Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

More than a month into the planning, and finally it was all set. Dodital Trek in the Uttarkashi District, Uttaranchal. Mallik had organised most of the things, from tickets to a checklist for things to carry. The epic journey was to begin with ‘August Kranti’ train for Delhi on 7th Jun 08.

7 Jun, morning I was online, idly browsing, I had watched a news on TV stating Gujjar protests had led to train disruptions on the Western line. Little did I know that it would directly affect us. Mallik came online

apni train cancel ho gai hai

Great !!! Even before our journey started, we were finding solutions to the problems. Frantic phone calls to Mallik, Vj and a decision of a flight to Delhi the next morning was made. In the evening, Rajoba, Vj, Mallik all came to my place to stay overnite, so that we could leave on time for 6.10 flight.

What follows now is a sheer binding of all my log entries in a notebook which served as our diary for the trek log, accounts, miscellaneous calculations, and every other thing that a notebook can be put to use.



Day 1, 8 Jun 08
3.00am, Rajo’s phone alarm !!, after that Vjs nasty alarm tune !! It sounded like Chimps, Orangutans communicating with each other. Only those who get up to that tune @ 3 in the morning can relate the irritation that we had with it. Its the earliest I’ve ever got up. All tried and most of them succeeded in shitting, I did not 🙁 (Not a good sign when you have a long day ahead!). We were heading towards the airport in a cab by around 4.15, wondering how the trip, trek is gonna workout. At the airport Amey was already waiting for us, a few minutes later Nikhil too made his appearance with just a big college bag ! All of us had spent the last night packing our 60 litre + backpacks, while Nikhil seemed to have just put things in place just before leaving in his 10 litre – bag with a sleeping bag dangling.

6.20, Take off, we were into the cool mumbai air filled with clouds. I was in shorts so was Vj, the other 4 in a better attire. The A320 3×3 was pumping AC’s cool air with a bit of show like that of dry CO2. Vj was the one with a window seat, dressed in black shorts (I now know why shorts are called shorts!), T shirt and cap. He was constantly muttering usual non-sense staying true to his nature, The kindof overweight Vj reminded us of the Gujarati overgrown fatso running in shorts, colorful wear, constantly muttering. At the window seat Vj tried to keep his leg on a bulge of the fuselage below and kept saying..

इस में बस की तरह पांव रखने को नही है !!!

Ne and Vj putting our hairy legs on display.. was not quite an ideal sight for the visitor making through the aisle. Shortly, there was a lady’s phirangi voice blabbering Hindi regarding the flight, it was heavy put on accent, like a desi trying to fake an American accent. Soon that voice had moved into English, that too it lost fluency! To that we commented..

साला हिंदी बोलने तो होता नही चले इंग्लिश बोलने

A relatively fat airhostess was with the phone, doing all the talking, assisted with a shorter air hostess and a hunk. The time passed by with all of us chatting, commenting.

We landed in Delhi around 8.30, booked a pre-paid taxi for Rajeev Chowk. Outside even for the pre-paid taxi, the cab-drivers were jostling to get the first visitor in their cab. At rajiv chowk there was nothing we could eat, being a Sunday, all shops were closed and it was just 9.30. We decided to go to New Delhi station via the Metro. When we entered the underground entrance to the station, there was a routine bag check going on. We were spared with our huge back packs as they had been tagged by the airport security, and the seal wasn’t broken either. At the station we managed to eat some low quality dhaba, the food too prepared in ‘sarson ka tel’ or mustard oil. With something inside our stomach we headed for India gate in a rickshaw. It was hot and humid at India gate @ 11.30, we had our first pics and our first perspiration of the 2 Week long trip. Mallik as usual found a tree to climb at the adjacent park, Rajoba followed him. Soon we were kids playing Frisbee in the park with the local kids too joining in. After a cool nimbu paani we left for the Nizamuddin station by local bus transport. 12.30pm and it was already so hot that none of us could think ahead. We decided to have some refreshments in a refreshment-self-service-cafe-shop.


Around 2.30pm , Mussoorie Express started to lead us to Haridwar. It was extremely humid, reminded me of the Mumbai heat. We tried a few rounds of ‘Rami’ until it was too hot for us to enjoy and we just went to sleep, I was lucky enough to be in the middle tier. I was at the gate for almost an hour while the small stations moved by. We reached Haridwar around 8.40, it was dark. We didn’t expect VT like surroundings, but atleast something better. However we were to find a place for the night halt, Vj knew about a Gujarati Dharamshala and we headed into a lane where every single board was in Gujarati, I felt I was in Rajkot and not Haridwar. At the Dharamshala, Vj communicated with some fellow with loads of attitude, like he owned that place. But we were lucky enough to find a room that had 6 beds and cost us only Rs.80 for the night. It was almost free! We freshened up and then headed out for food, Gujarati food was waiting for us. We had a big thaali around 9.00 and when we came back at the room, the electricity played its games. It was around 10.30 when the electricity was still behaving like a sine wave when the day long heat and journey took its toll and we were all deep into our sleeps.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 2 (9 Jun 08)

This entry is part 3 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 2, 9 Jun 08


4.00am, We are up, these alarms I guess won’t let us sleep till we get back to our homes. aaah! The night’s sleep wasn’t really comfortable but helped us a lot to relax. we have our tatti and freshen up and around 5.30 we are off to Har-ki-Pauri one of the most popular ghats along Ganga in Haridwar. We get a rick which leaves us in a very busy small street, with people all round. The early morning Haridwar air near the Ganga is lovely. We roam through the ghats and pick up a spot where we too can have a dip. At first everybody is little hesitant, but as the cool water chills every cell in the body so are the nerves. Everybody is now enjoying the refrigerator like cool water around 6.30 in the morning. Amey and Rajo offer some prayers and with snaps added to our memory stick, we are back on the road, now looking for something to eat. We stop at a typical food stall with food being cooked right in front of the entrance. Thats the way it is in north India. We couldn’t miss one stall roasting Aloo parathas. And we have enough of parathas with curd and tea. We get back to the Gujarati Samaj Dharamshala and offload yet again.


