Short Walks in the Himalayas – Places in Uttarakhand, India worth visiting

While enjoying an evening bonfire at Thanedar, Himachal Pradesh, we asked our hiking guides (who were staying at the resort as part of their assignment) where their favourite parts of the Himalayas were.  Both of them said “Uttarakhand” without any hesitation.  For a long time after that I thought they were crazy — I personally felt Himachal Pradesh was a lot prettier (Manali, Sangla, etc.).  However, as I was going through my photos of both states while writing the “Short Walks” series, I realised may be they had a point.   Here is a list of places where we did not spend enough time. However, these places did leave an impression on me as places worth spending time in and exploring.  Hope you enjoy the list as well! 

Note:  All places mentioned below are located in the state of Uttarakhand, India.  You can either fly to Dehradun or Delhi and begin your journey.

Haridwar

This is a beautiful Temple Town.  From watching the River Ganga flow by to experiencing the various ashrams, it gives you a glimpse of India where people attempt to find themselves in their own unique ways.  For kids, the places below may or may not be appealing (cleanliness being a factor).

Things to do that I would not miss out on:

  1. Walking through Moti Bazaar – Narrow streets filled with shops selling all kinds of trinkets, food and everything else under the sun.  You might feel like you will get lost through those narrow paths, but, just follow your instinct (or the crowd) and you will end up either at Har Ki Pauri Ghat or the main road.
  2. Har Ki Pauri – An amazing place to just chill and watch the world go by.  You can walk up and down the area and cross the different bridges to get an enchanting feel of the place. The Ganga aarti that happens in the morning and evening is a beautiful sight to see… very organic in nature. 
  3. Parmarth Ashram – Might feel a bit out of the way depending on where you are staying, however, there is an absolutely nice, clean ghat by the River Ganga.  Fewer people … perfect for meditation and solitude.

Rishikesh

When we visited Rishikesh for the first time, I fell in love with River Ganga.  Absolutely stunning.  Clear water surrounded by beautiful mountains.  It is no wonder many well known folks seem to have a connection to Rishikesh.

Things to do that I would not miss out on:

  1. Walking on Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula – Totally unique experiences – the crowds, monkeys, two-wheelers — the whole bit on narrow suspension bridges! 
  2. The market leading up to Gita Bhawan – smaller compared to the market in Haridwar but still worth exploring.
  3. Walking along the bank of River Ganga (Yoga Niketan by Sanskriti side).  There aren’t enough words to describe the pleasure of walking and chilling out on this stretch of the river bank.  As I write this, I am recalling and feeling the cool waters where I could just put my feet in and enjoy.  Early morning walks on this river bank are worth every minute you put into it.

Mussoorie

Because of our tight schedule, Mussoorie ended up being a night halt only.  We won’t be making that mistake again.  More than Dehradun (exception: the Forest Research Institute and Tapkeshwar Temple), we found Mussoorie more appealing but just did not have enough time to explore properly.

When we went to Mussoorie as a family, we stayed at a hotel on Library road and our rooms had amazing views of the valley.  We spent the morning walking on Library road, exploring the town (early in the morning, most stores are closed but there are a lot of people cleaning and getting ready for the day).

We did not get a chance to hike on the trails.  However, having seen the landscape, I would prefer to stay towards the Kempty Falls side to enjoy hikes in the woods.  The mountain views are also more spectacular  there than towards Dehradun side.  I might be having some difficulty in explaining — but think of it this way — towards Dehradun are the plains while towards Kempty Falls are the mountains.  Hope this visualisation helps (use the “satellite” option of Google maps).

From what I have researched, there are many organised treks available in and around Mussoorie… you just have to find something that will suit you!

Harsil

On the way to Gangotri there is a little town named Harsil.  It is a pretty town… a bit remote with beautiful views of the mountains and seemingly gentle Bhagirathi River (at least it was when we went there).  For us, it was a lunch stopover.  But, if given an opportunity, I would love to go back to enjoy the views and may be use the town as a base to explore the Gangotri area of the Himalayas. 

Other places worth stopping over

The following places were night halts during our “River Ganga Pilgrimage” (see https://wanderingtalestraveldreams.com/2017/10/21/following-the-river-ganga/ for more details).  They served well as night halts.  Each of these places does have something special to add if you are interested.

(a) Guptkashi – On the way to Kedarnath, this is a nice place to stop over.  It has an ancient Shiva Temple where there is a “kund” where it is believed in one spout River Yamuna flows and River Ganga in the other.  The surrounding views of the valleys are spectacular!  It is a typical stop over town.

(b) Uttarkashi – This is a stop over town on the way to Gangotri.  Once again, there is a very famous Shiva Temple here.  But it is also well known for the ashrams that are located there.  This is also often used as a trekking base.

(c) Pipalkoti – A nice stop over in Uttarakhand.   Beautiful views of the mountains and valleys below.    Definitely a viable night halt option on the way to or from Badrinath, Valley of Flowers or  Auli.

Reflections

Within India, my Himalayan travel madness has allowed me to explore the mountain range in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Eastern Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Assam (although there is a lot of debate on whether or not the sub-mountain ranges in the last three states are part of the Himalayan mountain range system or not).  Stop-overs and night-halts are often a part of long journeys and given time constraints, it is impossible to spend a reasonable amount of time at every stop over.  However, that does not mean you should stop yourself from enjoying the surroundings 🙂

As you can see, my journey has just started.  I hope my exploration of the mountain range continues… . Best wishes as you discover yourself in the Himalayas!

 

 

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