Gaumukh-Gangotri Travel Blog
In this Gaumukh-Gangotri travel Blog, I’ll be taking you through my journey to the most amazing place in India. In this Gaumukh-Gangotri travel blog, I have explained about few of the beautiful places that I encountered on my journey from Gaumukh to Gangotri.
Gaumukh, a glacier nestled high up in the Garhwali Himalayas, known for its tranquility, mysticism, spirituality, and stunning landscapes. Located in the northern state of Uttarakhand at a staggering altitude of 13,200ft. above sea level, this place has been the abode of mysterious Yogis, saints, and mystics since time immemorial. And this is my story of traveling solo to the source of Ganges aka Gaumukh Glacier!
So, this goes back to May 2019, I had just finished my final year exams. After a hectic phase of internship and a group project, I got completely exhausted and decided to visit my beloved Himalayas. I had always been fascinated by the Himalayas especially by the fact that these mountains made me realize how tiny we actually are in this gigantic cosmos. I had been to Garhwal several times, trekked to Kedarnath, Satopanth Glacier, Mana, and SwargaRohini, so this time I was stuck in a dilemma, what should be the next destination?
Amid the entire confusion and muddle, I made my mind to visit Gaumukh, the second largest glacier in India, which is almost 30km in length and 4kms in width. I started planning and soon I was on a train that would take me to Haridwar from my hometown Lucknow.This whole trip was such a satisfying and refreshing one that it thrills me to write this Gaumukh-Gangotri travel blog and I feel nostalgic remembering my memorable Himalayan trip.
Haridwar: Purifying Dip at Har Ki Pauri
15th May 2019, I got on the train from Lucknow and the next morning I was in Haridwar. When I was booking tickets for the train journey, my folks suggested that I should travel to Dehradun instead of Haridwar as it would be easier for me to reach Gangotri i.e. starting point for the trek to Gaumukh.
However, I denied and traveled to Haridwar mainly because of two reasons. The first one being that before this trip every time I had been to the Garhwal, I had always started my journey from Haridwar after a purifying dip in the Holy Ganges at Hari Ki Pauri. And secondly, I was quite familiar with the routes from Haridwar up above to the divine mountains.
I reached Haridwar and followed my ritual of taking bath in the Ganges river at Hari Ki Pauri, followed by sitting and spending some time at the Ghats. I headed to my next stop in the journey i.e. Rishikesh with full of energy and a refreshed mood.
Rishikesh: Dreads of the Yogi
Rishikesh is an ancient town located in the foothills of the Himalayas at the banks of Ganges. The word Rishikesh translates to Dreads of the Mystic and basically acts as a transit for getting to different places in both Garhwal and Kumaon regions of the state. I boarded a bus from Haridwar to Rishikesh and it took an hour and a half to get to the Rishikesh bus stop.
Rishikesh has a certain vibe that will instantly make you fall in love with it, be it the beauty of this place, the cold mountain breeze, the dwelling saints, the Trivenighat, Ganga aarti, and what not. Writing about Rishikesh in this Gaumukh-Gangotri travel blog , I am getting goosebumps right now as I remember the serene beauty of this place. But this time I wasn’t going to stay in Rishikesh. Instead, I had to board a bus to Gangotri. I went to the enquiry counter, and to my luck, the bus was on time. I got the ticket and started waiting for the bus.
Finally, after waiting for an hour or so I placed my bag in the storage and hopped onto my window seat with my headphones plugged, soon vanished in the beauty of my beloved Himalayas.
Rishikesh to Gangotri: One Hell of a Ride
The bus had to depart at 5 a.m. in the morning and let me tell you people in the mountains are quite punctual; it departed exactly at 5 that morning. Just out of curiosity, I asked the conductor how long will it take to get to Gangotri and he told me 10-11 hours. I had previously in these mini-buses when I was going to Kedarnath and Satopanth glacier, so I had an idea about how unpredictable these bus journeys in the Himalayas can be.
After 80 kilometers at 9’o clock, the bus stopped for breakfast and tea. I had a cup of tea and some samosas and was back on to my seat; ready for the scenic beauty to unveil. Slowly and gradually as the bus made its way deeper into the mountains far away from the hustle of the city, I started enjoying the journey even more. The drive from Rishikesh to Gangotri is an absolute delight to the eyes, the stunning landscapes, waterfalls, valleys, to be precise nature at its best.
The bus takes small halts for refreshment and breaks and finally, after a beautiful yet tiring journey of 13 hours, I managed to reach the holy village of Gangotri at 7 p.m.