Trek Rules: Always clean your stomach, have a good bath and be ready for the day with clean clothes

9.40, we check out of the Dharamshala and leave for Rishikesh in a Vikram (10 seater rickshaw). Mallik calls a person in Rishikesh who’d arrange for the next trip ahead to Uttarkashi. The distance from Haridwar to Rishikesh is around 30km which takes around an hour to reach. On our way back we stopped near a huge statue of of Shiva, where Rajo commented ..

इसके abs तोह देख !

We met with a road jam half way through. I tried to enquire about it, when our Vikram driver said..

रासता है साहब, जाम तो लगते रेहता है

We were amused by his answer, but that was nothing compared, when I asked another rickshaw driver

यह किस्का जाम लगा है?

गादियों का जाम लगा है !!!

We were laughing at that answer. I never asked any more questions. Along the way we saw an empty river bed, Mallik said that Ganga’s route has been changed at many places to facilitate water-electricity projects, this is one of it.

Around 11.15 we reached Rishikesh, we met the person whom Mallik had called, and discussed the possibilities of reaching Uttarkashi in an Ambassador. 6 of us with 5 huge bags and another tiny one all managed to get inside the car. The Ambassador’s trunk was huge enough to hold 5 of our mountaineering backpacks. Our first need was diesel, almost an hour we kept searching through the traffic in the busy streets for Diesel. But there was diesel shortage throughout Rishikesh, But at one place Vj and Amey both ventured out on streets and tried to locate a fuel pump with fuel. Finally we did get fuel where Vj had been searching. The whole Rishkesh in the queue for Diesel at that Station. We finally left from Rishikesh around 1.00pm.

To Uttarkashi

The road kept climbing into the ghats, Raju, the driver was moving his car very swiftly in the turns and the slopes. He said to us, that if a police fellow asks us about our destination at the check post, just let them know its Kunjapuri temple. Everybody was looking at eachother and smiling. We didn’t want any more problem after our train cancellation at the start of the trip. Raju’s stories didn’t help. He told us about a new lady inspector who is so strict that she and her staff can’t be bribed, if a car can’t go.. It won’t go. The air started to feel better as we kept moving above into the hills. Around 1.30pm, Narendranagar’s Ananda Resort made its appearance. It was a palace of the a king now converted to a resort/hotel. Chana dal and Roti was munched at a dhaba named ‘Himalayan Restaurant’ at 2.45. I asked the driver how much more, to which he just smiled and said

अभी तो बहुत जाना है

We moved on, the ghat just never ended.. Raju said that it would continue till we reach Uttarkashi. Around 4.00 after almost 3 hours into the ride, we reached Chamba, the first fuel pump after Rishikesh. Around Dharkot, Raju asked us to purchase ‘Khumaani’ a local Uttaranchal fruit, which tasted like raw plums. The road just waded through huge mountains, below we could see the catchment water of the Tehri dam. It was starting to get a little dark. Around 6.30 we hit a traffic jam, We could see in distance cars, trucks alike stranded on a side, Ahead all I could see was cars and I thought I spotted a land slide, to my horror was true. We got out from the car and ran ahead to see what was the actual situation. The road around 15-20 feet wide was all covered with stones, gravel. But that wasn’t stopping the vehicles, there were 2 big boulders right in the middle of the road that stopped any movement. People were already using whatever tools they had to break it. We waited for any improvement, when a Sardar driver in his truck came raging and hit the boulder with the tyres, he kept doing it, and then moved his truck over rocks and gravel, The huge vehicle swayed towards the valley but finally passed over the gravel onto plain road.. Everybody on the road cheered at the Sardar’s bravery, people pushed the smaller boulder and another mini bus moved over the rocky gravel, The bus swayed so much towards the valley that we all thought it could topple over. But it did not! It was when our driver came through the Ambassador and asked us to jump in.

जलदी चलो, अभी काफी जाना है

Raju said that it was very common to have land slides between summer and rains. We were all terrified after the landslide incident and now even the safe but edgy turns made us feel light-headed. 7.20pm we reached Dharasu, which is a junction from where one can go towards Yamnotri or Gangotri via Uttarkashi. We too were going to Yamnotri but via Uttarkashi, on a trek! Just a few minutes later everybody was ecstatic, Every body was view a snow topped peak far ahead in the distance, it was getting dark, the sky had turned dark blue with hues of orange and the snow on the peak was glowing. All of us with cameras tried to capture the scene in the fast moving car, darkness and moving car did not help us at all to get any good picture of it. The river below was big and wide, brown-gray in color with all the soil and rock it was eroding all the way. Around 8, the driver helped us to find a room for the night accommodation a kilometer away from the main town of Uttarkashi, we gave Rs.100 advance for the room and moved ahead into the town.

Mallik and Rajoba headed out to meet someone from Himalayan Sherpa, who was going to organise everything for the trek, while rest of us moved into the market to search for ponchos and raincoats. We managed to find very flimsy ponchos at Rs15 each. We decided we shall purchase them as a backup and check the market next morning for better ones. Rajo and Mallik returned after the meet and then we had our dinner at Bhandary Hotel in the main market street. 10.30, we finished with our dinner and Raju towed us back to the room where we were to spend the night. Everybody had their chargers, mobiles out for charging. There were two rooms, We managed to stuff ourselves into it, me and Vj in the smaller one and rest in the bigger ones.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 3 (10 Jun 08)

This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 3, 10 Jun 08


The 5.00am alarm didn’t really start the morning for us. After some discussions we had to cancel the Bhagirathi dip, there was news that a dentist had flowed away in the river’s rage. And we had to meet Himalayan Sherpa to finalize our start for the trek after organising for all the ration and other equipment. It was going to be the last clean toilet/bathroom till the trek ended, so after a cleanup around 10.00am we headed out with our bags with its full weight towards the main town of Uttarkashi about a kilometer away.

