A walk to remember!
Sattal – a cluster of 7 lakes at varying altitudes near Dharali. The only way to reach them is to climb up the mountain. No motor-able roads here.
These lakes are near Dharali. There is a similarly named place near Nainital too – don’t confuse this one with that. Some of the lakes have dried up over the years due to changing weather patterns, deforestation or maybe neglect. The ones which do survive, are beautiful beyond words. Maybe, the difficult access has kept them safe.
We had a spare day to kill at Harsil. That’s when our local host pitched the idea of Sattal trek to us. It starts from near Dharali, some 2 KMs away from Harsil.
The morning at Harsil was bright and sunny. We finished our breakfast quickly and dashed towards Dharali. Our guide was to carry the lunch and cooking utensils. Unfortunately, we forgot to pick up the ingredients for Tea. Something everyone missed dearly once at the camp site.
It starts off pretty steep. But, trust me, this is just a trailer. It gets steeper in the later parts, specially after crossing the first lake. We were out of breath pretty soon. While our friend and guide was way ahead! Made us realize how healthy we were! Lol! The trek route passes through a beautiful village, some apple plantations, farms etc. It was nice to see the relaxed pace of local life.
The first lake is approx. 3 kms away. The water is so clear you can actually see right down to the lake bed. We enjoyed the view and cool breeze momentarily and then moved on. The real steep section starts after this. At some places, we were hard pressed to find the route and were about to chicken out. Our guide kept motivating us and ensured we do not head back down.
The excruciating climb did not seem to end. When our guide pointed to a distant temple, which was our next pit-stop, we were somewhat relieved.
The second and third lakes are close by. Second one has completely dried up and it’s more of a swamp now. The third one is also on the brink of extinction. There is a temple on one side of this second lake. There are some interesting stories about this temple and various caves on the hill face, some distance away.
The fourth lake is just around the corner from the second lake. By the time we reached the fourth lake it was close to 1 PM. It took us roughly 2-2.5 hours to climb this far. We gained an altitude of approx 1000 ft. during the trek.
Lake number five, six and seven were still some distance away. We were tired, hungry and thirsty. Mission Sattal was aborted at the fourth lake.
We found a cool spot around a tree and just collapsed on the grass! Our guide, meanwhile, built up a small fire to cook Maggie. Though it took some time, it was insanely delicious! Or maybe it was just our hunger pangs. As for the thirst, drank straight from the stream which was feeding the lake. Water was chilled, and what sweetness! Beats our artificially filtered, cooled water any day! Lying there in the green grass was an experience I will cherish for a long time. Unfortunately, soon after lunch, it was time to head back as our destination for the night was Uttarkashi.
The downhill trek was a different beast! We took a different route (a.k.a shortcut) and it was a lot more difficult compared to the climb up! Damn those shortcuts.
Places to stay
The best place to stay for this trek would be either in Dharali or Harsil. Both places have decent accommodation options. But, keep in mind, during the peak season due to the pilgrims visiting Gangotri, availability can be an issue. Try to book beforehand if you are planning to visit between July to September. As for us, we stayed in Harsil, did the trek, and moved to Uttarkashi by the night.
With the trip finally over, the big question that looms over my head now, is, where to next? Haven’t really thought of anything yet, but, the long weekends often tempt me. Maybe, we will return to Sattal someday to go right up to the 7th lake. 🤞
Keep Rocking, Keep Roaming!