My solo Trip to Valley of flowers, Hemkund sahib and Tungnath.

DrAdityavohra

Tea Cheers
Hi everybody,
Travel wise 2011 was a great year for me, did a lot of short trips around Delhi and did one solo 10 day trip to valley of flower, Hemkund sahib and tungnath..
This is a travelogue of that trip I did in Sep 2011.The trip to Valley Of Flowers, Hemkund sahib and Tungnath.

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Late in august… after everybody ditched me for the annual trip which I go on bikes with my friends, I waited for everyone, tried convincing them...Nothing helped, “work first” is what I heard..True, could not argue much, so I made my own plans.
Where:
I had never been to valley of flowers nor tungnath but since I have a fair idea of how to get around in utterakhund I gave it a go and discussed it with my folks...They took it fine however the guilt was not easy to swallow when I shared my plans with my friends...
How:
I ride a Thunderbird TS (call it The Royal Stag.)I gave it a rest and planed a trip on public transport...!
Note:
All the images in this travelogue were shot by a Sony cyber shot camera (H-5).
Some of the images are a bit noisy given the limitations of a cyber shot when it comes to high ISO..

31st Aug 2011
Finally...I leave.
Well, since I was on the mercy of public transport for this trip, I had before hand studied my options...
After attending my evening clinic at Jungpura I headed back home just in time for my scheduled departure. As I said my goodbyes to family and doggy, my mother insisted upon dropping me to mandi house metro station ( instead of my original plan to walk down to khan market station )as that would prevent me from changing metros at 2 places since I had to catch the bus from anand vihar isbt.
Finally just when I had boarded the metro...In a split second I realized that I had left my phone in the car…Damn it.
Got down at the Pragati maidan station..And where are the PCO’s?? Finally had to ask for a strangers favor, called home and got the phone back. This process ate away good half an hour.
Reached anand vihar isbt by 9pm...
My initial plan was to catch a bus to Rishikesh and change from there onwards...all that changed when I heard the conductor yelling out for Srinagar! (Utterakhund has one too)
Great,
The bus left anand vihar isbt sharp at 10pm. Not a full length bus, this one was a shorter bus meant for the hilly regions.
As I sat next to the conductor I was told that the bus should reach Srinagar by 8:30am next morning and so it did and was I relieved that it did…!
If I had to choose a word to describe my bus ride from Delhi to Rishikesh...I would choose RASHhhhh.
The bus was driven by this young guy who it seemed was a chain smoker. The smokes went rolling just as the bus.
In flat 5 hours I was in Rishikesh, there the driver changes and now in command is a mountain specialist driver (to my relief).
Well all the buses meant for Srinagar and onwards leave together at 4am from Rishikesh as that’s when the gates are opened for vehicle to start on the hills...

1st Sep
At 4 am we started for Srinagar which is around 4 hours by bus from Rishikesh .It was a beautiful ride with the sunrise an all... made me real happy as I was back on hills. Though I missed my stag, the beautiful views around me kept me hooked to the window.
I reached Srinagar at around 8:15am.The bus ended at the Pauri Bus stand.
(Bus fare from Delhi to Srinagar was around 220Rs)
Now for the next leg of the journey to Govinghat I enquired if there were any shared taxies available and there weren’t any so I took a bus towards karanprayag.
Srinagar to karanprayag(massive in city traffic jam) to chamoli (changed a bus at karan prayag).
Reached chamoli around 2:30pm, took a shared cab there onwards towards Joshimath .
Reached Joshimath at around 4:30pm...Had to cross the whole damn city on foot! (Who’s complaining?)
Took a shared cab from the other end of Joshimath for Govindghat.
Now the feeling was kind of sinking in, man I made it this far, kept good time too.
At approx 5:15pm I was at Govindghat and was enjoying every bit of it.
Well as I checked in the hotel(which was empty and literally the first one as you enter govindham ) was ready to crash in the bed as was up since I didn’t even remembered .
Had food, made a couple of call back home and that’s that.
Off to bed Goodnight.
Travel expenses …
Srinagar to karanprayag (bus): around 70 Rs
Karanprayag to Chamoli(bus): around 30 Rs
Chamoli tp Joshimath(shared cab): 50Rs
Joshimath to Govinghat(shared cab): 100 Rs
Hotel room at Govindghat: 300Rs

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2nd Sep
Started my trek towards govindham at 7... In September the rush here is not much as compared to what anybody would find in June and July .It’s a beautiful place and I was enjoying every bit being there.