The office was a small 2 room place. When we entered we saw Mr. Himalayan Sherpa with another Nepali in the room, which was filled with sacks. He introduced us to ‘Viki’, Vikram Singh, who was gonna be our guide. We all sat and discussed about the trek, the ration, the porters, everything. He had a list of ration ready for us. A kerosene pump was to be repaired, but the kerosene was ready. With the ration, the complete load including utensils and ration would be around 60kg. So he advised us for 3 porters. He advised that if we could manage to stack everything and leave by 1.00pm it’d be good or else he suggested we start the next day. But we determined to start our epic trek. We headed out with the porters to collect the ration. Mallik and Rajo collected the Grocery, while me and Vj got the vegetables in place. In an hour or so we were back in the office with everything on the list in our bags. We head out to see NIM (Nehru Institute of Mountaineering). NIM was just close by but on the hill. We decided that we’ll take a shortcut, a small climb on the hill avoiding the curving roads. The climb showed us what we were into. Within no time all of us were panting. Porters who were leading us to NIM joked on our state.


NIM was typically well funded Government place. With its residential quarters, various training buildings, neatly paved roads, Road signs on place. The place was very well located on hill overlooking the complete Uttarkashi city through the Pine trees. Over there we were greeted by Himalayan Sherpa. He showed us the museum housing various mannequins in trekking, snow-climbing and various local attires. There were many trekking and mountaineering equipments on display. It was then time for food, as we had to leave by 2.00 at max. We had some horrible chowmein at the NIM canteen, which most of us just pushed it down our throats. Viki was there and said that he had arranged for the taxi that’ll drop us at Sangamchatti, the base village for the Dodital Trek. We came back down by 1.30 and started packing our bags on the Maxx jeep. We were asked if we required mattresses and we all denied, we didn’t know that it could be our biggest mistake on the trek. By 1.45 we were moving.

Trek starts at Sangamchatti

Via a curving road along the Bhagirathi river via Gangori, which is a junction to move to Gangotri, we reached Sangamchatti. It was just a small village with 5-6 huts, a govt. rest house, a few ‘restaurants’ and a bridge. When we reached around 2.30 it was raining, we moved into one of the restaurants. Here in Uttarkashi most popular dish is Maggi, followed by Chowmein and Momo. This was our first raod-block for the trek, heavy rains right at the base. Viki said that if the rains didn’t die in another hour, we’ll have to stay here and start the next day. However, it did and we all geared up with our extremely big backpacks and ready to leave by 3.00pm. With a football match style, team hug in a circle, we started off!

Everybody was energetic, everybody walking briskly with their 10kg+ backpacks. The porters had around 20kg load each. The climb was a moderate on man-made path with rocks. But it was rainy and so a little slippery. Within an hour our pace had dropped and we were walking steadily but slowly. Viki was just jumping through the path and moving ahead only to wait for us on the coming turn. Around 4.00 we took our first official stop (which means all stop, rest of the halts are sporadic individual stops). Had some snaps overthere. We met a fellow who too was moving in the same direction as us towards Agora. He worked in some Wildlife company in Delhi which makes videos, photos for Discovery and other such companies. The porters hadn’t reached and we asked Viki to ask them to be swift enough and not take too many unnecessary breaks. We moved ahead after 15 mins or so the next stop was going to be Agora, Viki said that probably we’d need to halt at Agora if we lack on our pace. Through the lovely hills, narrow lanes along the edge of the valleys full of green trees, pines, covered by blue sky, we moved with our shutters flying. Nikhil the obvious one to go off the track for snaps.

Around 5.00pm we reached Agora, which a village on the edge of hill with farming done on terrace fields. It was a lovely place with roads always having a 3rd dimension that of height that changed as we moved on it. By this time we were getting really tired as it was our first trek after a long time and that too in the thinner air as compared to Sahyadris. Viki thought that we could make it to ‘Bebra’ which he pronounced as ‘Debra’ if we move along. Bebra ghat was our first scheduled stop. So after a little break we moved on. I really needed energy, Vj handed me some chocolates. It was starting to get darker with the bright blue sky now turning into a murky blue color. We crossed through a wooden brige built right on top a valley joining 2 mountains along its edge.


The climb was now disappearing into a descent. after an hour from Agora we reached Bebra ghat, which was a small village not more than 10-20 families living along a river stream from the mountains and farming on the terrace lands. There was a small bridge on that stream that lead us to the entry of the Village, where stood a sign, ‘Bebra Gate’. It was actually at this point where we understood its Bebra and not Debra as our guide of Nepali descent mouthed. We found a good little terrace land, where we could make our tents for the nights stay. The tiredness was evident on everyone’s face when I took snaps of everybody resting. Viki was energetic to start working on the tents. Me and Vj tried to help. It took Viki around 15-20 min to setup 3 two-man tents and one 4 man tent for the porters and Viki himself. We rested in the tents, but we were worried about the leeches that we saw and some of them already sticking to Mallik who was freely roaming bare foot on the grass. Around 9.00 or so Viki called us when we were resting in dark tents, wearing our thermal wears for the colder night ahead. As the sweat started drying.. so did our heat in the body. When we were out of the tent for food, we felt like we were in Pune or something in winter. We had been eating Jaggery and peanuts, which Mallik had distributed, but still we wanted hot food. Viki had prepared Dal and Rice. It was tasty but I’d never had my food with only rice. I had to manage. Around 10.00pm we went back to our tents, hoping for a nice sound sleep, unaware of the terror that was awaiting.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 4 (11 Jun 08)

