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Life is a journey, complete it
Duration: 12 Days
Expenditure 21000

The title of this blog is a very common read in the Indian Himalayas; a banner which has been put up mostly by the BRO throughout the national highways. There are a few more that i can recollect at this very moment, like, don't rally enjoy the valley; time is money but life is precious; no need for speed; etc. etc.

Uttarakhand is a great place for pure mountain lovers. i am visiting this mountain state for almost a decade now and i always get amused at the natural architecture, it has to offer. The Shivalik mountains are gigantic and treacherous.

One of them is Nandadevi Sanctuary or the Nandadevi National Park or Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve ( one of the 35 UNESCO world heritage sites).

Starting from Haridwar, I wanted to give myself some time before this arduous trek. I decided to spend a week in the mountains of the Kedarnath and Badrinath routes. There are some acquaintances whom i know for quite some time and who would always meet up whenever i visit them. And ofcourse, i would make some more new friends everytime.

The places i visited initially were Byung Gad, Phata and Narayankoti in the Kedarnath route. These are small village settlements completely surrounded by mountains and forests. Since this is the time for Char Dham in the Garhwal, chopper services are regular in the Kedarnath route, depending on the weather conditions. Below are just a few pictures from the time i spent in these places by foot.

Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/1 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/1 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/1 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/1 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/1 by dipanjanmitra

It was time to leave this mountain and move higher. I thought of visiting Kedarnath but somehow after having spent 4 days i decided to move out of the place and travel towards Badrinath.

At Joshimath, I met Dinesh Bhatt ( my long time friend and guide in Uttarakhand). I have done quite a few treks with him in the past and ofcourse this recently concluded Nandadevi.

We decided to start uphill after a day's gap, which gave me the opportunity to visit Badrinath in between.

From Joshimath there are shared taxis and buses for Badrinath. It is an approximately two hours journey through exotic landscape. The river Alakananda travels all along with you.

Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/4 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 2/4 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 3/4 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 4/4 by dipanjanmitra

On my previous attempts i have not been able to go beyond Lambagar, on this route. I got stuck due to landslides but this time i made it through.

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Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/3 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 2/3 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 3/3 by dipanjanmitra

I left Badrinath early morning for Joshimath to begin my all important trek. I would have to reach Lata village from where the trek begins. Porter, guide and all other necessary stuffs including tent, mattress, sleeping bag and the all important food provisions were ready for 5 days. The permission was also achieved from the Forest Department after paying the required park fees. Lata is around 26 kms in a vehicle from Joshimath via Tapovan. This route is yet to get busy with tourists unlike others. There is hardly any traffic after a point of time.

Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/4 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 2/4 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 3/4 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 4/4 by dipanjanmitra

After having cooked and gulped some food at around half past four in the evening, we ventured out towards the village. Meet Kushal Rawat, who accompanied me during the Kedarnath disaster in 2013. A young and energetic fellow below the age of 30, hailing from the mountains, was my guide. He now works regularly with Dinesh in conducting treks. He is reliable and responsible. Lata also happens to be the last spot for recharging all the electronic gadgets (if one is not carrying travel chargers).

Early next morning the long walk upwards began through dense forest of fir, birch and rhododendrons. It took me around 8 hours of walking to reach the second camp site, well above 13500 feet. The steepness of the entire trail is mindblowing. One only keeps going up.

Photos of  1/2 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of  2/2 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Nanda Devi National Park, Joshimath, Uttarakhand, India 1/1 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Nanda Devi National Park, Joshimath, Uttarakhand, India 1/1 by dipanjanmitra

Water is a big problem in this trail and there is only a single source on the entire way to the top. We halted for our breakfast near the one and only source. A cup of coffee and quick Maggi served the purpose before the walk resumed. Kushal and the porter had rice and dal.

Photos of  1/7 by dipanjanmitra
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Soon after we reached Lata Kharak top, the weather dramatically changed and it started raining heavily with dark clouds everywhere. For over 2 hours the weather remained the same with strong winds. In the meanwhile, we got to eat our lunch in the trekker hut where we had taken shelter. At around 5:30 in the evening, the weather cleared and the mountainscape began to open up. The surrounding mountains and peaks, all experienced fresh snowfall. The light was magical everywhere. The temperature was freezing. The 360 panorama offered exquisite views of Hathi Ghori, Dronagiri, Trishul, Bithartuli, Kag Bhushandi peaks and ranges. And that is what i had gone there for.

Photos of  1/8 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of  2/8 by dipanjanmitra
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Photos of  8/8 by dipanjanmitra

The following morning i woke up a bit late. So did my fellow mates. We were all crumbled up inside our respective sleeping bags and slept like logs. I could feel the need of that sound sleep after roaming continuously for 9 days.

