My personal perspective and more detailed account of the Dayara Bugyal trek experience, and thoughts on why this trek works so well as a first Himalayan trek.
Every trek is beautiful in its own way so it may not be right for me to rate one trek as the best or so. But Dayara Bugyal is no doubt one of my personal favorites that i never get tired of going back to. Over the last 7-8 years i must have gone back there about 20 times.
There is a page dedicated this trek on our website that has reviews from trekkers, pictures and a write up. The link to that is here, but i felt i must write a more personal account about this trek and why i myself love it so much.
I run this company because of my tremendous love and passion towards the Himalayas. The mountains are a whole new world- their haunting and massive presence makes everyone fall in love with them and this is the love that i want to spread. So before i recommend a trek to someone, i have to myself be convinced about that trek.
This is important because the decision for someone to come to the Himalayas, especially someone who has never trekked before is a very big decision. The right experience means love at first sight, but the wrong experience and they may never want to come back again.
Unfortunately, there are very few forums online that give out all characteristics of a trek- the internet is loaded with jargon about a treks beauty and itineraries but rarely do we find a holistic perspective. And while i do alot of this consultation offline with people who speak with me, i felt it was important to list out this holistic perspective after having experienced a trek myself combined with my prior experience in trekking and climbing. Only when i am personally convinced about the whole experience will i further recommend it
Let's begin with some advice on this trek and answers to questions that people have frequently asked me on this trek:
1) How difficult is this trek? It is difficult to standardize difficulty level across trekkers, what I can say is that because the Dayara Bugyal trek has so many route options and possible itinerary customizations, someone looking for a challenge can make it that way, someone who wants to take it easy and not take too much stress can customize it accordingly without missing out on the beauty, someone who wants to initiate his/her children/family to the Himalayas can customize it that way.
2) Is it suitable for children and/or families? Sort of covered this in the earlier point. But, yes I can recommend the Dayara Bugyal trek to children and/or families. However, with certain changes to the itinerary and certain additional precautions so that your children or family are not very exposed to the cold- especially children tend to get exposed much faster than adults so precautions are necessary. Normally those coming to the Himalayas for the first time do not want to exert too much, so I tend to recommend changes to the itinerary that make it a little easier and not so exhausting.
3) Are there other route options? Yes there are. You could begin and end the trek in Barsu, you could begin and end at Raithal. You could begin at one of those and end at the other. For those who want to make this a little longer and difficult, you could begin or end this trek at Sangamchatti- this route is steeper and more challenging and goes through denser forests. There is another route that begins at Raithal and covers Dodital and Darba top but you need significantly longer time to do this route
4) What is a good time to do this trek? May tends to be the most popular time since that is the holiday season, but i personally never enjoyed it during that month. Yatra season starts which means the approach roads have alot of traffic, the lower regions are hot so the drive till Uttar Kashi requires an air conditioned car and you will find other people during the trek. If you don't have a choice then May is fine, but it is ideal if you do this trek in April, June, October and November. July and August till mid September are monsoons so i personally wouldn't recommend it. Sometimes the monsoons extend into September end so to be on the safer side, it is better not to plan it in September at all unless you don't have a choice. December is also good but it is quite cold so I recommend that you don't camp at Dayara Bugyal as the nights will be cold. Jan and Feb will have a lot of snow- could be a good thing or bad
You can find more advice, opinions and reviews of the Dayara Bugyal trek here.
As always, all communication channels are open for any guidance and advice you want for me/my company, happy to help :)
It is generally thought that while the high altitude in the Garhwal Himalayas on Uttarakhand is extremely beautiful- the glaciers, the high concentration of tall mountains and big rivers, it is also broadly agreed that the lower altitude in Garhwal isn't particularly beautiful. Lower altitude in Himachal and Kumaoun is thought to be much more beautiful- more pristine, denser forests and lots of green. For that reason, i never liked the first 1-2 days of my trek in Garhwal. I mostly found it dusty, barren and not too enjoyable.
This perception changed when i first did Dayara Bugyal. Everything from the drive to the trek was pristine all along. The unbroken meadows, hills blanketed with pine and oak, snow mountains towering above them.
The moment we crossed Uttarkashi the drive turned so beautiful. It is a thin road but the hills with their ridges full of character and features, the dense pine trees that blanket them, the Bhagirathi river with its roaring sound. Maneri Dam with its beautiful reservoir and a spot just before where water is gushing down at a very high force. It leaves you awestruck at the force of nature and at the same time at the engineering marvel of us humans to be able to tame such a force.
Day 1 of the drive from Dehradun to Uttarkashi, while mostly uneventful, crosses Mauriana Dhar where you can see almost all the prominent mountains in Garhwal including Bandarpunch, Kalanag and even Nanda Devi on a clear day. Just after that we get our first glimse of the massive Tehri Dam reservoir. The reservoir is about 70 km in length
A time lapse of the Maneri Dam. Notice the rainbow forming at the left. The previous photograph of the dam was clicked in December while this was in April. There is such a big difference in flow as well in the color of the water between the two seasons.
