Blog on Gaumukh-Tapovan

Shibling peak from Tapovan

Last year's (2015) pindari Glacier trekking was some sort of experiment to test our strength and endurance. After we successfully completed our trekking program, hangover continued for another 2-3 months which was the time when we exchanged photos and memorable memories amongst us. Then came the period of inactivity which ignited our cravings to chalk out this year's plan. And when it was formally asked to send confirmation, instant approval came from all our participants of 2015. And we (mainly myself, Pijush & Vishwanath) started searching for this year's (2016) program. Initially we thought of going Har-ki-Dun valley. It was not considered as it seemed to be too crowded a trekking destination. We were toying with many more proposals but ultimately our long cherished dream of going Tapovan stood as the winner. After a thorough search we had contacted one Tour operator named Char Machan Tourism Pvt Ltd. After having a talk with the key person, Gagandeep Bisht, we agreed with their terms and condition. The tentative date of journey from Hrishikesh was fixed at 18th October. Ours was a group of two sets of people, one with three members from Hyderabad / Vizag and other with four members from Kolkata. We were a group of eight in Pindari Glacier Trekking but we missed the company of Sharma this time as his family obligation coincided with the timings of our program. It was decided that all were supposed to meet at Hrishikesh by October 17th Evening.   

Hrishikesh before our journey started

Accordingly four from Kolkata and three from Hyderabad / Visag reached Hrishikesh on 17th evening.We stayed at a hotel already booked by our tour operator.  Hrishikesh is no more a place as we used to see in seventies and eighties. Now every other building  is a Hotel, where apart from boarding and lodging, Yoga business is the mainstay. There has been drastically reduction of flow in Bhagirathi in both Haridwar and Hrishikesh due to construction of Tehri Dam. 

Day 1:

Road journey from Hrishikesh to Raithal

Distance :  207 KM         Night Stay: Raithal at GMVN TRH Altitude :  Around 7000 ft 

On 18th Morning we started with two Sumos provided by Tour operator. Our 1st day’s journey was ended at Raithal, a small hamlet in the lap of Himalaya. We stayed at GNVN (Garhwal Mondal Vikas Nigam) Tourist Rest House. On the way we crossed Narendra Nagar, Maneri, Chamba, Dharasu( route to Yomunotri  bifurcates from this place), Devidhar, Uttarkashi, Bhatwari. From Bhatwari we left the main road and a further fifteen km journey took us to Raithal.

The main attraction in our 1st day’s journey was the viewing of almost lake-alike formation of water body of Bhagirathi river due to the construction of Tehri Dam in different parts throughout the most part of our journey. 

River Bhagirathi on the way to Uttarkashi

 

River Bhagirathi on the way to Uttarkashi

 

River Bhagirathi on the way to Uttarkashi

It remains to be proved whether the Dam is at all necessary in that part of Himalaya, but the scenario we enjoyed was almost more than a 100 km stretch. 

River Bhagirathi on the way to Uttarkashi

 But again in the process we missed the vibrant river Bhagirathi all through the  1st day's journey. The same thing happens in Tista river in North Bengal and Sutlej in Himachal Pradesh.

On the way we had our lunch at Uttarkashi. In the restaurant we were greeted by the one of our main tour guide Mr. Dinesh Bhatt. He seemed to be a very interesting person, a resident of Uttarkashi and engaged in many activities. We found him very supportive and amiable person. Later on,  his advice proved to be very crucial in successful completion of our trekking program.  

Our program schedule was made with a day’s stay at somewhere midway in the entire route of Hrishikesh to Gongotri to facilitate  acclimatization . Initially We thought of staying at Uttarkashi. But as Uttarkashi is too crowded a place, we decided to stay at Raithal. After we reached Raithal we found our decision  very much in tune with our way of thinking.  The place is surrounded by high hill with a view of snow peaks in the eastern horizon. It is a small village at the altitude of little over 7000 ft. 

