Auli in June
Driving to Auli
Route taken - Haridwar – Chamoli – Joshimath – Auli. It takes 10-12 hours by road.
Getting to know the Himalayas
I have never seen such high mountains. They are majestic, gigantic and intimidating. These mountains are a part of the Nanda Devi Range in the Garhwal Himalayas.
The most amazing thing that I realize here are the electric-line towers situated at places which seemed unapproachable from all sides! How were they put there? How were the electric cables pulled through the towers? Man is indeed amazing!
We had taken an arduous drive from the plains to these mountains! It is a different world here - divine and pious.
It took about 10 hours to traverse the 300 km stretch between Haridwar and Joshimath. Our drive from Haridwar to Joshimath wound through hills and river Ganga ran with us all through the route; the water flowing swiftly in the gorge between hills.
Looking at the narrow path of the river, it is difficult to imagine that it carries so much water!
The road turned out to be dangerous at some points. The road ahead of Joshimath heading towards the resort at Auli where we planned to stay, was the most dangerous, especially the last three kilometres. It was extremely narrow, muddy and uneven.
It suddenly became quite chilly as we reached the resort by night. The night temperature was between 15 to 17 degree C. The resort was situated on a mountain peak, at a height of 2750 meters.
In the morning we woke up to see clouds hanging over surrounding peaks, and almost concealing them. Once in a while, the snow clad tops of the mountains were visible for some time. The magnanimity of the mountains dwarfed everything around!
Over our stay we found the upkeep of the resort to be disappointing. But at the same time we realized that it's an incredibly difficult job to maintain a resort at such a height, where every little item of utility had to be carried up from lower places.
However the resort was damp and smelly. Perhaps scarcity of water had something to do with it. In any case, this dampened our spirits and we decided to stay there just for two days.
Auli is a place which can be enjoyed only by high-spirited people who love to trek. Walking uphill on even a slight slope makes you short of breath, as oxygen is rarer at this height. But we walked a few kilometres nonetheless.
There were about 100 cows dotting the mountain slopes. We realized that the cows were absolutely oblivious to the fact that they were at a height of around 10,000 feet, while just being there amidst nature was such an adventure for us! We had taken an arduous drive from the plains to these mountains!
The reward - closeness with the Himalayas is very exciting and calming. It is a different world here - divine and pious. My heart swelled with pride to realize that my country is blessed with such beauty and magnificence.
The disturbing fact is the coming up of power projects in the hills that is surely going to disturb the Nanda Devi biosphere. In a way the in-approachability of the hills makes them safe from becoming another commodity for man.
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Though Auli is visited in summer for its high altitude meadows (bugiyal), and a trek in the Gorson reserve forest, winter is the best time to be here.
Auli is 16 km from Joshimath and situated in district Chamoli in the state of Uttarakhand.
Its meadows make it a skiing destination in winter (December - March). Auli lies at a height 2500 - 3050 meters.
It is a part of the Garhwal Himalayas, and easily accessible by road via Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, Nainital and Almora among other places. Joshimath is located on NH 58.
The ropeway from Joshimath to Auli is 4.15 km long and perhaps the longest ropeway in India is the easiest way to get to Auli.
The ropeway journey also offers a great view of the Himalayan peaks - Nanda Devi, Mana Parbat, Dungagri, Beethartoli, Nikanth Hathi Parbat and Ghori Parbat. Auli itself is bordering on Gorson Reserve forest, greened by golden oak and coniferous trees.
Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) maintains a guest house and log cabins in Auli. The Tourism Department also offers winter courses in skiing for beginners.
How to reach Auli?
Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport (Dehradun) 298 km from Auli.
Rail: Haridwar, 299 km from Auli is a better connected railway station than Rishikesh.
Road: Auli is at a 16 km drive from Joshimath. Joshimath is 253 km from Rishikesh.