Gaumukh Tapovan: A Journey to the source of River Ganga
“Gaumukh Tapovan is a trek that I have done twice. Both much earlier, when I was younger. Indiahikes wasn’t yet born. On both occasions, the trek fascinated me for different reasons.
The first time, it was the sight of the Bhagirathi sisters glistening in the moonlight from Bhojbasa. The second time, I was older and I appreciated the trek more. From Tapovan, Mt Shivling rises from its base all the way to its summit. That’s a rare sight — to see a mountain in its entirety. Then the aesthetics of Mt Shivling itself. There are rarely mountains that are as good looking as Mt Shivling. If there was a competition for the best looking summits of India, Mt Shivling would be right there near the top. To see such a beauty from a close range is an honour.
Gaumukh, the source of the River Ganga, itself is reason enough to do this trek. Gaumukh is a sight on its own. Only when you get close to it do you realise how big and magnificent the glacier is! I am not surprised this is the most often repeated trek by trekkers. Every time you visit, there is something new to take back.”
Day 1: Reach Gangotri
The trek begins at Gangotri the following morning. Gangotri is known as the source of river Ganga (the actual source being Gaumukh), which is known as Bhagirathi here.
It is said that King Bhagirath prayed to Lord Shiva for salvation of the souls of his 60,000 sons. Shiva obliged and requested Goddess Ganga to release her water, which purified the ashes of Bhagirath’s sons. This mythological story elevated the status of River Ganga as a means to purify one’s soul.
- Altitude: 10,055 ft (3,065 m)
- Time taken: 10-12 hours drive from Dehradun to Gangotri
Day 2: Trek from Gangotri to Chirbasa
- Altitude: 10,055 ft (3,065 m) to 11,761 ft (3,585 m)
- Time taken: 1 hour drive. Trek for 6 hours, 9 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial 300 m steep ascent followed by a very gradual ascent all the way.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Gangotri. You can refill your water bottles from streams on the way.
Start for Gangotri early in the morning We will arrange cabs to take you there from Dharali.
The trail to Chirbasa goes through a Forest Check Post around 2 km from Gangotri bus stand. A trail goes up from the bus stand towards the left side inside the forest. The trail runs on the left side of the market area and one can take multiple trails from inside of the market to connect with the trail. Walk till you reach the Forest Check Post.
This may take around 15-30 minutes, depending on where you start from within Gangotri. From here, spot a striking white peak in the distance. This is Sudarshan Parbat (21,345 ft), looking stunning in the background. It lies in a cluster of many major peaks. After getting the permits checked, proceed on the trail that remains on the left side of the mountain ridge throughout the day. The Bhagirathi River remains below, always to your right. There are a few isolated glaciers on the river that are melting rapidly.
In around 15 minutes, you will come across the first of many waterfalls and streams that you will see today. The trail mostly has gradual inclines and level walks. Trek for another 20-30 minutes and you will see another stream gushing below a makeshift bridge. After crossing the bridge, the valley opens up and turns right. Feast your eyes on the several snow-capped mountain ranges on the right side of the valley. After 20 minutes, you will see the third major stream on your path. Sudarshan Parbat is now no longer visible. The trail remains consistent for another 45 minutes. Now, the path swirls further towards your right as you cross the third ridge, giving way to a breathtaking view of the valley. Bask in a healthy presence of blue pine and silver birch trees around you.
A consistent hike of 45 minutes will bring you to a boulder zone over one of the snouts coming from Sudarshan Parbat. Cross the boulders and hike up for about 10 minutes to reach a series of dhabas.
Chirbasa is another 15 minutes away under forest cover. A special mention should be given to Himalayan Environmental Trust, who, along with the Forest Department, have been able to successfully implement an afforestation project in this area. As you pass the check post of the Forest Department, take the trail down on your right to reach the camping ground of Chirbasa. Look for a GMVN hut on a level ground next to Bhagirathi River. Camp here for the night.
Bhagirathi river is to the right of the Chirbasa campsite. The place gets its name from the Chir trees that surround it. You get clear views of the Bhagirathi peaks from Chirbasa. Also visible in the distance is the mouth of the Gaumukh glacier.
Day 3: Chirbasa to Bhojbasa.
