Trip to Harsil (Haridwar, Rishikesh, Narender Nagar, Uttrakashi)

Hello All! After spending time on Haridwar we planned to visit Harsil. I have seen very good write up of Harsil from the fellow Ghumakkars. Thanks to their travel experience and the wonderful pictures they have uploaded we chalked down to our next trip after Haridwar.

About Harsil

Harsil is a small beautiful village and a cantonment area which is an excellent peaceful mountain resort which is still unexplored. It is situated in Uttrakashi district of Uttrakhand. Harsil is on the banks of Bhagirathi River and nestled amidst the beautiful Kumaoun Himalayas.
While going towards Gangotri Dham, you have to cross this village. Harsil is the ideal destination if you want to experience serenity and solitude amidst the lap of nature and love to do camping and trekking. Harsil is situated at an altitude of 7,860 ft (2,620 metres.) from sea level, Distance from Uttraksahi to Harsil lies 73 km and Gangotri Dham is 30 km away from Harsil.
We started our journey from Haridwar towards Harsil in the early morning 6.00 Am. The route is Haridwar, Rishikesh, Narender nagar, Uttrakashi and Harsil. Till Rishikesh traffic was smooth at that time and after crossing Rishikesh very few vehicles are there at time. Road was very narrow at some place as there was divider in between the road. Construction and widening of road is going on in Rishikesh area.

Outskirt of Rishikesh



After crossing Rishikesh, road was almost in good condition and hardly few bad patches are there during travel towards Uttrakashi. We stopped at outskirt of Narender nagar as road is divided into two ways. One way is going from Narender Nagar and second way is from Tehri and Chamba. We decided to go from Narender Nagar as I have read that road was in good condition. We are almost at the top of hill there. We stopped there for a short duration to admire Rishikesh city and river ganga from there.

Bypass T point of Narender Nagar

It takes almost five hour driving to reach Uttrakashi as we stopped at many places to enjoy nature and snacks which we have packed for kids. We stopped at Uttrakashi for lunch. Before continuing our journey I checked the tank which is half empty and I have read that no petrol pump is after Uttrakshi. I decided to visit petrol pump and fill the tank with diesel. It was good to see that diesel price is almost same as in Delhi.

After crossing Uttrakashi, at many places road was in very bad condition. But to my surprise I have seen people driving Alto and Maruti 800 very comfortable in this route and this encourage me to drive with more spirit at the hills. Accept three places during the trip where road is very narrow and badly broken where vehicles get struck or there floor touch towards the road otherwise its ok. One can easily drive here with little precautions.

At some place roads are bad than this one

During hill journey outsiders have to careful on turns as locals did not honk. One more thing you have to give sides to local taxi wallas as they are always in hurry and they want to overtake either road is narrow or blind turn is ahead. Even bus driver did not ready to give sides for overtaking. But due to the green mountains and the river which is almost flowing next to road make traveling pleasant and hardly feel bad for the travel condition.

Way towards Uttrakashi

We reach Harsil in the late second half of the day we found that Harsil is a very small village and very Hotels are there. Almost all the hotels are two or three star with basic facilities. We zeroed one hotel and booked our room. The rent of the room is very nominal which is Rs. 500/- per day. We booked it for two days. The hotel provided Cable TV and Hot Water facility. We take a bath and gone for sleep to refresh ourself for evening. We waked up late in the evening around 7:00 pm, to our surprise we feel cold. We have taken our woolen clothes along with our self which is very helpful at that moment. Thanks to fellow Ghumakkars, for sharing their travel experience. We came out from our hotel room and found it was dark outside and only few vehicles on the road. Even they stopped there and looking for rooms as there is very accommodation in Gangotri Dham. It was not possible to visit Harsil in the evening as it was dark and cold there. We returned back to our room and watched television. At 9:00PM we decided to visit the area for dinner as there was around 10-15 hotels near by there in a group along with road.

All the restaurants we found that have common menus and even they are providing Chinese and south Indian dishes. We decided the restaurant and ordered for the dinner. After dinner we take a small walk and returned back to our room.
My father waked us in the early morning for taking morning view of the nature. Sun was rising and it was good to see the mountains with sunlight. At many hills snow is shining. We go for morning walk and enjoyed the trek and nature.

