Including sightseeing in Delhi, a classic Indian Railway journey, the floating lamp (Aarati) ceremony in Rishikesh, trekking with Hindu pilgrims and Sadhus to the holy River Ganges, and climbing up to the meadows of Tapovan below an array of impressive peaks dominated by the beautiful spire of Shivling, this holiday is loaded with moments and insights of culture, spirituality and great beauty. Beginning with a tour of Delhi's famous sights such as the Red Fort and the Qutab Minor, we then take the train north to Haridwar where the mountains of the Himalaya rise from the great Indian plain. We stop at Rishikesh to watch the daily Aarati ceremony where thousands of oil lamps are floated on the wide river Ganges, before following this sacred river first by road and then on foot, to its legendary source at Gaumukh amid the tumbling ice of a huge glacier. We continue trekking beyond the glaciers to an unexpected and tranquil meadow surrounded by jagged peaks and spires of rock and ice. Just moments before reaching this meadow we have our first view of Shivling, a breathtaking peak often referred to as the Matterhorn of India. Combining a short trek and a range of memorable cultural experiences, this is Indian Himalaya trekking at its best. We go on to Tapovan and Nandanvan which has attracted many travelers and trekkers since time immemorial because of its sheer captivating beauty. The beautiful meadows of Tapovan is a delight to visit as you have the Shivling peak (6543m), rising high on one side flanked by Meru and Kedar dome and the peaks of Bhagirathi range on the other side.
Duration: 13 days
Maximum elevation: 4415 m (view point)
Best season: September to November – March to May
Trekking type: Camping
Spectacular views of Shivling and the Bhagirathi peaks
A beautiful trek to the source of the Ganges
Atmospheric Gangotri and its pilgrimage temples
Rishikesh and the lamp-floating Aarti Ceremony
Day 1: Arrive in Delhi
Airport transfers are provided for all clients arriving on Delhi. In the afternoon, a city sightseeing tour is provided. Alternatively, you may choose to take it easy at the hotel.
Day 2: Travel by train to Haridwar (293m) and drive to Rishikesh (335m)
Today, we will make an early morning transfer to New Delhi railway station for morning train. It is about 4 and half hrs journey to Haridwar, arriving there around noon. We will get breakfast also in train.
Haridwar is the gateway of pilgrimage to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri in Uttarakhand. The town of Haridwar stands on the right bank of the Ganges at the foot of the Shivalik mountains.
We transfer by private vehicle and drive through pleasant farmland and foothills to Rishikesh (25 km / 1 hr), a holy town. This is a great pilgrimage centre of India. We will stop on the way for lunch. In the afternoon we visit some of the many temples which line in the river bank, and in the evening we see the Araati ceremony.
Day 3: Drive to Uttarkashi (1160m / 180 km / 6-7 hrs), Netala (8-10 km from Uttarkashi)
After breakfast, we start drive northwards into the Himalayan foothills. We take pack lunch from hotel because there are not any good restaurants and hotels between Uttarkashi and Rishikesh to have lunch.
Leaving Rishikesh, we drive through beautiful forest by hill road and gently get higher up and then several ups and downs. We pass several villages, market area and small towns and then drive up to the Chamba which is little bigger town. From Chamba, we descend down to Tehari dam. There are also some small ups on the way. The views along the way are superb. From behind Chamba, we can see some beautiful snowy peaks behind the ridge line in the front.
From the bottom, we follow the Bhagirathi River all the way to Uttarkashi. It is beautiful drive through several small market areas and the villages. We arrive in Uttarkashi around 3 pm. We can stop here about 20-30 minutes to visit market. Uttarkashi is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi, surrounded by beautiful green hills. This town is district headquarter. The Nehru institute of Mountaineering is little far from main town.
After visit the town, we drive to Netala to our hotel which is about 8-10 km further from Uttarkashi market. We stay at Mahima Resort which is the best one of these areas. They have beautiful small gardens and nice rooms.
Day 4: Drive to Gangotri (3040m / 96 km / 3 hrs)
Leaving Uttakashi, we drive along the valley and follow the Bhagirathi River all the time. We pass several Ashrams, temples and small market areas. At Ganganani, we cross Bhagirathi river and gradually gets higher from the river. The road is very narrow through steep cliff and forest. The valley becomes very narrow. About 15-20 minutes later, the road goes other side of the river again and drive along the river side for a while and then climb up to the Sukhi top (2650m). There is an abandon hydro project on the way. From here the road descends down to Jhala (2575m). There are several local hotels and restaurants along the way in road side. But for foreigners we can't get good food, so we should take our own food. The valley is very wide and beautiful views around. There are growing lots of Apples in this area.
After Jhala, the road cross other side of Bhagirathi river and follow its river bank to Lanka. Here, we cross the river again and very short drive to Gangotri.
In some places the road is little rough but beautiful drive. The sceneries are wonderful along the way. We will reach in Gangotri around 2 pm.
Gangotri is small open place surrounded by some snowy and rocky peaks and green forest, situated at the bank of the holy river Bhagirathi at an altitude of 3040m. Here are many hotels, restaurants and shops. Here is a very famous temple of Goddess Ganga built in 18th century by Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa, on the same spot near Shrikanth Parbat where Bhagirathi sat and prayed for 5500 years. On the left bank there are several Ashrams. This little town is a popular pilgrim destination and trekking starting point for sources of the Ganges.
Normally at Gangotri all the hotels have normal rooms and they don't have hot shower. In the late afternoon we visit Gangotri temple, around the market and waterfall.
