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Exploration Story: A New Path to Gidara Bugyal


The submit I’m writing right now may be very pricey to me. It’s been three weeks since I’ve returned from one of many grandest adventures of my life. The journey went past my Rupin Move trek expertise (which I maintain extraordinarily near my coronary heart), it went past trekking solo in Switzerland, it even went past trekking within the grand sceneries of Kashmir. 

It’s an expertise that can go together with me to my grave, as a result of it was my first ever likelihood to be in an exploration crew

We explored a brand new path to Gidara Bugyal. 🙂 

I had the honour of trekking with our founders, Arjun and Sandhya (for the very first time in seven years!), and an in depth colleague of mine, Izzat, who heads the Experiential Studying division at Indiahikes.

The 4 of us, together with our information, Pravesh, set off to Gidara Bugyal from the village of Barsu — a route that’s seldom trekked on. Solely shepherds normally roam these trails. We had been seeking to see if approaching Gidara Bugyal from the Siyari meadows would make a viable trekking route for the longer term. 

Pravesh was despatched on a recce of this path earlier this 12 months. Though some elements of the path had been unfamiliar with him, what he knew was nonetheless sufficient for him to play the information’s position. 

Additionally, we had been trying the trek DIY fashion, experimenting with our new light-weight tents, sleeping baggage, cooking gear and meals. 

What adopted was 5 days of sheer journey. We noticed some unbelievable mountain surroundings. After all, the meadows of Gidara took the cake, however I’ll get to that later.

The backstory of the Gidara Bugyal exploration

“Gidara Bugyal is an unfinished story from ten years in the past,” shares Sandhya, our co-founder. “Again in 2010, once I was recce-ing Dayara Bugyal for the primary time, an area shepherd had instructed me about Gidara Bugyal. He was singing praises of those meadows prefer it was paradise on earth. He had stated, ‘You haven’t seen something till you’ve seen Gidara.’

“I obtained so excited that I known as Arjun instantly and requested him if I ought to go alone and discover Gidara proper then. Although Arjun was equally excited, he stated we had too many issues happening to do the exploration proper then. The exploration didn’t occur,” she says. 

Two years later, it was now Arjun’s flip at exploring the again corners of the Dayara and Siyari meadows. Siyari was virtually midway to Gidara Bugyal from Barsu. Although Arjun was tempted to discover Gidara, the uncertainty of the terrain and his lack of preparation made him hesitate. Once more, the exploration of the Gidara Bugyal remained an unfinished dream. 

“It by no means went out of our minds although. I at all times knew I had to return, I used to be simply ready for the proper time,” says Arjun. “I needed to discover out for myself if the path to Gidara from Barsu, through the Siyari meadows, was a worthwhile one.”  

Lastly, in 2021, ten years later, on a crisp November morning, 5 of us set off from Barsu, exploring a brand new path to Gidara Bugyal.

Arjun, Sandhya, Izzat and me on the highest level on the trek. Image taken by our information, Pravesh

The brand new path to Gidara Bugyal

It’s possible you’ll know that we already run the Gidara Bugyal trek (see trek right here). At present, we begin this trek from Bhangeli, a small hamlet round 50 km from Gangotri. It’s a round trek that touches the Gidara meadows and comes again to Bhangeli. 

This time, we had been doing the trek from Barsu to Bhangeli through the Gidara meadows. 

Check out this map. You’ll see our present Gidara Bugyal trek in blue. The crimson path is the brand new route we explored. The inexperienced one (only for reference) is our Dayara Bugyal trek.

The good thing about this new route was instantly obvious to us — we had been doing what appeared like 2-3 treks inside a span of 5 days. This wants a little bit of clarification. 

We began our trek from Barsu, throughout a ridge from the place we may see Dayara Bugyal. From there we touched the Siyari meadows (a fantastic trek by itself!). From Siyari, we climbed to a excessive level known as Surya High, and additional as much as 13,600 ft, which was the best level on the trek. 

On the third day, it was a difficult journey to succeed in the Gidara meadows. We needed to squeeze by means of nooks and crannies within the mountains, throughout jagged cliffs and trail-less moraine sections. 

Though the space wasn’t a lot (30 km), it felt like we had walked 50 km. The trek was not straightforward on my legs — I’ll admit I’m not at my fittest greatest at this second. However what we had been bombarded with — the numerous surroundings adjustments on a regular basis made it really feel like so many various treks. 

I need to take you thru among the greatest highlights of the trek. 

What to be careful for on this route: 

The meadows of Siyari

To me, this was the primary “Wow” level on the trek. Though the primary day’s trek was lovely, by means of oak forests and wonderful clearings (in considered one of which we camped), the second we obtained to the meadows, I used to be shocked. 

