“Landscapes have a language of their own, expressing the soul of the things, lofty or humble, which constitute them, from the mighty peaks to the smallest of the tiny flowers hidden in the meadow’s grass.” – Alexandra David Néel
For the complete set of pictures from my trek to Dayara Bugyal in the last week of October 2014, please visit: Dayara Bugyal Trek Pics
Without any doubt, Dayara Bugyal is easily one of the most splendid and mesmerizing trek for a first time trekker. The high altitude alpine meadows (bugyals) of Dayara are considered to be among the finest in India and it just takes a day’s hike to reach this treasure cove. The dazzling view of the Himalayan peaks throughout the trek never ceases to amaze you and the entire trail is stone paved – rendering the use of a guide almost unnecessary. This trek (Barsu – Dayara Bugyal – Barsu) can easily be done in 2 days but I chose to do it in 3 days as I was in no hurry to get back to Delhi this time around!
I had my seat booked well in advance on the New Delhi – Dehradun AC Express train which leaves from New Delhi Railway Station at 11:55 PM every night and reaches Dehradun at about 5:40 in the morning. I was hoping to catch the 6.00 AM bus to Uttarkashi from Dehradun Bus Stand but the train was running 5 hours too late and I only managed to reach Dehradun at 10.30 AM. With the prospect of reaching Barsu (trailhead) before dark almost gone, I decided to take a shared taxi to Uttarkashi. It took roughly 7 hours and a fare of Rs. 250.00 to cover the 210 kms. via Mussoorie, Dhanaulti, Chamba, Chinyalisaur and Dharsu to reach Uttarkashi. There is a small shop near the taxi stand of Uttarkashi stocking on almost all the trekking essentials. Immediately after reaching Uttarkashi, I took another shared taxi for Bhatwari which is approximately 32 kms. drive uphill. Almost the entire stretch of road from Uttarkashi to Barsu was in a deplorable state due to the heavy rains that played havoc in the entire Uttarakhand in the month of June. The sun was long gone and the stars were shining bright by the time I reached Bhatwari. I somehow managed to convince the same driver to take me all the way to Barsu from Bhatwari which is about 13kms further ahead for an additional Rs. 300.
Barsu at a height of 7500 ft, is a tiny sleepy village situated amidst striking surroundings in the district of Uttarkashi and this is where the trek to Dayara Bugyal commences. You can choose to spend the night either at the GMVN Tourist Rest House or the privately owned Dayara Bugyal Resort – both clean and spacious; and operational throughout the year. A small shop stocking very basic groceries is a 5 minute walk towards the inside of the village.
Day 1 – 11 AM (I started late in the day as I didn’t want to rush trough a trek this time and simply wanted to camp on the meadows and soak in the nature’s marvels!)
Barsu – Barnala Bugyal (4 Kms.)
Walk around the artificial pond close to GMVN and take the well defined pathway running along its boundary. Keep treading that path and in 30 minutes, you would enter a thickly wooded forest of Oak and Rhododendrons, but when I did this trek at the end of Autumn, the usual thick canopy of leaves had turned into spindly branches, and the leaves ended up carpeting the entire trail. The mellow sound of crunching leaves beneath your boots never leaves you throughout this trek. The entire trail to Dayara Bugyal is well paved and can easily be figured out on your own. Half an hour into the trek cross the Herbal Garden on your right maintained by the Government, and keep heading into the forest. It is a moderate walk with few steep climbs in between and 45 minutes later you should reach the first ridge from where Barsu can be seen as a miniature. The trail levels out and the first gujjar hut makes its appearance and then few meters ahead there will be 3 more. The trail veers to the right of the hut and gently rises for 5 minutes before the alluring meadows of Barnala begin spreading out in front of you. Keep entering the meadows and spot on your left the pristine Barnala Lake in the shadows of soaring Oak trees.
Barnala Bugyal (8900 feet), hidden in the folds of the forest and the bonus lake of Barnala Tal were inviting me to spend the night there but I couldn’t locate any reliable water source apart from the lake. The only option I saw was a not-so-clean trickle of water flowing from the far end of the lake which I later learnt from the locals is actually the water source throughout the year if camping at Barnala Bugyal. Fortunately, I was carrying some water purifying tablets with me and decided to camp here for the night rather than pushing ahead to Dayara Bugyal. The day can be spent exploring the meadows and marvelling at the sight of Gangotri range of Himalayan Peaks jutting out from behind the army of Oaks.
Day 2: Barnala Bugyal to Dayara Bugyal (3 Kms.)
Take the same trail as yesterday and enter the tree line again. The hike to Dayara Bugyal is steeper than it was yesterday. The trail is still well defined and it climbs in a series of switchbacks gaining height rapidly. As you climb higher, the view of Himalayan Peaks gets clearer and the meadows of Barnala can be seen spread out below you. Couple of hours later, the tree line ends and the acclaimed meadows of Dayara stretches out as far as the eye can see. The sudden and close appearance of the dominating Bandarpoonch Peak and the Black Peak from Dayara Bugyal provides a stunning contrast between the perilous rock and ice faces of the mountains and the delicate grasslands under your feet.
A good place to camp will be the beginning of the meadows near the series of Shepherd huts as the water source is sparse in the bugyals. Camping here can expose you to some heavy winds so pitch your tents securely and try to find a sheltered spot next to the wall of a shepherd hut for example. Pass the huts and the trail splits in two – the trail going left downhill takes you to a village called Raithal while a couple of minutes on the levelled narrow trail going to the right takes you to a tiny stream of water.
The far and wide stretches of the meadows deserve an entire day for exploring. A defined path dissects the meadows from the middle and takes you to various vantage points including the highest point called Bakaria Top for some exquisite 360 degree views of the bugyals, the Gangotri range of peaks and the Bandarpoonch Peak and Black Peak (Kala Nag).
Day 3: Dayara Bugyal – Barsu (7 Kms.)
Backtrack the same trail that you have been taking the last 2 days to reach Barsu. The descent shouldn’t take more than 3 hours. Take a room at the GMVN, Barsu for the night and give your legs a much needed rest.
Every morning at 5.30 AM during weekdays, a shared taxi leaves from Barsu for Uttarkashi to get teachers for the Government school in Barsu. Inform the caretaker at the GMVN a night before if you plan to take that taxi out of Barsu to Uttarkashi so he can wake you up on time. Once at Uttarkashi, there are plenty of shared taxis and buses heading to Dehradun and from thereon to Delhi.