Travelling is known to bring out the unknown side of men throughout history. We all human beings, were born on this earth,and we are surrounded by such nature's beauty and exploring them makes life worth living . To be able to travel is a gift not many are not acquitted with and when we come to travelling, we ponder about trekking. Over the decades adventure tourism has come to be one of the most popular leisure activities people chose to indulge in throughout the world. Trekking is just another adrenaline pumping activity that goes a long way to to make a normal boring vacation an exciting one without having to compromise on in one's life insurance.
Trekking in the Himalayas in recent days have gathered huge pace and is one of the most famous, note-worthy adventure sports awaiting any travel enthusiast in the world. One main aim of human survival is exploring our surroundings and trekking here sure quenches the thirst of such a human being who is fascinated by the unexplored, the lesser known scenic spots of the mainstream media.
Uttarakhand needs no introduction. As a state in the northern part of India, it is often referred to as the Devbhumi which is alternatively called 'the land of the Devis' due to the many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found there scattered throughout the state. Uttarakhand is famously known for its pristine, majestic natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabar and the Terai. It borders Tibet on the north, and shares many aspects in its culture with the Tibetians and the Nepal region while proudly bearing the badge of being the only state of the nation to have Sanskrit as its official language. This beautiful state is mainly divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, with a total of 13 districts. The natives of the state are generally called Uttarakhandi or more specifically either Garhwali or Kumaoni depending on their place of origin. Dehradun sits pretty as the capital and the largest city of Uttarakhand which is itself a railhead. It comprises of a lot of spectacular, breathtaking tourist spots and mountain regions. With the elevation of 7,816 metres which is 25,643 ft above sea level, Nanda Devi is the highest mountain in Uttarakhand and the second-highest mountain in India, following Kangchenjunga in Sikkim. The Himalayas here is segregated into the Kumaon and Gharwal ranges.The Gharwal range is also a part of Himalaya Shivalik Hills, the outer most hills of the Himalaya located in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The broadly classified types of flora found here include the Sub-alpine scrub and pastures, the Temperate coniferous moist forests with blue pine and deodar, Sub-alpine birch, fir and spruce forests and Oak and moist mixed deciduous forests which all add to the much greenery that can be seen and felt in abundance all year round.
While lower levels tend to remain are dense with pine forests, the higher altitudes are breeming with rhododendrons and a variety of oaks. Alpine flora, pteridophytes, bryophytes, wildflowers and hanging mosses are found in abundance in this region which add to give the place its evergreen look.
The kumaon and gharwal himalayas are an abode to numerous high altitude species of birds and animals. With over 200 species of avifauna, this sanctuary has been declared as an Important Bird Area by Bird Life International. The bright, gaudy, luxurious and exotic birds of this region most notably includes parakeets, blackbirds, tits, eagles, magpies, woodpeckers, forktail and nuthatches while the main wild species of the region includes leopard, goral, chital, serow, musk deer, jungle cat, black bear, fox, langur, porcupine, red fox and flying squirrel.
The state of Uttarakhand is an absolute Shangri-La for nature and adventure lovers. The foothills of the Himalayas have proved to be an ideal retreat for trekking enthusiasts from major parts and almost every corner of the world. With the rise in popularity of adventure activities such as trekking, rock climbing etc due to their stress relieving and refreshing qualities, certain states in the country have emerged as rising tourist destination for adventure sports. Tourism infact has appeared to be the major earning opportunity for the localities here and even religious tourism forms a major portion of the tourism in the state. So for people deeply engulfed in trekking activities, make sure to visit Uttarakhand as it is turning out to be quite a growing hotspot and favourite to most with a passion to be participating in such adventure sports.