Gangotri: The Place Where the Ganges Recedes from the Glacier to Land
Gangotri is a small village located at an elevation of 11,200 ft. above sea level. It is one of the ‘Chota Char-dhams’ in Uttarakhand that is considered to be the holiest shrines for Hindus. The word Gangotri literally translates to the place, where the Ganges recedes (Ganga + Utri= Gangotri).
When I reached Gangotri, I could feel the chilling air and sudden dip in temperature so intense that I had to pull my jacket out of the rucksack right after stepping out of the bus. I was backpacking and hence I was on a tight budget. I visited the temple and found out there was a free meal distribution for pilgrims called ‘Bhandara’.
I had food in the temple which was outstanding and started looking for a budget-friendly accommodation and later I discovered the Dharamshalaof Kali KamliWala. Back in the day when pilgrims visited these shrines, they could stay in these places set-up by Saints and mystics for free. However, you can still stay at these places by paying a nominal fee of 100-200 rupees per head. I met a group of travelers from Ujjain, we joined and spent the night at Kali KamliDharamshala. (Gaumukh-Gangotri Travel Blog)
The next morning, I woke up to witness one of the stunning views, I had seen in my entire lifetime. I got ready and made my way to the DFO (district forest office) to get the permit for trekking all the way up to Gaumukh. On my way to DFO, I had a cup of tea and some parathas that were quite filling.
I reached the DFO and met the DF officer for getting the permit. When I had a word with the officer, he politely denied for giving me the permit as I was planning to trek solo. He explained that the stretch of mountains right from Gangotri to Gaumukh passes through GangotriNational Park that is completely wild and inhabited so it won’t be safe to travel by myself. He gave me two choices either I hire a guide or cancel my plan to trek to Gaumukh.
Disappointed and irritated, I sat on a trail and that was exactly where the magic happened. I met a backpacker from New-Zeeland, Adam Chadwick who had the same experience when he tried getting the permit. We had a small chat and we decided to travel together. Next, we went to the DFO, got the permit successfully, and started planning for the trek the next day.
Gangotri to Chirwasa-Bhojbasa
This is the most interesting part of this Gaumukh-Gangotri travel blog. The next morning, I and Adam were ready to make our way to the source of Ganges. We started trekking from Gangotri at 7 a.m. and we had to reach Bhojbasa by evening which is 14 km from there. After hiking a kilometer or so from the Dharamshala, we reached the gate of Gangotri National Park and got our permits checked. We got a green signal from the officials at check-post with a polite request of not littering the place, to which we agreed.
We were finally making our way into the wilderness of the Himalayas, which I had been dreaming of for a long time. The weather was quite favourable, and we started moving ahead with our favourite tracks on the speaker. After 9 km from Gangotri, we reached Chirwasa- the abode of long leaf Indian pine trees. On our way, we witnessed some stunning views of Mt. Shivling, Sudarshan, and Meru peaks.
After a small break at Chirwasa, we started trekking up to Bhojbasa, which was another 5km, but comparatively steeper and challenging. The terrain from Chirwasa to Bhojbasa changes dramatically from lush green to extremely rugged, and by the time I reached Bhojbasa, there wasn’t a trace of greenery, but absolute wilderness.
At Bhojbasa, one has two options for accommodation, one is the GMVN guest house and the second is Lal Baba Ashram. We checked out and found that the Ashram would be a better place to stay. The Ashram is quite basic yet satisfying. You get food and a warm bed to stay just for 400 rupees. We checked-into the Ashram sat with the Babas for a chit-chat followed by dinner and stargazing.
Bhojbasa to Gaumukh
The next day in the morning, it was literally freezing and it was almost impossible to step out of the bed. Adam was already packing his back, so I got into the groove to make my way to the final destination. We got ready and started trekking from Bhojbasa at 9 a.m. and it was another 6 km. The trail being rugged and steep, it was almost like we were walking on rocks.
After a tiring and challenging trek of 5km, we reached the source, Gaumukh!
At first, it would be difficult to visualize the enormity of the glacier in itself, and once you realize how huge it is, you are completely awestruck.
I sat down right in front of the source and I just couldn’t get enough of it. We sat down to witness the peaks from the glacier. And the views were absolutely spectacular. I decided to meditate for a while; Adam started exploring the surroundings. The cloud formations unparalleled the sound of water coming from the glacier was something that made me enjoy it even better. The beauty of the glacier is abstract and something everyone should witness at least once in their lives.
Late in the afternoon, we started making our way back to Bhojbasa where we would spend the night and then back to Gangotri. On my way back, I realized I had not just made a journey to the source of a divine river but to the ultimate source of a journey within.
Hope you liked this Gaumukh-Gangotri Travel Blog 🙂