Dayara Bugyal Trek

Dehradun | India
  From  INR 7,499  | From 3 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Dayara Bugyal Trek

When we picture the Himalayas, we form an idea of the lofty mountain peaks. However, the Himalayas are not just about the mountain peaks. They comprise beautiful landscapes like dense forests, alpine lakes, gushing rivers and streams, treacherous glaciers, scenic waterfalls, and picturesque valleys. One of the most stunning displays of landscapes that are common in the Indian Himalayas is the Bugyals. 

These Bugyals are high-altitude alpine meadows, the grasslands amidst mountainous topography. The lush greens spread across the mountains create a vivid work of art that stands out amongst the other topographical features. Imagine a flock of cattle or horses grazing on these fecund meadows, and the artful scenery will be complete. 

In essence, these Bugyals have not just been visually splendid to incite a state of awe for the trekkers and adventurers; they are also crucial for the livelihood of the indigenous tribes of those regions. These tribes are primarily shepherds and cattle-herders by nature, and hence, the Bugyals are the source of their livelihood. 

The Dayara Bugyal is one such scenic alpine pastureland located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Famous for its visual splendor, Dayara Bugyal has been the center of tourist attractions since time immemorial. Suited for beginners because of the ease it offers, the Dayara Bugyal trek has also been attracting adventure pros and photography enthusiasts with its exceptional views. 

The awe-inspiring scenic splendor

The full sweep of the Dayara Bugyal creates a natural canvas that is intense and captivating. At the same time, each fold of the rolling meadows of the Dayara Bugyal trek reveals a fantastic visual feed. From greeting you with astounding views of the nature around to presenting the stretch of abandoned 'chhaani' huts of the shepherds, the Bugyals keep playing with your senses.

Starting at an elevation of 2600 meters and reaching a maximum of 3639 meters above sea level, the alpine meadow is surrounded by dense alpine forests. The expanse of the lush green meadows dotted with cattle and horses grazing paint a wonderful picture.

One of the features of the Dayara Bugyal is that the entirety of the sprawling meadows cannot be viewed at a stretch. The rolling topography creates an air of suspense and thrill and piques your curiosity. The views of the golden-green grass undulating over mounds of hillocks, interspersed with fluffy white sheep during the spring or autumn, are among the many reasons shutterbugs visit the Dayara Bugyal time and again.

Lofty Himalayan peaks jutting out around the Dayara Bugyal

The Dayara Bugyal promises a precious panorama, with towering Himalayan peaks jutting out around the pastureland. You can view Mt. Bandarpoonch (6316 meters) and Mt. Kalanag or the Black Peak (6387 meters) of the Bandarpoonch Massif of the Garhwal Himalayas, popping out above the meadows of the Dayara with their impressive statures.

Along with these two, there are captivating views of other giants of the Gangotri range of the Garhwal Himalayas, namely Mt. Srikantha (6133 meters), Draupadi ka Danda (5771 meters), and Mt. Jaonli (6632 meters). As these names suggest, these mountains have their profound places in ancient Indian mythology and local lores. According to the Dayara Bugyal trek review by eminent photojournalists and travelers, the mountain views from the Dayara are a stunner and lure people from far and wide to visit this place. 

The forestry trail and immense biodiversity

The Dayara Bugyal trek can be done via multiple routes. However, every trail leading to the Dayara is covered with dense vegetation. The alpine forests create an all-encompassing cover that is teeming with biodiversity. The beautiful forests of oak, maple, deodar, and rhododendron are a birdwatcher's paradise. Teeming with rare and resplendent species like the Eurasian Jay, Black-throated Tit, Gray Bushchat, Red-flanked Bluetail, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Scarlet Minivet, Streaked Laughingthrush, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, this trail can help create a compelling portfolio for nature and wildlife photographers. 

Attractive campsites with immersive views

The Dayara Bugyal has several quiet, grassy clearings that give rise to beautiful campsites surrounded by forests. Gui, Barnala, Chiapada, and Nayata are some of the most secluded and attractive campsites that promise superb views of the mountaintops and a glimpse into the surrounding forests. 

Rich culture of the Dayara Bugyal

The Dayara Bugyal is one of the favorite grazing grounds for the cattle of the tribal herdsmen that have inhabited this region for a long time. The Raithal village, which serves as a basecamp for the Dayara Bugyal trek, has a rich history and cultural heritage. One of the unique traditions of this region is followed every year during the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (mid-August) when the shepherds and the cattle who have spent months in the Dayara Bugyal return to their villages before the rains.

