Uttarakhand Treks

Uttarakhand Trekking Information

Uttarakhand formerly known as Uttaranchal is another place in the Indian Himalaya where it is fairly easy to trek on your own.  The Himalaya in Uttarakhand falls into two regions, Garhwal and Kumaun.  As the source of India's most sacred rivers including the Ganga, Garhwal has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries.  The flow of pilgrims into the region meant that a significant amount of roads and other infrastructure was built high into the mountains to service the pilgrims.  For the trekker this means that one can hike into a very high alpine environment in Garhwal on relatively short treks.

Best Season:  April-May and September-October (most areas), July-August (Valley of Flowers for blooms)

Base Cities: Rishikesh/Hairdwar (Train service from Delhi), Munsiyari (Train service Delhi to Kathgodam transfer to bus), Joshimath (Bus service from Rishikesh)

Guide book/MapsLonely Planet Trekking in the Indian Himalaya

Trekking Practicalities : 

While in many areas of Uttarkhand you are free to trek as you like, there are some annoying regulations governing trekking in some regions of Uttarakhand.  The number of people per day allowed to trek above Gangotri to Gaumukh, the source of the Ganges, as well as further up to Tapovan is restricted.  This is a good thing to take pressure off the region, unfortunately there is also a two tier pricing for the permit where foreigners pay significantly more than Indians (I'm waiting for the day when India realizes it doesn't have to stoop to the level of Nepal and African countries such as Kenya and Tanzina which have no other source of income except to extract as much money as they can from tourist of so called rich countries, China got rid of official dual pricing years ago.  So the question is does India aspire to be more like Nepal and Kenya or China, South Korea, and Japan.  If you go by their tourism pricing structure they appear to be lumping themselves in with Nepal and Kenya).  The permit can be obtained in Uttarkashi on the way to Gangotri.  The office is on the road to Gangotri 2 to 3 km outside of town.  Ask locally for specific directions.  The Har Ki Dun valley, as well as the Valley of Flowers are also both National Parks and require a dual priced entry fee to visit.  Trekking above Joshimath to the Kuari Pass requires a permit as well.  This would not be that big a deal if the Forest Department would issue permits to trekkers unfortunately they require guides and only issue the permits through travel agents, despite the fact that a blind man would have a hard time getting lost on the way to the Kuari pass making a guide completely unnecessary.  As a result  the independent trekker has two options hike around the check point at the top of the ropeway above Auli or pay a travel agent to put them on a permit for an inflated price.  Trekking inside the Nanda Devi Sanctuary is completely prohibited.  Some treks near border areas require interline permits.

Indie T&T Reviews of Guidebooks & Maps

Published: 2009-10-01
Indie T&T Review in Brief

Decent book and really the only option for treks in India outside of Ladakh.  Maps are useable and better than most you can find in India.  Descriptions are brief but adequate.  I've used the book quite successfully on many occasions, so for the treks it covers it does the job. It does cover a lot of treks in a relatively compact space, Treks covered include: Himachal Pradesh Treks: Jagatsukh to Hampta Pass, Chandrakani Pass, Chandra Tal & Baralacha La, Bara Bhangal, Pin Parvati to Spiti, Indrahar Pass, Kareri Lake Circuit, Manimahesh Kailash, Kugti Pass,  Uttarakhand Treks: Rupin Pass, Har Ki Dun, Dodi Tal, Source of the Ganges, Khatling Glacier, Valley of the Flowers, Kuari Pass, Roopkund, Pindari Glacier, Milam Glacier, Darjeeling & Sikkim: Singalila Ridge, Goecha La

Published: 2001-08-01
Indie T&T Review in Brief

Although out of print, you can still find it used as well as new in some book shops in India. In addition to treks, Trekking and Climbing in the Indian Himalaya, covers many trekking peaks as well as a couple more technical ones.  I used this book as an outline when I climbed Chamser Kangri in Ladakh.  The practical information is pretty brief on the treks and climbs themselves and there is a lot of extra nonessential information and pictures that makes it pretty heavy to trek with, but the book covers some interesting routes and peak not covered elsewhere.  If you can get your hands on a copy it worth a browse to get some ideas.

Published: 2013-10-01
Indie T&T Review in Brief

Lonely Planet is still probably the best guide book for logistics in India though I find it seems to get worse with each edition instead of better, and its monopolistic popularity mean that any place mentioned in the book is likely no longer a good deal when it comes to accommodations.  Still when it comes to the nuts and bolts of getting around, maps ect, LP is still probably the way to go.