Grand Himalayan Adventure At The Bagini Glacier, Uttarakhand, India

There is a thin line of separation between adventure and craziness and a real vagabond and a good trekker knows this limit. The thrill lies in knowing this boundary yet attempting to test one’s limits thereby redefining this line of separation resulting in expansion of one’s adventurous space. Our trek to the Bagini Glacier in the Uttarakhand region of India was indeed one such experience. The summit was hosted by Grand Adventures India in May 2015 and was led by Rajender Singh (Raju), the Managing Director of Grand Adventures India. The 12 day event was an amalgam of fun, adventure and wilderness.

Towards The Bagini Glacier With Mr. Rajender Singh
The Bagini Glacier trek was approximately 8 day event which included travel from Haridwar to Jyotirmath (lately Joshimath), Joshimath to Bagini Glacier via. halts/camps at Jumma, Ruing and Dronagiri villages and back to Haridwar via Joshimath. The 12 day of expedition includes rail travel from Mumbai to Haridwar via. New Delhi. There are several rail and road options available to reach Haridwar from New Delhi and back. Several trek organizers provide packages from Haridwar to Haridwar. Our decision to trek with the ever enthusiastic team of Grand Adventures led by Raju undoubtedly turned out to be the best decision. Our excursion team included a team of 8 novice trekkers, 2 cooks, 4 helpers and 6 mules to carry our material and supplies.  

Journey from Haridwar to Jyotirmath (Joshimath), Uttarakhand

Although the journey towards Haridwar was a long and tiring one, the mesmerizing view of the mountains and the curvy roads kept us awake and alert. This 9 hour journey made us realize that we were actually traversing through the land chosen by the Gods. We felt the sense of accomplishment as we crossed each milestone of our this journey viz. Rushikesh, Rudraprayag, Srinagar, Karnaprayag, Devprayag, Pipalkoti etc. Watching several small teams queuing for river rafting at the river in Rushikesh was a beautiful experience. All these small towns were well established across the river flowing down from the various Himalayan peaks and we were quite aware of the fact that reaching Joshimath would be just the beginning of our adventurous climb of the Gadvaal Himalayan ranges.

Jyotirmath got it’s modern name viz. Joshimath from the Indian Army men. This is the last town where you could buy supplies and equipments needed for your trek. Joshimath is believed to be amongst the 4 major maths (institutions of religious teachings) established by Adi Shankaracharya. During my course of stay at Joshimath, I visited the Jyotirmath and witnessed that sanctity of the Kalpavriksha (Immortal Tree) where Adi Shankaracharya is believed to achieve enlightenment. The math today is a home for few Sadhus who take care of an ancient Shankaracharya seat with a deer skin on it. We met one of the Sadhus who encouraged us to donate something for the ashram. Later, we also had a chance to visit the Lord Narsimha temple which is just a 10 minutes walk from the Jyotirmath.

We reached Joshimath early evening and rested at the Birla Guest House, inaugurated by the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1960. The place was one of its kind with a majestic view of the snow capped mountains and various species of flowers waiting to welcome every visitor of the place. After almost 10 hour of our journey, a place like Birla Guest house was all that we longed for to have a hot water bath and a good night’s sleep.

Joshimath to Ruing Village (via. Jumma)

The very next day was the first day of our trek and we started early morning at 7 o’ clock after a quick breakfast and a clean bath. We knew that this would be the only proper bath we could have for another 6 days. The earlier night we spend few hours in buying small yet crucial things that we would need for our trek at Joshimath. The most crucial amongst them was a battery operated torch. We were about to reach a place which was not trespassed by the urban dirt – the place that lacked even basic amenities like electricity.

Joshimath to Jumma village is approx. 45 kms. travel by road. We took a couple of gypsy vehicles that carried our food supplies, clothes, tents, sleeping bags and cooking equipments. I am grateful to our 6 mules who selflessly accompanied us all throught our trek. Their owners, however charged us Rs. 200/- per day for each extra bag. The road to reach Jumma is well built by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) except a few patches that may need some repairs. After reaching Jumma, each one of us got equipped with their shoes, walking sticks and much required high spirits and will power.

Towards Ruing Village: Crossing the Iron Bridge at Jumma Village
The journey from Jumma to Ruing village begins by crossing a big metallic bridge built across the river Bhagirathi (Ganga). The sheer view of this bridge was so adventurous that it was enough to give us a glimpse of the kind of time we were going to have in the next few days. The winds blowing across the bridge was so powerful that it could have easily swept away a toddler if he had attempted to cross it. With much effort and calmness of mind, each one of us was successful to cross this bridge which marked our first accomplishment.

Camping At The Ruing

Jumma bridge adventure was just the beginning and reaching Ruing village was a 3 kms. trek – a steady climb over the mountain offering serene view of the mountains over the horizons. It was 11 o’ clock in the morning and the walk was rather sweaty but was enough to warm up our bodies.

A Breathtaking View from the Ruing Village Camp
Reaching Ruing was one of the memorable experiences we had. Although Ruing was our first camp site, it was the most beautiful places we camped right in the heart of the snow capped mountains, on lush green lawns.

At Ruing: Is That Just a Ray Of Light Or The God Himself!
We had never expected such a beautiful plain grass land to camp amidst the mountains. The glorious view of Mother Nature, the mountains, the sky wide open and the coniferous trees and the cool breeze blowing from the Himalayas was enough to make us fall in love with Ruing.

