Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chardham Yatra 2016 - In a nutshell

I must have been 12 or 13 when my parents went on a pilgrimage to Badrinath. My mother was very good at describing places and events. One thing that stood out in my memory, from her raving, all these years is the magnificence and grandeur of Himalayas. She said one must experience them first hand to know it, atleast once in a life time.

I do not know why I never seriously planned to go there all this while. Finally when I wanted to make this trip with my nephew, he was too caught up with his admissions etc. And next year the disaster of landslides at Kedarnath happened. I was not sure if the place was ready for pilgrims in 2014 and 2015. 

Along with a friend of mine from Hyderabad and my cousin’s husband from Singrowli, I had been on a pilgrimage to the famous Char Dhams in Uttarakhand, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath, in the month of May’16, finally. Wished I had dared earlier. I guess everything happens in its time and place!

 The tour started from Rishikesh and ended in Rishikesh. If you are a group of four or more, you can hire a vehicle and plan your trip accordingly. Since my friend and I were the only ones mad enough or passionate enough to undertake this journey this year and in the month of may (initially), we decided to book ourselves into a package tour. After extensive research on the net for tour packages to Himalayas including Badrinath (that was important to me), I had decided on Chardham Yatra package from Utharakhand Tourism Dept. Though it did not include some of the places I wanted to see, it seemed like a good package.

It was a 10 day road trip, starting every wednesday, with night halts at Phoolchatti, Harsil, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Gaurikund, Gauchar, Badrinath, and Kaleswar. Transport, 2x2 non-AC bus, double sharing accommodation in Tourist Rest houses of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, Uttarakhand, a guide who travelled with us in the bus, were a great incentive. The package cost only Rs.15380 per head (food not included), I felt was a very good deal. 

I must say after the trip, that GMVN truly delivered on all their promises and some more. We had a fabulous time, saw all those great places, had good company in the bus, no mishaps or accidents, we did not get caught in forest fires and landslides, a truly memorable time we all had. Night halt by 5.30 pm, very responsible driving, and able guidance made the journey very safe for young and elderly too.

We had very good experience traveling with GMVN, Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam limited, as they their Tourist Rest houses have the best locations and views, the rooms are big and airy, the food (on order) is good, friendly and very helpful guide on the bus, very safe driving, all arrangements done well in advance, very reasonable package cost, Himalayas thrown in for good measure, heaven on earth kind of views ... what more can I ask? Nothing at all!

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