This epic tour combines a multi-day trek with sacred Hindu sites in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Starting from Delhi, you and your guide will drive north to the Ganges to kick-off several days in the Himalayan foothills passing forests, rice paddies, meadows, bubbling streams, and snow-capped peaks while staying in a mix of lodges and camps. Finish with a night in Uttarkashi—home to numerous temples and ashrams—before swinging through another holy city (Haridwar) on your way back to Delhi.

Highlights

  • Visit the ghats (bathing steps) on the Ganges River and watch a nightly ceremony
  • Trek to the Kedarnath Temple and observe pilgrims during sunrise
  • Cross over the Gaumukh glacier on foot, surrounding snow-capped peaks
  • Meet friendly, chatty locals, and observe ladies working in the rice fields
  • Look for rhododendron blossoms and wildlife like deer and black-faced langurs

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi Delhi
Day 2 Transfer to Rishikesh - Evening Ceremony Rishikesh
Day 3 Transfer to Gaurikund Gaurikund
Day 4 Trek to Kedarnath Kedarnath
Day 5 Visit Kedarnath Temple - Trek to Gaurikund Gaurikund
Day 6 Trek to Triyugi Narayan & Maggu Top Maggu Top
Day 7 Trek to Panwali Kantha Panwali Kantha
Day 8 Trek to Ghuttu Ghuttu
Day 9 Trek to Bhairon Chatti Bhairon Chatti
Day 10 Trek to Buda Kedar Buda Kedar
Day 11 Trek to Belak Pass Belak Pass
Day 12 Trek to Malla - Transfer to Gangotri Gangotri
Day 13 Trek to Chirbasa & Bhojbasa Bhojbasa
Day 14 Trek to Gaumukh & Tapovan Tapovan
Day 15 Trek to Bhojbasa Bhojbasa
Day 16 Trek to Gangotri – Transfer to Uttarkashi Uttarkashi
Day 17 Transfer to Rishikesh Rishikesh
Day 18 Transfer to Delhi, via Haridwar Delhi
Day 19 Depart Delhi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

Dilli Haat, an outdoor craft market
Check out souvenirs at Dilli Haat, an outdoor craft market

Welcome to India! Your trip starts in bustling Delhi, home to the capital of India and more than 21 million people. Think of this sprawling city as divided into two distinct areas: Old Delhi, founded in the 17th century, and New Delhi, established in the early 20th century by the British. 

Upon arrival, you'll meet your guide at the airport for a traditional swagat (welcome), followed by a transfer to your hotel. Check-in and take some time to relax after your travels.

If feeling energized, you can take a taxi to Dilli Haat, an outdoor craft bazaar selling handcrafted souvenirs from each of 29 of India's states. The bazaar also offers various street food stalls selling a range of regional eats from all over India, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, so come hungry!

Day 2: Transfer to Rishikesh - Evening Ceremony

Sculptures on the Ganges in Rishikesh
Rishikesh is the birthplace of yoga

After breakfast in Delhi, you will drive to Rishikesh (149 miles/240 km), a small city situated on the banks of the Ganges River (or Ganga) at the foot of the Himalayas. Rishikesh is said to be the birthplace of yoga and meditation and is known as the gateway to four major Dhams (pilgrimage sites) of Hindus: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Rishikesh, flanked by the Shivalik range of the Himalayas is well known for its scenic beauty and spiritual experience.

Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel for check-in. In the evening, visit the ghats (bathing steps) of the river to see the Aarti ceremony—a nightly spectacle of sights, sounds, and chanting. This devotional ritual uses fire as an offering that floats down the river and is usually made in the form of a lit lamp or a candle and flowers.

Day 3: Transfer to Gaurikund

Pass through Devprayag
Another pretty river view in Devprayag

This morning, you'll depart Rishikesh in order to begin a big full-day drive uphill to get to Gaurikund (186 miles/300 km). The route starts by traveling along a scenic and serpentine road on the right side of the Ganges River up to Devprayag. This is where the Bhagirathi River meets the Alaknanda River to form the sacred river of the Ganges.

From here, the drive heads through Srinagar to Rudraprayag where you'll turn left on the side of the Mandakini River and continue further to reach Gaurikund. Upon arrival, check-in at the lodge and enjoy some free time to relax before dinner.

Day 4: Trek to Kedarnath

The Mandakini River flowing down from Kedarnath
The Mandakini River flows down from Kedarnath

It's time to hit the trail! After breakfast, you'll set out on a gentle climb to Kedarnath—home of the stone shrine called Kedarnath Temple, a site dedicated to Lord Shiva. Today's route passes through beautiful lush green valleys with views of tumbling waterfalls, stark mountains, and the Mandakini River.

During the pilgrimage season, there are chances to mingle with pilgrims who come from all areas of India. You'll notice Sadhus (holy men), women, and children—some who are unable to walk that are carried in palanquins (carrying chairs).

Upon arrival, you'll stay overnight at a guest house.

