Kolkata - Nelong - Gatang Gali - Gangotri: Xylo Traces Ganga Backwards From End To Source

Thread Starter #1
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
At any given point of time I usually have 4 to 5 drive or trek plans up my sleeve. To be honest not my sleeve but in my wallet, in scrolls of paper, scribbled carelessly. Now this plan for Nelong and Gangotri was lying in it for more than 3 years and in the hindsight I know it was good that it did not get implemented earlier for two reasons. First my drive coincided with the reopening of Gartang Gally bridge an engineering marvel of a wooden path clinging on to a ninety degree rock face like a caterpillar. Second it being World Tourism Day we got permission to visit 2 very forward posts deep inside Nelong touching altitudes of 15,000 feet.
But more of that later.

The drive was more about the school friends who left the Alma Mater 30 years back and refused to dwell in just past memories but were fully focused on creating fresh ones. It was all about travelling back down the memory lanes to the school days yet driving out to the future and discovering what lay ahead. It was called ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DUBARA. It was in 2018 when the batchmates had got together for the first time for such childishness. It was in West Sikkim drive upto Hilley and trek to Varsey. This the second one was named DWITYA.

To read the first please check the link..
Kolkata - Hilley - Varsey (Trek)...Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara With The Xylo

Gahrwal in Uttarakhand has been very close to my heart ever since our school friends’ first trek to Gaumukh/ Tapovan area in 1989 as we were leaving school. Since then I have visited and trekked innumerable times. So out of a lot of other choices this came up as a logical choice while deciding on the destination. Of course like in the first time the focus was not to get into cushy hotels and exotic tourist locations but to rough it out the way we used to do in school time excursions.

The major theme of the drive was of course the Holy Ganga. Initially we had thought of having a ceremonial start from Gangasagar (where Ganga empties itself into the ocean) but due to work pressure could not do it and instead settled down for Kolkata only. But throughout the drive the Ganga was a constant companion be it Varanasi or Prayagraj (we just skirted through these towns taking the bypass), Haridwar, Rishikesh or Uttarkashi. Having seen almost all the major and some minor Himalayan Rivers I have no doubt in expressing my personal opinion that the Ganga looks the best and feels the most powerful. No offence meant to the other rivers but felt that if any river can come close to the might of the Ganga is the Bramhaputra.

We had selected the small quaint little Village called Dharali to set our base.

Gangotri was around 20 km from Dharali. This was my 4th visit to the hamlet and it never failed to mesmerize me every time I went.

Nelong was the prime attraction for us. In handshaking distance with the Tibet border it is highly a restricted area but we were lucky to get a permit to have a 150 km round trip inside. The place was a mixture of Spiti and Ladakh and resembled nothing that I had seen of Gahrwal earlier. It was more of being in Tibet.

Gartang Gally is an engineering marvel and had been renovated and opened for public a month before our drive.

Mukhba is on the right bank of Ganga and the highway passes on the left bank through Dharali. But we had based ourselves strategically in Dharali so as to not miss crossing the Ganga and undertaking the 2 km trek upto the Village to feel its isolation and pay respect to the Devi Ganga temple which is the winter abode of the Gangotri deity when the temple stays closed for 6 months usually between Diwali and Akshay Tririya.

We never missed out on the mandatory food stop in Lucknow while on the return journey. Took out time to delve in its past heritage too.

The first time we were five of us batch mates in Sikkim but this time we were four as Saibal had to opt out due to some family medical urgencies. The rest of us lined up with great optimism and hope for a grand adventure and we did have it. From left of the picture it is me, Partha (the tallest), Subhamoy and Raja.

And of course like in all my travels the one silent companion who passes the test every time with flying colours the XYLO. It was a more than 4,000 km round trip drive climbing altitudes of 15,000 feet. There was the long highway crunching, narrow roads, deserted forest ways in the dark, crossing the turbulent river, moving through rarefied oxygen areas, braving the cold, kissing the Sun and with both of us catching up with age it was a challenge. But all along we both never stopped talking to each other and telling each other that we still had a lot of fight left in us.

