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Old 19th May 2020, 21:10   #16
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Default Re: To the Valley of Flowers

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Beautiful log! We had done Badrinath 30 years back! I could see many forking out at Joshimath towards Hemkunt Sahib!

That dream for me still remains!
Thanks for your kind words. I can only imagine how Badrinath must have looked at that time. Now its densely built up with shops and hotels all around.

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Originally Posted by Amrik Singh View Post
I used to visit Sri Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara annually from 1978 to 1981 when I had to discontinue due to job stints abroad. Went back in 1996 and found big changes - albeit negative. The place had become from a pilgrimage place to a commercial place. Trekking had become walking through a maze of shops selling all in packets that were strewn on the way, downhill, which never made it to the flowing water but remained halfway, stuck for ages as a stigma on nature - courtesy Tourists. Fruitee Tetrapacks, Chips packets, torn Ponchos ... just to name a few. As these are not biodegradable, they will remain there as Newton had said, "Every body in a state of rest or motion will continue to.."
I was so shocked that I vowed never to return and have kept my promise till date.
I will just disagree with you slightly in that virtually all important religious places in India is more about commerce than religion. Other than this, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. The nonchalance with which people dump trash in the surroundings is indeed shocking. What's more shocking is that the locals (guides, shopkeepers etc) does not protest at all. In a place as ecologically sensitive and beautiful as the Himalayas, all this probably amounts to cutting the branch you are sitting on .

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Originally Posted by 1.2TSI7DSG View Post
Hi avi_swift

We were also there at the valley of flowers in Aug 2019 in the week of the independence day. Lovely pics. Will upload my travelogue soon!
Thanks for your kind words. Please upload your travelogue soon and I will also relive my trip, more so because we went at the same time.

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Originally Posted by Maverick Avi View Post
You made a good decision by joining a professional tour operator like Indiahikes. This entire route from Rishikesh to Govindghat and then till Badrinath is very unpredictable. I have visited valley of flowers twice and both times it was more of hitch hiking and last minute plans. Got stuck in numerous landslides, slept in moist smelly rooms if you could call them and not taken a bath for couple of days as there was no hot water. But the visit to the valley just makes it all worth it. Pre floods there used to be a much higher footfall to Hemkund Sahib and the entire area except VOF used to be littered. Its disheartening to see that its still like that in otherwise a very scenic backdrop.

There used to be a very enthusiastic photographer/tour guide who had a small shop in Ghagaria. He showed us lot of pictures he had clicked on his adventures with professional trekkers over the years. He showed us a map of trek going from VOF to Hemkund Sahib as well but he told us outright that its not for us. Not sure if he still stays there but he was surly one if the highlights of our trip.

Thanks for penning down your beautiful experience which brought back some old memories for me!
Thanks for your kind words. The scenery is extremely beautiful and it almost makes you want to tear your hair when you see the current ground situation.
While going with any organization undoubtedly has its advantages, the downside is you can't make your own plans. Like, if it was up to me, I would probably spend some more time at the valley.. yes I liked it that much . And I didn't know about this route from VoF to Hemkund.. if I go back someday I will definitely try to follow it.

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Originally Posted by ShivWason17 View Post
Excellent write up and beautiful pictures! Uttarakhand is at its best during July to September but one has to be very careful about the weather and the roads. Most of them are washed up during the monsoons, specially ones in the Garhwal region.

Nice to see the pictures of Brahma Kamal, the presence of this flower in the state has gone down drastically, mostly because of incessant construction in the area.
Thanks for your kind words. We always knew that life is tougher in the hills, but when you see the kind of damage a single landslide can cause, it makes you very nervous. It has the potential to toss all your travel plans out of the window, besides bringing much, much misery to the locals. And yes, Brahma Kamal is a majestic flower which would look a lot better in the ground than in a flower pot.

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Originally Posted by RajeshK View Post
Beautiful pictures and excellent write up..!
Thanks for your kind words.
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Old 19th May 2020, 21:45   #17
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Default Re: To the Valley of Flowers

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Originally Posted by vijayols View Post
Thank you Avi.Lovely write up and pictures.Happened to be there a week later for a similar trek but with a few bike rides added at Rishikesh and mussurie and a trek from mana the last village of India in that part of the country.Seem to be quite a few bhp-ian’s around.Was to originally do the Great Lakes trek but article 370 put paid to that and picked the valley of flowers in lieu.