Day 2:

Road journey from Raithal to Gongotri

Distance :   70 Km     Night Stay: Gongotri at GMVN TRH Altitude : 10200 ft. 

Our 2nd day's journey started from Raithal and ended at Gongotri.  

View from Raithal

Raithal TRH

View from Raithal

We enjoyed the morning at Raithal and started our journey towards Gongotri.  In Raithal our main guide during trekking, Vypinder Singh and three more portars joined us. Provisions for the trekking route, sleeping bags, tents were also loaded in the car at Raithal only.  On the way we crossed Bhatwari, Gangnani, Harshil, Bhaironghati. It was a three hours journey and the entire journey was along the course of Bhagirathi. Now The river looked differently. It appeared as the typical post monsoon  mountain river. The colour changed from place to place. Some where it was blue and elsewhere it was bluish green. The entire journey was very enjoyable.  Weather was very pleasant, surroundings were scenic and photogenic. 

Bhagirathi on the way to Gongotri

River Bhagirathi on the way to Gongotri

 

River Bhagirathi on the way to Gongotri

 

Bhagirathi on the way to Gongotri

We reached Gongotri at about 1-30 p.m. We checked in the GMVN Tourist Rest House, took our lunch thereon and went out to visit Surajkund and Gongotri temple. We were almost at the last week of October and the altitude of Gongotri is 10200 ft.  So, We had started feeling the bite of cold. Some of our companions had visited the place on their earlier trip in the year 1988. For them the present-day Gongotri looked like altogether a different place. According to popular Hindu legend, it was here that Goddess Ganga descended when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from the locks of his hair.

Surajkund at Gongotri

 

Surajkund at Gongotri

Gongotri Temple

In the evening, we had a meeting with the Tour guide Mr. Bhatt and our trekking guide Vypinder Singh about the next day's program. The discussion was mainly on when to start, how the common luggage and our personal luggage will be distributed among the porters, serving of pack lunch during the trekking etc. etc.

The following morning we woke up at about 6 am. It was a very cold morning. The thermometer kept ouside the GMVN building showed the reading of -1 degree celcius. But we could start only at 8-30 pm for various reasons beyond our control.

Moment we started from Gongotri

  Day 3:

Trekking from Gongotri to Bhojbasha

Distance : 14 km.       Night Stay: Bhojbasha at GMVN TRH Altitude :  12440 ft.

 It was the 3rd day of our journey from Hrishikesh and our 1st day of trekking, a stretch of 14 km, long enough for the 1st day. Gongotri is situated at an altitude of 10200ft. and Bhojbasha is at 12440 ft. It was almost end of October. Night temp.  fell at sub-zero level even at Gongotri. We were apprehensive about what awaited  us in Bhojbasha & Tapovan. Just after Gongotri, there was a steep ascent through a stairway upto a point where it met with the trekking trail. So right at the start it was sort of a tiresome effort. After an hour we reached at the check post where permits were checked. 

 

Entry point of Gongotri National Park 

Now the entire trekking route was under Gongotri National Perk and so it required permission from the District Forest officer of Uttarkashi which was already done by the tour operator for all of us. At the 1st few kilometers from Gongotri we faced riot of colours.  Autumn already set in and we found it in full glory. It was a haven for the photographers.

Gongotri to Bhojbasha

On the way from Gongotri to Bhojbasha

 
 

On the way from Gongotri to Bhojbasha

On the way from Gongotri to Bhojbasha

Gongotri to Bhojbasha

                            

 

It was the traditional trekking route. Thousands of pilgrims, trekkers pass through the route each year. But this time it was the end of the season and so tourist were less in the route. It was the 1st day and we have already passed our golden trekking days. Our movement was slow.  Plus Near Chirbasha usual route caved in and so we had to detour in an alternative way which took more time . From Chirbasha to Bhojbasha there were some places of landslide zones and also here the Bharals, a type of mountain sheep, are found.  At about 2 p.m we reached Chirbasha . 

