Badrinath, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib, Auli (India) – Day 8 of 9

An account of our 9-day road trip to Badrinath – Day 8

June 2012

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

Auli to Rudraprayag

We woke up to a bright sunny morning in Auli. Today’s plan was to drive 120 km downhill to Rudraprayag where we were to lodge for the night. We estimated it to be not more than a four hour drive, so we had plenty of time to roam around and explore whatever little Auli had to offer, before starting the descent.

Since we were not very thrilled yesterday with the food at GMVN Auli, we decided to take the chair lift to the Clifftop Hotel and have breakfast there. So we packed our stuff, stashed it back in our car, and climbed up the stairs to where the chair lift starts. The ticket is Rs. 200 per person for a round trip. We bought ours and boarded the chair lift with hearts pounding.

The chair lift ride lasted for less than five minutes and was absolute fun. You literally sit on a chair tied to a moving cable which then lifts and transports you along with the chair to the other end, your feet dangling a few meters above the ground during the journey. The most thrilling parts are the take-off and the landing, though they are entirely safe.

Clifftop Hotel is perhaps the most famous highlight of Auli. The hotel gets booked well in advance during winters when skiing is on, despite the forbidding room rates. In photographs on its website, the hotel looks absolutely stunning with its roofs covered in the winter snow and smooth white slopes all around. In summers, however, it’s a different picture altogether.

We couldn’t help but notice as we approached the hotel after de-boarding the chair lift that the hotel was in a serious need of whitewash and painting. The walls were dirty due to damp patches and the orange-brown paint of the roof had chipped off at several places, giving it the look of an ill-maintained, old bungalow. The restaurant was even worse. We couldn’t believe we were in the dining area of a hotel that charges Rs. 10,000 for a night’s stay. The hotel’s guests were having the breakfast buffet and it was mayhem all around. The table cloths were dirty, the buffet area looked unhygienic, and the staff was completely indifferent. Smoke from burnt bread slices was emanating from the toaster and no one seemed to bother. We placed a simple order for breakfast and it still took ages to arrive. We had to scout for cutlery ourselves. We couldn’t decide whose service was worse – GMVN Auli’s of Clifftop’s.

We had had enough of Auli and after another half an hour of lazing around, we took the chair lift back downhill to where our car was parked. After an uneventful four hour drive we reached Rudraprayag, just stopping for lunch at the Hotel Uday Palace at Pipalkoti where we had also eaten on the way up.

We had booked the GMVN hotel at Rudraprayag to spend the night. We had read that GMVN Rudraprayag is located directly above the “sangam” and is among the best places to stay at in Rudraprayag. There’s a one-way system for vehicles at Rudraprayag too, and despite GMVN Rudraprayag being right in the center of the town, we had to take a 10 km detour on tricky mountain roads to arrive at the hotel.

We weren’t very excited about checking into another GMVN property after our experience at Auli. But GMVN Rudraprayag proved us wrong. The service here was stellar. We were blown away by the view of “sangam” from our room’s balcony. The food was good as well, and the room service was prompt. Since we were to leave for Delhi very early in the morning tomorrow, we needed to settle the dues tonight itself. We did not need to walk down to the reception for this – they brought us the bills in our room. This would have been blasphemy for the GMVN Auli staff.

It was quite hot in Rudraprayag and we were happy that we had booked an AC room. There were a couple of power cuts during the evening; GMVN Rudraprayag has an electricity generator that can run fans and lights but not the ACs. The heat wasn’t unbearable though and we didn’t mind the power cuts.

We had the final 400 kilometers to cover tomorrow from Rudraprayag to Delhi. Leaving early from Rudraprayag was of essence since we did not want to get stuck in the traffic of Delhi’s weekend vacationers returning from Rishikesh on Sunday evening. We packed our stuff, set our alarms and dozed off.


Key expenses:

Deluxe room at GMVN Rudraprayag: Rs. 2700 (plus ~13% taxes)


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