Shipton Tillman Trek
Shipton Tillman Trek
Shipton Tillman Trek|
|Shipton Tillman Trek||17
from the Govt. of India are necessary||Technical
Of The Flowers and Roopkund Lake Garhwal Northern India
over the Kauri Pass was the route followed by Shipton and Tilman on their way
to the Rishi Gorge and by other mountaineers en route to the peaks on the Indo-Tibetan
border. It is also called the Curzon Trail, as the famous former Viceroy of India
traveled this route. The trail was named after Lord Curzon, who was a keen trekker,
and it is said that the path was specially improved so that he could do the trek.
The crossing of the pass is a fitting conclusion to a trek that takes in three
lesser passes and five major rivers - the Pindar, Kaliganga, Nandakini, Briehiganga
and the Dhauliganga.
This trek takes you over mountain passes, through
dense forests of oak, pine, rhododendron, fir and deodar, traversing bugayals
- wide open meadows typical to the region which serve as high altitude summer
grazing grounds - and numerous streams. You get truly spectacular views of the
Himalayas, all the way from Trisul (23,496 ft/7,120 m) to the peaks of Kedarnath
(22,994ft/ 6,968m) with Kamet (25,595 ft/7,756 m), Nilkanth (21,767 ft/6,596 m),
Rishikot, Changabang (22,651 ft/6,864 m), Kedarnath and Chowkhamba (23,522 ft/7,128
m), to name a few. It is also possible if you walk along the ridge for a while
to gain views of the legendary twin peaks of Nanda Devi, surrounded by an awesome
19,800ft/6,000 m wall which forms a sanctuary. In many publications the Kauri
Pass is described as one of the finest vantage points in the Himalaya.
at 25,643ft/7,816m is the highest mountain in India (excluding
Sikkim) and was the highest in the former British Empire. The legend has it that
the hand of Nanda Devi (she who gives bliss), daughter of a local king, was demanded
in marriage by a marauding prince. War ensued, her father was killed andshe fled,
eventually finding refuge on top of the mountain now bearing her name. A ring
of mountains 112km in
circumference protects her, containing 12 peaks over
21,000ft/6,400m. For half a century the problems which engaged the attention of
many experienced explorers and mountaineers was not so much how to climb the mountain,
but how to get to it. Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman finally solved the riddle when
they forced a way up the Rishiganga Gorge. Tilman,
a purist, wrote
"We live in an age of mechanization and in recent years it has become apparent
that even mountaineering is in danger of becoming mechanized. It is therefore
pleasing to record that in climbing Nanda Devi, no climbing aids were used, apart,
that is, from the apricot brandy we took."
Some time in 1905, Dr.
Longstaff, the famous mountaineer, happened to reach Roop Kund in the course of
his search for the Nanda Devi base. He stood dumbfounded by what he saw near the
small oval lake - hundreds of human skeletons lay strewn beside the lake. Many
stories have been written and many theories advanced to explain these skeletons.
The mystery has remained unsolved to this day.
The region has been open
since the British took over in 1815, but explorers in favour of the more mysterious
Nepal abandoned it. The scenic splendour of the mountains here lies partly in
the fact that the forests around the big peaks are still in marvelous condition
and the local population unaffected by the ravages of mass tourism. Also in Garhwal
and Kumaon there are ranges that you can easily get among, enabling a greater
feeling of intimacy with the Himalayan giants. Location Chart :
Mandoli - Bedni Bugyal - Bhogubasa Cave - Roopkund - Bhogubasa - Wan - Kunol
- Sutol - Dekhandhar - Ghunni - Kaliaghat - Dhakauni - Kauri Pass - Tapovan -
Joshimath - Govind Ghat - Ghangaria - Valley of flowers - Rishikesh - Delhi
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY DAY 1: Drive to Mandoli, Trek to camp
(8,640 ft /2,634 m). 8-9 hrs drive, 1 hr trek.
After an early start you
follow the River Ganges until Deoprayag, the confluence of the rivers Alaknanda
and Bagirathi. The road then follows the Alaknanda River, and finally the Pindar
River up to Tharali. You are at the mercy of road conditions and while the road
is good up until Karnprayag, there are often rough sections to cross up to Debal.
