The Dayara Bugyal Trek was my second high altitude trekking expedition with IndiaHikes and escaping into the glorious Garhwal Himalayas. If you missed out on my Kedarkantha Trek blogpost, take a look here. In comparison to Kedarkantha, trekking to Dayara Bugyal has fewer challenges and is ideal for a beginner. It suits all kind of travellers, nature lovers, photography enthusiasts and people of all ages.
Let me start by telling you the exact meaning of “Bugyal.” It is an alpine meadow but not just any meadow; it’s specific to the state of Uttarakhand. The word ‘bugyal’ comes from a local language; some say it means high-altitude meadow, and others- nature’s own garden. The Dayara Bugyal Trek is one of the best natural places where you get to see high altitude meadows offering a spectacular panoramic view of the Himalayas. If you’re looking for a peaceful trekking and camping experience, Dayara Bugyal has less human presence and it could be your ideal choice.
The trek starts from a small quaint village of Raithal nestled in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. We stayed in the rest houses organised for us by the IndiaHikes team. These GMVN houses overlooked the stunning valley on one side and the snowy mountains on the other. Early next day, we started our ascending climb. In the beginning, we walked through forests of oak and then entered a dense growth of deodars and rhododendrons. About 20 minutes after the start, we reached a clearing, and beyond this the forest became even denser. The trail through the jungle was steep as it goes to the top of a ridge, where the terrain becomes gentle. The trek trails through gorgeous Oak forests, clear water bodies and sprawling grasslands while offering views of specks of huts and grazing sheep, all while overlooking the valley and high-rise mountains. Wild flowers also bloom around streams and brooks that run across the pastures. The hike is a great way to blow off some steam, do something memorable and see some of the best natural sights in the world
On the trek, we saw dogs basking in the sun; cattle grazing happily; langurs hopping and jumping all around; and crows flapping their wings. Once in a while, you may get to hear a loud unfamiliar bird call, if you spot it, it’s probably going to be surprising to see some large birds, beautifully swaying against the stark blue sky, and it’s impossible not to be envious of them!
When we reached the highest campsite of our trek, I was stunned with the view that met my eyes. It was a visual delight to see a panoramic view of the Garhwal Mountain Rage from Dayara, twin ranges of Bandarpoonch, and the Kalang (Black Peak). That’s not all! The Gangotri, Jaonli, Srikanta and Draupadi ka Danda stood massively tall in the background, giving us an adrenaline rush. Do not miss the sight of the sun setting behind the snow-capped peaks, emitting a luminescence as though gold is beautifully sprinkled all over the meadows.
That evening though, we experienced the worst 3 hour-long hailstorm, due to weather imbalances throughout northern India. Snuggled in our tents, the IndiaHikes team pampered us with popcorn and hot tea to keep warm and cozy. The storm left us with a white washed view of the near vicinity and the ice glistening in the moonlight. This, I called the physical embodiment of divinity.
Step out of your tent at night, and you may be able to hear the hoot of owls; the Indian eagle owl and even the Himalayan eagle call the region their home. While I laid down on a flat rock and looked up into the pristine starry night sky, as if a bowl full of glitter, making impressive patterns on a blank canvas. Once in a while I spotted a shooting star and the only wish I wished is if I could live there, in that moment, all my life. My problems seemed pitifully faint and untroubling, realising the insignificance of human life against the scale of the universe and I enjoyed that feeling. “Perhaps we could all do well to remember our tiny place in the Universe. We’re not the center of the world. We’re just billion-year-old stardust, orbiting a burning ball of gas in the middle of empty space with no beginning, and no end.” And that’s the greatness of feeling small and insignificant.
On the next day, our final climb required us to awaken with the sun. We saw endless meadows covered in ice and snow from the previous day and it looked magical as ever. Even though only 8 of us made it (rather, made the decision to risk it) to the Dayara top in the midst of an all-out thunderstorm, we had to descend before the storm caught us in its path. It was extremely challenging but we experienced a surprise snowfall, and everything suddenly became so joyous and exciting!
We were not that high up, but the day was so clear that we could easily count the mountaintops and when we looked down upon the lower hills in the background, large trees covered them. Although the landscape below didn’t seem as green, the setting was still very striking. But when I looked up at these enormous trees while making my way up, it gave me a unique feeling: of being tiny, like dust. It made me realize how much time we waste on useless thoughts when instead, we should be living the present moment to its fullest; irrespective of the surrounding, whether it’s these breathtaking mountain views or our daily lives back in the city. These moments on the trek make you aware of how many details go unnoticed in the rush of city life. I began to notice the minimalist materials we used on the trek yet back at home, there’s so much excess unnecessary resource.
I photograph the landscape naively trying to capture these feelings, so I can never forget but like most people say, photographs never do complete justice to nature, our feelings or our experiences.
Finally, the trek brings you to a highland meadow situated in the Uttarkashi district. We caught the sight of the Barnala Tal lake strewn across the green alpine prairies – in whose reflection the peaks look even more beautiful. The trek ends at the tiny hamlet of Barsu nestled on the Haridwar-Gangotri road, which is 32kms from Uttarkashi. It’s an energising experience with a fun and adventurous journey. For serious trekkers and trekking lovers, exploring the high altitude of Dayara Bugyal makes it exhilarating with steep climbs, snowy trails and a spectacular view of the peaks. Adorned by the enthralling beauty of the Himalayas, where you feel absolutely dwarfed by nature makes it an experience of a lifetime!
Out here in the world you get a taste of true space and distance, a hint of the reality of our existence as a speck of nothing in an incomprehensibly vast and wonderful universe.