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Reached Govindham at 5pm...Checked into hotel Priya (it’s the second one on your right as you enter Govindham)
Decent accommodation at 250 bucks a night.
Though while trekking and even at Govindham I could notice these electricity poles...However Govindham has no electricity...
The only source for electricity is generators which are run for two hours both morning and evenings…Hot water buckets are sold for a premium here.
Govinddham Is the pit stop for both Valley of flowers and the Gurudwara Hemkund sahib.
As I was there for the first time, rest was the last thing on my mind so I went on exploring the hamlet.



There is a tourism center at Govindham and they show a 30min documentary on valley of flower… After watching the movie (It was pretty good) I visited the Gurudwara following which I came back to the hotel
Dinner was followed by coffee and some night photography from the roof.
End of day.


3rd Sep
Got up at 6 and after the breakfast... was good to go by 7 …



10 min out of Govindham the ways bifurcates for valley of flower and the Gurudwara.




Valley of flower is about 3km from the point the path bifurcates…
After paying 50 bucks as fee and filling up identity details at the check post I started for the valley of flowers…
From the start itself…It’s a very relaxed hike to valley... Little ups and downs here and there…relatively a flatter trail… for most of my hike I dint find a soul (except for while coming back).
I did meet some people at the valley of flower though...What a place, amazing.


I was there cause, I had to be there, had no expectation whatsoever about anything... A lot of people had warned me about the fact that there won’t be much of a floral display as by September the flowers start dying out and they were right …(the best time I learnt is July and August, basically peak monsoons..)
The valley indeed was not even close to the way it was shown in the documentary I had seen the previous evening.
But I had no problems with that… I just was there for anything the valley had to offer at that point however it disappointed a lot of people…




I gained a very interesting insight from a group of tourist who were sure about a trekking route from valley of flowers to Badrinath… and indeed there is a trek that takes you to badrinath.(I confirmed the fact from the locals however, since it’s a high altitude trek..It required a guide along with camping equipment and also permissions from the concerned dept…, for later then!)
By 12pm I was back to that check post, got my name struck off from the list of visitors to the valley... (And thank god there is someone who keeps a check, just in case.)
The sun was in its full glow..I was trying to figure out my next move… either I could head back to ghanghria and start for Hemkund sahib the following morning…. (Well I decided against that)... So I started for Hemkund Sahib at 12:15pm...



Just about by 12:45pm...I had realized how different this trek was this compared to the one I did in the morning... where valley of flowers is relatively a flat trail...trail to hemkund sahib only goes up..
I had no issues especially after I met Sunil up trail.
Sunil runs a dhaba at the 3km pit stop en route to hemkund sahib..He was going back up after shopping for some veggies from ghanghria.
I was trying to pull up faster but occasionally someone would ask me point blank to return to ghangria as it was too late to ascend for the gurudwara.
Reason..? Well since, the last Ardaas starts at 1oclock and there was no way I could make it in time to be there for it.
Well,I had one thing in my mind..I wanted to be there and pray
I said my goodbyes to Sunil (and left my backpack with him) as I reached 3km half way.
Later stages of the trek were great... Though I was super late because of frequent photo breaks I took, carried on...
There was a point when a young chap coming down saw me, simply asked me to return with disbelief..
”Upper koi nahi hai, gurudwara bund ho gaya “(there is no one up there, gurudwara is shut for today).
That shook me a bit...But then I carried on anyway…