From Debal the road runs up to Mandoli. The campsite is among shrines on the top
of the ridge about 1,600ft/500m above Mandoli, near to a Forestry department nursery,
and has fabulous views south down the valley and north in the direction you will
follow tomorrow up the Gyan Ganga. Camp overnight. DAY 2: Trek to
Bedni Bugyal. (11,000 ft /3,354m). 6 hrs.
The day starts with a steep
climb up through the forest. After three hours you will emerge above the tree
line and will get wonderful views of Chaukhamba and Nilkanth as you walk along
high grassed ridges before reaching the meadows of Bedni Bughyal. This high meadow
is the main camp used by travelers on the great pilgrimage to Roop Kund that takes
place every 12 years. It is a beautiful place dotted with shrines and temples,
and the morning should give awesome views of Trisul as well as mountains of the
Garhwal such as Nilkanth to the north-west. Camp overnight. DAY 3:
Trek to Bhogubasa Cave. (13,451ft/4,100m) 5 to 6 hrs.
This is a day when
you increase sharply in altitude. For those who do not feel fit enough there will
be the option to trek down to Wan, where the main group will meet you on Day 8.
The trail crosses a hump to reach Bistola and then climbs up to Bhogubasa, an
improvised stone shelter that is generally used by local pilgrims. Camp overnight.
DAY 4: Trek to Roop Kund (15,092ft/4,600m) and Teturn to Bhogubasa.
6 hrs return.
In the morning if the weather is clear you will get stupendous
views of Trisul and the mountains around. An arduous trek for about three hours
gets you to Roop Kund. This is an optional trip for those who are feeling fit
and are acclimatising well. Alternatively provision will be made to return down
to Wan for those who do not feel strong enough. This trek to the outer rim of
the Nanda Devi Sanctuary is spectacular. The mysterious pond of Roop Kund lies
in the lap of Trisul Mountain. Every 12 years thousands of devout pilgrims undertake
a difficult trek to the lake from Nauti village, near Karnaprayag. The pilgrims
are said to be led by a mysterious four-horned ram, which takes them from there
through Roop Kund to the shrine of Nanda Devi, where it disappears. The pilgrims
on a silver palanquin carry a golden idol of the goddess, Nanda Devi. At Roop
Kund, if the snow is not too deep, the skeletons and remains of human beings and
horses can be seen, surrounded by glaciers and high peaks. The lake presents a
magnificent sight and another 30 minutes' walk up to the ridge above the lake
will reward you with wonderful views of Trisuli and the surrounding mountains.
After spending some time exploring the area, you return to Bhogubasa. Camp overnight.
DAY 5: Trek to Wan. (8,045ft/2,437m). 7 to 8 hrs.
begins with a 3-hour return trek to Bedni Bugyal. The track then makes a long,
steep descent through a fine forest of firs and rhododendrons and across a beautiful
clearing with much of the track being paved. After another drop down, you reach
the river 2½ hours later - a good place for a late lunch. After a climb
to reach the main valley, at the head of which is Wan. We camp above the village,
by a Tourist Bungalow on a wide tree-fringed terrace. Just above the Bungalow
is the sacred grove of Latu, another famous local devta (spirit), whose temple
lies under one of the biggest Deodar trees in India. Unfortunately some of its
branches have snapped off near the top. Wan is a fascinating old village where
the men and women continue to wear traditional Garhwali brown, homespun wool blankets
pinned across the chest. Camp overnight. DAY 06: Trek to Sutol Via
Kunol. (7,500ft/2,300m/) 6 hrs.
Walking on past Latu's temple the path
climbs gently up through magnificent cypress trees to the beautiful Kukin Khal
pass at 10,070ft/3,069m, reached in about 1¾ hours. There are two graves
of holy men here. The path drops down to broad meadows with the track marked with
stone rows on either side. Another 45 minutes takes you to the end of the broad
meadows to near Kunol. From here the track drops down east again on a long undulating
traverse through magnificent forest, filled with monkeys, to the confluence of
two rivers to camp below Sutol after another two and a half hour walk. You may
get views of Trisul through the trees. Camp overnight. DAY 07: Trek
to Dekhandhar. (6,955ft/2,120m). 6 hours.
