Living in one of the most polluted city has its own consequences and being a subject matter expert of air pollution I am always inclined to get a breather of clean air. Hence if not every month than at least every quarter; me and my wife run to the hills or to any of the not so polluted destination in order to breathe free.
This time it was very difficult to choose the destination as Shweta was not interested in revisiting any of our previous detox destinations. In one of my random trips to Yamunotri I had overheard about Harsil on Gangotri route and description of this place fitted well into my parameters of a detox destination. Shweta liked the pictures of Harsil on Google and we decided to pack our bags for this new destination. My sister (Akanksha) and brother in law (Gaurav) also joined us for this extended weekend trip. In a matter of 2 days -5 AM in the morning we were all set to explore Harsil.
Day-1: On Friday 27th May, 2016; we started our journey from Gurgaon early in the morning in a brand new Maruti Baleno. While passing through Delhi & Ghaziabad I could see and feel the smokey pollution all around and as I drove away I felt good leaving the smoke behind in pursuit of clean air. By 7 Am we crossed Meerut. We made a stop at our favourite Cheetal Resorts to grab a sumptuous breakfast. We used loo there as you will find clean toilets only at Cheetal or Mac’D in this stretch. Even at 7:20 in the morning we could see a fully packed Cheetal parking lot and there were cars parked even on the main road. I was not surprised to notice that out of 10 cars 9 were having DL/HR registrations as schools are closed these days and everyone is looking to escape the scorching heat of Delhi. After relishing our breakfast (assorted pakoras, sandwiches, masala omelette, hot ginger tea and lassi) we resumed our journey in pursuit of our next target Dehradoon. The condition of road is very good up to Muzzafarnagar and from Barla/Chapaar to Roorkee canal we felt some jerks in between. At Rorkee I always prefer to take the bypass road travelling along with canal; however this time the road condition was not so good. After crossing the canal it was a smooth drive upto Mohand and it took us around 3 hours to reach Dehradoon from our previous halt. A local friend suggested taking the route that goes from Mussoorie instead of taking the Chamba/Narendernagar/Tihri route and we followed his advice as he is a frequent traveller on these roads.
We stayed in Dehradoon for couple of hours and as advised by a local friend about the poor quality of petrol enroute to Harsil we filled our car’s fuel tank from a petrol pump near the famous clock tower. Initially we thought of having our lunch at Kalsang Mussoorie but we were warned by a local friend in Mussoorie about the traffic jam and parking problem so we dropped the idea and had an early lunch (at around 12:30) in Kalsang’s Doon branch at Rajpur Road.
Hill Drive: At around 1:30 we resumed our journey; we drove uphill approx 14 Kms on Mussoorie road after leaving Rajpur Road and then we turned right on to the new bypass road. This new bypass road is comparatively narrow with many blind turns and one needs to drive carefully on this road. This road takes you to the backside of Landour and connects to the road to Dhanaulti/Tihri. On this bypass road you will see dense forests of Oak and Deodar trees and I enjoyed the fresh air . This breeze of air was good enough to overcome the fatigue that we have had during the journey. We rolled down the window glasses to enjoy the view and the fresh air. On this road Suwakholi is the landmark from where we took a left turn for Uttarkashi at the main crossing Again we were driving on a very beautiful road passing through forest area. We stopped in between before Almas to have some snacks and to use washrooms. After reaching Almas we took a right for Uttarkashi as the sign boards clearly indicated. We won’t recommend this road to travel during night as you might miss the important directions and even the network connectivity is limited. We just followed the main road up to the Chinyalisaur and were conncted to NH-94. There were 2-3 small rough patches from Almas to Chinyalisaur but overall the road condition was excellent. In Chinyalisaur the Holy Bhagirithi was flowing along with the highway and the view of Chinyalisaur from hills was just amazing. After 14 Kms we left NH94 at Dharasu Bend and joined NH108 onto Uttarkashi Gangotri road. We followed the NH-108 to reach Uttarkashi and stayed in Sikhar Nature resort as it was getting dark and we did not want to drive all the way to Harsil in dark. With some difficulty we could find a comfortable hotel because this was Yaatra season in Uttarakhand and most of the hotels were booked to full capacity. The previous night it had rained heavily and this had damaged the electricity lines in the area but our resort was running on power-backup and during night time there was a substantial temperature drop so we could manage without the fan too. The sound of flowing Bhagirathi was melodious enough for a sound sleep.
