Uttarakhand Tourism Blogger’s Bus

Uttarakhand Tourism Blogger’s Bus

A tour of Rishikesh, Yumanotri, Harshil, Sat Tal and Rauthal

Blogger’s Bus, a concept of Uttarakhand Tourism, is a 5 day (15 May – 21 May 2018) bus trip of selected travel bloggers. The trip would take the bloggers across the state of Uttarakhand introducing them to the known and unknown tourist destinations of the state.

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Bloggers of Gongotri and Yamunotri Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

The first ever Blogger’s Bus focused on the Gongotri and Yuamunotri two of the Char Dhams (the other two are Kedar and Badri) but also included a few lesser known hamlets, villages and even a small trek.

Blogger’s Bus Day 1

(Delhi to Rishikesh)

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The Blogger’s Bus enters Uttarakhand

I was lucky to be part of the first ever blogger bus trip along with six other bloggers. Among the six, three Amrita (Travel Ideas of March), Subhadip (Indian Vagabond) and Anindya (Pikturnama) were from Kolkata and were known to me.

The other three were totally unknown to me and two of them came from Delhi and the third joined us from Mysore. Upendra (Vagabond Images) and Swati (Buoyant Feet) came from Delhi while Namita (Radically Ever After) was the lone participant from Mysore.

After a brief meet over a heavy breakfast in Delhi we boarded the bloggers bus for Rishikesh. Upendra, who apart from being a travel blogger, edits a Hindi Travel magazine Awara Musafir took the front seat next of the driver. An avid biker and a trekker his navigation skills helped us find the right route during the five day tour.

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Welcome drinks and marigold garlends welcomed the bloggers of Blogger’s Bus at Ganga Resort,Rishikesh

I was behind Upendra and behind me was Amrita. Behind the driver. in the double seat was Sukanya and Anurag, our Public Relation (PR) host. Behind them was Swati, who had a double seat all for herself and rightly utilized it for taking short naps during the long road trips.

Behind Swati was the duo odf Anindya and Subhadip, whose non stop jokes and leg pulling (most of which was my leg) kept the spirits high throughout the long road journey, through the not so friendly roads.  The last seat was occupied by Namita, an yoga instructor, whose earphones cut her off from almost all conversations, but her occasional one liners made us break into blasts of laughter. Like school children we followed the same sitting pattern throughout the entire five  of the Blogger’s Bus trip.  Last but not least was Hira ji, the man at the hot seat. For the five days he did extended overtime shifts to drive us safely through the narrow meandering mountain roads.

The Blogger’s Bus started from Delhi and travelled to Rishikesh, via Haridwar on the first day.

Blogger’s Bus Day 2

(Rishikesh, Barkot, Narad Jharna and Sayana Chatti)

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Swati’s Yoga at Rishikesh

Whether FAM or no FAM my travel day starts early and it starts with a morning walk.

Usually during FAMs I had my morning walk all to my self, but the Uttarakhand Bloogger’s Bus was different and Swati joined me in my morning walks.

Sawti, an ex PR and a fitness freak, is obsessed with yoga and the ghats of Rishikesh were the perfect place to flaunt her skills.

After a brief photo session of Swati’s yoga we decided to take a walk along the river front ot a nearby temple. A group of devotees performed, in colourfull clothes, performed religious rituals, along with the frequent mobileography breaks.

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Mobilography at the ghats of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

But as time was short we were soon back at Ganga Resort for breakfast and it was time to hit the road for day 2 of the first ever Blogger’s Bus of Uttarakhand Tourism. We were joined in by Prakash Khetri, District Tourist Officer (DTO) Uttarkashi, who would be accompanying us in a separate car.

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Blogger’s Bus with bloggers and Prakash Khetri (DTO Uttarkashi, second from left) in front of Ganga Resort, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Our day 2 destination was Sayana Chatti with a lunch break at Barkot. A detour was planned to accommodate the Kempty Falls and the George Everest House near Mussoorie.

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Kempty Falls, Mussorrie, Uttarakhand

Our first stop was the Kempty Falls. Located about 13 km from Mussoorie it is one of the prime tourist attractions of the region. The base of the falls is reached by a 1 km descent by a paved stairway.

An artificial pool have been created at the foot of the 40 feet high water fall, where tourist swim with the help of inflated tubes.

As it was getting late we decided to skip George Everest House (it was planned for the return trip) and head straight for Barkot our lunch halt.

The road soon started meandering up with the Yamuna River thundering below. We stopped frequently to captured the beauty of the swift flowing Yamuna and our yogi enthusiast posed with the river in the backdrop.

Even after lunch break in Barkot the landscaped remained the same with lush green valley and the thundering below and our photo breaks became more and more frequent.