A short climb brings you to
Sutol a lovely village with paved alleys and heavy slate roofs. There is a post
box here should you wish to post letters. The track now traverses along the valley
with a number of ups and downs and huge drops down to the river gorge below, through
forests smelling of fir trees. After dropping to a river, crossed by a green girder
footbridge there is a long steep climb to a little temple on a col at 8,200ft.
From here, passing fields and small-holdings, and dropping once again to a side
river, there is a good place for lunch after a total of about four and a half
hours. An upper track leads you to a bridge and then a gradual climb through forest
to emerge near farms and fields up to a splendid camp site near Dekhandhar at
2,120m on a ridge with amazing views of Trisul, one and a quarter hours from the
lunch stop. Camp overnight. DAY 08: Trek to Ghunni. (8,200ft/2,500m)
A short climb brings you to Sutol, a lovely village with paved
alleys and heavy slate roofs. There is a post box here should you wish to post
letters. The track now traverses along the valley with a number of ups and downs
and huge drops down to the river gorge below, through forests smelling of fir
trees. After dropping to a river, crossed by a green girder footbridge there is
a long steep climb to a little temple on a col at 8,200ft/2,500m. From here, passing
fields and smallholdings, and dropping once again to a side river, there is a
good place for lunch after a total of about three hours. A steep upper track leads
you to a bridge and then a gradual climb through forest to emerge near farms and
fields with possible further views of Trisul, before reaching the village of Ala,
which has a house with magnificent carvings on the porch. After three hours from
your lunch stop you reach your camp by the school of the small village of Ghunni.
It should be possible to visit the nearby village of Ramani to have a look round.
It is a typical Garhwal village with friendly people and attractive houses with
heavy slate roofs and paved alleys surrounded by fertile fields. It has a solar-powered
electricity scheme. Camp overnight. DAY 09: Trek to Kaliaghat. (7,500ft/2,300m)
This is a long but rewarding day. From the campsite you climb steeply
for 1,000ft/300m on a good zigzagging track to emerge on open grassy grazing meadows.
Snow peaks begin to emerge above the forest to the north. The path continues up
through forests of rhododendron, pines and oak with more pastures for summer grazing
with shepherd huts. You may meet flocks of sheep and goats moving along the track.
The highest point, reached in 2¼ hours from the camp, at 3,064m/10,053ft,
is the Ramni Pass, also called Binayak Top. It is also possible to make out the
Kauri Pass, which we will cross on Day 14. From now on there may be a chance to
see the multi-coloured monal pheasant but they are very shy, being hunted by the
locals for the pot. You then trek gently down for a while across more pastures
and open glades, then into lovely forests of horse chestnuts and walnut trees
with waterfalls. The track now starts a steep zigzag descent, reaching the colourful
village of Jhi-jhi. The trail carries on down past small farms through woods to
the spectacular suspension bridge at 1,840m/6,037ft across the Birehi Gorge, currently
inhabited by a large number of monkeys. From here a very steep climb takes you
back to 7,382ft/2,250m, where the track eases after a one and a half-hour ascent.
From here the path is almost flat passing through fine rhododendron forest with
long-tailed magpies flitting about. There are many streams and waterfalls as the
route contours round many deep re-entrants. If you look down to the deep gorge
below you can see the landslide and the Gauna Lake, which burst to flood the whole
of the Ganga Valley down to Rishikesh in 1898. After going round the head of a
horseshoe valley you reach two lovely rivers cascading down under the path. From
here there is a short climb to a spot called Kaliaghat, which is a good campsite
near the village of Pana. Camp overnight.
DAY 10: Trek to Dhakauni
Via Sartoli and Domabhiti. (11,000ft/3353m) - 7 hours.
