Friday, 19 August 2011

Chamoli, Uttarakhand

Also known as the Abode of Gods, Chamoli is a must visit for anybody who is stressed and needs a vacation. This place is a perfect destination for someone who is looking to unwind in the lap of nature, away from the maddening crowd. Two of the most important pilgrimages in India - Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib - are located in the Chamoli district. Chamoli is a visual delight with all the snow clad, sky touching mountains, the olive green grass, the dense forests and the right nip in the air. 

Chamoli is well connected to almost all the major cities in Uttarakhand through road. Chamoli rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s with the spreading of the Chipko Movement. It is a place of nature lovers and tranquility seekers who come here in large numbers just to feel their souls in unison with Mother Nature.

Places to See:

Nanda Devi National Park

Nanda Devi National Park along with the nearby Valley of Flowers was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Nanda Devi National Park is a forest reserve cum national park (established 1982) in the area surrounding the Nanda Devi peak and covers an area of 630.33 sq kms.

Also known as Auli Bugyal, Auli is a recently developed Ski resort to the Chamoli territory. Auli can be reached by road (by hiring a private taxi) or taking a ropeway from Joshimath. The months of January to March see the place covered in thick blankets of snow. This snow blanketed destination then becomes the perfect place for a Skiing holiday.


Gopeshwar, located at the elevation of 1, 308 m in Uttarakhand, is the administrative headquarters of the Chamoli District, famous especially for its pleasant weather and temples. Gopeshwar is surrounded by major Hindu Pilgrimage such as the Tungnath, Rudranath and Badrinath on its sides.

Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib is one of the holiest Gurudwaras in India. Hemkund Sahib is located at a very high altitude amidst snow clad gigantic Himalayan crests in Uttarakhand. Hemkund Sahib gets its name from the nearby Hemkund Lake.

Vasuki Tal

Located at an altitude of 14,200 ft, Vasuki Tal can be reached by an eight kms trek through the Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa, Bhimpul and Vasudhara Falls. All these places are important in Hindu mythology and form a part of the Badrinath pilgrimage.


Joshimath is an ancient rest house cum praying hall established by Adi Shankaracharya. It is located at an elevation of about 6, 150 ft and 14 kms from Helang, a town on the way to Badrinath. 

Tapt Kund and Surya Kund

This place is the meeting point of two natural hot water Sulphur springs. Both have an innate temperature of 550 C . though they are supposed to purify the soul and body before reaching the temple, this train of thought probably originated in the various medicinal properties hot Sulphur springs have with them.


Chamoli Excursions

Located at an altitude of 3,133 meters ASL, Badrinath is one of the most celebrated Hindu pilgrimage destinations. It is one of the four sacred Dhams, and attracts a huge number of devotees every year. Badrinath is about 42 Km from Joshimath and 106 Km from Gopeshwar. 


Joshimath holds an important place in the history of Hindu revivalism. It is this place where Adi Guru Shankaracharya attained enlightenment and established a Math (Hemitage center). 

Auli is a skiing paradise which is about 72 Km from Chamoli. GMVN provides skiing equipment and other facilities for the skiing enthusiasts here. Otherwise too, this place with its picturesques snow covered slopes is a treat to the soul.

Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib, located at an altitude of 5, 329 meters above the sea level is considered to be the world’s highest shrine. It is the place where tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh had meditated.


Located at an altitude of 5,029 meters above the sea level, Roopkund is also known as Mystery Lake. Skeletons of humans and equine can be found scattered here. Roopkund is a popular trekking destination. 

Valley of Flowers

The picturesque valley of flowers, a National Park, with its colorful and exotic vegetation, is sure to leave anyone spellbound. This breathtaking world of flowers can be approached from a place called Govindghat which is about 82 Km from Gopeshwar (via Joshimath).

Kuari Pass

Endowed with exotic flora and fauna, this place is also known as Curzon’s trail. On the other side of Kuari Pass lies the famous Nanda Devi Sanctuary. This pass can be approached either from Tapovan (via Auli, Gorson, Chitrakantha) or from Ghat in south (Via Ramni).


Kalpeshwar, 23 Km from Joshimath, is situated in the picturesques forests of Urgam Valley. The Kalpeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva where the Lord’s head (and hair) is particularly worshipped. 

Adi Badri Dham

Located at a distance of 16 Km from Karnaprayag, Adi Badri Dham is one of the Panch Badris. There are a number of temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Narayana here. Besides, one can also visit a nearby lake – Benital - and ruins of old forts belonging to Garhwali Rajas. 


Rudranath is an 18 Km trek from the Village of Sagar which is about 5 Km from district headquarter of Gopeshwar. Lord Shiva’s face is worshipped here. 

Anusuya Devi & Atri Muni Ashram

Anusuya Devi Temple is located at a distance of 19 Km from Gopeshwar and 29 Km from Chamoli. It is not entirely approachable by motorable road. One has to first reach Mandal (13 Km from Gopeshwar) and then trek for 6 Km to reach the temple of Anusiya Devi. The temple is situated at an altitude of 2000 meters above the sea level. In the month of December, on the occasion of Duttatreya Jayanti, a large fair is held which is attended by thousands of devotees every year. Throughout the night they worship the Goddess with lighted lamps in their hands. 