The story will start. Please watch this space.
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Thread Starter #3
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Day 1 – 24th Sep 2021

We had the option of starting on 25th the next day early morning and drive upto Lucknow. But just to split it up and have a more easy paced start we opted to start on 24th which was a Friday after leaving office early by around 5 pm. The idea was to reach around Topchanchi in a resort where we had previously stayed and was 280 km from Kolkata and half an hour ahead of Dhanbad (Govindpur). Yes we could have stretched overnight and hit Lucknow next day but I personally do not like overnight drives as I prefer my sleep and also the Xylo headlight reflectors were in bad shape and was not the best choice for a night expedition.

But as things have always shaped up we got delayed (well the main culprit was me) and it was not before 7 pm that I could crank up the Xylo. Picked up Partho and Raja and was soon on the Kona expressway to face a huge bottleneck. Subhamoy was flying to Lucknow directly from Mumbai and was to join us from there next day. The jam was relentless and we faced this in Dankuni too. However post the toll plaza it was a breeze and the Xylo was well warmed up by then to hit the occasional triple digit speed.

Being reasonably full we never gave a dinner break early and wanted to munch as much of miles before it. Durgapur and Asansol was whizzed past and we were on the Jharkhand border just about midnight. We decided to cross it and have a brief halt for a late dinner. We chose one road side dhaba and these are the types I like most as the food prepared by these non fancy outlets are absolutely fresh and extremely tasty. Also the open sky above adds to the ambiance.

We ordered for tawa roti and egg tarka. Partho as always requested them to fry it with a little mutton gravy juice to add the cutting edge to the taste. That they did and the onions, green chillies along with the pickled chutney added to the dressing.
IMG_20210925_001439 (1).jpg


From here to the hotel around Topchanchi crossing Govindapur (Dhanbad entry/ exit point) was another hour. The resort was on the other side of the highway and we knew there was no cut in between and we had to take another almost 10 km extra miles to reach the doorstep. In the night at 1 am it did create some confusion but finally reached our rooms with luggage around 1.30 am. The room was warm and cosy and we had taken only one room for three of us as it was big. No prizes for guessing which bed I chose as I always prefer the one on the ground. Gives a lot of exclusivity.

We never could keep our eyes open for long as we were slightly tired and so dozed of quickly.
Thread Starter #4
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Day 2 – 25th Sep 2021

Sleep was good for whatever less hours I slept. Was refreshing to wake up with a hot cup of tea. Partha and Raja intentionally woke me up last and went about doing their morning jobs as I would be behind the wheels for the entire day and they wanted me to maximize my rest.

At 6 am with my cup in hand looked out of the window. The Xylo was ready for the day much ahead of us.

The hotel had complimentary breakfast but we couldn’t wait for it to start and wanted to hit the road as fast as possible. We had thought of catching up with the Dhaba food on the way but the Hotel very thoughtfully packed our breakfast. Around 7.30 we were ready with the Xylo stacked up.

Refuelled once on the highway and very soon we were sailing past Pareshnath Hills which has the famous Shri Pareshnath Temple perched on the top.

By 10 am the sun was already gunning down and we decided to stop under a tree shade to have the breakfast. It was a good two and half hour of aggressive driving and time to answer the tummies call. Across the country wherever I have had any packed breakfast from Hotels it has usually been some fruits and bread. But here it was different. We got generous helpings of Aloo Parantha, Curd and Vegetable sandwiches packed very neatly. As always Partho took the lead in distributing them and we had some great outdoor breakfasting.




We had decided to take some ultra short breaks every 2 hours and hence next stopped for a cup of tea by a dhaba near Sherghati after crossing Barhi, Chouparan and Dobhi. Partho had over excitedly packed in too much of processed food which we didn’t want to carry further. A roadside dog happily ate it.


From here on it was some continuous driving through Sasaram, Dehri on Sone, Mohania and soon we hit the Bishwa Sundari Bypass on Varanasi at 4 pm. Varanasi had always cast a spell on me and my soul wanted to take a break by the Ganga. But he agenda of the trip was quite different as we were to hit not the Ghats here but the ghats nearing its source. So reluctantly the Xylo moved on.

