Garhwal, literally meaning the land of many “garhs” or forts has a gorgeous past. The Garhwal region of Uttarakhand beckons all seasoned travellers, as the region is sprinkled with places not being on the radar of “tourist” destinations. Even though there are plenty of popular places as well – from Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar, to Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri & Uttarkashi. The plethora of places to discover and the sheer beauty of the region will definitely leave you mesmerized.
There’s literally so much to do in Garhwal that any route you take and any destination you choose will be a fulfilling time! But, for the sake of structure – today, I have chosen to describe what a common active itinerary in the region would be like. If adventure and nature is what you seek, I am hopeful my planned trip will be of huge help!
The region is formed entirely of rocky mountain ranges, recognized through separation narrow valleys. While geographical wonders such as Nanda Devi, Kamet, Chaukhamba and Trisul are found here; the region is truly known for its heart-warming hospitality. Often touted as the “Heart of Uttarakhand”, Garhwal truly has a lot to offer and the natural beauty is par excellence!
I should tell you that the below itinerary is for activity seekers and adventure enthusiasts. Of course, the Chota Char Dham Yatra is also quite enthralling and physically demanding. Plus, it has a beautiful pilgrimage vantage point attached to it! If you’re looking to understand more about the Chota Char Dham Yatra, do read the detailed itinerary.
In order to cover the below itinerary, there are a few distance points you should be aware of that will help you in planning your travel between the destinations. Of course, given that this trip requires you to have mobility independence – your own personal vehicle or cab would be supremely helpful. However, you can cover the distances through public transport as well! The hours’ journey described below is for personal car driving distance.
- New Delhi to Chamba -320 kms (8.5 hrs)
- Chamba to Kund -150 kms (6 hrs)
- Kund to Kirtinagar -75 kms (2.5 hrs)
- Kirtinagar to Rajaji National Park -155 kms (4.5 hrs)
- Rajaji National Park to New Delhi -255 kms (6.5 hrs)
Route on your Active Garhwal Journey
The route for the journey will be the same as the above description – i.e. New Delhi – Chamba (Stay 2 Days) – Kund (Stay 2 Days) – Kirtinagar (Stay 1 day) – Rajaji National Park (Stay 2 days) – New Delhi
Details of places on Garhwal Active Itinerary
Throughout your journey, you’ll be crossing and exploring plenty of beautiful and life-altering places. Some of the key points you should know of each place you’ll visit –
Chamba is situated at an elevation of 8500 ft. and forms a major town enroute Gangotri. The town is only 30 kilometers ahead from Kanatal and 60 km from Mussoorie. Important places to see in Chamba include –
- Tehri Dam, the highest dam of India and one of the highest dams in Asia, is visible from New Tehri. The town was created for relocation after Tehri town got submerged by the Dam.
- Eco Parks situated in Dhanaulti – are a cluster of 2 eco-parks – Amber and Dhara about 200 m apart. It has been developed recently by the Forest Department of Uttarakhand
A riverside settlement about 20 KMs before Guptkashi in the Mandakini Valley, Kund offers stunning views of Kedar mountain – the backdrop of Kedarnath Temple. In fact, Kund forms an important pit stop for many pilgrimages including visiting temples like Madhyamaheshwar, Tungnath, Triyuginarayan, Guptkashi, etc. Main places on your visit this trip would include –
- Ukhimath, a pilgrimage situated at an elevation of 4000 ft., is around 41 kms from Rudraprayag. During winters, the idols from Kedarnath temple and Madhyamaheshwar (Panch Kedar) are brought to Ukhimath.
- Deoriya Tal and Tunganath Trek – the high altitude lake is about a 3 KM trek from the Ukhimath-Chopta road.
Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park is situated 25 kms from Haridwar and 40 KM from Rishikesh. The park is an excellent point for bird watching with over 23 species of mammals and 315 species of birds found here. You can participate in Jeep safaris, arranged by the forest department.
Descriptive Active Garhwal Itinerary
Now, let me take you through the detailed journey plans
Day-1 Delhi – New Tehri (300 Kms, 7 Hours)
[Chamba – Tehri Dam (10.00 kms), Eco Park Dhanaulti (29.00 kms)]
Start your day off as early as possible to reach New Tehri. While the driving time is 7 hours, you’ll be stopping over many places – including holy towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh. Reach by the evening and rest for the day.
Day-2 Activities and sightseeing
Enjoy the early morning sunrises in the Himalayas! Your views should include the stunning Nanda Devi peak. Today, you should plan on visiting the Eco-Park. Return through the forests at Kanatal. Here, you may enjoy an evening session of rappelling.
Day-3 New Tehri – Kund via Tehri Dam / Lake (155 KMs – 5 hours)
[Kund – Ukhimath (10.00 kms), Deoriya Tal and Tunganath Trek (14.00 kms)]
Depart for Kund early in the AM from Tehri. The hamlet of Kund is situated enroute Kedarnath and also lies in close proximity to Chopta, with some stunning meadows. Today’s journey will include stops at the Tehri Dam and Lake. Once you’re at Kund, I would highly recommend a light hike to the Ukhimath temple and later spending your evening time by the gushing sounds of the river.
Day-4 Bird watching and Deoriatal Lake trek
Wake up as early as you can to visit the bird watching spots. I highly recommend doing it pre-sunrise and having an expert accompany you. Also, remember to wear subdued colors! After you’ve had your heart’s fulfillment here, have breakfast and move to Sari village. From here, you will start on your 2-hour trek to the Deroria tal. Trust me when I say this, the lake with the meadows surrounding it will make you forget any troubles in your life!
Day-5 Chopta visit and Tunganath visit. Later in the day, leave for Jayalgarh (70 KMs, 2 hours)
Today’s day starts with a visit to India’s Mini-Switzerland! Here, you can even take a short trek to Tungnath – at an elevation of 3680m. The views from Tungnath are stunning and the Shiva’s shrine is holy and transcendent. Once returning to Chopta, have some snacks and rest up, before commencing on your forward journey. Jayalgarh is a renowned place for some white Water rafting. I suggest waiting till the next day to participating in this activity, however- you’ve had a long enough day as it is! Rest up!
Day-6 Jayalgarh – Rajaji National Park (135 Kms, 4 hours)
Start your day bright and early with a beautiful session of white water rafting! Then, after some rest, some food, take off towards the Rajaji National park. Here, I highly urge you to splurge a little and get a stay at some of the riverside premium lodges! This will offer you some of the most relaxing views and a perfect end to your trip as the last stop! There are a bunch of trails you can explore, though be careful and check the routes before embarking on the journey,
Day-7 Rajaji National Park – Wildlife and Bird Watching in Rajaji National Park (0.50 kms)
This is the day you get to indulge in a jeep safari – and boy, what a day it will be! Also, if you still have energy- you can even squeeze in a visit to Haridwar for the evening Aarti!
Day-8 Depart to Delhi (280 kms – 7 hrs).
Last day of the trip comes so soon, don’t they! I hope this trip was as beautiful for you as it was for me (and writing it was particularly cathartic!). I am sure Garhwal would have been wonderful to you and this will be a journey you’ll remember for a long time!
Popular Extensions to the active Garhwal Itinerary
If you’re keen, you can add another day or 2 to your Garhwal active itinerary, then I highly recommend spending some time in Rishikesh – truly the most tranquil of places and Haridwar for – above all else – some lip smacking food!
Garhwal has a lot to offer and this itinerary obviously will not help you cover the entire place. However, the whole journey of 8-10 days will be life-enriching and stunning to say the least. If you’d like to know about more places and want to include/exclude/customize the journey – do comment below, we will be happy to help!