Harsil is a small and pristine hamlet, near Gangotri. There are very few civilian establishments here. No phone connectivity except for BSNL. But, the beauty is unparalleled. We stopped at this place returning from our Nelang Valley adventure. Even though we had very low expectations, this place just blew us away. 🤯
Harsil was a cantonment for the Indian Army earlier. Even today, there is a sizeable Army presence and very few civilian establishments. Harsil was our designated stop for the night after Nelang (Nelong) valley. Although, we did not cover much distance, we made up for it by using up all the time we had. Soon after exiting Nelang, we were exhausted. But Harsil, with its beauty and cool breeze lifted our spirits in no time.
The local populace is predominantly Buddhist. In this part of Uttarakhand, only in this small village will you see the colorful prayer flags that are so typical of Spiti and Ladakh – regions close to Tibet. Some folks who were displaced in the 1962 war from Nelang, must have settled around here, bringing with them, the Buddhist way of life.
Harsil is around 75 kms away from the nearest big town, Uttarkashi. This road passes through some really scenic places and is an experience in itself.
There are no checkpoints to cover here, it’s all Nature and that too, in its full glory. So walk around and find what interests you. For us, it was food initially. The famous Dimsum guy (momo-wala) was away on vacation, so we could not try that and settled for a plate of Noodles instead. My God! were they spicy. Almost felt like I had chewed on Bhut Jolokia! My face was on fire!! 🥵
A gushing stream and numerous other channels dot the grasslands between Harsil and Bagori. Sky was filled with ominous clouds. Sun did peak out a few times but quickly retreated.
We just sat there, gazing into oblivion thinking about, well, nothing. It is not an easy thing to do – think about nothing. But in the favorable environment of Harsil it was not that difficult. For city dwellers, places like these are nothing short of a heaven! Listening to the music of chirping birds, rustling leaves, flowing streams instead of that godforsaken rapper shouting his lungs out on a FM channel, inhaling the clean, cool, somewhat damp air instead of fumes, takes one into a meditative trance.
There is a waterfall on the outskirts of the village, which shot to limelight thanks to a Bollywood flick Ram Teri Ganga Maili, and is thus referred to as the Mandakini waterfall, after the actress who bathed here.
Speaking of that movie, people will also excitedly show you the post office, which still stands largely unchanged since it appeared in the movie.
It is a major hub for trekkers with treks starting to almost everywhere in every direction from here. Have a look at the direction board we came across.
There is a cluster of 7 lakes nearby, you could trek to. Just as we did. Read our post here.
There are couple of home-stays, you could enquire about them in the main market. No big or fancy hotels here. Yet. Stays are basic but clean. Couple that with the super friendly folks – and it becomes a stay you can never forget.
We even cooked our own food!
To Sum Up
Discussing the last few days over dinner, we realised, how amazing this place, Uttarakhand, becomes during the monsoon months. But sadly, due to the incessant commercialisation of most of the places (including rivers), there are catastrophic consequences of rains. Nature should not be meddled with, ever.
We don’t think about the next few generations and what they will inherit after us. I am sure Nature will have the final word, but the important thing is, will we learn and stop before it’s too late?
Keep Rocking, Keep Roaming!