Enroute to Badrinath (Joshimath Gate System)

Day 4 : Birahi - Joshimath - Badrinath

Our day 4’s route of Birahi to Badrinath was an 80 km drive and passed through the town of Joshimath where one encounters a ‘Gate system’. (Similar gates are encountered at Badrinath too and these gates regulate the traffic flow uphill and downhill in between them.)

What is a Gate System?

The Gate System simply means that the routes from thereon become one way; when vehicles from Joshimath are let go, vehicles at Badrinath are stopped and vice versa. It is a very well-organized approach adopted by the local authorities to manage the traffic and ensure that no untoward accident occurs on account of the narrow and treacherous routes between these two places.

Our Day starts

The earlier day, we had planned to leave Birahi by 4.00 AM so as to pass through the first gate at Joshimath that opens at 6:30 AM (Birahi - Joshimath is 37 kms that’s approximately a 2 hrs drive). This would then facilitate our further plans which were simply to reach Badrinath as soon as possible, take blessings at the Badrinath temple in the morning before the temple closes down in the noon and then spend the rest of the day exploring around!

But thanks to the chilly weather conditions which had aided our sleep, we could leave Birahi only by 5.00 AM, one hr late than the predecided time. The delay simply meant that we (or rather Vishwanath, our driver) had to hurry and try catching up on the lost time. Missing this gate would not only mean wasting 2 hours in Joshimath but it would stall all our further plans too.

The early rays of the Himalayan sun dancing in the horizon
The just-rising sun highlighting a Garhwal mountain faraway

Vishwanath was at his driving best speeding past the quiet elegant waters of the River Alaknanda which was giving us constant company all along after Devprayag leading us towards the great Dham of Badrinath.

The narrow stream of the Alaknanda River after Devprayag along the Badrinath route in the Himalayas
The narrow stream of the Alaknanda River along the
Badrinath route in the Himalayas

We reached Joshimath by 7.00 AM, a few minutes later than the stipulated gate closure time. But what surprised us was that our car kept on moving… we anticipated barricades… policemen talking in their walky talkies, check posts, long queues of waiting vehicles, but as luck would have it… none came in view!

Travelling off season does have a lot of advantages! Royalty was definitely one of them which we were experiencing in abundance in this trip.  And, need I say, we were enjoying every bit of it! Apparently, lesser number of pilgrims (even lower than 10% of the peak pilgrim crowd) meant dim traffic due to which the entire gate system had been scrapped.

After crossing Joshimath, the roads ahead looked difficult. We drove along the narrow stretches crisscrossing the dangerous, steep, snaky and bumpy terrain of the Himalayas with stones strewn here and there along the path.

Narrow roads at Joshimath enroute to Badrinath

The trail was difficult for even a lone vehicle transiting through and the gate system approach seemed a lot more logical to us now!

Narrow roads after the Joshimath gate system enroute to Badrinath
Look how narrow and dangerous the roads at Joshimath are!

Huge overhead rocks at Joshimath-Badrinath highway
And there is also the danger of overhead rocks falling on you any moment!

A few minutes later, we passed through the mythical twin mountains of Nar and Narayan dedicated to the sages of the epic Mahabharata by the same name. It is said that with each passing day, as the evil in the world is rising, the two mountains are inching closer towards each other. A day will come when the two will join in and the route to Badrinath will be shut forever. Then, the Lord will be worshipped at the Bhavishya Badri or future Badri which is situated at Subain near Tapovan, about 17 kms east of Joshimath. At the moment though, the mountains are distant enough to let your car pass through comfortably.

The mythical towns of Nar and Narayan in the Himalayas
The mythical mountains of Nar and Narayan on the Badrinath roadway

After crossing these mountains, the roads became much much better and it didn't take us long to set foot on the sacred soil of the Badrinath tirtha...

