Mussoorie - Uttarkashi - Gangotri - Gangnani - Bhairon Ghat - Gangotri - Bhojvasa - Gomukh - Tapovan - Kirti Bamak - Nandanvan - Vasuki Tal - Nandan Van - Bhojvasa - Gangotri - Uttarkashi - Haridwar
The trek mentioned in the following itinerary is interesting not only for the trekker, but also for the keen photographer , the one interested in wildlife and flora, and for the one with a taste for spirituality and religion. Most of the places , mountains and glaciers mentioned in the trek are part of ancient stories and narrations mentioned in our sacred texts. It would not be an overstatement if we call this area the Mecca for Hindus, as the visit to the river Ganga and its source is the desire of every devout Hindu. Mt. Shivling - the highlight of the trek denotes the "Shivling" - the symbol of Lord Shiva. Trek to the North of Mt. Shivling (6543 mts) peak takes on e to Meru Bamak (glacier), and another trek to the Kirti Bamak (Glacier) to the South. The camping experience to the North East of Mt. Shivling at the famed Tapovan meadows is a very rewarding experience indeed! The trek is moderate most of the times and hard at certain stretches, owing to the altitude factor, but covers many destinations in a very short duration.
Upon arrival at Haridwar drive to Uttarkashi along the narrow and winding roads first entering the valley and finally into the Bhagirathi valley via Chamba. One can see a panoramic view of the high mountain peaks of Garhwal and the famed albeit controversial 2400 MW Tehri Dam (the highest dam in Asia). The night halt is at Uttarkashi a town located in the wide Bhagirathi valley, and has been a centre for learning and religion since the days of the Vedas. This sacred town has been home to some very famous sages and saints. The name of the town reflects its similarity to and location (as north of) the city of Kashi (Varanasi). Similar to Varanasi, town of Uttarkashi lies next to a hill named Varunavrat Parvat, and set on the banks of river Bhagirathi at an altitude of 1158 metres, about 145 kms from Rishikesh on the main route to Gangotri. The famous Vishwanath temple here is dedicated to Lord Shiva. In front of the temple is unique Mahadev-ka-Vishal Trishul or Shiva's Great Trident, made of eight major metals (Astadhatu). It is believed Lord Shiva killed Vakasur with this trident. Other important temples are dedicated to Lord Parashuram, Lord Ekadash Rudra and Goddess Kali. Uttarkashi is an important stopover for pilgrims visiting Gangotri. Uttarkashi has also emerged as an important centre for adventure sports. Overnight in hotel.
In the morning drive to Gangotri via the beautiful Harsil valley lined with Cider trees and famous for the Wilson Apples. Enroute take a holy dip in hot Sulphur springs at Gangnani. Upon arrival at Gangotri check in to hotel. Evening free to explore the beautiful surroundings. Dinner and overnight stay in hotel. Gangnani: Further up on way to Gangotri about 26 kms from Maneri, is the hot water spring at Gangnani, where one can have refreshing bath at Rishikund. There is a temple near the kund (bathing tank) dedicated to the Sage Parashar, believed to be the father of Ved Vyas. Harsil: Harsil is a beautiful spot to see the colors of the nature. The walks, picnics and trek lead one to beautiful grassy patches. Harsil is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Sighting here includes the Wilson Cottage, built in 1864 and Sat Tal (seven Lakes). The adventurous tourists have the choice to set off on various treks that introduces them to beautiful meadows, waterfalls and valleys. Situated amidst the incredible beauty of mountain peaks, Harsil is counted amongst some of the most beautiful places in the Garhwal region. Bhairon Ghati: On way to Uttarkashi Bhaironghati is a place where one can stop and enjoy the mountainous landscape. The deep gorge seen from the road bridge built to span the river Jahnavi is a sight to see. A temple of Bhairon Devta here is visited by scores of pilgrims. The awe-inspiring lofty peaks and the thick Cedar trees that surround the entire area is awe inspiring! Gangotri: The shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of 3200 m surrounded by Deodars and Pines. The original temple was constructed by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa. Every year people from all around the world visit this shrine. A number of Ashrams and Dharamshalas are located on the far side of the river. It is believed that Raja Bhagirath used to worship Shiva on a slab of rock "Bhagirath Shila" situated near the temple. Submerged in the river there is a natural Shivling, where, according to mythology, Lord Shiva sat when he received the Goddess Ganga in his matted locks. A days trek takes one to Gaumukh, the source of the mighty river Ganges.
The day is utilized for relaxation, acclimatization and exploration the place for pilgrimage. Dinner and overnight stay at hotel/Tourist Rest House.
The walk begins with gradual ascent through pine trees, alongside the roaring Bhagirathi River with towering cliffs on your left hand side, and the sheer drop on the right. Soon after one leaves Gangotri, one passes a forest department check post for the "Gangotri Conservation Project". The money collected from you is utilized to plant trees damaged and cut by years of uncontrolled tourist activities, and to reverse the degradation caused by polythene pollution. It is because of the same, that now the total number of individuals within the Gangotri National Park cannot exceed more than 100 on any given time. The day's walk is quite short and is mainly to assist acclimatization. Chirbasa means "abode of pine trees". Here one gets to see breathtaking views of Hanuman Tibba (17,186 ft/5366m), Bhrigu Parbat (19,217 ft/6000m), and Bhagirathi I, II and III (21,958 ft/6856m, 20,857 ft/6512m, and 20,671 ft/6454m respectively). One could well spot herds of Bharal roaming the gravelly hillside above Chirvasa. Dinner and overnight stay in tents at Bhojvasa.
