Kumaon & Garhwal

Eric Shipton and H.W Tilman entered the pages of exploration history when along with their Sherpa porters, became the first men to set foot in the Nanda Devi sanctuary.

The state of Uttarakhand houses the Kumaon hills in its east and the Garhwal hills in the west. Nature has endowed this region with so much beauty and spiritual bliss that the place is also known as ‘Dev Bhoomi’ or the Abode of Gods. Blessed with magnificent glaciers, sparkling rivers, gigantic Himalayan peaks, natural biospheres, the valley of flowers, skiing slopes and dense forests. This Abode is also the home of several shrines, places of pilgrimage and worship.

Climbing in the Garhwal region of the Uttarakhand Himalaya can be quite an inner and outer journey. The mountains have mythological tales and are revered by Indians. One travels from Delhi to Uttarkashi and onto the road head Gangotri on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. A trek to base camp takes 2-3 days and one is amidst, a cirque of mountains like Shivling, Meru, Bhagirathi which forms a climbers paradise and a Himalayan playground.

The other great mountains of the Garhwal Himalaya are Nanda Devi with its twin summits at a little over 25,645 feet. The first successful entry into the inner “sanctuary” of Nanda Devi was made up this gorge in 1934, after years of failed attempts.

The massif stands alone, encircled in a vast ring of peaks now called the Nanda Devi Biosphere. Whilst Nanda Devi main and the peaks within the biosphere are closed , certain peaks can be climbed from its outer periphery such as Nanda Devi East, Nanda Kot, Trishul, Changabang, Kalanka, to name a few.

Roopkund trek
Traverse down a path treaded by legendary mountaineers like Shipton and Tilman, and undertaken by Lord Curzon during the British Raj. This classic trek goes over the Kuari Pass, alpine in vegetation with lovely meadows, anemones and buttercups. Legend has it that at Roopkund lying at an elevation of 4778 metres in Garhwal has the remains of a small army of soldiers that was led by Zorawar Singh in an attack.  This mystery lake as is often called continues to hold secrets.

Himalayan Yoga Trek: Journey in Oneness to the Source of the Ganges
Tapovan in Gangotri is the source of the holy Ganges river. The place can be traced for its sanctity for the Yogis who would travel here & meditate. Through this trek we live the yogic philosophy of ‘Jap’, meditativeness & ‘Tap’ , discipline. We walk the steps that many yogis have walked before in time, undertaking this journey outside, as we explore the stillness & oneness on our inside. Through the filters of philosophy of yoga and every step with awareness, we will have the opportunity to reflect about the places we visit, where we stand in time, what our larger purpose is and where do we aim to reach after all. The ideal time for this trek is in September.

Jeep Safaris
For gentler jeep journeys, the beautiful Kumaon and Garhwal regions in Uttarakhand to quaint hills towns like Ranikhet and Almora are interesting. There is also a unique local food culture, with chutneys and pickles made of apples, plums and mangoes. Here, one is able to buy textiles and woollens hand woven by local women cooperatives. On a jeep safari in the remote Himalayan areas it is possible to stay at Himalayan home stays and Ibex supports this initiative as it indirectly helps the village communities offset income losses from livestock depredation by predators.

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