The roads become good just before reaching Badrinath
The roads become smooth as butter much to my surprise and relief,
just before reaching Badrinath

Soon, we sighted the regional board welcoming us to the holy land of Badrinath –

The regional boards welcomes us to the holy town of Badrinath
'Jaya Badri Vishal' - Welcome to the holy town of Badrinath

And Vishwanath burst into a loud chant of ‘Bolo Badri Vishal Ki Jai’. Boy! He was really excited… Actually we all were… Eagerly looking forward to the Diwali celebrations in the Valley of the Gods…

Our Travel Route Map for Day 4 of the Char Dham Yatra
Birahi-Joshimath-Badrinath Travel route map of the Char Dham in the Himalayas
Birahi-Badrinath travel route map, Char Dham - Himalayas
(Click on the map to enlarge)

Color Key for the map

       - Our Route for the day from Birahi to Badrinath

       - Halts en route, starting point and destination included

      - Joshimath, the town enroute to Badrinath where one comes across the 'Gate System'

       - One of the Char Dhams, The Badrinath Dham which was also our place of stay for the day.

Related Information and Travel Tips

1. Important Distances -
Birahi to Badrinath is 80 kms, Birahi to Joshimath is 37 kms and Joshimath to Badrinath is 43 kms.

2. Plan your arrival at Joshimath carefully to match the Gate opening batch timings and avoid wasting long hours in queue. Gate timings for vehicles traveling upwards from Joshimath to Badrinath are 6.30 AM, 9.30 AM, 11.00 AM, 2.00 PM & last batch at 4.00 PM.

Previous posts from this trip -

Post a Comment


  1. It looks little dangerous to cross this streets :) LG Tina

  2. Beautiful write up and loved the pics.
    yes, the route is very narrow and dangerous.

  3. Wow, just amazing. loved the first pic very much

  4. i think we can use the Gate System here. there are so many road accidents happening. and it's not because the roads are too narrow; it's actually the opposite. crazy, huh?

  5. Oh my goodness what beautiful scenery.

    I love the way you have included the map with your route, it makes following your journey even easier.

  6. These photos were by far the best till date on your Char Dham yatra. Loved the crystal clear skies and the pristine glory of nature. Looking forward to the temple photos. :)

  7. Dear Arti
    Thanks for this nice treat, I felt as if I was travelling with you!Haven't gone to Badri for many years now. Let me see if I can make it this year. I had a plan to go to see the temple opening ceremony on Akshay Trutiya ..but as usual did not happen.
    I recall, once in 90s, we were waiting at the interchange ( At Pandukeswar where up and down traffic cross over). We had reached before the down traffic from Badri arrived. The arrival kept on delaying and local people were very anxious. I came to know, that if the down traffic was delayed beyond 15 minutes , there was sure to be an accident or land slide. And the traffic started arriving after 45 minutes to every ones great relief. Luckily the leading vehicle, a bus , had broken down and there was no accident or land slide. I was travelling in pick Monsoon. It is really nerve breaking to go to Garwal in Monsoon. I have stopped going now.
    Let me read the other postings
    Have a nice weekend

  8. The overhead rocks are very dangerous.Take care.
    How great travel.I envy you can enjoy traveling many places.

  9. Seeing those roads, you can certainly appreciate the use of the gate system. I once traveled in the mountains of Norway and a gate system would have been nice there as well.--Inger

  10. This looks VERY advenurous Arti! Glad you arrived safely. Yet the landscape is breathtaking. Hope your weekend will be lovely!

  11. Ooo Arti, this trip was thriler !
    But is so interesting !!!
    Thank you for amazing photos and informations!

  12. Magnificient views captured beautifully..lovely post!!!

  13. well, a good continuation... gate system is something new to me... never heard of those...
    visiting in off peak seasons have many advantages in lot of places.... last year we visited tirupathi during july which was off season and we went in within 2 hours, whereas in season days u need to wait 2 days...
    photographs were as usual nice... roads look very dangerous.... would have been a terrific experience....