Couldn’t agree more that it was an amazing experience especially with every week there was a distinct hue of color in the valley.

Went through youth hostel of India with a young group of 18 with 6 of them being fellow Bangaloreans.

The landslide by the way completely destroyed the hillock and we had to stay put for a day extra at bhadrinath.

Hope to pen my travelogue soon.Infact have a huge back log from spiti ,Sri Lanka ,Corbett to post .

Vijay
Thanks for your kind words. Bangalore seems to the greatest source of tourist to the region. In fact, in our group, the majority were from Bangalore. I never get tired about reading mountain travelogues, so please jot them down soon. Especially, I will look forward to your Spiti travelogue as I have been there and know how enchanting the place is. I have a question, how is your experience/review of the Youth Hostel of India? I have read their reviews online but I want to know from someone who has experienced their treks.

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Originally Posted by dhanushmenon View Post
Wonderful log avi_swift. Many snaps are stunning and is a direct competitor for a post card. Valley of flowers have been on my wishlist for long. Rather, my bucket has become so heavy that I have kept it down already . Unable to cope up time unfortunately.
Thanks for your kind words. Please pick up the proverbial bucket and start crossing off entries as soon as you find the time(and after travel resumes) . As for VoF, do visit it once, I assure you that you will find it mind blowing. And I'm glad that my 5 year old phone can take post card worthy pictures .
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Old 19th May 2020, 22:17   #18
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Default Re: To the Valley of Flowers

Avi I guess Bangaloreans are the new bongs of India I guess.So many of us travelling all across.

Frankly my first non work(and holiday attached) trip without my family for 12 days and loved it so much that wanted atleast one trip every year just going with random strangers and making new friends.

Me and my wife Kanthi have been members of YHA though at 48 can hardly claim to be a “youth”.

Being a guy who is generally not very fussy with basic amenities my options need to taken with a pinch of salt.

Found the group of 18 at YHA trek great.The facilities especially considering the places that we cover in the trip were basic but clean.Food though simple was decent.

The team leaders generally do not follow us on the treks but are based at the camps.They are mainly volunteers from YHA who have already done multiple treks and simply have a love for the activity.Cannot simply find better motivators than people who love and have a passion for what they are doing and not being paid for it to boot.

Have friends who have earlier done treks with India hikes which by far by Bangalore online standards remain the go to operator.They seem to offer a good touch starting with a well updated web site and little touches like a guide with walkie talkies.

The YHA is more like a Govt funded organisation a tad cheaper (mine costed 8k for stay and food at Rishikesh/Joshi math /gagaria/Bhadrinath and again Rishikesh with TT traveller.)

The camp leaders are experienced and volunteers so there is a good personal touch and we had a case when one of us had a bit of AMS on the way down from Hemkund saheb and they immensely off with me and another trekker from blore to check out on him as he hadn’t returned well after the rest of us were back.

We also met other teams from different operators and found they did offer more frills.However YHA seem to have their property at vantage locations.

My conclusion is that the expertise not much differences to choose between india hikes and YHA.Both seem to do a reasonable job.

Hope that helps

Vijay
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Old 21st May 2020, 18:47   #19
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Default Re: To the Valley of Flowers

Beautiful Travelogue Avi_Swift, reading this and seeing the accompanying photos took me with you in your journey. During these lockdown times, my mind was refreshed after reading through your entire log. Am now jealous of all you 'Wanderlust' people who are able to take time out for such amazing journeys every year. I hope someday I too will be fit, both economically and 'health-wise' to undertake such campaigns.
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Old 22nd May 2020, 13:51   #20
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Reminds me of the same Himalayan trek I did way back in Aug 2015. Unfortunately, it remains the only Himalayan trek I have done till now if you leave apart the Triund trek in 2017. We had to trek 14 kms from start as the short road of 4 kms was still under construction. I did write a blog about it few years back though.

I still have good memories about the trek and how naive i was in terms of preparation. Landslides are common in monsoons here, realized this as I had no buffer day in my mind. Also reminds me of a guy who paid 90k for a heli ride from Govindghat to Jolly Grant airport as he had some urgent meeting in Bengaluru and was stuck due to landslide in Govindghat from two days.

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Originally Posted by avi_swift View Post
Himalaya's pičce de résistance

Now if you have traveled by train from Delhi to Dehradun, you'll know that in Sharanpur, the train reverses direction, i.e it leaves the way through which it made its entry. I believe in colonial times, there was talk of opening a line through Mohan pass but it was never carried out.


