Friday, July 4, 2014

Wild Flowers On The Way To Tapovan

Just as thoughts about my home crowd into my mind as I draw nearer to my resting place, so also the closer I get to Himalayas, the greater grows the joy derived from the ever increasing variety of experiences of this mystic mountain. Life is not same when these mighty peaks kiss the secretive part of my mind. I don’t know about others, but for me it’s an incredible transformative process that instantly purifies all the unclean thoughts.

I had planned my trip this time with my French friend Yann to go to Tapovan this summer. It was not so easy decision because I really didn’t want to travel with a company, though I like his company but when two vessels are kept together, it will be bound to create some noise. I rather like to meet people on the way, just like train journey when you talk it out fully but for a night or so, and then you will probably never meet that person again in your life.

I was waiting for him at Haridwar station and eventually after a long time we met and boarded a bus to Uttarkashi at 7am after relishing our morning tea. We had already decided to stay overnight in Uttarkashi, so there was no hurry, but from Haridwar 7am bus was the last one so we couldn’t afford to lose that one. The journey was pathetically terrible. There may be something wrong with the bus shock absorbers, it gave the whole journey was quite similar like riding in a bullock cart.

We had reached Uttarkashi around 3-4pm and decided to stay overnight. From Uttarkashi to Gangotri it would take around 3 and half hour, so after settling in the hotel we went for the permission for Gaumukh trek. You can either take permission from Uttarkashi or Gangotri, but I advise to take it from Uttarkashi because there are less people in queue. For Indians 2 days cost is Rs. 150, for foreign nationals it’s Rs. 650. It’s better to take permission till Tapovan because there might be forest officials who can ask you for the permission for Tapovan at Gaumukh.

Suggestions: If you are in Uttarkashi, observe the Ganga aarti in the evening. It’s a small affair but very genuine.

Journey Passes Through Rocky Mountains

We had started very early in the morning from Gangotri. There are only two resting places en route; first one is Chirbasa where you can rest and sip a cup of tea. However, the price is quite high, so it’s better to pack your breakfast and just order a tea. I saw two Canadian guys did the same. The second one is Bhojbhasa where most of the trekkers take rest overnight.

Accommodation in Bhojbhasa

In Bhojbhasa there are three accommodations: the most popular one is Lalbaba’s ashram, which has 70 beds dormitory accommodation cost Rs. 300 per person. The cost includes lunch (simple rice and daal), dinner (rice,  chappati, one vegetable), and breakfast (porridge). In the morning and evening you will get ginger tea and you can drink endless cups.

Another accommodation is the GMVN rest house but if you really want to cough off good money you can only opt for this. The rooms are clean, separate bathroom etc. but a mineral water bottle cost Rs. 70!

There is another small ashram of Nirmal Baba who also provides accommodation plus evening bhajans and meditation. He demands no money for that, but some or the other reason people prefer Lalbaba’s Ashram.
Bhojbhasa is a nice stopover point from where you can see the whole range of Bhagirathi 1 and Bhagirathi 2, and some part of Shivling peak. After 16km of walking in the mountains we reached Bhojbhasa around 3 pm. Yann walked fast and reached early but I with a Swedish guy Johnas stopped at many places and relished the beauty of Himalayas.

Suggestions: At night Bhojbhasa is quite cold, so even though you travel in summers it is advisable to carry some good jacket and thermal. If you have problem of sharing blankets, you must carry your sleeping bag.

Trek to Gaumukh and Tapovan

I really walked fast next morning and within one hour covered 2 hours distance and reached Gaumukh. There is nothing special about Gaumukh, Gau (cow) + Mukh (mouth), but the opening is not like cow’s mouth. We didn’t stop there for long and further started to walk towards our destination Tapovan.

The road towards Tapovan was pretty much steep and rocky. So, we had to cross one boulder to another, sometimes jump from one rock to another. At one time I was totally exhausted and took some rest. (picture above).

We reached Tapovan within three and half hour, which was according to our guide, was a good walk. I will separately keep some writings for Tapovan and publish later on. Our trek ended here.

My trekking partners
Suggestions: If you are for the first time in Tapovan, you need to take a guide. The rocky path is convoluted and you could be easily lost in the path. We were four people: me and Yann and one Chekhovian couple. The guide takes around Rs. 1200 for taking 4-5 people.

Trekking Tips

Mighty Trishul peak

•    Wear cotton clothes but carry woolen.
•    If you want to stay in Tapovan for a day or more, you must carry your tent. Depending on the season, you can also stay in Mauni Baba’s ashram there.
•    Carry light while traveling.
•    You don’t have to carry water with you, along the way you can drink as much water from the streams.
•    Take a guide for the first timer.
•    Avoid rainy season because it’s a rocky path and rain makes it slippery.

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  • Manish says:
    July 2, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    This is really a very good and detail writing. It really helped me to plan my travel and find my way... Photos are really awesom.. Thanks for the writing

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