The Ashram of Atri Muni, husband of Anusuya Devi, is located at a distance of 2 Km from the temple. The Ashram, in the form of a cave, delights the visitors, with the cataracts of Amritkund and Arnit Ganga providing a spectacular sight. This is said to be the only place where the devotees circumambulate around the river as a mark of reverence.

The Scared Prayags

There are five Prayags in Garhwal called Panch Prayags. Out of these, three - Karnaoravas, Nandoravae and Vishnuprayag - are located in the district of Chamoli. These Prayags are considered very sacred and are deeply revered by devotees............

How to Reach Chamoli

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, about 221 kms away from Chamoli.

The nearest railway station is at Haridwar, located at a distance of about 297 kms from Chamoli. Haridwar is connected to all the major cities of India like Howrah, Mumbai, Delhi and Lucknow.

Chamoli is directly connected to National Highway 58 and many Government and private (and deluxe) buses ply to the city. The buses are generally obtainable from the town of Gopeshwar for major cities of Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Almora and Nainital............

Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand

Pithoragarh is located in Uttarakhand, positioned in the centre of the western half of Soar Valley which bears a resemblance to the Kashmir valley on a small scale. Pithoragarh is known as the gateway to the Himalaya's from the north, as pilgrims trek through this town to the Kailas Lake in Mansarovar and Om Parvat. Pithoragarh has been expansively explained in a novel by American author Bradley Swift titled ‘From Pithoragarh to Pittsburgh’. 

Pithoragarh is a lovely place to begin your tour of the Himalayas. The valley of Pithoragarh has all that you would like to see snowcaps and glaciers, lakes, bubly rivers, dense conifer forests, and grassy alpine meadows. About one-third of Pithoragarh is perpetually covered by snow. It is comfortable to visit all round the year. One can enjoy a slew of adventure sports in Pithoragarh like hang gliding, paragliding, trekking, skiing, canoeing, river rafting and fishing.

The lineage of Pithoragarh can be traced to the age of Puranas when it flourished under different names, though no documents from that era has been recovered. What is known though, that Pithoragarh used to be an important stopover en route Kailasa Parbat. Ancient religious texts such as Rig Veda and Skanda Purana mention about the various tribes that inhabited the area. They were probably the first people to establish a human population in the area.

The first recorded history is from the time of the great Rajputa King Prithviraj Chauhan. It is said that when he expanded his kingdom, he named this place as ‘Rai Pithora’ since it was a Rajput tradition to name a place after settling there. Gradually, with time and usage, the name became ‘Prithigarh’ under the Chand and Katyuri dynasties. With the Mughal invasion, the linguistics further evolved and its present name of Pithoragarh became famous.

Pithoragarh has been ruled by many different dynasties and kings. After Prithviraj Chauhan 0came the Pala Dynasty in 1364 with Rajwar of Ukko Bharatpal conquering the Pithoragarh area. Till the end of 14th Century Pithoragarh remained under the control of the Pala dynasty. By this time, three generation of Palas had passed, with the kingdom extended from Pithoragarh to Askot.

A 1420 Tamrapatra (a brass plate inscription) states that the Pala dynasty was replaced by the Brahm dynasty of Nepal but it could not last long. Just after this, the Pala dynasty was re-established in Pithoragarh. In 16th Century, the Chand Dynasty took over from the Palas and in 1790 built a new fort to show their might. This fort today houses the Pithoragarh Girls Inter College.

However, Pithoragarh was soon under the British rulers and they merged it as a tehsil (an administrative section) under the Almora district for easier supervision. This provision remained till 1960 when Pithoragarh itself was made a district. Many British remnants such as the army cantonment, Church, Missionary school etc stand till date. In 1997, a new district of Champawat was created for better management from Pithoragarh by restructuring its boundaries.

Places to See:

Pithoragarh Fort

This beautiful fort, lies on the outskirts if the main town. The fort was made by the Gorkhas in 1789, the year when they took over the town of Pithoragarh. You have to climb a good deal to reach the top. From here you can clearly view Kali Kumaon, so it proves to be worth the effort. 


Jhulaghat is a small little town sharing its borders with Nepal. In fact river Kali acts like a natural border dividing India and Nepal. What makes Jhulaghat interesting is the hanging bridge over the river. It is because of this hanging bridge that the town is called Jhulaghat. There are markets on both sides of the border selling imported goods that you can buy at affordable prices. Another interesting thing you can do is to cross the bridge and visit bordering town of Nepal, called Baithari. Baithari has a bigger and better market place to shop around. 


Located at an altitude of about 2000 meters above the sea level, Chaukori is a quiet little but extremely beautiful hill town. Cradles in the lap of Himalayan nature, Chaukori is devoid of usual crowd found in hill stations. You don't even see many vendors here. However, what makes this place wonderful is its scenic beauty and the breathtaking views of surrounding snow capped Himalayan peaks that it offers.

Dhwaj Shikhar

This is an extremely revered temple located at an elevation of 2,100 m above the sea level near Pithoragarh. One has to cover a distance of 15 kms by vehicle and four kms on foot. This temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Jayanti. It offers a beautiful view of the Himalayan ranges.

