DAZZLING LANDSCAPES, GLORIOUS ADVENTURES
The classic Garhwal trek along the famous Curzon trail, carefully balances fabulous walking and sublime views across the Himalayas with insightful cultural experiences at local villages and holy pilgrimage sites along the upper reaches of the Ganges. The Garhwal region, dominated by the awe-inspiring Nanda Devi Sanctuary, is perhaps the centerpiece of the Indian Himalayas. The outer sanctuary makes for a superb region for walking, with magnificent panoramas of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Badrinath peaks on offer. Also, spotting the Himalayan musk deer and the Himalayan tahr along with bears and the elusive snow leopards is a possibility.
From Delhi, we journey north to Srinagar in Garhwal (not Srinagar, Kashmir) and on to the trailhead at Lohajung through remote villages, verdant forests and alpine pastures. Trekking in the shadow of the great Trishul peak, we ascend to Kuari pass (4,268m), the highest point on this route and are privy to amazing views across the main Himalayan range all the way towards Tibet.
The tour concludes with visits to Joshimath and Rishikesh, both sacred towns located by the Ganges and annual destinations for thousands of Pilgrims, from where we return to Delhi.
- A spectacular view of Nanda Devi from Kuari Pass (4,268m)
- The pleasures of walking through dense forests of oak, pine, rhododendron and deodar
- Delightful experiences of remote villages, terraced farms
- Breathtaking vistas afforded by various viewing points
- Rishikesh and Joshimath: Pilgrimage destinations
Day 2Delhi - Haridwar Train Haridwar- Srinagar Overland Drive ( 150 Kms/05 Hours)
Delhi - Haridwar
After an early breakfast, we transfer to the Railway station to catch our train to Haridwar.
Haridwar - Srinagar (Uttarakhand)
Haridwar is one of the seven holy towns under Hinduism and the site of the 12-yearly Kumbh Mela (a religious festival that is celebrated every 12th year). The town is situated on the edge of the Shivalik foothills where the Ganges leaves its last rocky gorge and begins a 2000 km long journey across the plains to the Bay of Bengal. We then transfer to our vehicle for a drive along the River Ganges until we stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Depending on availability of time it may be possible to make a visit to a ghat at Deoprayag, another holy place for Hindus. We stop for the night further along the valley at the small town of Srinagar. Upon arrival, check-in to the hotel and relax for the rest of the day.
Day 3Drive from Srinagar to Lohajung (2234m)
Srinagar (Uttarakhand) - Lohajung
Today we continue our ride through the heart of Garhwal. The road gradually ascends as it follows the Alaknanda Valley through a timeless agricultural landscape. We pass through Rudraprayag where in 1920's Jim Corbett shot the ‘Rudraprayag leopard’, a man eater who allegedly had consumed some 125 people over the years. The 'prayags' are sacred confluences of the rivers which eventually merge with the Ganges. Further along the valley is Karnaprayag, situated on the junction of the lovely Pindar River and the Alaknanda. Shortly before Gwaldam we drive off the main road to Debel (1218m) and drive up to a switchback track to the road head at Lohajung (2234m) where stunning views of Trisul and Nanda Ghunti give us goose bumps.
Day 4Lohajung – Didana (2634m; 13 kms drive and 4 hrs walk)
Lohajung - Didna
Our trek starts today with an easy walk into those areas where lifestyle of the local inhabitants has not changed much over centuries. We descend into the Gyana Ganga Valley through rhododendron and fir forest. Reaching the river we follow it for a while before crossing it and climbing steeply to the shepherd encampment at Didana. (Approx. 13 kms,/ 4 hrs).
Day 5Didana – Bedni Bugyal (3354m;5-6 hrs)
Didna - Bedni Bugyal
In the morning, the trek starts with a steep climb up through the forest. Passing through Ali Bugyal we emerge above the tree line and are rewarded for our hard climb with wonderful views of the peaks of Chaukamba and Nilkanth. We continue along the grassy ridge to the high grazing meadow of Bedni Bugyal. It is said to be one of the most stunning alpine viewpoints in the Himalaya. The mountains we saw through the trees now present themselves as a massive wall of dazzling white with snow at their tops. Most significant are Trisul (7120m) with its three prongs representing Shiva's trident, Nanda Ghunti, Nilkanth and Chakamba. To the northwest are tantalizing views of the giants of the Great Himalaya. Bedini Bugyal is used by travelers to reach Roop Kund to compete a pilgrimage that takes place every twelve years.
Duration of Trek: 5-6 Hrs
Distance: 11 Kms
Day 6Bedni Bugyal – Vaan (2540m; 4-5 hrs)
Bedni Bugyal - Vaan
Today is an easy half day that allows us to spend some time enjoying the views at Bedni Bugyal and perhaps walk a little higher up the valley towards Bhugu Basa. Our walk today begins with a long and steep descent through a fine forest of fir and rhododendron all the way to the river. We then climb up from the river to Vaan, a typical Garhwali Village. We camp just above the village near the Tourist Bungalow on a wide tree-fringed terrace. Just above the camp is the sacred grove of Latu, a local spirit, whose temple lies under one of the biggest Deodar trees in India.
Duration of Trek: 4 Hrs
Distance: 11 Kms
Day 7Vaan – Kunol – Sutol (2200m;6-7 hrs)
Vaan - Sutol
Past the temple the trail climbs steadily through magnificent cypress trees to the Kukin Khal Pass at 3069m. This pass divides Nandakini and Vaan Valleys. The path now descends to a broad meadow on a paved stone trail to Kunol Village, a traditional Garhwali settlement with stone and slate houses and excellent views of Trisul. Fields are still hand-tilled and provide villagers with most of their staple foods and a small income from any surplus. A lengthy descent takes us down to the Nandakini River where we stop for lunch and bathe our feet in the cool water. A very pleasant walk in the afternoon takes us on a broad cliff path above the river to pine forest and some more villages. Near Sutol, we cross the Nandakini on a solid iron bridge and camp for the night.