 

Chirbasha

At chirbasha we found a tea stall. We had with us packed lunch (Aloo parathha). Somehow we swelled that cold stuff and moved forward as we were already behind the schedule. From Chirbasha onward , Bhagirathi peaks were our constant companion.

Bhagirathi peaks from Bhojbasha

 We reached Bhojbasha at 5-30 p.m when rays of setting sun started to add colour on Bhagirathi peaks. 

Bhagirathi peaks from Bhojbasha

 

Bhagirathi peaks from Bhojbasha

Bhagirathi peaks from Bhojbasha

In Bhojbasha we stayed ay GMVN TRH. Earlier only Lalbaba Ashram was there to accomodate the touists / pilgrims.

It took unsually long hours to reach our 1st day's destination. We were exhausted, fatigued, mentally and physically tired. In the evening of the 1st day of trekking,  we sat with our guide and one of the main representative of the tour operator Mr. Dinesh Bhatt. We explained our position.  It was a precarious situation.   Our 1st day’s performance was not at all encouraging. Mr. Bhatt placed a suggestion.  He told us to visit Gomukh and back to Bhojbasha next day and suggested to attempt Tapovan the day after.  That way we would be better acclimatized. The suggestion got merit and we immediately accepted. 

Day 4:

Trekking from Bhojbasha to Gomukh & back

Distance : 8 km.       Night Stay: Bhojbasha at GMVN TRH Altitude :  12760 ft.

Night in Bhojbasha was very cold but the arrangement in GMVN was quite good. Inside the dormitory, we were comfortable but due to altitude sleep was disturbed. In the next morning  we were greeted by the same wonderful group of  Bhaghirathi peaks standing tall at the distant horizon with full glare of sunshine in the backdrop of blue clear sky. At about 8-45 we started for Gomukh.

Bhojbasha

  The trail between Bhojbhasha to Gomukh is the usual route that is being used by pilgrims / trekkers through out the season. The gradient was not steep but most of the path was made with different size of boulders so in places one had to hop instead of walking. We managed the onward journey very well. Mr. Bhatt’s suggestion started to yield result in our favour. Within half-an-hour we glanced the majestic view of Shibling peak.

First sight of Shivling

 We reached Gomukh without much hassle.    

We spent some time in Gomukh and returned well in time at Bhojbasha with high hopes to attempt next day for Tapovan. Gomukh is the snout of the Gongotri glacier i.e the origin of the river Ganges. It is at the altitude of 13200 ft. and said to be one of the largest glacier in the Himalayas. Gomukh is one of the popular Hindu pilgrimage place and a very popular trekking destination as well. 

Gomukh

It is reported that a huge crack developed on the glacier during the cloud burst of 2013 in Uttarakhand. Further  this year on July 26th, due to the collapse of large chunk of glacier the front end of Gomukh disappeared. So from the very appearance of the snout, the name "Gomukh" is so coined, now with the passage of time that particular shape of snout of the glacier has changed. It was also apparently observed that the glacier is receding day by day.

We are at Gomukh

 

In the evening two of our key members declared themselves unfit. Vishwanath, our associate from the 1st programe of trekking in 1979 and his brother Jay Tumulary  (who joined us from California) preferred to stay in Bhojbasha as they felt continuous discomfort for the last two day’s trekking.

Day 5:

Trekking from Bhojbasha to Tapovan via Gomukh

Distance : 9 km.      Night Stay: Mounibaba Ashram at Tapovan

 Altitude :  14640 ft.

 

Next day, i.e the day three of trekking,  rest five of us started early in the morning. The first 4 km upto Gumukh was usual route. After Gomukh there was no well demarcated trail. One had to cross the glacier diagonally . The trail through the glacier was strewn with large open crevasses,  large boulders,  moraine debris.  We were fortunate enough to have a very good helpful group of guide and porters. They helped us in every way to negotiate the difficulties, we faced in the way. Every step reminded us our age. But mentally we were never in retreating mood.