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 4, 11 Jun 08

Bebra Ghat

3.00am, Its been raining hard since last night’s dinner. I hear Vj’s voice, he seems to be screaming.. somthing.. ‘paani’, I give it a deaf ear. But soon Vj’s panic in voice was echoed by that of Mallik. This time I heard them carefully. Vj and Mallik’s tent was water-logged. Small water puddles. Mallik is agitated as their Sleeping bags are all wet, so no sound, comfy sleep. Vj calls for Amye, to check if their tent is filled with water. I’m still too sleepy to get off my bum and check our tent. Vj finally calls for me and Rajo, only then did we get up and checked our tents. Our sleeping bags too are wet on the edges where the rain cover was not adequate enough. Vj and Mallik are on an overdrive to flush of their tents from water. It all continues till 4.00am, when things finally settle down a little, so does the rain. Vj and Mallik try to get a nap after a horrific start only to the 2nd day of the trek.


5.00am, Rajo’s alarm always ready to irritate. I get out of the tent, Rajo follows. Outside Viki is preparing Aloo parathas as decided last night. Its still quite chilly, but there is enough light, we remain in our thermal wears. 5.30, we call for Mallik and Vj. Mallik comes out, tired and frustrated with the rains. Half an hour later Vj too gets up. We were supposed to leave in next hour, instead we are having a heated discussion about the immediate plan. Our original plan was to leave for Dodital early morning, but Mallik refuses to move ahead without adequate rain cover. ‘Tarpolin’ or mattresses, atleast one out of it, otherwise we are not moving ! All this happens while we are chewing on the tasty parathas. We decide to send someone back in the base village, Sangamchatti to see if tarpolin or something is available.

7.30am, Viki after finishing off his food, giving some instructions to the porters, heads off to the base village. Mallik decides to cook food, as Viki would be far off from cooking, re-treading the path. We are still moving on the grass spending time with leeches attaching to us. Viki comes back around 9.00. He comes with a news that Sangamchatti shop is closed but there would be some mattresses available in Agoda. We decide that we have to have whatever we can for the rains, and me, Vj and Viki head off back towards Agoda. At Agoda around 10.00 we discuss about our plan with Viki, He says that if rains are bad, it would be difficult to move towards Hanumanchatti ahead from Dodital. Contingency plans start to evolve, with an extra day in Dodital and Viki could take us to a nearby glacier. While all this is happening, the lovely golden sun is on the green terrace lands of Agoda, straight ahead in the distance we can see a waterfall, the puffy-white clouds moving through the mountains creating a panoramic view. I wish I had a job & home over here in Agoda. Vj pays of the shop fellow for the mattresses and we are running back towards Bebra.

10.30, The Bebra sun is now adding heat. Its starting to get sticky after all the Bebra-Agoda-Bebra journey. We decide to take a bath and a wash. While I was trying to find a place to shit, the leeches ensured that I couldn’t rest easily, with the secondary work being to pull of the leeches of my skin. The Water at the heavy flowing stream was cold, We manage to put our feet in to find them getting numb. So a full bath is out of question, we start pouring water on ourselves with the mug, ensure that every part of the body is wet, a little soap, rinse and our bath is complete. But even this was good enough to freshen up things. Now we’ve got another problem, wet clothes, which would only add to our 12kg+ load. Around 12.30, the sun is so hot, that we had to make a make-shift shelter with the black tarpaulin that porters used last night for the rains. We have rice, masoor dal and Cabbage for lunch. The ropes Vj had carried were put to good use to dry the sleeping bags, the bags were now almost dry and we quickly windup things and pack. We see a ‘doli’, procession going ahead along the trekking route.


1.45pm, All guys leave ahead with the porters, me, Vj, Mallik and Viki settle things with the land owner with tent hosting rent for his private land. Viki says there would be a little tougher climb for the starting 2 hours, and he was right to the dot! Initially it started off with climbing through the village steps that lead towards the main route, the highway for the villagers, inter-connecting distant villages in this Himalayan valley. Then the ‘highway’ itself was climbing all the time, with little or almost no descend for relaxation. As Viki had said the next halt would be at ‘chattri’ or shelter at Dharkot. It was 3.25pm when we reached the concrete platform with shed on the top. It was just at the edge of the valley, with a very exotic view. We put our bags and got our cameras working, portraits, landscapes, name it. A local family collecting fire sticks came from top and rested with us. We had them covered too, City tourists in a place like these are paparazzi for the locals, constantly digging into them. When the family left, the little girl in them said ‘good bye’, We all were shocked, I asked

‘कौनसे class में हो तुम?’

12th class!

and the family vanished in the valley. There was board of the forest dept.

* Kacheru - 2.5km
* Manjhi - 5km
* Dodital - 10km

We were reading it when, Viki said that our night stop would be Manjhi, Still 5km to climb !!! Just before 4.00 we headed towards our 5km benchmark. We were passing through the route, when Viki suddenly tracked back and said

आना गाड दूं

!!! ? We didn’t understand till, he got a Rupee coin and hammered it into the bark of the tree. It was laden with hundreds of coins jammed into the wood. We too had our shot at drilling the coins, and made sure all posed for this rare occasion. 5.00pm, We passed through a small stream of water flowing, there was another ‘chattri’ over here. As Viki put it in his accent, it was Kachori. We rested here for few mins, as the last hour was just climbing without any stops. Had some glucose and biscuits, while Viki refilled our bottles with the original water from the mountains. We passed through hills covered with trees which themselves were covered with mossy plants.


