Technology owes an apology to ecology. Most of the cities today have turned into a concrete jungle, there is no nature only buildings and garbage around. And this is where trekking comes to the rescue. Traveling at your own pace on land which cannot be accessed by roads. I did the Gomukh Trek earlier this year in April for the first time which inspired me to write this blog.
Gomukh is the snout of the Gangotri glacier. Bhagirathi Riveror more famously known as the Ganges after it merges with Alaknanda at Devprayag originates from this snout. One of the most revering places in Uttarakhand, unparalleled in its beauty, the trek was rejuvenating, to say the least. Belonging from the hills, I never lost the touch of nature.
Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how much the hills have to offer. Trekking through Gomukh reminded me of the very fact that every twist in the trail revealed another magnificent beauty of a snow-clad Himalayan giant. Gomukh Gangotri Trek is an amazing opportunity for anyone looking forward to getting familiar with the prodigious Himalayas.
Things To Carry
Clothing – Pack 3 t-shirts, 2 trekking trousers, 2 pairs of thermal wear (it gets really cold during the night), 2 pairs of shoes, a raincoat(the weather is unpredictable), gloves, etc.
Medical Kit – Carry a small medical kit including medicines for stomach-ache, headache, fever, and a crepe bandage for a sprain.
Eateries – Eat some Dry fruits, Chocolates, Tetra packed milk, or juice to keep the calorie in the balance because you will be burning a lot of it.
Others – Torch, lighter, Camera, Charger, etc.
Gomukh Trek Itinerary(Gangotri to Gomukh)
Day-1 :- Haridwar To Gangotri
Distance – 307 km
Journey duration – 12 hours
You can reach Gangotri via bus or shared taxi from Haridwar. The bus to Gangotri departs from Haridwar at 6:00 A.M sharp and reaches Gangotri around 6:00 P.M. Gangotri is located at an altitude of 10,200 ft above sea level. Your body might need some time to get accustomed to at this height. Get enough rest before you start the trek.
A permit system is applied by the Government to control the number of people traveling in such an economically tender area. You can acquire the permit for the Gomukh trek route from the GMVN office at Gangotri.
Day-2 :- Gangotri to Bhojbasa
Start early morning the next day, since gomukh weather could go very down in the evenings. The path to Gomukh Glacier starts from steep stairways behind the main Gangotri temple. After climbing the stairs and a short hike of about 2 km comes the main gate of Gangotri National Park where the permit is checked. You have to pay a fee of ₹ 200 per individual and additional security charges as per your luggage quantity.
You can begin the trek, once the formality is completed. The route to Bhojbasa becomes steeper with the distance, 8 km after the checkpoint comes Chirbasa which is 9 km from Gangotri. Bhojbasa is 5 km from Chirbasa and the trek is full of landslides and steeper climbs. Thus, it is recommended to take a break at Chirbasa.
You can camp at Bhojbasa only, camping anywhere else in the national park can cost you a fine of up to ₹ 10,000. So, try to reach Bhojbasa before the sunset. The temperature at Bhojbasa decreases dramatically at night, make sure you carry enough clothes with you. In my opinion, 3 layers of warm clothing will do.
There are two ashrams at Bhojbasa, Ram Baba ashram and Lal Baba ashram, eating options at these ashrams are limited. You can stay at either of them or camp your tent if you like.
Day-3 :- Bhojbasa to Gomukh and back to bhojbasa
Distance – 10 km
Journey duration – 9-10 hours
The trek from Bhojbasa to Gomukh is moderately difficult. There is no definite trail that leads to Gomukh instead one has to find his way through the rocky boulders on the rough terrain. It took almost 5 hours of the exhausting walk for us to reach Gomukh. We ran into a barrier, 500 m around the snout beyond which entry is prohibited.
I sat near the barrier and just contemplated the immense beauty of nature. It surrounded me. It made me realize the importance of traveling. Trapped in our day-to-day existence repeating the same cycle every day really sucks out the enthusiasm which is necessary to lead a jubilant life.
