Thursday, April 14, 2011

Harsil... Beauty Untouched

Day 2 – Uttarkashi-Gangnani-Gangotri-Bhaironghati-HARSIL-Bhatwari-Uttarkashi

Part IV (Harsil)

Tucked away in the Garhwal Himalayas, at 2620 meters into the sky thats approximately 7000 ft above sea level, enroute to Gangotri comes a quaint little village – Harsil.

Sukhi Top near Harsil, Enroute to Gangotri
Himalyan splendour from the Sukhi top while approaching Harsil

Set amidst pine trees and apple orchards, the town is famous for more things than one. It’s a trekker’s paradise, known to offer spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain peaks. It is well known for its local apple produce and is also famed for making an appearance in the superhit bollywood movie by director Raj Kapoor – ‘Ram teri Ganga Maili’.

Snow clad mountains at Harsil - Enroute to Gangotri

The town was still in its pristine condition – uncluttered, neat and serene… just as I had left it years back on my previous visit here - waiting to share its own tale! I tried to picture something of it, by setting out to explore the place.

Apple orchards at Harsil - Enroute to Gangotri

I started off with a visit to the local and the ancient Kalp Kedareshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The Kalp Kedar Temple at Harsil - Enroute to Gangotri
The Kalp Kedareshwar Temple

The Kalp Kedar Temple and the idol of Lord Shiva in Harsil
Lord Shiva with the gorgeous peaks in the background

From here, I could see the stream of turquoise blue Ganges water and though I had met mother Ganga only a few hours earlier in Gangotri, still could not resist climbing down towards the banks to catch Her glimpse.

Snow clad Himalayan peaks just as we were approaching Harsil - Enroute to Gangotri
The stream of turquoise blue Ganges water

Down at the banks, there was no one except a village woman drinking the holy waters from the cusp of her hand. On seeing me, she smiled and offered a few drops to me as well! Chilly winds were making me skittish but the warmth of her smile comforted me.

Do you know how the place gets its name? She asked in her broken Hindi. Even before I could give out my reply, she started her narration...

Once, Rivers Bhagirathi and Jalandhari had an argument about which was more significant. Lord Vishnu aka Hari intervened by taking the form of a stone or shila (Hari-shila or Harsil), and absorbed their anger. Even today, the waters of the two rivers become a little less turbulent from here onwards.

On the banks of River Bhagirathi in Harsil
The village woman

Before ending the story and immersing herself in her prayers, she however added one last thing -

So these stones that you see in the river… These are not ordinary stones, Beti! They are Lord Vishnu. Pray to them with a sincere heart… They will make all your wishes come true!

She stood there... praying, I stood there… silent – watching the impeccable views the little town had to offer!

A very beautiful place - Harsil
The snow capped mountain peaks looked closer than ever and the thick blanket of deodhar trees rose upwards towards the freshly scrubbed skies.

The river was flowing graciously, looking bubbly and beautiful in all its charms… and in between lay piles of stones – relentless like faith, stoic like hope – sitting still in the waters… I closed my eyes...

On the banks of River Bhagirathi in Harsil
These are not ordinary stones… they make wishes come true…

At Harsil, I was tempted to believe!

Before we left the place, Vishwanath (our driver) made sure we bought for ourselves the very famous Apples of Harsil. A Britisher, Fredrick E Wilson had planted the first apple tree here in the 19th century. His cottage, it is said was a major attraction in the area until it got destroyed by a major fire recently, ending an important chapter of history. They are available in the town aplenty but we took them from the outskirts on the highway.

Sacks full of juicy, crispy and sweetest apples at Harsil
We spotted these big bags full of apples on the Harsil - Gangotri Highway

Snow clad Himalayan peaks just as we were approaching Harsil - Enroute to Gangotri
Apple orchards at Harsil - Enroute to Gangotri
Apple orchards of Harsil
Can you see some apples fallen down on the ground there?

Fresh from the orchards, the apples were the juiciest, smallest, and the crispiest we had eaten in our entire lives.

Apples at Harsil near Gangotri
The Big Box of 90 kgs!

We were so impressed; we bought for ourselves an entire bag costing just Rs. 400 for 90 kgs! which were more than enough for the entire journey, definitely!

Harsil is also known for Rajma though we didn’t see any.