It was close to 6.15pm when we were extremely tired and we saw some signs of a village. Viki said, we were almost there, that almost true to the local’s metrology lasted for another half hour. It was 6.30pm when it was dark, a lot of haze and mist when we touch a board displaying ‘कॅंपिंग स्थल, मांझी’. The weather, our condition was perfect to cause all of breathlessness. We all were extremely tired when dropped our bags near a hut, which Viki said was a forest dept.’s hut for trekkers. My head was throbbing, it was aching, and I was exhausted. The air was chilly, I quickly removed my thermal wear and put it on. I was gasping for air, there was some rumble around. Viki shouted to move quickly and get the baggages into the hut. We were unsure of why he was panicking, he was pulling the porters’ luggage with them into the hut when he said, it was the rains that was coming hard and fast. There wasn’t a drop though, but soon, hard water was hitting the land and all of us were inside that hut trying to dodge the rain leakage through the roof. Our initial thoughts of sleeping inside the hut were now out of question. We didn’t want another sleepless night with water seeping in the sleeping bags. Viki was resourceful and helpful enough to go out in the dark and arrange for a hut of the local while we were still in the hut. It was now so chilling with the rains, that we asked the porters to prepare tea. Most of us had atleast 2 cups of black tea each, the porters intelligent enough to understand how much tea was required.

7.30pm, We were inside the local’s hut, which was neatly water-proofed with tar and tarpaulin. There was fire on the side, wooden flooring, a small hut with more than 10 people inside was cosy place to be in that weather. We rested and discussed and enjoyed Viki’s distance calculating skills when he had said before Manjhi

और १८ – १९ km है

which he then corrected and said 90m. But those 90 meters lasted for well over 30 minutes. For dinner we had dal and rice, I was feeling nauseatic and didn’t eat much. It was still raining when we went to sleep around 10.30pm. Luckily this night’s sleep was gonna be much better than last night’s.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 5 (12 Jun 08)

This entry is part 6 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 5, 12 Jun 08

Off from Manjhi

7.00 am,
After a treacherous and strenuous trek last day, its going to be a relatively easy walk to Dodital from Manjhi. We don’t get up before 7.00 and slowly gather courage to repack our sacks and muster enough strength to load it on our backs. Even the night’s sleep is not without effort. Every move that I made in the sleeping bag made me pant for breath! Thats how I got through the night. Viki had made Aloo paratha and we had those and left around 11.15. The trek was more of a walk on a slope, sometimes ascending and othertimes just flat. At times when we crossed two mountains, the slope divided towards the base, and we were just happy enough for the descend as we were for more climb. Along the route Viki kept informing us about the various trees, mosses and how even the mosses are loaded full in trucks and sold off. We came across 2-3 bridges on streams which were in construction phase. Viki knew some of the labourers. The streams in Himalayas are endless. In Western India people are desparate for waterfalls and streams in the mountains, over here, its just another natural feature.



1.45 pm
A board read “Dodital”, But a lake was nowhere to be seen. All I could see was the normal greenery, hills and the valley behind. But a turn and the water body manifested, like a scene from Mahabharata or Ramayana. A lake goddess suddenly appearing in front of its worshippers!

The whole scene was serene and cold. There was no direct sunlight, just diffused light, making the whole place even colder. The ‘Dodital’ lake in Hindi means the lake of Dodi or lake of Ganesha. It was surrounded by small hills on three sides and the other side by the valley from where we had entered the area. The hills were full with Coniferous trees, a small cloud hanging low in one of the hills, another side getting a light drizzle, it was very mystical. With the lawns in bright green color, the water in a dark shade of blue and gray surrounded by dark green tall trees. This is Dodital, the place visitors can only reach by a trek, no vehicles no clumsy tourists, just pure nature lovers are found here.

We decide to roam around, Taking a lot of snaps and videos. there was a small wall around the lake, just to keep people off. We climbed the wall and there was a gaurd making sure that we didn’t get into the lake. Swimming, Angling/Fishing, bathing is not allowed inside the lake. The locals gaurd it like a deity. We circled the lake in an anti-clockwise direction, moving through puddles, small streams that added fresh water to the lake from all the sides. When we reached towards the entrance side of the lake and worshipped in the Ganesha temple we reailized, that people worship first and then make a प्रदक्षिणा around the lake in a clockwise direction.

I and Vj are not entirely feeling good, both of us are nauseatic. We decide we’ll sleep off in one of the huts (an octagonal hut) which was for tourists. I had Pudinhara and we cosily slipped into our sleeping bags. We were woken by the noise Rajo, Mallik and others were making when they had returned from a more adventurous trip around the lake. They had been climbing one of the hills around with a porter and while descending both of them had slipped. Each of them trying to hold eachother for grip and both sliding hands held together, just like from a hindi movie where the hero and the heroine slide on snow, the difference here was no heroine and the snow was actually transformed into pebbles and rocks that just kept hurting the bums.

7.00pm, It was dark and raining heavily, when Viki called us for food. We had Dal and Roti. I was still a little nauseatic but better managed 1 1/2 thick rotis. The rain was just getting worse when we were inside. And after food we had to wait to commute to the other hut where we were planning to sleep. The kitchen or the other hut where we had our food, was to be used by porters and Viki.

