Bamsaru Khal ( Pass ) Trek
In May-2011, my company travel club/group sent an email for Bhamsuru Khal trek(4900M, Khal mean Pass ) , with tentative itinerary. Without giving a second thought, I replied to the email and showed my interest to join the team. However, I was concerned about the timing of the trek( last week of August) , because rainy season does not end by that time. As per emailed plan, we needed to start in the last week of Aug-2011, so that we can take advantage of National holidays like Ganesh Chathurti and “Eid” , and thus need minimum leaves.
About Bamsaru Khal
Bamsaru-Khal defines, one of the routes from Gangotri to Yamunotri, along a traverse up the Hanumanganga river (one which meet the Yamuna at Hanumanchatti), over across to Bamsaru khal. Bamsaru-Khal is a less explored valley in the Garhwal Himalayas, which is adjacent to the Ganga Valley and is known for its virgin meadows (Bugyals) and beautiful peaks along a beautiful trek. The Bamsaru Khal trek provides an opportunity to explore the Ganga valley, and the upper reaches of river Hanuman Ganga all the way to Gidara valley. This route is considered as the old traditional conjunction between Yamunotri and Gangotri.
I did a google search and found that a few had done this trek and they had done it from Bingad to Gidara/Dayara ( Via Bhamsuru Khal) and we were planning to do just the opposite.
While going through blogs , I found a blog from Anurag Tyagi. Like us , they also had followed more or less same path. I left a message on FB and Anurag shared his contact and later gave full details about their trek which was very helpful.
|Bamsaru Khal trek team -> Virag , Trilok , Lakshmi , Muthu , Sridhar|
Our team of 6 people ( Sridhar , Shivatrilok , Anil Kumar , Muthu Kumar , Lakshmi and Virag ( me ) , started building stamina almost 3 month before the trek . At the last moment, Anil had to drop, due to personal reason. Most of the team member used to gather on weekend for jogging and exercise and send their progress. Since I was not able to join them, so used my apartment club house gym to get prepared for this trek.
Also there were huge discussion about shoes, clothing, type of bag etc. After reading few forums , I brought woodland trekker shoes , later expert trekker told me woodland will not work in Himalaya range , I must have flexible good grip shoes.
I was not sure about my preparation , so decided to go for small trek to check my preparation.
So went to Hogenakkal Waterfalls to Gopinatham -> 22.8 km uphill Hike from Gopinatham ( Mystry Trail camp ) to Ponnachi ( it is MM Hills at Karnataka and Tamilnadu boarder ). Gopinatham is the birthplace of Veerappan. The village, nestled among high mountains and dense forests, is rich in water sources. This is also one big wonderful story , might write about this in another story.
Going through the full details of trek is not possible, I will try to summarize Bhamsuru Khal trek.
This kind of trek is a once in a lifetime affair . You just buried your daily life worry and enjoy the beautiful valley, mountains etc it is one great feeling of content. Just think, for 10 day No laptop , no mobile just beautiful scene of snow peak mountain and beautiful valley. Sounds too good, isn’t it ? Let me introduce the real story
We had decided the following path
Uttar Kashi -> Barsu -> Dayara -> Gidara -> Bamsaru Base -> Bamsaru Khal/pass – Bamsaru Base-> Bingad -> Darwa top -> Seema Bugiyal -> Hanuman Chatti -> Uttarkashi
But due to bad weather condition and Health issues with 2 porter , we needed to change our plans on the go , and the final trek become Small
Uttar Kashi -> Raithal -> Dayara -> Gidara -> Bamsaru Base -> Bamsaru Khal/pass – Bamsaru Base-> Gidara -> Bhagila Village -> Gangnani
Here is day by summary of my trek travelogue
- 1) Haridwar – Uttar Kashi
- 2) Uttar Kashi – Raithal – Dayara
- 3) Dayara – Sura/Surni top
- 4) Sura top – Gidara
- 5) Gidara – Bamsaru Base
- 6) Bamsaru Base – Bamsaru Khal/pass – Bamsaru Base
- 7) Bamsaru Base – Gidara
- 8) Gidara – Bhagila Village – Gangnani
- 9) Gangnani – Gangotri – Uttarkashi
- 10) Uttarkashi – Haridwar – Delhi
Day 1-> Haridwar – Uttar Kashi
While the group started from Hyderbad , I joined them at Agra. We reached Haridwar early morning . After having the customary holy dip at Har-Ki-Pori, we attended morning Ganga arti. I have been to Haridwar many time but never had a chance to take holy dip in Ganga or participate in the morning arti, believe me it is something to experience.
