PIYUSH RAJ SINHA, PT&D-IC
Auli in Uttarakhand a.k.a Dev Bhumi is one of the less explored hill stations in India. Beguilingly, “Less explored” is directly proportional to “more beautiful”. Auli, located in the northern state of Uttarakhand, is venturing as a new entrant in the tourist map of India. Located in the cradle of snow-capped mountains, Auli is one of the very few places in India where skiing is a major pastime. Gradually Auli is growing like other hill stations in India. The bitter cold winds, the vast snow-covered landscape, the sylvan mountains, all add up to make Auli a skier’s paradise. Representing man’s constant endeavor to triumph over nature, Auli proves to be an ideal locale for the daring.
Known as ‘bugyal’ in the local dialect, Auli means meadow and hence is a place not to be missed during summer and spring seasons. Natural vistas, panoramic views of Himalayan peaks, lush wooded vegetation and pathways laden with wild flowers give Auli a colourful look.
Auli is towards the north of the state and forms a part of the Garhwal mountain range. It is at a distance of 16 km from Joshimath, on the Badrinath route. The slopes, which are as high as 9000 feet above sea level, are covered with dense deodar and oak forests and this often reduces the velocity of the chilly winds to the minimum. The slopes offer a panoramic view of many a famous Himalayan peaks like Nanda Devi, Kamet, Mana Parvat and Dunagiri. These slopes are also the ideal pathway for skiing. The period from late November to late March is generally considered perfect for skiers. As the winters set in, the mountains seem to extend to the firmament with arms of snow. From December to March, the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam conducts 7-day and 15-day courses for both amateurs and advanced learners.
Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), an enterprise of Uttarakhand government, is the authorized body for looking after Auli tourism. GMVN not only provides accommodation facilities for visitors but also offers skiing courses for travelers who love to try a hand in skiing activity. The ‘Ski-Resort’ right where the road connectivity end is an ideal accommodation point run by GMVN which is able to compete with any private hotel deluxe room.
Apart from being home to many natural attractions, excursions to nearby places like Valley of Flowers, Nanda Devi Sanctuary and Gurson Bugyal are great sources of interest among travelers. Similarly, trekking expeditions from Auli can give visitors experiences for life long.
En’Route- Heaven before the Road to Heaven
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, about 270 kilometres from Auli. Rishikesh, about 235 km away, is the nearest railhead.
Auli is around 500 km from Delhi. So you can reach there in one stretch (I also thought the same). But so is not the case. Road route till Rishikesh is pretty well connected with 4 lane highway. But roads for the next 260 Km are yet to be discovered. If you really want to see mud lanes and landslides, road (don’t know if they really exists) between this stretch is the ideal example to spectate. Totally ruined hilly roads from Rishikesh within 2 hours will lead you to Dev Prayag, a place where river Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meets and then we call it River Ganga. En-route is Karnprayag, Rudraprayag and Nandprayag where similar tributaries meet to form river Ganga.
The entire route from Rishikesh is picturesque if you exclude the roads. My personal recommendation will be to take a Volvo till Rishikesh and there onwards hire a bike for onward journey to Auli (Condition to your driving skills on super paved and mud routes are good+ you don’t mind riding at 3000 feet with river ganga flowing just beneath the edge of the road). However, bikers are often on a superfluous edge to cross the patches where landslides take place. Probably one major reason behind the place being a total paradise is for the reason being untouched by many due to rough roads. Riding after sunset is not recommended.
1. Nanda Devi Peak
Named after Goddess Nanda (Bliss-Giving Goddess), Nanda Devi Peak is India’s second highest mountain. With an elevation of 7,817 meters, the mountain is indeed a visual treat. Nanda Devi Peak is a part of Garhwal Himalayan Range and is surrounded by Nanda Devi National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Artificial Lake
Situated adjacent to Cliff top Club hotel in Auli, it is the highest manmade lake in the world. This artificial lake is developed by the government to create artificial snow on new ski slopes so that tourists can enjoy an extended skiing season.
3. Trishul Peak
Located at an elevation of around 23,490 feet above sea level, Trishul Peak is the kind of natural marvel that leaves you enamoured and fumbling for your camera. It is one of the most famous spots to enjoy skiing in Auli. There is also a lake named, Roopkund, situated at the base of Trishul Peak.
4. Gurso Bugyal
Situated at a distance of 3 km from Auli, Gurso Bugyal is a beautiful meadow that transforms into an eye-catching green beauty during spring and wears a white look during winters.
5. Snow means skiing…Go for it!!
As I’ve already told you about it (Auli – international skiing destination) in this blog. So plan your trip for winters. See how beautifully the slopes get covered in fresh-glittering snow. Prepare yourself to do some adventure and get ready for skiing. Every equipment to do skiing is available on rent there and that too with professional guides.
6. Mana- The Last Indian Village
If time permits, one can further drive down to Joshimath and move towards Mana a small pilgrim village that is located in the state of Uttarakhand. The village is present near the religious site of Badrinath. The village has the distinction of being the last settlement on the road to the country of Tibet.