8.30pm, We finally managed to get back to ‘our’ hut. But the rains were hard and had taken its toll on the roofs of our huts. With our engg brains and headlights, we were trying to find a dry place. But there was none. Everytime we thought that there was some space and we moved the 3-legged bed, a helpful drop would make our efforts go away. Mallik was even trying to draw a wet line around the dripping hole that would make the water flow to the other side, thanks to something called as surface tension. But the rains were hard and were not to be tamed. We finally decide that we had to put the tents inside the hut to make our night sleep dry and cosy. We had spent more than and hour and a half on this task of finding a dry place. Viki came in and started to arrange the nets. When we were getting into our sleeping bags, we were apprehensive of any leeches in our bags. Around 9.30-10.00 we finally managed to settle and bid adieu to the day, for the next day we had a difficult climb to Darwa top.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 6 (13 Jun 08)

This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 6, 13 Jun 08


6.00 am, Rajo’s alarm is sickening. We get up and find a place for a food-dump. The guard again points that do not do it near the stream that feeds the pool. We find some good place, after that, I was feeling a lot better. Others too finish off, and start doing the ‘packing’ business. With a big backpack and loads of things to carry, the whole packing takes around 5 minutes or more. Viki as usual was up and running, around 8.00 we have our breakfast of Rice and Dal, Viki encourages us to push in as much as we can, as there is a lot to climb and so lot of energy to be consumed. Vijay is feeling nauseatic and drinks two glasses of Salt water, but that doesn’t help him vomit. The strange feeling continues to spoil his morning.


9.30 am, We finally leave for Darwatop. That was our first night halt between Dodital and Hanuman-chatti. Within 1/2 km in our route, and the rain plays spoil sport. It had been so sunny all morning, and now !!!! We stop under a big rock, The rains make it worse for trekkers, with the water in the bags, its even more weight to carry. 15 minutes into our first break, and the rain still hasn’t stopped, but worsened. We discuss the plan of a trek in these rains. We decide against the porters’ wishes and continue in the rain. Me, Vj and Mallik are still apprehensive, but Amey is fixed on the plan. So we continue ahead in the hard rains, Its not even a minute after we’ve moved ahead, and Viki finally calls for a stop. This time he orders that we should not move ahead. He continues that It would be too risky ahead in the rains, There is no stop from now right till the Darwatop. So we have no place for a break. The ration too would get spoilt and there would be nothing for food right until Hanumanchatti, So we’d be left with no food and shelter ! .. and we decide to return back. Its raining cats, dogs, elephants, aligators !! We got back to Dodital in 15-20 minutes, I headed straight for the tapari for some tea, while others went to the temple. The porters soon followed, one of them was drenched. He quickly came to the fire and started drying himself. I too followed.


12.30 am, I’m still at the fire, the rain is till bad, Rajo comes to call me and I follow him with my sack to the temple where everyone is busy drying themselves and packing their bags. Soon we had put the foot on the accelerator and heading downwards in the direction of Manjhi. Somewhere around 2.30 its Manjhi, the hazy, chilly Manjhi. The rains had disappeared as we descended. Probably they just didn’t want us to go further ahead. Our stomachs were crying for food, so Maggi was on the menu. Vj got out his wax stove and prepared maggi. While he did that we had some hot tea at Premsingh Ranwat’s tapri, it was the same place where we’d stopped for the night the previous day. There were some kids helping him, on of them was Manisha, she was from Agora village and had come here for vacations. We were discussing whether these kids came here for some work. The kids almost all girls were named like heroines, Priyanka, Rita, Sonam and more. We take snaps of our bags all lined up, our dirty and mucky shoes and leave Manjhi by 3.45pm towards Bebra ghat, which was going to be the night halt.

Bebra Ghat

Coming down from Manjhi we had to change mountains which meant some climbing, our mind was now set on ‘Rest – Go back’ mode. So a little climb was uneasy for us, but we continued through the rainy coniferous forests. Kacheru was on the way by 4.20pm, We discussed the correct pronunciation of the place, Kacheru, Kachori and so on. We halted for few minutes refilled our water bottles and floored the pedal again. Bebra village’s boundary invited us close to 6.00pm. We descended a little further in the village and found a rest-house 2 rooms Rs. 300 a night. Viki was asked to prepare everything tonite, Dal, Roti, Tomato chatni, all that he could manage. We didn’t have any other night halt now, so the ration could be used away.

10.30 pm, No food yet, we were already resting, planning our future tip details, arguing over whether we should stay in Mussoorie or not, etc. We had finally come back to the civilization mode, planning trips in Buses, cars, taxis etc. Viki finally came calling for food, but we were now too lazy to easily jump off our sleeping bags and beds, Yes the hut even had 3 beds ! quite a luxury. We forced Viki to tell some ‘bhoot ki kahaniyan’, something that Viki had himself promised but never implemented. At food, everybody was relaxed, noramlly the porters always seemed strenuous after the days’ porting and thinking about the next day, but today everyone was joking, enjoying. After food we went back to ‘our’ room and laid back. Viki came back again, with his Sherpa smile of his on the face.

आप लोगोंको कहानी सुननी थी ना !

And he narrated two incidents of his, one when he was carrying a cylinder on his back to his home, when the cylinder suddenly swayed and he felt that somebody had put a foot on his slipper. He is still recovering from change in motion when he feels a thorny hand on his back. He turns back to see nobody around. Another one he passed us was about his walk back to his home, which he feels is full of ghosts. He was walking through the ‘Shamshanghat’ when he saw a Bear-Man like creature on the corner, He tries to look properly in the dark but is dazed by the bright red eyes of the creature. He is scared to death and runs back. After that the every curious Vijay keeps asking Viki a zillion questions on ‘Bhoot’, ‘pret-aatma’. Viki finally departs and we fall asleep by 11.00pm.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 7 (14 Jun 08)

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 7, 14 Jun 08

Bebra Ghat

My stomach is grumbling, I feel bad, need to go to the loo, I wake up, Its dark, everybody is sleeping. Probably its still night. I need to go. The loo I remember is not in the room, I need to get down walk and there is something built over there. I don’t have time to find a torch, I wake up Vj and aks for a torch. I get down the stairs, and walk towards the toilet scared of leeches jumping on my foot. Its liquid ! I return back and get into the bag, its around 2.00am. I’ve added myself to upset stomach list with Mallik and Vj.


