This tour takes us on a gentle trek through the wonderful flower meadows and forests of the Har Ki Doon Valley. Along the way we visit small villages and meet some Gujars who come to pasture their buffalo in these lush meadows during the summer season.
Departure: New Delhi
Duration: 13 Days
Best Season: Mid April to Mid November
Trek Grade: Gentle
We start our tour in Mussoorie, a former British hill station famous for its views of the Himalayas. On this tour we also take an exciting rafting trip down the Ganges river and visit some of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. It is an unusual combination of adventure and culture that will give you a wonderful introduction to this delightful part of India.
Day 01: Delhi
You are met in the airport and transferred to your hotel. The day includes sightseeing of New Delhi, the garden city built in 1911 by the British. We visit the Birla Mandir Temple, the President's House, Humayun's Tomb (the forerunner of the Taj Mahal), Qutab Minar and India Gate.
Day 02-03: Mussoorie
Today we take the train to Dehradun and proceed through the green hills to Mussoorie. In the morning we talk a walking tour to "cloud's end" point where we take a picnic lunch. From this vantage point we enjoy the beautiful views afforded by this hill station. To the North-East there are the extensive snow-capped Himalayas, while to the south we can see the Doon valley. After lunch we spend a few hours in Mussoorie town itself where people are free to wander about the main bazaar. In colonial times Mussoorie was known as a place to go for an affair – today the tradition is maintained somewhat as it is a favorite honeymoon destination for Indian couples. Although by western standards the main town is rather "Tivoli-esque", Indians love it and it's a fun place to people watch!
Day 04-09: Trekking in the Har ki Doon Valley
Today we travel by jeep to the start point of our trek in Sankri. Although there is a jeep road completed to Taluka we spend the late afternoon walking this stage to stretch our legs after the drive and to break in our hiking boots! We camp near Taluka amid the wild roses and deodar trees. In the morning we are brought tea or coffee in our tents to start the day properly! After breakfast we continue trekking. We descend to the river valley and continue through the forest. We will probably see some Gujars camping, on their way to the higher pastures. The trail winds through the small village of Gangor, amid wheat and barley fields and apple orchards. We camp just past Seema near a small spring. From Seema we gradually ascend through the fields as we wind our way high above the valley to Har Ki Dun (3510 m) where we camp and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. From Har Ki Dun we go back down the trail but then take the route to Dev Sach (3000m) a large meadow where local Gujar shepherds graze their buffalo. From Dev Sach we take a day trip to Ruinsara Lake. The trail takes us through mixed forest and meadows of flowers as well as some beautiful waterfalls. It is a delightful walk through the pine, fir, and juniper to the Lake, considered sacred by the local villagers. Surrounded by rhododendrons and shadowed by the impressive Swargarohini range it is a perfect picnic spot! We descend to our camp at Dev Sach where we camp overnight. From Dev Sach we make our way back to Taluka where we camp.
Day 10-11: Shivpuri
In the morning we are picked up by our jeeps for the journey to Shivpuri (just outside of Rishikesh). In Shivpuri we stay in a fixed camp along the Ganges River. Each tent is equipped with two single beds with mattresses, complete bedding, towels, etc. The campsite has western flush style toilets and hot bucket showers; this is camping at its most luxurious! From our camp base we embark upon our half-day rafting trip. No previous rafting experience is necessary. Expert guides and top quality equipment are provided. (Those who choose not to raft can relax at the camp). We also explore the flora and fauna of the region on foot, taking a walking tour to nearby small villages. Later in the afternoon we visit the nearby town of Rishikesh. It is a peaceful town, surrounded by hills and bisected by the Ganges. Often called the "Yoga Capital of the World," Rishikesh gained instant fame as the site where the Beatles came to stay with their guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Ashrams line the river for many kilometers. We visit the Shivananda Ashram, and the Bharat temple, before proceeding to the Triveni Ghat where the aarti is performed at the Ganges at dusk. Each evening at sunset priests perform this river worship ceremony – placing leaf boats loaded with flowers and candles into the river.
Day 12-13: Delhi
We return to Delhi today, traveling by coach and stopping enroute at Haridwar. Haridwar, the spot where the Ganges leaves the mountains and enters the plains, is among the holiest places of pilgrimage in India. This is the place where Brahma greeted Ganga on her descent to earth and where Vishnu left his footprint. Haridwar's waters are doubly sanctified then, and 2 million Hindus visit each year to bathe in the bend of the river known as the Brahmakund, or Brahma's basin. We stop to observe the ritual bathing at Har-ki-Pauri – the sacred ghat that was constructed by King Vikramaditya. It is the most important ghat on the river Ganga, where a holy dip is a must for every devotee. From Haridwar we proceed on to Delhi. Last but not least on our itinerary is a day trip to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. We travel to Agra by Shatabdi train. In Agra we see the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, as well as the magnificent Red Fort. The Taj Mahal was built in 1652 by Emperor Shah Jahan. It took 22 years and 20,000 skilled artisans to complete. The Agra Fort lies across the river Jamuna. It was here that Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan, kept his father under house arrest. One can get a fantastic view of the Taj from the little octagonal tower in the Fort.
Day 14: Delhi
Our tour ends today with breakfast and transfer to the airport for international departure.