VALLEY OF FLOWERS:
Now as soon as you start your trekking journey you would not fail to stumble upon the valley of flowers. Yes am correct it may sound heavenly but it sure exists.Valley of Flowers National Park is an Indian national park, located in West Himalaya, in Uttarakhand and is known for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and the variety of flora. This richly diverse area is also home to an enormous diversification of rare and endangered animals.Some of them to be mentioned as examples are as follows like the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, musk deer, brown bear, red fox, and blue sheep. The birds found in the park include Himalayan monal pheasant and other high altitude birds. This place was initially little known to outside world due its inaccessibility. Proving wrong to this major obstacle In 1931, Frank S. Smythe, Eric Shipton and R.L. Holdsworth who were all British mountaineers, lost their way while returning from a successful expedition to Mt.Kamet and happened to stumble upon the valley, which was full of flowers(that is the reason I used the word 'stumble' in the beginning of this paragraph). They were so immensely captiated by the beauty of the area that they named it the "Valley of Flowers." Frank Smythe even later authored a book bearing the same name.
Flowers mostly orchids, poppies, primulas, marigold, daisies and anemones carpet the ground. Sub-alpine forests of birch and rhododendron cover parts of the park's area.This valley is mostly snow cladded throughout the year so the best time to visit this place would be most inadvertently in the month of June.That's right,time to mark your calenders.
THE ROOPKUND LAKE:
A good mystery is loved by everyone but for some, unravelling mystery is everything. Roopkund lake is one of the most beguile and enthralling exemplar of mysterious places getting unravelled and is a must-visit for almost any travel enthusiast and everyone else. One cannot just afford to miss this piece of beauty which never fails to baffle eyes. Constantly battling several adversities which are most likely common to the Himalayas, this water body perched in the laps of the snow clad Mt. Trishul is situated at an altitude of 16,499ft. It is famous for the hundreds of human skeletons found at the edge of the lake and the area is uninhabited. Surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow-clad mountains, the lake is a popular trekking destination. It is a shallow lake, having a depth of about two metres. Roopkund has attracted attention because of its human skeletal remains that are visible at its bottom whenever the snow melts. Many theories and opinions exist, from purely spiritual to scientific ones, attempting to explain the existence of these skeletons, which date back to 9th century CE. Because of this reason,the lake has also been called 'The skeleton lake'. Some scientists have even concluded that the skeletons of about 200 people discovered near the frozen lake belonged to the 9th century Indian tribesmen who died due to hail storm. It sounds scary right? A bit creepy or weird but this just adds to its eerie beauty. There are different routes which are seized by trekkers to complete a trek to Roopkund. Generally, trekkers and adventurers travel to Lohajung or Wan by road. From there, they climb a hillock at Wan and reach Ran ki Dhar. Overnight camping can be done there cause there is a flat area which provides for it. Another trekking route starts from Mundoli, near Tharali, which is accessible from Haridwar and Rishikesh . If the sky is clear, one can even see the Trishul Parvat from Bedini Bugyal but lets return our focus back on the skeleton lake. The best time to visit this alluring,mystical lake should be during the summers because the ice melts down and you get to see the skeletons. I bet it will send a chill down your spine.
HAR KI DOON:
Now we bring our spotlight on the Har Ki Doon Valley which is a cradle shaped hanging valley in the Garhwal Himalayas. It is surrounded by snow-covered peaks and alpine vegetation. It is connected to Baspa Valley by the Borasu Pass. This valley is at an altitude of approximately 3500m above mean sea level and is snow-covered during the months of October to March. The valley is around 25 km from Taluka. The trek to the valley starts from Taluka village and passes through Gangaad, Osala, and Seema. It is a 2-day trek usually done in two stages. First stage is from Taluka to Seema/Osla, and second stage is from Seema/Osla to Har Ki Dun. Return route is the same.It is also possible to do a return journey on the same day. Do not worry,it may sound hectic(which it is )but to make your and thousands of other trekker's lives easier, there is a shop and a small restaurant at Taluka where one can buy ea tables to keep you going and water to quench your dying thirst and parched throats. The valley comprises of a river and the Himalayan peak called 'Swargarohini'. Point to be noted, local legend has it that Yudhishthira (one of the Pandava's from the Hindu composition called Mahabharata) scaled this peak on his way to Heaven. Quite intriguing right? Har-Ki-Doon Valley is surrounded by dense Pine forests and offers majestic views of glittering mountain peaks. Owing to its isolation, the area is a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers. The trek starts from Netwar to Osla passing through dense forests consisting of chestnut, walnut, willow and chinar trees The trek from Osla to Har-ki-doon is through terraced mountain fields, lush green grassy patches and thick conifer forests.
