Enroute to Badrinath (Uttarkashi - Birahi ...Part II)

Day 3 - Uttarkashi - Chowrangikhal - KEMUNDAKHAL - Birahi

After stuffing ourselves in Chowrangikhal, we once again hit the highway and proceeded towards Birahi. Soon the thick curtains of the deodhars opened up to unveil the awesome sight of the rugged green mountains, the plunging gorges, the rolling meadows...

Beautiful old world charm and natural scenic beauty of the Himalayan environs
and the lush green fields – a far cry from the Mumbai concrete jungle!

Magnificient fields enroute to Birahi in the Himalayas
Step-cut fields in the mountains

Picturesque villages with its old world charm with its little box like cottages tucked precariously on top of mountains looked quaint and beautiful as opposed to the ugly crowding in the cities.

Tiny villages of the Himalayan mountains enroute in the Char Dham yatra
Quaint Himalayan settlements on our way up towards Birahi

Today was Choti Diwali, one of the biggest Hindu festivals, and I was so missing all the colors and festivities back home. But just as I thought I would have to celebrate it alone this year, I saw small children accompanied by young beautiful women with baskets on their shoulders walking by…

Pretty and shy village woman on the Himalyan roadway to Badrinath
Our speeding car made them stop in their trail to stare at us, some gave us coy shy glances,
Kids headed toward the fields for work in the Himalayas
some welcomed us with warmth and love,
A smiling chirpy village kid wishing us Happy Diwali in the mountains
while some were just too busy to even notice us!
A kid doing some Gardening work in the Himalyas

Though we did not have any sweets to share with them, but still keeping with the tradition of the festival, we shared whatever little biscuits and chocos we had with these simple village souls who in return gave us their white toothy smiles and joyous faces and made sure to make the festival a memorable and special one for us!

Our Second Halt of Day 3 - Kemundakhal

As we clocked the miles, the lush greenery receded and the snowcapped mountains inched closer. The skies were clear but it was colder than ever. A few hrs later we made our second halt of the day. This time to take the blessings of Goddess Jagdamba at a village called Kemundakhal.

Idol of Maa Jagdamba at the local Temple at Kemundakhal
Idol of Goddess Jagdamba at the Temple

The temples in the villages, steeped in spiritual belief, appear to be small but exude tremendous power. The people of the mountains are deeply wedded to their ancient traditions and hold their patron deities in high veneration. Detached from the rest of the world outside, and living in difficult climatic conditions, they strongly believe that their Gods will protect them from harmful forces and bring prosperity and happiness amongst their community.

A village man performing rituals at the Maa Chamundeshwari Temple at Kemundakhal
A old man praying to their local deity in the Himalayas in Kemundakhal temple
An old local villager praying at the Kemundakhal Temple

Before moving ahead we refereshed ourselves with a steaming cup of chai (tea) at a perfect little tea shack right across the temple.

The highway shack where we had tea at Kemundakhal - Enroute to Badrinath
A tea shack in the Himalayas

Now where in the world can you mix such crystal clear views of some of the highest peaks – Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Badrinath – with your hot cup of afternoon tea…? Not even in a 5 star hotel, I bet!

The entire Himalayan peaks visible from Kemundakhal - Enroute to Badrinath
The road ahead...

Back on the roads, we met 4 of the 5 prayags (More on that in a later post) Vishwanath telling us the significance of each. Further up, we passed the villages of Chamoli and Gopeshwar associated with the legend of Lord Krishna and Shiva.

6.30 PM – Quite tired by now, we retired for the day at GMVN's Tourist Guest House (TRH) River View, Birahi.

The river view rest house at Birahi on the Diwali Night - Enroute to Badrinath
GMVN's Hotel in Birahi brightly decked up
on the occasion of 'Small Diwali' Night

My room photographs at the Tourist Rest House of GMVNL - Birahi
Our Room at the Guest House in Birahi

The rooms were clean and had attached bathrooms having hot water. We celebrated Diwali in our little way by lighting earthen lamps outside our room followed by a light but sumptuous meal nevertheless.