Morning view from Harsil Hotel

Scenic View from Hotel Roof

Scenic View : Snow mountains peak

Scenic View of Harsil Surrounding

Trekking and walking by road is the best thing if you want to feel the naturalness of small places like Harsil. It was cold in the morning but still walk was very pleasant. My kids enjoyed trekking a lot. We reached back our room and taken hot water bath. We went for the breakfast and enquired locals where and what to visit in Harsil.
After taking breakfast we packed lunch and snacks for kids and visited the following travel spots with the help of local villagers. They are:

Dharali which is 3 Kms away from Harsil and easily approachable by road
Mukwas village is 1 Km away from Harsil, is the home of Goddess Gangotri during winters because due to heavy snowfall all the ways towards Gangotri Dham are closed.
Sattal is a 3 kms from Dharali and 7 kms from Harsil. Sattal is a cluster of seven different lakes where you can reach by road or go by trekking. The journey towards Sattal is beautiful and full of picturesque views.

In the evening we moved back to our hotel. We enjoyed evening snacks and later go for dinner.
After returning from dinner we decided to enjoy the river sight seeing in the morning and then planned to visit Gangotri Dham as it was hardly 30 Kms from here.

Next morning we waked up at 5:00 AM. We get ready as per our plan. Taken hot milk and packed our self with jackets, caps and gloves as it was cold in the morning and evening there. My father went to the restaurant and arranged breakfast for us. It was good to know that restaurant food was ready in the early morning as vehicles start moving towards Gangotri Dham. We reached at river bank and enjoyed the view.

River bed of Bhagirathi river

The river bed was very wast and at that time at some place the flow of river is very fast and some place it was flowing normal. We walked along with river and enjoyed morning view. We decided to take a dip in river, but my father was not ready for it. He told that water was very cold and it was not good idea to take a bath there. May be somebody get cold and the whole travel journey get wasted with that stupidity. I decided to check the river water with bare hand, it was so freezing that I have to rub my hand for 10 minutes to make them normal. I thanked my dad for his advised. We stay there for almost four hours. After taking breakfast, we played some stupid games there with my kids and run along with the river. My daughter was busy with camera and try to take different shots of the river and mountains.

Enjoying Nature At Harsil

Mountains surrounded with Lush Green Tree

Love to visit back at Harsil

We decided to move back to our hotel, packed our luggage and start travelling to Gangotri Ghat, which is our next traveling destination.

38 Comments

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Good sweet post Kailash. You made very valuable points around driving in Hills. Always give way to those who are in rush, there is no point in getting into any kind of road rage.

    I believe there are day treks to Bugyals from Harsil. Good info about the hotel pricing.

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    Nandan ji

    You visited lots of places and shared your good experiences with us. Next time before traveling I will take your suggestions about this hill stations which will handy for me to discover more near by spots.

  • rajesh priya says:

    achchha post hai,aap apni car se gae the?normal city me drive karne walo ko koi dikkat to nahi hoti hills pe drive karne me?waise main apni tavera se 2012 me nainital gaya hoon khud drive karke,aur harsil jane ki ichchha bahut jyada hai,khaskar ram teri ganga maili dekhne ke baad.main harsil gaya tha gangotri se loutne ke douran lekin muskil se 1 ghante ke liye.isbaar jakar halt karna hai.

  • Avik Kundu says:

    Good Evening. I came across your travelogue and liked it a lot. I am travelling to Harsil this May. Can you please inform me regarding the hotel options available there and if possible with their contact numbers. I came to know about a hotel called Skylark. How is the hotel, and where its located, if you can help me with. Thanks & Regards

    • Kailash Mehta says:

      Hello

      Thanks for comment. If you travel by your car and plan to go till Gangotri then either you can stay at Uttarkashi where many budget hotel (along road side and river view) can be easily selected, normally 700-1000 (good one after bargaining :-) ). Please check your fuel tank as there is no fuel station around Gangotri or Harsil. Second if you reach Harsil on time appx. 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. you can select a room of your choice at Harsil. No need for advance booking as it is a very small town and hardly 8-10 2 start hotels are there. If you plan for Gangotri, leave hotel room early in the morning and move towards Gangotri as heavy rush of vehicles starts reaching Gangotri almost from 7:00 AM. At Gangotri park your vehicle anywhere along road side as there is no fix parking area and it is difficult to reach till end with vehicle. We also left our vehicle almost half a KM and traveled by foot. Don’t forgot to bath there :-).

      Share your experience.

      Happy and Safe Journey.