Har-Ki-Doon which is also called the hanging valley of Gods is a paradise for trekkers.This moderate trek takes you to one of the least explored regions of Garhwal Himalayan region, where the passage of time has not affected the lifestyle of the simple hill folk inhabiting this Shangri La! As Har-Ki-Doon falls within the Govind Pashu Vihar wildlife santuary, chances of seeing wildlife are very bright indeed. The area, is known for its intricately carved houses, as the inhabitants here are an ingenuous lot, and the construction of the houses made with a combination of wooden beams and stones, not only looks aesthetic, but are also energy efficient as well as earth quake resistant. For those interested in religion or mythology and Indian history, a visit to the beautifully carved temple dedicated to Duryodhana - the Kaurava Prince is a must visit!
Trekking here is incomplete without trekking the Pindari Glacier trek which is relatively an easy trek in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. This trek offers well-defined trails with only one minor pass crossing en route to the Pindari Glacier. The views from the pass– the Dhakri Khal (2830m) – are particularly impressive and includes the various snow-capped peaks that form the southern rim of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. The views from above the Pindari Glacier are also striking, especially if you are a first time trekker.Your heart may skip a beat by witnessing such captivating piece of beauty.The Pindari Glacier is the source of the Pindar River which meets with the Alaknanda River at Karnaprayag. Pindari Glacier trek is situated at an altitude of 3353 Metres which makes it an easy glacier trek in comparison to other glacier treks.You can even visit the towns of Bageshwar and Almora and they very successfully showcases its rich and simple cultural life.Pindari Glacier also holds abundance of flora and fauna in its lapse. There are variety of tress found in this area which includes the trees of Khair, Sal, Teak, Haldu, and Shisham. Apart from enjoying the floral beauty around the glacier you can also also explore the rich wildlife of area at the Nanda Devi National Park. The park holds more than 80 species of animals. Some of the major attractions of the area include Bharal, Brown Bear, Common Langur, Goral, Himalayan Tahr, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Musk Deer, Leopard, Serow and Snow Leopard. As you go deep into the sanctuary you may find the rich vegetation of fir, birch, rhododendron and Juniper. You can even explore the great avifauna of park such as Grosbeaks, Rose Finches, Ruby Throat and Warblers.The best time again for this trek are the Pre Monsoon and the Post Monsoon Season which are from May to June and Mid August to October.
