Traveling The Lesser Known: Syalsaur, Uttarakhand

10th Mar 2014
Photo of Traveling The Lesser Known: Syalsaur, Uttarakhand 1/6 by Fatema Diwan
Photo of Traveling The Lesser Known: Syalsaur, Uttarakhand 2/6 by Fatema Diwan
GMVN Guest Houses
Photo of Traveling The Lesser Known: Syalsaur, Uttarakhand 3/6 by Fatema Diwan
Kedarnath Temple
Photo of Traveling The Lesser Known: Syalsaur, Uttarakhand 4/6 by Fatema Diwan
Kedanath Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo of Traveling The Lesser Known: Syalsaur, Uttarakhand 5/6 by Fatema Diwan
Mandakini River
Photo of Traveling The Lesser Known: Syalsaur, Uttarakhand 6/6 by Fatema Diwan
Tungnath Temple

In the second most populated country of the world, one wouldn't hope for any quiet, deserted place. Yet, there are places in India that have not been touched by tourism yet. Strange, unchartered territories that intrigue and challenge the traveler. Amidst all the tourism that India attracts, there lay a few hidden maps of places that are not heard of, spoken of or written about in the travel community. Somewhere on that map lies Syalsaur. This small hamlet situated in the state of Uttarakhand, doesn't feature on many travel blogs, but lies in a beautiful silence on the banks of the Mandakini River.

Syalsaur is for the traveler who like to stop and ponder. Who wants to slowly soak in the beauty of the place he/she is in. Syalsaur's adventure lies in its flowing river, its chirping birds, its majestic snow-capped peaks. The adrenaline is replaced by the tranquility of the place. It's one of those places where you can read a good book by a flowing river and wake up to chirping birds. The sunrise at Chaukhamba peak is one of the highlights of this place. It is also a home to many migratory birds, so if you are an avid bird watcher, this could be perfect.

People usually halt at Syalsaur on their way to some Pilgrimage spot like Haridwar or Badrinath etc. This little town nestled at the foot of the Himalayas is a resting place for these travelers. Syalsaur is too small to limit your trip to only that. But, it sure can be used as a great spot to venture out into some of the nearby places. I used Syalsaur as a base to visit the nearby tourist spots. I camped at Syalsaur for a night and lived at the Government owned GMVN rest house.

Mandakini literally means "she who flows calmly". On the face of it Mandakini seems like a calm river but, come the monsoons the river goes violent with its flooding. Yet, the river is surely enjoyed during its calmer times. A tributary of the Alaknanda River Mandakini originates from a glacier n Kedarnath and flows to change form and meet the Ganges in the end. The river in Syalsaur passes like a lifeline in the area. We camped on the banks of this beautiful river. This Himalayan river is worth a visit. You can also indulge in some kayaking along the river.

Photo of Mandakini River, Syalsaur, Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand, India by Fatema Diwan

Situated 47 kms from Syalsaur, Chopta is an hour long beautiful drive. We left early morning to enjoy the fresh breeze along the way. Chopta is also called a mini Switzerland of India. A part of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Chopta is photogenic with landscapes covered with vast meadows that are filled with colorful blooming flowers. During winders the whole area becomes snow-clad giving it a different appeal altogether. In the background of the lovely meadows, you can also see the snow-clad Himalayan peaks. This is a great place to trek or during summer spot some animals.

Photo of Chopta, Uttarakhand, India by Fatema Diwan

Located in the Himalayas, this is one of the four most important holy pilgrimage spots for the Hindus. Surrounded by tall mountains, located in the middle of a wide plateau, the Kedarnath temple is an imposing structure dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is said to be more than a 1000 years old. The temple is decorated with beautiful murals of ancient mythological figures and scenes. The temple still continues to be an architectural wonder. Around 6 kms upstream from Kedarnath is a beautiful glacial lake called Gandhi Sarovar.

Photo of Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, India by Fatema Diwan

A chance to peek into some Himalayan flora and fauna, the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is designated as a Habitat/Species Management Area by the IUCN. Also known as the Musk deer Wildlife Sanctuary, since the area is known for its white-bellied musk deer, an endangered species protected by the government. The sanctuary is also one of the richest bio-diversity reserves in the world. Other animals in the park are snow leopards and Himalayan Black Bears. While some part of the reserve is covered with glaciers the other parts are green with blooming flora. A great place to trek as well as see some rare and endangered species.

Photo of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhinlgana Range, Uttarakhand, India by Fatema Diwan

Tungnath valley is home to the famous Tungnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the highest temple of the world, located at the altitude of 3680 m, just below the Himalayan peak called Chandrashila. The temple is around a 1000 year old. Tungnath valley is what divides the Mandakini river from the Alaknanda river. Covered with rich alpine meadows and lined with the mighty Himalayas at the border, Tungnath is a fresh getaway from Syalsaur.

Photo of Tungnath, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India by Fatema Diwan

Syalsaur doesn't have many stay options because of its remoteness. The GMVN tourist bungalows are great and affordable. These bungalows with interiors made of bamboo sticks add a rusty, mountainous appeal to your stay. The guest house is located right next to the Mandakini river in the mist of the green pastures and is a great place to rest and relax after a tiring day out.

Photo of GMVN Tourist Bungalow Syalsaur, National Highway 58, Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand, India by Fatema Diwan

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