Uttarakhand has been a perpetually fascinating place for travelers and adventure enthusiasts from India and abroad. Situated in the laps of the esteemed Himalayas, the bountiful natural splendor and serenity that it offers have hypnotized travelers since time immemorial. You can never avoid the call of the wild when the Himalayas beckon you.
Uttarakhand is the abode of several adventures and treks, from popular ones accessible around the year to less-beaten trails that only a few dare to venture. The Bagini Glacier trek is one of the popular adventures in the heart of the Nanda Devi National Park in Uttarakhand that connects you to the opulence of nature. It enables you to experience the splendor and enormity of the glacier from up close and personal.
With challenging routes and fluctuating weather, your thrill-seeking heart will be busy beating loud on this adrenaline-fuelled adventure. Hence, this is a much-coveted trek by veteran and expert trekkers alike.
The visual splendor and magnificent sights:
The trek route is replete with vibrant seasonal wildflowers, rough, rugged, and rocky trails, crystal clear streams, and panoramic sceneries of snow-capped mountains- including several spectacular views of some famous peaks such as Hathi Parbat (6727m), Ghodi Parbat (6708m), Dunagiri (7066m), Changa Banga (6864m), Kalanka (6864m), Rishi Parbat (6992m) and such other peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas. There are also lush meadows for you to camp in and alpine lakes that reflect the skies and snow-capped peaks.
The Legend of the Dronagiri Village:
The Garhwal region is also famous for ancient myths and legends- so the lores engulfing these lands will keep you hooked to their charm.
The Dronagiri Village is a place you'll come across in your journey. As legends have it, the Dronagiri village was on the famous hill lifted by Shri Hanuman when he was asked to collect the "Sanjeevani Booti" to resurrect Lord Laxman after the great war of Ramayana. If you're lucky and you happen to visit during a festival, you might see the Rongpa people enact Ramayana up until this scene.
The indigenous tribes and their culture:
According to legends, the place and its people- the Rongpa, go way back in history- specifically back to the time of Ramayana. The Rongpa people of this village are warm and welcoming to all visitors. You can learn about their culture, beliefs, cultivation practices and even get an idea about their everyday lives while interacting with them. One thing that unites everyone in this region is their unfazed belief in everything religious. The region abounds in shrines of ancient Vedic and lesser divinities, all of whom are revered with equal devotion.
Another astounding offering from the ancient settlers of this region is their artistic woolen handicrafts. It not only attracts travelers but also forms a staple part of the livelihood of these ancient indigenous tribes.
Trek route and relevant details:
In 1988, UNESCO attributed the Nanda Devi National Park as a World Heritage Site- so the place now sees many visitors and offers a ton of trekking options. The Bagini Glacier Trek starts from Joshimath, which can be reached from Haridwar. From Joshimath, you head towards the base of the trek in Jumma and enter the Ruing village. The total trek usually lasts for about 8 days on average.
The route gives you a feel of the Everest Base Camp trek without the busy hustle of the place. It leads you to the Changbang Base Camp, an advanced camp for mountaineering expeditions to prepare seasoned mountaineers and pro-trekkers for challenging peaks like Changa Banga and Kalanka.
At an elevation of almost 4516m above sea level, the Bagini Glacier starts near the base of Trishul and Changa Banga Peaks. From the Bagini Glacier trek, you can hike towards the Changa Banga Base Camp if you intend to embark upon the Changbang Base Camp Trek.
Cost, accommodation, and food:
The cost of this trek per person is approximately USD 165 (nearly INR 12,000). Tents are the only accommodation available at these high altitudes. So setting up tents and enjoying camping times at night will be a wholesome activity. Food supplies should be carried alongside and cooked by you or with the help of locals or tour guides.
ATM and Cell phone connectivity:
The last ATM before reaching the Bagini Glacier is in Joshimath. So a substantial amount of cash should be withdrawn for the entire trip. Cell phone connectivity is extremely poor, so it is best to make all the necessary phone calls from Joshimath before venturing on the trek.
The Bagini Glacier Trek is categorized as a moderate to difficult trek. The trek route is often narrow and trailed with rocks and boulders, which makes it slightly challenging. Some steep sections might be intimidating for beginners.