- Altitude: 11,761 ft (3,585 m) to 12,450 ft (3,795 m)
- Time taken: 3 hours, 5 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial 100 m ascent to get back on the trail. Very gradual ascent all the way to Bhojbasa
- Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water
The valley widens from Chirbasa and offers views of snow-clad peaks. Take the trail from behind the GMVN hut. The trail connects with the Gaumukh trail, which extends from forest check post. This section will take 5 to 10 minutes. Once connected with the primary trail, you will be able to see the Chirbasa campsite below. There is a minor landslide-prone section within 10 minutes from this point. After this section, the terrain is broken in certain sections but is manageable. Look for the first ridge ahead towards your left in the distance. It takes around 30-45 minutes to reach this ridge and cross the bend.
As you trudge through the silent hills, the Bhagirathi peak looms closer into view. After 20 minutes of gradual ascent, look for a stream to your left. Another 45 minutes of similar gradient will have you reach another landslide-prone area. This area has boulder gradient and a stream crossing your path. Climb up for another five minutes to traverse the second ridge/bend. There are 8-9 landslide-prone bends from here. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to traverse this section. Keep an eye for falling rocks and avoid resting. Move swiftly. After crossing this section, you will see a bridge with a stream flowing below. Bhojbasa, the widest point in the valley, is only 1.5 km from this point.
The trek to Bhojbasa is a level walk and very scenic. Around 300 m above Bhojbasa, you get a vantage point. The entire valley ahead of Bhojbasa is visible from here. This is a very beautiful sight. Also visible is a part of the Gaumukh glacier.
You get the first view of Mt Shivling at Bhojbasa. This is an open campsite – you’re far above the tree line now. Bhagirathi river flows right beside the campsite.
You will find igloo-like structures close to the campsite. You have the option of staying in these instead of camping. This requires permission from the Forest Department.
Day 4: Acclimatisation walk to Gaumukh and back to Bhojbasa
- Altitude: 10,055 ft to 12,450 ft (3,795 m)
- Time taken: 7 hours, 9 km
- Trek gradient:
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. Refill water bottles at Gaumukh.
The valley narrows as you move on the trail to Gaumukh. Take the trail from the GMVN hut going up and connecting with Gaumukh route. It takes 10 minutes till you intercept the primary trail to Gaumukh. From here, it’s a gradual ascent for about 2.5 hours all the way to Gaumukh. After 20 minutes of level walk, you reach the first glacial stream crossing. You can now see Mt. Shivling on the right.
15 minutes later, you reach the second major stream crossing. Then, 20 minutes of level walk on the defined trail will get you to a level camping ground. Climb up the moraine and walk to the vantage point of Gaumukh, which is 500 metres away from the glacier. There is a small open temple of Lord Shiva here. Pilgrims are refrained from going any further unless they have permission to camp at Tapovan. Proceed from the left side of the moraine ridge and climb up another 20 metres. You now get a great view of the Gaumukh glacier. As you proceed, observe the fragmentation of the glacier and debris from the rock fall over the years.
Day 5: Bhojbasa to Tapovan via Gaumukh, and back to Bhojbasa
- Altitude: 12,450 ft (3,795 m) to 14,202 ft (4,329 m)
- Time taken: 8 hours, 15 km
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Gradual ascent for 2.5 hours. 2 hours glacier walk followed by 1 hour of moderate ascent. Final 1.5 hours is a steep ascent.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. Refill water bottles at Gaumukh.
Reach Gaumukh on the same trail as Day 4.
The trail from Gaumukh to Tapovan is the most difficult part of the trek. It involves climbing glacial moraine and traversing the Gaumukh glacier. You will be traversing steep landslide-prone areas and a glacial stream called Akash-Ganga.
The terminal moraine is a combination of hard ice and boulders and can get slippery in certain sections. Even with cairns marking the route, finding it can be tricky since the route goes over an active glacial basin and is always changing. The initial climb till the top of Gaumukh glacier from the left side is a 100 metre ascent. A local guide is highly advisable here. The climb up the 100 metres can take an hour and a half. The route via the terminal moraine takes almost an hour to traverse and reach. After this, you hit a rock face, which you will have to climb to get to Tapovan.
This climb is adjacent to Akash Ganga, which flows vertically down this rock face. Ensure this section is climbed before lunch time to avoid potential rock fall and increase in volume of water coming down Akash Ganga. The climb takes an hour to two, depending upon the conditions. The climb is a steep incline on loose gravel.
After about 100 metres into the climb, look for spots from where you can cross Akash Ganga. If the volume of water is high, then you need to take your shoes off and cross the stream. Otherwise, boulder hopping is also possible. Take a break after crossing the stream. You can have lunch here.
Tapovan is a steep climb from here. It will take you about 1.5 hours to reach. Look for a suitable camping spot and camp for the night.
