The Complete Guide to Gaumukh Tapovan
What Was Once India’s Favourite Trek
Gaumukh Tapovan used to be India’s favourite trek. We hate to say it, but it is no longer India’s favourite trek.
Yet, it is one of the most rewarding treks you will ever do.
There are summit views and there are ‘big’ summit views. On the Gaumukh Tapovan trek, you don’t just see the best views of Mt Shivling. You see Mt Shivling right from the base to it’s summit. And if you don’t know about Mt Shivling, it’s one of the most beautiful looking mountains in our country. No wonder the mountain has been featured in our gold calendar every year since it was published.
But wait. Not only Mt Shivling, you see the Bhagirathi sisters from top to bottom. Sometimes we feel the Bhagirathi sisters are even grander than Mt Shivling, because the three of them form a massif, which dominates the landscape.
Then why do more people not do the trek you ask?
Unfortunately, the popularity of other treks actually brought the Gaumukh Tapovan trek down from its grace. It’s almost like a new generation movie star replaced an older star. It sounds silly, but that’s what happened to the Gaumukh Tapovan trek. Treks like Roopkund, Rupin Pass and the Hampta Pass gained popularity. And Gaumukh Tapovan fell in popularity.
As is the mentality of most trekkers, if they find one trek attractive, they just rush towards the new offering. It is a mistake.
Before we begin, here are a some quick facts about Gaumukh Tapovan trek:
Gaumukh Trek is a 46 km trek hiked over a period of 6 days (8 days including drive to and from the trek,) in the Greater Himalayas. It lies in the state of Uttarakhand, begins and ends at the pilgrim town of Gangotri.
The trail snakes through the Greater Himalayas within the confines of Gangotri National Park. It is a moderate trek (more on this ahead on this page) that can be attempted by beginners if you prepare well.
Use this table to navigate through content on this page:
- What I Like And Don’t Like About Gaumukh Tapovan
- Best Time To Do Gaumukh Tapovan
- Weather And Temperature On Gaumukh Tapovan
- How Difficult Is Gaumukh Tapovan?
- Is Gaumukh Tapovan Trek Safe?
- How To Reach Gaumukh Tapovan?
- What To Pack For Gaumukh Tapovan?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Gaumukh Tapovan
What I Like and D0n’t Like About the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
Arjun Majumdar, the Founder of Indiahikes, went on this trek in 2015. As one of the veterans of the trekking community in India, he’s an expert when it comes to Pin Bhaba Pass. Here’s Arjun talking about one of the top treks in our country.
I returned to do the trek again in my thirties — after a gap of more than 20 years. Even then the Bhagirathi views enthralled me. But this time I was seeing the trek with new eyes. At the tender age of 8, I had missed out on the spectacular views of the other big mountains on this trek. I think this trek has to be the trek to do for its spectacular mountain views.
But there is more to this trek than just superb mountain views.
Listen to the top three reasons according to me, to do Gaumukh Tapovan trek. It is about 2 mins long.
What I like about Gaumukh Tapovan
1. The Gaumukh glacier
I have not stood at the snout of such a gigantic glacier in my life. The Gaumukh glacier snout must be as high as a ten-storey building. Big chunks of ice, as big as cars, continuously fall with thunderous sounds from the mouth of the glacier. I remember the ground reverberating with every fall.
Below, the opening of the glacier was a big cavern, from which the Bhagirathi flowed. I have seen rivers forming from under a glacier. But I have never seen a river, in its full width, flow out from under a glacier, right at its source. It was stunning.
2. The crevasses on the glacier
Traversing the glacier from one end to another was fantastically adventure-filled. The surface of the glacier was a maze of crevasses. Some so small that you hardly notice them, some big enough to swallow you whole.
Deep down in some of the big ones, the colour of the ice was green with bluish tinge on their walls. Rivulets made a channel through them, sometimes disappearing into a dark abyss. It was fascinating seeing this spectacle.
Navigating these crevasses, literally tip-toeing over to the other side, ultimately clambering up to Tapovan, is an adventure that stays with me. It is fun, and frankly, quite adventurous. I admit I had my moments when my palms were sweaty.
3. Mt Shivling and the Bhagirathi sisters from Tapovan
a. Mt Shivling
I was expecting Tapovan to be a flat grassland. It wasn’t. It was a bit bouldery, bit grassy but a very large open land. I remember the moment when we got to Tapovan. Just as we clambered into Tapovan, all my trek mates stood rooted to their spots.
They were witnessing something that they had never seen before. Right in front of them, almost less than a stone’s throw away was the entire Mt Shivling from its base to its summit.
Mt Shivling was no ordinary mountain. It was the most beautiful mountain my trek mates had set their eyes on. Like a beautiful young lady with her slender neck, and her head held high, Mt Shivling stood in front of them with grace and elegance.
I finally understood why photographers travelled from across the globe to take pictures of this majestic mountain.
b. The Bhagirathi sisters
On the other side, right across the Gangotri glacier we saw the Bhagirathi sisters. The three summits in one massif. I’ll be frank here. Even though Mt Shivling is the Greek God of beautiful mountains, it was the Bhagirathi sisters who held our attention longer.
The three sisters: Bhagirathi I, II and III. All of them nestled together in one isolated massif — and the entire massif standing tall from its base to the summit. You really don’t see such mountain views in other parts of the world.
At that moment I understood what it meant to be at Tapovan. I was not witnessing spectacular mountains. I was seeing something utterly unique in mountain views. In trekking circles, if there is a list of grand scenes to see, I would put this view from Tapovan in my top 3.
4. The sunrise and sunset on the majestic mountains
I love sunrises and sunsets on mountains. Somehow it evokes deep emotions in me. Sometimes when I see a spectacular one, tears well up in my eyes.