Our Jeep driver met us at Haridwar around 6:15 AM near Har-Ki –Pori , and informed us, that all of the roads to Uttarkashi were blocked due to land slide. Usually rains ease out by end of August, but this year heavy rains continued till 1st-2nd week of September .
From Haridwar to Chamba road was fine. In Chamba our driver stopped and waited for vehicle to come from other side , so that he could get some info about road/route condition .
After waiting for 2-3 Hr and no luck we started towards Tehri, we saw Tehri dam and new/old Tehri , we also encountered our first land slide here, though most of the blockage was cleared but at one place the clearing machine broke down, and we lost all hope of reaching Uttarkashi.
While we were thinking how and where to spend the night , our driver was in constant touch on mobile with all his friends etc, God knows what path he took and finally 2:30 AM we reached Uttarkashi.Hotel was booked and freshly made food was ready, but I preferred to sleep and skipped dinner ,rest of the team continued with dinner until 3AMJ
|From Haridwar – Uttar Kashi l|
Day 2 -> Uttar Kashi – Raithal – Dayara
Our hotel was on bank of Ganag and had beautiful view of Gangagotri and Uttar Kashi mountains.After getting ready in the morning , we did some shopping ( necessary items ). In Market everyone was asking by which route we had reached, bless our driver we were fortunately ignorant.
Our porters, guides etc joined us in another jeep and from the market, we started for Barsu. But as soon as we come out from Uttarkashi city , there was big land slide. After lots of discussion, and some hard bargaining with jeeps on the other side of landslide we managed new transportation . We transferred our luggage to other side and started toward Gagnotri
Our Guide suggested to start from Raithal instead of Barsu. On the way to Gangotri, we grabbed a quick brunch. Afterwards the jeep took a small road upside , off the main road of Gangotri to Raithal. Raithal is small beautiful village , surprisingly it has GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited) office. We re-arranged our luggage and started our trek. Initial 2 Hr trek was fine , then drizzling started and we got wet, we got some wooden huts at Godham , here one tribal lady agreed to prepare tea on payment. tea was refreshing. The 3and ½ Hr walking had made us tired.One thing I realized that Rain coat is not good for trekking. Probably poncho would have worked fine.
|From Bamsaru Khal|
We reach Dayara in the evening and setup tent there. We had good dinner. Our team member and lead, ‘Sridhar’ was NIMS (Nehru Institute of Mountaineering) trained, he gave some tips for trekking. It was for the first time that I was staying in small tent and using a sleeping bag , so had a tough time getting sleep. Honestly, the whole night was spent just lying awake. I was also worried about next day , ‘how will I manage without proper sleep’ was the thought bugging me. Since then have done 3 more treks, never had any issues , most likely because tent size were bigger.
|Camping at Dayara|
Day 3 -> Dayara – Sura/Surni top
In the morning, view outside our tents was spectacular. We saw snow capped Mountains all around , took some pics, but after 15-20 Min Mist covered the valley and mountains were not visible. We were supposed to start early , but got late, we finished our breakfast by 8:30AM and started walking towards Gidara.
From Dayara one black dog started walking with us , we thought it will go away after sometime but it remained with us till the end of trek. The Dog was too hairy, and resembled a bear , got scared of him twice, he also had a bad habit of crossing the path when there was a difficult climb or narrow path.
While on the trek an idea popped up that we should also visit “Dodital” ( Lord Ganeshji Birthplace ). Dodital situated at a distance of 30 km from Dayara Bugyal, is also popular among tourists. Going there meant an extension of 2 More days , which we could not afford. Hence all agreed to keep walking towards Gidara.