Though the route is safe, concentration is vital, and losing balance can be fatally dangerous. The trek relies heavily on endurance and stamina, so good physical fitness is critical. In addition to the route, the climate also poses a credible threat. Braving the sudden climatic changes in such high-altitudes will require resilience and strong immunity.
The maximum altitude you'll go on this trek is almost 4516m above sea level. You can be prone to high-altitude sickness at that altitude, so it's best to consult your doctor before undertaking this challenge. Additionally, it is always advisable to check your BMI before signing up for this trek. There are also plenty of guides and trek supervisors available to assist you on this trek.
The best time for Bagini Glacier Trek is during the summers- from May to June or autumn- the months of September and October. The skies remain clear during these seasons, and the cold remains bearable- thus giving you the best Bagini Glacier has to offer. Even so, both these seasons have their unique charms.
The weather during the summers of May to June remains pleasant. The temperatures are moderately cold and range between 15-20 degrees Celsius during the day and often drop to -2 degrees Celsius at night time. The cool winds against the shining Himalayas make for a fantastic experience. This is also when you'll see the most flowers blooming, thereby adding a dash of vibrancy to the scenery.
During this season, the Bagini Glacier trail receives generous snowfall, which also reduces accommodation options. This adds a sense of danger and, more so, thrill. Snow-capped peaks and slopes adorned in snowy blankets make for heavenly scenery. Of course, the temperatures drop to about 10-15 degrees Celsius during the day and almost -5 degrees Celsius during the night.
The gear and checklist are the same as any other moderate difficulty high-altitude trek. A comfortable backpack is vital for any trek, and it should come with comfortable shoulder straps and a rain cover.
Since there's a chance of snow, high-ankle waterproof trekking shoes with good grip are recommended. Fleece sweaters, jackets, synthetic and woolen gloves, and socks are ideal as they keep the insects at bay while conserving body heat. Woolens, thermals, quick-dry t-shirts, polyester track pants, poncho, and windproof jackets are also a must. Carry at least 2 pairs of all undergarments.
Sun protection equipment like sunglasses and sun caps are also handy against the UV radiations at such high altitudes. A balaclava also serves as protective headgear, along with neck gaiters. Because you'll be mostly climbing steep trails, a sturdy walking stick is also compulsory. Torches, headlamps, extra batteries, chargers, zip-lock pouches for storing disposables, etc., are also handy.
For toiletries, you should carry lip balms, cold cream, toilet paper rolls/wipes, napkins, biodegradable soap, and a quick-drying towel. A bunch of extra newspapers always come in handy too. A small personal portable medical kit is handy in case of emergencies, illnesses, or minor injuries. Some recommended medicines include ORS packets, medicines for dizziness, upset stomach, headaches, and colds.
At such high altitudes, accommodations are scarce and often unavailable. So you should also carry your own tent, which should be sturdy and must be windproof and rainproof. There are lots of open spaces to camp. Having your own tent enables you to experience the delight and thrill of a trek. You should also have a handy tent repair kit close by. A sleeping mat prevents the cold from the ground. The sleeping bag must be thick and water-resistant so that you remain warm. Carry biodegradable paper bags, plates, cups, newspapers, etc., so you don't litter the area.
The fitness program for this trek is the same as any other high-altitude trek of moderate difficulty. Uphill training regimens coupled with push-ups, sit-ups, jogging or walking, and crunches are ideal. These help to strengthen your leg muscles and build up your core. Core build-up is essential for stamina and endurance during the trek.
Stair-climbing is a very convenient exercise as you can do it in your home itself, provided it's a multi-storeyed building. For a trek of moderate difficulty, it is recommended that you start your fitness program two months before the trek.
You should also focus equally hard on building mental fortitude. Practicing yoga, meditation, and other restorative techniques will make you calm, focused and help you think with a clear head when faced with unprecedented challenges during the trek.
The Bagini Glacier Trek is one of the unique glacial treks in Uttarakhand that makes you embrace the serenity of nature while maneuvering the challenges it poses. With its natural diversity intertwined with the mythological significance, the trek holds a similar allure to adventure enthusiasts and devotees alike.