One of the pressing questions for tourists planning to visit Uttarakhand during the monsoons is the quality of the roads. So, to get an idea, the Dream Mountain team started on a journey from Dehradun to Joshimath on 1st July 2015. We started as early as 7 AM and took a halt at NIM beach in Rishikesh . The water level of Ganga had risen considerably above the normal level. We took few minutes to soak in the situation, snapped some pictures of the surroundings and continued on our journey.
|Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh|
At around 9:00 AM, we reached Shivpuri , which is the main centre for rafting business on the Ganga. The main Shivpuri beach is usually crowded full of adventurous tourists interested in rafting and camping. Today it looked barred and washed -out due to heavy monsoon rainfall and increased Ganga water level. Rafting on the Ganga had stopped in the third week of June due to the onset of monsoon. We clicked some fotos for the record and proceeded another 16 km ahead to Vyasi. Now we were heading towards Devprayag.
|Shivpuri, 15 km from Rishikesh|
|Shivpuri during summer|
|Tourists enjoying cricket at Shipuri|
|A closer look|
After Devprayag, the most important station is Srinagar. But just four kilometers prior to Srinagar there is a small town called Kirtinagar. Kirtinagar once used to be the capital of Garhwal under the kingship of Panwar dynasty. At Kirtinagar the rishikesh-Badrinath highway crosses over to the left bank of the river. These two fotos we took show you the old and modern bridges over the Alaknanda river at Kirtinagar.
Ahead of Kirtinagar is Srinagar, perhaps the most populous hill town in the Garhwal region. The usually crowded Srinagar market was surprisingly free of vehicular congestion and we were soon in Srikot. In the past Kirtinagar, Srinagar and Srikot were three distinctly seperate small towns. Today these three towns are almost connected with one another and will not appear to be separate towns to a new visitor.
It is now time to tell you a bit about Shirau-bagad, the most notorious sliding zone on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway. This sliding zone lies between Srinagar and Rudraprayag and has become the biggest hurdle for Char Dham yatra during monsoon season. For the last 20 years the problem could not be resolved. Now after decades of sliding of boulders and rubbles from the mountain, the hard rock has started appearing. Probably, after few years the nature itself will heal this wound which the man could not. While driving through this zone, we were surprised to see that there was no obstruction here and the road was clear. We moved ahead with ease.
Rudraprayag, where the Alaknanda and the Mandakini rivers meet, was our next destination after Srinagar. Rudraprayag town is very congested and due to this problem, a diversion road is used to avoid the traffic of the main road. Another problem with Rudraprayag is that it is impossible to view the confluence from the main road because buildings have come up blocking all view of the rivers from the main town. Rudraprayag confluence is best seen on the way back via the diversion route on the right bank of the Alaknanda. While going towards Badrinath we have to drive through the main town, but while returning from Badrinath to Rishikesh, the diversion road is used, for which you have to first cross the Alaknanda and drive for about two kilometers on the Kedarnath highway along the Mandakani and then, after crossing the Mandakini, join back to the Badrinath-Rishikesh highway by once again crossing the Alaknanda.
When we started the journey, we were warned that there had been heavy rains in the Joshimath area for last two days and the Badrinath road had been heavily damaged at Lambagarh. Perhaps this was also the concern of most people because traffic was for the most part lighter than usual. We drove on through Gauchar to Karnaprayag where the Pindar river flows into the bigger Alaknanda. But that day the situation was different. At Karnaprayag confluence when we stopped the vehicle to take a look, both the rivers were flowing above their usual levels but the the Pinder was clearly in a more dangerous mood and almost threatening to sweep the lowermost houses along its banks. Many of the locals were seen gazing at the river with various degrees of concern. We took the videos and some photos and hoped that the situation would not get more serious before driving on.
|Pinder river at Karnaprayag|
After Karnaprayag, we were short of time as we had to reach Joshimath before the darkness as it is not advisable to drive at night in sliding zones to avoid being hit by any boulder or mud balls etc. After Karnaprayag, we moved towards Nandprayag and Chamoli. From Chamoli one has a magnificent view of Gopeshwar town which is the headquarters of district Chamoli.
Before Joshimath the other townships to cross were Birahi and Pipalkoti. We could not even stop for some tea at these places as we had been strongly advised to cross the Pagal-Nala (The Mad Rivulet)before night to reach Joshimath. Pagal-Nala, as the name suggests, is an another problematic place where you never know what may happen. Fortunately we crossed the nala at around 6:45 PM and sighed a heavy relaxed breath. Now we were just 15 minutes drive from our destination. Nevertheless we were quite intrigued about how the nala got this interesting name. Next day in Joshimath , a local helpfully explained that we should not have been so unduly worried. Pagal-nala is at its most unpredictable post monsoon, exactly during the period when people begin expecting rainfed streams to exhibit stable behaviour.For more please visit : www.dreammountain.net , www.joshimath.net
|On the way to Joshimath|