So I keep a count of some of the best ones. This is why I mentioned earlier about photographers coming from far and wide to do this trek. Shivling is at such an angle that you get a divine sunrise and sunset on it. They warm the summit in such fascinating colours that it not only lights up the mountain — it kind of makes an already beautiful mountain stunning in its grandness.
In the evening there’s a more spectacular show. With the sunset happening both, on the Bhagirathi sisters as well as Mt Shivling. You don’t know which one to watch! As a sunset lover, it was one of the best sunsets that I saw in my life.
5. The night view of Mt Shivling and Bhagirathi sisters
If you are lucky to be there on a cloudless night, for heaven’s sake don’t be inside your tent! Mt Shivling and the Bhagirathi sisters on a cloudless night, will give you goosebumps. Right there, from the inky darkness of your camp, you can see the snow whites of these mountains glistening in the night — every gully, crag and ridge visible.
Millions of stars twinkling in the night enveloping these beauties in a shroud. If you have timed your trek well, to account for a full moon, then I assure you, tears will roll down your eyes.
What I don’t like about Gaumukh Tapovan
Frankly, I did not like the trek until we got to Chirbasa. I thought it was a bit monotonous with similar valley views. Too many pilgrims too. The Chirbasa campsite was a bit of a let down as well. It was small and crampy.
After Chirbasa, the trek changed completely though. There were superb colour changes, terrific rock formations, and I don’t have to say, right ahead, one of the greatest mountain views in our country.
Best Time to do Gaumukh Tapovan
There are two seasons in the year when you can do the Gaumukh trek. During the summer, the trek can be done from mid-May to end of June. While in autumn it can be done from mid- September to end of October. These are the best times to do the Gaumukh Tapovan trek.
Most of the trail lies on a barren landscape en route Gaumukh valley. There are hardly any forest sections or meadows. (As we mentioned earlier, it is a trek you do for big mountain views and the legacy it holds in our country.)
Gaumukh Tapovan in Summer (mid-May to end-June)
Summer is a popular time to do the Gaumukh Tapovan trek, especially for trekkers who are drawn to trekking in snow.
In early summers, you will find snow along the trail. This is also the time when you cross the Bhagirathi river over the natural snow bridges. The snow remains till Gaumukh and sometimes even beyond until the mid of May.
But by mid-summer (late May-early June), you will find the final traces of snow. But you’ll start noticing the sparse vegetation of the valley. The little vegetation that you find on the trail (most of which lies on the way to Chirbasa) starts turning green.
At this time, the melting snow adds to the swell of the Bhagirathi river that begins to flow with its full might. You’ll notice this at Suryakund itself in Gangotri.
The pre-monsoon rains in the valley only add to the force of the river.
As we approach July, the monsoons are in full swing. The constant downpours make sections of the trail (see difficult sections) prone to landslides and rock falls. The trek becomes a risky proposition to undertake.
At Indiahikes, we wind up the summer season by end-of June.
| Note: The summer season is not just popular among trekkers, but also among pilgrims. It is the busiest season for the Chardham Yatra. Therefore expect a lot of pilgrims on the trail until Gaumukh. This flow of pilgrims heading to Gaumukh glacier continues even in the monsoon months of July and August. The trail to Tapovan though is untenable in monsoons.
Tapovan is generally not as popular with pilgrims and you’ll notice lesser crowds in autumn.
Gaumukh Tapovan in Autumn (mid-September to mid-October)
The setting shifts as we move to autumn. This the best season to do the Gaumukh Tapovan trek for excellent views of the entire valley.
Autumn also brings in colours to the trail. The vegetation en route Chirbasa turns into shades of yellows, browns and maroons. The Bhagirathi too turns a deeper shade of blue. Its flow is gentler compared to summers.
This happens because the drop in temperatures freezes the glaciers and stream, constricting the flow of water. All of this adds a little bit of colour to the otherwise stark valley.
Compared to summer, autumn season on the Gaumukh Tapovan trail is shorter. It’s barely 4-5 weeks long. There’s a reason why this season wraps up so quickly.
The region experiences pre-winter snows sometime in October. More so at higher elevation campsites like Bhojbasa and above. So, after mid-October, the weather makes trekking untenable. It is time to wind up the season again until the summer next year.
Weather on the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
As mentioned in the previous section, there are two seasons to do the trek – summer (from mid-May to end of June) and autumn (from mid-Sept to mid-Oct).
So, what kind of weather can you expect in these seasons?
Gaumukh Tapovan in Summer (Mid May — End of June)
The first thing you must know about the summers in the Himalayas is that the weather is unpredictable during this time. Chance precipitation is frequent and it’s wise to be prepared for late spring snowfall or early monsoon rains at the beginning and ending of the season.
Another unique feature is that the difference between daytime and post sundown temperature is relatively lesser. The day time temperatures are close to 20 °C at Gangotri. While in the evenings at campsites/home stays it gets chilly. But a jacket or a sweater will suffice.
However, as you move into the trek, at Bhojbasa and further, temperatures drop. At Tapovan the days are pleasant around 15° C, but at night the temperature can drop close to 0 °C.
Protip Start layering yourself up after you reach the campsite. Adding a layer every few hours to keep yourself warm.
Overall, the day temperatures are usually pleasant at an average of 15 – 20 °C. A T-shirt and a jacket (if required) should be enough while trekking.
If it gets cloudy, or there’s an unexpected bout of rain, the temperature can drop by 10 degree Celsius.
Gaumukh Tapovan in Autumn (Mid Sep — End of October)
As compared to summer, autumn is a few degrees colder. But unlike summer, the weather is stable.