Related Information

1. Harsil is just about 28 km before Gangotri, 15 km from Bhaironghati, 30 km from Gangnani and 73 km from Uttarkashi.

2. Harsil is a cantonment area, perhaps because of its proximity to the Chinese border and the army is very cautious to whom it opens its doors to. Entry is denied to foreign nationals.

3. There are numerous trekking routes in and around Harsil like Brahmi Tal, Nachiketa Tal, Kush Kalyan, etc. This and the fact that the town itself is quite scenic makes it an excellent choice for stay and accomodation too.

To view the travel route map of Day 2 of our Char Dham Yatra - CLICK HERE

Previous posts from this trip -
8. Places to visit in and around Gangotri
9. Bhaironghati - Bhairon Devta Temple and Asia's Highest Bridge


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56 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures! We would like to travel oneday to the Himalayas.

    I have a question for you. Do foreigners require any special permissions to travel to this part of the country? My wife is a PIO holder and not a citizen.

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  2. beautiful post
    90KG apples
    like the pics

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  3. Beautiful Shots and details..! I feel like packing my bags to Himalayas!

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  4. Another marvelous, fascinating post, Arti! Your photos are superb! I do love the color of the water! The apples look delicious! What a great trip you had! Thank you for sharing it with us. Hope you have a lovely weekend! Enjoy!

    Sylvia

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  5. Wow , photos are amazing , apples are inviting . Thanks for sharing .

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  6. Beautiful pictures! These apples look so fresh and good! And the quietness and wide open spaces of the landscape, paired with snowy peeks is just marvellous!

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  7. The countryside there looks so much like our area here in Canada...fabulous pics of the Ganges...really love seeing it flowing through the big mountains. We grow apples that look just like those too....wonderful journey...thanks for showing us!

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  8. What georgous pictures of the mountain and river!! Do you believe about the stones?

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  9. @ Sailor
    I am not sure of the exact procedure, I have given the contact number of government run guest houses in the Planning the Char Dham Yatra post... They will surely be able to help you with your query more efficiently.
    And yes, a trip to the Himalayas is so refreshing and is always welcome:)

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  10. @ Ginny
    I believe and respect our Holy Scriptures and texts, it is all a matter of faith... If you believe then it is everything, if not then nothing...

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  11. Dearest Art,

    What an amazing journey that one cannot get elsewhere!!!! Thank YOU for coming all the way over to visit me for my birthday bash dearest! What an enchanting place you have shown us here. May ALL YOUR wishes come true my dear!!! Anita

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  12. What beautiful pictures and such a fascinating post! I've always wanted to visit the himalayas! One day I'll get there! Will have to be content with looking at photos for now!

    http://beourbest.blogspot.com/

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  13. Unspoilt indeed. Lets hope mankind allows it to remain this way.

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  14. Hey Arti!!! Thx a ton for dropping by :) U have an awesome space here with breathtaking photography....Very very informative too...Will be a regular visitor from now on...Summer vacations are fast approaching & i could probably pick our hols destination from ur posts!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

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  15. Beautiful pictures. Thank you for showing the Ganges, I have only seen pictures from much closer to its mouth before. It is beautiful here.

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  16. Thank you for taking us with you, through your posts and pictures. Just magical.

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  17. Hi,Arti.
    The snow capped mountain and the beautiful river and white spray are refreshing! Great trip.It is amazing to see that many apples!!i am enough full. Thank you.

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  18. What lovely pristine mountains! Hope it stays this way. Gorgeous shots as always.

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  19. Hi Arti
    You know it's funny I was thinking the countryside looked similar to Susan's in Canada.. and there she is saying the same

    I think I need those wishing stones!!! haha.. really.. haha.. The aqua water is sooo dreamy.. beautiful

    Have a lovely weekend.. ciao xxx Julie

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  20. I do love the color of the water! The apples look delicious! What a great trip you had! Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  21. i read about harsil in a travel book, but your post gives a personalized account of the place..would love to go trekking there.

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  22. Hey Arti, I see you are active on Indiblogger. I need some info from you. Please ping me when you come online, either at vineshbalan@gmail.com or contact me on facebook/vineshbalan . Looking forward to a response.
    (Phew, its difficult to find a contact id on your blog)!