Celebrating Choti Diwali In Birahi By lighting earthen Diyas outside our room
Lit earthen diyas (candles) outside our room

I could hear the rapid laps of the Alaknanda waters gurgling in the viscinity but since it had gone completely dark that day and we left quite early the following day, I could never have a view of the Alaknanda River flowing besides the hotel then. However, I did make it a point to revisit the place two days later while descending down from Badrinath and catch the sight in broad daylight, photos of which I am putting up here.

The Tourist river view GMVN rest house at Birahi in Day
Tourist Guest House (TRH) River View, Birahi in daylight

River Alaknanda flowing besides the GMVN rest house, Birahi
River Alaknanda flowing besides the Hotel in Birahi

Tip for Travelers

Food is basic and prepared at the Guest house on order. Give the hotel staff sufficient lead time while ordering your menu.

Just a Quick Update Note:

Today, the 6th of May is Akshaya Tritiya is a very auspicious day according to the Hindu calendar. The gates of Badrinath Dham which had been shut for the past 6 months or so in November last year (just a few days after I had returned from the trip) are opening today. In this virtual travel of ours, we will be reaching there shortly!

Previous posts from this trip -

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  1. The pictures, especially of the mountains, remind me of one thing. Eternity.

  2. the pictures of the villagers r interesting... sometimes feel, they have got a tension free life always breathing fresh air and they adapt themselves with nature...
    step cut farms r so wonderful... never seen them before... the decoration to the Goddess is also superb.... gives a good feeling...

  3. Wow,the view of the Mumbai concrete jungle is magnificient! I enlarged the photos to see the details. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Beautiful clicks....really envy your trips to these stunning locales!!

  5. Wow...the pictures look amazing. Simply picture card perfect. Touching to read your Choti Diwali with the passers by. Birahi looks a lovely place:)

  6. Nice description and fantastic pics. Loved the trip. I went in May but there was lot of snow around.We stayed at Chamoli.

  7. Aha for once no word verifier :-)

    Its good to see that most of the places up north are untouched. (let hope it remians that ay)
    Some nice candid photographs there.

  8. Breathtaking viwes here Arti! Would love to see this with my own eyes one day. Have a splendid weekend!

  9. great post ! sure wish i could enjoy a chai in that exact place. it looks so beautiful!!

  10. Amazing views , nice photos and wonderful virtual tour .Thanks

  11. The air seems so crisp and clear in your fabulous photos!

  12. Love your photos and your blog. I'm looking forward to more posts. I'm following you and hope you will following me also.

    Regards, Mari


  13. Interesting picture and story. Useful details as usual. Thanks Arti..!

  14. Beautiful pictures! Like I said earlier, I just want to go to somewhere it is cool. Too hot where I am right now.

  15. looks like a wonderful trip. the views are gorgeous.

  16. the sparkling waters on the first picture look so inviting.

  17. Hy Arti,
    Glad I landed on your space...awesome presentation with interesting tips...
    great clicks..
    Am you happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    happy mother s day to you ..:)
    Tasty Appetite

  18. Beautiful Clicks! Keep on posting...

    Have a beautiful day, dear Arti :-)

  19. Fantastic place! The fields cut in the slopes look surprising from a further perspective

  20. My dear friend
    Welcome to my blog and many thanks for so kind words!!!
    You country is so beautiful, your photos amazing and you have very good informations!!!
    You are allready in my favorites blogs !
    Worm regards from Greece

  21. Scenery of villages in the moutains is breathtaking and also looks familiar to me because of terrace fields. Sadly enough, in Japan, many terrace fields have been abandoned. They need a lot of hard work. I love your photos and feel so nostalgic. Thank you for sharing!

  22. Excellent photo story. Mountains are always such a sight.. you seem one helluva traveller.

  23. Good to be back and visiting you, I've missed my armchair travels. Enjoy the rest of your trip and keep the photographs coming.

