Exploring the Lesser Known Trails of Uttarakhand!

Dronagiri, 3,658m (12,000ft) – is one of those little and ancient villages with a mere population of 70-80 people and just one satellite phone. Far away from the digital world and its advances, this village is very close to mother nature. Dronagiri is the only peak which has lent its name to a village in the vicinity or in India for a matter of fact. Dronagiri also happens to be the same mountain that Lord Hanuman lifted to save Lord Laxman in the Indian mythology, Ramayana. Interesting facts about the mountain, do not end here.  A popular belief among the locals in Dronagiri is that Lord Hanuman, while taking the Sanjeevani mountain with him, accidentally broke the arm of the local deity there. This is the reason why Lord Hanuman is not worshipped in Dronagiri village.

This village and the mountain range was also in news last year as Uttrakhand Government initiated a project to research possibilities of finding the Mrit Sanjeevani in this region. Sanjeevani Booti Research.

With all these fascinating stories in mind, we started to visit this mythical place during our last visit to Valley of Flowers in June 2017. Click to see details of Valley of Flowers Blog here.

The brief itinerary of the trek is as follows:

  • Bangalore to Delhi by Flight
  • Delhi to Dehradun by train
  • Dehradun to Joshimath by car
  • Joshimath to Jumma by car (Around 44 Kms)
  • Jumma to Rwing (3 Km trek, Easy Difficulty).
  • Rwing to Dronagiri Village (8 Km Trek, Moderate Difficulty)
  • Dronagiri Village to Nandi Kund and back (4 Kms trek – one way – Moderate Difficulty)
  • Dronagiri Village to Langatulli to Bhagini Glacier Base Camp and back (12 Kms Trek – one way – Moderate to Tough Difficulty)

Altitude Map:

  • Joshimath – 6,300 Feets (1,920 Meters)
  • Jumma – 7,500 Feets (2,286 Meters)
  • Rwing – 7,850 Feets (2,393 Meters)
  • Dronagiri Village – 12,000 Feets (3,658 Meters)
  • Nandi Kund – Around 13,000 Feets (3,962 Meters)
  • Bhagini Glacier – 14,814 Feets (4,515 Meters)
The Dhauliganga is one of the six source streams of the Ganges river. It meets the Alaknanda River at Vishnuprayag at the base of Joshimath mountain in Uttarakhand.
The 82 km long Dhauliganga rises at an altitude of 5,070 m (16,630 ft) in the Niti Pass in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. At Raini, 25 km (16 mi) from Joshimath, it is joined by the Rishi Ganga river. The Dhauliganga ends at Vishnuprayag when it runs into the Alaknanda River. Tapovan, known for its hot sulfur springs, is situated on the banks of the river.
The bridge at Jumma Village Main road. We did not cross this bridge, but a smaller, wobbly bridge at the bottom of this one (not seen in the pic). This place is very windy and dusty. The bridge wobbles due to this and the enormous sound of Dhauliganga River adds to the thrill of crossing the bridge.
The bridge after trekking around 1 Km towards Rwing. The trail is easy and they are building a road from Jumma to Rwing, which is likely to get completed by next year. Once this is done, the actual trek will start from Rwing.
Snow laden mountain in Dronagiri range. According to the locals, this kind of mountains are called Kuber Bhandar. They believe that Lord of Wealth, Kuber vowed to protect Himalayas wealth in these mountains.
Life on the edge. Himalayan mountains are full of land/rock slides. The huge rocks are just hanging on top of you just by a thin film of mud and smaller rocks. Even a small animal movement can trigger a massive land slide in seconds. This photo shows how lives of people living here are at the mercy of mother nature.
The beautiful and muddy Dhauliganga River.
Our Trail after Rwing Village. Rwing to Dronagiri is an 8km difficult trek with an altitude gain of around 1,400m. It will take around 3-4 hours for a normal trekker to complete this trek. The trail that this trek follows is excitingly adventurous with valley crosses and landslide prone mountain passes.
This route is ecological and has rich diversity in terms of flora and fauna. Halfway through the trek, a house like structure has been built for fellow trekkers to take a break or halt during the night. There is no water resource until you reach around 5-6 kms. While the locals suggest drinking the stream water from the mountains can prove fatal as they also flow through some poisonous plants. It is advisable to carry 2 liters of water each to be on a safer side.
The trail from Rwing to Dronagiri. The path after the halfway mark gets difficult as the terrain now gets steeper and the forest converts into a bed of herbs. There are many ups and downs and we had to walk on rocks, mud, loose soil and through a massive land slide zone. The walking becomes difficult as we climb higher. It is advisable to rest at regular intervals and drink lot of water.
The landslide area. The last leg of the trek which is a two kilometers stretch is the toughest.  As you would gain around 500-600m altitude, you would require a lot of energy and stamina. The difficulty adds on as this entire stretch is a landslide prone area and you literally feel like you’re at the edge of the mountain. This area is very scary to cross as large rocks are hanging above you and walking is difficult due to lose soil, altitude, and fatigue.
The first glimpse of Dronagiri Village from the landslide zone. One side of the mountain has been eroding due to the landslide which occured 7-8 years ago.
Once you cross this stretch, that is when you get the first glimpse of the Dronagiri village. But wait you’ve still not reached the village. To reach the village, you will have to finish the final 700 mts, which is quite possibly the toughest part of the trek, once you cross this, you reach the campsite.
The Dronagiri Village.

