The Journey to Joshimath via Haridwari and Rishikesh- The Start of the VOF and Hemkunt Trek



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I recently trekked through Valley of Flowers (VOF) and Hemkunt Sahib in Uttarakhand. But the story begins with my trying to reach Joshimath, my initial halt at Uttarakhand before the trek.

I started at 7.00 am for ISBT Kashmiri Gate Bus Station at New Delhi. Reached there in good time too, only to be told that all buses to Haridwar start from Anand Vihar ISBT. So I headed to the Metro station again and moved towards Anand Vihar. Once I reached there I realized there was an ordinary bus heading to Haridwar in a short while. When I inquired if there were any AC or Volvo buses the person at the counter gave me that look and then said in Hindi, “An ordinary bus is going in a while, if you care you can board it.” I took that advice and soon I was on my way.

I just slept through the 7 hours it took to reach Haridwar. And when I opened my eyes I was dazed. The bus stopped next to the river Ganges and not at the usual bus stand. Everyone was getting out, so I also got out. Then I could find no buses to Rishikesh which otherwise is a routine task. Soon there was a group who wanted to go to Dehradun/Rishikesh and was not finding a way out!

Before joining this group I had already walked on foot to the next stop suggested to get a bus with my rucksack and a small bag. I was turned away by the police officer back to the Ganges bus stand.

So I joined that helpless group and was thinking that I had it. The night would be spent among the Kawarias and I would not reach Joshimath the next day!

Luckily a jeep person approached us saying he can drop us to the relevant city bus stand. The jeep was full in no time! The first time around police didn’t let the jeep go in the intended direction. After coming back again and showing a paper we were allowed to go through!

True to his words the jeep driver got us to the correct bus station and once again I was on my way- to Rishikesh.

I was looking for a hotel near the bus stand as I intended to start at 4.00 am for Joshimath. It takes 10-12 hours to reach Joshimath and the hill roads are not that safe after the dark (chances of the bus falling of into a gorge increases!). Hence starting early has a distinct advantage. At that hour I didn’t want to look for an auto, so I was looking for a hotel from where I could walk to the bus stand.

Hotel Suruchi looked the biggest of all but the lesser said about it the better. I managed to fall asleep as I was very tired but I surely would not like to stay there ever again.

I got up at 3.15 the next day and managed to get a last row seat in the 4.00 am bus to Joshimath. On the way someone took pity on me and gave their isle seat as they were all part of a group and change of seats made them sit next to each-other.

For mountain roads Avomine helps me avoid nausea and sleep as well even on rickety buses. I woke up an hour before Joshimath that means I slept for 9 hours!

And if you think I have learnt my lesson now this was already my 3rd visit to Joshimath.

The story continues …

You can check out the entire trip account day wise from the following links-

Rest Day at Joshimath (Day 3 of the trip)

Trekking from Govinghat to Ghangaria (Day 4 of the trip, day 1 of the trek)

Trekking from Ghangaria to Valley of Flowers (Day 5 of the trip, Day 2 of the trek)

Trekking from Ghangaria to Hemkunt Sahib (Day 6 of the trip, day 3 of trekking)

Trekking from Ghangaria to Govindghat (Day 7 of the trip, day 4 of trekking)

Please check out my Antarctica Dream Page as well

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16 thoughts on “The Journey to Joshimath via Haridwari and Rishikesh- The Start of the VOF and Hemkunt Trek

  1. Nidhi

    Hi Mridula,

    Thanks for some insight on this trekking route. I am solo backpacking on VOF/Hemkund Sahib trek. Planning to leave delhi on 31st July. I just wanted to know if there are direct buses from Haridwar available for Joshimath or do I have to go to Rishikesh? I reach Haridwar around 4 in the morning and intend to reach Joshimath / Auli by end of the day. Also I am budget traveler so not looking at taxis but i guess there are some jeeps available on sharing basis on this route. Any clue about them?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Mridula Post author

      I have always taken the bus from Rishikesh. If you do not find shared jeeps take a bus to Rishikesh and then a bus to Joshimath.

      Reply
  2. Sushil

    What are the chances of a rain during the trek, say last week of July or first week of August ? In case it rains when I am at Valley of Flowers, is there any place to take shelter from rain ? Getting drenched in rain in that cold weather, with my hotel a few hour away, can really freeze me .

    Reply
    1. Mridula Post author

      Sushil carry a sturdy raincoat. That is the only protection you have. It is an open valley with no other protection anywhere.

      Reply
  3. Nitin

    Good information & good write-up.

    Am curious – how about return journey ?

    I will be doing a solo to VOF this year, around second week of August. Am a regular trekker – both Sahyadris and Himachal. Maintains good exercise routine.

    Due to time constraints ( being in Mumbai – VOF is real long distance) am thinking of – getting down to Govindghat bit late in the evening ( am actually thinking an early morning trek to Hemkund Sahib – come back to Ghangria – Continue to Gobindghat – so I may be reaching there late in the evening). Will I get transport back to Rishikesh ? or any intermediate town like Srinagar or something?

    I am aware that the last bus might be around 4.30 pm or so. But is there any private transport / shared car / jeep available ?

    Thanks and regards,

    Reply
    1. Mridula Post author

      Nitin as I left for Joshimath midway I really do not have an idea. :( Really sorry about that.

      Reply
    2. Sushil

      Nitin,
      If you reach GobindGhat around 4 pm or so, the best you can hope is to reach Joshimath on same day (about 20 to 25 Km), halt there for the night, and start the next day early in the morning. Though I am not sure, but I hope you will get some vehicle from GobindGhat even upto 5 pm or 5.30 pm to reach Joshimath. Going any further on same day is not possible, as it will get dark at about 7 pm, and driving after that will not be safe.
      Regards – Sushil

      Reply
  4. Abhilash

    Hai Mridula,

    It has been a long time I am here. Never seen such a big post from you and that too without a picture. Nice to read that. Looking forward to the completion of the Uttarakhand story.

    My apologies for not visiting your blog for a long time. It is a hard time for me to start pushing apologies to my blogging friends.

    I am doing it since the morning. Have been pasting this message to all the blogs and the friends I missed during these months.

    Spider man says, “with great power comes great responsibility”. I was busy with some business activities to which I am engaged and thus could not find time for my blogging.

    I have made my day manageable to equip my blogging freedom besides my regular work.

    wishing you a great day ahead!

    Abhi

    Reply
  5. Mridula Post author

    Niranjan it was indeed 😀

    Tushar you are kind, thank you.

    Anu after the journey it indeed was memorable 😀

    Shruti I don’t go seeking them, they come my way!

    Yes Meena I need 2-3 treks a year and I live for them. 😀

    Ajeya it is going to come out one day at a time most of the week days!

    Reply
  6. Meena Menon

    Thoosi gr8 ho! It should be ur passion to trek that must be letting u taking all in ur stride n keep going!

    Reply
  7. Anu

    as Niranjan says, what an interesting start to a trek!!!! makes it all the more memorable… else why would you write about this part of the journey? you would have begun from the time you actually started trekking, right?

    Reply

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