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  23. Definite treat for trekkers... loved ur post and pictures..

    new to ur space and happy to follow u for more wonderful recipes..

    do visit my space when u get time
    http://comeletseat.blogspot.com

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  24. well, must have been a great experience, the whole Himalayas. The snow clad peaks and the ever blue ganges are amazing. Lord Shiva statue is just magnificent...

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  25. Great photos. A place I'll never see except through your post. Thank you

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  26. This is an absolutely fascinating post, and your photos are amazing. Thanks for sharing this.

    Have a good week, Boonie

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  27. I'm in awe. spellbound. thanks for sharing such beauty.

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  28. when you are so close to nature, God feels much closer. The primaeval forces makes communion easier and more fruitful.That woman had a point :)

    It would be great if we didnt' have go through the word verification :)

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  29. What a beautiful place! Your post made me want to travel some more, and also gave me a craving for apples! :P

    Thanks for commenting on my blog :)

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  30. This looks like an incredible place, I love your photos of it. Mountains are my favorite scenery (I live at 7,500 feet elevation), so I love posts like this.

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  31. The Himalayas are stunning in scope, their huge and beautiful presence in all shots as a lovely backdrop to any picture. The foothills of mighty mountains is the beginning of a great river, pure and cold. What a wonderful place! The apples are a great buy as the cost for 90 kg is about $9.05 US - excellent purchase!

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  32. Aapke blog ka to jawab nahi. great post.

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  33. The apples look delicious -- and I have to go look up rajma, because I don't know what that is.

    The first part of your post is wonderful -- this place is meditative and serene -- and it is lovely 'hearing' the voice of the village woman. Talking to local people is such a great way to learn.

    Thanks as always for sharing. I have loved every one of your posts, but this may be one of my favorites. I'd really love to go there.

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  34. @Sallie (FullTime-Life)
    Rajma is a popular North Indian vegetarian dish consisting of red kidney beans in a thick gravy with lots of Indian whole spices, tastes excellent with steamed rice!

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  35. What a wonderful travel, Arti? Felt like I was beside you. Great photos also. Have a nice week ahead, my friend.

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  36. oh, i think this is the place my boyfriend is telling me about. he wants us to go there next. it will be another trekking adventure for us, if ever.

    thanks for sharing, arti. :)

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  37. oh,so beautiful,i seriously wish i could visit that place! :D

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  38. beautiful post Arti,
    i loved the country side tour. the turquoise Ganges and the story narrated by the lady captivated my heart. thanks for sharing.

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  39. Hi
    I have been following your blog for sometime now and its brilliant! So I am giving the versatile blogger award to you! Check it out at http://www.newszone4u.com/p/versatile-blogger-award.html
    I am now waiting to read your random facts……
    cheers……….

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  40. wow...........
    Amazing........
    Arti u r the Best.

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  41. Arti the colour of the water looks crystal clear on the ganges. I am sure you must have enjoyed travelling in the scenic locales, the pictures speak for themselves

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  42. Stunning visuals. I have not explored this part of the world yet.

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  43. Fantastic!!! i am absolutely enjoying your whole series!

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  44. Looks like a spectacular place. Glad it is undiscovered keeping it spectacularly quaint! I loved the touch of the village woman. I could almost see her there! Did you do any trekking?

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  45. @Richa No unfortunately couldnt do any trekking this time around. But I would surely want to do it at least once in my lifetime.

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  46. Hey Arti

    Tried posting my comment yester' but couldn't.

    Pristine post dear!!! I had not heard of this place(like many others:)) but now I've visited it from my living room...So keep going dear... and am really glad that you are able to visit so many places and sharing it with us:)

    Love ya
    Deepa

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  47. Very interesting to read especially with those pictures ...

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  48. beautiful pictures....and equally beautiful description of the place....

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  49. This blog is absolutely stunning in every way: the photographs are exquisite and the detailed practical information is really useful.

    Most of all I feel your open hearted connectedness to that which you are experiencing and I acknowledge you for sharing your personal experience with such generosity and grace.

    I am planning a trip to the Himalaya and your work is a great inspiration.

    Blessings from Glastonbury, UK

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  50. @ Jennifer
    Thats such a big compliment for me, Thanks. Hope you have a beautiful journey. If you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them.

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  51. nice article with perfect pics feel like real ,so thanks for sharing.

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  52. Hey, Its really great to get apples at less than 5/kg and that too genuine.

    These days everywhere you get the wax coated apples or Hybrid and that too at exorbitant rates.

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