Garhwal (Himalaya) Round Trip
Uttarakhand (which was called Uttaranchal until 2006, both means "northern region") is located in the southern part of the Himalayas and extends from the Ganges plain in the south over the Himalayan foothills to the high mountains with the second highest mountain in India: The Nanda Devi (7822m). It consists of two mountain regions, Garhwal in the west and Kumaon in the east, and a narrow strip of the Ganges plain in the south. Uttarakhand seceded from Uttar Pradesh in November 1999, which makes it one of the youngest members in India&squot;s community of states.
The main sources of income for the population are agriculture and tourism. Garhwal is one of the holiest regions in Hindu India and also one of the most impressive ones. Every year during the season for pilgrimage from May to November, tens of thousands of believing Hindus travel to the four religious centers in Garhwal: Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
However, not many western visitors have come to visit this sacred place. Whoever ventures to come to this hidden world far away from any touristic attractions, is going to experience India in its original and untouched form. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are watching their followers&squot; earthly doing from here.
The roads are largely paved and generally hardly used. However, the routes to the four main pilgrimage sites can get busy and hectic as buses and jeeps packed with pilgrims from all over the world make their way to the religious centers. They lead into the deepest interior of the Himalayas, past raging mountain rivers, through bright green paddy fields and rugged rocky landscapes. Sometimes, when nature has let its untamed forces play, when water, ice and snow wash away whole streets in just one night, then our Enfields have to dig through more inhospitable terrain.
For the whole tour, with only a few exceptions, we will be staying in heights under 3000m and therefore we will not be suffering from mountain sickness. We are still surrounded by the snow capped summits of the majestic six-, seven- and eight thousand meter mountains looking at us from above through bright sunlight. They are the birthplace for India&squot;s holiest rivers. Among others, the Ganges and the Yamuna river have their origin in Garhwal.
We will be staying in middle-class hotels, partly under state guidance and partly in private ownership. All our accommodations are clean and neat and show us how to have a good time without fancy western comfort.
Our meals will be prepared in the style of North-Indian cuisine. Due to the sacredness of many places and the religious beliefs of the Hindus, the meals are mostly vegetarian, and alcohol is not always available. Fortunately, India&squot;s vegetarian cuisine is very diverse and if you do not want to go without your beer in the evening, you can provide for that and buy some bottles on your arrival in New Delhi. Just talk to your guide, he will be happy to help.
1. Day: Arrival
You will probably arrive in Delhi somewhen in the night and be brought to your hotel. That's where our service begins.
2. Day: Transfer Delhi - Rishikesh
We set out early and bring you to Rishikesh, the "capital city of Yoga", by car. On our way there, you can get a good impression of life in India, and especially the traffic.
3. Day: Rishikesh - City of Ashram
Rishikesh became known worldwide when the Beatles visited their guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi there at the end of the 1960s and let him introduce them to the world of yoga. We, too, get a taste of spiritual India for the first time. We hope to be able to take part in an impressive spectacle in the evening, the fire ritual in honor of the goddess Ganga at the Trivendi Ghatts. Unfortunately, this ritual no longer takes place regularly after Corona.
4. Day: Rishikesh - Mussoorie / ca. 125 km
Now it's getting serious: We are getting on our Enfields and set out to our first mountain tour and will reach our destination in the early afternoon. Mussoorie is an old hill station to which former British occupiers and rich Indian fled from the heat in Delhi. You can still feel this atmosphere today.
5. Day: Mussoorie - Uttarkashi / ca. 120 km
After an extensive breakfast, we will be biking on a beautiful tour through the mountains to Uttarkashi. We are starting at the height, then drive down to the valley just to bike back up along countless curves. We are stopping in tiny tea shops where time stands still. The warming kindness of the people is incomparable.
