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Friday, August 19, 2011

Treks Beyond Badrinath - Swargarohini, Satopanth Tal, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Saheb

Beyond the holy town of Badrinath, there lie many favored trekking routes into the pristine ranges of the Himalayas that attract visitors from both home and abroad. Listed below are some of these places which I could not get a chance to visit this time around but would surely love to cover atleast once in my lifetime:

Govindghat

The confluence of Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga rivers, it’s the spot of the magnificent Gurudwara (Sikh shrine) named after the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Govind Singh. About 275 kms from Rishikesh, it is also the starting point to numerous trekking routes in the Garhwal Himalayas.

Hemkund Sahib

In the lap of higher Himalayas, around 14000 ft above sea level in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal, is situated the very sacred Hemkund Lake also known as the Lokpal Lake. Besides this lake is the holy Sikh Gurudwara dedicated to the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh who became one with God after performing penance here.  Touted as the highest pilgrimage spot in the world, the lake and its picturesque surroundings form an important pilgrimage not only for the Sikhs but for people from other faiths as well. Nearby is a Lakshman temple where Lakshman, the younger brother of Ram, is said to have performed meditation.

Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara and hemkund Tal in Garhwal Himalyas beyond Badrinath
Hemkund Sahib and the Hemkund Lake. 
Hemkund is a Sanskrit name derived from
'Hem' meaning snow and 'Kund' meaning bowl
(image courtesy sikhnet.com)

Hemkund Sahib (also known as Gobinddham), situated along the banks of the Hemkund Lake, is surrounded by seven huge snow-covered mountains which are collectively called 'Hemkund Parvat'.

How to reach - The take-off point for Hemkunt Sahib is the town of Govindghat. The 13 kilometres trek is along a reasonably well maintained path which passes through the village of Ghangaria.

Valley of flowers

About 3 kms from Hemkund Sahib lies the 5 km long stretch called Valley of Flowers, an exceptionally beautiful high-altitude Himalayan valley in the upper reaches of Garhwal with river Pushpawati flowing through it. Discovered by Frank S Smith – a mountaineer, explorer and a botanist, the area lies on the Zanskar range of the Himalayas with the highest point in the national park being Gauri Parbat at 22043 ft above sea level.

Valley of Flowers trek in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand
Valley of flowers trek in the Garhwal Himalyas beyond Hemkund sahib shrine
Valley of flowers in the Garhwal Himalayasin Uttarakhand
The Mesmerizing beauty of the Valley of Flowers
(image courtesy panoramia.com and trekearths.com)

Declared a national park in 1982 by the Indian government and now a World Heritage Site, this enchanting part of Uttarakhand is inaccessible through much of the year and shuts down for visitors if the weather is absolutely bad. Legend has it that a flower called Brahma-Kamal (the state flower of Uttarakhand) blossoms here every 12 years.

There are strict rules for the trekkers here to preserve the valley in immaculate condition. Camping and overnight stay is not allowed in the Valley of Flowers, Ghangaria is the logical base camp for the trek.

How to reach -
Getting to the Valley of Flowers requires a trek of about 19 km from the town of Govindghat. The nearest major town is Joshimath in Garhwal, which has convenient road connections from Haridwar and Dehradun, both about 270 km from Joshimath.

Satopanth Tal


A triangular shaped lake, each side about 1 Km long, situated at an altitude of 23211 ft, Satopanth Tal is on the route taken by the Pandava brothers on their Swarga Yatra (descent to heaven). It is named after the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. All around the lake stand mighty Himalayan snow peaks namely Mt. Neelkanth (21638 feet), Mt. Satopanth (23,206 feet), Mt. Swargarohini (20507 feet), Mt. Chaukhamba I (23413 feet) and Mt. Balakun (20040 feet). One also gets some stunning views of the famous Himalayan giant peaks like Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Swargarohini & Narain Parbat enroute Satopanth lake. It is a very hard trek and a good experienced guide is advisable.