  24. That is lovely that the villagers made you feel welcome especially on a holy day. The countryside is beautiful and it does look like a lovely contrast from the crowds of the city.

  25. great shots
    and information makes it wonderful read

  26. been to all these places n thnks fr sure fr rejuvenatin all dose memories..heyy nice photography too :)

  27. It's like heaven is here on the earth in India! Really amazing............!

  28. That's a beautiful account of the trip Arti, thoroughly enjoyed going through this series of posts!

  29. Your plunging gorges are gorgeous. Thanks for this pictorial perambulation. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    All the best, Boonie

  30. Your sceneries on your first photos are similar to our Banaue Rice Terraces. I like your stories esp the part where you met with those local kids. Beautiful places you visited.

  31. Thts a lovely piece of information complimented with beautifully captured photos:)...Missed lots of ur post Aarthi how r u?...I had been to India for my sister's wedding so was v busy:)

  32. Such peace and serenity, in those magical mountains. I can just smell the fresh country air just by gazing at the gorgeous scenery.
    A place where one can meditate and be in total tranquility. It's a bookmarked must visit place for me to see, hopefully some day soon!

    Thank you for visiting, and commenting on my blog...so happy to find yours:DDD

  33. I am extremely Passionate about travelling so u have got a new follower Arti:-)
    Loved ur blog ...Visit me at http://fashionquotient.blogspot.com/
    and If you like please comment and Follow back...

  34. Looks like you had a wonderful time in what looks like a beautiful place.

  35. Gosh, there is a LOT to see here!! I am fascinated by the mountain, in the first few pictures, it looks like man made steps!! Is all that natural? The water looks so clean and beautiful in the last picture! And I love that green striped guest house with the strange shape! It looks like it would fit in with some of the cabana houses on our beaches.

  36. hey Arti,
    found ur blog while surfing...
    nice blog on travel. look forward to
    m a follower now... do visit my blog when u have time..

  37. Gorgeous thanks for sharing. I so love reading about people travels and seeing their pics. It gives me itchy feet...

  38. this has surely become my favorite traveller blog.. love the way u present it

  39. Dear Arti
    Just to say , I am enjoying reading these posts.. Birahi reminds me of many thing. There is a great tragedy associated with Birahi ganga, when a whole mountain fell on the river and formed a big dam in1894 or so. A very big lake was formed. In 1895 or so the dam broke partially and the whole Srinagar town was wiped out.
    There are lot of description about the lake even until 1980s. I wanted to go to the lake on Birahi Ganga. Can you imagine, the lake had vanished in 1964 or so and no one reported. All articles on the lake was copied from generation to generation. Please read more on Birahi Ganga and the great disaster.
    Have a nice day

  40. @ Ushnish
    Never heard of that, it definitely is a tragic story... Will try to search more on it...
    And I am amazed by the immense knowledge of the Himalayas you have...

  41. Dear Arti
    Please give search on Gohna Tal, also read how old Srinagar ( Garwal) town was wiped out. let me see if I can fish out a photo of Gohna Tal of 1930s.
    Have a look at this

    Have a nice weekend

  42. @Ushnishda Very interesting info on Gohna tal there. The history of this place is amazing...The floods in Alaknanda, the lives lost and the eventual disappearance of the Gohna Tal in the late 1900's was heartening to read! Thanks for the links. Will go through again in leisure surely...

  43. You have taken my breath away Arti (in the first three pics)! Thanks for sharing them...

    Keep posting,

    Indie :)

  44. Beautiful pics, feel like traveling there right away :-)

  45. Beautiful place. The scenic beauty is very inviting.

  46. serene and calm...what a joy reading this post! :)

  47. Beautiful pictures..I liked the reactions of people. Any tips while planning trip to BadriNath..

  48. lovely pics! And you've captured the pristine Himalayas well.

  49. Very beautiful pictures. The best thing is that you described your itinerary in a very simple way which is easy to follow,.


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