Don't forget to visit Rudranath temple which is a Hindu temple dedicated to god Shiva and is located in the Garhwal Himalayan mountains in Uttarakhand, India. Located at 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) above sea level,this natural rock temple is situated within a dense forest of rhododendron dwarfs and Alpine pastures.The temple is the third temple to be visited in the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit, comprising five Shiva temples in the Garhwal region. The other temples in the circuit include: Kedarnath and Tungnath to be visited before Rudranath and Madhyamaheshwar or Madmaheshwar and Kalpeshwar to be visited after Rudranath. The face (mukha) of god Shiva is worshipped as "Nilkanth Mahadeva" here.The Rudranath temple is believed to be established by the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Legend has it that the Pandavas came to the Himalayan mountains in search of god Shiva, to redeem them of the sins of killing in the epic Kurukshetra war. God Shiva did not wanted to meet them and left in form of a bull in the ground and reentered in parts in the Panch Kedar places: the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in Tunganath, the navel and stomach surfacing in Madhyamaheswar, the face showing up at Rudranath and the hair and the head appearing in Kalpeshwar. In winter, a symbolic image of Shiva is brought to Gopeshwar for worship.There are numerous sacred water tanks ("Kund") near the temple. These include Surya-kund, Chandra-kund, Tara-kund, Mana-Kund etc. Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti are the famous mountain peaks, which provide the backdrop to the temple. The holy river Vaitarani or Baitarani or Rudraganga flows near the temple, which has a grey stone idol of Rudranath. The river is identified with the "river of salvation", where souls of the dead cross to reach the other world. Thus, devotees visit Rudranath to perform rituals of the dead, such as performing a pind offering.Rudranath is sometimes considered as the toughest Panch Kedar temple to reach.Rudranath temple is considered to be one of the toughest places to reach via trekking in comaprison to the other temples of panch kedar.It can be accessed by a trekking route of 21 kms from Saggar village which is situated 5kms from Gopeshwar.the trek to Rudranath is classified as moderate because the route is steep and there are no villages en route.The trekking route is generally steep upto Panar Bugyal followed by ertain phases of ascends and descends upto Rudranath.The wild grass meadows,Dense forests and Himalayan views adds to its awe inspiring views which makes this route heavenly and it makes sure you don't get bored on the way.the morning aarti in this sacred temple starts at 8 Am and Evening aarti starts at 6 30 pm everyday and the temple remains closed from November to April so make sure to visit this place in the remaining months of the calendar year.
Famously called the 'Mountain of the Serpent', the Nag Tibba trek starts north east of Mussoorie, at the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, at an altitude of about 3,048 meters. The local people here have been constantly offering prayers to the Snake God (Nag Devta) at this peak which is testament to its sanctity. They believe that the Snake God protects their cattle from snake bites.Much of a belief I would say.This place has been frequently visited by trekkers and adventure enthusiasts from all over the world for its panoramic beauty and high elevation. From Nag Tibba, you can enjoy astounding views of various peaks, ranging from the Bandarpunchh peak, the Gangotri group of peaks, Kedarnath peak in the North, Doon Valley, and even the snow peaks of Chanabagh.With an altitude of 9915 feet, it is the highest peak in the Garhwal Himalayas Nag Tibba range.The easiest way to reach the Nag tibba is to reach the nearest airport to Mussoorie which is the Jolly Grant Airport that is situated 60 kilometers from Mussoorie.Or you can use railways and reach Dehradun Railway station which is the nearest to Mussoorie at a distance of 36 kilometers.Or once again you can remain contended by sticking to the roads as Mussoorie is well conected with motorable roads.The best time to undertake the Nag Tibba Trek is in the summer months, from April to June, and the winter months, from October to December.In summer you would get to see the Himalayas from a distance.A cool chilled breeze will always accompany you.In winter,you will get to experience snowfall and freezing temperatures. Soltitude and serenity is best supported by such climatic conditions.You can even visit it during the monsoons with its lush greenery refreshing your mind constantly and the feeling of getting wet due to the rainfalls there.Even landslides may occur so it is not that advisable to go during that time but still the beauty of that place at all times of the year is just irresistible.