Day 5: Trek to Chirbasa (3600m / 9 km / 4-5 hrs)
We walk through middle of the market and Gangotri temple and then climb small up to main trail (5-10 min). The path is very good and passes through dense Pine forest. About 30-40 minutes later, we arrive in Gangotri National Park check post. Here we should show our permit and pay entrance fees for all and camping charge. The meat items and eggs are prohibited in this area. From here, we can see some snowy peaks (Chir Parbat and Thelu).
From here, we continue to follow pilgrimage trail. It climbs gradually beside the Bhagirathi River in a wide open valley. We cross some small side streams by local wooden bridge on the way. About 4-5 hrs easy walk, we arrive in Chirbasa. The surrounding views are wonderful and can see colorful trees along the valley. We can see some parts of the Bhagirathi range in the head of the valley from beginning of Chirbasa.
There is a local shop in the beginning and the camping is in below the forest post at the end. Here is a small house belonging to forest department and another small house of PWD nearby camping ground. This is beautiful and quite place because here are not any hotels and guesthouse. The pilgrims don't spend night here. The views of Bhagirathi Range, Bhrigu Parbat, rocky peaks and the valley are wonderful. The camping ground is not green but surrounded by Pine and Paper birch trees.
Day 6: Trek to Bhojbasa (3795m / 5 km / 3 hrs)
From Chirbasa, it is very easy short walk to Bhojbasa. The path is very good and gently ascends. We continue along the impressive valley, small climb through Pine and Paper birch forest in the beginning and then alpine plateau of Bhojbasa. There are not any steep climbs on the way but in some places there are rock fall points which places are little danger. We cross one small stream by Log Bridge on the way. The views of the Bhagirathi Range, surrounding snowy peaks and the valley are wonderful. We can see many alpine flowers, Mountain Goats and birds on the way. We will meet many pilgrims along the way. We can have hot lunch in Bhojbassa. In the afternoon, we can visit around.
Bhojbasa is the last place to spend night for pilgrims. Here is a GMVN rest house, several Ashrams, small building of forest department and camping grounds. Between Chirbasa and Bhojbasa there are not any hotels and shops and also not allowed to make any camp. We get beautiful views of Bhagirathi range, Meru and other peaks. From last part of Bhojbasa, we can see tip of Shivling.
Day 7: Trek to Tapovan via Gaumukh (4308m / 7.39 km / 5-6 hrs)
From Bhojbasa, we leave the trees behind. We follow the main pilgrims trail to Gaumukh (4 km) for 1 hr 40-50 minutes. This is the main sources of Ganges. We walk through some boulders and flat grounds. There is a small shrine in the beginning of Gaumukh. The River flows from the snout of the Gangotri glacier known as the "Cow's mouth". It is about 10-15 min walk from this shrine. All the pilgrims are not allowed to go close to snout, source. The sight of the Bhagirathi range towering above the Gaumukh springs is wonderful and the sceneries including Shivling become superb.
After this shrine, it start climb up. The path is very small through moraine of Gangotri glacier. About 50-60 minutes later from shrine the path separate for Tapovan (right side) and Nandanvan (left side). We follow the right hand side path and cross the glacier moraine, arrive at the bottom of steep climb. It takes about 40-50 minutes and is gradual ascend but very rocky and in some places difficult to find way.
Leaving the Gangotri glacier, we climb steep up through moraine wall for 50-60 minutes. The path is small and slippery in some places. There is a small stream on the way, jumpable. Tapovan is beautiful grassy plateau situated at the bottom of holy mountain Shivling. It offers wonderful views of Shivling, Meru, Kharchakund, Bhagirathi Range and many other peaks. Here are some small huts for Sadhus in several places and very good grounds for camping in the middle part. Some time we can see lots of Blue sheep, Ibex and Vultures around here.
Day 8: Rest or exploration at Tapovan, with the option to trek up to a viewpoint
We have a day for rest or exploration at Tapovan. This is a very atmospheric place if rest and quiet contemplation is required. Options for hiking above camp include the 2 hour return trek to the small top (view point) and back to the camp for hot lunch. During the afternoon, we can relax or wonder around.
Day 9: Trek to Chirbasa (6-7 hrs)
Rising early, we can enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the surrounding 6000 m peaks, with Shivling, once again, the main event. Then, after breakfast, we break camp and set off on our return to civilization. Re-crossing the Gangotri Glacier, we descend the valley, stopping off for lunch near the trailside below Gaumukh. We reach the camp at Chirbasa around 1-2 pm.
Day 10: Trek to Gangotri (3-4 hrs) and drive to Uttarkashi / Netala (3 hrs)
From our camp at Chirbasa, we descend easily through the pine forest for just a couple of hours to Gangotri. Here, we say goodbye to some of our porters and board the vehicles that will take us back down the Bhagirathi Valley to Uttarkashi. Arriving in Uttarkashi on the late afternoon, we check in at our simple lodge accommodation. The name Uttarkashi means ‘Varanasi of the north’ and the town has similar ghats and temples to Varanasi itself. The town’s most important temple is dedicated to Shiva and known as Vishwanath Mandir, where we can see a huge copper trident.
Day 11: Drive to Haridwar (203 km / 8-9 hrs)
Our return drive through the valley of the Bhagirathi is just as spectacular as it was on the inward journey. We take our time, stop for lunch and at prominent viewpoints, and reach our hotel in Haridwar around 4 pm. Today, we should take pack lunch with us because there are not any good and hygienic hotels to have lunch on the way. In the evening, we can join for Araati ceremony again.
Day 12: Train to Delhi
We make another early start today, transferring to the railway station to catch the morning express train to Delhi which, once again, takes around 4 hours. Arriving in Delhi, we transfer to a hotel close to the airport and have the rest of the day at leisure, with the chance to enjoy the hotel gardens and pool. In the evening we enjoy a celebration dinner.
Day 13: Departure home
We will transfer you at the airport for your international flight.