6.00 am, Sound sleep in a nice warm rest house always has enemies. Rajo’s alarm, heartless. We somehow manage to fight our sleep and start getting ready. Viki will never start the day without some food in our stomach, ‘Daliya’ is the morning’s breakfast after a request by Mallik. We come outside all geared up for the last day’s walk, the owner of the house has a air-gun that we play around with and finally bid Bebra Ghat a final goodbye around 8.45. Down the hill and up again changing mountains for Agora. At Agora we gave a small halt as Viki returned the mattresses. Agora was yet again shining the early morning sun, with a lovely valley in the front, and itself being on a terrace field, Agora was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. There were many flowers that had blossomed and none missed an opportunity to captivate the nature.

Along the way, Viki showed us the Bhang plants, and various flora. At Agora he said, is a split for Bugiya Dayal, which on route towards Gangotri and Valley of Flowers. The Valley of Flowers blossoms best in August. Viki continued on his trek-adventure-talk, that during the peak season of Valley of Flowers the smell is so intoxicating that someone can get dizzy and fall. So to prevent that they keep smelling Garlic and chew it, just to fade of that fragrance of flowers. On our way I saw an Apple tree for the first time in my life. The apples were small and green in color, with just a haze of red pushing through.

My legs were tiring, and it felt I was climbing down with more than 20kgs. I now felt that a little climb could do some good for the legs. But what goes up must come down, so did we, kept descending… Finally around 11.00am we saw the Asi Ganga the rivulet that joins Bhagirathi at Sangamchatti, which meant Sangamchatti wasn’t far enough. 15 minutes later we were there, back in the civilization, roads, motor vehicles for transport, dry shelter, tapri for chai and more. We crossed the road and waited, Soon enough Viki came running, he had arranged for a Commander/Jeep to take us to Uttarkashi. We were moving through the jeep along the Bhagirathi river, for the first time since 5 days, we were travelling and yet not walking or climbing. The Bhagirathi continued to flow, shaping up people’s lives around it.


12.30 pm, The town was familiar, It was just a few days since we’d left from here, but felt like a year or more. We waded through the civilized world’s hassles, traffic jams, Bad roads, dirt, etc. We kept looking for an ‘affordable’ hotel/lodge, but didn’t find it easily. Finally we settled for one called ‘Devlok’. Had a ‘clean’ bath after many days, all these days it had been just a fast water flowing, I had a neat shave. And the last bath had been at Bebra Ghat while we were climbing towards Dodital. A neat dry set of clothes and we felt fresh instantly. We sent Nikhil with Viki to arrange for a cab for the next day’s Gangotri visit.

4.30 pm, Most of them are ready and we leave for food. We go to Bhandary hotel and have omelette bread and tea. Mallik has a slight fever. The omelette is wonderful ! Vj didn’t come and is busy washing clothes. We get back to the room with Paneer pulav and Dahi. I went to the top of the hotel, was just a concrete roof, with no boundaries. It was a splendid view from there, the towering hills on the left side with Bhagirathi and the ‘Zula’ or the bridge on it. I waited there for almost 2 hours till Rajoba came and got online with his phone and many others came up and were online.. While just stared in the hills. Viki sincerely called back, We had asked him if he could accompany us to Gangotri the next day, But he said it could be difficult for him, as he has to prepare for another big trek with group of army men.

We came downstairs, and started watching the snaps, it was close to 7.30pm, we didn’t realize how time passed and it was 10.00pm and we yet had to have our dinner. we rushed back to Bhandari hotel and have Dal, Paneer bhurzi and roti. Back at the hotel, we went to sleep on the bed, something I hadn’t done since leaving home. But while we slept we had next day’s alarm already ringing at 3.30am for Gangotri.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 8 (15 Jun 08)

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 8, 15 Jun 08

To Gangotri

3.00 am, Its a curse, the alarm is a god-damn curse on the human race. Nobody is really interested to getup and be ready for the great Gangotri trip, one of the चार धाम places. I’m unable to download anything, how on earth will bowels work at 3.30am in the morning. By 4.30 we’re partially ready when the driver knocks at the door. Everybody is extremely slow to move ahead, but finally by 4.45am we are in the Maxx Jeep and heading towards Gangotri. Pratap Rana, our driver moves the vehicle inside the Uttarkashi market place and moves his pawn by saying, he is getting a ‘savari’ or another person in the cab. Mallik is fumed, he doesn’t not wont anyone else in here. There is a lot of heated discussion between us and Rana. He suggests that he can give back the advance and drop us by the market taxi stand. But somehow we continue. But he is rash in his driving, moving hard on turns, on potholes. That irks all of us. But we stay quiet, Amey does not he starts another argument with him on his driving. Rana backfires, that this is the only place where he can swiftly move his jeep, ’cause in the ghats it has to be slow and steady.

