HARSHIL – ESSENCE OF HIMALAYAN VILLAGE
“Let me not sit still but summon my soul to the serenity of this hidden paradise” is exactly what my mind triggered the moment I visited the picturesque village of Harshil. 🙂 🙂 I climbed the zenith of euphoria with the view of towering mountains, the sound of flowing Bhagirathi river soothe my restlessness, abundance of apple orchards and the uncanny roads walked me to a world that existed in silence, beyond the err of urban manipulation. The quaint village of Harshil had everything nature has to bestow and allured me into falling in love with its scenic abundance. I am short of speech in expressing how much I miss being there and opening my arms to its welcoming aura.
Harshil grew and took baby steps of civilization and development under the influence of Frederick Wilson, a British who introduced apple and potato cultivation to the natives. Wilson Mansion still stands tall but empty.
Road Trip, Nothing better
It was the most random but overwhelming plan I ever made during my wanderlust spree. Initially had plans for Kasol road trip but cloud burst high alert diverted the road to Harshil(No Regrets at all!!). The road trip started from Dehradun and each curve on the road had magnificent beauty of nature, I sat in awe filling my appetite with the mesmerising view. I got lucky, Thanks to my dear friend Rajat, so kind of him to accompany me on a road trip to Harshil ( Well!! We are childhood friends with no exchange of vocals till we met in Dehradun after 12 years.)
It is a tedious road trip but worth every effort and hardship. The distance between Dehradun and Harshil is approximately 280kms but driving in hills can be extremely dubious and matter of whim. Reaching Dehradun is quite convenient due to train and bus connectivity (The beautiful city of Dehradun is also the place of Alma Mater! The change of its outlook over these years was tremendous).
From Delhi – I boarded Nanda Devi Express that departs from New Delhi Railway Station at 11.50 pm. Journey time is approximately 5 hours 50 minutes, I reached Dehradun at around 5.45 am and the train runs everyday.
From Dehradun – The good Samaritan volunteered to be my host. We decided to take a road trip to Harshil, my friend planned to drive. Average travel time from Dehradun to Harshil is around 10 hours, mighty roads of Himalayan terrain.
On the way to Harshil
If you are not travelling using your own vehicle it is slightly difficult to reach there. There are very few buses that goes up to Gangotri, you can get down at Harshil which is 30 kms prior Gangotri. Another option is taking up a Sumo and you are lucky if you find co-passengers or else single hire will be quite expensive.
It is a small village amidst the Bhagirathi river and surrounded by Himalayan foothills, but also has Army Cantonment to its credit. The village is built in a colonial pattern with lining up of wooden and stone houses. With the native people maintaining the tranquil, benediction of nature predominately reflected. Harshil, I call it hidden paradise because it is untouched, pristine and less explored narrowing down to only two places for accommodation. I chose to stay in Tourist Rest House – A guest house run by Government under Garhwal Tourism priced between Rs 1800 to 2500 for overnight stay. The place is located on banks of the river; don’t miss on enjoying the view while sipping tea in the backyard. If you want something more homely, check Sunder Homestay which is a little cottage laid beyond apple trees.
You should not miss on these if you are in Harshil
- Sit in the backyard of the guest House (TRS), open yourself to the sound of river, feel the breeze and go catching the feeling beyond rhapsody.
- Take a walk through the village, it is a visual treat. Get pampered by nature – the mountains, electrifying river cutting rocky patches and huge boulders and apple orchards. Take a stroll and cross foot bridges that open you to view of Tibetian prayer flags, there is no moment of visual saturation.
- Keep walking till you reach the heritage Wilson Mansion (Don’t try to trespass, someone will be watching you).
- Take a tour to nearby Tibetan Village of Bagori. My heart melted on sight of beautiful wooden houses neatly lined one after another. Visit the local Monastery. I am a very talkative person, I make friends with every Himalayan face I see. The remote village of Bagori is mesmerising, the enchanting whisper of wood and mountains, the smell of unadulterated humans and picturesque location isn’t what I would barter anything with.
- Walk back to Harshil, have your meal in a local restaurant and head straight to Mukhva, another Himalayan village. Walk past the Army Cantonment, keep walking in an upward climb and there you are at your destination after 3 kms. Although it is a motorable road but I preferred walking to get personal with nature (The waterfall view was gigantic!! I say, it is worth walking when you can but don’t get tempted by the roadside abundance of Marijuana plants).
I always heard tales about faraway Himalayan lands, about people and their lives, the dedication and peace they lead their lives with, the hardship, the resources that fill their hearts but Harshil gave me all. I lived serenity, I breath nature, I saw pride in eyes of Himalayan natives, I learnt things beyond my thoughts and created memories till eternity.It is only 30 kms from Gangotri, don’t miss on visiting this place during your next trip or first visit to Gangotri. It is an incredible bestow of nature.