Day-2: After getting a good sleep we were all charged up to resume our journey. We left our resort at around 7:00 AM after having a light breakfast. It was worthwhile to travel approx 400 kms to be in these surroundings. En route we saw many hotels/resorts and many small villages alongside the Bhagirathi. The view of Lake Maneri was mesmerizing and we stopped there for 10-15 minutes. It was indeed the feeling of being in the Land of Gods as Bhagirithi was flowing along with the road and on both sides mountains were looking beautiful with green forests of Oak & Deodar trees. There were many milky water streams flowing from mountains and merging into the Bhagirathi. We could spot many waterfalls and the mist in the air that was just good enough to increase the joy of our journey. We halted for sometime near Bhatwari to feel the flowing river. We enjoyed at the river bank for a while and felt the chilling fresh water. There was a metal-wooden bridge to cross the river and we clicked some photographs on this wire bridge. We continued our journey and left the Bhagirathi for some time to see the beautiful villages uphill. The splendid view of small water streams, lush green step farms and the blooms of shrubs/apple orchards was giving us goose bumps and each one of us thanked God for giving this opportunity to travel to such majestic places. Now we could see the snow clad peaks also. We crossed a beautiful small village called Gangnani and filled some mineral water from flowing water stream.
By the time we joined Bhagirathi after a little descent we were just overwhelmed to see milky streams mixing with the river water and at many spots we could see 2-3 colors of water. After going little further we just screamed WOW! to see a small beautiful town and an army camp with 2-3 small bridges to cross the Bhagirathi. After 2 hours drive from our resort we were in Harsil and all around were apple orchards along with other Himalayan trees. We left the main road and entered the Army Area to explore the beauty of this town. Everything here was just amazing. A friendly army person asked us to visit Gangotri temple and the Gangotri dham. We visited the Ganga Devi’s temple where Goddess rests in the winter season. It was a rough drive of 4-5 kms from Harsil but was a beautiful trek loaded with many waterfalls and apple orchards on the way. We visited temple and then came back to Harsil to explore the beauty of town. We could see many snow clad peaks but unfortunately didn’t trek because of doctor’s advice to Shweta. We enjoyed for good 3-4 hours in the lap of nature and accessed many water streams, waterfalls, the amazing riverbank and the small bridges in this town. Gangotri was barely 30 Kms from this place so we decided to visit Gangotri. The drive to Gangotri was very beautiful loaded with serene beauty but the road was rough for almost 10 kms. We visited the holy Gangotri Dham and had our lunch there. The water in Gangotri was freezing and we decided not to remain too long there as we were short of woollens and didn’t want to fall sick. We came back to Harsil and unfortunately couldn’t find a room to stay in the best property (GMVN-Resort) but somehow managed to get an amazing hotel Green Home Stay on the river bank at Harsil. We stayed overnight here and had a wonderful time roaming in and around Harsil.
Day-3: We left our hotel at around 7 AM and enjoyed the journey back till Uttarkashi. After Uttarkashi there were heavy landslides at many spots from Uttarkashi to Chinyalisaur. We followed the same route back to Delhi and stopped in between to have hot tea with delicious Maggie some 20 Kms from Chinyalisaur. Mussorie was overcrowded and we could see the heavy traffic jam so we did not even dare to visit Mussoorie. This time we did not take the canal bypass road at Roorkee and got stuck in traffic jam for hours at Manglore. The more we moved away from Harsil the more the worries of polluted air , traffic jams , dusty sweltering heat began to hit us.