On the way, we met a group of women, they were going for searching and gathering herbs in the jungle. It was sunny and we all took rest and pics with the women. After some time mist covered the valley and visibility dropped to below 10 Meter. We all kept walking on trail.
|From Bamsaru Khal|
We all were missing the beautiful view of mountains due to fog/mist. We could hear the sheep and goats , but were not able to see them due to fog/mist all around. At this place our only female team member was left behind and she started whistling. We responded with whistles, but she was expecting that one of us would go back and show her the way and since we did not do any such thing , she blasted at all of us, with such an expression, that, we shall never forget J
|From Nasty Weather view|
|From Walking on Edge|
|From Vertical Climb|
After some time all water bottles were empty, and all of us were thirsty we kept asking our guide , where would we get a water stream. Without water it became hard to walk. Finally our guide got water from somewhere in the field and used chlorine capsule etc to clean it. After drinking water we got some energy and started walking slightly fast. But visibility went down and it was not possible to reach Gidara by evening, so the guide decided to stop near a water stream. We stopped at Sura Top. Since there was no level place to put tent, we pitched our tent on a 15-20 degree slope ,because of slop many time in night , we found our self at bottom of tent J , the whole night we kept pushing our self up and it is hard to do so, when you are in a sleeping bag.
|From Tent on slop had hard time to sleep|
|From Walking on circumferences of mountain l|
Day 4 -> Sura top – Gidara
After breakfast we started walking towards Gidara. This time we made no mistake, took enough water with us . There was no fog and Sun , weather looked good for walking.
It was a beautiful scene all around. There were many places, we needed to walk on edge of mountains and circumvent them with very narrow ledges. Our porters had no problems on those ledges. I followed their foot steps to cross the tough trail. We came across a big mountain with 70-80 degree upward slope on the other side of this mountain was Gidara. Our guide and porters assessed the climb , it was too slippery , taking no chances our guide asked us to follow a alternate path ,which first led us down and then by the side of the mountain it was easy as compared to climbing on 70 degree slope , but dangerous due to falling loose stones , our guide made us cross fast and only one person at a time.
After some time it started raining. Our plan was to reach Bamsarukhal base, but weather become too bad and we had to stop at starting point of Gidara only. Weather was so bad that we were not able to see each other even when standing nearby.
|From Camp at Gidara other side snow cap mountain is Bamsaru Pass|
Day 5 -> Gidara – Bamsaru Base
|From Bamsaru Khal|
We woke up early and saw beautiful view all around. I would like to mention here that a friend who saw the pictures of the trip on FB commented that if this place is in INDIA, why go to Switzerland. There is talk of Government plans of installing ropeway here to encourage tourism.
One porter condition become too bad , he was suffering from High altitude sickness. Sending him back alone is not possible, so sent another porter with him. So at this place we lost 2 Porters, it mean more load, slow movement. More then load / weight, all were concern that porter should reach safely.
|Sridhar Guiding Trilok and Lakshmi|
However back on the trip we noticed that vegetation had become scarce there were no trees , it meant that there was less air and consequently less oxygen which made walking hard. By Lunch time , we reached to Bhamsaru khal base, as weather became bad and it was too cold, our guide suggested to stay at base.
Day 6 -> Big Day -> Bamsaru Base – Bamsaru Khal/pass – Bamsaru Base
Last night there was snow fall J so early morning we were greeted by cotton white snow all around, all the way to the mountain peaks Which meant that the climb to Bhamsaru khal had became tougher.
|From Bamsaru Khal climb started|
|From Trilok and Lakshmi struggling for climb|
We started our climb, early but due to scarce oxygen we all started panting and had to take frequent rest, our guide and cooks reached the top first due to fresh snow on the stones we kept slipping often and this made our climbing hard. Finally we reached the top . On the other side it was full of snow a breathtaking sight.
|From Few reached Bamsaru Khal top|
It was the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, so on the top of Bhamsaru khal , we performed Ganesh Pooja and started descending on the other side of Bhamsaru khal . Our guide went ahead with snow axe for checking the trail while the other guides/porters gave us cord for snow walk. Weather become nasty again , it started to rain as we started walking down , after about 600-700 Meter walk , we encountered a huge slope, the guide suggested to sit and slip down , it was fun. Our guide again went ahead to
|From Ready to move down other side of Bamsaru Khal|
|Walking on snow Bamsaru Khal|
check path while we waited . He came back after sometime and said there are crevasse. Our Cook who was also an experienced mountaineer went to checked and confirmed ……
|Waiting for Guide signal at Bamsaru Khal|
Our guide at this point decided that we go back , the porter become angry coz going back meant a lot of work. On our Left there were snowless mountains , but stones were falling every now and then from the top . One can clearly hear the noise of stone falling from those mountains from any where in the valley, it is very very scary.