  • Avik Kundu says:

    Hi

    We just came back from the trip and it has been a very rewarding one. While going up we took the Narendranagar road. That roads opens every day at 5am but we were lucky we had reached the gate at 4:30 am and the police opened it due to accumulation of vehicles. This road also closes at about 7:30-8 pm every day.

    Our first halt was at Dunda village; i.e. 13 kms before Uttarkashi, as I was not felling like driving any more. Though I realized we should have halted at Lake Maneri. Next day we only halted at Harsil but then drove upto Gangotri. Our initial plan was to stay at Gangotri for one night and one night at Harsil. We had walked till Ram Mandir on the Gomukh path and then we got so tired then we ended up staying for 2 days at Gangotri. On the fourth day we drove down to Harsil and spent many hours and did a small picnic there. But we did not stay there given paucity of time. That night we stayed near Dharasu. Next morning we applied a different route. We took a deviation from Chinyalisaur with a promise of cutting 2 hours of travel time. This route avoids Chamba and takes you directly to Mussoorie. This road is broken for first 20kms and then its its fine. So, we reached and stayed at Dhanaulti, as I did not wish to stay at Mussoorie. And then returned Delhi on the following day.

    We could stay at very economical rates throughout as the traffic was thin, although the season started, esp. for char dham yatra. Was informed the traffic has been thin since the Kedarnath calamity, plus the Nepal earthquake took its toll. Apart from the small trek at Gangotri, but we wish to go back there again for certain things. I wish to camp at Nelong, trek to Sat-tal from Dharali and spend more time at Harsil.

    • amit says:

      hi dear,

      We are a group of Bike driving lovers and also planning to go harsil from delhi. Our journey will start on 17th July .

      My question is why you did not took the route – delhi – karnal – yamuna nagar – vikasnagar – gangori – harsil, as we are planning for this route not via rishikesh.

      Your suggestions will be really helpful for our trip.

  • Avik Kundu says:

    Hi Amit,

    That route via Vikas Nagar is good but longer. Secondly, what do you do after Vikas Nagar? There is a new road that cuts your travel time. That road starts between Dhanulti and Mussoorie. I suggest you open the Goggle Map, you will quickly know why Karnal route is longer. But till Karnal route is also better, as Haridyar Route was broken near Meerut. Find out the current status. You’ve chosen to ride on hills during Monsoon. I hope you’re aware of the risks.

    If you decide to stay at Harsil, then the GMVN is the best place as far as location is concerned. Are you carrying camping equipment? There is a very good campsite opened inside Gangotri Sanctuary.

    Write back for any other query.

    Avik

    • amit says:

      Hi Avik,

      Thanks for your reply.

      Now we have fixed the route via Dehradun – Mussoorie – Harsil.

      Also understood your concern about risk during monsoon but we are not very rigid on over destination, route etc. we are going for enjoy biking on hills so will take care and also collect as much information as we can about weather and road status.

      Can you please suggest the exact route form Ddun to harsil that may help us to make final route without any confusion.

      Regards

      Amit

  • Avik Kundu says:

    hi amit,

    The shortest route is the following Del-Mussourie, then ride towards Dhanaulti, in the mid way take a turn toward chinyalisur Route. Its a new route, it will cut your travel travel time by almost 2 hours, plus the first stretch is through a jungle, you will thoroughly enjoy. Ask after crossing Mussourie when to take the turn. The landmark is Rana Hotel/restaurant from where you will take a left turn. This route will get you directly to the main route to Gangotri. Now if you share what time you are starting I can tell you whereall you have good places to halt on the entire stretch. To give a rough idea, you will take minimum 10 hours to reach Chinyalisur from Delhi. While I was driving then the last 20 kms stretch was being tarred. I hope that work had progressed in last 1.5 months. After you take the turn there are very very few auto mechanic shop untill you reach the other end, thats for your info.

    Revert, we will discuss further.

    Avik

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    Dear Amit

    The route suggested by Avik is good. I planned to take the route of Haridwar and Rishikesh due to few reasons. One We get a halt during long journey, second we want to take benefit of staying at haridwar as my kids did not visit Haridwar and Rishikesh earlier. Third this route roads are good. From Narendernager there are two ways. One From Chamba, Tehri … and then Uttarkashi. You can view beautiful mountains and river flowing along with the road. You also go to Srinagar, Dev Pryag etc. which is enroute other wise. This route is lengthy but worthful. Second you can go from newly constructed road from Narender Nagar which takes half time then the other road but you missed the beautiful Tehri Dam area.