Satopanth trek in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand
The term Satopanth is derived from two words –
Sato’ meaning heaven, and ‘Panth’ meaning path or way
(image courtesy rpmedia.net)

How to Reach - The glacier is just 17 kilometers from the famous holy temple of Badrinath in Chamoli district. The route upto Badrinath is motorable road, from there on after Mana you take the route along with the Alaknanda river. You will come across Vasudhara falls and thereon 5 kilometers ahead is the snout of Satopanth glacier. The trek can be undertaken in summers (May - Oct) only and the left bank of Alaknanda is suitable for camping.

Swargarohini

Swargarohini, the descent to heaven by the Pandava brothers trek in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand beyond Badrinath
This is the route the Pandava brothers took for Heaven, Swargarohini
(image courtesy panoramia.com)

Enroute to the Satopanth trek, Swargarohini is a mountain massif in the Bandarpunch Range of the Garhwal Himalayas and comprises of 4 separate peaks. It is the believed to be the sacred path which the Pandavas of the Mahabharta fame had traversed on their way to Heaven.

Previous posts from this trip -
6. Entire DAY 2 of the Yatra (includes Enroute to Gangotri - Gangnani, Enchanting Mother Ganga... Our First Dham - Gangotri, Places to visit in and around Gangotri, Bhaironghati, Harsil, Pilot Baba Ashram in Bhatwari, Temples of Uttarkashi)
7. Entire Day 3 of the Yatra (includes Uttarkashi to Birahi (Chowrangikhal), Uttarkashi to Birahi (Kemundakhal))

73 comments:

  1. oh gosh. these are the places i've been dreaming to go to! they look so ethereal.

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  2. कोई बात नहीं, जीवन में फ़िर मौका मिलेगा, एक बात जब हेमकुंठ साहिब के सुन्न पानी में नहाते है तो कई पीढी याद आ जाती है।

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  3. Hi,Arti.
    Himalaya has not only high mountains but also the Valley of Flowers. And it's very very beautiful place surrounded by green velvet and blue mountains and white peaks. That beauty is protected by strict rules and inaccessible for much of the year. Great and mysterious!
    Thank you for sharing mystic places.
    Have a fabulous weekend! Sarah

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  4. one day, we will tramp thru those mountains....but for now your pictures and words take me there....what a journey you have been on....you must feel so blessed.....

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    Replies
    1. I too want to go this place. Do let me know when you plan. I am in..

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  5. Hi Arti,

    This is one of the most mesmerizing post I have seen ... perfect locations that tug my heart ...its decided I am one day going to visit all these locations ... simply out of the world ... and the history associated with each location makes it more beautifull...thanks for sharing these lovely locations

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  6. Gorgeous captures, Arti! And what breathtaking views of the Valley of Flowers! Such an incredible place! Thanks as always for sharing the beauty and the history of your country! Fascinating! Have a great weekend!

    Sylvia

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  7. Thanks and I'll bookmark it for my next trip. Pictures are very beautiful.:)

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  8. the lakes, the snow capped peaks, the springs..they are calling me

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  9. Mesmerizing indeed..! Longing to make my trip..!
    Excellent Arti..!

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  10. Oh! thanks for this...
    I'm dying to visit Valley of flowers and hopefully I'll do it one day :)

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  11. The valley of flowers is, where i'd love to be now! Happy weekend Arti, cheers to adventurous living!

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  12. What beautiful pictures you have to share!! The lake picture, the temple is built so that it looks like part of the mountains, so lovely!

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  13. The Valley was introduced to the world as the Valley of Flowers by Frank S, Smith - mountaineer, explorer, botanist who camped here for several weeks in the monsoon of 1937 and did valuable exploratory work. He authored a book called "The Valley of Flowers" which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world.

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  14. Arti - That Valley of Flowers is exquisite! Such colorful beauty. The mist, the waterfall, and the blooms make it enchanting.

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  15. Nice pictures!! Need to visit these places sometime!!

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  16. Hi, Arti! This time I'm fascinated especially by the Valley of Flowers. The waterfall, mist-hung mountain, shades of green of the mountains, and the blooming flowers, all create the magical world. Thank you for sharing.

    Yoko

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  17. Simply beautifully captured shots from a heavenly place...lovely!

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  18. Wow. How beautiful and amazing scenery.
    I like these flowers and want to explore such mountains.