The highway between Varanasi to Allahabad was a breeze unlike the last time when I had undertaken it and very soon we were on the Allahabad (Prayagraj) bypass. It was 5.30 in the afternoon and since we had decreased the number of food/ tea halts we were hungry but the bypass offered no options. Partha as always was navigating with the gmap ready. And a rare omission from him made us overshoot the cut which we needed to take to hit the Lucknow route. Instead we were well on the way to Kanpur/ Delhi when we realized the mistake. But better late than never as we took a u turn (designated ones are 30/ 40 km away and had to rely on the high profiles of the Bridgestone to make it from a makeshift one).

Once back on track we did stop for a meal and once more de routed to pick up some liquid stock for ourselves. We were not carrying as we needed to cross Bihar and Bihar being dry did not take a chance. The head lights of the Xylo being old lacked the punch and we were now on a single carriageway which slowed down the pace somehow. We stopped for one last tea break 50 km short of Lucknow and hit the city by 10.15 pm. Shubhamoy (our 4th school friend who was supposed to join us from Lucknow) had already landed from Mumbai and reached our pre booked hotel by 9 pm. Another batch mate called Pinkie (a guy since our school was a boys one) who stays in Lucknow also had reached the hotel to give us company till late in the night.

Lucknow was as usual a traffic chaos but being late in evening there was some respite and we did not have much of an issue in locating the destination through Google. Both our friends were eagerly waiting for us and it was a nice catch up specially with Pinkie whom we were meeting after almost a decade.

We had an option of retiring to bed after a long drive and another one coming next day but we chose to stay up, party and taste the Avadhi cuisine (through Swiggy). The Galawati Kebab and two other Kebabs which Pinkie suggested were lip smacking and then I realized the Avadhi food available in Kolkata in one reputed branded restaurant was nothing compared to what we were having in the Nawab’s land.


It was almost at 3 in the morning that Pinkie forced us to get some sleep and left for his home. Yes the late night forced us to delay our starting plan the next day for Rishikesh but we were not bothered as the purpose of the trip was not to reach but to create memories of our school days. ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DUBARA was the theme after all..
Thread Starter #6
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Day 3 – 26th Sep 2021

The late night ensured a late start. But to our credit we did manage to be by the Xylo by 8.30 am and got about pushing the luggage in. The parking was on the road but the hotel had assured us of the safety.

First things first we fuelled up for the day.

Rishikesh is a town which I have visited at least 25 times in my life (in 2004 I had visited 4 times)and is very close to my heart. Not that I am a religious person by nature but certainly a spiritual one. So the very thought of reaching the town by day end perked the Xylo and me up and we were already sprinting away merrily.
We took the road via Hardoi and initially it was a single carriageway but traffic was not too high. The bushes on either side of the road were extremely overgrown and encroaching upon the road. Once we hit the 4 lane highway we took time to enjoy our breaks.


We neared a place called Sehrmaou around 11.45am and decided to take a brunch break at one of the roadside stalls. Food and some Lassi was good. Spent a relaxed half hour before resuming the journey.

The roads were fine and we hit Bareily by 2 pm and the bypass of the town was a breeze. It started to drizzle and we were in a blissful mood all together. The Xylo audio was charged up with the “Bareily ki Bazar mein.. ” number and even as the rains relented a little we stopped by the highway to have a feel of the ambience.

And from here on we quickly reached Moradabad but here we lost almost an hour and half. We were actually looking for a shop to stock up our evening thirst requirement and asked Google to help. We were on the approach to Moradabad and found a road to the left (which was actually the Moradabad bypass) which all truckers and buses were taking and another going straight. Google asked us to follow straight to reach our destination shop but even as we were approaching could understand we were on the wrong way. We then decided to abandon our search and head for Haridwar and see if we can find our requirements on the way.
Now here Google played a cruel joke on us. Instead of taking us back to the bypass, which would have been 750 meters behind, it showed us to go ahead as that was the shorter route. Even as I kept on driving I told Partha who was navigating that the road ahead was extremely densely populated and narrow. So we stopped at a Police Naka and confirmed Google’s route. But I could sense we are in for trouble. By the time we realized we are in a mess called Moradabad narrow lanes which will cross the main mosque it was too late. The Xylo did not have enough shoulder space to reverse itself. So we kept on with the flow of the people. Mind you it was just scooters, bikes, cycles and rickshaws and countless heads. Can vouch for it a car as big as a xylo has entered that road for the first time in a decade during main market hours. Their were countless shops on both sides (mainly of Brass products) which we had to ask them to push their shop chairs / goods back to make way for the Xylo.
We found another police naka and stopped to check. The police looked surprised that we have taken this route instead of the bypass but said now we have no other way but to follow this road. We did follow and after some harrowing hour we managed to see some bit of road. Even while driving I decided to click. However one thing I must state that the people were extremely cooperative. They never appeared irritated that it was disturbing the daily routine or they had to stop and wait for us to pass which at times were a hold up of 5/6 minutes. They took initiative to move parked scooters and goods to allow us to pass.