In a way it was a bless cause I was alone on the trail.. Dint had to stay cautious from mules!
At more than 4000mtr...I was sweating as hell (all that would change later though...)
Finally at 3:50pm I entered the Gurudwara premises…




Well, apart from admiring the beauty of the place (which thrilled me beyond words) I also noticed that I was the only one there… WHAT??
As I moved into the compound I saw two men in white attire casually rapped in shawls taking a stroll... Man… was I relieved.
As I moved towards them, they noticed me and gave me a friendly smile…
They were the Head and vice Granthi of the gurudwara.
After I explained to them about how I ended up there that late Mr. Vice Granthi (very courteous) offered me to take a stroll with him... had a long talk with him about the history of Hemkund Sahib.
Some of his facts he shared amazed me…
Like there are seven peaks around the gurudwara, all with flags posted on the peaks... These new flags are placed by a team led by a very elderly baba (Don’t remember his name.) every year...
And they climb without ropes and cover all seven peaks in a single day!
He also mentioned about the number of failed attempts to measure the depth of the holy Hemkund…
Also, I was lucky to spot some rare flowers like Vishnu Kamal and Brahma kamal..
With young lads playing cricket in the Laxman mandir compound and the MH1 channel team (which is stationed there throughout the season) sipping in their tea mugs… this was definitely not what I had expected.. It was an awesome experience for me to be there then..
Though the main doors to the hall were closed, vice granthiji was kind enough to get them reopened.
After offering my prayers, I had at least two rounds of tea and haluwa, kitchidi in the kitchen..

Had a great time there... so great that I forgot the fact that I was so cold. All that heat from walking was long gone and my warmers were in that bag I left with Sunil 3km down there..
Gotta hurry…




Said my goodbyes to everyone I started my descent…
I started at 5:15pm. I was late but I knew I could do strides when I have too…
In about an hour I reached Sunils mid way dhaba… Chatted with him and his friends (all from Joshimath) for a while… Finally after getting warned for snow leopards and turning down their generous offer to spend the night with them I moved on.





Sunil was kind enough to lend his walking stick to me which became instrumental in my descent…
saved my ass all the time!
My woodlands were giving me hell... on top at started drizzling and I was focused, so focused that I almost missed the spot I had chosen (while going up) for an after dark shot of ghanghria.
Well, as soon as realized what I missed...I stopped and slipped... nothing hard though, just a slush of mule shit.
With ghangria in sight I had only one thing in my mind...To get that shot.
The Sony cyber shot did had its limits so after clicking a couple of exposures I called it done and packed upand left as it drizzled all the way till the hotel.



Just as I was entering my Hotel I was stopped by a concerned Guard who had a list on him... It was the list of people entering the valley of flowers that morning and I seemed that some people had not yet returned from the valley.
He went on after I showed him my name stuck off the list.
As I crashed onto the bed (not before a hot shower and a hotter meal though) I knew it would be tough to dream that night. I was living my dream.
Goodnight.


4th Sep
I checkout of my hotel at 7 am with a plan to grab breakfast at the river side restaurant a couple of km out of ghangria and so I did..

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Enjoyed my trail back to govindghat with a lot photo breaks, chatting, encouraging those who were going upwards and trying to be as accurate as I thought I was when someone asked me..
Aur Kitna door hai? (How far exactly?)..!

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Reached Govindghat by the evening and checked into the same hotel, same room as earlier.


After taking some night exposures which came out real noisy I slept dead.

