Are you looking for a moderate trekking route that still induces the much-needed adrenaline rush? If yes, then the Gartang Gali trek in Uttarakhand is suitable for you.
The trek is the perfect blend of rocky cliffs, lush greenery and a gushing river while traversing through a rustic wooden stairway, offering one of the richest views an adventure lover can ask for. And the stories revolving around Gartang Gali add to the excitement, too. So, keep scrolling to know all about the climb uphill.
History and significance: Gartang Gali tales
Gartang Gali, which lies in the Uttarkashi district, used to be an ancient trade route between India and Tibet. For trading goods via the Nelong Valley, Pathans of Peshawar (now in Pakistan) created an architectural wonder here about 150 years ago. They constructed a 136-metre-long wood-lined stairway by chiselling the granite of a nearly vertical cliff. However, this stairway was rendered unsafe because of the lack of use after the 1962 Indo-China War.
According to official accounts, this man-made marvel is the same pathway Austrian climber Heinrich Harrer used to escape to Tibet from India during World War II. He spent seven years in Tibet and became the Dalai Lama’s adviser and friend. His story later inspired the Hollywood film Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt.
Recently, the stairway, located about 11,000 feet ( approximately 3,352 metres) above sea level, was again carefully constructed and opened for the public in August 2021, after 59 years. This bridge is about 1.8 metres wide now, and since 1989, it has been a part of Gangotri National Park.
Exploring Gartang Gali
The 2.5-kilometre journey through forest trails that leads to Gartang Gali may seem tiring at first, but it gives a sense of peace when one starts climbing the steps to a breathtaking view of the greens and rugged cliffs of Nelong Valley and the Jadh Ganga River.
Although it is said to be a moderate-level trek of over three hours, it is advisable to be physically fit for it, as the last bit is comparatively narrow and strenuous.
The trail for this wooden wonder starts from Lanka Bridge at Bhaironghati, which is about 90 kilometres from Uttarkashi town. This forest trail is filled with majestic Deodar (Himalayan cedar) and Kail (Pinus roxburghii) trees, adding to its allure. You can also spot wildlife here — Himalayan blue sheep, Himalayan goats or a snow leopard — if you are incredibly fortunate.
Gartang Gali is one of the significant reasons behind Gangotri National Park becoming a popular tourist attraction. According to a TOI report, the park was visited by about 28,000 tourists in 2022. Also, the park authorities have received numerous applications for trekking and other expeditions.
Besides Gartang Gali, another popular trekking route here is the Gaumukh-Tapovan Trek, known for its rich landscape. The park is itself mesmerising, owing to its dense forests, lush meadows and the view of glaciers forming the background. Spanning 1,553 square kilometres, it scales up to 23,239 feet (7,083 metres) above sea level.
Things to remember before your Gartang Gali trek
- Remember to register at Bhaironghati Check Post
- A batch of only 10 people can be on the bridge at a time
- You cannot jump, dance or indulge in any similar activities while on the bridge
- You cannot drink, smoke or carry any inflammable objects on the trek
- You have to be physically fit before commencing the trek and should avoid it in case of any health-related issue
- You have to carry water as there are no refreshment stalls
- Remember to carry umbrellas, in case it rains
- Walk slowly to avoid any mishap and maintain a distance of one metre from the person in front of you
Best time to visit: You can do the trek in Gangotri National Park between April and November.
Tickets: The cost of tickets for Indians is INR 150 and INR 600 for foreigners.
How to reach
By air: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport, 250 kilometres away from Gartang Gali.
By train: The railway station in Dehradun is the nearest, which is over 230 kilometres away.
By road: Gartang Gali is 480 kilometres from Delhi.
You can book your stay at these places in Dehradun while planning a visit to Gartang Gali.
(Hero and featured image credit: Uttarakhand Tourism)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Gartang Gali is a wooden stairway about 150 years old, which was reconstructed and opened after 59 years in 2021. It is famous for the history associated with it. As per Uttarakhand Tourism website, “This route was traditionally used by merchants trading between India and Tibet.”
Answer: The trek to Gartang Gali is around 2.5 kilometres.
Answer: The Gartang Gali tickets cost INR 150 for Indians and INR 600 for foreigners.
Answer: The altitude of Gartang Gali is 3,352 metres or 11,000 feet.
Answer: The nearest airport to Gartang Gali is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. It is about 250 km from the trek base.