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  19. Hemkund lake looks gorgeous. Nice travelogue Arti

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  20. hi,

    you are tagged here!

    http://myblogmyviews-gowthami.blogspot.com/2011/08/token-of-love.html

    smile,
    gowthami.

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  21. Wonderful captures , thanks for the virtual tour . Need to visit this place some time in future .

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  22. How untouched and gorgeous! Is it cold at night?

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  23. 1. The best time to go for this trek?

    2. The organization / person who organizes this trek – if possible contact details

    3. Is any special permission required from any Govt body?

    4. How many days does it take to complete the trek upto the Swargarohini Peak (Beyond the Shri Satopanth Lake)?
    5. how much budget for this yatra


    We want to trek from Mana Village via Satopanth Lake Looking forward for your kind replies and guidance.
    my e-mail id is tanmay412@gmail.com

    thanxs

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  24. Mesmerized .The lake and the valley of flowers are gorgeous .One of your awesomest post that i read .
    Have a beautiful Sunday Arti :)

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  25. Oh I'd also love for you to visit these places, especially the valley of flowers.

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  26. Been here twice, Hemkund and the valley because it's so beautiful. Have taken a photo with BrahmaKamal ! :)
    Now to look for all these old photos.

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  27. Hi Arti,


    What a wonderful part of the world you have visited.
    This must be so amazing to have been there and thanks for showing your photos. Love the high mountains, the lake and the valley of flowers.

    Happy weekend
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  28. Magical .. Im in aww . What beauty. Lovely Lovely blog you have .

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  29. @ ladyfi
    I have not been there but it must be very very cold in the night!

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  30. @ The Chair Speaks
    You are so lucky to have been there twice...
    I would love to see your travel pics and hear your travel tales someday!!

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  31. @ ALL
    Yes these are mesmerising places indeed in the very high reaches of the Himalayas...
    Would love to visit them someday...

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  32. The valley of flowers seem to have some breathtaking sceneries! Nicely captured and chronicled :)

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  33. The Valley of Flowers is an amazing place! It is probably good that you didn't get to see EVERYTHING! It's good to have future plans ;>)

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  34. Pictures of Valley of flowers is breath taking. I wish you would visit this sometime and share with us all the details.

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  35. Stunning beauty this is. All the pictures are awesome and graceful expressing real charm.

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  36. We are truly blessed to be born in such a beautiful country. Badrinath and surroundings seem to be really beautiful. I have never heard of a temple for Lakshmana. Interesting! Would surely love to visit these places sometime.

    Cheers!
    Harsha (eynjuls.com)

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  37. Its always nice to come back to your blog.
    Will read all the posts that I missed since I was away.
    I have heard of most of the places that you have pointed here but never been to them.
    Uttrakhand is not called Dev Bhoomi for anything.
    bhardwajme.blogspot.comIts always nice to come back to your blog.
    Will read all the posts that I missed since I was away.
    I have heard of most of the places that you have pointed here but never been to them.
    Uttrakhand is not called Dev Bhoomi for anything.
    bhardwajme.blogspot.com

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  38. The valley of flowers is really mesmerizing. It appears I have wasted my youth. Thank you.

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  39. reading this post was like reading a fantasy story... the pictures were so good and were related to fantasies in many ways... the flower valley was good, water falls mesmerizing, cloduy snowy peaks vibrant... but it was the Hemkund Sahib that was wonderful... a good post and beautiful pictures...

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  40. oh, Valley of Flowers. it makes me want to time a 12 year visit just to see that flower. thanks for sharing this beauty with us Arti. always a pleasure. this gives me something to dream about.

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  41. No wonder people go there, such beauty. I enjoyed all your informatuin.

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  42. Hi Arti,how are you doing? Thanks for your wishes,and loved reading this post....

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  43. The Valley of Flowers looks incredible -- visiting that is definitely on my bucket list!

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  44. Arti, thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. I agree with you, love is about "letting go" and I also believe that is more difficult than many in the West appreciate.

    On another note...I had no idea India hold such beauty!! I was fascinated as I studied your pictures. I've seen pictures of cities, and of course I have seen pictures of overwhelming poverty. Thank you for widening my eyes to another aspect of your country.