Enjoy the panoramic view of Bhagirathi group of peaks while having breakfast. A little while later, trek to Gaumukh Glacier (3890mt), the source of the Ganges. The name 'Gomukh', (meaning Cow's: mouth) was so named probably because in the distant past, it appeared like a cow's mouth. Explore the area and trek to Tapovan- a fine meadow replete with gurgling streams and velvety grass. The trek from Gomukh to Tapovan is a steep ascent, over the Gangotri Glacier. The peaks appear to be deceptively close and seem to be just a stone's throw away. Tapovan is finally reached and is known for its beautiful meadows that touches the base of the Shivling peak, The meadow is known as Tapovan, as it might have been used by "Rishis" in the distance past to meditate (Tap means meditation and Van means Jungle in Sanskrit and Hindi), owing to its isolation and natural beauty with hundreds of different wild flowers in full bloom after the spring thaw. Herds of Bharal (blue mountain goats) is a common sight here, and on the far side the Bhagirathi I, II, III (6454mt)peaks , provide an equally impressive backdrop. It is also little wonder that Sadhus and Rishis still choose this spot for extended meditation during the long summer month. Arrive Tapovan and camp Gomukh : The Gomukh glacier is the source of Bhagirathi (Ganges) and is held in high esteem by the devout who do not miss the opportunity to have a holy dip in the icy waters of the second biggest glacier in India (followed by Siachin glacier). Tapovan : Tapovan is the picture perfect location for the one seeking peace, the artists who needs to be inspired, the author for the quiet , the photographer for the unblemished natural surroundings, the nature lover for the untouched meadows and mountains, and the undisturbed wildlife, the mountaineer - as this is the base camp for the daunting Shivling peak ascent. Tapovan is located on an altitude of 4463m / 14640ft above sea level. The up close view of Bhagirathi peaks from the meadow Tapovan is something to write home about. Dinner and overnight stay in camp.
Early in the morning full days trek to Kirti Bamak glacier. From here you can see the Kedardome peak (6850 mts/22468 ft), Kirti Bamak (6500 mts/21320 ft) and a magnificent view of Shivling from the east. After exploring the area return to Tapovan for dinner and overnight stay.
The day is also thrilling to see the Mt. Meru peak (6400 m). In the morning trek to the base of Mt. Meru crossing the meadows of Tapovan the trail climbs into another valley north – west of Tapovan. The Meru Bamak (Glacier) is set at a 60 degree to the Gangotri glacier. The walking over loose rocks and moraine calls for extra caution as the soil and rock are loosely held in the sandy glacial mud. The view of the Bhagirathi group of peaks to the South – east and the Vasuki Parvat located east – south east of the Meru glacier present a breathtaking background. After exploring the area return back to Tapovan for dinner and overnight stay.
One must now retrace the way back to Nandanvan once again crossing the Gomukh glacier. The route from Tapovan leads from the upper section of the meadow on traversing the Gaumukh glacier; turning towards Nandanvan (4340m) to the right, one enters the Nandanvan, a beautiful campsite with a crystal clear mountain stream. The Tapovan – Nandanvan trek combines the experience of mountain climbing, rock climbing, boulder-hopping and glacier traversing. Though the trek is not a very rigorous and is easily negotiable by non mountaineers, it still requires caution. From Nandanvan, the view of the Shivling, Bhagirathi, Sudarshana, Thelu, and Kedar Dome peaks is a photographer's dream comes true. Overnight stay in tents.
Trek along a gentle mountain stream towards the East parallel to the Chaturangi Glacier up an incline for almost 1.5 hours till one reaches a glacial valley gouged out by the raw power of an advancing glacier to reach the rim of the gorge. It take as a further 10 minutes of diagonal descent to get to Vasuki lake, roughly North – west of the looming Vasuki Parvat, after first seeing it from the ridge. The camping area though not very big, is a comfortable ground, a short distance away from the lake. The area commands a beautiful view of the Vasuki parvat, and a bird's eye view of the Gangotri valley. The area acts as a base camp base for climbing Mt Satopanth and Mt Vasuki Parvat. After exploring and photographing the area, trek back to Nandanvan for dinner and overnight stay.
Early morning breakfast in the company of the glittering snow clads heralds the retracing of the previous days' route. In the next 30 minutes, one must take as many photographs, as the peaks attain a golden color of the rising Sun. A speedy descent follows immediately after, terminating at Bhojvasa. Dinner and overnight stay at the camp.
Immediately after breakfast trek down to Gangotri, where one shall be picked up by the waiting vehicle. The drive through the Bhagirathi valley gets one to Uttarkashi. Dinner and overnight stay at Hotel.
Post breakfast drive 170 kms along the Ganges river valley to reach Haridwar. Arrival at Haridwar by afternoon. Explore the surroundings (especially the temples and the Bazaar). Transfer to Railway station to catch your onwards destination.