Trek distance: 6 hours
Trek altitude: 11,483 feet (3,500 m)

Day 5: Visit Kedarnath Temple - Trek to Gaurikund

Kedarnath Temple before sunrise
Get up close to Kedarnath Temple before sunrise

Today begins with an early morning visit to Kedarnath Temple. This sacred site is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is said to be more than 1,200 years old. According to Hindu legends, the temple was initially built by Pandavas and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas—the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva.

The holy shrine offers a spiritual atmosphere in and around the temple, with witness devotees buying incense and flowers from nearby shops to offer to Lord Shiva. Also, take note of the priests who perform rituals to pray for their families.

Later in the morning, you'll make the descent back to Gaurikund in order to begin the next leg of the trek. 

Trek distance: 4-5 hours
Trek altitude: 6,496 feet (1,980 m)

Day 6: Trek to Triyugi Narayan & Maggu Top

Pass through some rice paddies on today's route
Observe picturesque rice paddies on today's route

After breakfast in Gaurikund, you'll take a short transfer to the next starting point of the trek. This is where you'll begin an hour-walk through some rice fields up to Triyugi Narayan Temple —the exact location where Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati, according to local legend.

From here, continue with several gradual ascents as you pass through beautiful villages, dense forests, and green meadows, with spectacular views of the snow-covered mountains. You'll eventually reach Maggu Top for your overnight. 

Trek distance: 5-6 hours
Trek altitude: 10,663 feet (3,250 m)

Day 7: Trek to Panwali Kantha

Look for black-faced langoors
Look for black-faced langurs

Today is one of the most exciting days of the trek! The route provides you with magnificent views of surrounding mountains and landscapes, starting with a gradual climb from the camp to Maggu Top. From the top ridge, you can appreciate the panoramic views of high mountain peaks of Kedarnath, Sumeru Parvat, and other snow-covered peaks. 

Next, make your way across a long ridge overlooking a valley of rhododendrons and bamboos, which provides an opportunity to spot wildlife like deer and black-faced langurs (a species of monkeys). From here, you'll walk through the small but very beautiful village of Panwali before reaching tonight's camp for your overnight. 

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 10,827 feet (3,300 m)

Day 8: Trek to Ghuttu

A scenic view of Nanda Devi mountain
A scenic view of Nanda Devi mountain

Today's trek starts with a gradual ascent for about half an hour to Panwali Pass where you can appreciate panoramic views of the massive of Nanda Devi (25,646 feet/7817 m) on one side, as well as fantastic views of forests, green meadows, and pastures on the other.

The trail then descends for several hours through thick forests and then meanders up to the base. After crossing a big stream, the trail passes through the Ghuttu, a scenic village notable for its rice fields, before you reach your overnight camp.

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 5,249 feet (1,600 m)

Day 9: Trek to Bhairon Chatti

Hike through working rice plantations and green forests
Hike through lush green forests

Today's trek starts with a gradual acclivity as you pass through beautiful villages with smiling locals who seem eager to chat with you. You'll also have opportunities to observe ladies working in the rice fields and small children running around—all of which makes this day a wonderful and memorable experience. 

Later in the day, the journey continues through thick forests and alpine meadows until you reach Bhairon Chatti. This is where you'll camp at a beautiful site near Bhairon Temple with fantastic views of high mountains and undeveloped scenery. 

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 8,038 feet (2,450 m)

Day 10: Trek to Buda Kedar

Forests and rice fields
More forests and rice fields

Today, you'll begin a gradual two-hour descent through thick forests before joining a nearly flat path through some rice fields. This eventually leads you to a picturesque village called Binak Khal.

After a break, continue trekking through more forests all the way downhill for about 2.5 hours in order to reach Agunda, via Buddha Kedar, located near Bal Ganga River

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 5,085 feet (1,550 m)

Day 11: Trek to Belak Pass

Rhododendron blooms near Chamoli
Rhododendron blossoms near Chamoli

This morning begins with a gradual walk through the village of Bal Ganga and then across a wooden bridge at Jalla.

Here, you'll walk uphill through thick forests and some pretty pastures until you reach Belak, which is situated near the border of two different towns: Chamoli and Uttarkashi. Keep walking until you reach a location at the top of a forest, where you'll stop for the night and camp.

Trek distance: 5-6 hours
Trek altitude: 9,678 feet (2,950 m)

Day 12: Trek to Malla - Transfer to Gangotri

Gangotri town
Gangotri town

Today is a half-day trek that starts with a gradual descent towards Lata. The trail (mostly) passes through a dense forest until you reach a big stream. This is where you'll walk over a beautiful wooden bridge and then join a level path up to Malla, which leads to a road connecting towns, including Gangotri.

Once you reach Malla, a vehicle will be waiting to transfer you to Gangotri (47 miles/75 km), so sit back and enjoy the drive. Upon arrival, check-in to your lodge for the night and take some time to relax. 

