I hadn’t planned on doing the Hemkund Trek when planning the Valley of Flowers trek but it made sense to include another day in my itinerary and complete this famous trek as well. And I am so glad that I did because the view at Hemkund Sahib was something out of this world and the route was much more picturesque than the Valley of Flowers route.
Here are all the details that you would need to complete this trek successfully.
About Hemkund Sahib
Shri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara is an important pilgrimage site for Sikhs and Hindus and has a gorgeous setting around it. Located at a height of 4329m, the gurudwara is surrounded by magnificent mountains and has a breathtaking lake next to it which makes this place more peaceful and picturesque to look at.
Also, there is a significant history associated with this place for both Hindus and Sikhs. It has been found in the holy Granth Sahib that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikhs, used to meditate on the banks of Hemkund river. This is why this is considered a sacred place by Sikhs and sees the influx of thousands of Sikh pilgrims flocking to this point to pay their respects and be blessed.
But even if you are not a religious person, a visit to Hemkund Sahib is a must if you love nature and mountain views.
Best Time to Visit Hemkund Sahib
Although Hemkund Sahib has a cool climate throughout the year, the best time to go on this trek is between June and October. From June to October, it is easier to trek to this place and you get considerably clear views of the surrounding mountains.
From October to May, Hemkund Sahib is covered in snow so it is difficult to trek on this terrain. Also, the Ghangaria village is mostly deserted at this time so you won’t find many options for stay or food during these months.
If you plan your trip to Hemkund Sahib in the months of July, August, and September, then you will also be greeted with a blossoming valley. And you can also visit the Valley of Flowers National Park at this time.
How to Reach Hemkund Sahib
Your journey to Hemkund Sahib can be broken down into three major parts: reaching Govindghat, trekking to the Ghangaria village, and the final trek to Hemkund Sahib.
Starting Point to Govindghat
Before you can start trekking to this place, you need to reach Govindghat which is the starting point of this 20 km trek. To reach Govindghat, you can check out the following mode of transportations and find the one which suits you the best.
By Air: Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport is the closest airport to Govindghat which is located at a distance of 290 km and is a roughly 6-7 hours drive. You can find flights here from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Amritsar, etc. From the airport, you can hire a private taxi to reach Govindghat directly.
You can also take a bus/shared jeep tills Rishikesh and then take a direct bus to Govindghat. But make sure that you reach Rishikesh in the morning because the last direct bus to Govindghat leaves around 6-7 a.m.
By Rail: The closest railways station to Govindghat is the Rishikesh Railway Station and you get several cabs, buses, etc. connecting it to Govindghat.
By Road: You can also drive to Govindghat or you can take a bus to Rishikesh and then a direct or indirect bus to Govindghat.
Once you have reached Govindghat, you can stay the night here so that you can start early the next day for the Ghangaria village.
Govindghat to Ghangaria
By Road: After you have reached Govindghat, you need to prepare yourself for a 14 km trek to Ghangaria village, from where Hemkund Sahib is just another 6 km.
At Govindghat, you would need to enter your records in the police register and get an entry token for Hemkund Sahib. From here, you will get a shared taxi to cover the first 4 km after which it is a 10 km trek to the Ghangaria village.
You can also hire a mule to take you and your luggage to Ghangaria village for 500-600 INR. It would take around 2-3 hours to cover this distance on the mule and 4-6 hours by trekking.
By Air: There is also an option to take the helicopter ride to Ghangaria village which barely takes 15-30 minutes and is a great way to save a lot of time.
Ghangaria to Hemkund Sahib
After reaching Ghangaria village, you can start for the Hemkund Sahib trek which is 6 km and would take around 3-4 hours for the ascent and 1.5-2 hours for the descent. The trail is clearly marked and you would find hundreds of pilgrims going the same way so it should be quite easy to complete.
This trek is easier compared to the Valley of Flowers trek and can be done by people of all ages and sizes.
Things to Do in Hemkund Sahib
Make sure that you start early for the Hemkund Sahib trek so that you can enjoy the afternoon langar and spend sufficient time at the top. Here are a few things that you can indulge in once you have reached the Hemkund Sahib.
Eat the Langar at the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara
One of the things that you cannot miss out on once you reach Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara is the daily langar here which runs till 2 p.m. So, go inside the langar room and warm yourself up with a nice hot cup of tea and enjoy the delicious langar food while your body readjusts the temperature.
Trust me, there is nothing as cozy and satisfactory as the warm langar food and tea after a tiring trek through the cold.
Enjoy the Cool Weather and Admire the View
Hemkund Sahib stays cool throughout the year and is surrounded by magnificent mountains and a beautiful lake. So, there is a lot to observe and enjoy here in terms of views. If you are a mountain lover or a photography enthusiast then you can spend some time admiring the views here and capture them to take home with you.
Take a Dip in the Freezing Hemkund Sahib Lake
A lot of people say that the Hemkund Lake is a sacred lake so you will often see people taking a dip in the freezing cold water for good health and positivity in life. So, you can do the same and can also mark it as a unique experience in your life.
There is also a separate private quarter for women to bathe in the water so you can take some extra clothes if you are planning to bathe in the sacred lake water.
Find the Brahma Kamal and Learn More About It
Only found at an altitude between 3000 and 4800 m, Brahma Kamal is an exotic flower plant which is native to just a few locations in the world. A few of these locations are the Himalayas, Uttarakhand (India), Himachal Pradesh (India), northern Burma, and so on. So, try to find this flower when you reach Hemkund Sahib and learn more about its applications and history.