A view of the Gangotri ranges from Siyari. Image by Sandhya UC

Out of nowhere, an unlimited expanse of golden brown grasslands opened up in entrance of us. Oak bushes bordered the meadows. The Gangotri ranges shaped the ever-perfect backdrop, towards a spotless blue sky. A light-weight stream tinkled by means of the meadows, shimmering within the morning solar.

My coronary heart longed to camp proper there, in the midst of this golden cauldron. 

Right here, I’ve one thing particular I need to present you. Perched at a excessive level within the meadows, we made a video for you, to get an concept of the place we had been, and what it is best to do in the event you’re ever planning on doing the Dayara Bugyal trek DIY fashion. I recorded it with Arjun. Have a look: 



Proximity of the views of the Gangotri vary and Mt Bandarpoonch

The mountain views on this trek are one thing that can stay etched in my reminiscence ceaselessly. Even now, once I shut my eyes and transport myself again to the trek, I can see the complete vary earlier than my eyes. 

Ranging from the left, Mt Srikanth, the three Gangotri peaks, Mt Jaonli, Draupadi ka Danda. For 5 days, these mountains accompanied us. We noticed them from the rarest of angles, the closest of distances.

The Gangotri vary is a continuing presence from the very first minute to the final minute of the Gidara Bugyal trek. Image by Sandhya UC

On our left, taking part in sneak-peek with us was the daunting Mt Bandarpoonch. 

At one level, we had been so near Mt Bandarpoonch that we thought “why not simply get onto that ridge, climb Bandarpoonch and are available again.” 😛 (Bandarpoonch is a 6000 m massif btw).

Even from the forests on the final day, we noticed such a unique view of the ranges. I’ve by no means been on a trek the place massive Himalayan ranges accompany you virtually each minute of the path. Proper from the bottom camp, all the best way to the final minute. I obtained to expertise that at Gidara.

Spot the trekker! Mt Bandarpoonch stands towering over the Siyaari meadows. Image by Sandhya UC

Reaching Gidara Bugyal 

I’ve put “reaching Gidara Bugyal” as a spotlight as a result of our entrance into the meadows was so suspenseful and dramatic, that the journey alone is a narrative! 

On Day 3, once we began our trek from a campsite known as Pailatu in direction of Gidara Bugyal, we didn’t know what was in retailer for us. 

“I knew the overall route and the character of the path, however that was solely by intuition and prior expertise trekking on this area. I used to be cautious, since we had been on the finish of November. I knew there could be snow and verglas on the path,” recollects Arjun.

The path we trekked on that day was an journey of a lifetime. 

Your complete path was by means of an alpine part. Moraine that crumbled below our ft. Sections with 2-3 ft of contemporary snow into which we sank knee-deep. Scary descents that neglected deep chasms. Many instances, we needed to take off our backpacks and get on all fours to navigate massive boulders. Such was the method to Gidara Bugyal. 

“I keep in mind the second that we first noticed Gidara Bugyal from a distance. I first noticed the sheer cliff. It was a straight drop, like somebody had sliced a cake neatly. On the prime of the cake was the place the meadows began. After all of the rocks, snow and moraine, my coronary heart soared once I noticed delicate golden meadows,” recollects Izzat.

Regardless of having noticed the meadows, we nonetheless had an hour of arduous trekking to succeed in the meadows.

Our first view of the Gidara Meadows, on prime of a sheer cliff. We had been questioning “how will we get there from the place we’re standing.” Image by Swathi Chatrapathy

Gidara Bugyal and the terrific ridge stroll 

We reached Gidara bugyal simply because the solar was casting a night glow. Someway, all of us went quiet once we entered the meadows. 

A big snow patch stretched out in entrance of us, forming a stupendous distinction with the sun-baked golden meadows. The meadows stretched out so far as our eyes may see. So huge was the panorama that even Kashmiri meadows appeared small as compared!

The huge stretch of Gidara Bugyal within the night gentle. Image by Swathi Chatrapathy

“It was like being transported to a different world,” recollects Sandhya. “Regardless of having trekked the most effective treks of our nation, together with Warwan Valley in Kashmir, I had not seen something like these meadows,” she says. 

So as to add to it, the Gangotri vary stood calmly within the distance, soaking within the night solar. 

For Arjun and Sandhya, being in these meadows was like coming full circle. A dream from ten years in the past lastly come true. I may sense a deep sense of happiness and gratitude in each of them. Each had been a bit of teary.

