Sunday, January 20, 2013

Unforgettable Uttarkashi

Unforgettable Uttarkashi

Uttarkashi from Kutati Devi Temple
Uttarkashi is my favorite place and I try to visit there at least once in two years. It is a paradise for the people who love to walk. There are plenty of day’s walk and scenes are superb. Along goes roaring, bubbling and laughing Mother Ganges.
Buses depart from near the mountain bus stand of Haridwar. Well, do not forget to enjoy Haridwar. Once day I will make a post on Haridwar if anyone has not done it. Almost everybody fall in love with Haridwar. People keep coming here year after year. They long to spend the rest of their lives after retirement.

Anyway. Journey is very long. It was not that long but due to the Tehri Dam now new way is 45kms longer and very treacherous. So I try to avoid this direct route instead I go to Barkot first and spend some day there by Yamuna and then go to Uttarkashi. Well, one day I will put a post on Barkot too.
Uttarkashi view from Varun mountain area.
Now journey is close to 200 km. Millions of pilgrim arrive at this town in the summer for the Gangotri visit but mostly end up staying here to spend a night. Rarely any visitor stops here for the beauty of this place. Main road and bus stand side is a dirty area so probably people think this is an ugly place so they just end up staying a night (One must stay here en-route to Gangotri because roads close at 8Am and either way journey is long.
Uttarkashi
My suggestion is to avoid Yatra season if you wish to enjoy the beauty of Uttarkashi unless you are on Yatra (May-June) then you must stay here for a couple of day to enjoy the place.
Well, we have arrived in Uttarkashi; at the bus stand. It is a filthy and dusty place so just check out from here immidiately. Ask for Ghat, that is barely 200 meters but seldom visible from the cluster of shops. As you step you feet on the stairs leading to ghat; you just mesmerize. Roaring Ganges. Water is very cold all year around but still we always take a bath here. Sitting on this ghat and viewing surrounding mountains is very refreshing. There are many tea shops before the ghat and a couple of restaurants too. This area of Uttarkashi is clean. Only main road is in worse condition because of constant land sllides from the mountain next to it.
Ghat at the downtown of Uttarkashi
We always stay in Gautam Park Hotel. It is at the other side of Ganges and is away from hustle and bustle of bazaars and traffic. And it is also close to the wilderness of Himalayas. Just half km walk from the ghat. It is also near the confluence of Ganges and Indravati river. Indravati is a small brook. I prefer bathing in Indravati for 2 reasons; one is that the water in this brook is gentle, unlike the water of Ganges that is very cold. Second reason is that its water is clean because it originates from springs whereas Ganges originates from glaciers.
Well it is evening and we sleep the night at our hotel. Next day we walk to the Kutati Devi temple. From our hotel we take road by the river and at the base of mountain either we can take the road to the power plant colony or we can take steps. I prefer road because it is gentle and very green and scenic. As we begin ascending breathtaking view begin. At one side one can watch the town of Uttarkashi and at other side is the valley by the Indravati. Lush green valley topped by deodar trees.
From the trail to Kutati Devi temple
View from the path leading to Kutati Devi Temple. Temple is barely 2 km from the town. First you walk along the Ganges and then cross Indravati bridge.
View from the local roads
There is a tea shop at the end of colony. I usually spend hours in front of tea shop. We drink a couple of cups of tea while sitting on the ledges by the road and watch the scenes on the mountains. Clouds are born and then broken up. Lush green valley of Indravati.
another view
Then the road ends and stairs begin for the temple but after the temple there again comes a road going to Uttarkashi. You make a right turn to walk towards Indravati valley if you have time. Otherwise you can make a right turn and go towards Uttarkashi back on longer way. But this way is the most spactacular way I ever seen in my life. Never ever miss this way. Always take this way again in the evening to see the spectacular lights of the town. It appears like fireworks.
Anyway we made a right at the road above the temple and going towards Thalan village.
Indravati valley
Village passes through dense deodar forest. We sit on the ledges by the road to view the valley at many places. In afternoon it gets a bit warm so we sit under the shade of trees.
View from Uttarkashi Ghat
Village Thalan is 6km but there are other villages around 4 km. Once can find snacks and tea. Almost every tea shop can make you omelet or maggi noodles. Pakodas are made in the evening.
Area around Thalan village
Well around evening we return back towards Uttarkashi. If tired then we hail any public jeep or bus passing by but we always get off near the temple. We never want to miss the views of the city from the heights so we walk from that place again.
View from the road from Kutati Temple to the town.
View of Indravati valley from the road.
Views from the road
I wish I had pictures taken from this road at the evening when whole town is lit up but at that time I never knew if I will be posting my experiences. We walk to the town and take the road bridge to enter in the town and then take the bazaar road towards main ghat. Now it is evening and we eat superb Jalebies in the market and drink a cup of tea. And then we sit at the ghat and watch the road far away that we covered today. All tiredness is gone in the roar of bubbling Ganges river. Now it is aarti time. Aarti is not that spectacular as in Haridwar but it is a peaceful and interesting affair. We eat food at Patiala restaurant by the court and return to our hotel.
Day 2:
There are many walks around Uttarkashi but this one is the best. In just an easy day’s trip once can visit Alpine area. Not just visiting there to touch but one can spend a good part of his day and if one wishes once can just return here next day. This is the way where track begins for famous Dodital. Or one can reach Yamunotri through Dodital by walking.
Our destination is Sangamchatti. It is by the river Assiganga that meets Ganges on our way; just 3 km from Uttarkashi. One can either book a car or jeep to Sangamchatti, it is barely 13km from Uttarkashi, there are some buses too but time varies upon seasons or one can obtain public transportation to Netala that is on the Gangotri road from there one can begin walking on Sangamchatti road and fetch just any vehicle going in that direction View are the greatest. I always walk on this way to and from Sangamchatti.
Way to Sangamchatti
Assiganga brings a significant quantity of water in the Ganges. After 3 km alpine area begins. Deodar trees and high pine trees. There are no villages on this stretch. After 2 km there comes a tea shop; that is the only tea shop on the way but may be there is another one because of construction of a hydroelectric plant there came up another one but probably that is or was temporary. After 4-5 km you can see Tejpatta trees. The bark is Cinnamon and leaves are tejpatta. I always fill my pockets with tejpatta (bay leaves). Anytime I find a tea shop I add those leaves in the boiling water and result is yummy, fragrant and refreshing tea.
Assiganga
Actually anytime I am close to rivers; I take my bath there too. I love bathing in rivers. Water is Assiganga is cold and clear.
By Assiganga. on the way to Sangamchatti
Scenes changes very fast. Now road is in the alpine ravine. Deodar, Cinnamon, Birch and pine trees shadow the cool valley.
Assiganga
My cousing taking a bath in Assiganga.
Wish I had more pictures. It usually takes me 3 hours to get to Sangamchatti. Whole way is going upriver. At Sangamchatti, views are superb again. 3 rivers meet from 3 narrow ravine. Right at the confluence, a walking bridge leads to Dodital. There is a tiny bazaar. So tea and snacks are available but food can be ordered and takes some time. Return is ever easier because whole way is now down the river. I always walk but you can fetch some transportation. Almost every vehicle takes passengers for a fee. Traffic here on this road is very scant but still something is always available within an hour.
Assiganga
There are many other walks around Uttarkashi but I have described 2 best ones. This gives the reader a taste and touch of Uttarkashi.

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