If you are an ardent worshipper of Lord Shiva then don't miss the chance to visit Kedartal. Also known as Lord Shiva's Lake,Its basically a glacial lake situated at an altitude of 4,750m (15,600 feet) in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas in India. The lake is constantly fed by the snowfall over Thalay Sagar which is situated at an altitude of about 6,904m, Meru which is again at a height of about 6,672m and Bhrigupanth (6,772m) and other surrounding peaks.It is the source of Kedar Ganga, which in Hindu mythology is considered to be Shiva's contribution to Bhagirathi (a source-stream of the Ganges).Why we all tell you to visit this place ? Because its a famous trekking destination situated at a distance of about 17km from the Gangotri. Now the route to it is quite tricky.It involves a steep rocky climb starting from the Gangotri which is one of the four holy shrines of the Hindus along the confined Kedar Ganga gorge en route to Bhojkharak which is approximately 8 km away. From there it's 4 km walk to the next available camping site of Kedarkharak, and a further 5 km walk to Kedartal. Quite a lot of trekking right?Don't worry,your immense hard work won't go to waste as you will invariably pass through scenic Himalayan birch forests, but is made perilious in some places by the never-ending presence of falling rocks, high altitude and segments of steep ascent.The trek maybe a bit strenuous but nothing is ever achieved withous some compromise and the best time to visit this place and undergo such a trek maybe in the months of may to october. The declining presence of bushes to grasses and then small patches of them found occasionally in between some rocks as you slowly gain altitude and to be able to visualise the ultimate setting of a serene lake surrounded by silvery white snow cladded peaks is definitely worth your time.
Now we come to Dodital. Previously it was Lord Shiva,Now its Lord Ganesha and dodital also known as Dodi Lake or Dhundhi Tal is the lake of Lord Ganesha. Situated at a comparitively lower altitude of about 3024m in the north of Uttarkashi. The trek for this lake is realtively easier and it commences from Uttarkashi or Kalyani, both approachable by road.Then you set foot from Kalyani to Agoda which is a steady moderate climb through woods, fields and villages along a mule track.Now the final trek from Agoda to Dodital is a steep one and it is through dense thick forests. The lake filled with crystal clear water are surrounded by dense oak woods, pine, deodar and even certain stretches of rhododendrons. The lake is also full of Brown Trout fish and is also known for the Himalayan Golden Trout. The lake is surrounded by the forest and it has amazing scenic beauty. Yes! time to even get more pumped up about this because it even provides an ideal set up for rest and recreational activities like angling, boating and bird-watching. The best time to visit this charming,mystical lake would definitely be during the summer months of april to june cause during winter trekking becomes difficult due to the snow and during monsoon you may just find yourself getting stuck due to blocked roads and landslides instead of trekking.Nevertheless,don't be bewildered if you get astounded by this lake's beauty.
So to end this article,we visit our last destination which is Dayara bugyal. Bugyal in the local mountain dialect means “High Altitude Meadow”. The Dayara Bugyal trek would be one of the most beautiful treks you would ever participate in Uttarakhand is situated at an elevation ranging from 10,000 – 12,000 ft approximately. Also known as the vast meadow,if you are a skiing enthusiast then dayara bugyal provides you one of the best opportunity to encounter Alpine as well as Nordic skiing during winter months. With an area of about 28sq kms it provides you with one of the best skiing slopes in India.You are sure going to enjoy it so to travel there during the winter months is a good opportunity which needs to be grasped with both hands. Even during the summer months you can travel there as the trek becomes much more simpler and smoother and you cannot afford to miss the lush,smooth greenery of the meadows.The trek starts from the tiny hamlet of Barsu nestled on the Haridwar-Gangothri road which is approximately 32 kms from Uttarkashi. You can decide to settle in any one of the rest-houses in Barsu that overlooks the snowy mountains on one side and the magnificent valley on the other.Via Raithal you will reach the valley.You will be constantly accompanied by the gigantic,tall oak forests,pristine water bodies and draping grasslands.If you are lucky enough you may get to see small occasional specks of huts and even sheep grazing on the sprawling meadows overlooked by high rising mountains.You may also find streams running across the pastures and wild flowers blooming on its peripheries.If you decide to end your trekking with this destination then you will definitely be saving your best for the last.
To conclude,words cannot simply suffice the majestic beauty of nature gifted to us by the Omnipotent.Its something you just have to go and visit to bring justice to such kind of beauty.You never know,by stopping over these places in Uttarakhand ,you may just end up receiving a sample taste of heaven.