The only possible accommodation that we could find at Dronagiri was the Govt approved campsites where 4-5 large tents have been put up. The GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) guesthouse was under renovation when we reached there. The tents were quite big and spacious which can easily accommodate 6-8 people. Though we trekked this route during the pre-monsoons, we were greeted with light drizzles and a 5-degree drop in the temperature.

The campsite and Village on the right. The staff at the campsite was very friendly and caring. The food, black tea, and hot water to drink anytime you ask for should be the highlight alongside very neatly maintained restrooms.
The locals there are warm and friendly and we even got the chance to play a game of cricket with the kids followed by a round of chai and pakoras.
Haathi Parvat. Stunning Views from the Dronagiri Village.
Beautiful views from Dronagiri Village.
The Dronagiri Village. Since we could not visit Nandi Kund or Bhagini Glacier, due to bad weather, we decided to trek around 2-3 kms up to get a better view of the village, valley and nearby mountains.
The trek route to Nandi Kund. Nandi Kund is around 4 Kms tough trek from Dronagiri Village. We could not visit Nandi Kund as it was raining the next day.
Some of the peaks that you get a glimpse of from Dronagiri are: Nandikund (4kms) from where you see an array of mountains at arms stretch. Changa Banga, Hardeval, Trishul, Kalanka and many more. One can trek to Lower and Upper Bagini glaciers (13Kms), Garapak (7Kms) and Dronagiri Parvat base.
Local Sheep. These can be local delicacies as well (on request and at 3-4K price tag). However, its advisable not to consume meat at high altitudes. It can create indigestion, diarrhoea and acute mountain sickness due to dehydration.
The surrouding mountains
Towards Bhagini Glacier
A local shephard
Our staff. Really good people.
Wild herb in the Himalayas
Keeda Jadi. Ophiocordyceps sinensis (formerly known as Cordyceps sinensis and also known as yarsagumba, keera jhar, keeda jadi, keeda ghas or ghaas fafoond in Nepali) is an entomopathogenic fungus (a fungus that grows on insects) found in mountainous regions of Nepal and Tibet. It parasitizes larvae of ghost moths and produces a fruiting body which used to be valued as a herbal remedy.
Another local herb known as “Jamboo Pharan”. This herb is used as a replacement of onions and tomatoes. The herb is dried and coarsely powdered. This powder is used for Dal Tadka, Dry Aloo and any dry curry dish. This exactly tastes like onion and tomatoes! Another wonder of the Himalayas!
There is no other bliss than having hot breakfast in your tent surrounded by mighty mountains.
Haathi, Godha Parvat views from Dronagiri Village Campsite.
Our trek also featured in Deccan Herald on 27th Of July 2017.

We were little disappointed this year as we could not trek to Nandi Kund, Langatolli, Tibetian Cave, Bhagini Glacier and few other near by places. However, we have decided to visit this place again in the month of April 2018. Till then to provide support to the local guides and villagers, we will be helping any tourist who plans to visit this beautiful place. For 2017, the trek will restart from 15th August onwards till 20th Oct.

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