Till Chirbasa you have natural protection against the wind because of the forest section. But thereafter the valley opens wide and it gets quite windy.
There is also a perceptible gap between daytime and nighttime temperatures in autumn. You’ll find the days are pleasant around 15 °C. But temperature quickly drops below zero after the sun down. Especially at Bhojbasa, Tapovan temperatures can go as low 3-5 °C below zero at night.
Protip To stay warm at campsites, start layering yourself up right after you reach the campsite. Do not wait for the sun to go down and the temperatures to dip.
We’ve noticed that the region gets its first snowfall of the season sometime around early to mid-October.
How Difficult is Gaumukh Tapovan?
The Gaumukh Tapovan trek is rated as a moderate-difficult trek.
At Indiahikes, while rating a trek difficulty we consider a number of factors. These include, altitude gained every day, length of trek everyday, highest altitude, nature of the terrain, weather, ease of access to and exits from the trail etc. Based on this we rate a trek as easy or difficult or somewhere in between.
The Gaumukh Tapovan takes you to a height of 14,000+ ft. Trekking to 14,000 ft brings its own share of challenges. By that sheer altitude itself the trek takes the trek to the moderate difficult category.
Moreover, the trek starts at Gangotri located at an altitude of 10,000+ ft . This altitude at the beginning of a trek itself poses a challenge when it comes to acclimatization.
On the other hand, on any given day the trail on the Gaumukh Tapovan is more or less straightforward. It’s a trail that is frequented by more pilgrims than trekkers. Having said that it does have a few tricky sections in between (see Safety section below).
Given these factors, we, at Indiahikes rate it as a moderate difficult trek.
Having said that it is still a trek that can be done by fit first timers.
You will need at least 4 weeks of solid preparation for this trek. You can begin preparation by going for brisk walks and then do brisk jogs to improve your cardio. Your target should be to cover 5 km in 37 minutes comfortably by the start of the trek. Here’s how you can get fit for the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek.
Is Gaumukh Tapovan Trek Safe?
Yes, Gaumukh Tapovan is a safe trek to do.
Every year thousands of pilgrims hike to Gaumukh to witness the river Ganga at its source. Mind you, most of these people are not trekkers but devotees. They think of the trail as a pilgrimage rather than a trek. And yet manage to successfully complete it without an organizer or a team.
Yet, it’s not an easy trek and is not to be taken lightly. Gaumukh Tapovan trek is rated as moderate-difficult and you need to be physically fit to complete this trek.
While doing so, there are a number of factors you must keep in mind to stay safe. The trek requires you to be alert and trek careful. It’s important because the trek climbs to over 14,000 ft, classifying it as a high altitude trek.
To help you mentally prepare well for the trek we have broken down the safety concerns into three parts – terrain, altitude and weather.
Safety on Gaumukh Tapovan Trek — Terrain wise
Gaumukh Tapovan Trek is a moderate-difficult trek. There are a number of difficult sections on this trek that require you to be alert, and trek carefully. These sections must be done only with the help of technical safety equipment and a competent technical safety team. Do not attempt this without the necessary technical assistance.
We discuss them here:
1. Gangotri to Chirbasa on the first day: There is a small section where you trek on a one large boulder. The trail is carved on it. So, you need to be careful. Although there are railings, you still need to be careful, especially if it’s raining because on one side it goes straight into the river.
Do not try to do this section yourself. Do this as a team or if you’re alone, tag along with fellow trekkers/pilgrims on the trail and keep an eye on each other and help each other out wherever required and possible.
At Indiahikes for this section, usually a technical guide is present, along with the Trek Leader and guide.
2. 4-5 sections of Kachha Dhaang on the trail from Chirbasa to Bhojbasa: Kachha Dhaang is referred to as the unstable parts prone to landslides and rockfall. The challenge especially increases during rainfall.
The best way to navigate this section is to be attentive and quick. Maintain a gap between yourselves but keep moving. Keep a steady pace and be alert and watchful of any movement on the rocks. Do not take breaks in these sections or spend too much time clicking pictures.
3. River crossing right after Bhojbasa: The river crossing here is not easy. The river flows with a lot of force and is extremely risky to cross by yourself. It requires technical expertise and assistance.
What the government has also done is provided trolleys to cross the river. When you sit on the trolley be careful while holding the metal rod because there is a pulley and the pulley is heavy, and if not careful can cause injury.
4. Last section on the way to Tapovan: It’s close to the rockfall area similar to Kachha Dhaang. It takes an hour to cross the entire section and then you reach Tapovan.
Here too, do not stop anywhere but try and trek this section quickly after which you may take a break.
Safety on Gaumukh Tapovan Trek — Weather wise
On a high altitude trek like Gaumukh Tapovan, weather plays a crucial role in determining if you complete a trek or not.
The weather is more or less stable prior to Chirbasa. But as you go higher, the weather becomes a tad unpredictable, especially in the summer.
At such altitudes, snowfall can happen anytime. A spell of rain on the lower slopes, almost usually leads to a light or heavy snow on the upper regions.
A rainfall or snowfall that lasts more than four hours can change your trek plans. Rain can flood the trails or make them too slushy to walk safely on. Some normal sections can become very slippery. Snowfall can obstruct previously made paths. This means fresh tracks have to be cut on the snow.
The Indiahikes technical team along with the Trek Leader takes a call on when to proceed with the trek and when to turn back. A team may have to turn around from the highest camp if the weather turns for worse.
Safety on Gaumukh Tapovan Trek — Altitude wise
Compared to other treks, the base camp of Gaumukh Tapovan — Gangotri — lies at a higher altitude. You start at Gangotri (10,055 ft) and go all the way to Tapovan (14,202 ft).
