Once An Ancient Trade Route Between India & Tibet, Uttarakhand’s Gartang Gali Is An Adventurer’s Haven

The exhilarating Gartang Gali induces the much-needed adrenaline rush

by Tejashee Kashyap
Once An Ancient Trade Route Between India & Tibet, Uttarakhand’s Gartang Gali Is An Adventurer’s Haven

For adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, Uttarakhand offers a treasure trove of experiences. Stretching across rugged terrain, verdant valleys, and lofty peaks, the exhilarating Gartang Gali induces the much-needed adrenaline rush. It challenges the body, tests the spirit, and awakens a sense of wonder.

Into The Heart Of Gartang Gali

The Uttarkashi district’s Gartang Gali was formerly a major trading route connecting Tibet and India. About 150 years ago, the Pathans of Peshawar, now in Pakistan, built this architectural marvel here as a means of exporting commodities along the Nelong Valley. They chipped away at the granite of a nearly vertical cliff to create a 136-meter-long wood-lined stairway. However, the 1962 Indo-China War caused this stairway to become unusable, making it dangerous.

Official reports claim that this man-made wonder is the same route that Austrian climber Heinrich Harrer took during World War II to get from India to Tibet. After living in Tibet for seven years, he became a friend and advisor to the Dalai Lama. Situated at 3,352 meters (11,000 feet) above sea level, the stairway was recently reconstructed with great care and opened to the public in August 2021, following 59 years of closure. This bridge, which is currently roughly 1.8 meters wide, has been a part of Gangotri National Park since 1989.

From here, the journey unfolds like a tapestry of adventure, each step revealing new vistas and challenges waiting to be conquered.

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The Ascent & Descent

As trekkers venture deeper into the wilderness, they find themselves navigating steep inclines and rocky paths. Yet, with every arduous climb comes a reward beyond compare. The 2.5-kilometre trek through forest trails to Gartang Gali may appear exhausting. But the breathtaking view of the Jadh Ganga River and the verdant, craggy cliffs of Nelong Valley gives a sense of tranquillity. While the walk is described as moderate, it is best to be physically fit for it, as the final section is rather steep and narrow.

Magnificent Deodar (Himalayan cedar) and Kail trees line this forest walk, contributing to its charm. Amidst this rugged terrain lies the true essence of the Gartang Gali trek – its untamed wilderness. Trekkers find themselves traversing dense forests with musk deer, Himalayan black bears and if lucky, even the elusive snow leopard. Additionally, Nelong Valley, which runs parallel to Gartang Gali, is open to visitors from April 15 to November 15.

So, pack your bags, lace up your boots, and set forth on an adventure of a lifetime to Gartang Gali.

Cover image credits: Website/Uttarakhand Tourism