November 20, 2008

Garhwal: Joshimath

DelhiHaridwarRishikesh –Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Karnaprayag – Nandprayag – Chamoli – Pipalkoti - Joshimath - Auli

Road transport to reach Joshimath is not particularly in good condition. However, as I wrote in my previous post, the scenery of the mountains slopes and the Rivers Alaknanda, Dhauliganga and the other tributaries of The Ganges flowing along the narrow mountain roads more than makes up for the lack of comfort.

The view of the Himalayan mountains from every corner in Joshimath is lovely, and it was pleasant weather on that July afternoon. After roaming around the roads of Joshimath, I settled down to have some snacks and tea at a local teashop. That did give me a bit of tummy ache later which thankfully subsided with a couple of tablets by next morning.

The mountain town of Joshimath (also called Jyotirmath) is a hill station located at an altitude of 6,000 feet in the Chamoli district of Garhwal Division. It is considered as one of the four great "maths" or monasteries established by the great Adi Guru Sri Shankarcharya in the 8th century AD.

Joshimath is the gateway to the ski resort of Auli and resting point for travellers prior to embarking on a journey to Badrinath, Hemkund and the Valley of Flowers. The people of the upper mountains regions of the Himalayas come down to settle in the town of Joshimath when roads are closed during winter when it snows heavily. Joshimath is the winter shrine of Badrinath during the six snowbound winter months in the region.
Mountains as seen from the tea shop

Though I travel with a tentative itinerary, often I do not make concrete plans and hotel reservations. This way I get a chance to be ready for the unexpected and it does often lead to the most unforeseen events during my journey. In Joshimath it was the accommodation I managed to arrange at Auli. I had not made any prior hotel reservation at Joshimath as I was hoping to reach and stay at Auli overnight in case I could reach there before nightfall. Upon making some quick inquiries with the locals, I was pleased to learn that there was enough time to catch the cable car to Auli, 16 kms away from Joshimath.

The cable car ride begins from here

The operators informed me that the ropeway from Joshimath to to Auli is affectionately called Rajjo by the locals and spans a distance of more than 4 kms. I could count up to 10 towers of self-supporting steel structures. It is said to be the longest ropeway in Asia and the ride usually lasts 22 minutes till the eighth tower but I had a ride till the tenth tower as I was delighted to arrange accommodation at the highest point in Auli. A ride in the cable car costs Rs. 500 (about US$10) for a two way ride, and one of the requirements was to inform the authorities in advance of the time of the return ride.
The small strip of road seen leads to Auli

During the cable car ride, it was a fabulous feeling to enjoy the fresh mountain air brushing past my face and it was a feast to the eyes to view the scenery from that height. The route was lined with forests and lush green mountain vegetation. I could imagine how the slope would be in the winter months. It did seem like a perfect haven for adventure lovers. I made up my mind to return there sometime in winter to enjoy some winter sports.

View of a road in Joshimath from cable car

How to Reach Joshimath:

By Air: The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun at a distance of 270 km.
By Rail: Haridwar is the nearest Railway Station to Joshimath, which is at a distance of 260 km connecting to all the major cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Moradabad etc.
By Road: Joshimath is connected by surface network with Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Nainital and Almora.

Recent Travel Posts:


Ravi Kumar said...

aah.. Joshimath.. i m at Mana now. will reach there soon.. Have some fond memories there.. will write bout them... i missed the cable car..since i was short of cash and the ATms didnt work..took the road up on bikes and it was as stunning... visit me.. i have a new post...

ms cute pants said...

You have seen some gorgeous places in India. Thanks for sharing it with us. Not sure if I asked you this before but, what kind of camera do you use?

Zhu said...

I'm sure transportation isn't easy! But the pictures are just amazing... and so green!

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, Rajjo? Cute! Thanks for the nice post...

Priyank said...

Wow wow! I love cable cars and this one looks so fab :) I'm sure you must have thanked Rajjo for offering those splendid views!

Maalie said...

I would love to cycle down the road seen from the cable car :-)

Cuckoo said...

Yayy ! I am back !! And slowly started visiting blogs (1-2 per day) though have been reading all of them thru my reader. SO, I'll comment only here. :)

I don't know what is better... your pictures of the place or your narration.

Scene from cable car looks fabulous. I wonder how many ppl would be going by cable daily. Is it profitable or subsidized ?

You went in a rainy season, don't they close it for sometime ?


God only knows when will I visit this region, till then I have to keep on reading your blog

indicaspecies said...


I can imagine how stunning the road trip must have been.:)

I had a look at your lovely blog. Mana is truly wonderful! I shall be writing about my trek there in due course.

indicaspecies said...

Ms Cute Pants:

You are always welcome C.:)

I feel I haven't seen enough of India. A long way to go!

DSC-P100 Sony Cybershot is what I used while on the Garhwal trip. Recently I bought a new Panasonic FZ18.:)

indicaspecies said...