You get very little time to acclimatize when you are starting the trek at such a high altitude. And climbing quickly makes Gaumukh Tapovan trekkers very susceptible to altitude sickness.
To reduce the risk, it is important that you camp at Chirbasa on the first day. At 11,700 ft at Chirbasa, you have already climbed more than the recommended altitude gain. So even if you feel fit, resist any temptation of saving a day and heading to Bhojbasa.
On the Indiahikes trek, we have given ample time for acclimatization. A night at Chirbasa and 2 nights at Bhojbasa ensure that most trekkers are acclimatized before crossing the tricky Gaumukh glacier.
We keep Bhojbasa as our turnaround camp. It is important to take all turnaround calls at Bhojbasa because evacuating someone in trouble from Tapovan can be a herculean task.
Here’s a complete guide to know about Altitude Sickness:
Exit Points on Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
The only exit point on the trek is Gangotri.
A quick and easy way to exit the trek is one of the factors that makes us rate a trek easy, moderate or difficult. With only one exit point on the trail, evacuation in case of emergency becomes challenging on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek.
In case of an emergency, medical or otherwise, the best way is to retrace your way back to Gangotri.
| A point to note: It is easier to get out of the trek from Bhojbasa (or earlier) than it is from other campsites like Tapovan. In fact, mules or horses can also be arranged to take you from Bhojbasa to Gangotri. There is an SDRF camp and Forest Department office at Bhojbasa. In case of emergency, they can be approached for help and rescue.
Evacuation from Tapovan is extremely difficult because of the terrain and the difficult sections that come into play.
Closest Hospital on Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
Another aspect of a trek that makes it relatively challenging is the access to hospital. The closest hospital is in Uttarkashi which is 100 km from Gangotri.
Here is the hospital where medical assistance can be sought.
District Hospital, Uttarkashi
Near Vishwanath Chowk,
Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand – 249193
How to Reach Gaumukh Tapovan?
The trekking trail to Gaumukh Tapovan starts at Gangotri. It is a well-known pilgrim town. It is one of the char (four) dhams in the state of Uttarakhand. The journey from Dehradun to Gangotri is approximately 240 km long. The journey can be done by buses or shared taxis. From here it is a 25 km trek to Gaumukh Tapovan.
The river Ganga originates at Gangotri (the actual source being Gaumukh), but is known as Bhagirathi here. As per Hindu mythology it is here where Goddess Ganga descended from the locks of Lord Shiva in the form of a mighty river.
You can find the detailed trail information and directions here:
How to reach Gangotri from Dehradun?
The journey from Dehradun to Gangotri is probably the longest journeys that you’ll undertake to the base camp of any Indiahikes’ treks.
Moreover it is not a straightforward journey to Gangotri.
At the same time it becomes exhausting, especially after the long journey trekkers undertake to reach Dehradun from their hometowns.
Therefore, we strongly recommend you to arrive at Dehradun a day early and spend the night there. A good night’s rest at Dehradun before continuing your travel to Gangotri will go a long way in making your trek less exhausting.
Protip If you can, cover the journey in two days spending a night at the village on Harsil en route Gangotri. Harsil is a quaint little town surrounded by pine forests and snow-clad mountains and offers panoramic views of the Greater Himalayas. Spending a night at Harsil will help you acclimatize better to the high-altitude terrain on the trek ahead.
There are 3 things to know about the transport from Dehradun to Gangotri:
- Firstly, there is no direct transport from Dehradun to Gangotri. You’ll have to change buses or taxis at Uttarkashi which lies at roughly 140 km mark and takes 5 and a ½ hours.
- Secondly, the last shared cab from Uttarkashi for Gangotri leaves at 1 or 2 in the noon. If you miss that, you’ll have to spend the night at Uttarkashi.
- And finally, the 240 km journey from Dehradun to Gangotri will take 10-11 hours.
Therefore it is essential you start early in the morning so that you reach before dusk and have enough time to rest before beginning the trek. Here’s how you should go about it:
1. Dehradun to Gangotri by shared taxis
When you catch a taxi you might have to wait for a while before the driver finds enough passengers to share the ride. But usually it is never more than 20-30 mins. So do account for that time. Both at Dehradun and at Uttarkashi.
The journey will cost you not more than Rs.300 and takes about 5 and a ½ hours.
We recommend leaving Dehradun as early as possible, ideally before 7 am. And don’t push it beyond 8 am.
The reason being that the later in the afternoon you reach Uttarkashi the more difficult it is to find a shared taxi to Gangotri.
Once at Uttarkashi, you’ll be dropped off at Indian Oil Petrol Bunk opposite Hotel Bhandari.
From here walk 500 meters to Bhatwari taxi stand where you’ll find shared taxis leaving for Gangotri.
The drive to Gangotri becomes interesting after you cross Uttarkashi. The roads become narrower, the forest around denser. It also becomes colder as you gain altitude. Look out for the pretty town of Harsil on your left, around 55 km before Gangotri.
The shared taxis are available starting from 10:30 am to later in the noon. But our experience shows it becomes difficult to find passengers to share the ride with post 12.00-1.00 pm. Therefore it is essential to reach Uttarkashi as early as possible.
The fares are around Rs.330 to Rs.350. You will reach Gangotri in 2 and a ½ hours.
In case you can’t find a transport to Gangotri that afternoon, head to Harsil for the night and move to Gangotri the next morning.
2. Dehradun to Gangotri by Bus
Like shared cabs there are no direct buses from Dehradun to Gangotri either. The bus too will take you as far as Uttarkashi after which you will have to take a shared cab as described above.
We do not recommend this option for 2 reasons:
- The buses leave later in the day. The first one leaves at 8 am followed by 9.30 am, 10 am and 12 noon.
