Auli, Valley, Hemkund, Badrinath, Mana, an Enchanting Experience/ Experiment.(16 to 25 July 2022)

Preamble and preparation

We returned from Sikkim on 07 May after exciting 9 nights in land of Guru Dongmar Lake. After a week the excitement ebbed and I started poking others for next trip in India or nearby. Jaishankar had promised to find out about Everest base camp and was on easy line of fire as my Google searches gave me excitement but not firm operators. Jai came back within a week with firm Itinerary and operator and soon we formed a group of like-minded people and zeroed on date of 19 September 2022 to start EBC (Everest Base Camp). I was quick to jump the gun and register for it by May end. Next hunt was to go for Kailash Mansarovar yatra, but that didn’t work out as Chinese did not budge like last two years. I asked my tour operator to suggest some place in India where I can go in monsoon. He suggested Valley of Flowers, I was wondering what was happening as this was monsoon time and how could be Valley of flower be available. When I check up Google about Valley of flower, I realised it was only available from June to September so it was an ideal time to go for it enjoy I started looking for tour operators and then I realise the Kesari was operating a tour and then there was specialist tour operator call Blue Poppy, I was in contact with both of them for group as well as personalised travel and finally went with Kesari tours and travels, being with them internationally thrice earlier and I was very satisfied. When I started planning for this tour not only one but surely everybody dropped out and finally I had only Capt S Ramesh left, that was wonderful otherwise it was going to be all alone. However, by 21st June Kesari decided to cancel its tour and we were stuck and then I changed over to Blue poppy tours and travels which already had our details and everything. That was a very quick change without change of dates nor any change in our program had to be done, only thing was that Instead of starting my tour from Delhi Nizamuddin, it started from Haridwar. Other aspect was that from group tour it became a personalised tour with Innova Crustal as Vehicle instead of a minibus and exclusive guide for six days. So, I had my own transport going from Delhi to Haridwar. I had done my train booking and Ramesh was flying down from Chennai to Dehradun.

 16-17 July 22 Mumbai Nizamuddin Haridwar

16th of July I left Kharghar by my reliable taxi provider Pinky and after dropping Nupur at Sassoon Complex Colaba, I headed for Mumbai Central. A few wrong turns by driver and I was getting tight for departure, being Saturday and rains saved the day and I reached station 10 minutes before departure and was comfortable for Nizamuddin by August Kranti Rajdhani.

This was my first train journey after the pandemic and I realised that travel was almost back to the normal service and first AC was not so bad after all, but I can’t say it was the same as it was earlier. I knew senior citizen concession was not applicable. The train was right time before reaching Ghaziabad but then it stopped at outer signal and got delayed by good over 40 minutes, with my driver waiting on the other side at Nizamuddin. The Nizamuddin railway station especially the outside approach road of it, there is hardly any passage for the vehicles to move around specially autos taking all the parking space on multiple lanes. It took me another 20 minutes before my taxi could come in. Once I got into my taxi it was very comfortable and we reached Ghaziabad Kavi Nagar to meet my school friend Kaushik Indra Das, it was wonderful meeting him almost after 8 years. From Ghaziabad we moved to Meerut, where I met my naval course-met and very close friend Sanjeev Juneja and family. I had lunch with them and then moved to Muzaffarnagar to meet my daughter in law and her two lovely daughters, it was really nice meeting all of them, by the time we finished it was 5:30 in the evening.

I left for Haridwar from Muzaffarnagar and kavadiya’s traffic had already started and they slow down my progress, by the time I reached Haridwar it was close to 1900 hours and I overshot the Regenta hotel and then it took me 10 km to come back to it as it was below the flyover at Haridwar. Ramesh had landed at Dehradun by 1340 and reached hotel by 1500 and relaxing. We had early dinner and then went to bed early as we had to leave early morning next day, good night Haridwar.

(Kanwar Yatra’ is an annual pilgrimage of Lord Shiva’s devotees. Hindu month of ‘Shravan’ which usually falls in the month of July Aug. The kavadiya’s (pilgrims) visit places like Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand and Sultanganj in Bihar to fetch the holy water of River Ganga. They then worship Lord Shiva with the same water. To save the planet, Lord Shiva gulped Halahal and held it inside his throat. As a result, his throat turned blue because of the extreme heat, giving him the title of


To rescue Shiva from the poison, Ravana – the King of Lanka – brought the holy water of Ganga by Kanwar and poured it on Shiva at the Pura Mahadev Temple. Since 1960, the ritual is being followed by staunch devotees of Lord Shiva who visit Neelkanth.