Crevasse in Gongotri Glacier

Gomukh

 

After we crossed the Gongotri glacier diagonally, there was still a 2 km steep rise with the gradient of around 70 degree and the trail was on loose soil, pebbles etc.  Getting foothold and pulling ourselves upward  was very difficult in the slippery trail. But somehow we could manage this portion also with great difficulty with occasional help from the guide and porters . We reached at the valley  at 1-30 pm. Once we put our footstep in the valley,  it was really a feeling of joy, ecstasy  that rarely come in life-time. 

 

Kedar Dome Peak

The surroundings are full of snow peaks , some of which are in just at the extension of the valley. Bhagirathi group of peaks (I, II, III) and shibling are situated almost at the rear end of the valley.  Thereafter, a half-an-hour easy leisurely  trek put us in the Mouni-baba Ashram.  We got a shelter at the Ashram. It was nearly 2 p.m. The valley was full with sunshine. We started taking photographs and roaming nearby areas to have better  viewing of the surroundings. 

Bhagirathi I,II,III from Tapovan

Bhagirathi I,II,III from Tapovan

 

Bhagirathi I,II,III from Tapovan

At 4-30 p.m Sun started moving down behind the hills and  from the very moment temperature started falling.  Severity of cold was such that it became difficult to remain outside. Around 5-45 in the afternoon we were once again awed by the mesmerizing display of colours on the contours of Bhagirathi group of peaks. Soon it engulfed whole of the peaks. 

Sunset on Bhagirathi peak

 

Sunset on Bhagirathi peak

 Moments after Baba served us dinner (chappati , Dal, One Sobji & Payes ) after finishing his daily evening Arti and we  entered into our well insulated room.  There was enough rags & quilts for eight of us. Inside the room we did not feel that cold. But none of us could sleep due to altitude and suffocating  atmosphere of the room.     

Mouni Baba's Ashram at Tapovan

Day 6:

Trekking from Tapovan to Bhojbasha

Distance : 9 km.       Night Stay: Bhojbasha at GMVN TRH Altitude :  12760 ft.

Next day at 6 AM in the morning , we tried to move out from the room to spend sometime out in the foreground of Ashram. But unbearable cold forced us within the confines of the room. Outside all was frozen. It was until the falling of sun rays in the valley the position remained same. At 7 AM, the situation somehow  improved. We had tea and breakfast at the Ashram followed by an half-an-hour photo session.  Last afternoon we had the nice shots of Bhagirathi peaks. In the morning we took photographs of the opposite sides of the valley where Shibling and Meru parbat occupied major portion of the horizon. Shibling peak is almost situated at the extension of the valley. In fact, the base camp for climbing Shibling is made at Tapovan only.

 

 

Shibling from Tapovan

Shibling at Tapovan

Meru Parbat from Tapovan

 

Shibling and Meru Parbat from Tapovan

We started preparation for our return journey. At about 8-25 Am we started our return journey.  Always getting down in mountains is risky than going uphills. So we were apprehensive. We requested out guide , Vypinder Singh to extend their support to the extent possible to make our journey safe. It happened like that. It was too tough a call for us at this age to get down through that steep trail of 70 degree gradient full with loose soil, pebbles without their support. We took some photographs from the edge of the valley down below along the trail of our treacherous return journey. 

Gongotri Glacier

Finally we reached Bhojbasha at about 2 Pm. well within our time schedule where two of friends were eagerly waiting for our return. During their stay at Bhojbasha Jay also took some beautiful photographs which I feel it worth uploading. 

Bhojbasha

 

Bharal near Bhojbasha

 

Bhagirathi peaks from Bhojbasha

  Day 7:

Trekking from Bhojbasha to Gongotri and then by road to Barsu  Distance : 14 km.       Night Stay: Barsu at GMVN TRH Altitude :  7000 ft. 

Our mission was successful, so we were relaxed on the last day of trekking. 