- They take 6 and a ½ hours.
This means that the chances of finding a shared taxi to Uttarkashi get considerably slimmer.
| Tip: While this cab hopping may sound cumbersome, we do it regularly at Indiahikes. They are a fun and a good way to know the real Uttarakhand. You also get to meet very interesting local people. So, while no one wants to miss a pick up, don’t be too disheartened if it happens. You may just experience one of your best travel moments!
What to Pack for Gaumukh Tapovan Trek?
Before you start shopping and packing for the high-altitude Gaumukh Tapovan trek, watch this video to get a clear idea about what you need to take along.
Complete Video Playlist: How To Pack For Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
Mandatory documents to carry on Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
Carry an Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, a passport will do.
You will need to submit your identification to the forest department. Without these, you will not be allowed to trek.
| Tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack to prevent them from getting wet.
If you have registered with Indiahikes, you also need to carry the Disclaimer Certificate and the Medical Certificate.
For an exhaustive list of things to carry, click here
Frequently Asked Questions about Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
1. How long is the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek?
The Gaumukh Tapovan trek is approximately 46 km long. The trek goes from Gangotri to Tapovan and then retraces the same path back.
Most days you’d be trekking anywhere around 10 km in uneven terrain.
2. What is the height of Gaumukh Tapovan?
The highest point on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek is Tapovan at 14,202 ft.
Unlike other treks, Gaumukh Tapovan starts at a much higher altitude at 10,055 ft. The trail takes you all the way up to Tapovan (14,202 ft) before heading back to Gangotri.
It is therefore essential that you physically prepare yourself for the trek by following a fitness regime. Here’s a guide on preparing for a trek as a beginner.
3. Will there be any mobile phone network on the trek?
When it comes to mobile phone network and internet connection, you’ll find a good connection until Gangotri. Airtel, BSNL and Jio are the mobile phone connections that you’re likely to find.
However, once you leave Gangotri, the network is very spotty or non-existent.
Having said that, Trek Leader Dushyant Sharma who’s hiked this trail a few times tells us, “There are some places on the trail where you might find a connection. When you walk ahead on the trail, turn back facing Gangotri. You’ll see the V-shaped valley behind you.
If you place yourself in a straight line from the bottom of the V-shaped valley without any obstructions, you might find a mobile phone connection.
4. Where will I find ATMs on the trek?
Uttarkashi is the last town en route Gangotri where you’ll find ATMs to make some cash withdrawals. All major private and public sector banks have their ATMs and some even branches in Uttarkashi.
Therefore, Uttarkashi is your best bet to make last minute cash withdrawals.
If you’re an Indiahikes trekker, there is no major need for cash as once you arrive at the base camp all meals, accommodations, permits, and related expenses are taken care of by Indiahikes, until you get back to the base camp on day 6 (except for the payment to the driver for transport to Gangotri).
5. Will there be electricity at the campsites/on the trek?
Gangotri is the last point that is electrically connected. Unlike some other remote areas, the power supply is mostly uninterrupted.
At the Indiahikes base camp in Gangotri, all the rooms are equipped with plug points for trekkers to charge their electronic devices.
However, once you leave the base camp, there is no electricity.
So, we strongly encourage you to bring additional batteries for your cameras and a power bank with more than 10,000 mAh to last you the entire trek.
Protip Beware that the power from your batteries will drain faster in the cold temperatures of this region. So, put the batteries in a small pouch and keep it inside your sleeping bag to keep them warm during the night.
6. Can I keep extra luggage at the base camp?
We do have a space where you can keep your extra luggage which you do not need on the trek. You can collect it once you are back at the base camp.
Just ensure that you do not have any valuables in the extra luggage.
We do not charge any fee for this.
Day 1: Reach Gangotri; 10-12 hours drive from Dehradun. Transport will be arranged from Hotel Grand Legacy Dehradun at 6.00 am. Cab cost per vehicle will be Rs.8000 (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 (13,455 ft) and back to Bhojbasa (12,450 ft)
Day 5: Bhojbasa (12,450 ft) to Tapovan (14,202 ft); 6 hours, 9 km
Day 6: Tapovan (14,202 ft) to Bhojbasa (12,450 ft) ; 5 hours, 9 km
Day 7: Bhojbasa (12,450 ft) to Gangotri (10,055 ft) ; 8 hours, 14 km
Day 8: Drive from Gangotri to Dehradun. Cab cost per vehicle will be Rs.8000 (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 Gangotri. The stay on all other days is in tents.
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.
We are currently updating the Long Itinerary. Please refer ONLY to the short itinerary for day wise information about the trek. If you need additional help please call 08046801269, or send an email to [email protected]
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 from Gangotri early in the morning.
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: 13,455 ft
- 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 (12,450 ft) to Tapovan (14,202 ft); 6 hours, 9 km
- Altitude: 12,450 ft (3,795 m) to 14,202 ft (4,329 m)
- Time taken: 6 hours, 9 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.
Start early in the morning from the campsite and walk for about half a kilometer. You will reach the Bhagirathi River. Here, the technical team along with the trek leader will help you on the Tyrolean traverse.
Tyrolean traverse in short tyrol or TT is a method of crossing rivers in the mountains where bridges are not in place. It is done from a natural anchor (Boulder or a tree) to another anchor through a rope, pulley, and seat harness attached to the person. It is a safe and efficient way of crossing a river. However, setting up Tyrolean traverse is an advance technique and should be done only by trained professionals.
In Gaumukh Tapovan trek, on Tapovan day, after a 20 minutes hike from Bhojbasa Campsite we setup a Tyrolean traverse to cross the Bhagirathi river.
If you are trekking by yourself, there is also a trolley installed by forest officials. This should help you get across the river.