DAY 10
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/5 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 2/5 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 3/5 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 4/5 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 5/5 by dipanjanmitra

We had it all planned the last evening, to get out of the bags by 5:00 am and move ahead towards Jhendidhar. But by 6:30 the weather began to change again. Clouds coming from the direction of Dronagiri and Trishul began to gulp everything. We decided to remain on spot. By an hour it was all covered. During the entire day we had visitors. They were all locals and were returning from Darasi Pass after having collected herbs on the way and also partially due to bad weather. We ate together, chatted and had an excellent time throughout the day.

Photos of  1/3 by dipanjanmitra
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DAY 11

It again started pouring heavily after sun down and had not stopped till the time we went to sleep at night. For the third morning i had set an alarm but the mobile battery had already gone down below 30% due to continuous playing of music and thus the ringtone was so low that i woke up after 6:00 am. After having refreshed quickly, Kushal and I prepared to walk up to Saini Kharak, around 2 kms farther up from Lata Kharak. This hill top is probably close to 15000 feet. The weather condition was brilliant compared to the last day and i was sure that i missed a glorious sun rise. But any view of the peaks, at any time of the day always brings smile and happiness in me. The trail to Saini Kharak was something to be in total awe.

Photos of Uttarakhand, India 1/6 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 2/6 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 3/6 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 4/6 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 5/6 by dipanjanmitra
Photos of Uttarakhand, India 6/6 by dipanjanmitra
DAY 12

I felt it needless to continue ahead and decided to come down to Lata and spend another night in the peaceful village, finally before coming down to Haridwar.

Having completed over two decades of roaming in the Himalayas, I sincerely hope, that this magnificent mountain range will help me to complete my journey of life by making me move from the plains, for ever. The mountains, is where I belong. Every trip to the Indian Himalayas, has been a life changing one. Everytime i came back, only after having learned something new, something to continue with this journey called life. Time to rest and plan ahead.

Note: During this trip, i did not focus much on the wildlife aspect although i was in a sanctuary. Worth mentioning is the himalayan mouse. I am certain it's found only in high altitudes like marmots in the Ladakh region. It was very sweet to look at. Atleast 10 times bigger than the rats we usually see in the plains, somewhat round shaped with no visible and distinct tail, brown colored, furry body with offwhite big round eyes. They are quite a few in numbers and live underground the trekker hut and nearby burrows. They are very swift and shy. We lost around half a kg of one vegetable to them. The crows here are exceptionally big and pitch black in color. And they call very loudly. The flies are at least two to two and half times bigger than the ones commonly found in the plains. And one late night i spotted a pair of moving red eyes in the forest. Pretty big and bright.

This is a high altitude trek and not recommended at all for first timers. In fact supreme physical fitness is needed to scale these heights. I shall mention some Do's and Dont's below, instructed by the Forest Department.

Some Do's:

1. Only hire registered porters and guides. Unregistered porters or guides from unregistered team operators is not allowed.

2. Trekking inside and outside the park will be permitted on the designated route.

3. Hiring of one registered guide is compulsory for a group of every five visitor or below.

4. The visitors will have to declare all their disposable/non disposable items before the park authorities at the time of entrance and exit from the park at Lata Kharak/Tolma.

5. Visitors only above 14 years of age will be allowed to go inside the park.

6. Tourists will not be allowed to cross Rishi Ganga.

7. Tourists will bring back all their generated waste during their stay inside the park and hand it over to the Park authorities at Lata Kharak.

8. The visitors will visit the park at their own risk. The park management will not be responsible for mishap or accident.

9. The visitors will have to avail the boarding and lodging facilities provided by the village level institutions outside the park.

Some Don'ts:

1. Don't go for mountaineering, climbing, swimming or any type of adventure activity inside the park.

2. Don't kindle fire, throw lighted cigarette/bidi butts or matchsticks inside the park.

3. Dont destroy, trample, collect or remove any plant and animal specimen whether live or dead or any geological specimen.

4. Dont carry and introduce any alien seeds or propagation material of any plant species and dont carry and introduce any exotic animals or pets.

5. Dont shout, hoot or play audio and video tapes/radio inside the park.

6. Dont carry instrument, implements, tools, arms, firearms or chemicals harmful to wildlife and vegetation.

7. Dont try to feed any wild animal.

8. Dont damage, break or distort the facilities provided by the park authorities.

9. Done deface, put sign boards, write or paint on the tree trunks/rocks/trees or any infrastructure (camping huts,boundary walls abd boundary pillars).

10. In case of fatigue abd ailment of any member do not venture higher and seek the help of forest staff or local people.

11. For cooking and warming do not burn wood.

General Directions for the Visitors:

1. Trek for the park negotiates a steep assen at high altitude zones within 13km route from 2000m at village Lata to 4500m at sathkhula the topmost point.

2. Get a thorough medical checkup done before taking this arduous trek.

3. Carry warm but light clothing, gloves, trekking shoes with good grip, rugsacs, sun glasses, torch light, energy giving toffees.

4. Do not carry too heavy a load.

If anyone wishes to do some adventure in the Himalayan high wilderness, Dinesh and Kushal are recommended. You can even take the reference of this article.

For more info you can visit and get in touch with Dinesh Bhatt directly.

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