While most of the Kanwariyas walk barefooted, nowadays people use bicycles, bikes, scooters, jeeps and even buses to reach the holy temple. Every year it is turning more chaotic as more than religious charm, it is free availability of everything which brings unemployed into forefront.

18 July Haridwar to Auli

Good morning Haridwar we got up around 0515 as we had to get ready quickly, by the time we finished getting ready our driver Vijay was already around and we could quickly start journey by 0625. Weather was nice and cool with previous night rain cooling it down, everything was washed down and roads were in good shape. We stopped for breakfast at a place called and it was lovely, we had Puri aloo chole as breakfast with hot cup of tea.

Drive all along was beautiful with mesmerizing scenes unfolding along the Alaknanda. By passing Rishikesh we stopped at Dev Prayag for photos, due monsoon flow of Alaknanda mixing with Mandakini appeared same with muddy water otherwise it is two distinct colours of water.

(Panch Prayag–Five revered sites in Uttarakhand where five rivers merge into River Alaknanda to ultimately form the holy River Ganges (Ganga) is called Panch Prayag (in Hindi, ‘panch’ means five and ‘prayag’ means confluence). One of the most sacred Indian rivers, Ganges is worshipped as the life- giving goddess and its waters are used in religious rituals. These five places, in descending order of river convergence, are *Vishnuprayag, * *Nandaprayag, * *Karnaprayag, * *Rudraprayag* *Devprayag. *)

Thereafter we continue the drive, by passing Rudraprayag and not stopping at Karan Prayag either. Whole belt of Haridwar to Joshi Math is infested with landslide as development has taken place, roads are good otherwise and landslides are cleared quite fast and efficiently as we had our share of 30 minutes wait to clear such Jam.

Next stop was around 1030 hrs at Dhari Devi temple located on the banks of the Alaknanda River between Srinagar and Rudraprayag. The temple is home to the upper half of the idol of the goddess Dhari, while the lower half of the idol is located in Kalimath, where she is worshipped as a manifestation of the Goddess Kali. On June 16, 2013 the original temple of the goddess was removed and shifted to the concrete platform at a height of about 611 metres from the Alaknanda river, to give way to the construction of the 330 MW Alaknanda Hydro Electric Dam. Hours after the idol was moved, the region faced what would become one of the country’s worst natural disasters since the 2004 tsunami. Locals and devotees believe, Uttarakhand had to face the Goddess’ ire as she was shifted from her ‘mool sthan’ (original abode) to make way for a 330 MW hydel project that was left in ruins after the flood. A similar attempt in 1882 by a local king had resulted in a landslide that had flattened Kedarnath. The new temple is now constructed at its original location raising its height by 80 meters.

We had cup of tea in lovely backdrop of the temple but didn’t go down to see it from close.

Around 1400 we stopped for lunch at a nice place giving a panoramic view of Alaknanda from top. We ordered for Some Lovely paneer mutter and stuffed Paratha, both were so rich with ghee and butter that we got stuffed with it. After this we didn’t stop anywhere. The beautiful hills as we neared Joshi Math were getting covered with clouds, the beauty of hills was unfolding all along with Sun going down in west and freshly washed mountain rising all along in North side of road. We by passed Joshi Math and Auli was about 12 km from there, all the way winding up and climbing to 10,200 Ft. All along Indo Tibetan police and other Army units were there, road is not in great shape but manageable.

We reached Auli by 1630 hrs, Blue Poppy Resort is on hill top and we had to climb another 150 ft by steps while resort staff Ranjit and others took our luggage. We had a huge room to ourselves but as it had double bed and other cottages were available Mr Devkant and Mrs Seema, the owners, who were there were kind enough to give us two independent cottages. All cottages are wooden construction with full facilities and are very comfortable. After settling down in rooms, we had evening tea at dining hall and then both owners took us for a lovely evening walk along the ski route which is covered with snow in winters. We could Video chat with families during walk and show them the live beauty of hills. Nanda Devi peak eluded us all along in clouds. There is temple also there and also some fruit trees, we plucked some Aducha and ate, the green and red apple trees we missed.

By the time we came back our Guide for next six days Mr Mahendra Bhujwan, a young lad of 28 years from Auli was there. He briefed us on overall safety aspects and other things expected. Next day was Gorson Top trek.

We had dinner which was nicely made, all meals from now on were going to be vegetarian.

Signal strength of mobile was excellent as we were right under the mobile towers, so we had a good chat at home.

