Thursday, 5 July 2012

HIdden Jewels of the Himalayas - Part 1 "Road trip to Malari & Niti in the Dhauliganga Valley"

Almost everyone whose fond of mountain travel would have heard of Auli and Badrinath in Uttarakhand but Just a couple of hours away, hidden in the remote valleys of Dhauliganga river which meets Alaknanda river at Vishnuprayag are the forgotten border villages of Malari, Bampa, Ghamsali and Niti, surely not to be found on the tourist map of India 

There are various factors which make this area so interesting. Remoteness and the fact that there aren’t too many who have visited this area is one. Adding an intriguing flavor is that China is close by and also trying to get closer by the day. Locals who were witness to the old trade practices between the villages of Tibet and this region contribute with their stories of days gone by. The landscape is unique and ever changing along the 90 kms drive from Joshimath till Niti (3500 mts), the last village on Indian side of the border. One gets to see the typical big mountains and narrow river gorges of Garhwal but what make the terrain special is the cold desert look of Spiti & Ladakh interspersed with the Garhwal scenery. Also the size and fury of the Dhauliganga river comes as a pleasant surprise

There are numerous spots in this valley you would want to just pitch your tents and stay put, one such spectacular location is Reolbaggad.  On the banks of Dhauliganga, this oasis has dense Deodar forest in the background and expansive views of the surrounding mountains and the wide open valley. Even the mighty river goes at an easy pace while crossing this area lending in to the serenity. Trip this side would be half the fun without interacting with the local people who are ever welcoming and in no short supply of time, so find your opportunity and ‘get in’

To get a feel of the area one can do a day trip from and back to Joshimath (which is about 8 hours from Rishikesh). It’s about a 3 hours drive one way but to really enjoy and soak in the energy of the region I would recommend a minimum of one night stay at a spot of your choice. Some villages might be able to accommodate a few in their houses but to be on the safer side I will recommend that one carry tents for the night. There aren’t too many eating places on the route so one should carry some back up food though the few that exist can give any restaurant a run for their money. These couple of very small eating places serve heavenly mutton curry and rice for breakfast, lunch, dinner and mid meals and on some prodding the local brew.
There are many more pleasures to be discovered in this region so if you have the explorer spirit in you this is where you should be headed. You can drive, ride, cycle or trek to your heart’s content while in this area…..