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Shri Hemkund Sahib Itinerary and Travel Guide

Complete guide to Shri Hemkund Sahib with itinerary, road conditions, places to stay and things to carry

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Best Time
May - October

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Approximate Cost
Rs 3,000 - 5,000 per person

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Number of Days
5-6 days


About Shri Hemkund Sahib

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 provides majestic views of the Himalayas from its incredible altitude. During the monsoon season, 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.

Design and construction of the present gurudwara were started in the mid-1960s, after Major General Harkirat Singh's visit. The unique design and construction are acclaimed as marvels, both of which have borne the test of sustainability over the past many decades.

There is also a small Lakshman temple near the gurudwara. It is said Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Ram, regained his health by meditating on the banks of Hemkund after the severe injuries he received in the war. The Lakshman temple is said to have been built at the place where he had meditated.

Best Time to Visit

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. If you want to visit the Valley of Flowers too then July and August are the best months.

Each season presents a different set of challenges which have been detailed in the following article:

Best time to visit Hemkund Sahib
All season guide to Hemkund Sahib Trek and best months to visit the gurudwara

Hemkund Sahib Itinerary

Hemkund Sahib treks start from the village Ghangharia. Overnight stay is not allowed in Gurudwara so you need to stay in a hotel in Ghangharia only. So you can include both Valley of Flowers and the gurudwara in your itinerary.

  • Minimum 5 days are required starting from Haridwar and ending in Haridwar
  • You will need to add one extra day if you want to visit Valley of Flowers too
  • Add at least one buffer day to your plan if you are visiting during July and August. In case the valley closes due to rainfall, you will have an extra day to try the trek again

Summary

Day 1: Haridwar / Dehradun to Joshimath / Govindghat

  • Distance - 281 km, 10 hours drive

Day 2: Govindghat to Ghangharia

  • Distance - 4 km drive and 10 km trek
  • Max Altitude - 3000m
  • Altitude Gain - 1200 m

Day 3: Ghangharia to Hemkund Sahib to Ghangharia

  • Distance - 12 km
  • Max Altitude - 4200 m
  • Altitude Gain - 1200 m

Day 4: Ghangharia to Valley of Flowers to Ghangharia (optional)

  • Distance - 14 km trek
  • Max Altitude - 3500 m
  • Altitude Gain - 500 m

Day 5: Ghangharia to Govindghat / Joshimath

  • Distance - 10 km trek, 4 km drive
  • Min Altitude - 1800 m
  • Altitude Loss - 1200 m

Day 6: Back to Haridwar / Dehradun

  • Distance - 150 km - 281 km drive

Day 1: Haridwar / Dehradun to Joshimath / Govindghat

  • Reach Haridwar from Delhi by Bus or Train. You can also catch a flight to Dehradun and start the journey from there
  • From Haridwar or Dehradun begins approximately 10 hrs drive to Joshimath. Along the way, you will witness some of the holiest confluences in India - Devprayag, Rudraprayag, etc. You will drive along the holy Ganga and Alaknanda and beautiful Himalayan valleys will greet you on every turn
  • There are ample dhabas and restaurants along the way to have breakfast and lunch
  • You can stop at Joshimath where stay options are better. But the next day you will need a mode of transport to reach Govindghat. Ultimately trek starts from Govindghat
  • Hotels are available in Govidghat too, so you can reach there directly on the first day. Keep in mind that during peak season hotel availability can be a problem because a lot of tourists visit the Valley of Flowers. Booking rooms beforehand is highly recommended

Road Conditions

  • Roads are generally good. But the construction of Char Dham Highway is underway. So, you may face road closures in many places. These are generally cleared within 15-30 mins

Day 2: Govindghat to Ghangharia

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Altitude Gain
1828m to 3050m

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Trekking Distance
10 km

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Difficulty
Easy - Moderate

  • Private vehicles and taxis are not allowed beyond Govindghat
  • You can take a local taxi to Pulna village which is about 4 km from Govindghat. You can also choose to trek to Pulna village if you are confident of your stamina
  • All vehicles stop at Pulna. From here, the trek to Ghangharia starts
  • Trek to Ghangharia is 9 km approximately and will take 5 - 6 hours, depending on your speed
  • The trek is beautiful and you will get jaw-dropping views of the valley throughout the trek
  • There are numerous shops selling all kinds of packaged food, water, tea, paranthas, etc. You can take as many breaks as you like because time is not an issue
  • Please keep the trek clean and use dustbins to throw waste wrappers and water bottles
  • Helicopter service is available from Govindghat to Ghangharia
  • Mules are also available from Pulna till Ghangharia
  • If you start very early morning around 3 AM or 4 AM, you can directly aim to visit the Gurudwara and return to Govindghat by evening. This way you can save an entire day. But such an attempt will be difficult and quite exhausting