Patal Bhubaneswar

It is very sacred and mysterious temple where the Sanctum Santorum is located in an underground cave. It is located at an elevation of 1, 350 m in the Himalayan Mountains. The main passageway releases into a number of tiny caves which have stone idol of Deities.

Sun Temple

It is another ancient temple located at the roads approaching from Lohaghat, Champawat and Devidhura meet. Though the image of the deity is disfigured, it still holds charm with clear pictures of the shoes and horses.

Maha Kalika Shaktipeeth

Located 78 kms from Pithoragarh at Gangolihat, Maha Kalika Shaktipeeth was specially chosen by Shankaracharya as a Shaktipeeth. Encircled by pine trees, the temple holds a mystery to a first time visitor; Goddess Kali is the main deity.

Narayan Ashram

Situated at an elevation of 2,734 m, the Narayan Ashram was instituted by Narayan Swami in 1936. Today, the Ashram has converted into an important socio- educational institution and attracts many scholars and Himalayan wilderness lovers from all over the country............

How to Reach Pithoragarh

The nearest airport to Pithoragarh is located at Naini-Saini, about 5 kms from the Pithoragarh town. Other than this, the Pant Nagar Airport is another airport to Pithoragarh

The nearest railway station from Pithoragarh is Tanakpur, about 151 kms.

Pithoragarh is well connected to nearest major towns like Champawat, Lohaghat, Munsiyari and Tanakpur............

Sat Tal, Uttarakhand

Sat Tal is one of the major tourist attractions, situated in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The term Sat Tal, in Hindi, means "seven lakes". The place is so called because it is an interconnected group of seven freshwater lakes, namely 'Panna or Garud Tal', 'Nal-Damyanti Tal', 'Purna Tal', 'Sita Tal', 'Ram Tal', 'Laxman Tal', and 'Sukha Tal or Khurdariya'. Sat Tal is located in lower range of Himalayas, just 23 km away from Nainital city.

At an altitude of approx 4,000 feet, surrounded by dense oak and pine forests, the place boasts of serene, pristine and divine beauty. With most of its flora and fauna left undisturbed, Sat Tal offers its visitors a great opportunity of rendezvous with nature. Placidity and repose, merged with the melody of fresh green fauna, clear blue water and sweet chirping of birds, of the place brings on earth a virtual paradise for tourists.

Apart from the natural serenity that it offers, the rugged mountains of Sat Tal also offer adventurers a wide range of trekking, biking, abseiling, mountain biking, rock climbing, night-trekking, nature trail, backpacking, angling, kayaking, rafting, river-crossing, boating, jungle-safari and night-camping opportunities. One can also enjoy boating and fishing here.

The unique biodiversity of Sat Tal also offers its visitors an exclusive activity of ‘bird-watching’. With more than 500 species of natural and migrant birds and 525 species of butterflies, one should not miss the opportunity of lazing on a hammock, with a pair of binoculars in hand, and spotting the most exotic bird species in this area.

Places to See:

Butterfly Museum

A rich butterfly museum, at Jones Estate, is a major tourist attraction of Sat Tal, with over 2,500 species of butterflies and 1100 species of insects that are native to the Kumaoni region. The museum was established by Federic Smetacek, better known as ‘the butterfly man’. 

Methodist Ashram

Established in 1930 by Stanley Jones, a great missionary and a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, Methodist Ashram is situated at the entry point of Sat Tal banks. The historical importance and fine colonial architecture of the place make it a popular destination. The famous ‘St. John’s Church’ is also situated within the premises of the ashram. 

Subhash Dhara

A must visit spot in Sat Tal would be Subhash Dhara, a gorgeous freshwater spring that comes from the dense forest of Sat Tal, towards the western region. This is a natural spring that mesmerises people with its crystal clarity and beautiful location.

Activities to Do...........

What Activities to do in Sat tal


Once you start trekking, the rhododendron and oak forests will welcome you in the beautiful periphery of Sat tal. If jungles are not so interesting to you, then you may find solace in taking a stroll along the lakes. It's beautiful!

Kayaking and Fishing

If you wish to do kayaking, you can ask your camp to arrange the same for you. For fishing, you can take permission from the local authorities and hire equipments from the camp. 


Paddling in waters can work as a calories-burning workout for you in Sat Tal. Yes, boating option is always open for the people who don’t want to be adventurous in jungles. If you want a sedentary job, then you can ask the boatman to come along for rowing. 


Bird-watching would be another leisure activity for the bird lovers. You can also visit the local Butterfly Museum where you can watch over 2,500 butterfly and moth specimens and 1,100 species of insects.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing, rappelling, river crossing and mountain biking are some of the high action activities offered by the adventure camps at Sat tal............

How to Reach Sat Tal

Pantnagar Airport is the nearest domestic airport which is well-connected to Delhi by flight.

Kathgodam Railway Station, which is approx. 36 km away from Sat Tal, is the nearest railhead. This railhead is connected to Delhi.

Sat Tal is well-connected with all the major cities like Ramgarh, Nainital via road............
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