It was time to move from one district of Garhwal region to another. From Rudraprayag to Chamoli, the views became even more scenic as I glanced them from a local bus that departed from Rudraprayag and took me to Joshimath.
Chopta to Ukhimath
Hudu-Ukhimath: Shared Sumo 13km
Ukhimath-Rudraprayag: via Local Bus 44km
In Rudraprayag before getting into the bus to Joshimath, I had a tasty and clean meal at Sandeep Hotel and Restaurant.
Sunset views while moving from Rudraprayag to Joshimath.
How to reach Joshimath?
There are many local buses and shared taxis that depart from Rudraprayag local market at various timings for Joshimath. The distance between the two is about 115 km which took 5 hours to be covered by my local bus, including the refreshment spot.
Mountain Studio Homestay
It was around 7 pm when I reached Joshimath market. Homestay owner, Mr. Nitin ji asked me to get down at Marwadi restaurant, apparently a major landmark in the market. On enquiring about the route from the bus driver, I got to know that this particular bus was going till the army cantonment area which was near to Mr Nitin’s homestay. And after another 15 mins, I finally got down at the base of the stairs from where a 30-min hike was required to be done to reach my place of stay.
February was here and the snow too. The frozen memoirs from December 2019 snowfall could be seen on the stairs while hiking I had to be careful since I feared to slip and break a bone or two. Nitin Ji asked me to change shoes as soon as I reach the top.
As I saw a little white shed with a double wooden door with Mountain Studio written in cursives on the side, I realised, we have reached.
Mountain Studio, a homestay in village Sunil of Joshimath, felt like a safe retreat on a really cold night. Made out of mud and stone and originally cattle shed, the renovation executed by NotOnMap completely transformed this to be used as a guest room. Ringal wood partition adds more to the earthy ambience of the hut.
The homestay owner, Nitin Sehwal ji, who is a reporter for a local newspaper, loves meeting travellers and insists them on hosting them. His own house is constructed out of cement, thus he decided to convert the cattle sheds nearby to the homestay.
On my arrival, I met Dadiji (mother of Mr.Nitin). Like a responsible lady of the house that she was, she immediately instructed me to remove my shoes and sit inside then warm kitchen to have dinner.
I was served 3 chapattis made out of Manduwa, a local crop, with potato curry. On telling her that I only eat a single chapati per meal, out of love she advised us, city kids, to eat properly since we already tend to suffer from so many health issues. Her nature and way of talking reminded me of my grandmother
A stream flowed just beside the homestay and my room. Joshimath was still sleeping. I had woken up a little early than usual to feel the rising sun on the frozen pores of my skin. The mud cottage and double blanket did put me to sleep easily.
Birds reached their designated spot on the dry trees timely, unlike me. And there was Joshimath. The snow-clad mountains looked whiter on a sunny day. My side of the valley was yet to receive that proper sunlight. I waited for it to fall patiently.
“Dadi ji must be preparing breakfast”, I thought to myself. The rubber boots I borrowed from her last night helped me while I was trying to balance myself on frozen sheets of ice.
Breakfast scene that day was magnificent than any other day. Peaks like Neelkanth and Haathiparvat were wrapped around the whole valley like a cold embrace.
My breakfast followed by feeding Gudiya and Kavita. Dadi ji narrated her struggles of taking care of these creatures in such harsh and cold conditions. They could not be fed with green fodder because she cannot go to the forest to get it but Gudiya’s favourite thing to eat was red bean grass which I gave her graciously. That moment I was a little proud and amused to have made a cow my friend.
‘When you give to nature, nature gives back to you.’
These animals support the entire ecosystem. Dadi ji collected a basket full of cow dung to distribute it as manure in her kitchen garden.
I felt euphoric to be a part of such an environmentally responsible ecosystem.
Homestays like these are great to reflect upon yourself, your life and your actions. For me, they are retreat and relief. And the best way to find families away from family. And the most important, to LIVE LIKE LOCAL.
Beautiful places like these, demand a little handwork. This homestay sits on somewhere middle of the mountain slope. Either you can take your vehicle on the upper road, from where you can hike down towards this homestay or start your hike uphill from the lower access road.
Things to do in and around Joshimath/Jyotirmath
- 8 km from Joshimath, lies a winter wonderful in India’s one of the best skiing destinations, Auli. One can also hike for about 5 km up to Auli. A ropeway in Auli charges 500 INR to take people at even higher viewpoints which is basically a ski-down slope.
- One can also see Kalpavriksha, which is believed to be India’s oldest tree. It is near Jyoteshwar Mahadev Temple and is 3 km from Joshimath.
- The town is also known for the confluence of two rivers, Alaknanda and Dhauliganga, which meet at Vishnuprayag.
- Tapovan is a popular spot in Joshimath. It is known for its scenic views and hot springs. It is 14 km from Joshimath.
- Shri Shankaracharya Math is a monastery in Joshimath. It is one of the four monasteries established by Adi Jagatguru Shankaracharya in the 8th century.
- Joshimath is also a stopover place for trekkers who come to attempt Gorson trek and Kuwari pass trek.
- Valley of flowers is 15 km from Joshimath is another season trekking destination. It is a 15 km trek of easy level.
- Badrinath, a major pilgrimage destination, is 15 km away from Joshimath.
- Near Lata village, 30 km from Joshimath, one can trek to Nanda Devi National Park as well. It is a 13 km Trek.
- Satopant, a 1-week long trek, is also nearby.
- Niti Pass, another winter wonderland is 88 km away from Joshimath. Niti village is the last village near Indo-Tibetan border in Uttarakhand.
- Another scenic village, Thiang, 8 km from Vishnuprayag and 28 km from Joshimath, is the base for Chenab Valley trek. The pristine Chenab Lake rests on the valley to the summit.
- You can also plan a day trip to a nearby valley called Urgam. Read that blog here. (Distance from Joshimath: 28.6 km)
I was expecting to find snowfall in the coming days and that did happen. But in Auli.
At Mountain Studio, I had the best time while relaxing on top of the world and away from the hustle-bustle of Joshimath.