This is another
long, but spectacular day. The route traverses above the village and then starts
a steep climb up into rhododendron forest, with many zigzags - it is a broad,
well made track but after quite a number of false summits, a Col is reached at
9,842ft/3,000m. The path now descends gently, traversing along the valley, to
open meadows with views across to the Kuari Pass. The track then traverses down
around the side of the valley, across several streams, before it plunges down
a very steep and loose section, much of which has been washed away by the monsoons
- an awkward and loose descent.
At the bottom, you will see that the river
has cut through a deep rocky dramatic gorge, to your right. This is wild country
and there are no settlements, while blue sheep and the Himalayan black bear are
said to be roaming here. From the river, it is a very steep climb of about 3,000
feet (900 m) with a small break about half the way up to cross a large stream.
A final climb brings you above the tree-line to the campsite on the large pastures
where sheep and goats graze in summer, with the Kauri Pass towering above. Camp
DAY 11: Trek Across Kauri Pass (Kuara Khal) (12,000ft/3,658m)
to Kulara (11,155ft/3,400m). 8 hours.
A long and spectacular day. You
aim to cross the pass so that you will have the benefit of the clear early morning
views the following day. The route traverses above the village of Pana and then
starts a steep climb up into rhododendron forest, with many zigzags - it is a
broad, well made track but after quite a number of false summits, a Col is reached
at 9,842ft/3,000m. The path now descends gently, traversing along the valley,
to open meadows with views across to the Kauri Pass. The track then traverses
down around the side of the valley, across several streams, before it plunges
down a very steep and loose section, much of which has been washed away by the
monsoons - an awkward and loose descent. At the bottom, you will see that the
river has cut through a deep rocky dramatic gorge, to your right. This is wild
country and there are no settlements, while blue sheep and the Himalayan black
bear are said to be roaming here. From the river, it is a very steep climb of
about 3,000ft/900m with a small break about half the way up to cross a large stream.
A final climb brings you above the tree-line to a pasture where sheep and goats
graze in summer. The Kauri Pass towers above. The climb up to the pass is made
on a zigzag track to the top. You make a traverse along the high ridge past a
shrine to Shiva before dropping down to your camp at Kulara which is the name
given to a clearing amongst the Rhododendrons about half an hour and 500ft/150m
below Shiva's shrine to await the spectacular views of the morning. Camp overnight.
DAY 12: Trek to Taovan. (6,562ft/2,000m/), Drive to Joshimath.
For the keen types among you, it is worth getting up early to go back up to the
pass for the dawn views of the Himalaya. Frank Smythe, who came this way in 1931
en route to Kamet (25,443ft/7,757m), the second highest mountain in this region,
summed it up beautifully. "We breasted the slope and halted, silent on the
path. No words would express our delight. The Himalaya were arrayed before us
in a stupendous arc". Some of the mountains seen are Kamet, Nilkanth (7,141m/23,425ft),
Dunagiri (7,067m/23,182ft) and Changabang (6,864m/22,516ft), with even Nanda Devi
herself visible if you walk along the ridge for a while. The blinding vision of
snow peaks make all the effort worthwhile, for it is often said that this is one
of the greatest mountain views in the world.
A long way below lies Tapovan
and the roadhead. A 5-hr walk. A very steep descent to the Tapovan, down through
woods and pastures. At Tapovan your bus will be waiting for the drive to Joshimath
which, although having none of the elegance of its sister hill resorts, does have
a charm and beauty of its own. It is the site where the famous Adiguru Shankaracharya
attained enlightenment before beginning his campaign for the unification of India
and the revitalization of Hinduism. There is a temple here called the Na Singh
where the statue of Na Singh involves a legend that when the arm of the idol finally
breaks, the road to Badrinath will be blocked. The arm gets smaller every year!
Time to restock supplies and relax, and look around this bustling garrison town.
It is the centre of the Indian ski scene, and the cable car up to the resort of
Auli starts in the middle of Joshimath. Overnight in the Uday Palace Hotel.
DAY 13: Drive to Govind Ghat, Trek to Ghangaria. (10,100ft/3,079m). 6-hr walk.
