Badrinath, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib, Auli (India) – Day 2 of 9

An account of our 9-day road trip to Badrinath – Day 2

June 2012

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

Devprayag to Joshimath

We woke up quite early at 5am. The hotel balcony offered a good view of “sangam”, the point of confluence of the two rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. We decided to skip walking down to “sangam” for a holy dip – there were four more such places ahead in our itinerary which we had heard were cleaner and less crowded.

As per the itinerary, the target for the day was to drive till Govindghat, which is the launch pad for the series of treks we were embarking on. However, given that we had covered around 70 fewer kilometers yesterday than we had planned, we thought it would be difficult to reach Govindghat by evening, considering the treacherous mountain drive ahead. So we decided to stop short at Joshimath, 16 km before Govindghat. There is also a one-way “gate system” between Joshimath and Badrinath (which I will explain in my next post) that prevents you from going on further if you reach Joshimath after 4pm.

We rolled off from Devprayag at quarter to seven. An hour’s drive took us to the delightful Srinagar, which is way more picturesque than Devprayag, which is why many people had advised us to lodge at Srinagar. We had a hearty breakfast at the Shreeyantra Tapu hotel, which is one of the first hotels one comes across as one approaches Srinagar.

Rudraprayag is another 30 km from Srinagar. It looks like a major town on this route; it features a number of shops, hotels, and a lot of unruly traffic. We decided to hold off our holy dip at this Prayag too. Karnprayag was the next stop with a beautiful river bank and virtually no traffic. We did not waste time and were soon frolicking in the icy cold water of the river. It was an exhilarating experience and a welcome respite from the scorching noon.

Temperature does not drop much as you proceed from Rishikesh to these Prayags, because the altitude increase is very slow till Pipalkoti. Even as you start ascending from one Prayag to reach the next, you descend by almost an equal amount to hit the river bank again.

We reached Pipalkoti at 2pm. We had a good lunch at the Hotel Uday Palace and were impressed by the speed of service. We also inquired about a good place to stay at Joshimath; the hotel in-charge suggested staying at the Hotel Dronagiri, also located right at the entrance of Joshimath. From this trip and the one before to Lansdowne, we had in fact developed a liking for such hotels on the outskirts of hill towns because they usually feature good parking space, offer unobstructed views of the mountains, and are fairly good in terms of the stay too.

The hot weather was showing signs of easing up on us as we started the day’s final leg of drive to Joshimath. We were happy to see that meaningful ascent was now starting. The road was good for the most part, except for some stretches where it was damaged due to landslides. At almost all such damaged stretches, the Border Roads Organization was working on repairs. We also came across several new bridges that were under construction, to replace the narrower existing ones.

We did not have much trouble spotting Hotel Dronagiri as we entered Joshimath. Sure enough, this one too had a big parking area, which is a luxury if you are traveling in the mountains. We took our room and after quickly taking a hot bucket bath (it was reasonably cold here), we headed out to the town to purchase torches and chocolates for tomorrow’s trek, visit the Hindu guru Shankacharya’s monastery, and to find out more about the “gate system”. Joshimath does not offer much for the tourist, and we got bored very soon. We also discovered to our dismay that the cable car from Joshimath to Auli was shut down a year back due to safety concerns, and had not been operational ever since. Since we were to stay for a night in Auli later during this trip, we would now have to drive down instead of taking the thrilling cable car ride.

We had dinner at a local restaurant and retired to our hotel. We were happy to catch the French Open final live on TV at the hotel reception.

Tomorrow’s plan was to start early morning, drive till Govindghat, park our car (along with part of the luggage) there, and head for the 13 km trek to Ghangaria. So we packed our bags such that we would carry only a backpack each to Ghangaria with three days’ supply of clothes and some medicines. We slept early with excitement brewing inside for the three adventurous days ahead.

 

Key expenses:

4 dorm beds at Hotel Dronagiri in Joshimath: Rs. 2400

 

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