Long weekend around Dussehra (22 Oct to 25 Oct) once again meant expedition to the Great Himalayas. This time it was Gangotri – pilgrims’ revered trail.
With 4 days in hand it was a tough squeeze of time and travel, so to save some time we thought to travel from Noida to Rishikesh on Evening of Wednesday to save from very long tiring journey. Thus our 4 days journey became almost 5 days journey. Route Plan Details:
Day 1 (or rather Evening) Noida to Rishikesh (Route : Noida – Ghaziabad – Meerut – Muzzafarnagar – Roorkee – Haridwar - Rishikesh ). 5 Hours’ drive.
Day 2 Rishikesh to Harshil (Route : Rishikesh – Narendra Nagar – Chamba – Dharasu – Uttarkashi – Maneri – Bhatwari [Check-post] – Gangnani – Sukhi - Harshil ). 9 Hours’ drive.
Day 3 Harshil to Gangotri and back (Route : Harshil – Dharali – Lanka – Bhairoghati - Gangotri ). 1.5 Hours’ drive.
Day 4 Harshil to Haridwar (Route : Harshil – Sukhi – Gangnani – Bhatwari – Maneri – Uttarkashi – Dharasu – Chamba - Narendra Nagar – Rishikesh – Haridwar ). 9 Hours’ drive.
Day 5 Haridwar to Noida. 8 Hours’ drive.
Total distance covered was 1031 KM and fuel average I got was around 13 KMPL.
Leaving office a bit early at 05:30 PM and starting our journey at 06.00 PM on a working day, we encountered mad rush between Noida and Meerut and finally reached Rishikesh by 11:00 PM. There was sizeable amount of traffic till Roorkee and the road conditions are quite good throughout, though two lane roads start from a point somewhere between Khatauli and Muzaffarnagar after the toll road ends. Toll charged was INR 75.
The route has enough petrol pumps and food joints, many running for 24 by 7. We took a break at Haldiram’s outlet at Muzzafarnagar.
Haridwar/Rishikesh offers a variety of stay options, including a wide selection of Ashrams/Dharmshalas, we wanted to cover maximum distance in plains so stopped only at Rishikesh being the gateway to Chardham yatra . But to our fate being a long weekend almost all of the hotels were booked and we had to manage in an ordinary hotel very near to Muni ki reti.
Did not take pictures for this leg of journey as we were in hurry and was getting late.
Next day started our journey by 6 AM from Rishikesh.Weather was a bit cold and sky was clear.
Road were empty and drive all the way to Chamba was enjoyable. As the sun was rising and we were driving through the zig zag roads we could see rishikesh below and the river Ganga.
It was a sight to behold. Guided by the signboards we reached Chamba at around 8 am.
From Chamba to Dharasu roads were fine with marvelous views of some snow-capped peaks on route.
Roads started deteriorating as we approached Uttarkashi. After Uttarkashi for some kilometers the whole area was dusty and tar road turned to a road less affair.
Uttarkashi is the last stop pit for fueling up the tank along with ATMs in the market area. But I would suggest not to bank on ATMs in Uttarkashi, rather get the cash in Rishikesh itself as the market area is congested with few ATMs with long queues. Also stock up the snacks/essentials in Rishikesh only.
After Uttarkashi at Bhatwari check post we were stopped to write down the details of passengers and vehicle. This is the last check post and beyond which it is not permissible to drive after dusk.
We did not stop at Gangnani for hot water spring bath as I was tired and wanted to reach Harshil as soon as possible.
The roads after Gangnani are narrow with many landslide zones. We encountered one while returning from Harshil.
Finally we reached Harshil at 3 PM after 9 hours of treacherous drive.
Harshil is a beautiful hamlet and an Inner line area where only Indians are allowed.
We did not have any prior hotel bookings but knew of GMVN hotel existence so just parked our car at designated parking area and went straight to the hotel through narrow village lanes.
Distance from parking place to hotel is not more than 500 meters.
Being an off season got one room and our luggage was taken care by GMVN staff who were very courteous.
GMVN is the best bet at Harshil for anyone as it offers the best location along with best food and hospitality at such tough terrain. The rooms were pretty basic but one cannot expect more at such places. Tariff per night was some 1500 rupees inclusive of all taxes with complementary breakfast.
Lunch time was over so could not get and had to satisfy ourselves with coffee, toasts and chips.
Straight after snacks and coffee we went for a small tour around the village which is fully controlled by army. Army has done lots of improvement to uplift the quality of life of villagers from installing Solar powered LED lights to making concrete lanes.
We took a tour to the core Army area also but did not take any pictures as neither was it our intention nor was it allowed.
This hamlet is known for its natural beauty and delicious apples. The winding roads, tall conifers, mountains, the turbulent Bhagirathi, apple orchards, streams, waterfalls and green meadows — all typical of Harshil.
Pictures will give a better clarity.
The moment Sun goes down wind starts to haul with extreme chillness and over it river Bhagirathi flowing adjacent with roaring milky waters.
At night we were served sumptuous dinner which was very simple Daal, Rice, Roti and Sabzi; One cannot expect more than that.
One thing to mention is that only BSNL mobile will work in Harshil that too is most of the time out of network coverage, Although in Gangotri Airtel was also working, but we had only Vodafone.