The Journey To And Through The Hidden Valleys Of Uttarakhand

Who doesn’t love the fresh mountain air, and the scenic beauty surrounding the valleys under them?  From Gitanjali Banerjee’s trip, we were able to learn a lot about the three well-kept secrets of Uttarakhand - the Nelang, Naga (not much info about), and Jadung Valleys.

1. Nelong Valley

Nelong Valley in Uttarakhand
Source
Nelang, also spelt as Nelong, is a small village with hilly terrain in the Uttarkashi District.

Border Issues & Tourism Safety Measures

Simultaneously, being located on the Indo-China border has caused problems. For example, although claimed by China and Tibet, India has had control over the village and valley for a long time. Because of the conflict and 1962 Indo-China War, the valley closed down for tourists. But in 2015 the valley was again opened up for tourists to explore but with restrictions. For the safety of the tourists, overnight stays and camping aren't allowed. Compared to Ladakh, the valley is similar because of its snow-capped mountains. And if you're a daredevil looking for an adventure, then this is the right place for you to be. 

How To Reach & Before Reaching

To visit Nelang Valley, you need to apply for a permit from the District Magistrate Office in Uttarkashi. You will also need to provide a fitness certificate stating that you're physically healthy enough to make the trip. Allowed only till Nelang valley, the tourists can travel 25 kilometres into the restricted valleys.
The valleys are open only to Indian tourists because of the sensitive nature of things.

Best Time To Visit

The ideal time to visit Nelong Valley is during the months from May to November. At an elevation of 11,000 feet, Nelong Valley is accessible by road, railway, and air.

Via Road
  • If you're travelling by road, then you need to know that only four-wheelers or SUV vehicles provided by the Forest Department are allowed to ensure safety measures as the area is landslide-prone and rocks keep falling. And as the road is bumpy, it requires a little extra care while driving.
  • If you enjoy exploring and taking trips on your bike, then there’s a bit of sad news because riding bikes are strictly forbidden in the area as it is risky.

Gangotri National Park

Wooden Bridge in Nelong Valley
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Gartang Gali is a wooden bridge in Nelong Valley and on the border of Gangotri National Park. The walking track of 2.5 kilometres was once a trade route between India and Tibet.
Yaks were the chosen mode of transport to cross the bridge and transport goods. Although the bridge is in remains, it is still visible.

Nelong Valley is accessible from Bhairon Ghati, which is a small area in Uttarkashi where the Jadh Ganga and Bhagirathi river coincide. Bhairon Ghati is at a distance of 24 kilometres from Nelang Valley.

Famous Attractions

Located somewhere in the North-East direction and a little away from the Nelang post is a famous temple devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Forbidden by the locals to go to the temple, tourists get to hear stories about how other people who have gone there and not come back. Even some Army Jawans posted there have gone missing.

Highlights

If you love trekking, then you can also trek to Sangla Valley from Nelong. And if you're an advanced level trekker, then you can trek to Badrinath taking the Neela Panni route. The route to Badrinath is around 80 kilometres. Considered a holy destination, Badrinath is famous for the Badrinath Temple.

2. Jadung Valley

Jadung Valley
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Jadung valley is the last village in line. It helped carry out trade between China and India. But during the Chinese aggression, the people of Jadung village had to move to Dunda. 

Food, Woolens & Shelter

Dunda is a small area in Uttarkashi. On Gitanjali's trip, she discovered that Dunda delivers on some mouth-watering momos, and the women also sell hand-made woollens to support their families. So Gitanjali suggested that if you're passing by the village of Dunda, you should buy a shawl, sweater or coat. It will not only keep you warm but also promote their hard work and help them earn their share of income. Gitanjali says,

"On my visit to Jadung, I must have seen 70-80 houses with beautiful wooden carvings and intricate details. That makes you wonder how creativity can be found in even the smallest of places. Also, these people stay in harsh conditions and lack of amenities, but they still manage to live life with joy and contentment". 

A Village Get-Together

She also found out from the locals, that the native people of Jadung are only allowed to enter the village once a year to worship their god, Someshwar Devta. Although said to be a colourful affair, it is also excruciating as they come together to pray in the village where they can no longer stay.

On your trip around these valleys, you might get the chance to see a snow leopard, musk deer, brown bear, blue sheep, and a lot of different flora ranging from fir, oak, deodar, and spruce trees.

Highlights 

There is another spot for advance level trekkers to explore. At a distance of around 9 kilometres from Jadung, there is a lake called Janak Taal. The scene is nothing less than our imagination of heaven. Beautiful colours paint the skyline, and the reflection created in the glistening lake is a sight to behold. The only problems are the road conditions and getting permission to trek here.

How To Reach

Hidden Valleys of Uttarakhand
Source

By Road
You can access the valley by road from Dehradun, Haridwar, and Rishikesh. On reaching Bhairon Ghati, the Forest Department arranges transport to the valley. 

By Train
Haridwar and Rishikesh are the nearest railway stops. From either of the railway stations, you can take a taxi to Bhairon Ghati located a few kilometres from Gangotri Shrine. 

By Air
The nearest airport to Nelang valley is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. At a distance of approximately 315-320 kilometres from the airport. You can cover the rest of the journey to the valley by taxi or local bus.

If you want to visit the valleys, but are unsure because of the restrictions, then Gitanjali suggests doing these:

1. Acquaint yourself with Army personnel – Gitanjali says that to get a permit to explore the valleys, one should try to get acquainted with someone from the army or border patrol. You get to learn a lot from them. In her travel, she did exactly that and got help on attaining the permit.

2. Where Eagles Dare - During her research, Gitanjali discovered the Where Eagles Dare group on Facebook. Situated out of Uttarkashi, Tilak Soni is the leader of a small group of people who love adventure. He has conducted many biking expeditions, of which the most inspiring one is the all-female biking trip across the Old Silk Route - Mana Pass. Currently, Tilak is trying to find a way to conduct the first biking expedition in the Nalang, Naga, and Jadung Valleys.

You can get in touch with Tilak here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/groupwed/. So, get ready to go on an adrenaline-filled journey through the hidden valleys of Uttarakhand.
Note: The process for getting the permit can take a day or up to a week depending on the availability of the District Magistrate.

This post was published by Malvika Kumar

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