India, Offbeat, Photo Essays, Responsible Travel, Uttarakhand
Comments 22

In Photos: The Garhwal Himalayas a Year After The Uttarakhand Floods.

villages India, Garhwal village, Uttarakhand villages

I’ve never travelled in my own backyard. Born and brought up in the valley of Dehradun, I’ve always wondered what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my terrace. And last month, I finally decided to find out. I made my way up to the villages beyond Uttarkashi, and down via Mussoorie, transfixed by the majesty of the Garhwal Himalayas, as much as by the conviction of the locals to move on after the devastating Uttarakhand floods of 2013. I’ll let these pictures tell you their stories.

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1. BY THE RIVER GANGA, I SAT DOWN AND READ
near Rishikesh, imagining how this fercious river must have risen to take down parts of the higher mountains.

Rishikesh photos, ganga photos, rishikesh beach

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2. WIFI, WORK AND THE ROARING GANGA BELOW
at my hideout at Rainforest House, half an hour out of Rishikesh.

Rainforest house Rishikesh

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3. FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE GARHWAL HIMALAYAS
on my journey from Rishikesh towards Uttarkashi. These naturally-terraced mountains, lush green with charming little villages, are nothing like I’ve seen before.

Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand Himalayas

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4. FRESHWATER POOLS MADE BY THE ASI GANGA
in the Garhwal Himalayas, a hike up from the villages beyond Uttarkashi.

Asi Ganga Uttarkashi, Garhwal Himalayas

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5. CATCHING UP ON LIFE
amid these pristine landscapes, with not another soul in sight.

Indian himalayas, Garhwal Himalayas

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6. MEETING AN 80+ YEAR OLD COUPLE
from Kuflon village; she was 11 and he 17 when they got married. They witnessed the grounds shake and the waters rise last year, and took it in their stride. Ganga Singh and his wife still choose to live without electricity (with only a solar lamp), away from their kids, and have much laughter in their lives. Makes you realize how little you need to be happy!

villages India, Garhwal village, Uttarakhand villages

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7. VILLAGES IN THE GARHWAL HIMALAYAS
are small close-knit communities, where everyone knows everyone else and the village gossip. The village of Kuflon, for instance, is home to only 8-9 families, and in times of tragedy, they look out for each other.

Garhwal village, Garhwal, villages in India

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8. SAMPLING LOCALLY GROWN FOOD
like the fern, which grows wild in the forest, takes a trained eye to identify, and tastes delicious!

Garhwal food, Uttarakhand food

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9. MY HOME IN THE MOUNTAINS
at Kuflon; a perfect hideout set up by a couple who gave up their corporate jobs in the cities for the solitude of the Himalayas. They were in Dehradun when the floods hit, and couldn’t make it home for a month and a half because the bridge leading here got washed away.

Uttarakhand Himalayas, Kuflon, Kuflon basics

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10. HANGING OUT BY THE RIVER
with a yoga instructor and new-found friend, down the road from Kuflon, marveling at the sheer intensity of the river that shook the foundation of the might Himalayas. Flash foods have been common in these parts for a long time, but irresponsible pilgrimage tourism has certainly taken its toll on these mountains.

Ganga photos, Garhwal Ganga

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11. A BLANK CANVAS AND THE HIMALAYAS FOR INSPIRATION
; here words almost flow faster than thoughts!

Uttarakhand India, Uttarakhand blogs

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12. THE PRISTINE GANGA FOR COMPANY
on my way down to Landour, near Mussoorie. The winding mountain roads, both via Rishikesh and Mussoorie, have been rebuilt in most parts and work is in progress in the remaining rough patches.

Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand Himalayas

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13. MY ABODE IN THE HEART OF LANDOUR
at La Villa Bethany. It has been restored by a couple to its original glory, and sustains itself almost completely with rainwater harvesting, solar energy and organic farming. It’s the conviction of people like these that gives me faith that our mountains will survive.

Landour, Landour mussoorie, Landour where to stay

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A note on the Uttarakhand floods: The floods of 2013 washed away much in these pretty villages and valleys, and while the damages are still visible, most of the roads and major bridges have been rebuilt and are safe for travelling. The locals are slowly rebuilding their lives, and the best time to travel into Garhwal is now, when tourism can really help restore the local village economies.

The best way to travel from Dehradun / Rishikesh / Mussoorie to Uttarkashi is by the Vishwanath Seva semi-deluxe bus.

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What are (were) your impressions of the Garhwal Himalayas?

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Any contributions to my travel fund (in kind or otherwise) will be highly appreciated!

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ALSO SEE:

In Photos: Majuli Island, Assam
In Photos: Jaisalmer in The Monsoons
In Photos: Bhap Village, Rajasthan

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22 Comments

  1. The book, the pad or the Yoga instructor really add perspective to your images. POV shooting done well.

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  2. emptyrucksack says

    We are heading there in Oct for a month, the parts that you are in seem to have recovered well despite the floods last year. No matter how many times one goes to the Himalayas, you always end up enjoying it.

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  3. Sridevi says

    I love reading your blog, Shivya. They transport me to the places you write about. May you continue to succeed in your ‘discovering self’ venture! Great going! 🙂

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    • I know just what you mean Pete. I hope to go back and stay longer (just need to figure the connectivity part which funds these travels)!

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  4. it’s hard to imagine how this calm river got so ferocious last year…lovely pics Shivya and the idea of reading book there is so good…

    Swati

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    • It really is hard to imagine Swati! Especially when you dip your hands and feet in, and let the cold water wash over you. Glad you liked the pictures.

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  5. Pingback: Jullay from Leh! | The Shooting Star

  6. Lovely post. Stumbled upon your travel blog just a week back.Co incidentally, I am visiting Doon this month and plan to trek in the Garhwal range. Hope to make it worthwhile!

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  7. Pingback: What the Village Folk of Kumaon Taught Me About Life. | The Shooting Star

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