Good night Auli, next day excitement was set in being first day of our trekking in hills.

19 July Gorson Top trek

I got up at 0500 as sunrise was around 0520. But it was heavy fog outside and after sometime it started raining. By 0700 Our Guide rang up to delay our departure from 0830 to 0930. We had breakfast at around 0800 and got ready to depart by 0930 and finally left at 1000 hrs with packed lunch, in same gloomy weather but with rain stopped. Guide gave one skiing stick to Ramesh as he didn’t bring the trekking pole.

Ski ropeway was just few hundred yards and we reached there to find that we were only two to go up, charges are 500 Rs each for up and down trip. They operated the ropeway for just three of us. As we started climbing fog cleared up slightly and after getting down from ropeway it was just ok to start the trek. There are two ropeways on top another coming up from Joshi Math and one exclusive for ski.

We trekked to the Joshi Math ropeway and stopped for a cup of tea. Visibility for far distance to see hills was eluded by low clouds. Otherwise with rains stopped it was lovely weather to trek. It was so quiet on top with not even chirping of birds or sound of insects heard, that it gave a feeling of some other planet with drifting fog, some Jungle trek and meadows is understatement. We ate some Jungle strawberry, very tiny but taste wise same as normal strawberry, some other wild blue berry and wild Tulsi also were there. We stopped at a small temple called Pediyar temple.

Kept stopping for photos and kept climbing. We had already walked over 3 km and probably reached at a height of around 1500 feet; when we saw something white right ahead it looked like snow and we all decided to head towards it and probably discover the snow, which is never there, other than winters. We Kept walking for another hour, the mesmerizing scenes kept unfolding and we kept enjoying the beautiful walk along the meadow’s greens in company with cows and buffaloes and horses probably from the tribals nearby who left them for grazing. When we reached the white top, we realized that it was not snow but huge white plastic sheets which was nailed to the ground and from a distance it was appearing like snow, may be for helicopter spotting, and that was good about 6.5 km and we had climbed 3000 Ft over Auli elevation. It is called Tali Top; it was enough so we stopped there and enjoyed the scenery all around though we could not see the higher peaks because of the clouding, which we could

have seen otherwise. But it was worth climbing all the way. It was 1400 hrs, we had lunch there and then we started back journey for Auli, coming down was definitely much faster than the climbing up in between we had to be careful with the running horses who were trying to reach home in time by galloping. We stopped for a cup of tea just next to the ropeway before we came down. It was a beautiful day and we reached our cabins by 1630 hrs, fully satisfied and energised. Guide briefed us for next day departure to Govindghatt Pulna and then trek to Ghangharia next day at 0730. We had tea and pakoras, had hot water bath and relaxed before going for dinner. Surprisingly whole place was empty and there were only two of us with owners and their mother to have dinner.

Delhi Haridwar Highway

Haridwar Ahoy

Haridwar Land mark.

Dev Prayag Confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda

The temple is home to the upper half of the idol of the goddess Dhari, while the lower half of the idol is located in Kalimath, where she is worshipped as a manifestation of the Goddess Kali.

A panorama from hotel where we stopped for lunch

The approach of Joshi Math area and Auli

View from our stay at Auli , Blue Poppy Resorts

With our hosts Mrs Seema and Mr Devkant at Blue poppy resort

View from our stay at Auli, Blue Poppy Resorts

Evening walk at Auli met some police personal from Maharashtra

View from our stay at Auli, Blue Poppy Resorts

Captured by our host Mr Devkant on evening walk at Auli

As the clouds allowed some glimpses of mountains

Some wonderful scenes cannot be captured by camera

Temple at Auli

!9th July Morning our Resort Rooms left Ramesh, right Self, Thick Fog

Ropeway at Gorson Top all in fog , no body except us to go up

Artificial Lake created on top and water is used in winter for skiing spray to make snow

Dhuan dhuan har ore aur ye do Bhartiya purva nausanink kahan manne wale

Pediyar temple at Gorson

Wonderful feeling among flowers on Gorson top

Everything is mystery as you walk through fog

On my my , the flowers and flowers ,what beauty

Flowers and flowers

The mystery snow peak came out as huge white polythene sheets nailed on ground

Some peaks popped up behind cloud mostly eluded. Must be a terrific sight in clear days, but one cannot enjoy everything , you win some you lose some.

Western cow buoy on Gorson top

Back on ropeway going down

End of Ropeway or starting point approaching, our stay right of it.