Travelling keeps the alacrity intact not only during the journey but also after it’s completion. It was now time to fold my journey, as I was embracing my accomplishment, the sky turned dark as clouds took over it. I reached bhojbasa and spent the night after following the same trail.
Day-4 :- Bhojbasa to Gangotri
I packed my bags the next morning to begin the end of my journey and left for Gangotri. I advise travelers to take on local sightseeing in & around Gangotri after the trek.
P.S. – If you are planning to trek all the way to Tapovan, You may have to take a halt at Uttarkashi as the permit can only be issued by the GMVN office in Uttarkashi. Also, The gomukh to tapovan trek is for experienced trekkers. If you don’t have enough trekking experience, I’d suggest you take a break at Gomukh.
Kedarkantha trek is another nerve-wracking trek that I went on, in the Himalayas.
Beautiful view on the bus ride between Cebu and Oslob.
Due to Cebu city not having any free and accessible beaches, I took the advice from my hostel and decided to go check out a famed “quiet” and peaceful hostel near Oslob, with the hopes of taking it easy and relaxing on the beach. On my way to catch a bus I met a girl in the jeepney who told me she was also heading to oslob and could show me the way. We rode the bus together and she invited me to her friends birthday party that night.
I had been to Filipino BBQs and parties in Canada and was ecstatic to experience one here, I felt blessed for the opportunity. We ate some Filipino delicacies such as pork adobo, sweet rice, and Filipino spaghetti, we even had cake and brownies. We sat by the sea, enjoying the fresh breeze and grassy carpet under my feet. The sky was clear, full of stars and I had a beautiful view of other islands not so far off in the distance. They inquired about my life and shared with me their own stories. Many of the girls were around my age and already had a few kids.
We rode scooters to villages up into the hills together later that week.
Oslob Food Market
The town offers a nightly bbq market. You can eat fresh bbq squid, chicken, pork, and fish, all covered in the typical Filipino bbq sauce. It’s relatively inexpensive, 40p for a chicken thigh, but the price will vary slightly between stalls. You grab a plate and chose your skewers. They have the typically processed meat sausages and all part soup of the chicken are available on a stick. You have the option to order rice with your meal as well as roasted eggplant with raw tomatoes and onion. The market is largest on Sundays, and you can find all sorts of fresh seafood, shop the ukay ukay( thrift stalls), buy eggs, fresh fruits, and knock off merchandise.
Rolling hills a short distance from Oslob. This beautiful town is one of the many popular Cebu island destinations. It’s particularly famed for its whale sharks, which you can see for around 20-30$. I chose not to visit these gentle giants as I didn’t want to support the agitation of their natural habitat (but that’s a personal choice).
