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A First Timer’s Guide to Hemkund Sahib

Here is a first timer’s travel guide to Hemkund Sahib. This holy shrine is one of the most revered gurudwaras (Sikh Temple) in India.  Hemkund Sahib gurudwara is perhaps among the very few located at an inhospitable but scenic locale in the Garhwal Himalayas. One needs to trek 20 km to reach Hemkund Sahib. The Hemkund Sahib trek is an arduous one and can only be done once the route to Badrinath opens. Hemkund Sahib Yatra generally coincides with the Char Dham Yatra.  Devotees from different parts of the country undertake Hemkund Sahib Yatra on bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks.

The legends behind Hemkund Shaib
It is believed that Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs meditated on the banks of Hemkund (Snow Lake). The lake is also believed a place of penance for a number of sages from the Hindu mythology, including Rishi Medhasa of the Markandeya Purana and Lakshman, the brother of Lord Ram. Besides the Gurudwara, a temple is also located on the banks of Hemkund Lake.

hemkund sahib
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about Hemkund Sahib:

Where is Hemkund Sahib?
Hemkund also written as Hemkunt is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The last road head to Hemkund Sahib is Gobind Ghat on Joshimath-Badrinath route.

What is the best time to visit Hemkund Sahib?
Hemkund Sahib is open for almost 5-6 months in a year. So you have only June-October to visit Hemkund Sahib.

Which is the nearest airport to Hemkund Sahib?
Jolly Grant near Dehradun is the nearest airport to Hemkund Sahib.

Which is the nearest major railway station to Hemkund Sahib?
Haridwar is the nearest major railway station located at distance of 320 km from the last road head to Hemkund Sahib.

What is the distance of Hemkund Sahib from important cities in North India?
Hemkund Sahib is 294 km from Rishikesh; 320 km from Haridwar; 730 km from Amritsar; and 640 km from Delhi.

How can I reach Hemkund Sahib from Delhi?
One of the convenient ways to reach Hemkund Sahib from Delhi is to take an overnight train to Haridwar or Rishikesh. Catch an early morning bus to Joshimath, stay there for the night. Take an early morning bus/car to Gobind Ghat, 26 km from Joshimath. Start 14 km trek to Ghangaria, overnight stay at Ghangaria. Next day, trek 6 km to Hemkund Sahib.

Road route from Delhi to Hemkund Sahib: Delhi – Meerut – Haridwar-Rishikesh- Rudraprayag-Joshimath – GovindGhat – Trekking (19 kms) – Hemkund Sahib

Road Route Via Haldwani Ranikhet: Haldwani- Ranikhet – Karnaprayag – Johimath – Govinghat (Distance approx. 332 Km)

How long does it take to reach Hemkund Sahib from Gobind Ghat?
It depends. It takes 8 to 10 hrs to cover the 14 km trek on foot from Gobind Ghat to Ghangaria. Ponies, pitthus and palkies are also available if you don’t want to trek.

How long does it take to reach Hemkund Sahib from Ghangaria?
Hemkund Sahib is 6 km from Ghangaria and it takes 3-5 hrs to reach Hemkund Sahib from Ghangaria. Ponies, pitthus and palkies are available.

Can I visit the Valley of Flowers on my way to Hemkund Sahib?
Ghangaria is base camp to both Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. Yes, one can visit the Valley of Flowers when travelling to Hemkund Sahib.

How far is the Valley of Flowers from Ghangaria?
The Valley of Flowers is 4 km from Ghangaria. Once you start trekking up hill from Ghangaria, after almost one kilometer the route diverges. Take left and you’ll be on the way to the Valley of Flowers; head straight and you’ll be on the route to Hemkund Sahib.

Are there any hotels in Hemkund Sahib? If not where can I stay?
There are no hotels in Hemkund Sahib. Moreover, pilgrims are not allowed to stay at Hemkund Sahib due harsh weather conditions and lack of infrastructure. One has to come back to Ghangaria, which has a gurudwara and a few hotels.

Can I book a room in advance at a hotel in Gangaria?
Hotels in Ghangaria are very basic and there is hardly any connectivity (Internet and phone). So, it is very difficult to get a hotel room booked in Ghangaria.

Besides hotels, what are other places to stay in Ghangaria?
Ghangaria has a gurudwara and most devotees prefer to stay in the gurudwara. GMVN has a tourist bungalow in Ghangaria, which provides decent accommodation to travellers. It can be booked online by visiting www.gmvnl.com or personally by visiting GMVN Office in Delhi – 102- Indraprakash Building, Barakhamba Road.

Suggested Readings:
Valley of Flowers: A Sight to Behold!
Vaishno Devi: 10  Useful Travel Tips

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