Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Auli Auli is India's premier destination for winter sports. The first South Asian winter games were held in Auli. The world's highest man made lake is situated here. The water from the lake is used to feed the snow guns located along the slopes which ensure that the slopes have sufficient snow during the peak season even in the case of lower snowfall.

We went to Auli in the summers and it turned out to be a fabulous summer destination as well.

Auli is located in Uttarakhand and is at a distance of nearly 300km from Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun (the nearest airport). The time taken to cover this is around 10 hours. We decided to break our journey and stayed at the GMVN guesthouse in Srinagar, Uttarakhand. The guesthouse makes for a decent and economical option for the overnight stay. Booking for the GMVN guesthouse can be done here

We booked an Innova to pick us up at the airport, overnight stay at Srinagar and next day drop at Auli. We booked this through Garhwal Taxi Service which has its headquarters in Dehradun. We found the service to be good and the charges were most economical of what I could find on the internet. We were charged 8100/- for the above journey. Their website is .

Tip: If you require an Innova for the return journey, make arrangements in advance. There are very few Innovas in Joshimath and based on their schedule, you may not be able to hire one. (We could not get an Innova for the return joruney).

The journey from Srinagar to Auli is very scenic.

Auli has 2 staying options, the GMVN guesthouse and Clifftop Club. GMVN is much cheaper but is at a lower altitude. The views offered by Cliftop are in a league of its own. We had booked our week at Cliftop Club Auli through RCI. [It is the highest RCI resort in the world in terms of altitude].

There are 2 options to reach Clifftop. Drive up to Auli and then take the chairlift or take the cable car from Joshimath. During winters the cable car remains the only option. The last cable from Joshimath leaves at 4:00 in the evening. Therefore you need to plan your arrival at Joshimath very carefully, otherwise you run the risk of being forced to stay in Joshimath.

Inform the hotel of your arrival before getting in to the cable car. They graciously help with loading/unloading of the luggage. Tower 8 of the cable car is the nearest to the hotel. But there are 150+ steps that you need to climb down the tower and a further climb down the hill to reach the resort. This may become a bit strenuous for the aged. One option that we loved was to alight at the last stop of the cable car. (Not much climbing down involved here). And then take a All Terrain Vehile ride (ATV) to the hotel (800 Rs.)

Cliftop has a stunning location with a 270 degree view of the mighty Himalayas. Nanda Devi peak, the second tallest peak in India, is visible from here.

In summmers, trekking is the primary activity here. Our guide for the treks was Baazigar who has a shack just near the steps of the resort. We did the following treks

  • R Point
  • Gorson Meadows
  • Potato Farms
  • Jungle Trek
All the treks are on a gradient which is not too steep and are very easy. My 6 year old son could do them. Of these, Gorson Meadows is the farthest. We hired horses (Rs 500) for the way up and while returning, decided to complete the trek on foot. Baazigar has very good knowledge of the forests around because of which we were able to enjoy the Jungle Trek.

Resort is situated just outside the Nandadevi Biosphere which is a UN World Heritage Site. We saw a number of birds and butterflies, most of which were lifers for us.

Tip: Checkout the moonrise from behind the might Nanda Devi peak.

In front of the hotel is a helipad, beyond which, is the shack owned by Akhilesh. It makes for a great place to have your morning breakfast and evening tea. If you tell him in advance, he can prepare parathas. Also makes noodles, pasta and omellete.

Badrinath is 35 kms from Auli. It is considered to be the most of 4 temples which are part of the Char Dham pilgrimage. Those wanting to visit it can do it as a single day trip. Valley Of Flowers and Hemkund are also near by. You can club your trip to Auli along with these places

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