Difficulty and Trek Condition

  • Trek is 9 km long with a path well laid out with stones and clearly marked boundaries
  • The first half of the trek is fairly easy while the other half is a little steep
  • You can easily complete the trek by taking timely breaks and keep pushing yourself
Helicopter service is available from Govindghat to Ghangharia
Helicopter service is available from Govindghat to Ghangharia [Credits]

Day 3: Ghangharia to Hemkund Sahib to Ghangharia

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Altitude Gain
3050m to 4160m

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Trekking Distance
12 km

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Difficulty
Moderate - Difficult

  • Start early at 7 AM Β as the gurudwara will start closing around 12 PM and the latest you can stay there is till 2 PM. If you start too late, you might not be able to eat at langar or get to see gurudwara from inside
  • There are dhabas at every 1 km where you can take some rest and have tea. Water will easily be available here
  • No ticket is required on this path
  • Toilets have been provided at many places
  • Once you reach the gurudwara, enjoy steaming hot tea and khichdi

Difficulty and Trek Condition

  • Trek to Hemkund Sahib is around 6 km but is a steep climb throughout. You can see that altitude gain is approximately 1200m in just a 6 km trek.
  • It will take 4-5 hours to reach the gurudwara depending on your speed
  • The path is wide and well laid out
  • With altitude gain, the temperature will also drop significantly. At gurdwara, it will be really cold, so take a spare jacket with you
  • There is a risk of Acute Mountain Sickness due to high altitude. So, keep yourself hydrated, keep eating something and take frequent rests. Don't push yourself too hard. If you are hit by AMS, take a Dimox listed in the What to Carry section below
  • Mules service is available on this trek. They charge somewhere around Rs 500 but can charge more depending on the demand

Day 4: Ghangharia to Valley of Flowers to Ghangharia (optional)

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Altitude Gain
3050m to 3500m

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Trekking Distance
14 km

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Difficulty
Easy

Blue Poppy
Blue Poppy
  • Going to Valley of Flowers is optional but highly recommended since you have come this far
  • Start early at around 7 AM so that you get ample time to spend in the valley. There is a check-post about 1 km from Ghangharia where you need to get entry tickets. It is better to reach here early as getting tickets can take time if there are a lot of people
  • The ticket costs Rs 150 for Indians and Rs 600 for foreign nationals
  • You will start seeing flowers along the path as soon as the trek starts
  • Try to spot the Bhoj Patra tree whose bark was used in ancient times to write Vedas and other holy texts
  • Soon you will cross the gushing Pushpawati river whose flow is fierce during the monsoon. Don't risk crossing the bridge if the water level is too high, as it can get even higher when you return
  • You will enter the valley after about a 3-4 km trek. Aim to reach here around 10.30 AM - 11 AM
  • Valley extends for 10 km from here. So, it’s up to you how much you want to explore. Keep in mind that you need to start returning around 2 PM so that you can reach back to check-post around 5 PM anyhow. If you don’t reach by that time, a search party may be sent to find you and you can be fined for being irresponsible
  • Try at least to reach Pushpawati river bed which is around 2 km further after you reach the valley
  • Carry at least two litres of water with you. There are ample streams along the way where you can refill them

Difficulty and Trek Condition

  • Whole trekking path is well laid out
  • Trek is a combination of gradual and steep inclines. From Ghangharia to the Pushpawati river, the trek is fairly easy. After you cross the river, the incline becomes steep and continues as such for 2-3 km
  • Once you reach the valley, the path is mostly plain walking. If you go deeper, there will be a phase when the trekking path will get covered in bushes because not many people come that far. Don't worry, keep going until you reach Pushpawati river bed
  • No mule service is available to the valley. But palki service is available which you can book in Ghangharia