    Rest is your choice as time constraint. If you follow Avik route you can also visit Mussourie.

    Share your experience.

    Drive carefully and enjoy your journey. :-)

  • Avik Kundu says:

    Dear Amit,

    So, now you’ve three options to choose from. I’ve a tendency of taking the shortest route while going and taking the longer route for coming back, I slow down the descent, as I leave mountains only reluctantly. BTW interestingly the extent of population along the routes is least with the shortest and go up with the length of the routes. Apart from the route there are certain nice places,esp. treks on this routes. If you’ve time let me know I will advice.

    One correction, the minimum time to reach Chinyalisaur via Mussoorie is 8.5-9 hours instead of 10 hours I had mentioned in my earlier response.

    Cheers

    Avik

  • amit says:

    Thanks you so much Avik & Kailash for your valuable inputs.

    Now we are total 8 bikers and our school/ college friends are also joining us for this trip. Its going to be a very blasting get together journey. This time we are also restricted everybody for not driving pillion passenger as our last both trips Delhi – Badritanth G and Shimla became horrible due to second passenger.

    As of now our route will be Delhi (17th July) – Muzaffarnagar – Dehradun (night stay) – Musoorie – Chinyalisaur – Harsil (two night stay) – return route is not decided yet :-)

    We are also thinking of coming back via Narendra Nagar – Rishikesh – Haridwar – delhi, but all depends on weather conditions of that time and opinion of other members. We pray to GOD for a favorable climate condition. But any how we are not rigid on our route, destination etc, we are going to enjoy biking on hills.

    I also invite every body who wanna join this trip to have a taste of enlightenment :-)

  • Avik Kundu says:

    Dear Amit,

    You are most welcome. But why are you planning to nightstay at Dehradoon, thats like moving from one plain land to another. There are many places to stay at Mussoorie and after Mussoorie. And Mussoorie is close to Dehradoon. You might choose Mussoorie, Bhuranskhanda(B/w Mussoorie and Dhanulti) or Dhanaulti. While travelling that route I had stayed at Dhanaulti as I like the Jungle trails in and around Dhanulti. My friend had seen a full grown Himalayan Black bear (not the sloth one), that sort of jungles am talking about. And BTW, you may stay wherever you wish at any place. But at Harsil, the GMVN is the best place to stay, so keep that in mind. Booking an economical dorm there is a good idea. There is a popular Bugyal after Uttarkashi, called Dayara Bugyal, check that out too. Except for Mussoorie, Dhanaulti and Harsil, you will be able to get a 2 bedroom hotel room around 500-600 bucks/Day.

    Avik

  • amit says:

    Dear Avik,

    Thanks for sharing your views and i have noted all points.

    One of our very old friend shifted to dehradun recently and we are going to meet him and family after around 15yrs. He just ordered us to spend a night with him and family thats it. Other wise all of us have visited mussoorie, Dhanaulti several times. It is just going to murthal to have dinner at sukhdev da dhaba.

    Other travelers also referred GMVN to stay at Harsil being a decent hotel. Will stay there for sure.

    ** Latest update – now we are total 9 bikers… Yahoooo

    Thanks again dear,

    amit

  • Avik Kundu says:

    hi,

    Got it. So that’s that then. Avoid rainy/wet conditions for riding on hills. Rains trigger landslides and this particular route is landslide prone,esp. the stretch between Uttarkashi and Harsil. Its important that you pack your goods in your rucksack in a balanced fashion, it enhances your control of your mobike, am sure you’re aware of it, but this needs to be repeated everytime you unpack them. Uttarkashi is also an Earthquake zone 5. I don’t mean to scare you, just sharing my knowledge with you. Wish you a happy and safe journey .

    Avik

  • Amit raj chaurasia says:

    Hi avik n’ amit

    Jus need ur uggestion n help as I m planin to go to harshil with family n friends by a tempo traveller , is it OK. I read dat roads r narrow n patchy…

    Have planned on 1 Nov is this time OK to visit the site

    • Avik Kundu says:

      Hi,

      I am extremely sorry that I missed your query. However, Mr. Amit, I saw had reverted, so I hope that served your purpose. In case you’ve any other query, please let me know again.

