It was a journey which I had anticipated as like any other. Apparently, I had underestimated the Himalayas way too much. After 7 kilometers of uphill walkfrom Gangotri, I had to abandon the trek to Gaumukh, the source of the river Ganga. I may call it tactical retreat but the fact remains that I was only ill-prepared to handle the trek.
Between me and Himalayas, the first round goes to the Himalayas
Gaumukh, the source of the river Ganga is at 4164 Meters above sea level. It is 18 Kms walk from Gangotri which is at 3200 Meters above sea level. Trek to Gaumukh is opened for very less period of the year, the prime being from May to June. The trek is described as Medium easy but the practicality describes it otherwise.
Those who are planning a trip to Gangotri-Gaumukh, here are some facts and myths
- The government of Uttranchal only allows 150 people per day to enter the Gangotri National park which houses the Gaumukh. You need to arrange for the permit beforehand. You will get the permit at DFO office in Uttarkashi.
- The last rail route to Gangotri is Rishikesh and its still very far away from there.
- The distance between Uttarkashi and Gangotri is 92 Kilometers. The roads between Uttarkashi and Gangotri is bad, narrow and steep. It might take almost 4-5 hours to reach the top. You need to take that time into consideration during the travel.
- Accommodation is available at Uttarkashi, Gangotri and small villages in between. However they are not as luxurious as required and can be priced steeply based on the facilities they provide
- Your body needs to be ready for the high altitude. As far as possible, do not start walking immediately after reaching Gangotri. Let your body be accustomed to the high altitude. You can take a small hike to that called the acclimization walk which is not that tedious as the actual one but helps your body adjust to the adverse condition.
- Gangotri to Gaumukh is 18 Kilometers. Practice 2-3 weeks before you do the actual trek so that your body atleast knows what walking means.
- The trek can be divided into stops. The first one is Chirbasa, 9 Kilometers from Gangotri, where you may or may not find something to eat. The next is Bhojwasa which is 14 Kms from Gangotri. You will find accommodation and place to eat.
- The last 4 Kilometers are to Gaumukh. The final destination. If you are fit and adventurous, you can climb up to Tapovan and Nandanvan.
- Even though its at a height, its hot out there in May-June. Carry lots of water. You will find small springs on the way where the water is pure and you can drink it without any problem but there are stretches in between where you will not find water for 2-3 Kilometers
- The nights will get cold and you need some winter clothing
- Travel light. Carry only the bare minimum. Enquire what you can get at the
- The path is not marked but quite obvious. You won’t get lost in between
- The path is mostly uphill and filled with stones and boulders. It really hampers the progress when you have to walk on uneven path
- At a height of more than 2400 meters, Oxygen can be less. You may tend to have altitude sickness. If you feel more discomfort, back off. As Vijay says “We are not here for a medal”. Better read about Altitude Sickness and visit a doctor to prevent any.
We had to retreat because we were not prepared. I had always stretched to the limit during the numerous treks I had gone. I had huffed and puffed but reached the top. But Gangotri was not that easy.
One day I will go back to these mountains
As for now, the first round goes to the Himalayas!!