Riveting valley of gods

Riveting valley of gods

Tranquil locale

Riveting valley of gods

Trekkers’ delight: The valley is formed by Tons — an unassuming river separating the valley from the mighty Himalayas. Photo by authorI wiped the dust off my old trekking shoes and headed to an enthralling locale. My journey to Har-ki-dun valley (Valley of Gods) in Uttarkashi district of Uttaranchal happened rather suddenly. My family decided to take a break and head to the destination, and I being a avid traveller, grabbed the opportunity right away!

Arriving in the valley situated in Panchgani and Fateh Peak area at an altitude of 3,566 meters, left me in wonder. For those who crave for uninterrupted solitude amidst the scintillating beauty of the hills, Har-ki-dun valley is truly a memorable destination. Especially recommended to nature lovers and wild life enthusiasts. The valley is formed by Tons - an unassuming river separating the valley from the mighty Himalayas.

Our journey began with a 210 km drive from Rishikesh to Sankhri. It was a long drive. The road trails its way through the hamlets of Navgaon, Purola, Jarmola and Netwar with a  beautiful confluence of the rivers Rupin and Supin at Netwar.

As we neared Sankhri, on one side we were greeted by a picturesque view while on the other side, forests got denser. It was nearly eight in the night when we reached Sankhri. This is the last halting place with a motor road. We were driven to a ‘view point’ cottage, and after enjoying a delicious dinner we all drifted off into blissful slumber.
Nothing can compare to the breathtaking view of the sunrise here. A steaming cup of tea in hand, I stepped out of the cottage where I had spent the night to discover why the place was called the View Point. I found myself on the summit of a hill surrounded by huge trees, exhilarating breeze and a stream gushing down the hill. I could feel nothing else but myself and nature - truly breathtaking!

Visiting quaint hamlets
Sankhri was the starting point of the vast stretch of trek ahead of us. From here to Har-ki-dun valley is a 34 kms trek through beautiful green expanses while halting at hamlets of Taluka and Osla on the way up. Hence after breakfast, without wasting any time we started trekking towards Taluka — our next stop.

On the way, we passed through the forests of chestnuts, walnuts, willows, deodars and chinars in an atmosphere of perfect peace and tranquility. The 10 kms track took six hours to reach Taluka. We lodged at the Forest Rest House, which overlooks the Supin River and has views of the beckoning mountains in the east. There are plenty of ‘dhabas’ available at Taluka. A delicious dinner of ‘missi roti’ and ‘sabji’ helped wrap up the first leg of our journey.

 I woke up early the next day and just a view of the valley from my room window and all my fatigue just evaporated! It was beauty personified. Mornings on the mountains were always eventful. As we got ready for the next chapter of our journey, it started raining, which resulted in a three hours delay to our schedule. Finally, around ten we started moving ahead towards Osla. I felt the chill in the air as I saw the imposing snow clad mountains rising in the sky.

 The track from Taluka to Osla is an easy, flat walk in the beginning but when the path turns towards east it gradually ascends up the mountain. It is a gentle gradient as the track meanders through lush green forests. After few hours of trekking we passed through Gangad village preached on the hillside across the river.
The forests are a veritable paradise for bird lovers. On the way we encountered parakeets, cuckoos, bulbuls, monal pheasant, golden eagle and the Himalayan snowcock. A friendly ‘pahari’ (locals) accompanied us and spiced up the trek with some interesting anecdotes of Osla.

Spellbinding trail
We were informed that the inhabitants residing there practice customs that may seem strange to the plain dwellers. He said that instead of valorising the Pandavas of the Mahabharata, the Kauravas are worshipped. We were surprised to hear that there is even a temple of Duryodhan at Osla.

It was quiet dark and misty when we reached Osla. The silence haunted all around and the sounds of some wild animals were audible. We stayed overnight in a Tourist Rest House. Our trek culminated with a 12 kms-long winding walk. The path branching off towards the north-west across the river leads to the captivating valley.
There are no villages in between but you can find a few tea stalls for the odd breaks. The first few kms beyond Osla are surprisingly flat and though the valley narrows, the path runs smoothly near the river and is fringed by a grassy meadow. This is surely an ideal place to tickle your taste buds — binge on aloo parathas served with pickle at local eateries.

The trail is seriously spellbinding and passes through waterfalls and undulating meadows until you reach the Har-ki-dun valley. As one enters the valley, the treasures of natural beauty start unfolding. The valley has an entrancing sight, the rich grassy land with white mountains mantled with snow in the background. Down below is a sparkling stream with a number of rivulets, triangular sandy delta patches
and grass.

 Har-ki-Dun is an idyllic camping spot too. The best time to visit this enchanting valley is during the months of May to June and August to October. The weather is crisp and enjoyable and there is a healthy nip in the air. One can encounter numerous varieties of flowers blooming around this span. The return trek is on the route. I still wonder, what was the best part of the trip - the journey or the destination. In either case, Har-ki-Dun is undoubtedly a trekker’s paradise.

TRAVEL TIPS

How to get there: The distance from Rishikesh to Sankhri is 210 kms while the trek from Sankhri to Har-ki-dun Valley is 34 kms.
 Best time to visit: May to June and August to October.

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