Trip to Auli
Auli is a Himalayan ski resort and hill station which is considered to be the #1 ski destination in the Himalayan mountains of Uttarakhand. It’s surrounded by coniferous and oak forests, plus the magnificent view of Nanda Devi and Nar Parvat mountains. This place is kind of secluded and less explored by tourists which makes it a perfect place for you if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. I am not a writer myself but this place made me write about it.
I had never been lucky enough to witness snow - always missed it by a small time gap and being a student of IIT Roorkee myself, I’ve heard about Auli from some people around but very few of them have actually visited it. It was 6th of January last year when I was riding in Dhanolti with my friends hoping to see some snow when I decided that next year I’ll be visiting Auli for sure. So this January, we were a group of six and made up our minds to visit Auli during the second weekend as there was news that the place has already received its first snowfall.
Now the thing with we tech savvy people is, that we overload ourselves with information on the routes, places, hotels etc way before the actual date comes and I wasn’t different either.
How to reach
To reach Auli, you need to reach Joshimath first, from there Auli is 20km road trip away. You can either take a bus or book a car(preferred due to convenience) to Joshimath. Joshimath is a town in the Chamoli district which is an important pilgrimage center and witnesses devotees during the pilgrimage season. It also acts as a base for travelers who are looking for treks in the higher altitudes. During winters, the road from Joshimath to Auli is closed and the only way to reach Auli is by cable car (which turns out to be the longest cable car in Asia).
We booked an Innova for around 11k bucks and started our journey from our college campus in Roorkee at 8:30 A.M. The route we took was “Roorkee - Rishikesh - Devprayag - Srinagar - Rudraprayag - Karnaprayag - Nandaprayag - Pipalkoti - Joshimath”, the distance being 315 km (which was hilly Rishikesh onwards) and we anticipated to reach Joshimath by 4 p.m. The road to Joshimath is good except for occasional landslides and patches(it’s a difficult mountain road after all) and had been converted to two-lane in the recent time.
Advice: Have a light breakfast and keep some anti-vomit pills and sickness bags with you.
We reached Joshimath by around 7 p.m. It was dark already but we could see the white snow on the mountain peaks in the moonlight.
Where to stay?
Hotels in Auli are kind of expensive, and we being a bunch of jobless folks(except one :P) had to minimize the trip cost. I looked through the hotels online but couldn’t find a good deal, which made me think of even think of Manali over Auli and almost getting myself kicked out :D We decided to reach Joshimath first and find hotels there itself! And we did find one, equipped with heaters and water geyser! We stayed in Hotel Snow Crest for our entire trip, it was a dorm room and we stayed up until late night that made the trip more memorable!
Advice: If you want to stay in Auli itself, go for GMVN Auli Tourist Bungalow. It’s a good place to stay at an economical price, but the only thing is that you need to book it 3 days prior to your stay, at their website. If you’re planning a long trip, you can also check The Birdsong Cottage on Airbnb for a better experience with friends. I came across this while I was searching for hotels, would stay here next time for sure!
Our first soldier got up at 7 a.m. in the morning who woke others up. And boy it was -10 degrees! Who had the guts to come out of the soft, warm and cozy bed! But the excitement of snow and skiing drove everyone out one by one. It was cold enough that you could see ice crystals forming on the road. We had some breakfast and then headed over to the cable car which cost us Rs. 750/person. The cable car ride(which took around 25 minutes) ascended by about 1000 meters from Joshimath to Auli. We could see the snow capped Nanda Devi and Nar Parvat and as the altitude increased, I could see snow on the ground. The moment I stepped out, I could feel the adrenaline rush through my veins, and yeah the first obvious thing that I thought to do was to make a small snowball and aim for others’ face ;) Skiing gears and rubber boots were available to us for rent at 400 bucks per person!
As for skiing, there’s a small patch of slightly inclined land, where you can “try” to ski. So if you’re a beginner, forget about that pro-level skiing because you’ll find yourself struggling trying to even stand still and you’ll fall terribly! I tried and crashed into a girl that happened to be on my way xD. I guess their only use is to get your photographs clicked, and I did :P
The only people you’ll see there skiing properly would be either your skiing instructor(ours had 30 years of experience and he didn’t look any older) or the people who’ve taken a skiing course(which is almost a week or two long). So if you plan to visit Auli for a long time, stay in Auli and take up a ski + accommodation combo by the Government resort. You can also spot ITBP(Indo Tibetan Border Police) soldiers training themselves.
Advice: The last cable car that comes back from Auli to Joshimath is scheduled at about 3:30 p.m. So you need to come back by that cable car if you haven’t booked a hotel at Auli Resort itself.
After around an hour of skiing, we changed to rubber boots and went for a stroll up the mountain where we found fresh snow and a better view of mountains. There was an artificial lake near downhill which was frozen. It finds its use during the winter sports, used to make artificial snow if there isn’t enough snow for the event. After skiing, playing in the snow and photoshoot(obviously) we realized that the snow that went inside our boots had melted and we got our socks wet. We headed back to the place where we kept all our stuff, changed the boots and were ready to head back to Joshimath. Two of us decided to trek down the mountain.
We reached down and decided to eat something. The food here’s a bit expensive too owing to the reason of its isolation. You might face some problem finding non-veg food here as this place is revered by Hindus. There are only two places that serve non-veg here and we went to a place by the name Auli D’Plaza which served non-veg food.
After having the food, we decided to take a stroll through the market. Joshimath is quite small and quiet, and in the evening you can see people standing in a circle around small bonfires lit up by the road and having conversations. There’s a small market where you can get some woolens at some reasonable price. The place isn’t commercialized as Manali or Shimla which makes it a perfect place to be for a holiday. The night went as awesome as the day irrespective of the fact that our entire energy was drained during the day.
Next morning, we woke up a bit late, packed up our bags and checked out of the hotel. While we were having our breakfast, we were approached by a small boy, a boy you might say must’ve fought a battle owing to the scars visible on his face. On enquiring about him from the hotel owner, we found that he was indeed the real-life Leonardo DiCaprio from “The Revenant”. We were told that while strolling in the hills, this kid lit up a cracker on the face of a sleeping bear and as a result, the bear got agitated and attacked him giving him the marks. We talked to him for a while, ordered a Maggi for him which he seemed to enjoy a lot and headed back for Roorkee. It was 11:30 a.m. already and had started to rain. We stopped by a restaurant in between where I clicked the photograph below. And we reached back Roorkee by 8:30 in the night.
So the entire trip to Auli had “EPIC” written all over it, and it was one of an experience for me to visit the place not only because I had witnessed snow for the first time but also due to
such a great company the great view of landscape! :P
Other Places Nearby
Ours was a three-day trip, and we were six in number. As for our trip expenses, it did not exceed more than 5000 bucks and it was all worth it! If you ever get the chance, do visit the place and get it off your bucket list because this place offers something that other hill stations can not.
Here’s the blog that I read before the start of the trip. You can go through others too.
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