The mountain views from the Tapovan campsite are astonishing. You can see Mt Shivling to the right. Meru is to the right of Shivling. On the left side of Shivling, a little behind, is Sumeru. Further to the left you see Bhagirathi peaks, Thenu and Sudarshan Parbat. If you walk to the ashram that is visible from the campsite, Shivling appears even closer.
Tapovan is a high-altitude alpine meadow below Mt. Shivling, which dominates the landscape. Tapovan is spread over 2 km in length. Although it’s a vast level ground, not all the land is suitable for camping. The area close to Mt. Shivling is wet during early summer due to melting snow and glacial water. These grounds have been used by many sages to meditate over the centuries. There are many such holy men living permanently at Tapovan.
A 1.5 km trek from Tapovan to the adjoining peak that connects to Neelatal brings you to a vantage point from where you get great views of Meru. This takes about 2 hours to reach from the campsite. From here, you can either walk on the ridge ahead to reach Neelatal, or walk back on the same trail to Tapovan. Neelatal seldom has any water now. Manage your time such that you’re back at the campsite by 1:30 PM.
Day 6: Bhojbasa to Gangotri
- Altitude: 12,450 ft to 10,055 ft (3,585 m)
- Time taken: 5 hours, 7 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate Difficult. Level trail to Chirbasa.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. You can refill your water bottles at streams along the trail.
Proceed from Bhojbasa on the same trail back to Chirbasa.
The trek involves a gradual descent and a series of level walks, which can be done swiftly. The trek back to Gangotri is the same trail taken to reach Chirbasa. It’s a very gradual descent, which takes far less time to cover than the ascent.
Banner image by Ashish Bhatt
Day 1: Reach Gangotri; 10-12 hours drive from Dehradun. Transport will be arranged from Dehradun Railway Station at 6.30 am. Cab cost per vehicle will be Rs.7,000 (5-6 seater). This is to be shared among trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
Day 2: Trek from Gangotri (10,055 ft) to Chirbasa (11,761 ft); 6 hours, 9 km
Day 3: Chirbasa (11,761 ft) to Bhojbasa (12,450 ft); 3 hours, 5 km.
Day 4: Acclimatization walk To Gaumukh (10,055 ft) and back to Bhojbasa (12,450 ft)
Day 5: Bhojbasa (12,450 ft) to Tapovan (14,202 ft) and back to Bhojbasa; 7 hours, 9 km
Day 6: Bhojbasa (12,450 ft) to Gangotri (10,055 ft) ; 8 hours, 14 km
Day 7: Extra buffer day.
Day 8: Depart for Dehradun. Cab cost per vehicle will be Rs.7,000 (5-6 seater). You will reach Dehradun between 6.00 pm and 7.00 pm.
Please note that you will be staying at a hotel in Dharali. The stay on all other days is in tents (3 per tent).
Note: The buffer day is used to accommodate bad weather /health upsets /political instability in the region. The entire team stays together on this day. This depends completely on the circumstances on the trek.
If you wish to offload your backpack on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek, you would need to inform us via email at least one week before the trek begins. Last minute offloading on the slope will not be possible.
It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.
How to get to the basecamp – Dharali
Delhi → Dehradun → Dharali
The base camp for the Kedartal trek is Dharali, around 230 km from from Dehradun.
Indiahikes organises transport from Dehradun to Dharali. The pick up is at 6.00 am from Dehradun Railway Station on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs.7,000 per vehicle. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
You will reach Dharali at around 5.00 pm. The trek begins at Gangotri the next morning. Indiahikes will arrange cabs to take trekkers from Dharali to Gangotri.
To reach Dehradun
The best way to reach Dehradun is to book the ever reliable Nandadevi Express.
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 3.55
If you cannot find a train, then take a bus. To stay on the safe side, book buses online in advance. A better option is to reach the previous night by Jan Shatabdi from Delhi.
Dharali → Dehradun → Delhi
Indiahikes organises transport from Dharali to Dehradun. The cab fare from Dharali to Dehradun is Rs.7,000 per vehicle. This is to be shared by trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Dehradun by 6.00 pm.
If you are travelling further from Dehradun, keep a couple of hours as buffer time in case of delay. Book your further travel from Dehradun post 8.00 pm. If you are travelling to Delhi, you can choose to go back by Mussoorie Express or Nanda Devi Express.
The Gaumukh-Tapovan trek is of moderate difficulty. You start at an altitude of 10,055 feet and reach an altitude of 14,202 feet in 3 days. Ideally, you should be only gaining 1000 ft a day. However, the Indian Himalayas climb very quickly. This is called a forced ascent.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60-70 minutes before the start of the trek
On the Gaumukh Tapovan trek, you have to cover an average of 10 km each day. This requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
In order to be prepared for a high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
If you are somebody you prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 22 km in 60 minutes.
