Saturday, September 5, 2015

Trek to Valley of Flowers with GIO - To Badrinath, Mana and back

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

It rained all night again but, needless to say, we were much less perturbed this time since we had sort of assumed that the trek was ended. The only worry was whether the weather would cause the Uttaranchal government to stop people from traveling to Badrinath.

The next day's trek back to Govindghat was, as usual, not all that much of a cakewalk since descents have a way of testing knees and ankles. There still was some cavalry with us but a much attenuated one. Most of us did do the trek back. Thankfully, the day was sunny and the Badrinath trip was still on.

We hit Badrinath when the temple was closed, as was expected by our guides. Mahaveer was the only one of the three GIO Adventures guides to accompany us, since Yashpal and Hari had left from Govindghat to Auli to prepare for our nights stay there. The cooking staff, who had provided such great food at the camp stayed back in the same GIO camp for the next group.

Lunch was at the Sardeswari restaurant at Badrinath and we spent the time remaining in taking group pics.

The vehicle used by the other group had some fan-belt problems and, while it was being repaired, we walked down to the Badrinath temple. Necessarily in an unwashed condition, we visited the temple and had a darshan of Lord Vishnu.

After the darshan, we chose to also do the optional visit to Mana. This is the last Indian village before the border of Tibet/China. The place has the mythological significance of being the place where Ved Vyas is reputed to have dictated the Mahabharat to Lord Ganesh, who acted as his scribe. The Vyas Gufa and the Ganesh Gufa were the caves wherein the duo are reputed to have seated themselves during the composition of the Mahabharat. The day was when, apparently, the locals held a festival to worship the Pandavas and we witnessed the ceremonies for a while before we went on towards the scenic delights of the place.

The path to the caves of Vyas and Lord Ganesh forks upwards towards the caves. The other path leads to what the locals call the origin point of the mythical river Saraswati, which is then supposed to mingle with the Alaknanda. The roaring flow of the waters through the mountains was a sight to behold.

The gorge carved by the river was, apparently, impassable for the Pandavas when they sought to ascend to Heaven. The mighty second son of Kunti, Bhim, then uprooted a huge rock and made a bridge for the rest to cross. This Bhimpul still stands tribute to the tremendous strength of the son of Vayu.

A temple to the river goddess, Saraswati, is close by the gushing waters. As, also, is the 'last Indian tea-shop'!

After having soaked in the beauty of the place we reluctantly returned to our vehicle to what we fondly hoped would be a night's halt at the comfortable rest-house in Auli. We hit Badrinath and were stopped by the Police.

The Lord had, apparently, decided to wash the place clean of our unwashed presence with rains and the consequence was a landslide that had blocked the road some three kilometers further down. After the usual couple of hours of dithering, we stayed at Badrinath with a lot of nervousness about when and whether the road-block would be cleared. People with flights to board on the next day were busy with their calculations of how much the road-block could eventually cost them.

Thanks to the efficiency of the BRO, the road was cleared by 9 AM and we were happily motoring down (ME??? I am never happy on road journeys, particularly on mountains). Yashpal and Hari hired a vehicle to ferry the luggage we had left behind at Auli - which they shifted to our vehicle en route, so that we would not lose time in detouring to Auli to pick them up. We had a brief halt for tea at another of GIO's campsites, just ahead of Deva Prayag, After we left the place, we hit another unexpected problem at Devaprayag.

Apparently, some large piece of equipment had fallen there quite a few days back and the owners had picked this day to try and remove it. The stupendous logic of picking on a weekend day to block a pilgrimage route for hours on end beats me but that was the reality we had to live with then. Vehicles were piled up for a couple of kilometers. People sat on the roads playing cards; others were frantically calling up people changing travel plans; Chandru and I gave up on our 11.10 PM train back to Delhi and were discussing alternatives (Trek back? THAT was not one of the options, thank you).

At around 8 PM the road cleared. With just 3 hours to go, it was impossible to hit Haridwar in time for our train. Or so it seemed to us but our driver Kuldip, like Dhoni, had other ideas. So skilfully did he drive at speed to Haridwar that we never seemed in any danger and, yet, reached the Haridwar station with some 15 minutes to spare.

After rushed farewells, we boarded our train. Yet another wonderful Himalayan experience was ended.

Pics: Jaya and Chandru
Video: Chandru


  1. Hi Suresh,
    This is Shanti; just read your blog on our trek. I relived our experience. The photos are really good. Keep it up!!
    (This is Karuppu Samy, Shanti's husband! Your writing on the trek is faithful reproduction of what Shanti told me. Great writing! Shanti says the ladies enjoyed your singing!!!)


    1. Thanks Shanti and Karuppu Samy! Lovely to hear that - both about the writing and the singing :)

  2. OMG.Thanks for such a lovely virtual tour with you.Bhimpul bridge stands gorgeous.Wonderful write up.

    Sriram & Krithiga

    1. Thanks Sriram and Krithiga for staying the course with me on this :)

  3. Suresh, just read all parts of your amazing trip !!! It seems to have been an enviable journey and the places you have been to are so scenic. Checked out Himalayan lodges too.. seems like a great place.

    Do these GIO people give sponsorship for non-trekkers too like me :)

    1. Hahaha! It is not all that expensive anyway, Ash! The trip from Haridwar to Haridwar, including transport, would probably cost less than 15k per person - all expenses included. The GIO charges alone were something like 9.5k, which was the sponsored portion.