Uttarakhand trip: Part I – Auli
Returned to Bangalore yesterday after a ten day trip to the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Visited Auli, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Saheb, Khirsi and stopped over at a few other places enroute. A wonderful ten days trekking across the Himalayan ranges – walked close to 100 kms and at one point trekked at least 15 kms everyday for four days in a row.
Left Bangalore on the 12th and reached Auli on the 13th. Woke up to a gorgeous morning on the 14th with several snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas clearly visible across the skies – and spent the day trekking to Gorson point and back. We walked through lush green meadows that stretched for kilometers together – here and there horses and buffaloes grazed, birds chirped, and a few other people walked as well. In the winter, the whole stretch would be covered with several inches/feet of snow making it ideal for skiing, but I doubt that would be any more beautiful than it was that day. Picture perfect doesn’t do it justice. With everyone else in the group avid bird watchers and photographers, it was only natural that a bit of that bug caught me as well. Nevertheless, with my point and shoot camera, I didn’t really spend as much time chasing the birds and so I soon set the pace for the group. That was to be the case for the next few days as well.
After we had finished our lunch, we walked a bit further and were greeted with the sight of a group of giant Himalayan
Griffins Griffons hanging about close by. I got a few decent shots while the rest furiously clicked away from all possible angles. A majestic bird from the vulture family – the Himalayan Griffon, at one point I was less than 10 feet from one without realizing it! The guide told me it was called the Garuda there, and it was obvious why that was so. When I reached the rock where the Griffon had been perched, stretched out in front of me were acres more of lush green meadows, and a quaint little pond where dozens of horses were drinking water and sauntering about. At that moment, I truly felt like climbing up one and jaunting through the mountains, like a Mongol warrior of yore. Far out, the guide pointed me to the Kuari pass which was about another half a day’s trek away from the look of it. Walking across a mountain of course is deceptive, so in all probability it may have taken longer. That was in any case as far and as high as any of us got to that day and after spending a while longer lazing about, we trekked our way back. The rain hit us shortly before we reached the GMVN resort we were staying at – a precursor to the days that were to follow. The next day at Auli was washed out by the rain, but I wasn’t complaining. The nearly 20 km trek had tired me out and I quite enjoyed lazing about and reading the first chapters of Thirteen Moons, the only book that I had carried with me on the trip.
For me, the Himalayan Griffon and the walk up to the Gorson Top were easily the highlights of the Auli trip, but the double rainbow against the backdrop of the Himalayas, the immenseness of the snow-capped peaks and just the journey to get to Auli – negotiating dangerous looking landslides and watching the majestic Ganga several hundred feet below the roads we traveled, the surging waters chipping away against the mountains that closed it down, were all in their own way, more memorable than words or even pictures can do justice to.