There are numerous lesser known places, tucked away from the weary eyes of tourists; places that deserve to remain untouched whatsoever. But as curiosity is the lust of the mind, the habit of sneaking has become a part of human nature. Not that it has always put him in a fix, but this tendency has also lead people to discover hidden gems.
One such discovery is Uttarakhand’s Harsil, which is just a few kilometres from Gangotri. Popularly known as the camper’s bay of Uttarakhand, tourists seeking serenity and peace in the lap of Himalayas should visit this place once. This relatively quaint and untouched village has been enjoying the taste of ‘popularity’ in the recent years due to its picturesque location and serene nature.
Those who visited this place were left mesmerised by the panoramic and beautiful mountains, and the word of mouth did the rest. Others followed the trail of breadcrumbs, and this is how Harsil caught momentum in attracting visitors.
Surrounded by snow-clad mountains, pine forests, and gorgeous flora and fauna, Harsil village welcomes one and all. Here is more about this village, and what makes it worth visiting at least once.
How Harsil crept on to the tourism map?
It was during the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, when India was under the British rule, when Indians first started opposing British rule head-on. Many British people had to run away and escape to save themselves from the heat of mutiny. Fredric E Wilson was also one among the many British people. Fredric initially asked the King of Tehri to give him shelter, but the king refused.
However, Wilson fell in love with the Himalayas and could not set off on a journey ahead. Instead, he set off his journey into the mountains and finally settled in Harsil. It is popularly believed that Harsil started to get into the civilised mode since then.
Wilson then married a ‘pahadi’ girl and settled, and introduced apple sapling here. It is said that annual income of the Tehri king increased many folds with the revenue earned from Wilson’s efforts. Eventually, the popularity of apples from this region spread far and wide and so did Harsil.
Also, Raj Kapoor shot the super hit Bollywood movie Ram Teri Ganga Maili in Harsil, which likely contributed to the growth of tourism here.
Things to do in and places to visit in Harsil
Trekking: Harsil makes for an interesting base point for many adventurous treks in Uttarakhand. The best treks among the many are Dayara Bugyal and Khatling Glacier; there are also a few hamlets like Mukhba and Dharali village, where one can consider trekking.
Dharali: Known for its apple orchards, Dharali is situated just a few kilometres away from Harsil. The Shiva temple in this village is a prime tourist attraction and people often choose this location for trek. The picturesque views of this place have the ability to manipulate your senses and push anyone to go on arduous treks.
Mukhwas: Situated just a km away from Harsil, Mukhwas is popularly known as the home of Goddess Gangtori. During winters, Gangotri experiences heavy rainfall, which leads to closing down of roads temporarily. During such situations, pilgrims worship the village, as Mushwas is considered to be the gate of Gangotri.
Gangotri: Situated at a distance of 25 km from Harsil, Gangotri is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites. It is one of the four sacred sites of Chota Char Dham Yatra, which makes it even more popular both among the tourists and pilgrims.
Sattal: A paradise for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers, Sattal’s mysterious nature make it an interesting hub for photography aficionados. Located a few kilometres away from Harsil, you can reach this place via a not-so-difficult trek of around 3 km from Dharali.
Best time to visit Harsil
Summer is the best time to visit this place, as Harsil always remains in danger of landslides during monsoons. Winters are cold, unless you want to experience that adrenaline rush.
If you want to visit this place during snowfall, consider going there during the months of February and March.
Where to stay?
Harsil, being a relatively lesser known destination, has a dearth of places to stay. There are a handful of budget hotels and guesthouses though. These places cater to the basic needs of people, so keep your expectations grounded.
How to reach Harsil?
You can hire cars from Rishikesh or Haridwar. It will take you around 8 hours to reach Harsil. Shared jeep and buses also run from Uttarkashi from 7 AM.
In fact, Harsil is easily accessible from Gangotri and Uttarkashi and is well-connected via roads. Thus, reaching Harsil will not be a tough nut to crack.