Friday, September 28, 2007

Badrinath : a second visit to the shrine

This is for my eager friends who did not dare to go there, but wants to know how it was. I finally found time to complete part-I of my travelogue.

Day 1 : Delhi – Dehradun
We reach Dehradun by the Shatabdi Express. It was a typical hazy morning in Delhi. Every time I saw sunshine peeking through the window, I felt a sense of joy. My friends had informed that rains had not gone away this year. However, bright sunshine greeted us when we had reached Dehradun around noon time. We had stayed at our company guest house (ONGC), which provided us almost free accommodation @Rs.40/- for AC room. Staying at Haridwar or Rishikesh would have cost us more.

The rain had returned by afternoon. I had a talk with the driver of the cab we had hired from a local agency for the trip. His casual attitude had an assuaging effect on me. In fact we became subject of tea time gossip for colleagues posted in Dehradun to whom it was near to impossible travel as the monsoon was stills active. The layback life in Dehradun had taken its toll on them. The deal was stuck for Rs.10000/- for 5 days and Rs.11,100/- if we extend it to the sixth day. We sought a bigger vehicle as we were 4 adults and 2 five year kids. We were offered a Qualis which is a good vehicle for hilly roads.

If one plans to travel by bus, this is how you can do it: There is a private co-operative which runs buses on almost all the routes in the Garhwal Region. It is called the GMOU Ltd. These buses starts from their office right outside the state roadways bus stand at Haridwar. But most of the buses leaves very early, around 5:30 am as they travels all day in the hills to reach their destinations like Badrinath, Gangotri, etc.

Day2: Dehradun - Joshimath

We started at about 6:30 am in the morning. The relatively late start was because our target destination was Joshimath. If one plans to travel to Badrinath or beyond Joshimath, then he needs to starts at least one hour early as the last gate timing at Joshimath is 4:30 pm.

Morning shows the day. We were greeted by bright sunshine that accompanied us all the day. Even though it had been raining in Dehradun, it appeared that it had not rained around Rishikesh for last few days. But we could see the devastation of landslides on the road between Rishikesh and Byashi. It made one appreciate the forces of nature. A lesson out of the National Geographic programs. The second stretch of landslide affected area was near Gauchar. The third and the worst were between Pipolkoti and Joshimath. The road here has started sinking and may disappear if rain and landslides continues. This will severe the road link. By 6 in the evening we had reached Joshimath and checked into the same hotel where we had stayed last time (in 2005). The peak Yatra season is over and so the room rate was a mere Rs.250/-. The hotel rooms are decent. More importantly, it provides a towel and clean bed sheets. We had paid more last time as it was in June, the peak Yatra season.

There is a SBI ATM located on the ground floor of this hotel which I found to very useful. I saw two ATMs at Badrinath as well, one of SBI and another of PNB.

Day3 : Joshimath - Badrinath - Govindgaht

We got up in those uncomfortable hours of the day for the third consecutive day. The weather was looking ominous. We could here the sound of drizzling water drops. We could not make out whether it was rain or dew. The hotel owner assured us that it is nothing unusual and weather will improve. When the first light of the day broke, it appeared that an envelope of mist had engulfed the small town. It probably was cloud, rather than mist. The drizzling had become more intense. Honey, the driver of the cab told that the rain is not a good sign. The first gate opens for traffic at 6:30 am. By the time we had reached the midway gate at Pandukeswar, the rain had stopped. Sporadic sunshine followed. There was a delay as debris of landslides at a stretch hardly a kilometer ahead was being removed. When we crossed this area, we realized that this portion of road can get blocked anytime. A hill of mud and stone are looming on one side eager to come down at the very next opportunity. In fact this part of road was blocked for about 10 days in August because of massive landslides, snapping the link between Badrinath and rest of the country. Imagine what will happen if you get trapped on the other side! Fortunately we had crossed this stretch safely on both onward and return journey. However, one driver of a GMVN cab was not so fortunate when he was killed by a falling rock on the day after we had traveled through this stretch. The occupants of his vehicle have a lucky escape as somehow the vehicle got into neutral gear. Otherwise there was a roaring Alaknada waiting on one side of the road to wallop it. May be the dyeing driver’s hand on the gear pushed it to neutral. Pure destiny!

We had reached Badrinath by 10 am. A deserted bus stand greeted us. It was almost a shock for us. The last time we were here, the bus stand was bursting with activities. There were hardly any devotees in the temple premises. No queues for entering the temple. This is quite a change from our last visit when we had to stand in long queues for hours. Yatra season is almost over for this year. We had a peaceful darshan taking our own time. The driver told us that the traders at Badrinath are now waiting for the Bangali Season. How do you define a Bangali Season ? Well the Bengalis travel a lot during Puja vacations which will start in end September to mid October. They normally come here in large numbers. Off season travelers? May be. Because Bengalis are known to extract every paisa’s worth.