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5th Sep
All packed and ready to catch anything towards joshimath I reached the spot and forced my way into a shared cab... I guess I was the 12th guy in.
Reached joshimath in about an hour, there I learnt that there was no means to reach Auli except for hired cabs... 1500 buck one way was steeper than the Hemkund trail. The Auli gondola was a under repair too so I thought it was wise to move on.
Next on list was chopta..
But, on enquiry I was told that there was a massive landslide just before chamoli and that vehicle have been stuck for a couple of days now…….
That was what I feared throughout... Landslides, the ultimate show spoilers on hills.
That is when I met Ravi rawat (from Rishikesh). We had boarded the same cab from Govindghat.
(Ravi is a manager in one of the camping resorts at ghangria...)
Ravi was sure that the locals must have opened a new route (trek) around the landslide. Well that could be easy but since I had two bags on me so was a bit skeptic at first however moved on anyway...
We were dropped off a couple of km before the landslide.
With a huge pile up of traffic in front of me all I could do was to wait and see.
Luck was with us...
We had only covered around half a km when there was a sudden movement in traffic and in a blaze Ravi who was carrying one of my bags fixed a hitch with a chicken van driver...

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The stink…
Usually when I come across these chicken vans on Delhi roads, I stop breathing momentarily… I mean who doesn’t?
Now I was in middle of a pile up, trying not to breathe…
In about 2 hours we made it to the edge of the landslide... A lot of people were making a lot of effort so that no one got hurt… there were some dare devils too( mostly biker lads)… trying to risk it all for nothing.
Apart from the stink the journey to chamoli (after we had crossed the landslide) was quick with everyone pouring out there travel experiences... Sanjay who was driving to Rishikesh (after unloading the chickens at Joshimath) shared his travel tale to Leh...that was when he used to deliver chickens for army there…
One tale led to another. I reached Chamoli at around 2pm and immediately after I got dropped by them, I found myself fixing my next ride, which was to Gopeshwar.
Gopeshwar is around 10km from chamoli and has a direct bus from Delhi.
Chopta, which was my destination for the night then, is about 25 km from Gopeshwar.
So, I took another shared cab towards Gopeshwar and reached there in about 45 mins.
Gopeshwar is a big town by hill standards. I mean one could compare it with karanprayag I guess.
Once I was there, I enquired about my options towards Chopta.
I was a little disappointed on learning the fact that the only way to reach Chopta (If you don’t want to rent a private cab) is to leave in the bus to Ukhimath.. It left every day at 12pm from gopeshwar..
It was well over 3pm then so with no other options I checked in the hotel Manorma palace.
This hotel overlooks the main bus stand at Gopeshwar and sure is a pretty tidy place to stay in.
Strolled around in the market for some time and ate at Fud &fren, a restaurant with a modern look and trust me the food is good too.
Again, took some night exposures and called it off.

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6th Sep
Woke up and had my Bfast at Fud and fren this was followed by a long wait for that bus that would take me to Chopta. I was trying not to think about landslides but since it had rained cats and dogs the previous night I couldn’t phase out the possibility of them causing troubles they cause.
Anyhow, the bus arrived at 12:30pm and I hopped in pretty soon after.
It sure is a great drive from Gopeshwar to Chopta.
(I couldn’t resist imagining myself biking on that road then.)
I reached Chopta at around 5:00pm and it didn’t take long for the realization to hit me, the realization of the fact that how lucky I was to be there then.
I learnt from one Mr Rajinder bhandari… (Who fixed a room for me at Chopta) that I was the only tourist that night in Chopta. (There sure was no one from the bus with me). I wasn’t sure of how to react to that.
The room or I should call it a hut made of steel; was a great place to spend the night. Food was delivered from the adjoining dhaba and the hut had its own garden too.
Chopta as such has very limited staying options; there are only about 40 rooms available at Chopta for tourists.
Also, the signal coverage is non existent... I mean bsnl does fine but apart from that for other carriers; it’s very bleak.
No electricity. Whatever energy there is; comes from solar panels.
Spare batteries are a must for anyone who’s a bit click friendly.

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7th Sep:

By 7am I started my hike towards Tungnath. The idea was to spend the night at Tungnath; so I was taking it easy. It’s a continuous, mild ascent to Tungnath from Chopta and sure is scenic.
I reached Tungnath at around 11pm. I was staying in the mandir dharamshala for the night. The room was, well not so tidy but the sheets sure were clean.
The afternoon was spent sipping tea and taking pictures...
Tungnath sure was pretty cloudy then.
I had plans to climb the chandrashila top for the sunrise but fate had other plans.

