Basking under the glory of nature, Nanda Devi trek is one of the major attractions of Garhwal region in Uttarakhand. It is a trans-Himalayan trek, which embarks from Munsiyari, perched at an altitude of 2290 m. The trek is quite amusing that leads to the higher Himalayan region adorned with mysterious nature’s beauty.
On the way, you will also spot the quaint settlements and the hamlets like Martoli and Rilkot reminding of the rustic lifestyle of mountain folks. These settlements might have roots going back to at least hundred and fifty years, linking to the Indo-Tibetan trade via silk route. The trek, apart from being a paradise for adventure lovers is also a great paradigm for photographers, nature lovers and poets.
Base Camp : Munsiyari
Difficulty : Moderate to Tough Gradient
Highest point of trek : 13,940 ft/4250 m
Nearest Railhead : 217 km
Region : Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand
Starting point of trek : Munsiyari
Day 1 : Munsyari to Lilam
Distance: 14 km
After breakfast at few tea houses that serve snacks and noodles, begin your trip with a vehicle ride till Dhapa. From here commence the actual trekking, with a steep gradient walk of 2 km which can have great toll over your knees. The trail descends to a bridge spanning across the River Gori Ganga to a place, Jimighat. Continue with the trek that now gains altitude, which can be easily completed in 2-3 hours as per your level of fitness, leading to your first stop of the day, Lilam Village (6068ft). You can pitch your tents here and cook your meals or you can eat at tea house and can even ask for permission to make some sleeping arrangements there to save your time and energy. Next you will be heading to Martoli.
Day 2 : Lilam to Bugdiyar
Distance: 15 km , Duration: 6 hours
Begin your second day with an excursion from Lilam to Rilgari also known as Railgari by the locals. The path leading towards Rilgari is through a natural tunnel created by two natural rocks. Make sure that you begin your days expedition in the wee hours of morning to avoid the scorching heat, for the Lilam is located a lower altitude. Soon, while walking on the right of the valley, you will encounter the gushing Gori Ganga. Trudge down 3-4 km along the river through a path formed by boulders to reach Riragiri. Hike for another few kilometers down the track and you will reach an area known as Garam Pani. It is a hot water spring, which mixes with cold water down the river; you can relax here and soak your limbs in the warmth of the water. The further trail leading to Bugdiyar comprises of conifer forests and oak forests weaving path of total 4-5 km. You will reach a Bugdiyar settlement where you will sign in at the customary ITBP hut. Right next to it is a PWD hut, where you can check in if lucky. A tea house just above the PWD hut is another option which offers meals and sweet tea.
Day 3 : Bugdiyar to Martoli via Rilkot
Distance: 20 km , Duration: 8-9 hours
Follow the trail along Gori Ganga to reach a Hindu Temple lying 3 km from Bugdiyar beneath a rock. As the gorge narrows, you will witness several waterfalls and snow bridges, which according to locals exits all around the year. Another 4 km of trek and a meadow will come into view where the trail bifurcates, the higher one for mules and lower one for trekkers. A little ahead lays a tea house run by a jolly Laspa lady and her husband. You can rest for a while, enjoying the sticky sweet tea and biscuits before proceeding for Village Laspa from where you enter a pass called Laspadhura or Laspa Pass. Camp on the meadows of Rilkot adorned with an ITBP hut, a tea stall, horses and sheep feeding at high grounds. After some rest and hearty meal at the tea house, proceed for a steep ascend of about 6 Ð 7 km over a flat yet rocky terrain. Ahead lies a bifurcation with one path leading to Milam Glacier while other towards a grassy plateau of Martoli, take the first path. You will soon reach the village of Tola or Toling and Sundu, from where a path will lead you to Brij Ganga Pass perched at 4700 m going further towards Ralam Village. Martoli is a beautiful place where you will spot some accommodations, one of them also has a satellite phone which works only on clear days.
Day 4 : Rest and explore Martoli
Martoli is a beautiful deserted village situated at an altitude of 11,250 ft. You need to rest for the day and get acclimated with the area for the forth coming days of trek that are quite challenging and tiring. The view offered here is spectacular and you may also visit Nanda Devi Temple on the Martoli Peak. The place is perfect for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts and if you get lucky, you may also get glimpse of Trisuli Peak far away in the Milam Glacier area.
Day 5 : Martoli to Patta
The trail ahead from Martoli is not well laden dotted with mud and rocks. The only animals you will see further are sheep and long haired goats grazing the meadows. You will have a strenuous day with trudging past the birch and rhododendrons and hopping over the soft clumps of elephant grass trying not to slip. The trail will lead you to the river bed where you will be hopping the boulders. Next comes a few slippery snow bridges that you will be crossing while keeping to the right of the valley. Make sure you have strong hold onto the stones of collapsing mud walls while crossing the waterfalls. Finally you arrive at the Patta campsite offering the ready source of water from nearby gushing stream. Pitch your tents and prepare your meals and rest after an extremely exhausting day.