7.00 am, We are still climbing through NH 108, moving through hilly villages overlooking the valley in which Bhagirathi is raging like a mad river. I recollect my mother’s stories about some place where the river flow is so hard that it can break anything in its path. We try to gauge the speed of the river it could be more than 40kmph. That means its an extremely heavy slope towards Uttarkashi and the river does not spare anything in its way. The mountains themselves are big, overpowering, strong and hard. Even though they are beautiful there is something hideous about them, something like ‘Get off my way’ attitude. Another hour or later we are near Bhatwari. And there seems to be a massive jam. Rains and day’s sun are the miscreants. There has been a lot of landslide further in the distance, hence blocking the traffic on either ends. Just if the natural forces were not enough for the problem, there was rock drilling continuing in the rock for better roads. The vibrations just help the brittle rock to dislocate. We get down and walk on foot to see how far is the jam. It could more than a km. long. We still walk ahead and find the actual place where the landslide has occurred. The landslide has taken off 20-30% of the road into the valley. The road around too is very mucky, slushy. No firm grip around. There are still small pebbles falling down. A brave truck driver helps push big boulders on the road with his Truck, and we have some space to move. Rana calls us and we all run back. Rana, true to the character of a local driver in the Himalayan ghats, manoeuvres his jeep through the jam, quickly getting ahead of big buses and other lazy cars. He says its important to get ahead, cause another jam and we would be late. It is necessary for us to leave early from Gangotri as well and clear through these ghats in the sunlight. We had moved a little ahead of the problem and there was another minor jam, thanks to a Maruti 800 which was unable to move the puddle of soil, gravel. The driver was trying hard to move the vehicle, but his efforts were in vain, A young local driver jumped off from his cab and offered to drive the car through the muck, and asked some others for a push at specific places. And brilliantly he got the small-tired car from foot deep soil.


Its close to 10.30 and we are now close to Harsil, a beautiful hilly village before Gangotri, no other human settlement between Harsil and Gangotri, except for ITBP or the Indo Tibet Border Police checkposts. Harsil is beautiful, amidst the cool weather, High himalayas and lovely Apple Orchids that it harvests. We halted at a local ‘tapri’ for some food and chai. Most have ‘chole’ and ‘bun-pav’. Rnana urges us to be quick, so after a sip of tea, we are moving again. The climb continues and we spot our first snow-capped mountain in this area. They seem to be towering above us, the rain clouds trying to cover the snow. It was an amazing experience being in such a place and all cameras went snapping.

Its 11.00, and we are on a bridge, joining tow mountains, some 600m a river is flowing. Pratap Rana stops and narrates that this is the highest bridge over here, we are near Nelong Kopang, the Indo Tibet Border which is just few minutes away from here. Below the bridge he continues is the rivulet that is coming from China/Tibet which further joins the Bhagirathi coming from Gangotri, and he points to a far corner where the two rivers met. We continue from the place and soon we spot cars parked on either side of the road. The familiar parking problem in pilgrimage spots is no stranger here. We move on close to the actual place where Rana parks and says we should be running back by 1.30. It has taken us well over 4.5 hrs from Uttarkashi to Gangotri which is about 96km by roads. 99% of which are in high in Ghats.


The street leading to the temple is a typical one, with shops selling religious clothes, puja equipment and more. Mallik, Vj buy some yellow-saffron colored ‘gamcha’. The pressure inside my stomach is now building. As we enter the main area, we can hear water falling from somewhere, excited we move ahead towards Surya Kund, Where a small off-rivulet of Bhagirathi is jumping from a vertical cliff from about 30m and making a small pool below, the Surya Kund. The pressure, water flow is so much that it creates a mist of water in the surroundings. Videos and photos never far away from such places. We move towards the right climbing ahead on the path which has many aashrams, and other religious installations. Now I’m not really interested in all those, all I need is a toilet ! We cross through a wooden bridge to the other side, after I reached the other side of the bridge, we see a simple sign near the edge of bridge, कमज़ोर ब्रिज ! the whole troop now moves towards the ghats where people are trying to take a dip into the holy or rather chilly water. Even though Mallik has some fever, he decides that he’ll take a dip. Its close to noon and Vj joins him in the chill-party and we then head towards the temple. After a brief visit to the temple we are back on the main street. My friends are now finding a place to put more stuff inside their stomach, while I’m trying to find a place to do the exact opposite. Its now uncontrollable, while they settle for a hotel, I go ahead in search for a toilet, luckily I find a decently clean ‘Pay and Use Sulab Shochalay’. Aaaaa…hhh !!! I managed a Vartak Memorial at Gangotri. Light as a bird I join others for lunch.

Its 1.30-1.45, and we’ve started to head back towards Uttarkashi. Mallik is really sick, dives his head down and goes to sleep. Just close to Gangotri Rana shows us ‘Pandav gufa’. I wonder where all did Pandav visit during their ‘Karavas’ and ‘Agyatvas’. We find Pandav places from Nasik to Himalayas, 50% of India in length covered !? The ride back now seems tiring with the thought of 5 hrs of travelling back to Uttarkashi on the bad roads. We all doze off, intermittently getting up to check the spots, trying to store our memories.

Pilot Baba Ahram, Maneri

4.30 pm, Sign boards show Maneri and Rana asks us if we want to see Pilot Baba Ashram. We all are ready. The Ashram is a beautiful place loaded with flowers and statues. There are various flowers, roses, sunflowers, lilies and so on. Rajoba is quick to show us the flowers and various other plantations. He gets nostalgic remembering his Sangli garden and how it was destroyed. There are various statues of Indian dieties, Ram, Hanuman, etc. We spend almost an hour when I hear shouts, Rana wants to get back soon and we hop in the jeep and are back heading towards Uttarkashi.


We reached Uttarkashi somewhere around 6.15, at Devlok we feel exhausted with the day’s travel not more than 200kms but in those bad roads and the twisting and turning ghats, it was tiring. Mallik needs to go to a Dr., we find a local Dr. Bhandary and take him there. He gives Mallik all drugs for Stomach infection. Around 8.30 we leave Devlok for food, But we are not interested in Bhandary hotel’s meal so try to find alternatives. Luckily we find a juice store, where we jam-in various juices, purchase some Lichi. We come back to the room and start packing our bags for the next day’s long distance jeep travel to Hrishikesh.