We drove past our night halt Sayan Chatti and onward to Banas (Narad Chatti), from where we took a left turn towards the Narad Jharna (waterfall). It is a small waterfall much smaller than its illustrious counterpart the Kempty Falls.

There are no paved path to the water fall, a narrow boulder hoping path leads to the base of Narad Jharna and there are no pools for a bath, it just pure raw beauty of the nature.

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Photo break (L) and Yoga break (R) on the banks of Yamuna River en route Sayana Chatti, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

Hardly visited by tourist the Narad Jharna is a small and elegant waterfall with all its natural elements and it should be a must vist for nature loving travellers. Next to the waterfalls is a hot water spring, we long carved for a bath in the sulpher rich water but as it was getting late we have to give it a miss.

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Narada Jharna, Banas (Narad Chatti), Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

Finally we drove back to Janki Chatti, for our night halt and ended the day with an authentic Garwali dinner. The dinner consisted of Puri, Jhangora Rice (Jhangora is a type of millet), Alu ke Techina (a type of potato curry), Kulad ki dal (a type of dal) and Jhangora Kheer (sweet dish).

Blogger’s Bus Day 3

(Sayana Chatti, Janki Chatti, Yamunotri Trek, Phool Chatti and Uttarkashi)

Also see: Yamunotri Trek

Like day 2 the third day started off with a morning walk with Swati. Unlike Rishkesh the Tourist Rest House (TRH) at Sayana Chatti was located next stop in a highly congested area.

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Blogger’s Bus participants in front of Sayana Chatti TRH, Uttarakhand

Before the walk we decided to go for an small unofficial breakfast. Unknown to both of us the simple breakfast of buttered bun and tea would turn out to be a blessing in disguise in the later part of the day.

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Yamunotri Trek starts from Kharshali, Uttarakhand

We took a short walk along the road and as time of short we decided to head back to the Syana Chatti TRH, for the official breakfast. But it was decided that we would skip breakfast and drive to Janki Chatti and further trek 5 km to Yamunotri and have breakfast.

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Bird’s eye view of Janki Chatti, Uttarakhand

We were soon on the road and a short Blogger’s Bus ride took us to Kharshali, the village opposite Janki Chatti, on the other bank of Yamuna River.

We trekked down to Janki Chatti, the official starting point of the Yamunotri Trek. Crowded with vehicles and pilgrims represented an organized chaos.

According to records every day during the peak season (we were at the peak season) 7000 pilgrims visit Yamunontri every day.

Some people prefer the Dandi (carried by four men) while old aged and kids prefer the one man Kandi. Ponies are also a favorite for the young pilgrims but the large majority walks, may be out of faith or for the spirit of adventure.

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Along the Yamunotri trail. L – R: Amrita, Prakash (DTO Uttarkashi) and Swati

The seven bloggers, along with the DTO and two PR executives, like true pilgrims left the comfort of the Blogger’s Bus and took the 5 km (some say 6 km) trail on foot.

The trail to Yamunotri trail is a concrete 2 meter broad trail projecting out of the mountain side. Their are railings almost all through out the trail.

Apart from the well paved trail there are frequent rest shades with benches and water points. Makeshift stall sell light snacks but the thing most in demand are Frooti and Amul Kool.

As we continued on our own pace the group soon got separated. The advance group consisted of Upendra, Prakash (DTO) and the PRs Anurag and Sukanya. In the middle Amrita was with me and Anindya, Swati, Namita and Subhadip were at the end.

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Projected concrete trail to Yamunotri, Blogger’s Bus Uttarakhand

Although the trail was easy but horses (rather mules), dandis and kandis made the trek extremely difficult. At some bottle necks there were human traffic jams and tempers did flare occasionally but the faith kept the pilgrims on the move.

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Yamunotri Temple, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

It almost took us three hours to complete the trek and as we settled for breakfast Anindya and Swati joined in and soon Namita followed but Subhadip was no where to be found. With no mobile network he remained illusive.

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Pilgrims and tourist en route Yamunotri. Clockwise from top left: Kandi, Dandi, Foot and Pony. Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

Left we no options we offered puja at the Yamunotri Temple and collected the freezing cold water from the Yamuna River. It was time to head down and track back Subhadip. The crowd was  thinner during the return journey and we did have a short refreshment break at Janki Cahtti TRH. We finally met Subhadip at Kharshali, he had abandoned the trek mid way and had gone back.

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A forest fire en route Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand

At about 5 pm it was again time to get back to our respective places on the Blogger’s Bus and head towards Phool Chaati for lunch.

Phool Chatti TRH was a wonder full place with views of snow peaks and we should have spent the previous night here instead of Sayan Chatti.

As we waited for the lunch to be served at 6 pm a hail storm struck and in spite of the hunger and extreme tiredness we rush out to collect the hail stones.