40 km from Uttarkashi at Bhatwari we left the Gangotri Highway and start driving towards Barsu- 10 km away. It is a steep road and we gain altitude very fast. Stop and look around and you start to see snow mountains very early on, quaint little villages, the vast expanse of the Bhagirathi river making its way down. The vantage point is very beautiful but the drive can sometimes also get scary with sharp cliffs.
My trusty old Maruti 800. No matter the terrain or ascent, it made no qualms. I have taken it pretty much everywhere- good roads, bad roads, non existent roads and i can tell you it was nothing short of an SUV in agility :) But oh well it has aged now and i had to finally trade it for a new car a few years back. But i miss you my trusty old friend :) Seen here on the road to Barsu
Education is a challenge in the rural areas of Garhwal. In alot of places kids have to walk 6-7 km to reach their schools. No wonder fitness levels are so high! The locals can run up and down these mountains where any of us mere mortals would struggle. The kids always welcoming with smiles on their faces. They love asking visitors for sweets and chocolates. Carry them in abundance and see their faces light up with joy when you give some to them :)
From Barsu to Dayara Bugyal the trek is about 8 km in total. But unlike some of the other treks where you cover that distance in a day easily, this is pretty steep. So the fit and ready for a challenge trekker in you could choose to do the entire thing in a day, but it gets quite tiring and most people opt for a stop over at Barnala which is 5 km away. Oh man, is it steep. But, equally rewarding. The 5 km trek to Barsu would take me about 2 hours at my fittest, could be a little longer if you are trekking for the first time. The route though- thick forests, blooming Rhododendrons(if done in April or early May), A unique sight to anyone who is used to a concrete jungle to be in the middle of an actual untouched jungle.
The panorama of mountains. From left to right: Mt Srikanth, Mt Jaonli and Mt Draupadi ka Danda. These mountains are visible from the first day of the trek itself. And lined by dense forests
After hours of steep climbing, joy at finally having Barnala in our sight. My father is still such an enthusiastic trekker. If climbing and leading expeditions for students for 30 years wasn't enough, the sight and sounds of mountains still excites him. I wish that at his age i could be even half as fit as him :)
Barnala is a beautiful clearing in the middle of the forest. The slopes are grassy, green and perfectly gradual. They are ideal slopes for skiing in winters, the government has planned to create ski slopes here, i hope they don't because if they do then the charm of the place as a perfect trek for beginners will go. It's just a pleasure to walk for these 15-20 mins.
Places like these bring out the best in us. Starry skies, pristine nature, not another soul in sight and everywhere we look belongs to us, all that and the warmth of the bonfire and conversations automatically become endless :) This is me experimenting with my camera and trying to get a long exposure shot when i did this trek recently with my friends. The shot didn't come out too well though since the image is pretty hazy. But well you get the idea
Trek from Barnala to Dayara Bugyal
Onwards to the top then, the Meadows of Dayara Bugyal that reveal themselves after a steep 3 km climb through dense forests. The first 20 mins are a pleasure to walk. Gradual grassy greens till Barnala lake. The snow mountains slowly revealing more of themselves while we gradually move up and look back to retrace where we came from. A steep 2 km ascent follows till the forests finally clear out revealing the beautiful meadows of Dayara.
Trek from Barnala to Dayara Bugyal Onwards to the top then, the Meadows of Dayara Bugyal that reveal themselves after a steep 3 km climb through dense forests. The first 20 mins are a pleasure to walk. Gradual grassy greens till Barnala lake. The snow mountains slowly revealing more of themselves while we gradually move up and look back to retrace where we came from. A steep 2 km ascent follows till the forests finally clear out revealing the beautiful meadows of Dayara.
On and on we climb, closer and closer towards our destination. We can see that distant opening in the trees that seems like the place we have to reach. One turn and the landscape suddenly changes which signals that you have arrived at Dayara Bugyal. The forests give way to grassy meadown. The majestic Bandarpunch range(21,000 ft+) reveals itself along with grassy ridges and white mountain tops that extend to as far as the eye can go. The feeling that you have simply arrived and there is no need to do anything else except sitting there and admiring the beauty of the place(thoughts of a client who sat there for hours after reaching the top :) )
See what i mean when i say you get the feeling that you have arrived and now you just need to sit and admire. This is at Dayara Bugyal and there are so many hues of colors as far as the eye can see. Dark green leads into light green that turns to brown and then white which then leads to the purest blue that one can find. Simply sit on the grass and admire. The mountain in the background is Mt Bandarpunch(6,316 mt). It is named so because it resembles the tail of a monkey. I am yet to figure out how it resembles one but if you do please do tell us as well :)
Children just love playing in snow. While the night before became less than ideal due to the added cold, come morning with the sun out and the excitement and energy levels completely changed. The kids running around throwing snow balls at each other, sometimes turning snow into masterpieces of art. Even the adults find the inner child in them and join in the fun
Happy faces at Dayara Bugyal
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I am a mountaineer and have been in love with the the Himalayas from before I can remember. At 6 months of age my father, himself a very renowned mountaineer got a bag made for me and carried me with him on my first trek, and the love began. in 2001 I climbed my first 20,000 ft mountain at 12 years of age- a record for its time and have been in love with the Himalayas ever since.