How to send us a proof of your fitness routine?
Record your run on an app like Nike Run. Start recording your run when you start running. At the end of your run, hit the stop button.
Take a screenshot of the summary of your run. We will need a detailed split of each kilometre of your run. This is usually integrated in all running apps.
Note: Make sure your GPS is on when you record your run. If the GPS is off, we will not accept the screenshot.
Upload two screenshots 10 days prior to the start of the trek — one of you covering 5km in less than 35 mins along with your picture and the other with splits of your run.
Strength – Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each
This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover in high altitude carrying your backpacks. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here is a guide to help you get fit for the trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
- Trekking shoes: The trek distance is long and you will have to walk for long distances which need you to have comfortable trekking shoes. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.
- Three Warm Layers: You will be trekking and camping at high altitudes. The Bhojbasa campsite is especially windy. So make sure you have the apt clothes for the climatic conditions. It will be cold at the higher altitudes so make sure you have at least three layers of warm clothes to protect yourself.
- Two trek pants: One pair of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case the first one gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness.
- Suncap: The sun is more harsh at high altitudes so wear a suncap to protect your face and neck.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 1 Strip
- Crocin – 10 tablets
- Avomine (optional, in case of motion sickness)- 1 Strip
- Combiflam- Half Strip
- Muscle relaxant – Half Strip
- Digene – Half Strip
- Avil – 1 strip
- ORS – 6 packs
- Knee Cap (If you are prone to knee injury)
Please email a scan of your ID document (PAN, Aadhar card or Voter ID) to your Ground Coordinator as soon as you have finished registering for the trek. If you submit the Aadhar card or Voter ID scans, please make sure that we get both the side. This is required in advance to get the necessary trekking permissions.
Please carry the below documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded (PDF), filled in, signed and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp.
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
What are the risks on the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek?
The Gaumukh Tapovan trek is graded moderate-difficult. If you have registered for this trek, then here is some information that you must know in order to have a safe trek. At Indiahikes, we believe that as long as you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can survive easily at high altitudes.
This trek starts at an altitude of 10,055 ft. You are already in rarefied air and will be covering long distances. With significant altitude gain there are chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness. An average trekking day here covers a distance of 10-13 km. The trail from Gaumukh to Tapovan is especially tricky. The route on the glacier keeps changing and having an experienced guide here is a must. After the glacier walk is an extremely steep climb up to Tapovan which takes a toll on your legs. Most of the trek has glacial residue of moraines and scree – which is difficult to walk on.
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow, and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
Right from the time you decide to register for the trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below:
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have introduced an eligibility criteria for the Gaumukh Tapovan trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Gaumukh Tapovan trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Gaumukh Tapovan trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required.
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health, wherein they will be entering details about their health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms one should look out for and what action should be taken during emergencies. These Health Cards will be collected back at the end of the trek.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine. Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high altitude campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
5. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At above 12,000 ft the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness can be quite high.
Gaumukh and Tapovan are the highest campsites on the trek. Trekkers tend to develop symptoms of altitude sickness at these camps. That said, Gangotri, where the trek begins, is itself at a high altitude, and you ascend close to 1,500 ft each day, which means that you need to take utmost care on all the days of ascent.
Do not proceed to Gaumukh if you have symptoms of altitude sickness. Inform your trek leader about your condition. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to Gangotri.
This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours.And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have symptoms of AMS?
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the below video to understand the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. In this video, Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes will also tell you the protocol to follow when you see someone showing symptoms of AMS.
Exit points on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek:
The safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. If there is an emergency anywhere before Gaumukh, then exit to Gangotri is relatively quick. However, at any point above Gaumukh, the exit becomes complicated, since it’s a long walk to Gangotri, which is the only entrance to the valley.
Gangotri has a government dispensary. For any advanced treatment, Uttarkashi, around 100 km from Gangotri, has the closest hospital.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life -saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker. There are three life-saving medicines that we suggest you always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, do not administer these to anyone without consulting your Trek Leader. If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Also ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the trek and do not skip any meal.
You can watch the video below to learn about HAPE and HACE and how to tackle them. In the video, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema, what the symptoms are and how to tackle them.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then your trek leader will be able to take steps at the right time.
Acute Mountain Sickness
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charges – Rs 2,100 plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 375 per day inclusive of tax. You can opt for offloading directly your dashboard after your payment is done for the trek.
Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
Online offloading in advance is possible up to three days prior to the trek start date.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please login to your account and cancel.
Cancellation requests will not be taken over phone or email.
The cancellation charges are as under.
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (cancellation charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 5 km in 35 mins before start of the trek. Unable to do so can make your trek difficult.
In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training and upload the fitness screenshots on your dashboard. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
Indiahikes has the right to reject trekkers who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
Transport from Dehradun to Gangotri and return from Gangotri to Dehradun can be arranged by us at an extra cost. This will cost approx Rs. 7,000 (for a 5-6 seater cab) per vehicle on the drive to the basecamp. The return cost will be the same.
Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab. The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter.
Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
If there is a group size of 10 trekkers and above, then we will waive off the trek fee charges for one person.
Note - There is no discount available if the group size is 9 or less than that.
You can register the entire group and send us an email. If the group is registering individually, then the primary participant needs to send an email to the Trek Coordinator with the list of trekkers from the same group.
If you want to make the payment individually, then individual registrations have to be done.
This will be the case for a group of 10 trekkers. So if you have a group of 20 trekkers, then we will waive off the charges for 2 trekkers.
Repeat Trekker Policy
At Indiahikes, we believe that the mountains hold all the aces. The weather could play spoilsport, the altitude could mess with a trekker, the unpredictability of nature itself could turn against him. Whatever the reason might be, it is never nice to turn away from a trek midway.
In the event that a trekker has to come down without completing your trek, they can always head back to the mountain and do the same trek again. If this happens, trekkers don’t have to pay the trek fee. They have to just make the optional payment for the insurance amount.
On another note, it could also happen that you love a trek so much that you want to go back time and again. Trekkers don’t have to pay the trek fee for repeating a trek.
Note – The Repeat Trekker Policy holds good only for Indian Treks.
It is not valid for treks we run in Nepal.
Will we be camping in Tapovan?
Camping in Tapovan is banned by the High Court of Uttarakhand. Not just Tapovan, there is a blanket ban in the state of Uttarakhand to camp in meadows. And Tapovan is considered a high altitude meadow.
However, we have now found a new camping ground at Khadapatar. You will have to trek through Tapovan to reach this place.
To reach Tapovan, you will have to cross the Gaumukh Glacier. This crossing is subject to weather and the level of snow as well.
The call will be taken by the trek leader while on the trek, according to the weather conditions.
What weather can we expect during the Gaumukh Tapovan trek?
During the month of May and June, it is expected to have good sunny weather with good levels of snow in early May.
There are possibilities of rain as well. If it rains too heavily, it does make it difficult to cross the Gaumukh glacier.
The same holds good for the month of September as well.
If you are thinking twice to go the trek, we would say go for it.
Can I visit the Mouni-Baba ashram during the trek?
The ashram in Tapovan is not included in the itinerary. We will not be visiting the ashram during the trek.
We are quite strict on how the trek is conducted. It is a high altitude trek and is done in the same seriousness.
Trekkers also ask me if they can break away from the team and stay at the ashram. I am afraid this is not a possibility on our trek.
What is the level of fitness I need for the Gaumukh Tapovan trek?
Gaumukh is a moderate trek. If there is heavy snow near the glacier, it just makes the trek a tab more difficult.
You need good level of fitness to do this trek. You need to be able to do 5 kms in under 35 mins.
This is absolutely necessary for you to do the trek.
I want to come a day early to Gangotri to visit the temple and acclimatize. Will I get a place to stay at the basecamp?
It is great if you are going a day early to Gangotri. Gives your body a lot of time to acclimatise to that altitude.
However, it will not be possible for us to accommodate you at our basecamp. The reason is that we have multiple batches running during the season. It is really hard to find a room at the basecamp.
You will have to make your own arrangements.
For the transport to Gangotri from Dehradun, we can arrange this for you in case there is a batch leaving to the basecamp on the day of your travel. Else, you will have to make your own arrangements.
Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek.
Yes. There is an option to offload your backpack on this trek ( have a porter or a mule carry the bag for you ).
This is going to cost you Rs. 2100 plus 5% GST for the entire duration of the trek.
Make sure the weight of the backpack you are offloading is not more than 9 kgs. Also, the bags should have shoulder straps. You cannot get suitcases or strollers for offloading.
NOTE : In case you want to keep your extra luggage at the basecamp, you can use our cloakroom facility. Just make sure there are no valuables in the bag.
We do not charge you for the cloakroom facility.
Here is what trekkers have to say about their experience at Gaumukh Tapovan Trek