Shivling, Northern India

The Journey to Base Camp


All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2011. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.


The journey from Delhi to the Shivling Base Camp involves a long two days of driving followed by a day and a half of trekking. I was wretchedly ill during the long drive, owing to a stomach upset caught in Rishikesh, about a half day's drive north of Delhi. I spent much of the bus journey throwing up out the window, and I spent a horrible night in Uttrakashi, dehydrated and barely able to move except to and from the toilet. By the time our bus pulled into the town of Gangotri after dark on the second day of driving, I was weak and unsteady on my feet. But we had arrived in the mountains and could look forward to a hike in the fresh air up to the clean base camp in a few days' time.

The route by road from Delhi crosses the overpopulated plains of Uttar Pradesh until it reaches the foothills of the mountains at Haridwar and Rishikesh. Haridwar is a place of holy pilgrimage for Hindus and is a site of enormous gatherings of humanity every 4 years or so. The Ganges flows through this city after emerging from the mountains at Rishikesh, which is also a Hindu pilgrimage site. From here the road climbs up into the foothills of the Himalayas, endlessly winding its way up and down through the forested hills and hillstations for which this area is famous. The road becomes more uneven and precipitous the deeper it goes into the mountains. It passes through the town of Uttrakashi and then becomes a rough dirt track as it winds its way slowly up to Gangotri at the roadhead. Along this section there are frequent landslides and washouts, and the road is often impassible, especially during and just after the annual monsoon. We took this road just days after the end of the monsoon and it was still very rough in places. A landslide had been cleared for traffic only hours before we passed through and was only just passable by 4WD vehicle. Miraculously our minibus made it through. After many more hours of slow winding driving we eventually reached the town of Gangotri, from where the hiking begins. Gangotri and this entire valley is holy to Hindus, as is Gamukh, where the Ganges emerges as a freezing cold torrent from the Gangotri glacier, is only a day and a half's hike upstream.

Rishikesh to Gangotri by Vehicle

The photos below were taken on the bus journey between Rishikesh and Gangotri.

The main street of Rishikesh. In a nearby hotel we had lunch, which was a bad idea, because I was wretchedly sick for the remainder of the journey to base camp as a result.

The Ganges River emerges from the foothills of the Himalaya at Rishikesh.
The Ganges begins its journey through India here.
The hill town of Chamba in the hills above Rishikesh.
Views of Himalayan foothills from our hotel in Chamba.
Views from the hotel at Chamba.
The road to Gangotri is long, winding, muddy, and this section had only just been cleared of a landslide.



We arrived in Gangotri late one evening after a long 2 day drive from Delhi. Gangotri is at 3000m elevation.

The main street of Gangotri comprises many small shops at the start of the pilgrim trail.
A Hindu temple in Gangotri.
A monument to the Hindu god Shiva at Gangotri.

My group of climbing companions. From left to right:

Sonam Sherpa, Greg, Simon Yates, Peter

A view up the valley from Gangotri. We will trek up here.
Granite cascades at Gangotri.
Gangotri. Pilgrims gather here to perform rituals beside the holy water of the Ganges.
A thundering waterfall just below the village.


The Walk to Tapovan

It was a day and a half of trekking from Gangotri to our base camp at Tapovan.

The walk to Tapovan follows the pilgrim trail upstream from Gangotri.
The pilgrim trail follows this valley upstream.
Looking back down the valley towards Gangotri.
The locality of Bhujbas, at altitude 3800m, a few hours walk upstream from Gangotri. We spent one night here before completing the walk to base camp.
Gamukh, the holy place where the waters of the Ganges emerge from the Gangotri glacier.
The waters of the Ganges emerge from the glacier.

After crossing the glacier and climbing steeply, we reach a plateau at 4200m and we behold our first views of Shivling. No wonder this is a holy mountain!




All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2011. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.

Page created 29 Nov 2011, last updated 24 Jan 2012.