If you remember, we had missed out on the scenery as we reached Janki Chatti in darkness the day before. Even though an early start of 7:00 AM wasn't to my liking, it was a good opportunity to witness the scenery we had missed. Also Harsil is touted to be a picturesque valley, and starting early could allow us precious time to experience the beauty of the valley in good lighting. Well, at least that's what I thought. Also today we'll be leaving the company of river Yamuna, and meet Bhagirathi river, while going through Uttarkashi. So with high hopes we embarked on the day's journey.
Beautiful views as we were descending
Also notice the erosion due to landslides
The sun was rising above the mountains, and the drive was very enjoyable with cool breeze, and splendid views.
Rays of sun creating a play of light and shade
By around 9:30 AM, we halted for breakfast at shop by the roadside, and adjacent to a curve no less. The shop was run by a lady, but she was handling everything alone - waiting tables, cooking, and manning(?) cash counter! It was clear that the breakfast would take some time to be prepared, but the setting was so nice that we enjoyed the waiting time.
View from the shop where we stopped for breakfast
After the freshly prepared and hot breakfast, our journey resumed. Next stop was planned at Uttarkashi, for lunch. For the next few hours we just watched the scenery go by as bus kept moving at its own pace. By lunch time we were approaching Uttarkashi, the roads seemed to be landslide prone and in bad shape. We reached the TRH inside the town for lunch, where we were to stay upon return from Gangotri.
After lunch we settled into our seats lazily, preparing to just watch the scenery go by.
A little while after lunch stop
But in an unexpected turn of events, it started raining heavily as we were exiting the outskirts of Uttarkashi. Now anxiety increased with every passing landslide prone section. On some slopes I could see fine mud being washed on to the road by water. Progress became even slow with oncoming traffic. What had started as a bright, vivid morning, was all shades of dullness and grey.
As we neared Sukhi Top (early evening), the rain relented (thankfully) for some time. Though the scenery was still in muted colours, we could appreciate the beauty. Everyone by now deserved a break for tea, especially our driver. Being experienced, he had kept his cool all the while.
Apple orchards by the road
View of valley from Sukhi Top
View of mountains from Sukhi Top
Within the short distance to Harsil, the rain picked up again and settled into a fine drizzle. The window for experiencing the beauty of Harsil in good lighting conditions was gone. Anyway we settled our luggage in the room, took our umbrellas and headed out to explore the town in the dim and drizzly conditions. Soon darkness fell, the town was small anyway, and with nothing else to do we went back to the room.
View from the TRH
21-Sept-2018: Harsil to Gangotri to Uttarkashi
We were supposed to start by 7:30 AM today, and luckily morning was as clear as the previous one with no signs of rain! Morning tea was served at the TRH itself, which we relished with the gurgling river by our side, and the Sun lighting up the snowy peaks in the distance. Harsil does live up to its name, and is enchantingly scenic.
View while having morning tea (photo doesn't do justice to the beauty)
This is somewhat better
Path through the town
The journey to Gangotri was quite short. As it was quite early for breakfast, we just had tea and biscuits. Then we walked to the ghat. It was tempting to take a bath (Ganga snan), but after the experience in Yamunotri, I couldn't muster the courage. Instead I contented myself with dipping my feet in water, and spraying a little on my head. And again I had small plastic bottles to fill! It did help a little to have the Sun shining brightly.
Views on the way
View from Ghat
Sitting by the Bhagirathi river
Then we proceeded to the temple.
At the temple
There was less crowd at the temple, and we had ample time to roam around. Still we were done well before the three hours that had been allotted for the visit to the temple. On the way back, we spotted a restaurant with South Indian menu. I usually prefer local cuisine, but curiosity had the better of me and we tried dosa and upma. They were average as expected.
It was time to return to Uttarkashi for the night stay. The journey was uneventful (no rains), and we reached by evening.
Beautiful but remote settlement
The time available in the evening was utilized for exploring the town, but the main point of interest was Vishwanath ji temple. We spent some time at the temple and also visited the adjoining Hanuman temple.
Also as Uttarkashi is a big city, there are plenty of ATMs, and our guide asked us to withdraw necessary cash for the remainder of the tour. The ground reality was quite different as we had to engage in an ATM hunt after the temple visit. Most of the ATMs were either out-of-order or out-of-cash.Soon as we succeeded in withdrawing cash, it started raining.Eventually we reached our room after dinner by dodging rain to some extent.
You may have noticed that I haven't spoken anything about the knee pain that I experienced at Yamunotri till now. Let's just say that it wasn't substantial enough to bother me yet. More details (and the adventure) will unravel when I post about Kedarnath next...