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Gaumukh Trek

INDIA | Monday, 12 May 2008 | Views [2011] | Comments [1]

 After our snowy visit to Gangotri, I decided to do the 18km each way trek to Gaumukh,the face of the Gangotri glacier & source of the Ganga river... "Jai Ganga Ma" I planned to start on monday 5th of may by going up to Gangotri, resting one day & then heading up to Gaumukh on the 7th, the day that the Ganga Ma temple opens... On the evening of the 3rd at Jaspal's chai shop in Netala, I had the good fortune to meet Marcus, a shop keeper from Gangotri, who informed me that I would now need a permit from the District Forest Offficer to enter Gangotri National Park... New rules had been pushed through the Supreme Court limiting entries to 150 people per day... The District Forest Office is in Tekhla, 2km above Uttarkashi & not open on sundays...

 So monday morning I headed to Uttarkashi to get supplies for the trek & my permit... You have to write a begging letter to the Chief Wildlife Officer of Uttarakhand in Dehra Dun detailing your passport & visa number, which the Forest Officer then faxes to him. then you have to wait several hours until hefaxes back your permission number & then the Forest Officer issues you a permit outling the rules & fees, 350rs for foreigners, 50rs for indians for 2 days trekking... Predictably this took nearly all day... It was too late to head to Gangotri, as there are no buses or share jeeps going up at 5pm...

 The next morning I caught the bus from Netala at 7.30am. The bus was from Uttarkashi 8kms down & all the seats were full already, so i stood hunched up because of the low headroom, bag at my feet, for the 5hrs to Gangotri (3000 metres). Several times I banged my head on the roof of the bus as it bounced along the bumpy road, some of the other passengers laughed... I spent the night at Manisha Lodge near the bus stand for 200rs, no electricity or running water...

 The next morning was the 7th, the day Ganga Ma temple opened, I had breakfast at Bhagirathi Cafe with Zvore, the 20yr old Croatian man that I had met at the District Forest Office @ days before... We left Gangotri a little before 8am, reached the Forest Department Checkpost half an hour later, paid our foreigner tax (300rs more than indians) & received our passes... On this first section of the trail, you have to cross several tributaries on bridges made from 2 pine logs & an ice flow that has covered the trail & filled the valley below. The Bhagirathi as the Ganga is known here flows underneath... We reached the pine forest at Chirbasa (3600m) 9km up at 11am. I shared sweets, biscuits & nuts with my fellow trekkers & filled my water bottle from a mountain stream... We pressed on to Bhojbasa (3800m), a further 5km up & arrived at 1pm, 5hrs after leaving Gangotri. I arrived with sore knees & a blister on my right foot, were my insole had slipped inside my shoe... ouch..! I shared a small room with Zvore at Lal Baba's Ashram for 200rs each, food & chai included...

 The next morning, Zvore headed up early around 7am. I left around 7.30am after a steaming black chai or two & choclate biscuits... I walked with a young Indian man named Bhimsu from Mumbai. The last 1km, you have to climb over a huge boulder field & the walk along the side of the river, I arrived just before 9am...

 Gaumukh is an awesome sight, over 100m high, the top is covered in rocks that have fallen from the valley sides. The ice is fractured with huge cracks & chasms & glistens blue in the sunlight... I collected some Ganga Jal in a little blue bottle that I had bought in Gangotri & washed my crystals & shrine. I cast two shells from the beach in Goa into the water & collected two pieces of stone from the riverbed... Then I washed away my sins by totally immersing myself in the icy water. "Jai Ganga Ma"... Feeling on top of the world, I descended to Bhojbasa in time for lunch & chai. I decided to spend another shanti night at Lal Baba's rather than walk down the 14km to Gangotri. That night we all sang for our supper... "Sita Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram"...

 The next day I took chai & headed down slowly alone around 7.30am. I saw no-one for two hours... "Om Shanti"... I took photos of the ice flows, river & the forest. I arrived at the checkpost at 12 noon, to be told by the Forest Officer that I was a day late & now owed 175rs. I paid up reluctantly & was then further harassed by the cop at the gate. He was accusing me of entering without permission, & looking for a little something..! He got nothing...      "Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om"...

 A little further down the trail, I saw a Mouse Hare, a large Himalaya only rodent, he stopped to eat under a bush & let me take his photo. Then I saw a green & blue lizard, I had to pursue him a little, but eventually got his photo too... I arrived in Gangotri around 12.30pm, the Ganga Ma temple precinct was busy as I made my way back to Manisha Lodge & checked in. Gangotri had changed a lot in two days... I had to "Om" a lot to maintain my shanti as I sat in the dhaba at the bus stand, surrounded by noisy pilgrims stuffing their faces & shouting out their food orders... Part way through my meal there was a cry from outside. A man had pulled up on a scooter & toppled over the low rail onto a lower level some 20ft below breaking his leg. Most of the pilgrims rushed outside to gawp at the unfortunate man, leaving their meals on the table to go cold...      I bought a small statue of Ganga Ma & cleansed her in the river. Later I met with some of the people that I had met in Bhojbasa for a meal at Bhagirathi Cafe & we exchanged tales from the trail...

 The next morning I caught the 7am bus to Uttarkashi. I arrived in Netala around 12 noon & had veg noodles at Jaspal's. I went to check in at the guest house that we had stayed at before, only to be told that the rent had doubled to 500rs, now that the pilgrim season had started... I collected my luggage & left to meet Deb. At 2pm I moved down to Hotel Amba in Uttarkashi where I am writing this... Photos to follow when connection is faster... "Om"...

Comments

1

Hi Man,

Read your stuff... seems a good experience... we are also planning Gaumukh trek shortly in the 2nd week of October... i tried once 2 years back in the month of November to do this trek alongwith a friend but we had to return back to Gangotri after walking some 10kms towards Gaumukh... It was ice freezing temperature and above all we had nothing to eat...

Check my blog
bugshead.blogspot.com

Jai Ganga Ma

  Myth Drinker Sep 30, 2008 3:39 PM

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