Uttarakhand is a hilly state in Northern India and a touristy attraction for multiple reasons. It is a perfect holiday destination for the adventure seeker who gets a variety of sports like trekking in Chopta, Tunganath, Valley of Flowers, Har ki Dun, camping and river rafting at Shivpuri in Laxman Jhula. Uttarakhand is also a treasure trove for the pious tourist who goes there to enjoy the Ganga Arati at Haridwar Har-ki-pauri, and can visit the Hindu religious places like Rishikesh, the Panch Kedars, and temples at Rudra prayag, Ukhimath etc.In this travelogue, I try to provide a trip or vacation idea covering the best of Uttarakhand including adventure sports like camping and river rafting and trekking, temples and pilgrimage in Haridwar and Rishikesh, and site seeing in Ukhimath, Redraprayag, Deoria Taal and Chopta
5 day trip planner for Uttarakhand
Day 1: Reach Haridwar from Kolkata early in the morning. Spend the day by hiring an auto and doing local sight seeing of the temples of Uttarakhand. Enjoy Ganga Arati in the evening at Har ki Pauri.
Day 2: Early morning leave for Laxman Jhula. Get in touch with a camping agency there. Reach the camp site at Shivpuri. Absorve the sights and sounds of river Ganges for the rest of the day as you enjoy the stay in tent.
Day 3: Early morning river rafting from Shivpuri to Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh. Stay at Laxman Jhula for the rest of the day and have dinner st German Bakery. You may also enjoy some yoga or massage sessions if you wish.
Day 4: Leave Rishikesh for Ukhimath. It will be a day long journey. Reach Ukhimath by night fall.
Day 5: Day trek to Deoria Tal and visit to Chopta. If you go in winters or spring, you may get snow at Chopta.
Day 6: Drive back to Rishikesh. Check in to a hotel by night. Your trip ends this day. The following day, take a cab upto Derhadun or Haridwar and from there to your onward journey.
Our Uttarakhand trip from Kolkata
Kolkata to Haridwar on the eve of Holi
We did the Haridwar Rishikesh Ukhimath trip in the month of March. We availed the Upasana express from Howrah to Haridwar on the eve of Holi. Such the impact of holi that when the train stopped at Lucknow station in the evening, we found all shops closed and could not even arrange for our dinner.
Early next morning we reached Haridwar and took auto rickshaw to the hotel. It was a nice hotel just beside the Ganges and a few minutes walk from Har-Ki-Pauri, the central place of Haridwar.
Day 1: Covering Haridwar in 1 day
After a quick nap and freshening up, we had a breakfast of aloo paratha at a Punjabi Dhaba. (Please note that Haridwar, being part of Dev Bhoomi – meaning adobe of the Gods – is a completely vegetarian place). Next, we took a guided tour of the local temples in and around Haridwar. The sites covered were some of the new temples around Haridwar. They included the following places:
- India Temple
- Ram Temple
- Manasa Mandir
- Chandi Mandir
Personal Opinion: I would have liked it if the tour covered some of the heritage places of the town. The new temples lacked the feel of the history of the place and was more like a money making avenue. The photos of some of them are given below.
Once the tour completed we went for the rope way ride to Mansa Mandir. The Mansa Mandir, situated on a hillock overlooking the town of Haridwar, is one of the oldest of the region. The 10 min cable car ride took us to the temple and offered a birds eye view of Haridwar.
Another nice temple, on the other side of town, is the Chandi Mandir. This is also accessible via a cable car ride. The Chandi Mandir also offers a nice view of the town of Haridwar.
However, the best attraction of the place is the bank of the holy Ganges. Har-ki-pauri is the place where the Ganga Temple is located. Ever evening a wonderful ceremony to offer prayers to river Ganga is performed by the priests there. The ceremony is called Ganga Aarati. Thousands gather on either side of the river to watch this magnificent ceremony. Priests dressed in saffron robes perform Aarati. Once it is over, the devotees lit diyas and float them in the Ganga.