I decided today to finally begin exploring the city. Up until this point I was recovering but from an extremely painful and challenging bout of food poisoning. Thankfully I was motivated by a new couchsurfing friend to go check out some prominent historical sights in the city.We travlled downtown in a Jeepney, which is a US military jeep left over from World War II. This form of public transportation is known for its flamboyant exterior but be prepared to be squeezed in tightly to this vehicle. A ride costs only 7 pesos. A much more cost effective way to see the city then taking taxis. One drawback however is the pollution in Cebu streets can make it hard to breatheWe arrived in the Pari-an district which is in view of the ocean and nearby to the carbon market (One of the most prime locations for cheap shopping). There are many historical sights to see in this area, the first of which I saw was Magellan’s cross.Magellan’s cross was a wooden Christian cross planted by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in 1521. The cross however is displayed encased in wood because visitors would come and chip away pieces of the original hoping to bring the sacred blessings with them. The Cross is covered by a structure whose ceiling is decorated with beautiful religious paintings.The cross is situated next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Church. It is the OLDEST Roman Catholic Church in the country All around you will be approached by ladies selling prayers and candles. I visited on a Sunday when they were having mass every hour, you could witness the magnitude of faith and dedication the Filipinos have toward God and get a feel for Catholisism. IA few minutes walk will lead you to fort San Pedro a small 18th century spanish military fort commissioned by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The bricks where fashioned from hand carved chunks of coral and you can still find the cannon lining the battlements, defending from enemies at sea. The battlements create a picturesque terrace outlying the perimeter of the monument. It is quaintly lined with flowers and ornamental shrubbery, it also provides tables, benches and idealistic opportunities for gorgeous photos. The ground floor of the fort houses many galleries where you read and explore the history Of this magnificent building. They have a wide variety of historical photographs taken at the fort as well as write ups of relevant personages. Here you will find an uplifting amount of cats. You won’t want to miss the shrine of Virgin Mary or the wishing well which can be seen downstairs next I the galleries. With a lush green court yard below and a beautiful view of the ocean meeting the sky this makes for one of the most sought after attractions in Cebu.We began our journey towards the Cebu Taoist temple, we disembarked the jeepney and commenced a 1.5 km walk on a quiet and winding residential neighborhood. It provides a brief hiatus from the thick blanket of carbon monoxide coverinng most roads. The temple imparts a breath taking view of the ocean and city, which is equaled in beauty by the temple itself. It is decorated with intricate Chinese ornamentry and it will appear as though you’ve been transported out of the Philippines entirely. Dragon statues stand guard inviting in good luck, and wishing ponds and buckets tempt believers to pray for their desires with the help of some coins. The nature and beauty of this place is reflected in the vast amount of trees and plants whose presence creates an air of peace and calm. Here you can gaze into the soft waters of the ponds pondering life and enjoying the lily pads and life supported by these waters. Pack a lunch and enjoy at the many tables and chairs provided by the temple and don’t forget to enjoy some complimentary green tea before leaving. And while pictures are not allowed at certain places, there is no entrance fee.After shopping around one of the largest and most organized ukay ukay (the name for filipino thrift store literaly translated into dig-dig; because you often have to dig through giant piles of clothes to find the good deals) we met up with another couch surfing friend and decided to check out the astounding night market~Sugbo Mercado~. This mecca of tasty and unique food options was a much appreciated vaction from the typical meat and wheat heavy processed foods typicaly available in the philipiness. Here I found real fruit bubble tea, a fruit shake containing soft gooey perfectly prepared tapioca pears. it comes in three sizes and the largest is only 70 pesos. They also offered the usual BBQ but with all sorts of fresh seafood, lechon, takoyaki, churro cone ice creams for less then 90 pesos, vietnamese pho for only 150p, alcoholic beverages, and pretty much anything you could desire. They play live music and have a wide range of extrelely talented philipino singers. It has an amazing vibe, however its only open thursday to sunday, so if you get the opportunity definitly check it out!
Kedarkantha trek summit located within Govind Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarkashi is an isolated even one of the most pre-possessing peaks in Uttarakhand . With snow adorned with the tip of dry Rhododendron plants , astonishing 360 degree vista of snow-capped Himalayas . It boasts of spectacular mountain scenery , vibrant colours of nature , some tranquil lakes and plenty of adventure opportunities which makes it the perfect winter trek .
Even though it is classified as an easy-moderate trek, it really tests your fitness and your ability to adapt physically as the snow at some places is enough to cover you from your waist down. You gain about 2,000 ft. every day, also the obvious fact that temperature sometimes goes below -10 to -12 degrees . I learned it the hard way the fact that it is not in the nature of mountains to be forgiving. They show you what you really are, gives you time for introspection and to accept the truth. Everyone experience those few moments in life when you instinctively know that something is about to change. Those incisive experiences that when reminiscing later in life makes you say “Yup, that’s when it all changed”. Trekking to the Kedarkantha trek summit became one such experience for me.