Since the Dayara is a melting pot of alpine flora and medicinal herbs during the spring, the villagers believe that their livestock and shepherds become healthy during this period. Their return is celebrated as the 'Butter Festival,' traditionally known as Anduri. Villagers smear each other with buttermilk and paint each other's faces with butter. It is like playing Holi with butter!

Overview of the Dayara Bugyal Trek:

Weather and temperature

The Dayara Bugyal trek in the Uttarkashi district has been one of the favorite destinations for adventure enthusiasts and hikers. The Dayara Bugyal region has four clear seasons- summer, autumn, winter, and spring. However, bouts of precipitation are common from spring to autumn, and so adequate protection is needed.

Summers span from mid-April to June, with a day temperature of 20 degrees Celsius on average while the night temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius.

Bouts of rainfall are common from July to August, lowering the temperature substantially.

Autumn spans from mid-September to mid-October, with pleasant day temperatures of 10-15 degrees Celsius, whereas the nights are nippy. The higher campsites experience temperatures of 1-5 degrees Celsius at night. After November, it becomes perceptibly cooler, and the temperatures start dropping further.

December to January is the winter season, which covers the Bugyals with fresh snow. The air is frosty, and you will feel the chill and sharp bites of the winds. During the day, the sun is out, and the temperature is nearly 8-12 degrees Celsius, whereas sub-zero temperature starts dominating from the evenings.

Spring comes around mid-March. There are patches of snow found around the campsites, whereas the higher campsites are still covered in snow. This season encounters occasional bouts of rainfall and lowers the day temperatures substantially. From 10-15 degrees Celsius during the day, the temperatures at night drop to 1-5 degrees Celsius.

Accommodation and activities in the Dayara Bugyal

Homestays and guest houses are common in the villages leading to the Dayara Bugyal trek. However, when you have reached the scenic Bugyal, camps are the most common sites for accommodation. Hence, camping is one of the most important activities in this trek. Trekking, hiking, and bird-watching are the other activities for which the entire trail is famous. 

Dayara Bugyal Trek cost

The Dayara Bugyal trek cost ranges from USD 100-140 (approximately INR 7500-10,500) per person. The trek cost varies with the tour operator or the travel agency you are traveling with and the inclusions in the packages. However, since the trek is relatively easy and suited for beginners, you can sort out the necessary details on your own and complete the trek within a tighter budget. 

ATM point and cell phone connectivity

You need to carry sufficient cash because that is the primary means of a transaction when you are en-route to the Dayara Bugyal. Cash can be withdrawn at Bhatwari before you reach Raithal, which has the last ATM.

Bhatwari is also the last place where cell phone networks are available. So it is advised to finish all your essential phone calls at Bhatwari because the trail starting from Barsu has limited cell phone connectivity. 

How difficult is the Dayara Bugyal Trek?

Amongst the high-altitude treks in the Himalayas, the Dayara Bugyal trek poses the least risk. It is the perfect trek for beginners and can also be considered a pre-trek before embarking on more challenging and arduous treks. 

Acclimatization is pretty easy, owing to the average height of 3000 meters. The Dayara Bugyal trek distance is just 20 kilometers, and hence, it is not very challenging.

However, there are stretches in this easy-moderate trek that will test your stamina and endurance. Also, winters can test your fitness when you are on your way to the Dayara Top (3639 meters). The climb is quite steep and is covered in snow. If you are not cautious, you might slip and fall, causing grave injuries. 

Best time to visit the Dayara Bugyal Trek:

The Dayara Bugyal trek is one of those rare Himalayan adventures accessible around the year, except during monsoons. The trail remains open for nearly 8 months each year. Let's check out the best time to visit the Dayara Bugyal.

Spring (mid-March to April)

Spring brings freshness to the Bugyals and a hue of greenery amidst receding snow. Although the upper reaches of the Bugyal stay covered under patches of snow, the lower meadows are in bloom with rhododendrons, fresh grass, and tiny alpine flora. 

It is one of the best times to watch nature in contrasting colors- green meadows, white snow, and brightly colored flowers, all together. Canopy of green and brown oaks dominate the trail. The weather is pleasant, except for rainfall bouts, which causes the sun to hide behind the clouds and the temperatures to drop suddenly. It is one of the best times to hear the Himalayan Monal and other birds sing their odes to spring. 

