Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Badrinath Kedarnath visit in October off peak season - things to keep in mind

I visited Badrinath and Kedarnath in October, in the previous week, just before Diwali. While planning for my trip, I came across a lot of information on visiting during May and June, which are peak months, but didn't find much information on travelling in later months. In this post, I will summarize some pointers to keep in mind while planning the trip.

Kedarnath and Badrinath - View from the top

Before you begin

  1. After the 2013 floods, Uttarakhand government mandated biometric registration of yatris. In person, this can be done at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Guptakashi, Srinagar etc, but online it can be done at http://onlinechardhamyatra.in/
  2. However, no one checked my registration slip, and one of the co-passengers didn't have one but still went, so it seems this is more of a crowd control measure now. In any case, its free on the link above, so doesn't hurt to have one. Since travel in the mountains can be uncertain, make sure you have slips for multiple dates
  3. Keep medicine, power snacks (yoga bars) and power bank handy, you may need them
  4. Check weather predictions for temperature and weather forecasts regularly - they helped in my case as I didn't see any days of rains, and had adequate clothing etc available, so less weight to carry

On the way

  1. You will not find any public transport post 5PM in the hilly areas - this is any place above Rishikesh. 
  2. Most transport consists of 10 seater bolero / jeep / other vehicle of equivalent capacity. Usual configuration is 2 people in front other than driver, 4 in middle, and 2*2 on each side at the back. Sometimes, the driver may seat 3*2 people in the back, making it a 12 seater.
  3. Each such transport will usually go only up to the next major stop on the route. They have a rota system (like taxi medallion) at the stands amongst which they ply.
  4. If you want a transport post 5 PM or for longer haul, the drivers union up to ask for a "Booking". It is a planned extortion of passengers desperate to reach the next stop, where the drivers will ask you for 2-3X the prices that they usually get. Example: Say they get Rs. 100 per person between 2 stops for a 10 seater, post 5 PM, they will start demanding that you book the entire vehicle for 2000 rupees - if you find 10 people you pay 200 per head, if you find 5 people you pay 400 per head.
  5. If you want a bus to go to Kedarnath or Badrinath, or to come back, or go longer distance, reach a major stop and wake up early - most such buses leave in the morning between 4.00 to 5.30 AM to avoid the daytime congestion
  6. There is a lot of construction and digging going on various sections as part of the Char Dham Highway project upwards of Rishikesh, due to which you may have to wait for 30 minutes to 1 hour at various points for the blockade to clear up.
  7. The roads are a mix of good, bad and ugly. You can expect the transportation to take a speed of 25-30km per hour on the average.
  8. Due to the condition of the roads and construction, expect a lot of dust in the air. So if you have allergies/Asthma, plan for it.
  9. Rains do not occur in the later months usually, but I saw a few people carry umbrellas etc. On my part, I carried a waterproof rain jacket, but had to use it only as an extra layer due to cold and not due to rains.
  10. The temperature in the nights can be very cold - so plan for 2-3 layers in the night. Gloves and beanies are a must have.
The temples: Kedarnath and Badrinath
  1. Kedarnath opens at 6 in the morning, is closed from 3-5 PM, and closes for the day at around 7 PM. Before 3 PM, you may enter the inner sanctorum based on the crowd, but between 5-7, you can only have Darshan from a distance as the Jyotirlinga is decorated with flowers.
  2. From 6-7 PM, there is evening pooja. You can book a ticket for it online @ Rs. 2500 per head. Or if available, you can book it nearby the temple (20 meters).
  3. After the floods of 2013, most of the old route is defunct. However, many places still have signage of old route which was for 14 km. The new route is 18 km, and you can find the signage misleading. 
  4. If you plan on returning the same day, make it a point to reach upstairs by 2 PM. Return by walk can take you 4-5 hours, and the evenings can be very chilling due to the winds.
  5. You will be able to find accommodation near the temple at good prices till 3-4 PM. If you get late in the evening, you can get quoted 2-3X the price for the same room, so if you are planning on staying, go upstairs and book in advance
  6. The road is a mix of pathways of stones, stairs, concrete ramp. It is used by all - people, ponies, palkis, and can at times smell a lot due to the pony urine and dung.
  7. If you want a helicopter, the official website is the place to book during Yatra timings (usually May to October). Before that, you can book on websites of the respective helicopter operator as well, and make booking via agents.
    There are 3 places - Phata, Sersi, Guptakashi, from which helicopters operate at different prices, timings, operators and helipads. If you do not have a prior booking, and you must use a helicopter, you may end up waiting multiple days to get a seat in one.
  8. The helicopter goes closer to the temple (500 meters), the ponies etc stop 2 km before it. The helicopter also starts a lot earlier than Gaurikund etc, so saves more distance travelled. And one way charges of helicopter from Phata to Kedarnath are around Rs.2500, which is very similar to the one way pony charges of Rs.2300, so do consider it for anyone elderly
  9. There is a Tapta Kund (hot water spring) at Gaurikund (where the trek begins) for bath. Otherwise once at the top, you will need to coordinate with your accommodation to get it, most will not have geysers so may charge extra for it.
  10. Badrinath temple is roughly 500 meters away from the bus stand, so there is not much to walk. If you plan on staying here, there are rooms available across, but nearer to Diwali, the place has few people.
  11. There are 2 hot water springs just next to the temple - Agni Kund and Narad Kund, and its easy to take baths etc here

The Pathways: To Kedarnath

This is the path I took to Kedarnath

The Pathways: From Kedarnath to Badrinath

For going from Kedarnath to Badrinath, there are two ways. I took the second one due to lack of availability of public transport with a halt at Rudraprayag, as the distance is smaller from Rudraprayag than GuptaKashi to Badrinath, even though overall the distance is less in route 1.

Path 1:

Path 2: 

The Pathways: From Badrinath to home

The return leg is easier from Joshimath from where you will find direct buses to Haridwar/Rishikesh in the morning at 4 AM onwards. Once in Haridwar, you can go to Delhi etc for further on road.


Route I took: Delhi  --car--> Rishikesh (Stay) --bus--> GuptaKashi --cab--> Sonprayag --cab--> Gaurikund (Stay) --trek--> Kedarnath (Stay) --trek--> Gaurikund --cab--> Sonprayag --cab--> GuptaKashi --cab--> Rudraprayag (Stay) --> Karnaprayag --cab--> Chamoli --cab--> Joshimath --cab--> Badrinath --cab--> Joshimath (Stay) --bus--> Haridwar (overnight) --bus--> Jaipur (Diwali)

PS: lot of other important shrines and places to see in the nearby areas as well

List includes

  1. Hemkund Sahib, Gobind Ghat - Sikh shrine
  2. Mana village - last village on border to Tibet
  3. Nanda Devi bio sphere
  4. Valley of flowers
  5. Jyotirmath at Joshimath - place of Adi Shankaracharya's enlightenment
  6. Yamunotri and Gangotri - part of the chota char dham along with Kedarnath and Badrinath
  7. Panch Kedar temples including Tungnath temple
  8. Panch Badri / Sapta Badri temples
  9. Rajaji National Park
  10. Vasuki Taal and Devariya taal

No comments:

Post a Comment