After a quick lunch it was time to hit the road to Uttarkashi. With forest fires, landslides and road blocks it turned out to the most perilous journey of the Uttarakhand Blogger’s Bus Tour. The journey ended at 1 am (technically the 4th day) at Uttarkashi.

Blogger’s Bus Day 3

(Uttarkashi, Harsil, Dharali, Sat Tal Trek, Dharali and Raithal)

It was a late start on the third day and no morning walks. After a breakfast we hit the road in our Blogger’s Bus at about 9 am. We followed the Bhagirati River which originates at Gomukh ( 19 km trek from Gongotri). The Bhagarati later meets the Aloknanda River at Devaprayaga to from the Ganga (or Ganges).

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A panoramic view of the Bhagirati valley, near Harshil, en route Gongotri, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

The road was beautiful with lush green valleys along with the thundering Bhagirati. There were frequent photo stops as we tried to capture nature at its best. Our lunch stop was at Harsil, known for its apple orchards and breath taking beauty.

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Yoga by Namita with the Bhagarati River, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

Harshil lies on the west bank of the Bhagarati River. At Harsil the Bhagarati is feed with two tributaries,  the Bishnu Ganga and Jalandi.

Harsil is famous for its apple orchard but the history of the apple trees in Harsil goes back to the mid 19th century when Frederick E. Wilson planted the first apple tree in Harsil.

Later Wilson entered into a contract with a London-based company and built a fortune out of the export of skins, fur and musk. He built a huge mansion and called it the Wilson Cottage and came to be known as Raja Wilson. Today legend of Raja Wilson can still be heard in the apple orchards, the towering deodhars forests and among the swift flowing rivers of Harsil valley.

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A Temple at Harsil, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

After a lunch at Harsil TRH we took the blogger’s Bus to Dharali just 3 km away for the Sat Tal Trek. The Sat Tal Trek (trek of 7 lakes) is a 5 km one way trek starting at an altitude of 2575 meters and meanders up to an altitude of 2875 meters.

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Trek to Sat Tal, through Dharali village

Contrary to the name the Sat Tal is actually an amalgamation of five small lakes, which remains dry except of the rainy season. In winter the entire area is covered under a mantle of white snow.

Initially the trek followed step stairways through the village of Dharali. On the oposite bank of Bhagarati is the village of Mukhba, the winter abode of Goddess Ganga. The white temple with three spires could distinctly be seen.

Like Yamunotri the pack again got segmented. The advance group consisted of Upendra, Prakash (DTO) and the PRs Anurag and Sukanya. In the middle Amrita was with me and Anindya, Swati, Namita and Subhadip were at the end.

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Trekking to Sat Tal

Soon we were out of the village and the route followed through a beautiful deodhar forest. As it was getting late Amrita was worried about her Gangotri trip, but I urged her to move along. Almost after one and half hours we reached the first lake.

We spotted Upendra about a few hundred meters above the lake, he said the final lake is just half an hour away. Amrita and I waited at the first lake for the rest of the part to arrive.

Anindya arrived soon after and said that the others have abandoned the trek. After a short meeting Amrita and Anindya decided to head back for the Gongotri trip. I decided to continue.

The trail was step and meandered through the thick deodhar forest but soon I was above the tree line and reached the alpine meadows. I trekked passed the dried second and third lake. The fourth lake had some amount of water as I passed the fourth lake I could spot the advance part reaching the final lake just about 200 meters away. Soon I joined them at the banks of the almost dried fifth lake.

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The first of the five lakes, Sat Tal trek, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

I informed Prakash, the DTO about Amrita and Anindya’s plan of visiting Gongotri and he immediately rushed back to make necessary arrangements. The rest of the party stayed back to enjoy the pristine beauty of the nature.

Sat Tal is said to offer great views of snow peaks like Shrikhand, Bandarpunch and Gongotri but during our visit everything was under a blanket of clouds.The trek back to Dharali took little more than a hour.

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Panoramic view of the mountains with the fourth lake, Sat Tal, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

After reaching Dharali we heard that Prakash has taken Amrita, Anindya and Swati in his car for Gongotri and the rest of us (Upendar, Subhadip, Namita and me) boarded the Bloggers bus for Raithal, our night stay.

We reached Raithal TRH at about 10 pm and had a wonderful Garawali Dinner with Garwali mutton. The Gangotri group reached Raithal almost at midnight.

Blogger’s Bus Day 4

(Raithal, Dhanulti and Rishekesh)

Raitahl is the pit stop of several treks in Eastern Garwal and a hub of adventure activities. It is located about 8 km on the west of Uttarkashi – Gongotri road. It is approached from Bhatwari, which lies 30 km north of Uttrakashi en route Gangotri.