Today you leave Joshimath on the pilgrim road to Badrinath and have to go
in convoy as the road up to the holy temple is only one way. Following the Alaknanda
you stop at Govind Ghat half way up the gorge. You leave the vehicles and walk
up the Bhiundhar Valley to Ghangaria. This is a pilgrim road for Sikhs who in
their thousands make a pilgrimage in the summer up here to the lake of Hem Kund
which is holy to them, and Ghangaria is a camp for them before they make the arduous
climb to the 4,000m/13,123ft lake. The walk up to Ghangaria is beautiful despite
the ample evidence of the passage of the Sikh multitude. The path rises steeply
through rich forest with eventual views of some of the great peaks around. You
camp in or around Ghangaria, which is deserted in spring and summer. Camp overnight.
DAY 14: Trek into Valley of the Flowers. 2 hrs.
It is a 1km
gradual ascent to the Valley of the Flowers, following the path at the left fork
a little after Ghangaria. You then descend steeply into a narrow gorge. After
crossing the bridge over the Bhiundhar Ganga, you climb for about another 1 km.
The entrance to the valley is officially at the bridge over the Bhiundhar, though
the full view down to Rataban opens up after 1 km or so. The valley in Spring
is a sight to be seen and it will be an unforgettable experience. In autumn the
turning leaves on trees to the south side of the valley entrance produce the colors.
The valley extends for 10 km and through the centre there is a path, and the day
can be spent exploring up towards the glaciers at the far end. Return trek to
camp at Ghangaria. Camp overnight. DAY 15: Return Trek to Govind Ghat,
Drive Back to Joshimath and Then on to Near Rudraprayag.
If you have the
energy it is possible to make an early start to climb the 3,000ft/1,000m on a
zig zag track up to HemKund. Poised among a ring of 16,500ft/5,000m peaks it is
an incredible place, and the holy temple itself quite a surprise. Otherwise you
walk down the Bhiundar Valley to Govind Ghat where you meet the vehicles for the
return drive to Joshimath and on to the Monal Resort Hotel near Rudraprayag for
the last evening before the return to civilisation. Time to relax and prepare
for any celebrations that may be planned by the camp staff. Overnight at the Monal
DAY 16: (Spring) Drive to Rishikesh. (Autumn) Drive
to River Rafting Camp, Near Rishikesh. 230 kms. 11 hrs.
A long drive on
a very good (and very spectacular road), the last part of which will be following
the route you took at the start of the trek. As the road is generally in much
better condition than the last section of the outward leg the journey should take
the same time, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos or have a
glass of tea. Look out for the road signs, which are a great deal more imaginative
than anything you might see in Europe. On the Spring departure we drive to Rishikesh
and stay overnight at the lovely Glass House hotel set in tropical gardens on
the banks of the Ganges. On the Autumn departure we stay overnight at the River
rafting Camp near Rishikesh. DAY 17: (Spring) Morning Rest or Sightseeing
in Rishikesh, After Lunch Drive to Delhi. (Autumn) Morning Rest or Optional River
Rafting, After Lunch Drive to Delhi
In the morning for the Spring departure,
you have the option of relaxing or looking around Rishikesh. For the autumn, you
may like to try some river rafting or take a ferry over across the Ganga and walk
along the other bank for 2kms. This will bring you to the famous Lakshman Jhula
Bridge, which joins the main Badrinath road. Here are more temples and museums,
for Rishikesh is essentially a pilgrim town, and the bulk of the pilgrims are
simple villagers whose intense devotion give both Haridwar and Rishikesh a special
atmosphere, a taste of the old India that continues to flow in modern dress as
the Ganga canal has been harnessed to irrigate the fields of modern India. At
sundown each evening there is a service at the side of the river, at the bathing
ghat in the middle of Rishikesh at which tiny candle rafts are lit and let out
into the choppy water to float away into the dusk. After lunch for both departures
you drive back to Delhi, transfer to a restaurant for evening meal (at client's
expense). One day room kept available at the Oberoi Maidens Hotel, late evening
transfer to the airport