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8th Sep
I was up by 3:45am and found that it was pouring outside… It poured till 7am and it had washed away all my plans to reach chandrashila that morning.
That sure was a setback but there is always a next time. I anyhow started for chopta as I had a bus to catch which would take me back to gopeshwar.
Going to Ukhimath would have suited me more as going via guptkashi takes you directly to Rudraprayag and that means a cut of around 70 km which is huge on hills; especially if you on a bus. The road however was closed between chopta and ukhimath because of landslide.
Upon reaching Gopeshwar I boarded another bus which took me to Rudraprayag, another change and by 6pm I was in Srinagar.
9th Sep
After night halt at Srinagar, I took the first bus out next morning for Rishikesh followed by another one for Delhi... By evening got dropped at ISBT and thereafter took a metro home.
This was my experience… last Sep 2011.
Hope you enjoyed it.

General know how (according to me):
• For Srinagar and onwards overnight busses are available from Delhi from anand vihar isbt and also Kashmere gate isbt.(You can get the contact info from just dial or something)
• No matter which bus you take out of Delhi you can always change at Rishikesh if it’s before 4am because that is when busses bound for the hills leave Rishikesh.
• On hills shared cabs are both fast and cheap... do consider them.
• Try and get there during off season. Trust me, you will enjoy more and spend hell less.
• In these regions landslides can make or break a trip. Be flexible and keep at least a couple of buffer days on you.
• For Chopta, going via Gup kashi (Rudraprayag onwards) and not karanprayag should save you a great deal of time.
• From Ukhimath; one can easily get a shared cab for Chopta(not the case from Gopeshwar; at least when I went)
• Chopta has no electricity and signals for cellphone are nonexistent for some carriers. Vodaphone does work at times though, bsnl rocks up there.
• Contact info of Mr Rajender bhandari should need be to enquire about something or book a room at Chopta:09456772948
• Remember, if you plan to stay at Chopta or Tungnath, there are very few rooms available. During the yatra season. Since going through Chopta is a short cut between kedarnath and badrinath; it’s bound to be crowded.
• Room tariffs during the off season may vary. Basically you get what you bargain for.
• September First half is heavily clouded (tungnath). It clears off by Sep end onwards.
• During season time locals up there have their business minds on; which is natural. Try and get passed that. Trust me, on hills locals mostly are very courteous and may go out of way to help you.
• For Hemkund sahib and Valley of flowers.
• Keep at least 3 days or more for Govindghat-Hemkund sahib and return. 4 days if you plan for Valley of flowers too. I did it in 3 days but I had my reasons.
• Hemkund Sahib is pretty high... like 4632 meter above sea level (That is more than half of what it takes for Mt Everest summit). Take your time up there!
• Hemkund sahib, tungnath ji and all other dhams close for winters around or on Diwali.
• Govindghat is accessible throughout the year.
• Will leave the rest to you to figure out!
• Thanks for reading.
Note: Please don’t go entirely by my words. Things change.

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ashish0712

TravelForNirvana
Aditya Gr8 Start..Amazing Pics Views from Tungnath are Stunning :) Loved the 'Choukhamba Peak' Shot from Chopta :rolleyes:
 

Jacksparrow

Active Member
What a GREAT start Dr.Aditya Vohra ji !!!! fantastic stuff !!! nice narration and very very beautiful pics.
 

Shady

Member
What a log! Amazing!!

The pictures are so beautiful!

Chopta is on my list since long but somehow or the other we miss it!

Rainy season is the best to visit hills but then the chances of landslides are the highest as well!

Again, loved the log completely!
 

DrAdityavohra

Tea Cheers
Thanks guys. Glad you like it. It has been an awesome experience and would surely and shortly upload rest of the pics.
Tc
 
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