Govind Ghat in August
August is the reason why there is no rush, compared to our June visit. Rooms are easily available at Rs 350.
The greenest Garhwal Himalayas that I have ever seen... The road conditions are far better than our expectations (seem better now than they were last year in June). With no route map to guide us we discovered that the best help was available from truck drivers.
Rishikesh to Govind Ghat by car: all in a day
We had slept the night (at 1.30 a.m.) in the Gurudwara at Rishikesh. From 5.30 a.m. this morning we've been on the road by car. With just a stop at Nandprayag for a dip in the river, we are in at Govindghat in a single day.
August rains and rivers
The main road at Govind Ghat which is alongside River Alaknanda is the centre of activities. All along our journey today we found rivers and streams to be gushing froth. The August rains have a hand here. Alaknanda is no different - it is rushing vigorously. Its sound overpowers even the traffic horns. At Govind Ghat, Alaknanda is joined by Laxman Ganga (Hem Ganga) which starts at Hemkund Sarovar, 19km away.
Police Check-post, Govind Ghat
Just behind the police check post on the main road, a little down the hillside, our car is parked at a private parking for Rs 100 a day.
By the evening lights, Govind ghat seems busy. Shops and eateries line the road. It is a good place to stock up on Glucon-D for the trek ahead, if one has not bought some already. From last year's experience of the trek to Hemkund Saheb and the magnanimity of fellow pilgrims who shared their supplies of Glucose powder with us, we remembered to bring a lot of it with us this time. We have also brought ORS powder with us to prevent dehydration.
Handmade shawls from Mana village
The police check post happens to be the site of action. This is where vehicles wait in a long queue, giving ample opportunity for peddlers to show case their wares. Among these, shawls from Mana village are available at bargain prices. Anything above Rs 50 for a handmade, pure wool, long, wide wrap in traditional weaves!
Rains in Garhwal Himalaya
One can easily get all the advice on how to get around the law from the 'guardian of the law' the policeman - just pay him a bit of extra bribe than he expects. But never underestimate the laws of nature in the Himalayas. Nature rules here. Heavy rains can bring about landslides and delay things. Slippery paths are another deterrent. That is why dry summer months are favoured over the monsoons.
Clear days in August!
June and September is the prime time for visitors, as the heaviest rainfall is seen in July-August. But to our delight it has been a clear sunny day, and we came across zero landslides on our way up here. August is the reason why there is no rush here, compared to our June visit. Rooms are easily available at Rs 350 this time (100 per bed).
'In Season' residents
The population at Govind Ghat is largely resident only 'in season', which means summer months. The locals are an interesting mix of people from Garhwal, Kumaon, Bijnor, Moradabad and Nepal, who know their way around this part of the Himalaya. It is elevating to see their respect for the land of gods.
Gurudwara at Govind Ghat
After this brief ramble at Govind Ghat we are ready for a snooze before dinner. Snuggled in blankets in a room in the Gurudwara, we ask everyone in the group to wake up the others in an hour’s time. Nonetheless, not one of us stirs for the next 10 hours! We lose track of time and wake up only at 5.30 am or so. We missed the langar dinner at the Gurudwara. The morning is here, and we are ready for the trek up to Hemkund, having deposited extra luggage at the Gurudwara's Gathari Ghar.
Crossing the single span bridge over Alaknanda, we are on our way... The force of the river is tremendous! It looks like a river of milk, and as white - rushing down to nurture the Gangetic plains.
Hemkund trek Map GM:64
Rishikesh – Govind Ghat: 275 km
Rishikesh – Joshimath: 253 km
Joshimath – Govindghat: 22 km
Govind Ghat – Hemkund: 19 km
Govind Ghat – Ghangharia (Govind Dham): 13 km
Ghangharia (Govind Dham) – Hemkund: 6 km
Govind Ghat – Valley of Flowers: 16 km
Govind Ghat – Ghangharia (Govind Dham): 13 km
Ghangharia (Govind Dham) – Valley of Flowers: 3 km
The trek route to Valley of Flowers is open from mid June to the first week in October, while the Hemkund route opens just a wee bit earlier, snow-covered even in June.
Badrinath opens every year at Akshay Teej festival which may be in April or May as per the Hindu calendar.
Hemkund Saheb yatra will close on October 4th, 2008 for this year.