This will take approximately 1 hour for the entire batch to cross. After that you start your trek. The walk is approximately 2 kms, on a visible path, with rocks and stones on either side. After this begins a gradual ascent.
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: Tapovan (14,202 ft) to Bhojbasa (10,055 ft) ; 5 hours, 9 km
- Altitude: 12,450 ft to 14,202 ft (3,585 m)
- Time taken: 5 hours, 9 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.
Day 7: Bhojbasa (12,450 ft) to Gangotri (10,055 ft) ; 8 hours, 14 km
From the campsite begin your descent to Gangotri. You will be able to see a beautiful view of Mt Shivling. Follow the same route that you climbed up. You will cross the same boulder section and a stream. Continue climbing down, you will have a traverse section. Make sure to keep an eye out for falling rocks. Do not rest here.
Continue walking on the path. You will cross the landslide prone area. Here the Bhagirathi peak looms closer into view. Continue walking on the same path. From here on lookout for the Chirbasa campsite.
Continue on the path. Notice the beautiful pine and silver birch trees around you. The trail remains consistent for another 45 minutes. You will another stream on your path. Continue walking here from another 20 minutes. Take a left turn, and notice the valley closing behind you.
While walking notice the Bhagirathi river below, to your left. You are now nearing Gangotri. Go through the forest trek post 2 kms form the Gangotri bus stand.
Day 8: Drive from Gangotri to Dehradun.
Cab cost per vehicle will be Rs.8000 (5-6 seater). You will reach Dehradun between 6.00 pm and 7.00 pm.
How to get to the basecamp – Gangotri
Dehradun → Gangotri
The base camp for the Gaumukh Tapovan trek is Gangotri, around 242 km from from Dehradun.
Indiahikes organises transport from Dehradun to Gangotri. The pick up is at 6.00 am from Hotel Grand Legacy Dehradun. The cab fare is Rs.8000 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 Gangotri at around 5.00 pm. The trek begins at Gangotri the next morning.
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.
Gangotri → Dehradun → Delhi
Indiahikes organises transport from Gangotri to Dehradun. The cab fare from Gangotri to Dehradun is Rs.8000 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.
There is no network on this trek. However, Jio network is available at Gangotri. If you are lucky, Airtel network is available in patches.
How to get fit for the Gaumukh-Tapovan trek
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 who prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 25 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.
Things to get for the Gaumukh-Tapovan Trek
Gaumukh Tapovan is a very high altitude trek with snow. You’ll need enough warm layers and accessories to keep you warm and help you trek comfortably. So pay careful attention to this entire section.
- A list of everything you need for the trek (Skip to section)
- A list of medicines for your trek (Skip to section)
- A list of mandatory documents (Skip to section)
First, The Most Essentials. You cannot do the trek without these.
1. Trekking Shoes
Gaumukh Tapovan requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have good grip, have ankle support and can handle snow. Here is a quick video on how to choose your trekking shoes.
| Buying Tip: The Trek series and MH series are good options by Decathlon. They are tried and tested. There really isn’t any necessity to buy the higher priced models. Here is a list of other budget shoes that trekkers are using.
| Rental: We have the Trek series and the MH series by Decathlon available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are already broken into and in good condition. Rental shoes are not dirty or unhygienic. This is how they are kept clean. Rent here.
For a trek like Gaumukh Tapovan, you need a 50-60 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.
| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.
| Rental: The 48 litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack. Rent here.
Wearing layers is the mantra in the mountains. Layers give you maximum protection from all elements. And when the weather changes in the mountains (as it happens every few hours), you take take off or put on layers as required.
Base layer: 3 T-shirts
Wear one T-shirt and carry two. Carry full sleeve dry-fit T-shirts (preferably collared). These prevent your arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trek, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn you in no time.
Dry-fit T-shirts quickly dry your sweat, they are easy to wash and in case of a rainy day, they dry quicker. Round neck T-shirts are ok, but collared ones are better.
| Cotton or Synthetic? As Indians, we love cotton. Down in the plains when the heat is a blistering 40°C it makes sense to wear cotton. But it takes a long time to dry when it gets wet. In the mountains, where it is cooler, synthetic is what you wear. They wick sweat rapidly and keep you dry. (But they do tend to smell quickly, so carry a roll-on deodorant with you.)
| Buying tip: You can get dry-fit T-shirts from Decathlon. Also, stores like Reliance Trends, Max have dry-fit T-shirts. They don’t usually cost much.
| Pro Tip: If you are extra susceptible to cold, you could get a set of thermal inners. In our experience, wearing two T-shirts over another works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space, since you’re already carrying them.
3 insulation layers in winter
The highest altitude you reach on this trek is 14,202 ft. At these altitudes it can get freezing cold even in the middle of summer. You will need at least 3 insulation layers for this trek.
You will need 2 light fleece layers, 1 full-sleeve light sweater. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
For your outer later, a padded jacket serves the purpose here. You don’t really need a water resistant material. But you need an outer padded jacket that keeps the wind and cold out. Ensure your padded jacket has a hood as well.
| Do you need a down/feather jacket? Not really. A regular padded/shell jacket will do. This video here will help you to learn more about the difference.
| Note: Down/feather jackets are really not available these days. Many jackets masquerade as down/feather jackets. They are essentially fine polyester-filled jackets. They mimic the function of a down jacket but are usually expensive.
| Rental: Padded jackets made by Fort Collins are available on rent at the Indiahikes store. They are custom made for Indiahikes and trekkers find them terrific, even in winter. Rent here.
