Harsil Valley, Uttarakhand - seeking solitude in Himalayas
Harsil Valley is a gem I discovered on my way to Gangotri. Solitude, peace, serenity, beauty, culture, hidden from the crowds, this place fulfils all my requirements. I was headed out to a trek to the infamous Kalindi Khal and had a few spare days before the trek. I had planned to acclimatise in Gangotri before I start for the trek. While I was driving from Uttarkashi, 30km before Gangotri, a couple of red-roofed buildings surrounded with deodar trees caught my eye. I took a U-turn, crossed a bridge on the Bhagirathi river to enter into this remote village.
This small hamlet named Harsil at the height of 2620m/7860ft looked marvellous amidst dense deodar trees, and snow covered peaks sneaking a peak through the clouds in the wide, clear blue sky. The hamlet consists of few houses in a cantonment area. There are 9-10 budget to luxury guest houses and a few local dhabas serving North Indian and Garhwali food in Harsil Valley.
There's a story that goes behind a house named "Wilson House" in Harsil. Wilson had abandoned British Army and serendipitously landed in Harsil Valley. He married a local pahadi girl, built a house and settled here. He sold deodar wood by floating them on the river to the plains and minted his own currency and ruled over this part of Uttarakhand. His house was restored to a Forest Rest House.
I walked further down and crossed a stream of purest water I've ever seen in Uttarakhand. I later learnt from the locals that the water is very rich in minerals and digestive enzymes. They advised me to drink the water directly from the river and assured me that I won't gain any weight till I drink that water.
The path further down took me to a small village called Vagori. It consists of traditional Garhwali wooden houses on both the sides of the path.
The village is occupied by the Bhotia tribe (basically from Tibet). The women were seen weaving and knitting in groups, taking care of the household, kids, sheep and farms, while most men played cards throughout the day. I did not zoom camera on their faces as I got a hint that they don't like it, note the lady hiding away behind the pillar in the picture above.
I came across a Buddhist temple in this village.
I was quite fascinated to see the rustic wooden houses and the stone fences. This was the first time I walked in a village in Uttarakhand.
I wish I could spend more time here. While I travel and explore, I keep making a list of places I would like to live in for sometime. Harshil Valley is already added in that list! I hope to live there soon and spend more time exploring this valley.
How to reach Harsil Valley:
The nearest airport is Dehradun and nearest railway station is Haridwar.
Harsil Valley is around 250kms (7-8 hours) from airport/railway station, on the way to Gangotri.
Gangotri is 30km further from Harsil.
Where to stay and eat in Harsil Valley:
There are 9-10 budget to luxury guest houses and a few local dhabas serving North Indian and Garhwali food in Harsil Valley.
Best time to visit Harsil Valley:
April-June and September-October.
Informative write-up... Short & sweet article :)
Love the style of these rustic houses, and particularly the story of Wilson House - gives a new layer to things. It's nice that you are respectful of the local's reticence to be photographed. I still feel like I got a good feel for the place :)
Thank you for sharing! I will visit Nepal and India in the beginig of next year and maybe I will visit this place too. It looks really lovely
Had trekked to this place long back while returning from Gangotri! A pristine beauty!
This is one of the most beautiful places I've seen photos of from India! The green of the trees with the blue of the sky, plus the color of the streams is intense :) The Himalayas are definitely high on our India list. Thanks for sharing!
This is so interesting! I am going to hike in the Himalayas in Apri and love finding out about different villages and places to explore. I am very glad I found your blog too as I believe it will have so much useful information for my future trip! Off to explore now!
What a beautiful area! I loved it in the Himalayas. The views, the fresh air and the exercise. I love drinking fresh stream water too. Thanks for sharing
Hello RL, nice detail n snaps of Harshil valley.Eager to visit d place.
Hey really looks serene and you have given a good sweet writeup! Will Nov last week be good time to visit ??
Hi Medhavi. You are among a lucky few who have been a part of the natural serene environs of Harsil. One can really feel god's existence in Harsil (originally Harsheel - meaning gods rock). And I think the village that you visited is Bagori and not Vaghori. During winters, the villagers shift down the stream about 45 kms to Bhatwari. Probably the access to Bagori and Harsil gets tougher due to snow and frost. The water from river Jalandhari - a tributary to Bhagirathi is really nectar. On my last visit to this paradise, i filled up almost 20 bottles. I still have a bottle remaining in the deep freezer. Best Place in Himalayas - for sure. Thanks
What about Harsil in winter?
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Namaste! I'm Medhavi Davda.
I travel to Evolve..
In Nature, I confide..
I find my calling in the Himalayas..
In the Oceans, I meditate..
A High-Altitude Trekker & PADI certified SCUBA Diver, I love exploring the heights and depths of the planet with my regular doses of mountains and oceans.
Discovering myself & life through nature, adventures, travels, sports and dance has been an addiction since my existence!
Quite fond of the natural & cultural diversity of India, I've travelled extensively in my own country before exploring international destinations.
I had left my 9+ yrs of career in Software Industry in a quest to make a living out of my passions. I packed my basics in my car (gave away the rest) and lived in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months. This invaluable time taught me to experience life from a broader perspective.
I'm currently living in Mumbai to work with an Adventure Travel company as a product manager for Scuba Diving. I continue living a minimalistic life.
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