Duration of Trek: 7 Hrs
Distance: 17 Kms
Day 8Sutol – Dekhandhar (2200m;4-5 hrs)
Sutol - Dekhandhar
After breakfast we trek through the heart of Nanda Devi Country. The Nandakini is worshipped as the river of the Mountain Goddess. A short climb brings us to Sutol, a lovely village with paved alleys and heavy slate-roofed hutments. Our walk takes us up and out of the valley through charming villages where many social rituals and annual events are still linked to worshipping the 'Mother Goddess'. Almost every stone, tree and hilltop seems to have some significance attached to it and a sense of timelessness prevails. Having dropped down to the river we once again climb up to another col and pass fields and small holdings. The trail takes us up and down all day today until we finally emerge at Dekhandar, set on a ridge at 2120m with amazing views of Trisul. (Approx. 4-5 hrs). Distance – 11kms
Day 9Dekhandhar – Ramani (2550m;4-5 hrs)
Dekhandhar - Ramani
After breakfast we climb steeply up from the camp on a winding trail into open grassy meadows. As we walk through the village we may look out for the ornate woodcarvings above the doors of the houses in Ala. Snow peaks now begin to emerge from the north above the forest. Climbing through the forest we camp tonight at Ramani. Above the village there are wonderful views. In one direction is the country through which we have been walking and in the other the mighty peaks of Trisul and Nanda Ghunti stare at us. (Approx.4-5 hrs). 8kms/5hrs
Day 10Ramani – Cross the Ramani Pass (3064m) – Kalighat (6-7 hrs)
Ramani - Kalighat
Today is a long day that compensates our efforts with fabulous views all around. We start with a gradual climb to the Ramani Pass (3064m) known locally as Binayak Top. There are magnificent views of snow covered peaks through the tall trees. Look out in this area for the multicolored Monal pheasants which inhabit the forests in this area. We descend gently across pastureland and open glades into forests with horse chestnut and walnut trees. The descent steepens through the colorful village of Jhin-jhi. Continuing further down we reach the wild Beireh Ganga, a river that caused Shipton and Tilman much frustration during their explorations. After we cross the bridge there is yet another steep ascent following a zigzag path up the bare eroded hillside. We continue further up after lunch through forest and pasture land towards Pana, last village before the pass. Shortly before the village we cut up to Kalighat, a small bugyal (grazing area) to camp. (Approx. 6-7 hrs) Distance – 15kms/7hrs
Day 11Kalighat – Sartoli – Dhakwani (3341m;5-6 hrs)
Kalighat - Dhakwani
Today our route traverses above Pana Village before a steep climb up into rhododendron forest. It's a broad well-made track and after a number of false a col is reached at 3100m. The path now descends gently traversing along the valley to the open meadows at Sartoli with views across to the Kuari Pass. The trail descends past several streams before it plunges down into a steep loose section where we have to be careful while walking, because, at the bottom the river has carved out a deep rocky gorge to the right. This is a wild country and we are now above all habitation. Still climbing we finally reach our camp below the Kuari Pass, a large open pasture used by shepherds to graze their herds of sheep and goats in the summer. (Approx. 5-6 hrs). Distance – 12kms/5-6hrs
Day 12Dhakwani – Cross the Kuari Pass (4268m) – Talli (6-7hrs)
Dhakwani - Talli
We start early today to enjoy the views at the top of the pass. The trail winds to the top of the pass where the views are often cited as the best in the Indian Himalaya. To the north is the Chaukhamba Range, while the summits of Mana (7272m), Kamet (7756m) and Abl Gamin (7355m)extend to the Tibetan border. In the middle a number of spectacular peaks including Dunagiri (7066m) and Changabang (6848m) enclose the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, while to the west the snow-capped ranges extend to Gangotri. Nanda Devi cannot be seen from the pass but if the weather is clear it is worth walking along the ridge to about 4268m where Nanda Devi peak is clearly visible. We descend to our camp at Talli where amazing sunset views of Nanda Devi (on a clear day) delight us. (Approx. 6 hrs). Distance – 13kms/6hrs
Day 13Talli – Auli (4-5 hrs)
Talli - Auli
The trail from Talli is narrow and requires cautious walking as we follow a long undulating trail down to Auli with views of Nanda Devi all the way down to the ridge. The great Nanda Devi peak dominates all the other peaks. The crossing of Gorson with its vast meadows and wild flowers is most enjoyable. Finally the man-made structures can be seen from a distance marking the location of the village of Auli.
Duration of Trek: 5 Hrs
Distance: 16 Kms
Day 14Auli – Rishikesh (270 kms; 8-9 hrs drive)
Auli - Rishikesh
It is now time to say adieu to the ponies and porters and to rejoin our vehicles for a long drive via the small town of Joshimath all the way to Rishikesh. After an early breakfast we leave for the long but spectacular drive to Rishikesh. We follow the Alaknanda River most of the way and arrive in the evening in Rishikesh - a popular pilgrim and meditation center on the banks of the Ganges. (Approx. 8-9 hrs drive).
Day 15Rishikesh – Delhi (240 kms; 8-9 hrs drive)
Haridwar - Delhi
We then have a fairly long drive arriving in Delhi late in the evening. Upon arrival, check in to your prebooked hotel.