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NANDA DEVI EAST AND MILAM GLACIER TREK
This moderate trek starts at Munsiyari (2290M), a small beautiful
hamlet with a scenic array of waterfalls and home to the Johari Tribe
who are famed for their ayurvedic medicines and woolen shawls. One gets
breathtaking views of the Panchchuli peaks from here. This trek takes
you to the base of Nanda Devi east peak and to Milam Glacier which
offers great views of Trishuli, Hardeol and Rishi Pahar peaks.
- Unlike most of our treks which are based in the Garhwal region
of Utarakhand, this one takes you to the lofty mountains of the
Kumayun district. The easiest way to get till the base of these
mountains is by taking an overnight train from Old Delhi Railway
station to Kathgodam.
It’s with the early morning mist that you arrive at Kathgodam,
our vehicles will be waiting for you here to take you through a
picturesque drive (covering Almora, Bageshwar, Chowkri and Tejam)
to Munsiyari. You shirk off the journey here by getting a sound
sleep either at a tent or a rest house.
- Most part of the day is spent in getting some paper work ready
to get necessary permits from the local administration. The evenings
however are free for you to see around the very beautiful village.
- From Munsyari, a 10 km drive will take you to Selapani from
where we begin our trail up the hill. This easy 7km walk will take
only 2 ½ hours and you will find yourself in Lilam in good time to
halt at the tiny rest house for the night.
- From Lilam the trail enters a spectacular 25 km long gorge.
Etched into the cliff face above the Gori Ganga, the hillsides above
are covered in dense bamboo thickets and mixed rain forest. After
the junction of the Ralam and Gori Ganga rivers the trek climbs to a
tea shop at Radgari, and then goes to a small rest house at Bugdiar
(2700 m). Here, there is a memorial which laments the loss of life
of villagers and army personals in the avalanche of 1989- Today only
a few houses remain on the edge of a waste land-Perhaps a very
horrid reminder of what nature’s fury can do to civilizations.
Overnight stay in tents/ rest house.
- The valley opens up after climbing quite steeply to a huge
overhanging cliff, which shelters a local deity. The route then
enters progressively drier terrain, but there are two waterfalls of
about 100 m, one of them opposite a tea shop at Mapang, where you
can rest your weary limbs and take in the limited available
refreshments. Further trek uphill brings you to Railkot (3200 m).
- The land is now almost arid and the villages in passing are
nearly deserted till you get to Burphu village which is backed by
the Burphu peak ( 6300 m ). The eastern side of Nanda Devi east
comes in to view here while you reach up to Ghanghar village (3300
m) where only three of the farmers of 60 families remain and the
carefully walled fields below are also deserted. In spite of the
eeriness of this town it is interesting to note the beautifully
carved wooden doors and windows.
- A steep narrow trek leads into the Pachhu valley, dominated by
the north face of Nanda Devi East 35,00m above the Pachhu glacier.
Dwarf rhododendron and birch, with anemones and the Primulas below
line the first section of the trek before it emerges into alpine
meadows below the debris of the glacier itself. Tom Longstaff came
through this valley in his unsuccessful attempt to climb Nanda Devi
East in 1905 before trying the parallel valley to south of Pachhu
via what is now known as Longstaff’s Col. There is a camp site (39,
00 m) 3 km from the base of Nanda Devi with both the Col and the
summit clearly visible; Provided the weather is clear.
- Returning via Ghanghar at Burphu, the trek crosses the Gori
Ganga on a wooden bridge then climbs to the former staging post of
Milam village(3,300 m). Now, this village where we will stop for an
overnight camp was the home of a number of renowned Pundit explorers
and is also the last major settlement before Tibet. However, in
spite of the vicinity to Tibet most villagers here trace their
ancestors to the Rajput clans of the desert state of Rajasthan.
- This excursion (3km: 1 hour) is possible from the Milam village
to the Milam Glacier (4,100 m). The path can be slippery due to
clear ice uncovered by debris from earlier treks and one needs to be
careful while crossing the left bank of this glacier.
The trail passes through meadows dotted with sage, Junioer,
miniature gorse and briar roses high above the terminal moraine. At
the head of the glacier the peaks include Rishi Pahar (6992m),
Hardeol (7151m) and Trishul (7075 m) while the peaks around the
north rim include Kholl (6114m) , Nanda Gond(6315m), Nital Thaur(
6263m) and Nanda Pal (6306m).It is fascinating, just sitting here
and noticing how three distinct tributary glaciers join together to
form this main Milam glacier. After taking a fill of the glaciers we
return to the camp at the village. Warning: one needs to be more
careful of the slippery ice while climbing down.
- We now start tracking back on our earlier steps, starting with
getting back to Railkot from Milam.
- This day is another repeat of our earlier days- Day 5 to be
specific and we return back to Bugdigar today making our way once
more through the deserted village of barely 3 farmer families.
- This day is a repeat of day 4 and we pass once more through the
bamboo thickets and dense rain forests, which we did while climbing
up to Bugdigar.
- We return back to civilization to Munsiyari. Checking preferably
into a guest house/hotel or maybe another camp for reminisce sake as
we make the end of a wonderful and exciting trek.
- The atmosphere while we drive back to Almora from Munsiyari is
saddened by the thought of leaving an enchanting landscape behind.
The early thing to cheer you up are the rare pink-purplish flowers
blossoming on the Cherry Blossom trees around Almora. We take a
break from our long journey by stopping for the night at a hotel at
- The drive to Rishikesh takes about 10 hours. Trip finishes at
arrival at Rishikesh.
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