gangotri gaumukh trek

Gangotri Gaumukh Trek

{Day1} : 26thMay 2009
From: Bangalore to Delhi
By: Air
Distance: 2 hrs 30 mins.

Morning we catch the airport bus to BIAl (Bangalore’s new international airport) and it took almost 1½ hr to reach there. As usual Jetlite flight to Delhi was delayed by 2-3 hrs and didn’t get any thing on board to eat except a stale muffin and a cold burger. We reached Delhi at 6.30pm in the evening and checked in Hotel Ajanta (pre-booked) near NDLS (New Delhi) station. We had our last chicken butter masala in dinner as the forthcoming weeks are going to be vegetarian.

Yes Uttarkhand is considered as a devbhumi (abode of Gods) and alcohol and non veg items are strictly prohibited.

A word of advice: Stay close to NDLS station. So it is easier to catch the early morning train.

{Day2} : 27thMay 2009
From: Delhi to Rishikesh
By: Train (2017 Dehradun-Shatabdi express) and
By Road (Haridwar – Rishikesh)
Distance: 4.5 hrs by Train and 45 mins by Road

We catch an early morning 6:50 am train Dehradun-shatabdi express (pre-reserved) to Haridwar. Reached there around 12:30 and booked a taxi to Rishikesh which is a 45 minute drive from Haridwar. We stayed at GMVN’s Ganga resort which has a very beautiful view of muni ki reti and Ramjhoola.


A view from Rishikesh

A word of advice: From Hardiwar Rly. Stn to Hotel in Rishikesh we had a bit of hassle getting a taxi as they were charging almost double. Finally we figured out that there is an approved taxi stand where the rates were reasonable. So please avoid the private taxi for this. Also avoid taking auto since they do not go all the way to Rishikesh from Haridwar and you will have to change autos midway ( they don’t tell you that when you start from Haridwar ! )

{Day3} : 28th May 2009
From: Rishikesh to Bhairon Ghati via Uttarkashi
By: Road
Distance: 280 Km (12 hrs)
(Note: Rishikesh – Uttarkashi is 150 km / 6 hrs)

At 6:00am in the early morning we were ready with our backpacks and luggage,  started for Uttarkashi at 7:30am and the journey to Himalayas begins….
As soon as we entered the hilly roads of Uttarakhand, BRO greets us-“Deepak bole jai badri vishal”…I wonder who is Deepak??? (later I came to know in Indiamike forum , that Deepak is one of the BRO’s prestigious project). Our jeep was speeding along the serpentine roads and down river Ganga meanders its way through the lush green valleys. For the next few hours we were completely soaked in the beauty of Himalayas.


On the way to Uttarkashi

Reached Uttarkashi at 1:30pm and after another 20 minute drive reached at Tekla-Kotbangla DFO(District Forest office) office for the Gaumukh trek permit…….tried to have lunch at Netala… not succeeded because of too much crowd…finally set forth for Bhairon ghati…en-route we cross Harsil and Dharali –the two beautiful Himalayan hamlets.
The road to Gangotri was in very pathetic condition dotted with landslides and ongoing construction works of HCC and NTPC.

Bhairon ghati is a very quiet, chilly and eerie kind of place dotted with few houses and no electricity, surrounded by towering hilly slopes and was covered in mist.
Since we booked our stay through GMVN and it was the peak Yatra season so has to adjust with some unfavorable places. On day 3 we traveled for approx.  280 km !!

A word of advice:
Take a copy of fax or application letter with you when going to DFO office.
Read more details on : How to get Gaumukh permit
Try to start early so you can arrive for lunch on time.
Try not to stay at Bhairon ghati. Harsil may be a better option.


Terrace farming @ Uttarkashi

{Day4}: 29th May 2009
From: Bhaironghati to Gangotri
By: Road
Distance: 10km

After having our breakfast at dhaba(a small street side eatery) the only one in the locality… we set forth for Gangotri at 8:00am. All the vehicles came to a halt just 2-3km before entering Gangotri….because of unavailability of parking space…we left the luggage in the vehicle and went to the rest house…got the luggage after 4 hrs.

Sudarshan peak

Sudarshan peak welcomes us in Gangotri

In the evening visit Gangotri temple, attend the Ganga aarti…shopped for trekking sticks…This day we actually kept for acclimatization for the next day Gaumukh trekking.




Gangotri temple

Gangotri temple

A word of advice: We recommend that you take one day to acclimatize to high altitude.
Start as early as possible due to traffic congestion on way to Gangotri. Vehicles are allowed all the way into Gangotri only if the vehicles which have gone earlier make their way back. This is strictly enforced and controlled by efficient traffic police and volunteers.