And to top it all the moment we hit back the highway we found our designated shop.

We doubled up our pace and hit the Najibabad area by 7 pm and stopped for some food. We found some great egg rolls from a roadside stall where Haridwar Lucknow buses give a break. The rolls were good and I had a second helping.

From here also we took a slightly wrong route and hit the Kotdwar route. Hit a level crossing where we needed to wait for the passing train and I got down to check on the authenticity of the route. Most told us we have left it behind but some told us to take a left after crossing the railway line which will be a slightly longer but less congested route. So we decided the second option.

And true to what they said the road was desolate. In fact it was too desolate for our liking in the dark. It was a narrow but well metalled path with dense vegetation on both sides. Sign boards were missing and we went on a hunch and Google moonlighting us. We needed to cross the various canals of the Ganga and at night without other vehicles they seemed a haunted sound coming in. But it was soon that we hit upon the lights of Haridwar and it appeared back to civilization. The time was 9.30 pm and we did not waste any time and proceeded to Rishikesh which we reached by 10 pm. Found an Oyo hotel at reasonable rates and did not waste time with our dinner and readying ourselves for the next day.


Honoured Member
May 16, 2014
quickly reached Moradabad but here we lost almost an hour and half. We were actually looking for a shop to stock up our evening thirst requirement and asked Google to help. We were on the approach to Moradabad and found a road to the left (which was actually the Moradabad bypass) which all truckers and buses were taking and another going straight. Google asked us to follow straight
Very nice narration. I am from Kanpur, and can totally relate to that. Been to Rishikesh and Gangotri, so can understand what happened there. Before bypass was completed, that was the regular route, i.e. through the market.
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Thread Starter #8
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Excellent write-up and lovely photographs coupled with apt narration...

Very nice narration. I am from Kanpur, and can totally relate to that. Been to Rishikesh and Gangotri, so can understand what happened there. Before bypass was completed, that was the regular route, i.e. through the market.
Thanks. I had driven through Moradabad in 2016 also. The bypass through the station was thr.
Thread Starter #9
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Before we hit the mountains and I continue with the journey, let me share the list of expenditure we incurred in the drive (in the first sheet) and the detailed time log (in the second sheet). Could not capture the distance as the cluster meter was not functioning.


Thread Starter #10
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Day 4 – 27th Sep 2021

I consider Rishikesh as the place which actually got me addicted to the Himalayas. Have been to the place countless times (in fact as many as 4 times a year in 2003) and know the lanes and by lanes like the back of my hand. Have fond and nostalgic memories when as a school guy came with my parents and was fascinated by it. Then in high school as we 5 batch mates again hit it and that feeling was something out of the World. It was our first trip independently without parents. The freedom was to be cherished, the responsibility to be adopted, the life to be lived.

Many moons later this time It was a nice pleasant morning we woke up to in Rishikesh. Hearts were thrilled as we readied to hit the Himalayan slopes for the first time in the trip and on to Dharali via Tehri, Uttarkash and Harshil. For most part of the Journey the Ganga was to keep us company. Since we checked in pretty late the previous evening got ready early to take a stroll outside. Breakfast was to be on the way. Rishikesh was lazily getting into the daily routine as I had a good look at our hotel from outside. Was good and decent for the price we paid.

