It always helps to have faith in traditions and especially on religious matters. The temple doors are open for devotees throughout the Yatra season and it matters little how and from which route a devotee reaches the temple. Nevertheless, Haridwar and Rishikesh have traditionally been the gateways for the shrines in Uttarakhand. In these two towns, one can actually feel the true pulse for pilgrimage throughout the year, and buses and taxis are easily available for any of the shrines in Uttarakhand. Before you commence your journey, here are a few tips to make your visit memorable.
Keep the Mountains Clean
It should be a self-imposed descipline for all pilgrims, tourists and trekkers to contribute in keeping the mountains clean. So do not litter the hillsides with those plastic bags, bottles and containers. Keep them with you for disposal at designated spots in the wayside towns.
At the holy shrines, there are hot and cold-water springs and kunds (tanks). Pilgrims will do well in avoiding use of detergents at such places.
Trekkers to Gaumukh, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib, Pindari Glaciers and other areas may take extra care to see that the non-degradable litter are disposed off in bins provided along the routes, burnt or carried away. Fire hazards such as cigarette butts, burnt wood in camps should be properly buried, disposed before departure. Accompanying porters should also be educated to respect the ecological laws.
No damage should be done to vegetation. Gas or kerosene oil should be used as fuel while camping out. Respect for the conservation rules would amount to making this world more beautiful.
Motoring in Uttarakhand
Some important roads of Uttarakhand have been declared as National Highways and work to improve them to desired specifications are already on. The public transports are crowded during the Yatra season and motoring by private cars, taxis and chartered buses would be more comfortable while visiting Uttarakhand. All roads are well maintained and cars find no problem in negotiating these heights.
Travelling by cars, taxis and chartered buses has the advantage of flexibility in schedule, as the travellers can decide their itinerary on a day to day basis.
The mountain roads cannot accommodate vehicles of large wheelbase. Normally wheel base must not exceed 166 inches. It is always advisable to check with the transport authorities at Dehradun, Kotdwara, and Nainital about permissible wheel base in case the journey is to be made by a chartered bus.
During rains, there can be road-blocks but the Border Road Organisation works efficiently in clearing the blockades. Non-scheduled halts during rains can sometimes be necessary but not as a matter of rule.
If travelling by car, carry a tool kit. The kit must contain a spare fan belt, jack, spanner and material for repair of punctures. The main stations on pilgrimage route have these facilities, but it is always reassuring to have these facilities in the tool kit.
The mountain roads are full of blind corners. Motorists need to be extremely careful on these bends, as it is always the other man who may commit a mistake. Blowing of horns, giving way to upcoming vehicles, and slowing down the speed at all bends is the key to safe driving in hills.
Up in the hills, every new place has its own charm. Travellers are likely to be tempted to stay at some non scheduled places. It is therefore advisable to keep margin of some extra days while planning a yatra tour.
Petrol pumps are easily available at Dehradun, Rishikesh, Mussoorie and Nainital. On the yatra route, pumps are available at the following places :-
Dehradun – Yamunotri Route
Rishikesh – Yamunotri Route
Rishikesh – Gangotri Route
Gangotri – Kedarnath Route
Uttarkashi,Chamba, New Tehri,Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Tilwara, Guptakashi(Kund)
Kedarnath – Badrinath Route
Nala,Kund,Rudraprayag,Gauchar,Karnaprayag, Sonla, Gopeshwar, Chamoli, Pipalkoti, Joshimath
Rishikesh – Badrinath
Deo Prayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Gauchar, Karna Prayag, Sonla, Chamoli, Pipalkoti, Joshimath.
Nainital – Badrinath Route
Almora, Ranikhet, Simli, Karnaprayag, Sonla, Chamoli, Pipalkoti, Joshimath
New pumps are coming up at quite a few places but it may be kept in mind that there are no pumps so far in the destination dhams of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Motorists are advised to check on the last pump on each route.
The past decade has seen a revolution in development of accommodation on the yatra routes. Large and small hotels and lodges have mushroomed everywhere. Hotels in Uttarakhand are not classified, but in places like Dehradun, Mussoorie, Haridwar, Nainital, Ranikhet some of the hotels easily match the classified ones. Others too in their own way are quite well furnished, clean and good by local standards.
Inexpensive Indian meals are always available every where, but some emergency provisions such as tinned food, biscuits etc. can be carried, especially for occasions when you are tempted to break journey at some scenic spot for a while or are stranded due to land slides. Travellers can buy cooking oil, potatoes, tea, seasonal fruits and vegetables from shops en route. Toffees and hygienic sweets will be useful during treks. Over the years, clean and good eating-places have emerged at most of the places, including the Char Dhams.
Note: In Haridwar, Rishikesh and at the shrines non-vegetarian food and alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
During the previous decades travellers were advised to carry with them valid certificates of inoculation against cholera and smallpox vaccination. The GovernmentHealth Centres enroute checked these certificates and were at times quite insistent upon them.
With the success of epidemic control and health care measures, the old practice of certification has been abandoned. No such epidemics are heard of and no check points are to be seen now. If however at any time there are instances of any epidemic making inroads from plains to the Yatra routes, the administration will be forced to reintroduce the control measures as such. One thing however needs to be taken note of is that drinking water should always be boiled. It is advisable to carry your own drinking water on the journey. Mineral water bottles are sold at all towns along the routes.
