The largest town in the interior of Garhwal, UTTARKASHI makes a convenient stopover to break up the road from Rishikesh (148km south) to Gangotri (100km northeast). Discerning travellers, however, are beginning to linger longer in this picturesque town to hike the unspoiled trails of Garhwal’s interior or to gear up for longer treks such as to Dodi Tal.
Occupying the flat and fertile valley floor of the Bhagirathi, Uttarkashi is no stranger to natural disasters; the town made the news when it was hit by severe floods in 1978, an earthquake in 1991, and a massive landslide in 2003 that wiped out several hotels along the main road as well as the bus stand and tourist office. No one was hurt in the last, but the large gap in the centre of town remains today. Efforts have since been made to secure the hillside against landslides, but in 2012 another flood wiped out the bridge to Gangotri.Read More
The Dodi Tal trek
The Dodi Tal trek
One of Garhwal’s all-time classic treks, the Dodi Tal trek links the Gangotri and Yamunotri regions without straying into high glacial terrain. It’s a relatively short and easy hike, but local villagers are keen to offer their services as porters or guides, taking hikers off the beaten track to visit the villages. Carry as much of your own food as possible and bring a tent.
From Uttarkashi, catch a morning bus (45min) or jeep heading to Sangam Chatti (1350m), from where it’s a 7km climb through fields and woodland to Agoda (2286m), where you can set up camp or head to the Tourist Bungalow at the far end of the village. On the second day, follow the trail from Agoda as it climbs west of the Asi Ganga and zigzags steadily upwards through lush pine and spruce forests, with a smattering of chai shops en route. After 14km and a final undulation, you will reach the lake of Dodi Tal (3024m), set against a backdrop of thickly forested hills and said to be the spot where Lord Ganesha was both born and beheaded. Near the basic forest bungalow in the clearing are chai shops and areas for camping.
On the third day you’ll make the 4km hike to Dharwa Top, following the well-marked path along (and often across) the stream that feeds Dodi Tal, which can get steep and entail scrambling, until you emerge above the tree line. A further 2km along, the trail heads left to a small pass, then zigzags up scree to Dharwa Top (4130m), the highest point of the trek, offering superb panoramas of the Srikanta Range. A leftward path beyond the top leads to camping and water, but if you’ve still got sufficient energy and daylight, you can continue along the main route, which takes about four more hours and 13km to rejoin the tree line at Sima, where there’s basic hut accommodation.
The following day’s beautiful 12km trail from Sima kicks off with a steep 1.5km scramble alongside a stream before easing past forest and bugyal (alpine meadow). A well-defined rocky path drops steadily through two villages and zigzags down to the Hanuman Ganga, finally emerging at Hanuman Chatti, from where buses and jeeps connect with Barkot, Uttarkashi, Mussoorie and other points in Garhwal. The Dodi Tal trek can easily be tied in with hikes in the Har-ki-Dun and Yamunotri areas.