Day 5: Ghangharia to Govindghat / Joshimath

  • You can sleep a little more today and leave around 8 AM
  • Climbing down will be easy and from Pulna you can get a taxi to Govindghat
  • You will be at Govindghat around 12 PM. You can choose to stay in Govindghat or you can find a mode of transport and travel some distance, for example, till Jayalgarh or Srinagar. In this way, the next day you will not have to travel the full 10 hours

Day 6: Back to Haridwar / Dehradun

  • From wherever you stayed, find a transport to reach back to Haridwar or Dehradun. Taxis will charge around Rs 6500 for the whole group and travellers around Rs 9500
  • If you chose to travel some distance the previous day, you can reach Haridwar early during the day and catch a bus or train to reach Delhi the same day
Rain soaked route to Joshimath
Rain-soaked route to Joshimath

How to reach Hemkund Sahib?

1. Reaching Haridwar / Dehradun

  • There are ample trains/buses running from Delhi to Haridwar
  • Ideally, you would want to reach Haridwar in the early morning, because there is a 10 hrs journey ahead. You can catch Nanda Devi Express from New Delhi or a bus from Kashmire Gate ISBT
  • You can also catch a flight to Dehradun. But keep in mind that flights to Dehradun are quite expensive

2. Haridwar to Joshimath / Govindghat

By Bus - Direct bus facility from Haridwar is not available. You first need to reach Rishikesh or Dehradun. So, if you plan to travel by bus, directly reach Rishikesh or Dehradun from Delhi.

  • From Rishikesh / Dehradun, you can find Uttarakhand Transport Corporation (UTC) buses. Buses start from early morning around 4 AM. Try to catch the first bus available so that even after delays en-route, you can reach Joshimath by dusk.
  • Apart from UTC, there is also Garhwal Motor Owners Union Ltd which operates daily bus services from Rishikesh to Joshimath. You can find buses between 4 AM to 8 AM

By Private / Shared Taxi - There are a lot of taxi operators available from Haridwar / Rishikesh / Dehradun.

  • You can book a taxi for the entire journey if you are in a big group. This is recommended mode as you might find it difficult to get transport while returning
  • SUVs will charge around Rs 6500 and travellers around Rs 9500 for the trip. This charge is for the entire taxi and not on a personal basis

4. Govindghat to Ghangharia

  • By Helicopter - Helicopter service is available from Govindghat to Ghangharia. They charge something between Rs 2500 - Rs 3000 for one side journey. However, if you opt for a helicopter, you will reach Ghangharia in 15-20 mins and miss all the fun you will get while trekking
  • By Taxi - Local taxis run from Govindghat to Pulna village. Private vehicles are not allowed after Govindghat
  • By Mule - Mules are available from Pulna to Ghangharia

5. Ghangharia to Hemkund Sahib

Mule service is available till Hemkund Sahib. You will see a lot of mule operators early morning at Ghangharia and you can book them there itself

6. Ghangharia to Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers is a protected area, so mules service is not available. But palki service is available which you can book in Ghangharia


Where to stay in Hemkund Sahib?

Please note that these are very remote places in Uttarakhand. You will get hotels with basic facilities only. If you are looking for a luxurious stay, you are going to be disappointed

July and August are very busy and hotels get booked very fast. Please plan 2-3 months in advance and get your bookings done

Govindghat

Joshimath

Ghangharia

Overnight stay at Hemkund Sahib gurudwara is not allowed. So, you will have to plan your stay in Ghangharia.


Things to Carry

  • Moderate Woolens - Rated for 0 - 5 Β° C
  • Good Raincoats - Rainfall can start anytime with any intensity
  • Waterproof bags or bags with waterproof cover
  • A waterproof pouch for electronics
  • Waterproof trekking shoes. Trekking in sports shoes is not recommended
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Sunglasses - If the weather is clear, the sun can be pretty intense
  • Chocolates and other snacks to munch on while trekking to get energy
  • At least two 1 ltr water bottles. Please bring your own bottles and don’t by mineral water bottles from local shops. Help reduce plastic waste

Medicines

  • Dimox - Acute Mountain Sickness (only take if absolutely necessary)
  • Iodox / Move Spray - For leg pain
  • ORS Powder - Mix it in the water while trekking. It helps in keeping you hydrated
  • Carry enough cash - No ATMs and no online payments work there
  • Trekking Poles - They can be bought in Pulna / Ghangharia too

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