Hospitals and private clinics are located in all the big towns and medical services are available at smaller places also. The Uttarakhand government has introduced an emergency ambulance service known as 108 ( telephone number 108 to be dialled for service) in the whole state.
Important: A small First Aid Kit should come handy in case of hill diarrhoea, headache, travel and high altitude sickness etc. Antiseptic, cotton wool, Band-Aids, mosquito repellent etc. could be included in the kit.
Weather in the hills, especially near the shrines, can be uncertain. It is advisable to carry an umbrella or raincoat alongwith. Even at the height of summer, light woollens during the day and reasonably protective woollens in the morning and evening will be necessary at heights above 3040m. All the four shrines are above this height. Wind-cheaters, sturdy walking shoes, woollen socks or stockings, gloves, head coverings (chilly winds can cause ear-ache), towels etc. should be part of your travelling outfit.
In addition to Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehra Dun, Haldwani and Nainital, there are good markets at Uttarkashi, New Tehri, Gopeshwar, Rudraprayag, Srinagar, Joshimath, Ranikhet , Bageshwar, Pithoragarh and Almora, where travel goods and tinned foodstuffs are available at reasonable prices.
All shrines and halting places have been electrified although the supply of electricity at times may not be regular. The high altitude shrines are under the snow for nearly four months every year and this causes the overhead transmission lines to get damaged during the winters. This being an annual feature, the Electricity Department has not been able to arrive at some permanent solution to this recurring problem. Paucity of funds may be the reason for not laying the under ground lines. Consequently, the shrines can be at times without electricity, especially for a few days after the opening day. Those planning to visit the shrines during such periods are advised to carry flashlights and candles etc. In any case a flashlight will always be found useful.
Banking facilities are available in all big towns. While the State Bank of India has the best coverage, with branches in most of the places in the hills. Other banks have also opened branches in most of the bigger towns. Most of the larger towns have ATM facilities.
Any money in the form of traveller’s cheques, drafts, bills, cheques etc., which foreign and local tourists wish to change into Indian currency, should be exchanged only through authorised money changers and banks who will issue proper receipts.
Post and Telegraph
Postal services are available in all the big and small towns en route, and the out dated telegraphic service has been replaced by PCOs, fax and mobile phones.
Public Call Offices
Public Call Offices (PCOs) have mushroomed at all over the places and making a trunk call back home is now conveniently possible from almost alltowns.
Mobile hand phones
BSNL has the largest network coverage in Uttarakhand. Other mobile services are also available but limited to the major towns. Air Tel, Idea and Vodafone are other service providers in Uttarakhand hill areas.
Similarity in names
There are some cases of more than one place bearing the same or a similar name along the pilgrimage routes. These names, which can at times cause confusion, are given below.
Hanuman chatti – It is a small place on the Yamunotri route which becomes active during yatra season.
Hanuman chatti – This is another place bearing the same name but on the Badrinath route. There is small temple of Hanumanji here.
Gangani – This is a small hamlet between Barkot and Yamunotri and should not be confused with Ganganani on the Gangotri route.
Ganganani – This is a different place between Uttarkashi and Gangotri and there are some hot water springs here.
Gangori – This is a small but beautiful village only four kilometres north of Uttarkashi and should not be confused with the popular name Gangotri.
Gaurikund – It is the picturesque location in Gangotri where the river Ganga falls from a rocky height into a whirl pool.
Gaurikund: Last motorhead on Sri Kedarnath route from where the trek to Sri Kedarnath starts.
Firearms are not allowed as hunting or shooting is totally prohibited.
Bus Transport from Delhi
The Uttarakhand State Road Transport Corporation operates direct bus services including deluxe buses to Dehra Dun, Mussoorie, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Kotdwara and other places in Garhwal division from the main ISBT. A second interstate bus Terminus of Delhi is located at the border of outer Delhi and Ghaziabad at a place called Anand Vihar from where bus services are available for important places in Kumaon region like Nainital, Ramnagar, Ranikhet etc. In addition the U.P. Road Transport corporation and the Delhi Transport Corporation also operate buses on main routes to Uttarakhand. Most of the buses for Uttarakhand operate from these two stations.
Railheads & Concessional Return Journey Tickets
|Dehradun||railhead for Mussoorie.|
|Haridwar||connects with Rishikesh by local train|
|Kathgodam||railhead for Nainital, Almora and Ranikhet.|
|Kotdwara||railhead for Pauri, Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath.|
|Ram Nagar||railhead for Dhikala (Corbett National Park).|
|Rishikesh||railhead for Yamunotri, Gangotri,Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badrinath.|
The Indian Railways issue concessional return journey tickets from all important railway stations in India to all hill stations. For latest information regarding these concessions please contact the nearest Railway Station.
Railway booking Offices
Computerised railway booking facilities are available in some selected places such as Srinagar, Uttarkashi, Gopeshwar, Joshimath, Almora, Nainatal, Pithoragarh for the present. But tourists are advised not to leave their reservation problems for these offices as the eratic power supply may make the computers non functional and even the railways may open or close some of these offices on trial basis. Spot information on additions or otherwise may be had from the Tourist offices.
|Few famous places are shown below:|
|The Char Dhams of Uttarakhand|