Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Govindghat : the transit point for trekking to VOF and Hemkund

Govindghat is the starting point for trekking to Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers. It is roughly 22 km from Joshimath on NH58 at an altitude of 6000 feet. I was not sure about accommodations at Govindghat and so had earlier planned to stay at Joshimath or Badrinath. But the experience of the driver helped here. In fact there are many hotels and guest houses at Govindghat. They are cheaper than Joshimath because 99% of people who arrives here are Sikh pilgrims on trek to the holy shrine of Hemkund Sahib. There is a Gurudwara at Govindgaht which provides free or very cheap accommodation to these pilgrims and hence most Sikh pilgrims were seen heading there.

The road that starts off the main Badrinath – Joshimath road is called the Gurudwara road. Hotels are located about 1 km from the main road. If you have a car with you then you can avoid walking this additional 1 km. But if you travel by public transport like bus or jeep, then you will have to walk down this extra kilometer.

We found that there are very few double bedded rooms as demand for them is low. Sikh pilgrims often travel in large groups and so demand for triple or four bedded or even larger rooms are more. Other problem is that rooms are not that neat and clean. It is all kind of just stay for the night kind of accommodation. No one probably stays there for more than 15 hours. We found rooms @200/- a piece at a hotel named Hotel Him Sarovar. As the hotel was located towards the river Alakananda, the constant roar of the river was a bit louder than desirable, but then we got used to it after some time.

Hotel rates probably fluctuate on the time of the day you land at Govindghat as the time often determines demand. The last gate from Joshimath is at 4:30 pm. So there will hardy be any guest after 6 pm. On our way back from VOF, we found a better hotel @300/- a piece as our time of arrival was about 6:30 pm. On the day of arrival they asked for Rs.400/- as there was still lot of time for guests to arrive. This is the only hotel with geyser. Else, you will have to buy hot water @20 -30 per bucket. Name of this hotel is Kuber Tourist Guest House.

There are some unique facilities available at Govindghat, e.g., Parking of cars @Rs.200 to 250/- till return, meaning till you come back from pilgrimage irrespective of no. of days. Luggage clock room service is available at most hotels @Rs.30/- till return. It will take you at least 3 days to return.

We decided to have an inspection of the area in the evening. Souvenir shops lines up the road from the point where the narrow trekking route starts. The Gurudwara is right on the edge of the Alaknanda. There is a hanging bridge to cross the river. The actual trek starts from the other side of the river. Ghangaria is 13 km from this point. We did visual shopping of the souvenir shops without any real intention of buying. Finally we bought some essential items like rain coats, bamboo sticks and religious head bands (required for entering a Gurudwara). The makeshift raincoats made of plastic sheets costs just 10 rupees a piece, so does the sticks. Rain coats are of use and throw quality. Stitches may come off even while wearing it for the first time. Once you wear it, you can not take it off without tearing. But you can not do without them as it can rain anytime. I feel that an umbrella is a better option as the rain coats tends to sweat you out from inside. I found this out the hard way as trying to remain protected from outside, I got drenched from inside. These rain coats will cost you double at Ghagaria. So you may think of taking at least 2 with you. The bamboo sticks with tin sheet tip is also quite useful if you are planning to walk.

All essential staffs are available in the local market. Though it is pure stupidity to try a new pair of shoes on a trek, I found people buying shoes in one of the shops. Never mind! Some of the pilgrims will make it bare feet. It is really incredible. Besides love, only Faith really makes people climbs mountains. I had made a list of staffs to carry with me before leaving and had carried them with me from Delhi / Dehradun itself. Some such items that you will require are – Glucose, Chocolates / toffees , Knee caps, Combiflam tablets, Antacid, Muscle relaxant like Rallispray, Biscuits, dry fruits, etc.

There also is good variety of restaurants in the market. Though vegetarian North Indian, specially Punjabi dishes, is the common stuff, you can even get South Indian stuffs like dosa as well. None of the hotels have their own restaurants, yet everything can be ordered into your room. You will be approached in your hotel room for room service by these restaurants. But the catch is a 10% extra for room service. You will be better off walking down as all restaurants are within 20 meters from the hotels. We enjoyed the luxury of tea in room that did not attract any service charge.

BSNL mobile network is available, but not all the time. The nearest tower is at Pandukeswar about 2 /3 km away. Availability of network depends on availability of power at Pandukeswar. But I understand that Reliance doing something in the area and may set up its network around this place as well.

Govindghat is not that cool, but not hot either. Though it is at 6000 feet, tall hills surround it leaving very little passage for wind. The only place I felt a chill was on the bridge over Alakanada carrying icy cold waters from the glaciers above. The atmosphere is very humid. The repercussion is that not even small cloths will dry. In fact drying cloths on the entire trip was one of the biggest headaches for us. So you need to carry sufficient cloths, at least underwear, to last the entire trip.

Hotel details at Govindghat:

Hotel Him Sarovar (and Kuber Car Parking), Ph : 01381-225206, Mobile : 09412319849

Kuber Guest House, Mobile : 9412120316, 9412029953, 9411533095


Arpita said...

Fantastic information on Govindghat. A nice narrative blog. Where is the trip to VOF?

Gurvinder said...

Fist and the last thing is the name of the place is actually GOBIND GHAT AND NOT GOVIND GHAT.

Narvinder Jeet Singh said...

Excellent Information but add the following:

1. No ATM at Gobind Ghat & Gobind Dham
2. ATM at Joshimath & Badri Nath
3. Book hotel in advance at Gobind Dham if you cannot stay at Gurdwara Sahib.
4. The best hotel at Gobind Dham is GMVN Hotel & can be booked thru Internet.
5. Must cover all your belongings with Polythene sheet while travelling from Ghat to Dham as rain is predicted on way.
6. Carry only water, Glucose & dry fruits on yatra. On the way free river water is available which is very cold.
7. If you require any horse or pithu, book it at GobindGhat only as on the way horse walas exploit.

Anonymous said...

Good and useful information.

Am planning a solo trek to VOF this year.

Though all other plans are finalised bit hazy details about travel between Gobindghat & Joshimath till Haridwar are making me anxious. Can't finalise my return travel dates from Haridwar.

Thanks if anybody tells me :
Is there public transport available from Gobindghat to Joshimath / Srinagar / Haridwar ( bus / shared jeeps etc) by 4pm / 5pm. Costs immaterial.

My departure depends on this info. I can't fix my departure from haridwar to Mumbai.

Rupankar Mahanta said...

You can find shared transport at all the places u have mentioned. My suggestion is to halt at Haridwar or Rishikesh and take a bus / shared jeep upto Govindghat, if not posible then to Joshimath. Serach online for GMOU ltd who runs daily buses.