Trek distance: 4-5 hours
Trek altitude: 11,204 feet (3,415 m)

Day 13: Trek to Chirbasa & Bhojbasa

Sunset on the Bhagirathi peaks
Sunset on the Bhagirathi peaks

After breakfast in Gangotri, the second part of your trek starts with a gradual ascent through the forest as you move along the beaten track towards Chirbasa (11,811 feet/3,600 m), surrounded by thick trees and forests of deodars and conifers (keep an eye out for spectacular views of high peaks). You'll then follow a path along the Bhagirathi River, which later takes the form of the Ganges when it joins the Alaknanda River.

The terrain becomes more desolate and barren as you make your way to Bhojbasa, and you'll eventually reach a small temple located at a riverside where you'll camp for the night. The rest of the afternoon is free time to explore the area. Make sure to get a good view of the sunset and watch as the golden light hits the Bhagirathi peaks.

Trek distance: 5-6 hours
Trek altitude: 12,385 feet (3,775 m)

Day 14: Trek to Gaumukh & Tapovan

Views of Shivling peak
Views of Shivling peak

Today, you'll trek to Tapovan, via Gaumukh, enjoying panoramic views of the Bhagirathi peaks along the way. Gaumukh is the spot where the water of the Ganges trickles down from the glaciers to join the Gangotri Valley and beyond.

Upon arrival in Gaumukh, enjoy some free time to explore the area. Later, you'll continue trekking to Tapovan, one of the finest high-altitude alpine meadows in the area. This portion of the trek is an ascent that crosses over the Gaumukh glacier.

As you climb up the trail, the view of the surrounding peaks becomes clearer and they appear to be just a stone's throw away. Tapovan is known for its beautiful meadows, wildflowers, and bubbling streams that surround the base camp, and the area is visited by hundreds of tourists, mountaineers, trekkers, and ascetics every year. 

Trek distance: 5-6 hours
Trek altitude: 14,600 feet (4,450 m)

Day 15: Trek to Bhojbasa

Enjoy your last views at Tapovan plateau
Snag views at Tapovan plateau before beginning the descent

This morning, you'll have some quality time to enjoy the crisp mountain air and absorb the views. Tapovan is a convenient base camp for climbers’ expeditions to different peaks and is a real delight for keen and enthusiastic photographers. Early morning light makes the surrounding scenery an unforgettable experience. Watch as the dazzling light hits the peaks and—a bit later—the entire campsite.

Post breakfast, you'll make a swift descent back down to Bhojbasa covering what seemed like a seemingly endless trek (on the ascent) in just a matter of hours. Upon arrival in Bhojbasa, you'll have free time to explore the local area.

Trek distance: 4-5 hours
Trek altitude: 11,811 feet (3,600 m)

Day 16: Trek to Gangotri – Transfer to Uttarkashi

Bhagirathi River Ghat
Bhagirathi River ghat

After breakfast, you'll walk for a few hours in order to return to Gangotri where you'll meet a vehicle that carries you down to your lodge at Uttarkashi (59 miles/95 km).

As a reminder, Uttarkashi is situated on the bank of Bhagirathi River and is home to numerous temples and ashrams. It has also become famous among adventurous people due to the scope of outdoor activities (and treks) in the area. In the late afternoon and evening, there will be free time to explore on your own.

Day 17: Transfer to Rishikesh

Catch the nightly Aarti ceremony in Rishikesh

After an early breakfast in Uttarkashi, you'll set out on another beautiful drive back to Rishikesh (78 miles/125 km), via Chamba.

In the afternoon, you'll have an option to visit Lakshman Jhoola, a suspension bridge across the Ganges that connects the Tehri Garhwal district (on the west bank) and the Pauri Garhwal district (on the east bank). You'll also have the option to visit some of Rishikesh's surrounding temples and attend evening prayer at Triveni Ghat. This is the biggest and most famous ghat in Rishikesh and is believed to have been visited by Lord Krishna when he became injured by an arrow of a hunter.

Day 18: Transfer to Delhi, via Haridwar

Haridwar draws Hindus from far and wide
Haridwar draws Hindu pilgrims from far and wide

This morning, you'll depart Rishikesh early for the drive back to Delhi (149 miles/240 km). En-route there will be a stop in Haridwar, where you can experience an ancient city and one of the holiest places for Hindus in India. There will be time to visit Har ki Pauri where many pilgrims come to have a holy dip in the Ganges. This is the largest and most famous of Haridwar's several sacred ghats. 

In the afternoon, continue the drive to Delhi where you'll be transferred to your hotel for the night. Relax with a good meal and enjoy your last evening of the trip!

Day 19: Depart Delhi

Delhi's India Gate monument
Delhi's India Gate monument

It's time to say goodbye to India! At the designated time, you would be transferred to Delhi's international airport for your departure flight or onward journey. Safe travels!

Map

Map of North India Garhwal Pilgrim Trek - 19 Days
Map of North India Garhwal Pilgrim Trek - 19 Days