Thank you for dropping by, as always, and my best wishes for your upcoming travels.:)

indicaspecies said...


Yea, I found it cute and suitable too. Thank you for passing by and reading my post.:)

indicaspecies said...


Rajjo awaits your arrival to Joshimath and Auli.;)

indicaspecies said...


Being a nature lover, I can imagine your enthusiasm. Thank you for dropping by.:)

indicaspecies said...


Yayy!Cuckoo is here..finally! lol

I do not know about the profit there, but was told the cable car is not used as often during the rainy months of July and August as during the other season when tourists flock there. Thanks for dropping by and leaving behind a comment.

indicaspecies said...


You are welcome here always. I hope you get a chance soon.:)

Mridula said...

Hey, I too have been there but I miss all the scenery due to motion sickness! So you liked Auli a lot! Any plans of trekking nearby or you have already done that?

indicaspecies said...


From your blog, I've read about your motion sickness and that's sad!

I loved Auli, and intend to return there sometime. For this trip, from Auli I went to Govindghat and then went trekking to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib.:)

Lakshmi said...


Sorry for dropping in really late..been catching up on yr older posts as well..must say the desire to visit north has strengthened into a new year resolution..I enjoy cable cars, but i too suffer sometimes from motion sickness..are u in india now ?

Anonymous said...

acco at highest point? At the 10th tower?

indicaspecies said...


I don't think apologies are needed. You see how tardy is this response to you, and in a way, not needed too in view of the fact that we have had a lovely conversation over phone. Was a pleasure to interact with you. I hope you get to explore the northern parts of India in 2009.

indicaspecies said...


In a not-too-comfortable room but one that gave an opportunity to enjoy a fabulous dawn/sunrise/morning next day, as my subsequent posts on Auli indicate.

MitZ said...

Hey it was fun reading all the comments and the main description, i had some qts to ask as i will be travelling there in december...

1) I will be reaching Dehradun around 2200 hrs, can i take a cab and have a night journey to Josimath

2) what is the timing for Cable Cars when does the first Cable Car leave from Josimath. ( i think the last 1 leaves at 1630 hrs)

3) Is Cliff top Club a good place to stay in Auli, are there any other good resorts out there.

Awaiting your response.

indicaspecies said...

Hi Mitz,

Thank you for your comment.

1. I am not sure if you would be allowed to take a night journey in such parts of Garhwal by cab. Buses are not allowed to ply in such regions after sunset. The roads are narrow and dangerous and a slight mistake can be fatal. I'd suggest you rest for the night in Dehradun and you could begin the journey to Joshimath as early as at the crack of dawn.

2. As per a chart displayed at Gorson, Auli, the cable car begins the trips at 8 am...and during peak season, makes at least 12 trips by lunch time. I was there in the rainy season (July-August) and it is supposedlly off season then, so it was hardly being used. I recall reading the the cable car operates for upper terminal as late as 6 pm.

3. I am told the Cliff Top is the best place to stay in Auli and in such remote areas, I'd say not to expect more services than what Cliff Top has to offer.

All the best for your trip in December and hope you get to enjoy some skiing then.

- celine

MitZ said...

Hi Celine,
thanks alot for the pormpt response... this has really given me a gr8 idea to rework my plan..

1) I think ill do tht ill stay bck tht night n leave the next day morning... can u tell me how much time wud i take to reach Josimath..

2) do you have any idea how much a taxi wud cost to reach Josimath from Dehradun...

3) i m also plannin to club 2 days in mussoorie, howz tht place according to u ??

indicaspecies said...

Hi again and you are welcome.

1. Time? It depends, on the weather and the mode of transport. If you hire your own cab, you can travel at a fairly good speed, but if you take a local bus, that can take double the time with numerous stops. A roughly 300 kms is a long haul for a mountain journey. Probably 10 hours or so.

The Himalayan mountain scenery is beautiful all along. Why don't you take a break in journey? I did. I stayed at Rudraprayag at the GMVN guest house. Quite decent by mountain town standards and reasonably priced. From Rudraprayag I took a "sharing taxi" (travelling with other locals and/or tourists rather than it being hired exclusively for you) to reach Joshimath.

2. Whatever the taxi charges are, it is something reasonable for the services rendered in that part of the world. From Dehradun, if exclusively for you, I think it should be Rs.4-5,000. "Sharing taxis" turn out much cheaper though inconvenient at times and moreover, can often hamper the progress of your journey.

3. Mussorie, situated about 30 kms from Dehradun, is a scenic and beautiful hill station. Why do you want to stay the night in Dehradun at all? It's a valley. I'd highly recommend a stay in Mussorie, even if you reach late. You will be pleasantly surprised with the mountain scenery you get to see when you open your eyes in the morning. At least, that's how it was for me when I was there in August this year.

I'd love to know where you are located. If you have any queries, or need further info, feel free to email me:

All the best Mitz!
- celine

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