6. Day: Day Trip / ca. 110 km
Today, it's going to be rough. The streets are becoming more inhospitable with every kilometer we are driving towards Gangotri. We cannot make the whole tour, so we are stopping at a viewpoint which offers us a stunning view on the Himalayas. The landscape is gorgeous and our trip is an adventure.
7. Day: Uttarkashi - Srinagar (UA) / ca. 160 km
The route ahead of us is not particularly long, but we have to move on partly unpaved, quite dusty side roads. Sometimes it just moves at a walking pace. We are compensated for the somewhat rough driving conditions by beautiful mountain landscapes.
8. Day: Srinagar - Tilwara / ca. 70 km
The road conditions deep in the heart of the Himalayas, where we are right now, are not always the best, but it is pure adventure. We don't let this deter us and take a 65-kilometer trip to Gaurikund. From here, a six kilometer long footpath leads to Kedarnath, a very, very tedious undertaking that we are happy to forgo, not least because of time constraints.
9. Day: Tilwara - Joshimath / ca. 170 km
Today, we will be biking through the depths of the Himalayas again. The variety of this country we see here is impressive. At some point, we are driving through dense forests with only a bit sunlight, at another point we will see terraced rice and vegetable plantations and shortly after that our eyes will be enjoying endless green grasslands in "Little Switzerland".
10. Day: Day Trip to Badrinath / ca. 110 km
Badrinath is considered the most important of the four pilgrimage sites in Garhwal. We visit as part of a day trip as it is only a 2.5 hour drive from Joshimat. Badrinath is teeming with sadhus, gurus and other rustic figures. The temple, with its colorful ornaments, is one of the most beautiful in all of Garhwal.
11. Day: Up High to Auli / ca. 30 km
This day is at your own disposal. Until now, we only saw the snow capped summits from a far distance but today we have the opportunity to get up there ourselves. Of course, we will not climb the six or seven thousand-meter mountains completely. However, we will go up until we reached 3000m and thereby the highest point during our tour, where we will be staying the night as well.
12. Day: Auli - Srinagar (UA) / ca. 160 km
As all things in life, also our tour has come to an end. Our way back starts today. We will be enjoying the Highway 58 which is still fortunately not too busy. Our trip is very laid-back with a couple of stops at chai-tea joints. We will be arriving in Srinagar in the early afternoon.
13. Day: Srinagar - Haridwar / ca. 135 km
For every pilgrim, the pilgrimage has to begin in Haridwar. As we are no pilgrims, we will not be affected in any way if we end our ‘pilgrimage' here instead of starting it. We will visit the Ghats and watch the evening-pooja of Haridwar, an incredible spectacle.
14. Day: Haridwar - Delhi - (Agra)
Whether we can travel the route from Haridwar by train or car depends on whether we can still get tickets for the train journey. The trains are usually fully booked months in advance.
If we were able to get tickets, we board the comfortable train early in the morning, which takes us to Delhi in three hours. There is breakfast and drinks. Otherwise, we can take you just as comfortably by taxi or minibus. We like to leave the stress of the busy Highway 58 behind us.
You can spend another day in Delhi. After dinner we go to the airport.
Unless you booked the visit to the Taj Mahal. Immediately after your arrival in Delhi you will be chauffeured by taxi to Agra, where you will arrive in the evening.
15. Day: Return flight or visit the Taj Mahal
The last night will be short, because we usually bring you to the airport in the middle of the night. If you liked it, come back with us to "Incredible India" or to Iran. There is still a lot to discover in these extraordinary countries.
The visitors to the Taj Mahal have to get up early. We want to be at the Taj Mahal before sunrise. It is a special experience when the white marble building slowly shines in the reddish sunlight. It is also gratifying that it is not that full at this time.
After breakfast you can visit the Red Fort and then take a taxi back to Delhi. Another dinner together and then it's time for you to go to the airport.
16. Day: Return flight for the Taj Mahal visitors
In the night to this day your plane goes back home. We hope you enjoyed the trip and see you again soon in India or Iran.