The Xylo was getting a comfy bath (first and last it got in the trip back to Rishikesh). It was just getting ready.

And I too was ready and eager to take on the wheels.

We started around 6.30 in the morning and first stopped at this place. Right in the heart of Rishikesh on the crossing of Laxmanjhulla Road and Kshetra Road this was Ajju bhai’s shop at one point of time. When we batchmates had come calling in our independent trip we had met the guy called Ajay Sharma and his elder brother Arvind Sharma. We connected extremely well and subsequently over the years we all became family friends with them. Ajju bhai later went on with his political career too and became the District Youth Congress President and subsequently a local municipal councillor. However both brothers left for the Heavenly abode very early in life and both due to health reasons. We were still in touch with the family and this time too paid a visit to Ajju bhai’s home and caught up with his wife and daughter while returning.

The shop extremely well located today sadly is in ruins. It was full of vibrancy when we first saw it more than 30 years back, stuffed with confectionaries, a cool sitting place around a round table and some delightful cold helpings of coffee, lassi, mango shakes. Time takes a toll and with a heavy heart the Xylo decided to roll on and we decided to move on with Life.

We started without breakfast but did not deny that to the Xylo.

Drove upto Muni Ki Reti (within Rishikesh) and took the left turn to hit the slopes. But very soon we were halted just outside the municipal limits. They wanted us to do the covid protocol registration and what we understood Kedar and Badri shrines were overloaded with pilgrims and they were not allowing anyone beyond Rishikesh due to fresh threats of the pandemic. It took us time to convince the duty officer that we were headed Gangotri and that too not Gangotri shrine but to Nelong. We had to show him the permit to Nelong for him to allow us to proceed. We still needed to make registration along with proper documents.


The first feel of the mountains is always refreshing. We halted at a point from where Rishikesh was visible and the view was spectacular.



As we continued the roads were mostly good but it had the rough patches also.

The first major town was Narendranagar followed by Chamba. From here a road goes to the left to Mussorie via Dhanaulti. The right goes to New Tehri town and the dam. We took straight towards Uttarkashi. We checked with a female constable regarding the route and she was firstly concerned whether we on to the pilgrimage of Chaar Dham. She too needed some convincing that Nelong was our principal destination though this time we were not required to flash out papers. And she was mightily impressed to see a West Bengal registered car in those mountains. As we drove past Chamba we started getting a clear view of the Tehri Lake an artificial water body formed by building a dam over the Ganga and in the process submerging the entire Tehri Village.

We pulled up to one side to get down and have a clearer view. I was dumb stuck while Partha and Shubhamoy decided to click on.






We found a small dhaba alongside and decided to break for Brunch.


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Thread Starter #11
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Day 4 – 27th Sep 2021 (contd..)

Brunch over we were on our way to Uttarkashi. Road was good and I stepped on the gas and the Xylo gladly responded with aggression.

Uttarkashi had been a nostalgic location for me. We the school friends had spent some awesome memorable days in the location. We had gone out for movie in the night too just to have a feel of the local people and the theatre ambience. Much later during my initial working days after getting married had visited again with another school friend and just to reignite the earlier days had visited a theatre (their used to be 2 movie halls) again to watch a Mithun Chakraborty rerun.

Uttarkashi was a favourite for another reason. The entire Devbhoomi Gahrwal used to be devoid of non veg except for 2 locations. Srinagar (on Badrinath route) and Uttarkashi. The main market area had a food stall of a sardar and used to make lip smacking butter chicken. But as we approached the town we found the road is detoured via the other side of the Ganga. It might have been a relief not to be driving through the congestion but was slightly disheartened not to roll past through old memories.

That is the town of Uttarkashi from the other side.

But to my pleasant surprise found that the road recrossed the Ganga and entered Uttarkashi just at the point where it mattered the most for me. This was Hotel Bhandari where I gave stayed every time I was in the town. Just too many memories crossed my mind. Was overcrowded so could not stop here.

We took a 20 minute break on the northern fringe of Uttarkashi as the others went to pick up some supplies for the rest of the journey. Here I made a fatal mistake of not refueling the Xylo. Completely escaped my mind that this was the last fuel pump. And the bigger problem was the Xylo’s cluster meter was not working so I was driving it purely on intuition and experience.
Anyways mistake done we rolled on to Khedi where we were greeted by this artificial waterfall with a sunshine and we were delighted.