Haridwar is a shoppers paradise. All sorts of items ranging from utensils, cheap jewelry, and cloths are readily available. The shopkeepers compete with one another to catch the eyeballs of the wandering tourists.
Do remember however that Haridwar is a strictly vegetarian town. You will find all sorts of food items available there, the famous restaurants being Chotiwala and Dada Boudi Hotel. We finished our day after having some wonderful paratha.
Day 2: Camping at Shivpuri
Next day we left Haridwar early morning in a taxi for Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh. From there, the travel agent took us to Shivpuri – the place of one night camping. Shivpuri is around 10 kilometres north of Laxman Jhula,towards Ukhimath. A number of tour operators have set up camp here, where the adventure lover can put up for the night in tent besides the Ganges.
Complete serenity. Complete peace. Luckily for us we were the only boarders. We spent the evening lazying around in the riverbed and enjoying the mountain surrounding us all across. As evening fell, complete darkness surrounded the valley. Thankfully, no electricity. Just a few lanterns where are only companion against the perfect darkness. The life was so different from the hustle and bustle of city life that we are so accustomed to. Such perfect silence. Such perfect darkness.
Day 3: River rafting and lazying off at Laxman Jhula
We woke up early next morning at the chirping of birds and the rays of sun peeping through the window of the tent. Outside, the sun was busy trying to ward off the mist which hung in the Uttarakhand spring air. By 9 o clock, we were ready for our rafting expedition. The 12 kilometres stretch from shivpuri to Laxman Jhula passed through 8 rapid, 3 of them big enough to give us goosebumps. But it was fun and adventurous.
Like Haridwar, Rishikesh is also filled with temples. The other thing that abounds here are the countless yoga and ayurveda training centres in and around this place. Hundreds of foreigners come to this place to learn this ancient Indian culture. When in Rishikesh, don’t forget to try out the famous German Bakery. There are many duplicates. But the original one is just overlooking the Laxman Jhula. Another thing of attraction for collectors at Rishikesh are the wooden art work and decorative items.
Day 3: Laxman Jhula to Ukhimath via Devprayag and Rudraprayag
The next day we did the gruelling 7 hours journey over some extremely bad roads towards Ukhimat. The journey to cost to the small hamlet of Kaudilya,Narkota, Tilwara. Rudraprayag and Srinagar.
Finally we reached Ukhimath around 7.30 in the evening. Ukhimath hardly had any tourist. We got accommodation in guest house of Garwal Mandal Vikas Nigam.
Day 4: Trek to Deoria Tal and Chopta snowline
Early next morning we aimed at the upper reaches of the Himalayas. It started with our trek to Deoriya Taal. We started out trek to Deoria Taal from Sari village, which is around 7 kilometres from Ukhimath. The route is covered with lush green vegetation on both sides which thin away as we gain altitude from Sari village. The complete silence that was broken occasionally by the ruffling of dry leaves in the breeze or the giggling sound of the occasional group of cheerful village ladies on the way to collect dry wood.
The 3 hour trek finally ended in our reaching the peak of the mountain where the lake was created. Deoria Taal is famous for the breathtaking view it provides of the Chaukamba range. There is a trekkers hut available here as well for enthusiast want to spend the night here amidst the breathtaking surroundings especially when the full moon lits up the Chaukhamba range.
The detailed travel story of the trek can be found by clicking here.
Next up, we headed for final destination, Chopta. We found Chopta to be completely filled with white sheets of snow. Our car could reach up to a distance of about 3 kilometres from Chopta. The remaining part of the journey was covered on foot over the snow clad road.
Finally, after staying in abandoned Chopta for some hours, we made our journey back to Ukhimath.
Day 5: Ukhimath to Rishikesh and enjoy shopping
Next day, we came back to Rishikesh, and enjoyed the remaining time relaxing and doing some window shopping.
Day 6: The journey back to plains
Final day of our trip. We took a cab to Derhadun and from there took the overnight bus to new Delhi. Thus ended our trip of Uttarakhand.
Till then, good bye.