Sankri is one of the major stations from where you can start your Kedarkantha trek. Another station is Naitwar but its better off to start from sankri as the trail is easy to find. You can reach Sankri or Naitwar via bus which departs at 8:30 sharp from Dehradun railway station or you can hire shared taxi but taxi doesn’t go directly to Sankri from Dehradun . A checkpoint is allocated at Naitwar where you will be charged a few bucks as entrance fees for visiting Govind National Park . You can also find hotels on the mori-Sankri road to stay overnight or just find a place to setup your campsite . There is also a GMVN guest house at Sankri .
Day-2 :- Sankri to Kedarkantha Trek base
Distance- 11 km
Time – 8-10 Hrs
We started our trek from Sankri the next day to Kedarkantha base. After a few hours into the trek having revolved around the thick woods of colossal pine trees and been exhausted treading the whole time. This lake came to our rescue after almost 6 kms into the journey. We reached Juda ka Talaab with the most scenic view of immaculately poised pine trees around. The lake itself makes for a perfect campsite at a height of 2500 m. Kedarkantha base is 5 km from Juda Ka Talaab at a height of 3200 m . We rested for a while and continued our journey. The slopes gets steeper after Juda ka Talaab , three hours or so later we reached Kedarkantha base .
Day-3 :- Kedarkantha Trek Summit and back to base
Distance- 14 kms
Time- 8-9 hrs
The difficulty of this part of the trek depends on the season or weather you are trekking in. Since it’s a winter trek and in order to witness every glorifying detail of the Himalayas, the best time is to trek in the month of December or January , However the snow clad lasts till the end of April .
As we approached the summit , the trail became more steep and inclined to the point it was almost at an angle of 60 degree with snow enough to cover my knees . We finally reached the summit and i can still feel the moment as i sit here and write this blog . It was beyond my wildest dreams , it was relieving , all the efforts . After we had our moment , we started our descent for the KK base .
Day-4 :- Kedarkantha Trek Base to Sankri
Distance – 11 kms
Time – 4-6 hours
Be reckful as you backtrack your way to Sankri as the trail is much slippery when you descent . Also if you’re willing to rest or stay in the nature’s bed for a day or two Juda ka Talab and hargaon is the place to be .
Day- 5 :- Sankri to Dehradun
Reach the Sankri bus stand before 8:00 as the bus for Dehradun leaves at 8:30 sharp and it is the only bus for the day . In case, you miss your bus then you can hire a taxi but then you’ll have to break your journey as there is no direct taxi from Sankri for Dehradun .
With a rejuvenated mind and our soul at peace , we left for Dehradun .
Before you soak in the vibe of Rishikesh, it is difficult to presume that peace and tranquility can drift through the air existing in harmony. Set on the banks of river Ganga, with the smell of burning herbs wafting through the air and people coming from all walks of life, religion, and countries. Rishikesh is slowly becoming the new hippie destination in Uttarakhand. If you are planning to visit the beautiful city, here are 9 fun things to do while in Rishikesh:-
1. River Rafting:-
Rafting is a heady cocktail of thrill and pumping adrenaline and Rishikesh’s close proximity to Himalayas and Ganges flowing through the city makes up for a perfect place to ride the waters. Over the years Rafting has become a major activity to indulge in when in Rishikesh. If you are visiting and are planning to tickle your thrill bone, Rafting should be a must on your to-do list.
– Depending on the adventure they offer, there are 4 stretches on which rafting can be done
1-a. Brahmpuri to Rishikesh
It is a 9 km stretch with Grade I (basic) difficulty, takes about 1.5 hours to complete, and is the most preferable choice among the enthusiasts. The cost of this can go up to ₹450 per person.
1-b. Shivpuri to Rishikesh
About 16 km long with Grade I&II (basic-standard) difficulty, this stretch is more challenging than the Brahmpuri-Rishikesh stretch, non-swimmers should avoid this route. It takes about 3 hours to complete with cost up to ₹700
1-c. Marine drive to Rishikesh
Rafting from Marine Drive to Rishikesh is a complete package, from violent rapids to water as calm as a lake in heaven, this has it all. It’s a 24 km stretch with up to Grade III+ rapids, it takes about 5 hours to complete and the cost can go up to ₹850 per person.