Two trek pants
Two pairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry one just in case it rains. Trek pants with zippered cut offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon in case of small stream crossings / rain.
| Buying tip: Go for pants with zippered pockets. They come in handy to keep your phone, handkerchief or pocket snacks.
| Track pants or trek pants? Stretchable track pants make a good backup and can double up as your thermal bottoms. But track pants are not trek pants — so don’t use them as your main outerwear. Keep them only as a backup.
Mandatory Accessories, without these too you won’t be able to do the trek.
These accessories are mandatory. Don’t go to Gaumukh Tapovan without them. Trekkers generally put off purchasing / borrowing the accessories for the last minute. We suggest the opposite. Start gathering these accessories first.
Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. On a winter trek like Gaumukh Tapovan, expect to walk on long stretches of snow. A small overexposure to direct sunlight on snow can lead to snow blindness (about a half hour’s exposure). That’s because fallen snow is like thousands of mirrors that reflect direct UV rays. So you need sunglasses with UV protection.
| Wearing tip: Wear sunglasses if the trekking day is bright and sunny (on open sections, meadows). On a snowy section you must absolutely never take off your sunglasses until the section has been fully crossed.
| Buying Tip: Try getting sunglasses that wrap around instead of those that have openings on the side. Even peripheral UV ray exposure is not a good idea.
| If you wear spectacles: If you wear spectacles, you can get oversized sunglasses that you wear over your regular glasses (available at Decathlon). If that is cumbersome, photochromic lenses work equally well. Here’s a quick guide on managing sunglasses with spectacles.
| Contact lens users: If you use contact lenses, you can use them on the trek too. The lens solution will not freeze. You will also not face any problems in changing your lens in your tent. Just carry enough cleaning solution with you to clean your fingers well. Wear your sunglasses over your contact lens. Read this article for more guidance on managing contact lenses on treks.
A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sun strokes, quick dehydration and a sharp drop in trekking performance.
| Tip: In the mountains, the general rule is to keep your head covered at all times. During the day a sun cap protects you from the harsh rays of the sun (it is doubly stronger with naked UV rays). A sun cap keeps your body temperature in balance. In the evening/early morning, the reverse is true. Your head loses your body heat quickly. A woolen cap prevents heat from dissipating from your head.
| Pro Tip: Sun caps with flaps are a blessing for trekkers. They cut out almost all UV leaks. They prevent sun burns in every possible way. They are a lot more effective than sunscreen lotion. A wide brimmed sports hat also helps to prevent sunburn in a big way.
3. Synthetic hand gloves
On a trek like Gaumukh Tapovan, you are going to be handling snow quite a bit. You’ll need gloves to grip something or to steady yourself in snow. You also want the gloves to keep you warm. Get synthetic hand gloves that have waterproofing on the outside and a padded lining on the inside. If you find the combination difficult to get (not likely), wear a tight fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove. Hand gloves are mandatory on this trek.
4. Woollen cap or Balaclava
Ensure these cover your ears. In the cold mountains, you lose maximum heat from your head, not from your hands, feet or the rest of your body. Which is why you need to keep your head protected, especially when the sun is down. Early mornings, late evenings, a cold trekking day are when you must use your woollen cap.
Your ears are sensitive too, so a woollen head cap that covers your ears is absolutely essential. A balaclava is a modern version of the woolen cap. It covers your ears, neck and parts of your face as well. Do not get a woollen cap that only covers your head.
5. Socks (3 pairs)
Apart from two sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks. Sports socks give you cushioning plus warmth. Again the mantra is to wear synthetic socks or at least a synthetic blend. Cotton socks soak in water and sweat. They are very hard to dry.
As for woollen socks, they help you to keep warm and snug in the night. If you cannot get woolen socks, wearing two sports socks serves the purpose as well.
Trekkers are often confused about whether they need to get a headlamp or a handheld torch. You need to get a headlamp because it leaves your hands free to do other activities. On the Gaumukh Tapovan trek you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.
| Buying tip: Ensure your headlamp covers a wider area and is not too focused as a single beam. On a trek, your headlamp must help you see around you as much as ahead of you.
7. Trekking pole (a pair)
Trekking poles give you stability and balance. They reduce your energy consumption by almost 40%. On the Gaumukh Tapovan trek there are steep ascents and descents. A pair of trekking poles will make the difference between a comfortable and a strenuous trek. In India we tend to use a single trekking pole. However, two trekking poles give you greater stability and balance. They also increase your walking pace.
| Rental: Imported side-locking trekking poles are available on rent on the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
On a trek, the weather can change quickly. A bright sunny day can turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. Carry a poncho or a rain jacket to tackle this. A poncho is a big rain cover with openings for your arms and your head. It is extremely effective because it covers both you and your backpack. It is extremely light and weighs next to nothing.
| Pro tip: Rain jackets are more streamlined and less cumbersome but weigh more. Rain pants are really not required. Dry fit trek pants dry quickly even if soaking wet.
| Rental: High grade ponchos are available on rent on the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
9. Rain cover for your backpack
Backpacks are your life. You carry all your dry clothes, your warm gear in your backpack. It is important that your backpack stays dry at all times. Modern backpacks usually come with built in rain-covers. If your back pack does not have a rain-cover, ensure you get a rain cover by either (a) buying a rain cover (b) or cutting a large plastic sheet to the size of your backpack. You can roll the plastic sheet around your backpack and keep it in place with a string or elastic.
| Pro tip: It’s good practice to compartmentalise your clothes, accessories and other things in plastic covers inside your backpack. That way, even if it rains and your backpack gets wet, your things are water-proof inside the backpack.
10. Daypack (20-30 ltrs, optional)
Some trekkers opt to offload their bags to a mule on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer. Your main backpack that carries most of your equipment is accessible only at the campsites.
A daypack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not daypacks. Do not get them.
