Badrinath, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib, Auli (India) – Day 1 of 9

An account of our 9-day road trip to Badrinath – Day 1

June 2012

(Note: This travelogue was written real-time, as the 9-day road trip to Badrinath progressed)

Delhi to Devprayag

We set off for our much-awaited vacation to the Himalayas with great excitement and little preparation. Our group comprised of four persons; we had decided to drive down ourselves in my friend’s Ford Fiesta. As per the itinerary, we were to drive from Gurgaon till Srinagar/Rudraprayag today. The planned route was:

Gurgaon – Delhi – Ghaziabad – Modinagar – Meerut – Roorkee – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudraprayag

After setting a brave goal of starting the journey at 4am, we somehow managed to drag our feet out of bed at 6am and finally rolled off from Gurgaon at 7am. We had a quick pit stop at our friend’s place in Ghaziabad for breakfast.

Starting late meant we would have to face increased traffic right from the start, and that would have a cascading effect on the whole day’s drive. The traffic was manageable till Meerut, but then we hit the dreaded Purkazi. This place stands up to its infamous reputation every single time, and today was no exception.

To give you a brief background: Purkazi is a small village-town on the way between Meerut and Roorkee, and invariably features mammoth traffic snarls that set you back by a couple hours on an average, in case you do not cross it by early morning. Reason for the jam: narrow road and people jumping into the opposite lane at the slightest hint of their own lane slowing down, causing a head-on-head blockage.

There is, however, one workaround – the Canal Road. It is a narrow, bumpy village road that runs parallel to the highway, along a canal. It runs from Muradnagar (a few kilometers from Ghaziabad) right till Haridwar, and connects with the highway at multiple points along the way. It is recommended only for dire situations, and a jam at Purkazi is usually a good enough reason.

So we sought out the nearest exit from the jammed highway at Purkazi to the Canal Road and took the plunge. It was not such a bad idea after all – after some toiling on this precarious, bumpy road, we bypassed Purkazi’s traffic and re-joined the highway a few kilometers down at Manglaur. But even before we could finish celebrating our victory over Purkazi, we hit another huge jam. The situation remained grim right till Haridwar. It was already late afternoon by the time we crossed Rishikesh, and reaching Srinagar/Rudraprayag by sundown looked improbable. So we revised our traget destination for the day to Devprayag, a smaller town 35 km short of Srinagar.

About “Prayags”: A Prayag is a place where two holy rivers meet; such points of confluence of rivers are considered sacred by Hindus. There are a total of five Prayags between Badrinath and Rishikesh (see map). The last one downstream is Devprayag, where the rivers Alaknanda (coming from Badrinath) and Bhagirathi (coming from Gangotri) join to form the river Ganga.

The drive beyond Rishikesh is a typical mountain road drive. However, the journey is not pure ascent; there are significantly long uphill and downhill stretches as the road meanders along the barren mountain slopes. The river and the road keep playing hide and seek – the river appears right next to you one minute and vanishes as soon as you take an odd turn. The road condition from Rishikesh to Devprayag is fairly good. Traffic disappears beyond Shivpuri (20 km after Rishikesh), which is where a number of rafting and river-side camps have mushroomed over the last few years and are very popular among weekend travelers from Delhi and around.

After a pleasurable drive, we reached Devprayag after sunset. Devprayag is indeed a small town with very limited stay options; we were told that there are plenty more options 35 km further in Srinagar, but we did not want to drive in the mountains at night. Plus, we were too tired to even try.

We asked around for accommodation availability and checked in at one of the three-odd decent hotels in Devprayag. Ramakund Resort looked liked a good option but there was no vacancy for the night.

After a tiring day on the road, we were happy to eat whatever was served for dinner and dozed off in no time.

 

Key expenses:

3-bed room at hotel in Devprayag with one extra bed: Rs. 1100

 

Read more:
Day 1: Delhi to Devprayag
Day 2: Devprayag to Joshimath
Day 3: Joshimath to Ghangaria (via Govindghat)
Day 4: Ghangaria – Valley of Flowers – Ghangaria
Day 5: Ghangaria – Hemkund Sahib – Ghangaria
Day 6: Ghangaria to Badrinath (via Govindghat)
Day 7: Badrinath to Auli
Day 8: Auli to Rudraprayag
Day 9: Rudraprayag to Delhi