Bagini Glacier Trek

by Souvik Majumdar

Hardeol and Rishi Pahar
Hardeol(left) and Rishi pahar in Bagini glacier trek; PC: Sohan Bisht

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” – Gail Sheehy.

“We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”

None among us had ever envisaged such a global pandemic that will affect the lives of each and every human being on our planet, our home. But be it a recession or be it a World War whenever Life had been affected, we didn’t give up to the challenges it brought along but fought back with resilience. So in the new normal where we all wanted to refresh, rejuvenate and recharge, what else can be better than to go to an offbeat, pristine and moderate Himalayan trek for a change.

Bagini glacier trek takes you through the wild Himalayan forests and mountain villages, streams, waterfalls, high-altitude grassland, carpets of wild flowers, mud slides, scree and boulders, snow-covered peak views, high altitude lake – Rishikund to the base camps of Dronagiri, Garur, Kalanka and Changabang.

Towards the north of Nanda Devi outer sanctuary, the Bagini Glacier originates below the mountains – Changabang (6,864 m) and Kalanka (6,931 m). It flows down towards north. Then keeping the mountains of Rishi Pahar (6,992 m), Hardeol (7,151 m), and Tirsuli (7,074 m) to the east, it turns westward to be joined by the Dunagiri Glacier flowing down from Dunagiri peak (7,066m). Towards west, it meets the Lampak stream and eventually joins the Dhauli Ganga, north of Jumma Village.

Not just the wide array of peak ranges as mentioned above but this trek provides a panoramic view of Hathi (6,727 m), Ghori (6,708 m), Saf Minal (6,911 m), and Garur (6,268 m) peaks that often make people compare the Changabang Base camp with Everest Base camp without the associated hustle bustle.

Map of Bagini glacier
Map of Bagini glacier

This trek is often considered as an alternative to the more popular Dharansi Pass Trek. Other options associated with this trail are Kanari Khal and Nandikund that can also be opted or done together from the mythological village of Dronagiri.

As mentioned in Skanda Purana and Ramanaya, Lord Hanuman took a part of Dunagiri peak to revive Lord Rama’s brother Laxman looking out for the mythical herb Mrita Sanjeevani booti. The locals don’t revere and worship Hanuman because while doing so he had broken the arm of local deity as it is said.

The Dronagiri village has around 70/80 village houses built with stone but look very ancient and dilapidated. There’s a GMVN rest house, Dronagiri Helipad, a Hospital, Uttaranchal Ayurvedic Nirman Kendra that serve as a research centre for wild medicinal plants. Also a unique thing about this remote alpine village is the presence of solar street lights and existence of a Sat phone that connects it with the outside world. The village also has a Bhumial God Temple. Locals call the snow laden mountain peaks of Dronagiri range as Kuber Bhandars as they believe that Lord of Wealth, Kuber vowed to protect Himalaya’s wealth in these mountains.

To reach the Dronagiri village one needs to start the trek from the village of Jumma (2,200 m). The village of Jumma is on the Joshimath Malari highway and can be reached from Joshimath after 2-3 hours’ car drive. Take a car from Haridwar/Rishikesh/Dehradun and after a scenic drive of 8/9 hours the dreamy town of Joshimath is reached. Joshimath is famous for the shrine of 8th century monk Adi Shankaracharya who worked towards reviving Hinduism. Joshimath is the best place to ration up for the trek as later the alternatives are fewer and costlier. After leaving the motorable road, crossing a steel bridge over Dhauliganga River takes you to the village of Jumma. A 3 km easy walk uphill leads to the Ruing village campsite (2,742 m) from where you can get the first peak views of Hathi and Ghori dotting the Ghangaria and Valley of flowers regions further up north. Here you can camp to acclimatize and stay for the night.

Next day, the trail gets more grueling as it leads up a steep inclined path. Huge glaciers from the Nandikund area have destroyed the old trail. Follow the other route that goes downward. After walking for about 4/5 hours and around 8 km, past Chaza, the trail leads you to the Dronagiri village (3,631 m) where you can camp or choose to stay at GMVN bungalow for the night. Next day the trail again goes past another bridge over the Bagini nala and after walking 3 km for about 3 to 4 hours past Longatulli campsite (3,800 m) and Siam campsite (3,883 m) leads you to the Bagini Lower Base Camp. Walking up further you can reach the Bagini Upper Advanced Base Camp (4,484 m) which is also known as Garur Base Camp (Local Kira Jari pickers’ point). Next day a 4 km trek up through glacial moraines, crevasses and boulders take you to the finale Changabang Base Camp. This place has one of the usual majestic panoramic views that inspire us all while reaching the final destinations of Himalayan treks. The skyline is dotted with six and seven-thousand-meter snow laden peak view all around that leaves you dumb and quenches the thirsty soul. Enjoy enough, take memories and leave nothing but footsteps. After you are filled with a greater joy and realization of our insignificant presence before the mighty yet beautiful nature you can come back treading the same path taken.


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