Thursday, July 26, 2007

Goof up in GMVN's online booking

I have found from a very good article on trekking to the VOF, that one can afford to go to Ghangaria even without prior hotel booking as Ghangaria has many hotels. If you plan to stay in the GMVN guesthouse then you need prior booking. However, the catch is that one has to reach there as early as possible after trekking for 14 kms. If you get tired on the way and reach late, then you will face problem in finding decent accommodation. If you do not find anything, you can still stay for the night at the Gurudwara which provides free accommodation. The good news is that you will almost certainly find decent accommodation next morning. It is like Joshimath, where hotels get fill in the afternoon, when people from Rishikesh and Badrinath arrives, and almost all of them gets vacated by early next morning. If you arrive well before the normal arrival time of tourist at these places, you will always find good accommodation.

Despite this fact, it is always comfortable to proceed with confirmed booking as we would be travelling with families. Only place which offer advance booking is the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) guest-house. They also offer online reservation though their website. However they have very limited accommodation on offer to general traveler. Most of the accommodations are probably reserved for their packaged tours. My observation is that probably 2 (maximum 3) double-bedded rooms and 12 dormitory beds are on offer online. Fortunately, 2 double rooms were available in the first week of Sept, 2007, suiting my travel plan. I booked them immediately. Each room cost me Rs.825/- per night. Following payment by credit card, a receipt was also generated with booking details.

A confirmation mail was also sent to me from GMVN. But when I checked the availability status this morning, it was still showing 2 rooms as available, which I supposedly have booked last night. I got suspicious and rang up their Delhi office (011-23350481), which advised me to contact their main booking office at Rishikesh. When I called up the no. given on their website (0135-2431783), I was redirected to another number (0135-2432648). The gentleman on the other end told me that if I have received a mail confirmation, then booking is confirmed. But I told him that the rooms I supposedly booked last evening are still available for online booking. He noted this and did something at his end and then told me to check again. This time the status of the rooms have changed. So beware! If you have booked online for any GMVN accommodation, it is always better to call up the no. 0135-2431783 to get it doubly confirmed. Their online system is not real time. Because of this, there is a time lag before this information reaches the booking office at Rishikesh. The reason cited for this was that they have not received complete details till then. The mail confirmation sent by GMVN has payment details, but no mention of place for which the accommodation has been booked or the dates for which it is booked. This is where the problem lies. I have written to GMVN about this and am waiting for their reply.

With accommodation confirmed, it is now final that I will actually be going to VOF on 5th September, 2007 unless something really unforeseen happens. The tentative cost per family (for two families with one child each) will be about 11000/- including food and transportation (to and from Delhi by car / taxi) over 7 days. This is much cheaper than any available package on offer. The cheapest package on offer is by GMVN which costs about Rs.5700/- per adult and Rs.5300/- per child. Further I would be going to Badrinath for a second time as well.

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