With The Local Kids Of The Ruing Village
Ruing To Dronagiri Village - 11,800 feet

The next day we got up early and headed towards Dronagiri. The mountain of Dronagiri has a Hindu mythological significance. It is believed that Lord Hanumana, in search of a herb called Sanjeevini Booti, chop lifted the Dronagiri mountain in order to save the life of Lord Laxmana. It is believed that this act of Hanumana was not welcome by the then villagers of Dronagiri and that they even do not pronounce his name after this ancient event. I personally had a word with a couple of Dronagiri villagers and learnt that they have a firm belief in Hanumana and they are not happy with his act. The villagers showed me a cliff they all venerate till date as a mark of respect to Dronagiri Mountain. Although the mountain is far off from the actual village, this cliff which is venerated is an epitome of the Dronagiri Mountain. The actual Dronagiri Mountain is covered by snow since ages and the snow it is wearing dates back to centuries. After a careful glare of the Dronagiri Mountain, it was rather difficult to figure out which part of the mountain was actually chopped off by the Monkey God Hanumana. Amidst such mythological beliefs, most modern people find it interesting to hear such stories and get entertained.

Moving ahead from Dronagiri was another 9 kms. of trekking experience. It was Day 2 of our excursion and we were exhausted after we reached the village of Dronagiri. This trek spanned every aspect of trekking we had every imagined. Walking through rain forests, waterfalls amidst the Mountains, crossing the deepest valleys, crossing risky landslides on the Mountains, walking over uneven and slippery pavements was very much common by now.

The Most Challenging Patch (landslide) At Dronagiri
The riskiest part of the 9 kms. long trek was the patch with landslide. Any uncalculated step would have landed us more than 200 feet down the valley. This patch was landslide prone and any daily attempts by the Public Works Department (PWD) proved futile to fix the path. This was a real challenge esp. for a first time trekker. The fact that there was no other option than to cross the patch gave the push to each one of us. The sense of accomplishment and grand feeling of achievement after overcoming this hurdle cannot be penned down literally.

A Sense of Accomplishment Engulfed Us As We Headed Towards Dronagiri
I could feel the agony and ecstasy on my wife Priya’s face after She successfully completed this hurdle. Being a first time trekker, She certainly deserved due appreciation.

Camping At The Dronagiri - 11,844 feet

Temperature dropped steeply as we moved and gradually climbed our way. Our next camp was Dronagiri. In the month of May, when the rest of the country is quibbling over the soaring heat, we had started adjusting our bodies with the temperature falls and high altitude sickness.

The village of Dronagiri seemed like a deserted village. It was a home for approximately 50-60 families but most of them had left the village to other places. The villagers here stayed for 6 months of the year and after the onset of the rainy season they stay at other places in Chamoli District.

“What under the sun makes you feel come here?”, I was interrogated by a curious villager.

She stated that Dronagiri was her in-laws place and that She had no choice than to stay in the village. The village lacked basic amenities of power supply, transportation, medical facilities and good schools. It is tough to build these facilities over a Mountain this high. I was speechless and was not able to answer her question. Probably, it was an irony that people who enjoy all such amenities feel like visiting such remote places in the name of camping. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the people living here and their generosity when they offered us tea and rice. It was so tough to get food supplies here and a good trekker would never want to steal away their supplies, I thought. The villagers here grew food esp. Rajma and Potatoes for themselves. Step farming was a common mechanism and most of the farmers grew food for themselves and the surplus, if any was sold away. We unanimously found the villagers here to be very friendly and sincere. Thankfully, the urban corruption was far away from their minds and souls.

The Dronagiri Villagers I Spoke With!
We were tired to the extent of falling dead after we reached the Dronagiri camp. A two hour afternoon sleep was much needed to rejuvenate us back in action for the next day adventure. It was end of Day 3 of our camping and the journey was enthralling so far. Nights were very chilly; our lips had already started cracking and our skins had begun tanning.

Majestic View Of The Valley On The Way From Dronagiri To Bagini 
Dronagiri To Bagini Glacier Base Camp – 14,800 feet

The Bagini Glacier Base Camp was our final camp destination. We reached here from Dronagiri the very next morning after a 5 hour long trek. The Bagini camp was right in the middle of the river Bhagirathi (Ganga). 

The Bagini Glacier Excursion Team
The atmosphere here was filled with beautiful flowers, limestone deposits on the river bed and a majestic view of the snow capped mountains all around us. The beautiful glimpses of the wild deer added to the treat from the nature. The high altitude sickness had vanished by now and the cool breeze blowing from the Glacier was enchanting our minds. 

The Bagini Glacier
We camped at the Bagini Base Camp for 2 nights. The second day, we trekked towards the Bagini Glacier. It was summer time and the Glacier was constantly melting down to offer it’s pure water to the river downstream. Rainy season was fast approaching and it was time for the snow to get replenished. We witnessed the snowfall over the Mountain peaks intermittently. The weather changed drastically as we headed towards the Mountain Glacier. Climbing such a risky glacier was no child’s play. It is just then when a true adventurer has to spot the thin line between the thrill and the craze. The craze may lead a true mountaineer to the Summit and may also lead him below an Avalanche buried for years.

Looking Back: Success Is The Time To Review Our Past Mistakes


  1. hi neeraj and priya.nice blog with excellent pictures took me in flashback to our expedition.hope to have a good trek like this with you.MADHAV RAO

  2. Madhav Kaka. Definitely, this post will take us to flashback everytime we stop by. Looking forward for the next big one with you :)

  3. Nice travel story. Can you provide the contact number of the guide? I am also planning for the same trek.