Other mandatory requirements
1. A toilet kit
Keep your toilet kit light. Carry just the basics — toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, toilet tissue roll, a small moisturiser, lip balm, and a roll-on deodorant. You will not be able to have a bath on the trek, so don’t overload on soaps and shampoos.
| Pro tip: Carry miniature-sized items. You will not need more than that. If you’re travelling in a group, share one toothpaste for all.
| Pro tip: Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Gaumukh Tapovan.
| For women: If you are likely to have your periods on your trek date, don’t worry about it. You can use your pads, tampons or menstrual cups on the trek. There will be toilet tents where you can get changed. Make sure you carry ziplock bags to bring back your menstrual waste. Don’t leave behind any waste in the mountains. Watch this video to learn how to dispose your sanitary waste.
Carry a lunch box, a mug and a spoon. Your lunch box must be leak proof. You are expected to wash your own cutlery. Trekkers often expect Indiahikes to wash their cutlery. When you allow Indiahikes to wash your cutlery, your cutlery becomes part of a mass washing system. You immediately invite germs, bacteria to settle on your cutlery. Incidence of stomach disorders rises exponentially.
| Pro tip: Carry stainless steel cutlery. Avoid fancy high grade plastic cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery is infinitely easier to wash in cold water. Grease is easier to remove and hygiene is at the highest.
| Two 1 litre bottles or a 2 litre hydration pack: Gaumukh Tapovan has many hours of trekking everyday (approximately 6 hours). You need to carry two one litre water bottles to keep yourself hydrated over the distance. If you are used to a hydration pack, then that is ok too. If one among the two bottles is a lightweight thermos, then that helps you to store warm water on a really cold day or for late evenings and early mornings.
| Rental: You could rent lightweight thermos flasks from the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
3. Plastic covers
Carry 3-4 old plastic covers to keep your used clothes. You could use them even for wet clothes. Re-use old plastic bags for this and do not buy new ones.
Personal Medical Kit
Carry these medicines with you, easily accessible at all times. Do not take any medicine unless you have consulted your trek leader.
- Diamox (1 Strip): Be on a course of a half tablet Diamox starting from Delhi every 12 hours (125 mg). Carry on the medication until you descend down to Yamunotri. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek.
- Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is a paracetamol. It helps to tackle fever, mild pain
- Avomine (4 tablets): Carry this especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop one half hour before the start of your road journey.
- Combiflam (5 tablets): Take a combiflam if you get a sudden twist of the leg or a muscle strain. It is a pain reliever. It also contains paracetamol.
- Digene (4 tablets): Take it if you feel the food that you’ve taken is undigested. Alert your trek leader immediately. It could be a sign of AMS.
- ORS (6 packs): Consume a pack of ORS water at least once a day, usually mid day when you are in the middle of your trek. It replenishes essential salts lost while trekking. Tip: It also makes cold water easier to drink.
- Knee Brace (optional): Carry this if you are prone to knee injury or have known issues of knee pain.
Our trek leaders carry a high altitude medical kit with them which also consist of Life Saving Drugs. If there is an emergency our trek leaders know how to tackle it. Meanwhile, contact your trek leader before consuming any of these medicines listed here.
| Pro tip: We find that these medicines by trekkers are rarely used. But you cannot do away with them. At the end of the trek please donate unused medicines to your trek leader. Some of these medicines get distributed to villages on the trek and some are added to the Indiahikes medical kit.
Mandatory Documents to carry
These are documents required for legal purposes by Indiahikes and the forest department. Without any of these, you will not be allowed to trek.
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, passport will do. This is required by the forest department for your identification.
- Disclaimer certificate. This is a legal requirement. Download the PDF, read carefully and sign it. This must be handed over to your Trek Leader during registration at the base camp – Download PDF
- Medical certificate. There are two sections in this. The first part must be filled by a practising doctor. The second part must be filled by you. Without the medical certificate the forest department will not issue permissions for your trek. It is also a requirement by Indiahikes – Download PDF
| Pro tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack. This keeps them from getting wet.
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.
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 this 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 this video 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.
Your trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 7 (Dharali to Dharali). You will be staying at a hotel in Dharali and camping on all days of the trek.
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Dharali on Day 1 to breakfast at Dharali on Day 8 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
- Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
- Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. We provide ice axes, roped, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
- Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.
Your trek fee does not include:
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Dehradun and drop you back from Dharali. This will cost approx. Rs. 6,500 per 5-6 seater vehicle one way. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to and from Dharal.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 2,400 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that last minute offloading will not be possible on this trek.
- Stay at Dehradun on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from inclusions
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 2,400 plus GST of 5%. You would need to inform us via email at least one week prior to the start of trek in case you wish to offload your bags. Last minute offloading on the trail is not allowed since this requires special permission. 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.
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. The trek has gradual climbs and steep descents. As a measure of your fitness, we require you to be able to run at least 5 km in 35 minutes by the time your trek starts. If you are 45 years or above, try to cover 10 km in 90 minutes. This is a minimum requirement.
If you prefer cycling over running, then try to cover 25 km in 60 minutes.
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?
Yes, we will be camping at Tapovan. We have permissions to camp there and all trekkers will be camping there.
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. 2400 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. You would need to inform us via email at least one week prior to the start of trek in case you wish to offload your bags. Last minute offloading on the trail is not allowed since this requires special permission.
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
- What the colours mean
Available:Registration is on.
Waitlist:The group is full, but cancellations are likely to happen. We have 5 waitlist slots for every group. You may register for the group. Waitlist slots confirmation chances are high if booked more than 30 days in advance.
Last 'x' slots:Indicates the number of slots available in a group.
Full:Indicates the group is full. No further slots are likely.
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