Hardly 2KM away was the other side of the base. but as the guide had decided to go back , we started walking back to same place from where we had started. Life’s truth was in front of me here every step was a problem it was hard to walk but every step taken towards the top was a step taken closer to survival, towards life. Our biggest worry was Lakshmi , she was the weakest link of chain , but thanks to our cook , who offered and carried her luggage and guided her back to base camp , she was the 1st to reach base, we all were struggling to reach the top and then down to base , I was the second to reach with another guide. We came to know our lead had fallen/ slipped somewhere near Bhamsaru Khal top and got some injury , hence we sent one porter and guide , to help him come down to base.
At the top , i asked guide to put tent here and will try next day again , But guide ruled out because of bad weather ,no water availability and bad health of one porter.
|From Camp at Bamsaru Khal base|
Day 7 -> Rest Day -> Bamsaru Base – Gidara
Our Youngest porter became ill when we were climbing Bhamsaru Khal, his condition was bad. One porter was needed to carry him our guide suggested that we should descend lower , so that the porter can recover.
|r Crossing stream l|
We descended to Gidara and this time we pitched the tent on other corner of Gidara , and that to on the edge of the mountain. It was a sunny day and we made good use of it by drying our cloths , bags etc. and prayed that our porter regain his health soon. Our guide assured us that the porter was suffering from altitude sickness and will recover soon as we descended lower.
Since we had reached early , two porter went to some nearby place and brought wood , we had bonfire during dinner.
|Welcome to Beautiful Valley|
After mid night wind suddenly picked up , since we pitched up tent on edge , we had hard time to keep our tent upright ….. In no time , we also realize that, it is raining with hailstones. we sat inside the tent holding it tight , so that it does not fall down. In the other tent someone started crying ( will not tell who ) . Why to make fun of others, honest truth is that I was afraid too , when wind and rain did not settle down , I started abusing myself , why the hell did I come come here to die. Later in the morning I learned that our guide was also afraid.
Day 8 -> back to civilization -> Gidara – Bhagila Village – Gangnani
We started early after breakfast, After walking around 2KM , we sew trees again which meant air was now enough , I realized that we were not panting much, while walking now.
|Walking in Beautiful Valleyl|
It was a beautiful 18 KM walk from Gidara to Ganganani. At a lot of places slope was almost 70-80 degree , and due to recent rains it was slippery. We stopped at Gujjar Hat for Lunch , we saw Gujjar families while going down through Bahngari village. They live there with their cattle and go down to sell ( milk , butter , Paneer , Cheese etc) and buy daily items.
We reached Bhangari village by evening , We took tea and asked same guy to keep the dog which had accompanied since day one. Bhangari is very nice small village, but there are no proper roads (after 62 Years after Independence , speaks volumes of the great Indian growth story ).
|From Bhangari Village|
Ganganani is around 5KM from Bhangari village connected by a stony trail. We reached Ganganani in the night only with the help of torches and of course our guide. After reaching Ganganani , First thing I took was cold drinks …… 1..2…3..too many :).
We all had dinner together , after Dinner we have given appreciation award to porters , apart from what they suppose to get.
Day 9 -> Gangnani – Gangotri – Uttar Kashi
Next day we took bath in the hot spring at Ganganani , it was very very relaxing because of 2 reason , one , we took bath after 8 days J , second , hot water relaxed our aching bodies . We all, then went to Gangotri temple, had darshan and started back to Uttarkashi. Also brought too many Apple and Nashpati ( Apple Pear ) from Harsil
|From Gangotri Temple|
Day 10 -> Uttar Kashi – Haridwar – Delhi
Early morning we took a bus from Uttarkashi for Haridwar, there was big land slide on the way and we had to wait for long time , all were worried about missing our flight from Delhi to Hyderabad. Lucky that things cleared and we reached Delhi on time.
It was a dramatic trekking experiences.This is one trip, I would remember all my life. Thanks to the wonderful team – our guide, Balwant , Lamaji , who would cook that tasty food for everyone after the days task, and all the porters.
The interested might want to see the complete album of selected pics at the following link