1-d. Kaudiyala to Rishikesh
One of the toughest rafting routes on the Ganges, Kaudiyala to Rishikesh is about 36 km long with Grade IV+ rapids like The Daniels dip, Three blind mice, and many more, this stretch is recommended for experienced raftsman. The estimated time taken is 8 hours and the cost can go up to ₹1800 per person.
Camping in the Himalayas is always a rejuvenating experience. Tranquility feeding the mountains adding to the lush green forests and meadows, on the banks of Ganges while stars twinkle above you is an experience which always outweighs a night in some hotel room especially if you are in Rishikesh. So, why miss a chance?! . Create a bonfire, pick up the guitar and hum some Pink Floyd while you’re at it. Best Time – February to May & September to November
Rishikesh is known as the Yoga Capital of the world. Every year thousands of people from all over the world travel to Rishikesh to experience this divine practice for a healthy body and calm soul. Therefore being in Rishikesh and not indulging in Yoga is like going to a movie without popcorn, you’ll still watch the movie but it won’t be as fun.
A lot of places in Rishikesh offer Yoga classes for you to choose from. So, go ahead and be a part of this ancient Indian tradition our culture has given to the world.
Lying on the foothills of the upper Himalayas and rich in flora and fauna. Rishikesh is a mother lode for trekking enthusiasts. There are umpteen Waterfall and temples in and around Rishikesh where you can trek to wash that city life off of you for a while.
If you’re among those who enjoy when it feels like your guts are going to burst out of your body, in other words, if you’re an adrenaline junkie. Bungee jumping should be on your bucket list for all the right reasons. Feel the rush of adrenaline pumping through your veins as you jump off a height equivalent to a 20 story building.
Venue – Mohanchatti, Rishikesh
Time – 9 AM to 4 PM
6. Cafe Hopping:-
When it comes to food, Cafes in Rishikesh are a gastronomic delight. Given the huge number of foreign tourists, food in the city is also widely influenced. Food in Rishikesh comes with several options for the foodies. Visit a cafe near Laxman jhula to soak in the hipster vibe the city has to offer, some delicious belly-timber with mesmerizing views of the Ganges and Reggae music in the background.
7. Jungle Safari:-
Bestowed with vast wilderness areas, verdant landscapes and wild animals, Rajaji National park near Rishikesh is a perfect safari destination. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Shivalik as you ride through the jungle. With more than 400 species of birds, the highest number of elephants than other national parks in Uttarakhand, and wild animals like tiger, leopard, sambar deer, wild boar, and lots more, treat your eyes and observe the flora and fauna in close proximity. Best time – 15th November to 15th June
Entrance fees – 150 per person for Indian visitors and 600 per person for foreign visitors.
Kayaking as a sport has gained a lot of popularity in recent years in Rishikesh. It is quite similar to canoeing instead you face forward and paddle across on water. The Ganges flowing through Rishikesh makes an ideal spot for Kayaking because of the simultaneous patches of clear water and rapids. No need to worry if you haven’t tried it before, trainers here provide classes for the dilettante. If you love to try your hand at new things, Kayaking is for you.
9. Attend the Ganga Aarti :-
It is difficult to fully understand the meaning of calm in chaos unless you attend the Ganga Aarti in Rishikesh. Every evening as the sun sets, multiple banks along the Ganges lighten up with lamps and people gather in large numbers to sing alongside the devotees and worship the holy river. With bells chiming from the temples nearby and hundreds of people singing in synchronicity, fills the air with tranquility and soul with calm. Watching the evening Arti is certainly a superlative experience. The spectacular event must be viewed from either Triveni Ghat or Parmarth Niketan.