Shri Hemkund Sahib is a Sikh pilgrimage site located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The gurudwara is located beside a glacial lake at an altitude of about 4160 meters. It is devoted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh guru and finds mention in Dasam Grantha.
Hemkund lake is surrounded by seven mountain peaks and provided majestic views of the Himalayas from the incredible altitude. During monsoons, the lake overflows with water and gives birth to a stream that reaches Ghangharia and joins the Pushpawati River.
Approximately 150,000 pilgrims are believed to travel to Hemkund Sahib each trekking season. Gurudwara runs langar that provides tea and khichdi to pilgrims upon arriving. Many people choose to help in kitchen proceedings as a part of kar-seva or selfless service.
Best Time to Visit
The trek for Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers starts from the same village Ghangharia. Thus, the best time to visit Shri Hemkund Sahib depends on whether you want to include Valley of Flowers in your plan or not. If you are coming as a pilgrim and just want to visit the gurudwara, you can come anytime during the open months from May to October. Each month will present a different set of challenges which have been detailed below.
If you want to cover Valley of Flowers as well, please refer to our travel guide to decide on the best time:
Hemkund Sahib in Summer
The trek to Hemkund Sahib generally opens by the first week of May. However, the initial few weeks are difficult to trek because of the damage done to the path by the winter season. The glaciers have yet not melted and a path is carved by cutting through them.
- Trek path is unstable and passes through a lot of glaciers
- Trek can be slippery and sudden breaking of glaciers can result in trek getting blocked for a day or two
- Although summers have arrived, it is still quite cold and temperature will plummet when you reach the gurudwara
- Dhabas along the way start opening but they are not yet in full swing. But there will be ample options to take rest and eat
- Hotels in Ghangharia may be limited during the initial weeks as villagers who had migrated to lower areas will take time to come back
Hemkund Sahib in Monsoon
- Be prepared to face a lot of rain! Weather is unpredictable in the mountains and it can rain heavily at any time. You may have to trek in the rain and extremely cold weather of high altitude makes things worse. No matter how many waterproof layers you wear, water will find its way in and wet your clothes. Your shoes will get water-logged for sure.
- If you are interested in seeing flowers along the trek, or want to visit the Valley of Flowers too, this is the best season
- If it rains heavily, the trek may get closed until the weather improves. There might still be a few glaciers left that have not melted. The stream of water coming from them will swell after rainfall and make it difficult to cross
- You most probably will not get a clear view of peaks around the lake because they will be covered in clouds most of the time. Occasionally the clouds may give way to precious glimpses, but they will quickly gather again and block the views
- It is also the most popular season among tourists. So there will be a lot of pilgrims going along with you
Hemkund Sahib in Autumn
By September and early October, the cold will start setting in and landscapes will start showing signs of coming winter
- It can still rain in early September weeks and even snow by late September. The weather changes very quickly and there is no guarantee what you will see in each week
- This season is less popular, so there will be a much fewer number of tourists. If you want to trek in solitude, this is the best time
- Some snowfall can start in early October and temperature can easily drop below zero. Be prepared to brace for extreme cold
Hemkund Sahib in Winter
- Trek is closed from November-April due to heavy snowfall
- Even residents of Ghangharia and Pulna villages migrate to low altitude areas like Joshimath
For more information refer to our comprehensive travel guide that also includes a complete itinerary and stay options: