THE SOURCE OF GANGA
Gangotri to Gaumukh Trek
Elemental : Weekly Photo Challenge. The journey of the mighty river Ganges from the melting glacier of Gaumukh.
The Gaumukh Glacier means and resembles ‘the mouth of a cow’, it is one of the main sources of the Holy Ganga, situated under Bhagirathi Peaks 1,2 & 3. Pilgrims as well as trekkers make this journey of around 22 kms from Gangorti Town.
Getting here: The closest airport to Gangotri is located in Dehradhun, and closest railway station is in Rishikesh. It is advisable to rest and spend a night in Uttarkashi since its a long journey to Gangotri. The next morning we made our way to Gangotri. En route, we stopped at Harshil Valley for lunch, a beautiful small town surrounded by mountains and filled with apple trees. Have a hot cup of chai and bun maska (tea and bread butter) in the middle of the Himalayas, ask the driver to make a stop at one of the many chai shops along the way.
Gangotri: Gangotri is a colourful little town frequently visited by pilgrims for its temple and at over 10,000 ft, it is also the base to start the journey to Gaumukh and further. It is essential to spend a night here to acclimatize. Spend the evening walking around the market, pick up some apple chips for the journey, sealed Ganga jal (Holy Ganga water) can also be bought in little bronze cups as a souvenirs. Be sure to visit the temple grounds before the Ganga arti to see the folk dance by the locals in their traditional checked skirts. After that head to the river bank and join the Ganga Arti (prayers to the river) and watch people take a dip in the cold glacier water.
Gangotri to Gaumukh: We divided this trek into 3 days, however it can be completed in one day. Its best to take a guide and porter along unless you’re a professional.
Day 1: Around 2 kms from the temple is the forest check post and 9 kms from there is Chidwasa, a rest stop with plenty shade from its popular chid trees (pine trees), enjoy some tea and snacks in the company of other trekkers. Along the way pass through beautiful narrow trails, chid trees and water streams while snow peaks uncover from the morning clouds and the majestic Bhagirathi River guides the way.
The next stop is a difficult 5 kms up to Bhojbasa. The trees and greenery reduce and cold winds increase as the Bhagirathi mountain peaks come closer into sight. Bhojbasa has camping sites, a few lodges and ashrams. Spend the night camping under the stars in the Himalayas, an experience by itself.
Day 2: Witness the best sunrise and breakfast with this view before heading up to the Glacier. Gaumukh is around 6 to 7 kms from here, getting closer you can see huge blocks of ice in the river flowing out of the glacier. At this point you’re standing 14,000 ft above sea level. Take in the beauty of the source of India’s most beloved river before making your way back to Bhojbasa to spend the rest of the evening and night.
Day 3: Start the descend towards Gangotri, be sure to return with any plastic bottles/ wrappers to dispose once back to the town. We returned to Uttarkashi the same day and after spending the night there we returned home from Dehradhun.
Some more photographs
SOME TIPS FOR THE TREK:
- Hire a guide and porter, you can also get a mule (a small horse) to take you up there
- Carry layers and woolens, a beanie and gloves to keep away from the winds. Also a light windsheeter comes handy.
- The sun is harsh, carry sunscreen
- Carry snacks like nuts, chocolates and medicines you might need. There is no medical aid once you start the trek.
- 150 people max are allowed to trek this route per day, you need a trek permission
- Carry a water bottle, it can be refilled with glacier water from the water streams alog the way
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