    Many Blessings ~ Sandi

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  45. Mystical! The Valley of Flowers is a place I've always heard people raving about, and now your picture. I have to go to this place!

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  46. Mesmerizing
    beautiful valley of flowers

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  47. @ tanmay
    Extremely sorry for the late reply.
    I have actually not visited any of these places as I have mentioned in my post... So I dont have the information which you have asked for, sorry.

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  48. What gorgeous pictures of the valley! I'm sure the place must be so stunning!
    Your blog is lovely, Arti....such a great resource for visiting places in India.
    PS: thanks for visiting my blog and leaving me a note. Hope you'll visit again.

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  49. Arti, each post of yours is such a delight and reminds me what all I have still to see:)I went past the Valley of the Flowers but did not go all the way to Hemkund Sahib:(

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  50. So many lovely places and amazing pics!!! Valley of Flowers is on of my dream destinations. Thanks for the info. about other beautiful places like Swargarohini.

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  51. Those are such beautiful photographs, especially the ones from the Valley of Flowers, I want to cry! A also want to hang my head in shame that I like to call myself a photographer!

    Impeccable narration of the beautiful journey.

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  52. So very jealous of you! i have been dreaming to go to such.
    I have lived in kerala fro sometime and gone around most of south India then.Except for Simla,Manali etcI have not seen much of North.

    Beautiful pictures!

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  53. Lovely post as usual. Yet another place in my to visit list thanks to you! Hemkund Sahib looks like a dream!

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  54. Dear Arti
    Such a beautiful place and such wonderful description... I have a deep longing to visit Valley of Flowers and Swargrohini...Hope to be there sometime and feel the divinity :)))
    Hugs
    Deepa

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  55. Really beautiful as seen from your pictures. A well written post.

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  56. I have to explore after Haridwar. Its like heaven !! Photos are ultimate !

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  57. That's where I'm going this summer... But sadly valley of flowers will be closed during our visit :(

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  58. Wish to go to such a heavenly place.Thanks for sharing.

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  59. Valley of flowers is on top of my list Arti. Awesome photographs. Enjoy your journey dear.

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  60. Satopanth Tal is now on my list too... After I hit the gym :-)

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  61. Oh wow, the place looks so beautiful. Would love to visit it someday :)
    In two days I'll be going to Srinagar for a week's vacation and hope I find wonderful places just like this :) :)

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  62. great enjoyed the armchair reading.

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  63. Hi guys,

    I am also a Pahadi guy and always delighted when somebody posts the beauty of Himalayas. Satopanth is also in my wish list. When I have tracked to Vasudhara, then I came to know about Satopanth-- really a sacred place. I love valley of flowers, devoted to Badrinath ji n Kedarnath ji and Panch Kedar. I request you guys that there are many more places in Uttarakhand to visit---- like Chopta,RoopKund,
    DeveriaTaal, Auli, ChandraBadni Temple, Gangotri, Yamnotri, list is so long.......
    Welcome to the "Abode of Gods" - Uttarakhand

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  64. Thinking of going there in a month or so. Will bring back stories & photos.
    This post will help a lot.

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  65. @Nisha That is so good to know.. Wish you an AWESOME trip! And yes, I'll be waiting for all your stories and pictures! :-)

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  66. hello arti
    nice blog, very good information provided.

    you are welcome to read my post regarding the reason behind chardham yatra / akhand jyoti of the badrinath temple / and babaji and the badrinath idol.

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  67. dear !
    so nice to see your photo,s some r incredible..try to go in indian mela,s like sonepur in patna bihar india you weill love to see.or india have so many mela,s..thanks keep it up..thanks lot.tripathi

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  68. Hello,

    wonderful pictures... good to see ur post..

    Thanks for sharing

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  69. as a trekker myself, i found this post really interesting..
    do checkout the story of my last trek in the himalayas: http://thoughtgraffiti.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/chadar-frozen-river-trek/

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  70. these places seems so divine and out of world. Great posts.

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  71. i m going to satopanth this September 214

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Delighted u stopped by... Your suggestions, feedback are really appreciated. Thanks a lot! Hope you visit again!

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