Bhojbasha

 The journey from Bhojbasha to Gongotri was a bit longer and  our program schedule was not to stay at Gongotri, instead our plan was to move  ahead to stay at Barsu at GNVN TRH. We reached Gongotri  at 3-30 PM , collected our left out luggage and started our road journey. Barsu too is a small village like Raithal, calm and quiet, surrounded by high hills and very picturesque. 

Barsu village

For rejuvenation Barsu is a perfect place. In both Garhwal and Kumaun Himalayas GNVN & KMVN have made tourist rest houses in many small places with wonderful surroundings  where the stay for a day or two can be a memorable experience than staying in a Hill station carrying big names. 

Next morning our return journey of Day 8 started………..

THE PHOTOGRAPHS POSTED IN THE BLOG DO NOT GIVE JUSTICE TO THE MESMERISING SCENARIOS WE WITNESSED THROUGHOUT THE TREKKING ROUTE,  TAPOVAN IN PARTICULAR.

WE ARE FORTUNATE TO HAVE A VERY HELPFUL, COOPERATIVE GROUP OF GUIDE (VYPINDER SINGH) AND PORTARS.

 

Great Article and Wonderful

Great Article and Wonderful Photogarphy. Thank you for sharing this post.

Thanks for your comment..

Thanks for your comment.. keep dropping by..

Amazing post... I do have a

Amazing post... I do have a dream to visit this eternal place someday.. I really loved all the wonderful pictures you posted in.. Every picture tells a story.. Keep up the good work. 

Thanks for your comment..

Thanks for your comment.. keep dropping by...

Hi, Excellent blog. You

Hi,

Excellent blog. You included all the tourist attractions attractions in Tapovan. This blog is really inspiring for us to visit the awesome Tapovan, Gangotri, Uttarkashi and all. The photos are realistic and professional. I think the tour operator was genuine and trustworthy who made you journey a memorable one. 

Many many thanks.

Many many thanks.

Mr. Devdutta, Actually Mr.

Mr. Devdutta,

Actually Mr. VYPINDER SINGH is one of the team member amongst other supported us on behalf of Char Machan Tourism pvt ltd  who is out tour operator for the entire journey, the details of the tour operator have already been given hereinabove.

So You may contact Mr. Gagandeep Bisht, key person of the company.

 

Ananta

Thanks Ananta sir for sharing

Thanks Ananta sir for sharing these details.

Amazing Photography. Fun

Amazing Photography. Fun reading article. Thank you for sharing it.

Thanks for your comment. Keep

Thanks for your comment. Keep dropping by.

HI, nice account of your

HI,

nice account of your journey. The pictures are mesmerizing.

We are planning to do Tapovan on May end this year, can you kindly give the contact no of your guide Mr. VYPINDER SINGH

 

Thanks

Debdutta

this information is provided

this information is provided below....

Hi Team, Will you please

Hi Team, Will you please provide me Guide's contact no. Please.

 

Regards, Samir

a Sri Gagandeep Bisht Char

a Sri Gagandeep Bisht Char Machan Tourism pvt ltd 
Delhi  2nd Floor ,39 shahpur jat  Balbir Chamber, New Delhi,-110049
Phone:01141750017,
Mob.: +919761213048,
Deahradoon  Swaraj Plaza , 2nd floor , Opposite Madhuban Hotel ,  Rajpur Road , Dehradoon  Phone:01352748222 . Mob :9761213048  E-mail :- gagan@charmachan.com . gd127205@gmail.com
Website : www.charmachan.comwww.campeaglesnest.com. www.ahacabs.com  

I hope Mr Ananda responds to

I hope Mr Ananda responds to your queries.

Sir Vishnu, when you have

Sir Vishnu, when you have published this post, this post of course this post is very good. I like to your writing sir. Laughing out loud
Want to read more. Hi...  

Hi...Thanks for dropping by

Hi...Thanks for dropping by but this blog was posted by Mr Ananta. Indeed its beautiful writing.

Excellent writing style and

Excellent writing style and pics.

Thanks for your comment. Keep

Thanks for your comment. Keep dropping by.

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