      Regards

      Avik

  • amit says:

    Hi dear,

    I traveled in july till gangotri via mussorie bypass and road till uttarkashi was good after that was patchy & also was in bad shape at some places.. my big B also went till uttarkashi last month by his altis via rishikesh – narendranar and he says roads are now in good shape.

    Take your warmers with you if planning for Nov.

  • Snehal Shah says:

    Dear All,

    first of all…..thanks a lot for wonderful information
    after reading & hearing a lot about Harsil…..we are planning to visit it in the month of June

    Can u pls help by sharing the latest road condition & best possible route from Delhi

    thanks a lot….

    Regards………….Snehal

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    Dear Snehal

    There are two ways you can take :
    1. Delhi-Mussourie, then ride towards Dhanaulti, in the mid way take a turn toward chinyalisur Route. You can also visit Mussourie enroute.

    2. Delhi, Haridwar, Tehri / Narender nagar (bypass of Narender Nagar), Uttarkashi and then Harsil. I preferred 2nd route due to few reasons 1. we get a halt during long journey, 2. We want to take benefit of staying at Haridwar as my kids did not visited Haridwar and Rishikesh earlier. 3. This route roads are good.

    From Narendernager there are two ways. One From Chamba, Tehri and then Uttarkashi. You can view beautiful mountains and river flowing along with the road. You also go to Srinagar, Dev Pryag etc (in between) which is enroute other wise. This route is lengthy but worthful. Second you can go from newly constructed road from Narender Nagar which takes half time then the other road but you missed the beautiful Tehri Dam area.

    (Please carry warm clothes as weather is cold in Harsil, Last petrol pump is in Uttrakashi only, you can also stay and visit local sight seeing in Uttrakashi.)

    Share your experience.

    Drive carefully and enjoy your journey. :-)

    • Snehal Shah says:

      Dear Kailash,

      Thanks for the detailed information…..this will really help
      once back……would love to share the experience

      Thanks…

      Regards…….Snehal

  • Namitha Sharma says:

    Hi, We are planning to go early June to Harsil in a large group. Are the roads too bad for a 25 seater bus?

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    Dear Namitha

    During my journey I have seen even bigger buses are plying upto Gangotri (via Harsil). So there is no issue for 25 seater bus.

    Happy & Safe journey. Share your experience. :-)

  • Namitha says:

    Thanks for your prompt response Kailash, many travel agencies had been saying that roads are too bad for a bus over 15 seater. Your response is quite relieving.

  • Is it possible to pitch our tents near any of the SAT TAL to stay overnight.

    • Kailash Mehta says:

      Dear Shibnath

      Hi. I do not have seen anybody pitch there tents near Sat Tal. Better you plan to stay at near by local hotel, take the hotel staff advice and plan accordingly.

  • dharmesh says:

    heelo

    i and my wife are planning to visit harsil in mid august . Is it a good time to visit harsil . I am from mumbai , is delhi harsil road preferd or dehradun harsil is better … ?

    kindly advice
    thank you
    Dharmesh

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    Hello Dharmesh Ji

    Sir as you are aware that due to heavy rainfall in uttarkashi ( and Uttrakhand) many roads get damaged. You are also planning during mansoon , so please check the weather and road condition through net. I preferred to go by Delhi, Haridwar, Uttrakhand route.

    regards

    Kailash Mehta

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    Hello Dharmesh Ji

    Sir as you are aware that due to heavy rainfall in uttarkashi ( and Uttrakhand) many roads and bridges get damaged. You are also planning during mansoon , so please check the weather and road condition through net. I preferred to go by Delhi, Haridwar, Uttrakhand route.

    regards

    Kailash Mehta

  • Sachin Bhushan says:

    Which is good place to stay between Harsil and Srinagar, guess if any hotel can be recommended

  • Prof. M. Mishra says:

    Dear Mr. Mehta,
    I am planning to do the field work at Harshil with 28 graduate students of our college during the mid-September. Will you kindly advise whether ample accommodations will be available there as spot-booking or we have to plan with pre-booking??

  • Debasish Pal says:

    Dear Kailashji, your story is really fascinating, and me too is interested to visit Harshil during november. I had a short journey to hanol, a picturesque small village. You can visti my blog at https://debasishpal1966.blogspot.com. If you like can put comment there.
    Regards.
    Debasish

  • Nikhil says:

    nice blog. I am planning to visit Gangotri in the october. are there hotels available to stay for a week? what could be the charges? will Gangotri be peaceful or crowdy?

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