Day 6 : Patta to Bittalgwaar - Nanda Devi Base Camp via Narspanpati
Once again begins, the expedition of previous day of hopping over the boulders, walking the melting bridges etc. The trail ascending up the hill is rickety with a possibility of landslide, water stream flowing down and piles of scree. At this kind of terrain trekking poles are quite useful. Soon, the valley opens up to a wide path. Cross the final snow bridge and you will be in a huge meadow of Narspanpati. You will find sheep and long hair goats grazing the field besides the Kuchela with a birdÕs eye view of Changuchnad Nandakhat peak. The trail now stays along the left of the valley as you ascend the grassy knolls for 4 km on and off along with slope laden with gravel, mud and rocks combination. Now itÕs time to descend and cross the stream while hiking on the high wall to witness Shalang Gaad, marked by the scree wall. Cross the wall via Laspa Village to reach Bittalgwaar. ItÕs time now to pitch your tents and rest early for an early morning excursion and plenty of scenic beauty of peaks ranging from Nandakot to Nandalapak, Nanda Devi East and Kuchela.
Day 7 : Bittalgwaar to Nanda Devi Base Camp to Advance Base Camp
Distance: 4 km , Duration: 3-4 hours
The seventh day comprises easy and leisure walks including boulder hopping. Soon you will reach the advance base camp by traversing the glacial stream and a short climb situated in the shadows of Nanda Devi East. Once you have crossed the rocky terrain, you will encounter a narrow and slippery trail descending steeply down the hill. The landscape around the Nanda Devi East base comprises of gorgeous meadows. After 6 hours of trek, you reach the basin where meadows are barren with rocks, boulders and scree strewn everywhere. Try to locate a boulder 20 ft high at the bottom of the basin where you will cross a stream. From here the climb begins towards the snow clad slopes from the lip of the basin. After hiking of half an hour, you will reach a lovely campsite adorned with pink flowers, with steep snow slopes on left and brown moraine on the right. For cooking, there is a cave type structure; however, lack of water source serves as a huge problem. Water is available only at the bottom of the basin from the stream. As the sun sets, it gets chilly but not dark. The sky strewn with stars and moon twinkles perfectly for the photographers.
Day 8 : Advance Base Camp to Narspanpati
On eighth day you will be crossing the terminal moraine while heading down to the lower grounds of Naspanpati. Slowly and gradually descend to the dry river bed where the various streams meet. Make sure you take a look back at least once to absorb the beauty of the Nanda Devi East adorned with avalanches and pristine snow showers all covered under the layer of clouds. The weather there is unpredictable with clouds bringing on and off the dull gray outlook to the surroundings. Now you will arrive at the grave yard where stay rests several adventurous spirits with their quest to mark the two peaks. Keep trudging along the trail and soon you will arrive at the grazing lands of Naspanpati in about 3 hours of time span. You will spot several sheep grazing the ground making it a view worth to capture. Some of them along with shepherdÕs dogs may follow you and be friendly. ItÕs time to pitch the tents for the night after a roaring bonfire.
Day 9 : Narspanpati to Martoli
Distance: 23 km
The ninth day marks the retreat from the grazing ground of Narspanpati to the village of Martoli. Trek along the left of the valley until to reach down to an ice bridge formed across a stream and crosses to the right. Martoli lies about 23 km from Narspanpati, which is quite a long trek for one day. After traversing the river bed, you will be crossing the mud wall, ultimately leading to Patta situated in a clearing along a flowing river making for a goof campsite. Soon you will be ascending higher towards stretch strewn with purple rhododendrons called Rapta. The site is beautiful and leads to an abandoned village of Lwanl, which is a good sign of proximity to Martoli. You can rest here for a while to rejuvenate your energy levels. It is by late evening that you will reach your destination of the day, where you will be served the delicious meals and a goodnight sleep.
Day 10 : Rest at Martoli
It is advised to rest for the day after a long and tiring adventurous journey up till now. Enjoy the beauty of the nature all around which is a treat to the eyes.
Day 11 : Martoli to Bughdiyar
Today we are off to Rilkot first, where you will spot the ruins of the deserted old village built on a hill side. The surroundings offers a picturesque landscape with horses grazing the ground while some resting. A meal at restaurant at the hill side is like a luxury after so many days of camping. The place is a perfect for photographers to click some great shots. After a good rest get going towards the final destination of the day, Bughdiyar via a tea house right below the Lhaspa Village. The trail may be a bit challenging owing to difficult turns and bad condition due to rainfall. You will reach Bughdiyar by evening.
Day 12 : Bughdiyar to Munsiyari via Lilam
The final day of the trek is a one long and tiring day where you are finally headed to Munsiyari via a village of Lilam. A stiff climb marks the beginning of the trek leading to Jimighat. The ascent becomes easier owing to trail well formed with regular trekking taking the route. Make sure you do stop at Lilam for long and soon you will reach Munsiyari where vehicles await to take you to your lodgings. Have rest after a wonderful trek and relish the warm and delicious food.