The subsequent morning, soaking within the morning solar strolling down the grand meadows. Image by Swathi Chatrapathy

Right here, I need to add a bit concerning the ridge stroll — one thing we didn’t do, however our trekkers do. On our common Gidara Bugyal trek, trekkers method the meadows from the other aspect and stroll the complete size of the meadows till the very edge. 

As soon as there, they flip round and climb onto the ridge on the proper aspect and canopy the complete size of the meadows from the highest of the ridge. That is an unbelievable expertise, having the ability to see Gidara Bugyal on each side of the ridge, — one thing we couldn’t do. It’s a really cleverly designed trek by our Senior Trek Chief Nitesh, and each trekker should expertise it!

The descent by means of oak and maple forests 

On the final day of the trek, once we had been carried out with the hardest elements of the trek got here probably the most pleasurable trek by means of a dense oak and maple forest. 

Provided that we had been trekking in early winter, the bushes had shed their leaves and the forest ground was a delicate mattress of maple leaves. 

However the forest alone didn’t enchant us. There have been two different issues. 

First, the clearings. There have been so many clearings and small ponds within the forest that trekkers would love to easily drop their baggage and relaxation there. The clearings opened as much as views of the Gangotri vary from a very completely different angle.  

A number of the clearings as we descended. Image by Sandhya UC

Second, the birds that we noticed. “You already know, most trekkers would fawn over recognizing a Himalayan monal. Even on my previous treks, with nice issue, I’ve seen one or two monals. However in these forests, we noticed so many Himalayan monals!” exclaims Arjun.  

We noticed martens, blue sheep and even a full-grown bear on this trek. A primary of every thing for me, particularly the bear half! 

The ultimate stretch of the forest, the final of the clearings and the mountain views. It was with a heavy coronary heart, but a light-weight feeling that we ended the trek. Image by Arjun Majumdar

There are such a lot of different highlights I’d love to speak about — the Dokrani meadows, the campsites, the stream-crossings, the unreal sunsets and sunrises that we noticed each single day, our moonrise expertise from behind the Gangotri ranges, however I’ll save these for one more day. 

Our Expertise of Trekking DIY Type 

For those who keep in mind, final week, I instructed you that we had re-launched our DIY Treks. (For those who missed it, examine it right here). We have now launched model new light-weight tents, sleeping baggage, meals and cooking gear after months of analysis and experimentation. 

Our Gidara Bugyal trek was a ultimate experiment earlier than we took the DIY treks dwell. And boy had been we impressed with the gear! 

Our new Crosstrek Lite tents, which weighed as much less as 2.4 kilos, labored splendidly in temperatures as much as -10 levels. 

Our new light-weight Crosstrek Lite tents on the Rikoda campsite. Image by Swathi Chatrapathy

Our new sleeping baggage had been so gentle that with all my winter layers + my sleeping bag, my backpack weighed simply 7-8 kilos. 

Our cooking gear was significantly spectacular, particularly as a result of it out-did all of the cooking gear we’ve used prior to now (watch a video on it right here).



Lastly, the meals was finger-licking-good! After all, we made the premixes in-house, with our personal recipes. However having scorching manchow soup with crispy noodles, sitting in the midst of a forest on a chilly evening was a one-of-a-kind expertise. 

I do know I appear to be gloating about all of the DIY gear, however this massive success has come after many failed experiments and small wins. 

“Lowering weight of substances at such unprecedented ranges (virtually halving them in weight), but not shedding out on their effectivity has been an enormous problem for us. I’m going to be very proud when DIY trekkers use this gear and stay heat and cozy on a Himalayan trek,” says Manish Pasad, head of Analysis and Improvement at Indiahikes. 

In conclusion:

The primary query that you’ll have in your thoughts is “When are we opening the Gidara Bugyal trek?” 

The reply is, I’m unsure. This route does have its share of uncertainties. The method is troublesome in summer time, due to the part between Surya High and Gidara Bugyal — the paths are slim, and snow doesn’t soften in lots of sections as a result of they’re west dealing with. From mid-September to mid-November the trek could possibly be doable, however we have to do one other exploration, however this time with actual trekkers. 

The path will want a little bit of designing as nicely. Some campsites should be modified, water sources to be extra positive of.

So we should await someday earlier than we open this trek from the Barsu aspect. Perhaps if you wish to be a part of the primary exploration crew, you might ship me your curiosity in an e-mail. 

However no matter it’s, if ever this route opens, then it might be a royal deal with for the trekker. This route is definitely worth the wait. 

When you have any ideas, questions, or experiences on this route, drop in a remark beneath. 

We’ll be again with extra trek discuss quickly.

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