Trek to Ghangaria
June 18th – The gruelling part, the 13 km trek to Ghangaria
Today was the day when we embark on our significant trek of 13 km to Ghangaria, which is the base camp to go to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. After a quick breakfast of some mind blowing Alu Parathas at the dhaba next to the lodge.
We started our trek from Pandukeshwar village to Govindghat, that is around 1 and half km. That was a good way to warm up before we started the climb.
Just before crossing the foot bridge which takes you on to the trekking route we bought ponchos for just Rs 15, which are just like raincoats but bigger in size and made out of thin plastic sheets stiched together. The weather in the mountains is quite unpredictable and you can experience multiple seasons in a day. A bright sunny day can transform into a gloomy overcast sky in no time.
As soon as we started the climb sherpas wanted to carry our backpacks for Rs 600. Due to the exorbitant price we decided to carry it ourselves. Luckily one porter chased us and agreed to take our bags for Rs 350, which was decent enough considering the enormity of the task when we completed it. We believe, the decision of taking a porter would be one of the wisest decisions we made on this trip.
The first 2 kms were arduous, really steep and occasionally levels out, and of course its uneven. So initially we made quite a few stops, and the valley was echoing with the voices of hundreds of Sikh pilgrims chanting “Satnam Waheguru!” The chant sets the rhythm for their footsteps and it helped us as well to keep going.Some people preferred to take horses, some waddled along on the backs of Pithoos (Cane Baskets used to carry people, luggage, children etc.).
We made a stop after 2 kms, at a place, which according to our porter, is used to sprinkle ashes of Hindus and they also perform ritual of shaving ones head.
That didn’t deter us from catching our breath and filling up a bottle with pure mountain water. Generally, the chances of finding safe drinking water in the mountains increase as you gain altitude and as you move at a greater height the route also gets more picturesque.
The path moves along river Lakshman Ganga, which flows down below and as we moved up, we came closer to the level at which the river flows. Along the way you will find quite a few food stalls serving “maggie”, tea, coffee and chips. Things get expensive as you move higher up, a bottle of water which cost Rs 25 at the beginning of the trek will cost Rs 35 at a higher altitude.
The path is also littered with mule dung and at certain stages the smell gets to you. After a while we stopped at one of the stalls, had maggie and tea, and commenced our trek. Dark clouds were hovering the entire time, making it pleasant. After trekking for about 8-9 kms we came across our first glacier.
People had to leave their horses behind and walk it up. We were really jubilant and thrilled to walk on it as we also clicked few pictures while walking on it. Our porter got a bit irritated with us as well, since we took quite a lot of time in clicking pictures and just enjoying the glacier.
From then on we spotted quite a lot of glaciers on the mountains around. The last 3 kms of the trek are so unduly steep that it just drains us out. In fact it was such a climb that we saw a horse miss a step and slipped on the stones and fell along with the rider. That was scary.
We kept going, determined to complete this gruelling trek. As we reached closer to Ghangaria, around 1 km before it, you notice a helipad, for the rich who can afford it. They can fly from Gobindghat to Ghangaria but they will miss putting their physical abilities to a gruelling test.
We reached the small village of Ghangaria, situated at an altitude of 3049 m. It is situated on the bank of river Pusphavati also known as Laxman Ganga and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The village was packed and over-crowded with Sikhs.
There are no houses visible but only guest houses. The narrow lane through the village had lodges and restaurants on both sides. So Ghangaria serves only as a base camp for people going to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund.
We asked for rooms at nearly 6-7 places, all were packed. The same situation which we faced in Govindghat, but only difference was that we really needed to crash. We also realised the disadvantage of starting the trek late in the morning. So finally at one place the owner said he had a room available, a shoddy little room.
It had a stained carpet, a dilapidated and a common bathroom. We had no option, lot of pilgrims had come to Ghangaria the same day, making it difficult to get a single room. So considering all our options, we decided to take it. He charged us a whopping Rs 600 for that, guess he was just taking advantage of the situation.
There were also lot of people who stayed at the gurudwara on the same road, which provides free accommodation and a blanket for the night.
There are massage guys roaming around the guest houses, and they charge mere Rs 50 for a back massage or legs. That was a good deal. We got a nice leg massage done and were feeling a bit relaxed.
We went down to have dinner at a local dhaba. All the eating joints here are quite expensive and they almost charge the same price and serve the same kind of food. You don’t get non-veg here, so Clyde had a bit of a tough time eating vegetarian food all the time. But he didn’t complain. We had a decent heavy meal, proper punjabi food and were quite satisfied at the end of it.
We crashed into our bed and were looking forward to going to Valley of Flowers.
June 18th Expenses
Breakfast + Hotwater Rs 90
2 Litre Water & Sweets Rs 40
Ponchos Rs 30
3 Waters Rs 65
Maggie & 3 Teas + Parle G Biscuits Rs 65
Paid the Porter Rs 400
Dinner Rs 249
Massage Guy Rs 150.
Previous Posts on this Trip:
Ghangria Room Reservation (GMVN Uttaranchal Contact)
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