{Day5}: 30th May 2009
From: Gangotri to Bhojwasa
By: Trek
Distance: 14km

Early morning 6:30am, we were fully geared up for the trekking and packed the water bottles (2 lt), some dry fruits, biscuits and chocolates.


Tapt kund or hot spring @ Gangotri

There is a flight of very steep stairs behind the Gangotri Temple from where most trekkers choose to start their trekking.We didn’t take this route …instead we took an alternate route or trail (guided by a local shop keeper) which is less steeper and after we walked for 40min we reached the gate of Gangotri National park...which opens at 6:00am…. This is where you need to show the permit. We completed the formality and were let inside.

After walking for 2-3km along the narrow trail which clings to the ever-changing mountain slopes on the way to the Bhagirathi we reached Devvan. After Devvan climbs become little steeper and began to feel the rarefied atmosphere. But the sights of Bhrigupanthi series of peaks were breathtaking.

bhrigupanth peaks

Bhrigupanthi series of peaks

Another 6 km followed by steep and gradual ascents and descents we finally reached Chirbasa (pine forest) which is 9km from Gangotri…took a break for 30 mins.…had handful of dry fruits and washed them down with glass of glucose water. Many named and unnamed peaks were peeping through the corridors and the beautiful landscape changes with every bend of the river….

Gaumukh trek

Trekking to Gaumukh

From Chirbasa to Bhojbasa (bhoj tree forest) it is 5km trek but it is strewn with landslides and steeper climbs….vegetation starts thinning out….our limited stock of water was exhausted and were completely depended upon the glacial water which was coming down from the streams. It will be unjustified to say that we were not exhausted…we were definitely exhausted but the sights of beautiful Himalayan peaks, the beautiful landscapes and the thirst to reach Gaumukh keeps the spirit alive….and finally after walking through the glacial moraines we reached Bhojbasa…at 4:30pm.

Bhagirathi peak

Bhagirathi peaks before engulfing in to the mist

The last rays of sun were still flickering in the glacial valley. Bhagirathi and its sister peaks stood majestically against the azure blue sky and welcome us in its kingdom.

We went to Ram baba ashram and were shown to our tent…..quickly we took as many snaps as possible before the darkness sets in the valley. At 7:30 pm we were served the hot khichdi as dinner which we finished in no time.


Camping @ Bhojwasa

Darkness slowly engulfs everything in its veil…the valley become as silent as dead….except for the monotonous sound of river Bhagirathi….


Glacial valley @ Bhojwasa

A word of advice: Start early.
If you are physically fit and not carrying too much luggage, then guide is optional. The road is straight and well-marked and it is very unlikely to lose your way.
There are absolutely no refreshments available on the way, so carry some with you.
Gaumukh can only be seen from a 500m barrier. It is for your own safety.

{Day6}: 31st May 2009
From: Bhojwasa to Gaumukh to Gangotri and back to Uttarkashi
By: Trek and by road
Distance: 18km by trek and 6hr by road

Sleep allures us from a distance only so there was no question of waking up. At 5:00am in the morning we decided to start our trek for Gaumukh. The morning sun brought some warmth in the otherwise chilling valley and when the first rays of sun kisses the peaks of Bhagirathi, the God’s beautiful creation came into full life. For the next few minutes we marveled at this beauty.

Bhagirathi sister peaks

When the morning sun kisses the Bhagirathi sister peaks

After Bhojwasa there was no definite trail that will lead to Gaumukh, instead one has to find his way through the glacial moraines and rocky boulders.

shivling peak

Shivling peak on the way to Gaumukh

When we reached there, a rocky boulder claims “the altitude of Gaumukh is 4000mt above m.s.l.” (That was written in Hindi off course!!)
There is a barrier of 500m beyond which it is not permissible to enter. We took a comfortable place from where we can see the glacier which feeds the river Ganga-the lifeline of India.

Earth-watch: The world is witnessing global warming and it is very much clear here as in the retreat of the glacier. But we never realized it and still ignore it. While route to Gaumukh is pollution free , I would advice the traveler to see that they too take proper measure to not pollute it. On this trip I have saw some of the most dreaded pollution. Huge non-biodegradable plastic waste was simply lying in the slopes of valleys and along the streams.

On our way back to Bhojwasa and then to chirbasa I thought in retrospect that this is the trail which witness the man’s quest for unknown through the centuries, and today I am also leaving behind my footprints here.
I turned back to see Bhagirathi beaming in the morning sun and I promise to return back for more.
We reached Gangotri at 3:00pm in the afternoon, had our lunch and then started off to Uttarkashi and reached there at 9:00pm.

Follow our next trip to Kedarnath.

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