This time we decided to have a bath in the natural hot water spring called the Tapt Kund (तप्त कुण्ड), located just outside the temple. One can find mention of this spring at Badrinath in Puranas. This is where Lord Shiva and Parvati used to take bath when Badrinath was their abode. Doubting Thomas like me would find it hard to believe that Lord Shiva used to take bath ! Anyway, the water at the spring is very hot, quite in contrast to the icy cold water of river Alaknanda flowing just few feet below it. I never had a bath in such public bathing places having natural hot water spring obviously for hygiene reasons. I had seen a few of them. But this one has flowing water rather than stale water. Probably because of this we had little hesitation in taking a dip. May be we had to come back here for a second time for taking the bath!

This time we did not go to Mana village. We took the 3 pm gate from Badrinath and reached Govindghat by about 4:30 pm.

I will write about Govindghat separately as I had observed that there is not much information about it on the net.


The Travelling Guy said...


I really like your site.
If you check out my blog (well not yet I don't have much up) it'll be about my trip to Central America coming up soon.


deepanjali said...

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deepanjali said...

Your blog is nice. I think you should add your blog at BlogAdda and let more people discover your blog. It's a great place for Indian bloggers to be in and I am sure it would do wonders for your blog.

Arun said...

It has never been easy to find good, cheap hotels even in the off-seasons at Joshimath. Can you tell me where did you stay?

Rups said...

In reply to Arun's query:
I had stayed at Hotel Trishul located on the road to Badrinath, hardly 100mtr from the junction point where both up and down road meets. In fact on our return journey in June 2004, we had a look at several hotels around including the new GMVN guest house, as we initially wanted to stay at another hotel just for a change, . But eventually we had settled for Trishul as it was having decent rooms at good price. For your reference, its phone nos. are --01389-222076 and 09142009058

sumitkiki said...

I travelled in Badrinath last time in 2001,the food served at the restaurant was not good.

Please tell me any good hotels which serve good food.

Hotel India

Rups said...

Expecting good food is tough in those remote areas. We had not so tasty stuff last time we went there. But this time we had lunch at the restaurant located at the cross section hardly 20 mtr from the temple. It was decent food. May be peak season is over and not much rush for food also had helped this time.

surviving in 3 to 46 centigrade said...

well! i have gone thru many of ur post. on vof there are not many, but quite a few blogs.But i have liked only 2 of them in the entire net and one is urs. its because of all the details that many don't write.well, its like a friend, who is narrating, and all the tiny winy things tht u wud need to know, are there in ur blog.i appreciate this!

Hariharan # 03985177737685368452 said...

Haridwar-Badrinath-Haridwar ..Possible to make in 3 days?


Dear Mr. Rupankar,

I came across your 2nd Badrinath trip through your blog while gathering info for our intended Badrinath trip during October 2008.

I have a set of queires. I request you to advise me.

Is it possible to visit Badrinath and return back to Haridwar in 3 days time?

Day 1: Leave Haridwar at 04.30hrs
Day1: Arrive at Joshimutt at 17.00hrs
(Day 1 overnight stay at Joshimutt)

Day 2: Leave for Badrinath from Joshimutt at 05.00am
Visit to Badrinath temple, Mana village and back to Joshimutt
Day 2 Over night stay at Joshi mutt

Day 3: Leave for Haridwar departure at Joshimutt at 05.00am
Day 3: Arrive at Haridwar at 17:00hrs, Enjoy evening ganga aarti
Day 3: Departure to Delhi from Haridwar by Mussoorie express at 23:00hrs

Kindly advise me for the following:

1) Is this schedule practically possible in 3 full days?

2)Is it possible/economical to get Sumo jeeps from Haridwar for Badrinath? Or Starting from Dehradun will be better in terms of better prices and jeep availability?
2a) How much is the the price for Haridwar/Badrinath/Haridwar jeep package for 3 days? Any reliable travel agents contact details, e-mails please..

3)Is it reasonably ok and reliable to take a GMVN bus from Haridwar to Joshimutt both ways? How is the frequency and crowd in the bus? Any experience of bus travel to share ?

3) Is it possible and economical to hire a jeep from Joshimutt to Badrinath and back to joshimutt

I have a time limitation of 7days in total. I have to finish New Delhi-Varanasi-Haridwar trip in the first leg of 3 days and remaining 3 days for Haridwar-Badrinath-Haridwar leg of my travel.

Await your valuable suggestions.

To say a word on your wider coverage of Indian locations, You are blessed to touch and feel India comprehensively.
Keep exploring India. We will also be inspired to follow such exploration of India.

Chennai & Kuwait

Hariharan # 03985177737685368452 said...

Mr. Rups,

Is it possible for you to provide us the contacs / e-mail details of the travel agent of Dehradun from whom you hired the jeep for your Badrinath trip?

Thanks and regards,

vinay said...


I am desparately searching for one driver called honey who goes for chardham yatra and saw his name here..By any chance do you have his any contact details.?? hes a good person and i want to again go to chardham and need his details. pls mail me on Thanks in advance

Dinesh singh said...

we are impressed to see correct information at your blog.

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