  14. Wonderful post with nicely captured images!
    Congrats on completing 100 posts!
    Happy blogging :) :)
    Take care

  15. wow those roads do look intense !! an adventure to be sure. good thing you had a good driver. you can see why the gate system there is a necessary idea at peak times!
    great post
    ~laura xx

  16. What amazing scenery. I'd love to just stop and drink it all in!

  17. God! How does one navigate roads like that??? Too scary. Hope you had a nerve racking journey:P Incredibly beautiful pictures:)

  18. drivers are very skilled who drive the buses.
    tough job.
    beautiful pics

  19. Yikes, I admire you for daring to go through that road without the gate system in place. Glad everything ok. The mountains remind me of the Alps in a way, without the greenery.

  20. A super trip and a super account. I feel like I was there with you. :D

  21. This post took me down memory lane ~ I have been there once. A beautiful n adventurous drive together with the sheer beauty and serenity of the place..it all came back in a flash!
    US Masala

  22. Wow,it looks dangerous trip! It is scary. I am so relieved you got a smooth roads at last! Take care and enjoy!

  23. Wow - what a journey ! Your photos made it clear how rugged and challenging that trip is - great descriptions in your post.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I shall be back to see more of your posts.

  24. I love the first photo very much. What an awesome adventure. Take care, my friend.

  25. Beautiful scenery, but what an adventure on that winding, narrow, and rock-strewn road!

  26. Too scary for me. So thanks for showing me here this part of your country.

  27. @ Ushnish
    Hope you make it there this year, the best time is just before the temple closes... There is neither traffic nor rush, you can enjoy comfortably...
    And yes that story was terrifying, I can imagine the scenes in rainy season there... Black and thunderous, must be very very scary...

  28. @ Karthick
    I can understand how you must have felt to take the darshan of Tirupati Balaji in 2 hours, it is unheard of!!!
    And yes this trip was a fabulous experience...

  29. @ Aipi
    Glad I could take you back in time...

  30. Hi Artie,
    Thanks for your visit to my blog!
    Wow, what an amazing & adventurous life you lead! Life is short, so many things to do & see... looks like you are making the most of it!

  31. Considering the population of India, the roads seems very quite. I hope that there is emergency help avialble or may be every one can be well versed with taking care of an auto mobile. I have been driving since 1979 and still I don't know how to change a tire. My husband takes care of all those things.

  32. Those roads! I'm afraid I'd have my eyes closed for some bits of the ride, but the views would be too fantastic to miss. What an unbelievably beautiful place.

  33. Wow Arti. That gate system is ingenious and obviously necessary (one glance at your road pictures and you know why you wouldn't want to meet a car going the other way!). Some people here on the East Coast of the US think that the West Coast (where we're originally from) is scary because of all the mountain roads. It can be mountainous, but, I don't think anything like these that you show.

    Such a lovely trip -- thanks for sharing it with us.

  34. Even though i am from Uttranchal ,i have never been to Badrinath.Thanks for such a detailed post and i loved the pictures .Have a nice week Arti :)

  35. Beautifully captured photos Aarthi loved the wrire up and congrats on completion of 100th post :)

  36. the photos are so colorful....very nice photography.....would like to know which cam do u use?

  37. Some of the best trips we had were during off season, during season it is crowded everywhere, photos too will not have its appeal with too much crowd around monuments. I believe the narrow roads gives creepy feeling to majority

  38. Awesme, you are on real adventure.

  39. Wow! This totally reminds me of this program on tv - 'the worlds most dangerous roads'! Well done! I am glad you are back blogging about this!

  40. Both the write up and photographs are good. Roads look really dangerous.

  41. You know what would be my comment right!! Quite obvious..."it's amazing"

  42. Whoaa Arti! The pics are awesome <3 :*
    Loved the motion-blur in some pics and Girl, I'm a fan of your blog... :)

    Indie :)

  43. The route seems very challenging.

    Are there any special measures need to be taken by old people or like less oxygen etc..

  44. Wow Arti! It is looking very adventurous trip and great photographs. If you wish to plan travel for badrinath, we also have some exciting tour packages for badrinath yatra.

  45. Such a nice blog. Very informative & interesting as well. Kudos


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

If you have asked a question, please give me at least 2 days to reply back. Thank you :)