up
the northern side of the glacier (the right bank), till you gain its surface. Turning
south, cross the glacier towards the slopes on the opposite side of the valley.
Snaking through the rocks that are its surface, it is hard to remember that one is
actually on a major glacier. Once you have reached the southern (left) bank of
the river, the path is more clearly marked — a steep climb of almost 1,000 feet to
the meadows at the base of Shivaling.

This is Tapovan, an exquisitely watered spot from which the fabled peak appears
to sweep up in a wave of rock and snow. It is an idyllic camping spot; alternatively,
a couple of babas have establishments where you can spread your sleeping
bag for the night. Simple, wholesome food is also forthcoming. On my first trip,
I left my gear at Bhojbasa, and the absence of luggage other than my sleeping bag
made the trudge to Tapovan much easier.



Distance - 9 km
Time - 3 Hours
Level - Moderate-Easy

It’s downhill all the way till Gaumukh and the next 4 km are almost flat. If
you’re feeling fit, walk another 5 km till Chirbasa, to spend a night exploring the
banks of the Ganga. If you manage to reach Chirbasa, the next day will be easy
as from here, it is a short hop of under 2 hours to Gangotri, allowing plenty of
time for a drive to Uttarkashi.

A photo of Gaumukh (by yogasanft)



Distance - 13 km
Time - 4-5 Hours
Level - Easy

From Bhojbasa, start early so that you are in Gangotri by noon and reach Uttarkashi by late evening.

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