Summer (mid-April to mid-June)

The trek is at its easiest in the summers. The snow has melted, and the entire Bugyal abounds with flowers and greenery. The days are warm and balmy, and night temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius. The views of the surrounding mountains, vegetation, and biodiversity are at their best during this time. Hence, the Dayara during this season experiences the maximum footfall, including families. However, the sudden rains can play a spoilsport at times. 

Autumn (mid-September to mid-October)

It is one of the best times to embark on this trek. Autumn brings clear and crisp views of the surrounding mountains against the backdrop of the Bugyal. The air is washed clean of the haze and clouds of the monsoon and is thick with scents of pine. The temperatures during the day are similar to spring. However, the temperatures at night drop progressively, although there is no trace of snow. The maples have turned fiery red amidst the golden yellow hues of the pastures, calling for incessant clicks of the natural splendor. 

Winter (December to January)

Although the temperatures of the Bugyal start dropping from November, December brings with it the white blanket of snow, covering the vast expanse of the meadows with a singular tone. White dominates the entire landscape and the valley. The pine trees are covered with soft, powdery snow and offer a cheery, Christmas feel to the whole region. Although winters increase the trek difficulty by a notch, the aura ensures that adventure enthusiasts and trekkers enjoy this season highly. It is also an excellent time for winter sports like skiing.

Gear guide and checklist for the trek to Dayara Bugyal:

Since it is a high-altitude trek, you should be adequately prepared with your trekking gear and essentials. 

Apparel

Wearing layers is the mantra of the mountains as you can keep yourself warm and comfortable during temperature drops and take off the extra layers when the temperature increases. Drastic weather changes are common occurrences in the mountains. So, you should be adequately prepared with at least 3 full-sleeve, dry-fit t-shirts, a couple of light fleece jackets and sweaters, a regular padded/shell jacket, a couple of stretchable track pants, etc. 

The weather in the Himalayas is very mercurial. A bright, sunny day might suddenly turn into a downpour. Hence, carrying a lightweight poncho will be highly effective as it not only covers you but your backpack as well.

Footwear

The Dayara Bugyal trek requires sturdy and high-grade trekking shoes with a good grip and incredible ankle support. You must buy/rent hiking shoes with microspikes to handle snow when visiting the Dayara Bugyal during winter.

Mandatory accessories

Without suitable accessories, you might face difficulties during the trek. Hence, you should always carry sunglasses (to block the harmful and intense UV rays from the sun), a suncap (to prevent sunstrokes and headaches and to ensure a consistent trekking performance), a tight-fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove (to conserve body heat), balaclava or woolen cap (to protect your head from the wind chill), a few pairs of woolen and synthetic socks (for adequate cushioning and warmth), a headlamp/handheld torch (when visibility is restricted), and a couple of sturdy trekking poles (for good grip and balance). 

You must carry a few old newspapers, extra batteries, chargers/power banks, 3-4 reusable plastic covers and bags to carry your old clothes, basic cutlery like a lunch box, mug, and spoon, a couple of lightweight water bottles/a hydration pack to keep yourself hydrated during the 3-5 hours of daily treks and dry fruits and energy bars for snacking purposes.

Baggage

Carrying a 40-50 liter backpack is enough for the trek to Dayara Bugyal. If you want to offload your luggage to the porter during the trek, you can carry a 20-30 liter daypack with your essentials, medicines, water bottles, and headlamp. You should take rain cover for these bags. A nice, comfortable sleeping bag can be carried during the winter trek.

Toiletries and hygiene products

Carry essential toiletries and hygiene products, including quick-dry towels, tissues, wet wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, moisturizer, lip balm, chapstick, sunscreen, etc. Women must carry sanitary napkins, tampons, or menstrual cups for menstrual hygiene and a ziplock pouch to store the menstrual waste. 

Medicines and first-aid

Keep a well-stocked first-aid box handy for accidental injuries. Also, carry essential medicines for emergency usage. The basic medicine list comprises Diamox to fight the signs of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), Combiflam to tackle pain and inflammation, paracetamol for mild fever, Avomine for combating motion sickness or nausea, Digene for digestive woes, and ORS to replenish the essential salts lost from your body during the trek. 