This flower is said to bloom only during the monsoon months of July and August and has several medicinal properties that help in treating fever, cold, urogenital diseases, and so on. You would find several of these flowers around Hemkund Sahib but it is forbidden to cut it down and a heavy fine is levied if found in possession of it.
Volunteer at the Hemkund Sahib Kitchen
Another thing that you can do here is to volunteer at the kitchen here and help them serve the other pilgrims visiting this place. You can help in cleaning the used utensils or serve the langar food to the people, it is up to you. But whatever you decide to do, you can be sure that you will feel really happy and satisfied after volunteering your services for the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara.
Food Options on the Hemkund Sahib Trek
One of the most important detail to figure out when planning a trip is where and what you are going to eat. Thankfully, since Hemkund Sahib is such a popular trek, you won’t face any issues in finding food for yourself.
Where to Eat in Govindghat
In Govindghat, there are a few guesthouses and small dhabas where you can find something to eat. There is also a Gurudwara here where you can enjoy delicious warm langar which includes pulses, rice, chapatis, vegetable curry, and if you are lucky then a dessert too.
Where to Eat in Ghangaria
On the way to Ghangaria, you will come across several tea and food stalls on the way to keep your hunger at bay.
After reaching Ghangaria, you have a few restaurants and small food shops to keep yourself warm and fed. There is also a gurudwara here to enjoy the langar food but it would be simpler than the one that you get in Govindghat.
Where to Eat on the Hemkund Sahib Trek
Although you don’t get many food stalls on the way to the Valley of Flowers trek, the same isn’t true for the Hemkund Sahib trek. You will come across a nice food stall after every 0.5 – 1 to keep yourself properly fed. You will get Maggi, paranthas, etc. on these stalls so there isn’t any need to carry a lunch with you.
Once you reach Hemkund Sahib, you can eat the langar food which is served here every day till 2 p.m.
Accommodation Options for the Hemkund Sahib Trek
One of the major problems that people usually face while going on the Hemkund Sahib trek is the accommodation options available here. But there is nothing to worry about because there are several stay options available for you.
Where to Stay in Govindghat
In Govindghat, there are several small guesthouses and hotels which charge anywhere between 200-500 INR for a night and are decent for a night’s sleep. There is also the GMVN guesthouse here but this is usually prebooked so you have to book it a month or two in advance to get a bed/room here.
If everything else fails, then there is also a Gurudwara here where you can stay for the night, free of cost.
Where to Stay in Ghangaria
In Ghangaria, you have options of staying in tents, guesthouses, or hotels. Usually, the price of a minimal guesthouse/hotel is 200-300 INR per night and of a good tent is around 1000 INR.
Again, there is a Gurudwara here for the pilgrims so you can stay in a room or a dorm here, depending on the availability.
Itinerary for the Hemkund Sahib Trek
This is a sample 1-week itinerary that you can follow if you are planning for the Hemkund Sahib trek.
Use your favored means of transport to reach Govindghat, the base point for Hemkund Sahib trek, and spend a night here.
Next morning, get the token for the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara and take a shared cab to reach the starting point of the trek.
Trek for the next 3-4 hours to reach Ghangaria village and then acclimatize yourself to the altitude. Rest for the day and prepare for the trek the next day
Start trekking to the Hemkund Sahib early next day and reach the top. You can stop on the way for snacks or hot drinks or you can directly reach the Gurudwara and have the langar there.
After spending a few hours here, start your descent to the Ghangaria village around 2 p.m. and then rest for the day.
If you are planning to do the Valley of Flowers trek too then start your day early and pack a lunch for yourself for the way. Spend the day at the Valley of Flowers National Park and then head back to the Ghangaria village.
Trek back to the base, Govindghat and then take a cab/bus to reach Rishikesh. From here, you can choose your desired mode of transportation to reach your desired city.
If you have 1 day more then you can head to Badrinath and Mana village from Govindghat and then head back to your hometown.
Trekking Equipment to Carry On The Hemkund Sahib Trek
Here are a few essential trekking equipments to carry with you on the Hemkund Sahib Trek.
One of the most important trekking equipment that you would need to complete the Hemkund Sahib trek is a good rucksack/backpack which will adjust well with your body type. Make sure you don’t get a heavy backpack which is not comfortable to carry.
Also, avoid overpacking or keeping items which aren’t needed on the trek.
Apart from a rucksack/backpack, you would also need a daypack for your day hike to Hemkund Sahib. So, keep a 10-20l small daypack which you can use to store your food, water, and other required gadgets.
Don’t forget to take a good windcheater/raincoat to keep yourself protected from rain and cold when trekking to Hemkund Sahib. Wear a warm jacket inside it to keep yourself warm and dry and then wear the raincoat/windcheater on it.
A good pair of waterproof trekking shoes is essential as it would not only keep your feet warm and dry but will also help you in the grip. With trekking shoes, you won’t slip as much and will be able to complete the trek quickly.
Another important trekking geat that you would need to carry with you is a trekking pole to give you support while trekking. Make sure it is stable and sturdy and doesn’t get easily damaged on the trek.
You also need to buy a good backpack cover to protect your clothes and belongings from getting wet in the backpack. Make sure that it is properly stitched at the edges and is big enough to completely cover your backpack.
If you are planning to camp in Ghangaria then it would be a good idea to carry your own tent as well. Carry a tent which includes a rain cover and will keep you warm in minus 5-degree temperature as well.