It was here that Tilak bhai (Tilak Soni) called me. Tilak stays in Uttarkashi and runs philanthropic initiatives through his foundation called Where Eagles dare. He himself is into hard core trekking and mountain driving/ riding. So he from time to time arranges off beat destination drives. He was with a group of almost 17 people from Mumbai/ Gujarat to delve into the forbidden valley of Nelong and Gartang Gally. Completely by coincidence and luck we were there around this time and I had planned to coordinate my Nelong drive with him and his friends as otherwise it would have been impossible. He was in Gartang Gally with the group and checked if I wanted to join. We did not want to rush things and told him that we had a reserve day and so will visit Gartang on that day. After all it was Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara and we had all the time in the World.

But that did not mean we were ready for avalanche delay. And it happened and we got stuck up for almost an hour.



But nothing to complain as the views were amazing. It was like the Ganga was keeping us occupied with its mesmerizing sound of the flow.


The hold up over I never pushed the Xylo to make up for the lost time. Rather we took more breaks to soak into the motion called GANGA..



Hit Gangani at 4 pm and then while passing through some road side eateries realized we were hungry. The last meal we had was a brunch in Tehri area. Harshil and our final destination Dharali was not far away but the eateries looked fresh enough with their food for us to give a by. And we were not wrong. Some real tasty vegetables with roti delighted our soul more than our stomach.
As we moved on we were greeted by the first sights of Harshil. One of the most beautiful places I have visited in my life was happy to have an ariel view.

We had to stop in Harshil for the last round of covid check even as the lights were fading at around 6.15 pm.

Finally hit Dharali at 6.30 pm. The room we had booked was only 700/- per room per night. We had blocked for 3 days. It was simple and absolutely basic. But our entire trip was all about hitting the roots and it did fit into the scheme of things with perfect synchronization.

The view from the private balcony. The village on the other side at a height was Mukhba the winter abode of Godess Ganga.

Yeah we got generous views of the Ganga from our own balcony.

And Subhamoy seemed happy.

Knowing the issue of availability of non veg in these regions we had asked the caretaker to procure enough chicken for us. He did and thanks to Partha for taking up the mantle of cooking himself with help from the caretaker that we got some superb dinner and going forward some great food during our stay.

Me had no idea about cooking but kept on egging Partha to create his best. The apples from the local orchards of the owner of the property were for free and they tasted better than any I had.

Tilak Soni and his group were in a more upmarket hotel 7 km ahead (the only posh one in the entire region). Went to meet him up once for the next days drive plans to Nelong. Came back and slept well.
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Thread Starter #12
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Day 5 – 28th Sep 2021

Today was supposed to be the most important day for us as today we would drive deep into Nelong. Not that the next day’s attraction of Gartang Gally, Mukhba and Gangotri was anything less but the entire drive and purpose of Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara – Dwitiya was to drive into the forbidden valley of Nelong. And the charm of driving to places where the Xylo will have the distinction of being the first ever civilian vehicle to hit that spot.

We were greeted with a splendid morning view from our balcony.

7.30 am we were to report in to Hotel Prakriti to join Tilak and his team. Partha prepared a quick breakfast and we were in time to join the team. Todays team was 17 of us including Tilak and his logistics team. The Xylo was joined by a Scorpio from Mumbai and a local Tempo Traveler. Just for the ease of other persons another Bolero was also taken from Dharali.



We started at around 8 am and first halted to take some snaps from the bridge just before BHAIRONGHATI. This was the last time we crossed the Ganga before Gangotri. Views were amazing and the Ganga ws at its widest best.




Hit Bhaironghati by 8.30 am and had a brief stopover. This is from where the road to Nelong branches of from the Gangotri Highway. Gangotri is a further 10 km away. The restricted area starts from here to Nelong Valley and the normal process of checking papers by the ITBP followed.

This was the entire team lined up as we were ready to penetrate Nelong. Tilak bhai is the one to the extreme right with hands held up with a green flag. The DFO of Uttarkashi himself flagged us of for the adventure.

