Surrounded by the cold breeze and sound of chirping birds, I and my brother began our expedition for one of the most popular, adventures and rewarding treks in Garhwal Himalayas that is the Gangotri Gaumukh Trek.
Situated almost at a height of 3,415m above mean sea level, the Gangotri is one of the sacred shrines and act as a base camp for the trek. It’s a place that boasts of picturesque landscapes, multi- layered mountains and inspiring panoramic views.
Since, only 150 trekkers are permitted to participate at a time, we took permission for the same a day before from the Forest Department.
We started early in the morning with bluish picturesque view of the Gangotri before us. After traveling at a distance of about 2 km form Gangotri, we reached the entry gate of Gangotri National Park, one of the pristine protected areas in India.
After crossing the entry gate, the coniferous forest and lush green meadows welcomed us. The landscape was extremely beautiful blessed with vegetation of Chirpine deodar, fir, spruce, oak and rhododendrons. During morning the mountains were covered with clouds but with the passing time, the clouds disappeared and snow peaks of the mountains with golden sunshine came in picture; their majestic charm gave me goosebumps.
It was an incredible experience to see the nature in its raw form without any human intervention. The land had preserved the nature in its pristine form and the High ridges, deep gorges, precipitous cliffs, rocky craggy glaciers and narrow valleys gave this place, a bold character.
After completing a narrow trek and crossing several small streams, we finally reached Chirbasa.
Which literally means “Abode of Chir or Pine tree”. Chirbasa is almost 9 km from the entry gate of National Park and is bestowed with dense Chir Pine forest. Beyond Chirbasa, the terrain became really desolated and a barren one. The mountain sides along the trek were steeper and were distinctly broken up by consequential landslides. Ground vegetation in the region was sparsely distributed.
The trek moved along the sharp edge of roaring Bhagirathi River. We were feeling exhausted, tired and breathless as we moved towards our next camp site Bhojbasa.
Bhojbasa exhibits the majestic view of landscape endowed with Bhojpatara (Betula utilis) and alpine scrub. GMVN Guest house and Lalbaba ashram at Bhojbasa is the place where the trekkers relax during night. Moving on the trail we had seen some gropus of Blue ship locally known as bharal grazing with their family .Making our way from the boulder with uneven trek, we finally reached the Gaumukh- the place with dusky white glacier. We could see the melted ice in the river.
It was strictly instructed not to go closer to the snout as it was highly fragile. Majestic view of Mt. Shivling Peak and view of Bhagirathi group of peaks, appeared to welcome the trekkers. Gaumukh, the source of the Ganges & home to a fascinating scenery comprised praying pilgrims, foreigners and sadhus meditating along the banks of the tumultuous stream that poured out of the glacier.
I was mesmerized by the eternal beauty of dusky white glacier with Bhagirathi Peaks in the backdrop.
The whole environment was pure and I felt one with Mother Nature. If you haven’t yet traveled to this trek, I would advise you to visit this place at least once & let yourself drift away in the scenic charm woven by nature.
Author Nihal Gujre is a Junior Research Fellow with CSIR-NEERI, India and IUCN CEM YPN member
Photo Credits: Nihal Gujre and Shalini Dhyani