Mandatory documents

You need to carry some essential documents for the use of your trekking agency and forest department staff. These include original and multiple photocopies of your government identity proof (Aadhar Card/Voter ID/Passport/Driver's license, etc.) and multiple copies of your photographs. You should also carry a medical certificate attested by a practicing doctor, declaring you fit for the trek. 

Dayara Bugyal trek itinerary:

The Dayara Bugyal trek itinerary is given below in detail for you to partake in this adventure without any shady areas or shortage of information.

  • Day 1: On the first day, you take a cab from Dehradun and drive to Raithal (1800 meters). The 9-hour drive takes you through scenic forest stretches. It is a quaint village in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand and serves as the basecamp for the trek, located 11 km away from Dayara Bugyal. You can spend the night in this village in a guest house/homestay.  Alternatively, you can take a cab and drive to Barsu village, located 12 km away from Dayara Bugyal, which also serves as the basecamp for the trek. 
  • Day 2: On this day, you start after a light breakfast from Raithal village. The trek duration is 4-5 hours, and you will reach the Gui campsite situated at an elevation of approximately 2972 meters. It is a scenic campsite situated in a clearing amidst dense oak and maple forests. You will spend the night here. If you are traveling from Barsu, you need to hike for approximately 5 km to reach Barnala Tal. It is a small and beautiful high-altitude lake situated at around 2440 meters above sea level. The trail ascends gradually through dense oak forests and takes you nearly 4-5 hours to reach the Barnala Tal campsite, where you will spend the night.
  • Day 3: This is an acclimatization day. You start from the Gui campsite and hike 2.5 km for 2-3 hours to reach Chilapada at 3200 meters. However, if you are at Barnala Tal campsite, you can rest for the day and explore the surrounding region without venturing forward.
  • Day 4: From Chilapada, you gradually ascend for the Dayara Top (3639 meters). The trail is a little steep and takes around 3 hours to reach the Dayara Top. From there, you can have immersive views of Mt. Bandarpoonch and Mt. Kalanag. Have your packed lunch there and set out from the Dayara Top by afternoon. Start the descent till Nayata (approximately 3200 meters). The total distance from Chilapada to Nayata via Dayara Top is nearly 8 km and takes about 7 hours.  Alternatively, if you are camping at Barnala Tal, then set out in the morning for Dayara Top. You will ideally reach Dayara Bugyal after a 3-hour ascent by the afternoon. You can have your lunch there and reach Dayara Top. From Dayara Top, start descending to reach your campsite at Barnala Tal to retire for the night.
  • Day 5: Start from Nayata in the morning for Raithal village. The trek distance is 5.5 km, and you will lose altitude for about 3-4 hours till you reach Raithal. Rest at Raithal for the night. If you are starting from the Barnala Tal campsite, you will reach the Barsu village (3048 meters) after crossing dense oak forests through a steep, descending trail for about 2-3 hours. Barsu will be your final stop for the night. 
  • Day 6: Drive back to Dehradun from Raithal or Barsu village. 

Getting fit for Dayara Bugyal:

The Dayara Bugyal trek, like its Himalayan peers, requires you to be physically and mentally fit to ensure a seamless adventure experience.

Physical fitness

Although the Dayara Bugyal trek is easy and does not require intensive mountaineering skills, you need to be appreciably fit to complete it without hiccups. The terrain is well-graded, yet each day you might have to hike for 3 hours on an average, gain and lose elevation constantly, and so you need stamina and endurance. The climb to the Dayara Top and the descent is quite steep, so fitness is a must.

Start preparing for the trek with light aerobics combined with cardiovascular exercises like running, swimming, cycling, stair climbing, etc. Increase their frequency with time. You should also do lightweight training to be in shape and increase your core, back, and lower body strength.

Mental resilience

The trek to Dayara Bugyal is not at all risky. However, any high-altitude adventure might have unprecedented risks for you in-store. Hence, mental fortitude is a must. Fortify your mind with meditation and restorative practices like yoga, which help you stay calm and composed and make lightning-fast decisions with a clear head in case of emergencies.

One of the most famous alpine meadows in all of India, the Dayara Bugyal has been luring tourists and trekkers from all over the world. Being an easy to moderate trek without the fear of risks, people can enjoy to their fullest amidst the beautiful trails to these sprawling high-altitude grasslands.