See the amount of black smoke belched out. I simply don't understand when the track is fully electrified, what prevents the railways from drawing power from the engine?
There is actually a bypass line, way back in 2015 itself the DDN Jan Shatbadi took the bypass line though Tapri junction. No need to go to Saharanpur.

Also few engines in India do power the head on generators(HOG) using current drawn from overhead wires. Do observe some modified WAP7 engines connected to HOGs next time you travel.
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Old 23rd May 2020, 20:47   #21
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Default Re: To the Valley of Flowers

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Originally Posted by DiMaGo View Post
Beautiful Travelogue Avi_Swift, reading this and seeing the accompanying photos took me with you in your journey. During these lockdown times, my mind was refreshed after reading through your entire log. Am now jealous of all you 'Wanderlust' people who are able to take time out for such amazing journeys every year. I hope someday I too will be fit, both economically and 'health-wise' to undertake such campaigns.
Thanks for your kind words. As I said, this is not very hard. Remember what I said about the 4 friends in my write-up? You need to work out depending on your age, but a few months at most should suffice for this. Try it, and you will be glad after you complete.

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Originally Posted by rst89 View Post
Reminds me of the same Himalayan trek I did way back in Aug 2015. Unfortunately, it remains the only Himalayan trek I have done till now if you leave apart the Triund trek in 2017. We had to trek 14 kms from start as the short road of 4 kms was still under construction. I did write a blog about it few years back though.

I still have good memories about the trek and how naive i was in terms of preparation. Landslides are common in monsoons here, realized this as I had no buffer day in my mind. Also reminds me of a guy who paid 90k for a heli ride from Govindghat to Jolly Grant airport as he had some urgent meeting in Bengaluru and was stuck due to landslide in Govindghat from two days.
Excellent blog . From your pictures I believe you also enjoyed clearer weather, Hemkund specially was cloaked in mist for us.

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Originally Posted by rst89 View Post
There is actually a bypass line, way back in 2015 itself the DDN Jan Shatbadi took the bypass line though Tapri junction. No need to go to Saharanpur.
I didn't know this. Now I wonder why the Shatabdi goes through Sharanpur, and stops there for 20 minutes while the engine is detached, driven to the other end and reattached. I have used this train twice previously and every time it has used the Sharanpur route. But I don't know what route the night trains (like Nanda Devi express) uses.

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Also few engines in India do power the head on generators(HOG) using current drawn from overhead wires. Do observe some modified WAP7 engines connected to HOGs next time you travel.
I have not seen these engines yet. The Nanda Devi express, which I used for the return journey, was composed of old ICF coaches, yet it also had 2 generator coaches at both ends. If the railways has successfully modified some engines to draw power from the overhead wires, I wish they would modify the rest ASAP. It is really wasteful when, despite having an uninterrupted source of power above, the railways generates power from diesel.
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Old 23rd May 2020, 21:18   #22
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Default Re: To the Valley of Flowers

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Originally Posted by avi_swift View Post

Excellent blog . From your pictures I believe you also enjoyed clearer weather, Hemkund specially was cloaked in mist for us.


I didn't know this. Now I wonder why the Shatabdi goes through Sharanpur, and stops there for 20 minutes while the engine is detached, driven to the other end and reattached. I have used this train twice previously and every time it has used the Sharanpur route. But I don't know what route the night trains (like Nanda Devi express) uses.


I have not seen these engines yet. The Nanda Devi express, which I used for the return journey, was composed of old ICF coaches, yet it also had 2 generator coaches at both ends. If the railways has successfully modified some engines to draw power from the overhead wires, I wish they would modify the rest ASAP. It is really wasteful when, despite having an uninterrupted source of power above, the railways generates power from diesel.
Thanks for the comment. It's quite an old blog post.

The Dehradun shatabdi goes to Saharanpur as it's an important city in UP. Many trains do skip Saharanpur and take the Tapri bypass line.

You can check the below video of a HOG enabled train. Many trains now do use HOG. Check out next time you visit railway station.

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Old 31st May 2020, 16:50   #23
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Default Re: To the Valley of Flowers

Wow, nice pics and details. We made our trip to the Valley of Flowers almost at the same time as yours and except that we traveled by my car, the Grand i10 and it was fun. Maybe I will upload my travelogue later.
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