Delhi->Rishikesh -> Govind Ghat -> Ghangaria -> Valley of Flowers -> Hemkund -> Ghangaria -> Auli -> Ukhimath -> Tungnath -> Rudraprayag -> Rishikesh -> Haridwar -> Delhi
Continued from here
Day 3 : Drive to Govind Ghat
We gathered at our meeting point at Lakshman Jhula and headed off in a Tempo traveller to Govind Ghat. We stopped at Kaudiyala for breakfast and stopped for a bit by the sangam at Devprayag where the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers meet.
We by now had an increased respect for the perennial Ganga- her energy, intensity, and immensity had us more in awe at every turn. We drifted in and out of sleep, our eyes always welcomed by a pretty sight despite the warm and sultry weather. We stopped at a roadside shack for tea and cool drinks that felt like ambrosia in the heat. We’d have handsome, friendly canines for our company throughout our trip. The view from the stop was lovely with snaking paths by the side of the river in the distance.
We stopped for lunch at a place we simply decided to call – the good view place. We were surrounded by the hills, trees of all hues, terraced paddy fields in a flawless shade of vivid green and the valley below. A steady supply of rotis, paneer burji, chole, alu jeera later we left with content tummies and soothed minds.
More driving and a traffic buildup due to a landslide later, we got to Govind Ghat in the evening and just had time to relax, have our dinner and a briefing for the next day. We met our guides- Santosh, Deepak and Dinesh, all of who would provide us excellent support over the following days. A big part of the group was made of first-time trekkers but everyone seemed raring to go.
Day 4 : Govind Ghat to Ghangaria
We woke up to the sight of misty mountains just outside our modest but comfortable room at Hotel Gokul. It promised to be a good day. While we were getting ready, Anand managed to walk up to a nearby temple for a few pictures. We hoped the hot puris for breakfast would sustain us well for the longest part of our trek , which was on this day. We chose to send one of our bags via mules and carry the other with essentials for the trek. This trek is rated “easy-moderate” simply because there are mules available for hire for all parts of the journey except for the valley of flowers itself. The mules with their decorated headgear and lovely bells became a common sight here on. Though IMO both may have been extremely annoying to the mule itself.
Our trek started along the side of the faithful Alaknanda who cheered us on along our way. To get us acclimatised gradually, our guides forced stops on us every kilometre so it wasn’t a particularly hard trek. We had the best lemony chana chaat of our lives just before our lunch stop. Anand couldn’t help himself from having a second round of it. In a scene that would have made Kerala cry, the guy was even selling individual pieces of coconut for Rs.10 each! We stopped where we needed to and quickly learnt that sitting down for a break was a bad idea. There were water sources at random intervals, so that wasn’t a concern. We did sweat quickly and had to remember to stay hydrated.
An old lady with a bright red scarf sold us some slightly tart, impossibly crunchy green apples that we enjoyed.Find her when you’re there!
They had also advised us to wear full sleeved tops and full-length trousers, despite which, I leant on a railing at a point and a particularly nasty plant stung my finger!
The trek was picturesque throughout if one could somehow ignore the pervasive stink of horse dung and simply look up. Devotees coming back from Hemkund Sahib distributing toffees, the river making occasional appearances and local women hauling huge mounds of fresh green fodder for their cattle while we were huffing and puffing with our relatively tiny rucksacks. Our longest stop was just after a creaking “bridge” the gushing Alaknanda enveloping the boulders with her unbridled energy that made a delightful pit-stop. At one point we even saw a chopper shuttle multiple times in the distance.
We reached the tiny hamlet of Ghangaria by evening after the 14km trek and post a short nap realised we still had the energy and enthusiasm to amble along the place. Anand, to his delight, found the perfect gulab jamuns and we also managed to polish off plates of chaat with ease.
Tips for this trek from our experience (Your guide during your trip would be your best resource to confirm)
- Sip water throughout to stay hydrated. Avoid gulping, or you’ll need to use the restrooms often and they are too few where available.
- Don’t scrimp on trekking shoes. Your feet will be destroyed if your shoes are not thick enough or provide sufficient support.
- Raincoat trousers are a great option to trousers if it’s going to rain all day but make sure they are actually waterproof. We found our ponchos quite useful.
- At higher altitudes, breathe deeply and consciously and walk very slowly to avoid altitude sickness. Staying hydrated continues to apply everywhere.
- When taking a break, try not to sit down if possible. Stand/lean somewhere and then continue at a slow pace.
- Take high-energy, low weight foods- we carried dates, chocolate, dry apricots, ORS. Snacks/tea were available on some parts of this trek.
- Bathing every day is not recommended at these altitudes/temperatures. Though I couldn’t resist it throughout, for the other days, baby wipes are marvellous to make you feel human again.
- Water bags are a great alternative to bottles. You didn’t have to stop to have a sip. A lot of folks were putting off taking a sip because they had to follow several steps – take off bag cover, open bag, get the bottle, open it up and do the same to keep it back. This was easy-peasy.
- I found a walking stick very useful. Anand didn’t. Worth a try, I’d say.
- Everyone has a different pace they prefer. It’s not a race.
- Smile at people passing by and help out where you can, but not by putting yourself in harm’s way.
- A camera gets heavy after a while, and drizzles can deter you from actually using it. Take a call on whether it’s worth it or your phone camera would suffice.
- Inform folks at home that you would not have mobile connectivity for quite a long time, and reach out to them when you can, to avoid them imagining worst-case scenarios. 🙂
- A rucksack that also has a front opening is extremely useful to avoid emptying it all out each time you need something. Mine was 40 litres.
- Good advice with mules/horses is to stay towards the side of the mountain to avoid being pushed by them over the edge of the cliff. They simply do not realise you aren’t as sure-footed as they are, or well, maybe they do.
Coming up next : The purpose of the whole trip – Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib