Route: Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Devprayag-Rudraprayag Karnprayag-Chamoli-Joshimath-Auli (NH-24 and NH-58)
Distance: 550 kms approx.
Timing: 9-12 February
Cost: 18000 for three persons (6000 per person)
Mode of transportation: Tata Indigo
No of days: 4
Best time to visit: March to September (But no snow, pleasant weather)
Most adventurous time to visit: October to February (Full of snow, chilling cold and difficult trail)
If you have an extended weekend and you (residing in Delhi) are looking for a destination having adventure, serenity, calmness and cold weather, Auli is probably the best location. It is located in the lap of mighty Himlayas and surrounded by snow covered mountains. Kedarnath, Badrinath, Valley of flowers, Roopkund Sahib, Hemkund sahib… all these destinations are located nearby. Auli is accessible all over the year. Depending upon snow condition, you may have to walk 5-8 kms. Although there is a ropeway from Joshimath to Ski resort. But, when I visited there that ropeway was under maintenance or simply say non-functional.
Auli is located at a height of approximately 3000 meters. It is an important ski and winter game destination. Auli is basically a Bugyal or meadow or grassland. But in winter season people residing there transmigrate to Joshimath or at a lower location.
Plan and Trip
We were planning a team outing to Kanatal, but somehow we could not manage because of weather condition and snowfall. It provided me an opportunity to plan a trip to another destination. Auli was running in my mind for a long period of time. Initially I planned the trip with my school friends. But in the mean time, weather of upper Himalays went bad to worse. There was news of storm and avalanche, so my school friends refused to go. I was having a close watch of weather condition of not only Auli but the whole route. I tried to convince them but I failed. In the end I decided to travel alone. I told this to one of my colleague and he became ready to travel with me, then after we have one more friend. As I have spent much of the time in managing Kanatal trip, there was hardly anytime left for planning and other things. I called a cab driver and told him to report to my place at 2 am, so that we can reach Rishikesh by 7 and then we will move ahead. But one of my friends cell went dead, we were not able to contact him. Finally we started our journey at 5 am from Delhi. We reached Roorkee at 9 am crossed Hardiwar and reached Rishikesh by 11 AM. There was no plan. The only principle was that we would not travel at night, because it is neither recommended nor safe to travel at night in Himalayas. We have had a lunch at roadside hotel and crossed Karnprayag at 5 pm. Sun was quite visible so we planned to break our journey and stay wherever we find a hotel or guesthouse en route. Sunset is quite fast in Himalayas. Within 25-30 mins there was nothing but darkness. No person, no vehicle and no light. Anyway we kept driving. At approximately 7 PM we crossed NTPC site which was near to Joshimath. There was a huge dam under-construction. We stayed in GMVN guest house. The guesthouse is quite god, affordable and staffs are very friendly. I would recommend you to try GMVN guesthouse rather than going to some private hotels.
Temperature was sub-zero and we were quite tired. But even then we visited market after having dinner. Joshimath is a small habitat accessible throughout the year. It is in fact base station for all those who are travelling to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Hemkund Sahib…etc. After breakfast at GMVN Joshimath, we departed for Auli. As such Auli is not a permanent settlement. There are just two resorts in Auli, one is Ski resort managed by government and another is Clifftop resort. Clifftop is located at little higher elevation than the ski resort. When we reached there, clifftop was closed. Furthermore, Auli is also a base camp of ITBP. We left our car at snowline and from there onwards we planned to go by foot. By road it was approximately 8 km, there was a shorter route of 5 kms. Route was full of snow, both hard and soft, it was quite tiring. We kept travelling through forest and snow trails. But once we reached there it was like wowwwww.
The whole resort of almost under the snow. Small snow-flakes and particles were suspended in the blowing air. The intense sun and speedy winds were quite mesmerizing. What I can see was just snow and some temperate forest. From here you can see the Mount Nanda Devi. If you are travelling in winter, be prepared for unpredictable weather. If you are lucky and encounter storm, believe me you will never forget the sound of storm. It will create a fear that will last forever. You can see snowfall, snow flying like cotton and cold wind which can bite your bones.
Once you are at resort, you can go for skiing or simple trek. If you are staying there for a long time, I would recommend you to learn skiing. But if you are there for few days and have already done skiing, I would recommend you to go for a trek. Stretch is very long. You can travel as long as you can. If you are walking alone, do not travel through the lowest path. Water may be flowing under the snow and it is quite dangerous. Always walk on slopes. Always keep water bottle and make sure that it does not freeze.
Life is not about luxury, especially when someone tries to explore. The condition of road from Rishikesh is satisfactory. You will encounter multiple patches of road which are severely affected by landslide or rainfall. There are infrastructural issues in term of electricity, road connectivity. But again the view of Mighty Himalays, snow covered peaks, slopes and valleys, snowfall, cold blowing winds, snow being suspended like cotton… all are once in a life time experience.
There is a Lord Shiva temple which is quite close to resort but path is tedious. Snow was quite hard and slippery. It was a good fun to go there in dark.
Every good thing has an end. We spend the night at ski resort. After breakfast we went for a walk and skiing. One smaller trail covered and we left resort by 2PM. Initially we planned to take a break somewhere between karnprayag and Devprayag. But due to some unavoidable circumstances we kept travelling throughout the night. We crossed Rudraprayag by 5, Devprayag by 8 pm and reached Hardiwar by midnight. This part of the trip was full of thrill and fear. Knowing the fact that it was not safe we kept traveling. I would strongly recommend you not to travel at night in Himalayas.
Things to carry:
- Good trekking shoes (preferably waterproof)
- Wind cheater
- Raincoat (depending on weather conditions
- Some basic medicines
- 1 pair of shocks for each day and same for inner garments.
- Do not travel at night
- When you are walking on snow, make sure that water is not flowing bellow the snow. The best way to avoid is walk on slopes.
- Always keep good shoes having effective grips…avoid sports shoes.
- Avoid drinking and smoking. It may not only be dangerous but fatal.