Gaumukh is one of the primary headstreams of the Holy Ganges River which is situated at a height of 12,795 ft. in Uttarkashi District in the state of Uttrakhand. Gaumukh is 18 km from Gangotri Temple in the foothills of Bhagirathi. It is the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. The Bhagirathi River here is pretty speedy. Around the snout, nature presents a wild topography. There are many boulders scattered here and there with some pieces of broken snow, along with the hard clayey snow of the glacier. Little before Gaumukh, the majestic view of Mt. Shivling welcomes the trekkers. The trek to Tapovan, Nandanvan, Vasuki Tal, etc. starts from here. Tapovan, an area full of meadows, streams and flowering plants and the meadows are considered as one of the best high altitude meadows in India. Tapovan is the base camp for several mountaineering expeditions including Shivling peak, Bhagirathi peak, etc.
Best time to visit: May-June and September-October. Expect hiking on the snow at the beginning of May. September and October is a pleasant time to trek here. After October, it is generally not advisable to trek alone due to the extreme cold. After November, expect heavy snow in the area.
The drive from Dehradun to Gangotri passes through the Uttarkashi, Mussoorie and the popular villages of Gorsali, Bhatwari, Harshil, and Dharali. Gangotri is the base camp for the Vasuki Tal trek. The shrine of Gangotri is surrounded by deodars and pines forest. Gangotri is one of the four pilgrimages in the Chota Char Dham circuit of Garhwal Himalayas and the source of river Ganga (the actual source being Gomukh) which is known as Bhagirathi here, 10-11 hours’ drive from Dehradun. Transport will be arranged at an additional cost from Dehradun Railway Station at 06:30 AM. Cost of Cab – Rs. 8,000/- per vehicle. After relaxing, we shall visit the Holy Gangotri Devi temple for prayers, roaming the local market, striking a conversation with a Sadhu, exploring the secret cave and learn a few words of the local language; it is appreciated and often results in getting more than the experience. Before having the delicious dinner we will have a team introduction session and briefing about tomorrow’s trek after dinner.
The very first day of the Gaumukh-Tapovan trek starts from Gangotri to Bhojbasa, which takes about 6-7 hours to reach there. It is a beautiful trek with mountains surrounding you and Ganga flowing below. Around Chirbasa (Chir: Pine, basa: Residence), you get superb views of Manda peak, Bhrigu Parvat, Bhagirathi I, II and III. After 3 km of Chirbasa comes the dangerous Gila Pahar, the place well known for the landslides. Bhojbasa is the only night halting-place on the trek with buildings. Bhojbasa named after birch (Bhojpatra) forests in the area. It is presently totally denuded of the Bhoj Patra trees. Overnight stay in tents.
The trek from Bhojbasa to Khada Patthar is quite difficult. It is a fairly gradual ascent. The first 200 meters trail from Bhojbasa is slightly steep, and it merges to trail from Gangotri to Gaumukh. At Gaumukh: snout, where river Bhagirathi emerges from Gangotri glacier, starts its journey. It flows down the slopes of the mountain and merges with tributaries, and become Holy Ganges. This is the place where Hindus believe the Ganges take birth. From here the trek will start more difficult. The glacier is covered by moraine so you do not need any technical equipment, although a steadying trekking pole is definitely handy. Take the final leg up the steep rocky path to enter the Tapovan meadow and view the spectacular sight all around you. Tapovan is surrounded by Bhagirathi peaks on one side, and imposing Shivling peak and Meru peaks on the other. From here, Khada Patthar is 1 Km away. Overnight stay in tents.
Today is the rest and acclimatization day of Gaumukh-Tapovan Trek, so get up comfortably and have breakfast. The plan of today is to go to Neel Tal and gain an altitude of around 270 meters. Neel Tal, which literally means Blue Pond, lived up to its name. It is amazing how many people go to Tapovan, but miss this gem. Apeksha Adventure highly recommends taking a day and visiting the place. Such tranquility is not easy to find. You could see reflections of Shivling, Meru and Bhagirathi Peaks in the pond. Manage your time such that you are back to Khada Patthar by lunchtime.
Get up early to see the spectacular sight of the sunrise on the surrounding 6,000 meters peaks. You would be rewarded with amazing views of first rays of sun falling on Shivling, Kedar Dome and Kharcha Kund peaks. The theatre of nature here is vast and limitless. Imagine standing at a meadow just beneath the stone feet of Bhagirathi peaks, which also happen to be a plateau overlooking Gangotri glacier flowing to Gaumukh, and with meadows of Tapovan on the other side. And just above Tapovan is majestic Shivling peak with Meru peak on its right (toward North). And turn your neck a bit towards South West, you will get a glimpse of Kirti glacier, and then see the smooth peak of Kedar Dome hiding Kedar peaks behind it. Next to the Dome is intricate-looking Kharcha Kund peak. Turn your neck a bit left and you are seeing again the Gangotri glacier coming from somewhere far away. Today you will retrace your steps to Chirbasa. Below the glacier, a steep descent is followed by the glacier’s rocky path and gradual descent to Chirbasa. Overnight stay in tents.
Today is the final day of the Gaumukh-Tapovan Trek. The trek involves a gradual descent and easy walk which can be done rapidly. Get up comfortably and have breakfast, trek to Gangotri to witness the famous Ganga Aarti at the Holy Gangotri Devi Temple. This should not be missed. The original temple was constructed by the Nepalese General Amar Singh Thapa. Every year thousands of people visit this shrine from all around the world. A number of Dharamshalas and Ashrams are located on the other side of the river. It is believed that Raja Bhagirath used to worship Shiva on a slab of rock “Bhagirath Shila”, situated near the temple for salvation or Moksha of the souls of his 60,000 sons. Submerged in the river, there is a natural Shivling where, according to mythology, Goddess Ganga descended when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from the locks of his hair. Spend the entire day exploring this fascinating town. Relax in the peaceful surroundings of the gushing river. We would stay overnight.
Depart from Gangotri to Dehradun Railway Station early in the morning, preferably before 06:30 AM since the journey takes 10-11 hours. Expected to reach Dehradun by 07:00 PM. Transport will be arranged at an additional cost from Gangotri at 06:30 AM. Cost of the cab – Rs. 8,000 per vehicle.
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