And the Xylo was raring to go..

Stay tuned as we explore the unexplored..
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Thread Starter #13
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
The moment we enter Nelong Valley we divert away from the Ganga and start the tracing the Jadh Ganga (Jata Ganga in local parlance) which is one of the initial tributaries of the Ganga and they both meet in place called Lanka just a few km behind Bhaironghati and about 14 km before Gangotri. The Jadh Ganga is a fierce river originating from the Tibet plateau and it forms a deep gorge as it rushes in to empty itself in the Ganga. The waters are very clear as compared to the Ganga and displayed a bluish texture in places.



The first couple of Km was fine tarmac but then the drama on the roads unfolded. Of course they were not a deterrent and pretty much driveable.




We soon came up to the point from where the Gatrang Gally could be viewed on the other side of the Jadh Ganga. Gatrang Gally is an engineering marvel a wooden bridge clinging on to a 90 degree steep and slippery rock face connecting one end of a walkway / trek route to the other. Here is what the Uttarakhand Tourism site has to say about it.

‘Gartang Gali, one of the most thrilling and exciting treks in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district, was opened to visitors and tourists in 2021 after 59 years. Located in the picturesque Nelong Valley near the Indo-China border, the 150-year old Gartang Gali is a 136-m-long wood-lined stairway that is said to have been built by Peshawari Pathans, who created an architectural masterpiece by cutting the granite of a vertical rock face. This route was traditionally used by merchants trading between India and Tibet. It was damaged over the years after it fell into disuse following the Indo-China war in 1962.
Painstakingly reconstructed, the 1.8-m-wide bridge, perched at around 3,352 m (11,000 feet), challenges even the most enthusiastic adventure-seeker. Hanging from the rocky ledge, it overlooks the picturesque Nelong Valley and the flora and fauna, while way below rushes the Jadh Ganga river! The around 2.5-km trek through dense forests leading to Gartang Gali is arduous but all the strain is washed away the moment you walk up the steps.
Interestingly, it is said this is the bridge that Austrian climber Heinrich Harrer (of “Seven Years in Tibet” fame) had used to escape to Tibet from India, during World War II. His story later inspired the Hollywood film of the same name starring Brad Pitt.’

We were lucky to have visited exactly within a month of its reopening. History apart it looked beautiful from a distance just like a caterpillar clinging on to a surface. Next day plan included a walk on this bridge so we did not waste too much time and moved on after clicking pictures.




But then the avalanche ill luck followed us and again we got stuck. It was all of defence trucks and those carrying supplies deep inside. But even in the hold up we continued enjoying the Jadh Ganga gorge.




A 30 minute hold up and as we moved up we were suddenly faced by a very wide stream flowing fast across the road. Even as the Xylo reached we saw the Bolero speeding at very high speed across it. The Tempo Traveler initially did not want to risk it but then the Scorpio did it first. Then the Traveler went through and now it was the turn of the Xylo. The boulders were big and the water gushing in was fast and deep at places. Two mistakes from my side. I should have off loaded the passengers (we were 5) and also slightly less bothered about the Xylo and made it to task around the challenge faster. Just 10 meter into the near 80 meter stream the xylo stalled. Off loaded the passengers in that Ice cold waters and tried but of no use. Tilak bhai and the team who were waiting on the other side for all to cross immediately came in and started pushing (the couple of Mumbai gentlemen who were in the scorpio were extremely helpful in pushing) both ways and then suddenly while on the reverse gear the Bridgestones (3 month old) got the traction and the Xylo went back at the starting point of the stream. But it still needed to be crossed. The local driver driving the Bolero volunteered to do it. Even as he was speeding across, the stones of the river bed started flying all over and the vehicle was getting physically displaced side wise but it made it safely to the other side.



From here on Nelong was reached in another 15 minutes by 10.30 am. Nelong was very beautiful but unfortunately we did not click too much because whichever side we found beautiful had a military installation and we did not venture in view of national security.




