Monday, August 31, 2015

Trek to Valley of Flowers with GIO - To Auli

First Part : To AuliSecond Part: To Ghangaria; Third Part: To Valley of Flowers; Fourth Part: To Hemkund Sahib; Fifth Part: To Badrinath, Mana and Back



Deja vu! There we were, Chandru and I, hair in a braid (Of course, only metaphorically. What did you think? That I had started using obscure herbs culled from the Amazon basin?), waiting in Haridwar to be picked up by the vehicle that would take us onward to the trek in the Valley of Flowers. Once again. Except that this one was a sponsored trek - sponsored by GIO Adventures.

Being monuments of patience, when we heard that the vehicle would be picking up the other members of the group from the hotel some 50 meters from where we were staying, we decided to traipse down to that hotel and not wait for the tempo track to come over for us. So, off we trudged to the Great Ananda and saw the vehicle being duly loaded with luggage.

Out walked some ten women, fifty-plus years young all of them if you leave out the twenty something Nikita. One look at me and, with a visible up and down movement of their throats, they swallowed their dismay (wo)manfully (Never fathomed this. I mean, I can sort of understand that dismayed reaction after people know me from before, but how is it I affect them thus at first sight? Must be pheromones or something). Geeta even went so far as to welcome the addition of 'manpower' to the group. Chandru and I felt much like we had gatecrashed a kitty party - though, I must say, Chandru carried it off with such aplomb that one could be forgiven for thinking that it was his profession to gate crash thus.

Consider that the day's journey was about twelve hours from Hardiwar to Auli. Consider that my stomach churns almost the moment I get into any vehicle that travels by road. Consider that I sing non-stop all the way in order to ensure that nothing more noxious emits from my mouth. Consider that there is a wide variance of opinion between me and those who hear me about which is the more noxious emission - my singing or the contents of my stomach. Now, consider the plight of these hapless ten women for those twelve hours. (I do not mention Chandru - he has traveled with me often enough to have developed a selective deafness to my singing.)

The route to Auli, needless to say, is extremely scenic. For the most part, we traveled along the Alaknanda. Along the route we cross all the major confluences of rivers that end up making the mighty Ganga. At Deva Prayag, the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda merge to form the Ganga. At Rudra Prayag, the Mandakini joins the Alaknanda. At Karna Prayag, it is Pindar that enriches the Alaknanda with its waters. Nanda Prayag is where the Nandakini weds the Alaknanda. At Vishnu Prayag, the Dhauli Ganga meets the Alaknanda.

We saw the first four confluences on the trip to Auli. En route, we also cross Srinagar, the place where Chandru and I were stranded when the Uttaranchal disaster struck. How quiet the Alaknanda seemed this time compared to the raging monster that we gazed on with awe for three days then. All through the route, were remnants of the devastation caused to the area then.

The trip was enlivened by the uncanny ability of Jaya to blink just as we passed some major spot - like say the Deva Prayag - and then rue having missed seeing it. Whether Jaya actually did blink or no one cannot say, but Shanthi claimed that she did and, as is usual, we chose to believe the worst.

It was dark and raining by the time we reached the GIO rest-house at Auli. The first sight was of those lovely, large roses. Yashpal, Hari and the chap who had traveled with the other group of twelve - Mahaveer - welcomed us to this beautiful haven. The place was so comfortable that Chandru and I wanted to know if it was available only when we booked on treks or if we could book in and stay for trips as well. As it happened they were available for bookings otherwise as well, since the Himalayan lodges, though they were a part of GIO Adventures and supported them, operated as a separate entity offering stay in offbeat destinations.

After a tiring day, sumptuous food and extremely comfortable rooms to sleep in were Heaven. The pitter-patter of rain all night, though, was a concern.

The next day dawned, not exactly bright and sunny since it was a watery sun that did its best to shine through the clouds but it was much better than the pouring rain that we had feared to see. Other people had more vexing concerns, though. Apparently, Geeta had woken up at 4 AM and started singing all the songs that I had 'sung' on the journey - probably to ensure that I had not driven away the proper tunes from her mind and replaced them with my own version. THIS was the first time that my singing affected my companions far beyond the time for which I sang myself!

Off we went on the trusty tempo track, seeing the Vishnu Prayag en route (except Jaya, of course, who blinked again if you chose to believe Shanthi) and landed at Govindghat. From this point, or roughly from thereon, the trek was supposed to start. By the end of the day we would be in the GIO tents at Ghangaria.

Next Part - here

P.S : Apologies about the lack of pics. Lighting issues, according to Chandru (ME - I can take pics of unrelieved gray in the best of lighting, so I would not know)

P.P.S: Pic added of group. Courtesy Geetha

22 comments:

  1. It was lovely to read your experiences and take an almost mini voyage through your writing, Suresh. Thank you for sharing!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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  2. If a reader gets annoyed when a particular post comes to an end, I guess that is the best compliment any author can wish for. I am beyond annoyed, how can a post be so short, especially when it was such a joy to read? Singing, blinking, dismay swallowing, and Geeta re-singing--well, guess will have to wait and see how the trek, trekked along. Brilliant, as always!

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    1. Hamstrung by lack of pics. Waiting for them before I complete the saga :) I assure you, you will get chapter and verse before the end of the week :)

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  3. This post deserves pictures. Was in Haridwar last month, must say the river was really muddy and swollen.

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  4. Had a nice virtual journey with you.Waiting for more to come.Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

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  5. Lucky you Suresh.And yes i too am waiting for the pics.

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    1. Makes me feel so inadequate. I cannot take a pic to save my life and am dependent on others for them.

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  6. :-D enjoyed the journey all the way with you, Suresh ...with the 'as usual' presence of humour :-)

    But, yes..pictures pictures.... :-P no excuse next time...

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    1. Aha! You may doom me not to writing any travel posts at all :)

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  7. Loved this post Suresh! Hope you had a wonderful time, and looking forward to seeing pictures! :)

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    1. Yes - had a wonderful time and yes from the next post of this series you will get pics too

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  8. Thank you taking me back on a fascination ride to the Himalayas CS, been a long time and I loved travelling with you. :)

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  9. Lovely Auli lively through your pen, Surseh:) Thank you!

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  10. Travelogues without pics are not done, Suresh. You know my biggest fear is traveling on mountain roads in a motor vehicle. I clutch with all my might as if that would prevent the vehicle from going off the cliff. Interesting read. And wow, this trip was Sponsored? Awesome!

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    1. When have I ever felt the need to adhere to any rules, Rachna? :) Anyway, the rest of the write-up does have pics :)

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