Auli: Love at first sight
Author: Dr Madhurima Chakraborty.
From the very first moment, Auli enthralls you, it’s heavenly beauty captivates your senses. Locally called Auli Bugyal meaning a meadow. It is a skiing destination located in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal at a height of about 10000 ft. around 15 km from Joshimath. It is a small place comprising around 5 km of gentle ski slopes covered with white powdery snow surrounded by some of the highest snowy peaks in the world – Nanda Devi, Trishul, Mana parwat, Neelkanth. The setting is truly magical.
Auli is about 500 km from Delhi. In the route lies many worth visiting places.
- Haridwar: Pilgrimage destination
- Rishikesh: Yoga capital of the world
- Neelkanth: Mahadev’s Temple (just 32Km from Rishikesh)
- Devprayag: the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river.
- Rudraprayag: Alaknanda and Mandakini river merges here & the diversion of Badrinath and Kedarnath Dham.
Drive through mountains is exhilarating. It is advisable to hire a local vehicle which is readily available at Haridwar or Dehradun since NH58 is slightly tricky to maneuver. When driving from Delhi/Dehradun take a break from your journey at Srinagar (Pauri) or at Rudraprayag for an overnight halt as it will limit the next days driving to Auli to just 5 hours. Though it’s a long drive on a hilly terrain the journey is beautiful and you can see the magnificent Alaknanda river and it’s ‘Prayags’ on the way.
There are total 5 Prayags “Panch Prayags” and you’ll be able to see four of them on the way. 5th Prayag is on the way from Joshimath to Badrinath route. Joshimath is at the base of Auli.
There’s a steep drive of 2 hours which at times is worsened due to heavy snowfall. Be prepared to leave your car at Joshimath and take the cable car from there to Auli which is just 45 min ride. The view from cable car is worth every penny. (the last ride leaves is at 4:30 pm)
View from the cable car
Best time to visit:
December to February is the best time when the slopes are covered with wonderful powdery snow. In February there’s much-awaited skiing festival for which people come to participate and enjoy from far away destinations.
Things to see & do:
Auli is not for the luxury-seeking or lazy traveler and a moderate level of physical fitness is required.
- Learning to ski – There are private freelance instructors from whom you can rent the equipment and learn the basics. Alternatively, GMVN offers 7 – 14-day courses for beginners from Jan to March every year.
- Trekking – If you don’t enjoy skiing like me you can just play in the snow and take in the surroundings and trek to a nearby frozen lake. Enjoy a ride in the chairlift or ski lift over the snow-covered slopes and watch people skiing.
Where to Stay:
Not many options to choose from. There is a Cliff Top Club resort and a GMVN skiing and tourist resort.
View from GMVN
Eateries are limited to restaurants at these 2 hotels.
Joshimath – It is the base to explore places like Badrinath, Ukhimath, Valley of flowers, Hemkund Sahib, Rudrapur and many more unexplored and unspoiled places. It’s a trekkers paradise. Chopta – Another small region of meadows famous for camping and trekking is a 2 – 3 hrs drive from Rudraprayag. It is much known for its temple Tungnath and peak Chandrashila.
- Dress warmly in many layers using caps, gloves, and boots.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes
- Use sunscreen otherwise you may end up with Sunburns
- Drink plenty of water and maintain hydration
The Majestic Mountains
Why go to Auli:
Despite the long journey and the chilly weather, it’s pretty amazing to see snow-covered gentle ski slopes surrounded by mighty Himalayan peaks against a stunning azure blue sky. Not many places in India can give you the feel of a Swiss vacation so next winter forget the beaches and head to Auli.
Pictures courtesy Mr. Sushant Ghatak. (Follow the link for more images)