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We decided to take a group picture also. The lady in the click is Borsha a bengali married to Krishna from down south. Both have given up on their jobs to pursue some own interests. They had based themselves out of Uttarkashi to continue their passion in research, writing, driving and trekking. They were also part of Tilak’s team. Borsha had hopped into the Xylo as we had space for an extra person and she neede to catch up on some Bengali conversation. For us she shared some insightful information about the Valley even as we drove.

We had to wait here. Firstly we had 2 documentation checks both for individuals and the vehicles. Two uniformed men standing side by side were checking and documenting the same details. One was from the Army and the other from ITBP. The defence people were extremely friendly with us. The ITBP was unaware that we had permit to delve deep and he thought that that was all we had come for and will return from here. So he was asking us to come inside the camp and what I could understand was offering us to have lunch with them. He slightly got disheartened when he knew our lunch was being arranged by another ITBP camp in the forward positions. Nelong is usually the place till which normal tourist with permission from Uttarkashi is allowed. On certain days with additional permission they are allowed upto Jadhunga. But we had plans and permits for much deeper.

After a half an hour break we were ready to move on to the abandoned village of Jadhunga.

Please continue following..
Thread Starter #14
Aug 15, 2011
Mumbai / Kolkata
Roads leading up to Jhadunga was not metaled but very good to drive.




Jadhunga (or Jadang) at altitude of around 13,000 feet was a village on the borders of India and Tibet. It was a hamlet consisting of more than 50 huts and was a flourishing trade center with Tibet. Primarily consisting of the Bhotia / Jadh tribe the major items for trade used to be ghee, salt, wool, jaggery, pulses and a lot many things including gold. The relations were very peaceful until 1962 when the Indo China war took place. The Village was right in the line of fire and was said to be briefly under Chinese occupation. The villagers were however all evacuated and brought to safer places near Uttarkashi.

It was said that a lot of Tibetian refugees had also entered India around that time. The locals were hardly bothered about it as all along they had existed in perfect harmony among themselves. Some inter border marriages had also happened. Now after the war when these villagers tried to return to the village of Jhadunga the Government refused permission, claiming the area to be too sensitive due to its proximity with China. They were however given alternate relocation facilities in a village called Bagori near Harshil while Jadhunga was permanently handed over to the defence forces namely ITBP/ Army.

That's how the ruins are now. Some of the homes had the roof shattered and swept away though they were not completely razed to the ground. While others withstood harshness and adversity of times.


The motorable road ended hare in the village.

And we find an abandoned well. Think of it that it might have been a life saver back in the glory days too given this being a cold desert.
ost certainly

I could almost feel it that if I knock and step inside the shattered house I would most certainly come across someone waiting to welcome me inside.

The walls were battered with wind, snow, storm but even today they stood strong to tell a story of the bygone days.

This alley would have been a favourite hide and seek place for the village kids. I could almost visualise them running around and having the childish fun.

We were too busy with the story that the ruins had to offer and was too engrossed with a history unfolding in front of us. Hardly got the time to feel what nature had to offer too. Some spectacular views.


Oh and now we hit upon what we were told as the Village Headman's home. Who needs the Prime Minister or President's job or a CEO role if you can have such blissful designation up in these slopes.

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Ancient folk fare says when the villagers were originally displaced from Jadhunga they had brought back two of their three deities Rangli Devi and Someshwar Devta along with them. The third Lal Deveta refused to move so they had to leave it back. Hence every year around Diwali the villagers are given permission to come here along with Rangli Devi and Someshwar Devta to meet Lal Devta. This is accompanied by rituals, dance, song, food and a lot of merry making. For the villagers it is like going down the memory lane and living the cherished life only once a year in their beloved village abandoned by them and their ancestors.

This was the Temple of Lal Devta. Yes sitting in the plush cities the fact of Lal Devta refusing to move out of the village might seem a story. But standing on those unfriendly slopes, battered by the rough terrain they all seemed so real to me. Facing the temple and folding my hands for a prayer my mask of metropolitan cynicism quickly vanished into thin air.

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Honoured Member
May 16, 2014
Very beautiful narration you are giving us along with the mesmerizing pics. Feels like I am there too along with you, viewing the Lal devta temple and the rest of Jhadunga.
Thank you .Waiting for more pics and narration from you .

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