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Sunrise on Shrikhand, Raithal, Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

There was no morning walks in Raithal but rose early to attempt a time lapse on the Shrikhand peak. But with limited cloud movement and also with the peaks on the east it didn’t work well.

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Subhadip and Aninday try their hands on Mountain Biking, Raithal

At about 6:30 we had a Yoga Session Facing the Snow Peaks, it was conducted by fellow Blogger’s Bus participant Namita, who is a professional yoga instructor. The short session was a welcome relief to our aching muscles.

It was followed by a mountain biking session. The supper light geared cycles were fitted with disk breaks and sudden press of the brakes brings the cycle to a dead halt but often throws the rider out of balance.

We were supposed to explore the village on the mountain bike but after a short ride we decided to give the bikes a skip and continue of foot.

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A traditional homestay at Raithal, Bloggers’ Bus, Uttarakhand

Raithal is the starting point of the Darya Bugiyal Trek, a 8 km (one way trek) leads one to a huge meadow offering breataking views of the snow peaks of the vicinity. The more adventurous one can camp at the Darya Bugiyal to witness the sun rise of the snow covered peaks.

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400 + year old five storied wooden houseat Raithal

As time was short we have to skip the trek but had time to explore the village. We visited several homestays in traditional wooden houses.

We even visited a 400 + year old five storied wooden house. Although abandoned the structure still remains intact

After breakfast we headed for Rishkesh. We were supposed to take a detour via Dhanolti, for our lunch break followed by another detour to the George Everest House near Mussorrie.

The first detour went horribly wrong and we ended up at Dhanolti at about 4 pm for lunch, almost 3 hours behind schedule. Left with no option we skipped the George Everest House and head straight to Rishikesh with a brief shopping stop at Dheradun. 

Blogger’s Bus Day 5

(Rishekesh to Delhi)

We stayed at the Ganga Resort at Rishikesh and next morning it was again time for a morning walk with Swati. This time there was no yoga and photo shots, we just walked along the Ganga river bank sharing the found memories of Uttarkhand Tourism Blogger’s Bus.

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Soon it was time to head back to the resort for breakfast and it was time to board the Blogger’s Bus for the final time. Six hours later it all ended at the Uttarakhand Sadan in Delhi.

Note: I was on the Blogger’s bus on the invitation of the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UKDB)

Special Thanks:

  • Prakash Khetri, District Tourist Officer (DTO) Uttarakhand for making all the arrangements during the Bloggers Bus trip
  • PR persons Sukanya and Anurag of Square Group for handling all the logistics
  • My fellow bloggers Amrita (Travel Ideas of March), Subhadip (Indian Vagabond), Anindya (Pikturnama), Upendra (Vagabond Images), Swati (Buoyant Feet) and Namita (Radically Ever After)
  • Our driver Hira ji whose extended overtime shifts along the mountains road help us to reach our destinations safely

 

  1. June 2, 2018 at 1:00 AM

    Looks like a wonderful way to learn more about Uttarakhand, Rangan da! What was the selection process like, if I may ask?

    • June 21, 2018 at 9:30 AM

      Thanks, not sure of the selection process but I suggest bloggers to keep writing on unique topics, your work would definitely be noticed. Keep travelling and blogging.

  2. June 3, 2018 at 6:35 PM

    awesome travel diary

  3. s csingh
    June 17, 2018 at 12:09 PM

    i am shoked to visit Rishicash with wife on 16-6-2018.I was not allowed to enter Lachhman jhoola and the Ramjhoola by police staff at 1.30 pm. I pleaded with police staff to kindly allow our car to enter as we are very old and want adip in ganga. they were allowing other taxi. this is very shameful . i feel they are favouring local people

    • June 21, 2018 at 9:31 AM

      Really sorry to no about your experience. Personally my experience in Uttarakhand has always been great.

  4. June 28, 2018 at 5:05 PM

    Books OutlookIndia number one Traveller books Website and Get more information please visit this link:-Uttarakhand

  5. October 17, 2018 at 8:16 PM

    Great travel post. Uttrakhand has been pleasant to me too. Planning a trip again soon.

    • October 17, 2018 at 9:16 PM

      Uttrakhand is an amazing place and do have plans of coming back soon

  6. March 7, 2019 at 4:32 PM

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    • March 15, 2019 at 9:06 AM

      Thanks All Seasons for the comment. You are doing a great job by involving the locals in travel and tourism

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  8. July 25, 2019 at 3:42 PM

    Nice informative blog. Keep posting blog like this.

  9. September 13, 2019 at 6:43 PM

    Amazing sharing, you are doing a great job. I must say u guys really have a great exposure to places in India and the uniqueness about that place. You bring the planning of a traveller to a final decision, by making them clarify- what place they must visit.
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