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Auli Bugyal – Murli Menon shares his trekking experience

Auli Bugyal - Murli Menon shares his trekking experience This eight hour drive along the Ganges was rejuvenating,it's extremely cold at Auli.

Murli Menon in conversation with Prittle Prattle News

Auli Bugyal – Murli Menon shares his trekking experience – One is writing this from one’s wooden log cabin at Auli in the Uttaranchal Himalayas. It is 6 a.m. and one can see the sun’s rays emanating behind the snow clad mountains. It is the middle of May, while the rest of India experiences sweltering heat, it is extremely cold at Auli. This eight hour drive along the Ganges was rejuvenating.  One reached Gopeshwar by 3:00 p.m. with short stops at Srinagar and Rudraprayag. The nearest international airport to reach Auli is New Delhi. From New Delhi one needs can drive down to Rishikesh, which is 250 km. away. Alternately one can take the Dehradun Shatabdi in the wee hours of the morning from New Delhi and land at Rishikesh by noon. One can spend the evening at Rishikesh, visiting the numerous temples that dot the banks of the Ganges or take a boat cruise. One has to start early the next morning for the 225 km. winding uphill drive from Rishikesh to Gopeshwar. This drive can take experienced motorists about six hours.

One can rest at Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam’s (GMVN) guest house at Gopeshwar for a night before proceeding to Auli via Joshimath. Joshimath is 62 km. away from Joshimath but this drive takes all of three hours. Auli is a futher 16 km. away from Joshimath on the Tapovan route. We checked into the wooden cottages run by GMVN at Auli, which is also the starting point for boarding the ropeway towards the Bugyals (grasslands).

Auli is a ski-resort in winter with long slopes, a ropeway and skiing instructors. However, in May, there is no snow and the ropeway takes you 3 km. up hill from where the trek to Auli Bugyal starts. The view from the highest point at Auli is nothing short of majestic. Snow clad peaks surround this picturesque guest house, nestled in a canopy of green. Nandadevi and Trishul peaks can be seen from close quarters on cloudless mornings. One is lucky to enjoy this spectacle if the weather remains perfect on the days when one stays at GMVN, Auli.

After alighting from the ropeway, one treks along the fringes of thick evergreen forests crisscrossing several mountain streams and through thick woods full of oaks, confirs, pines and rhodenderons. The initial 2 km.n trek is across plain lands, but the degree of difficulty increases after one crosses the forest gate. 

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The District Forest Officer of Nandadevi National Park has imposed an entry fee for all Indian tourists trekking towards the Bugyals. However, they allowed several foreign trekkers without battling an eyelid. This must be checked by the Uttaranchal Government if they would like to encourage domestic tourists to travel to Auli. One can take three, five or seven day treks from Auli. 

The trek into the forest is uphill over dried leaves, pebbles, gravel and stones. One has to carefully step over rocks to cross several cascading mountain streams enroute. As one climbs higher the view becomes more picturesque. Snow capped peaks in the distance. A canopy of green forests on the foothills. And grassy knolls termed Bugyals below the forests. Several shades of green cover stretch from one end of the horizon to the other. The climb becomes easier once you cross the forests and enter the grasslands. After about 30 minutes of trekking alongside gentle slopes, one can see the snow. It is pleasantly cold here in mid-May.  If one is lucky, one can experience gentle snow fall at Auli Bugyal in mid-May. A small temple dedicated to the local deity crowns Auli Bugyal. Onet is an extremely destressing experience to stretch your legs and enjoy the bounties of nature while breathing in the fresh pine scented mountain air. The verdant patch of green surrounded by Himalayan peaks beckons nature walks.

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Children can enjoy themselves by playing in the snow. Serious trekkers can continue their treks to the hot water springs which are a two-day trek away from Auli Bugyal. After spending a few hours communicating with nature, one reluctantly begins the descent to return to the base camp. This gentle trek is a naturalist’s delight and is suited for trekkers ranging from children to silvers. As the altitude is below 10,000 feet, oxygen levels are steady and one does not develop symptoms of high altitude sickness. So, if you are willing to spend hours getting your forest permits from the obstinate forest officials of Nanda Devi National Park, the gentle trek to Auli Bugyal is a refreshing and rejuvenating experience for all souls trying to steal a few moments of tranquility and serenity, away from the vagaries of modern life which has become more stressful than ever before.

How to get there?

Dehradun has an airport and is connected by flights to New Delhi.

The nearest railhead is Dehradun or Rishikesh. Auli is a 285 km. drive from Dehradun. (costs Rs. 2500/-) Shared taxis are available at Rs.250/- per passenger from Rishmana Pul at Dehradun

Where to stay?

Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam’s Auli Ski Resort is a comfortable place to stay. It is ideally located. Mornings are extremely musical, with birds singing migratory tunes, under the canopy of green surrounding this picturesque resort.

Where to eat?

Lots of small restaurants serving Indian, Chinese and Uttaranchali cuisine dot Joshimath. You get freshly steamed vegetable momos with green coriander chutney at the restaurant opposite GMVN, Auli. The food at GMVN, Auli is only for the gastronomically adventurous who like greasy food. Fresh fruits including litchees, plums, apricots and berries (kaphal) are available at the local market.

About the Author :

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Murli Menon

Murli Menon, is a travel writer, stress management consultant and author  based at Ahmedabad, India. He is the author of “ZeNLP-Learning through stories” published by The Written Word Publications, “ZeNLP-the power to succeed” published by Sage publications and “ZeNLP-the power to relax” by New Dawn Press. He can be reached at

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