Winter Wonderland – Trek to Fairy tale Place – Kuari Pass

Himalayas always work as a magnet for me and I can never be away from them for long. A few years ago, I made a resolution to try and do at least 2 Himalayan trek a year. While 2020 was almost a complete wash out, I was eager to go back to Himalayan ranges as much as possible in 2021. When the mandatory shutdown period for December was announced, next minute I stopped all my work and started looking at possible trek list for December.

If you’re looking for an easy trail to start your Himalayan journey, look no further, Kuari Pass is the just the right trek for you. Me and along with a bunch of my 8 cousins, decided to trek to Kuari pass with Indiahikes. With Verdant Forest, stunning snow-capped mountain views, the Garhwal Mountains, especially around Mt.NandaDevi and Dronagiri, look of skiing slopes around Gurson Bugyal, this was my choice of trek.

Personally, I didn’t even consider independent trekking as I didn’t want to worry about planning, food, tent, campsite place, altitude sickness and more importantly safety. With lot of first timers in group, it was easy to choose Indiahikes as they stress on safety. Check more details about trek in below link.

If you wanna choose other trekking companies, then go ahead and choose. If you want to try climbing alpine style this is the best trail for you as this trek has several entry and exit points.  

Preparation for trek

In the last decade, people hiking in Himalayan region have multiplied to greater extent.  Thanks to the widespread accessibility of Internet and social media.  How well prepared you are for any trek matters a lot. It’s easy to walk kilometers in plains, but its difficult when you are climbing uphill especially in higher altitude. Check this section for preparation

Items to carry:

Check the below link as I have made a detailed list. It’s a personal list, however don’t compromise on gears especially if you are trekking in winter. It matters a lot

Basic necessary

  • Trek shoe
  • 50- 60 lts backpack (Try to carry small backpack so we tend to carry less luggage—My logic)
  • Down or Padded Jacket

Other Accessories

  • Cloths – 1 pair of thermals
  • A fleece or Wind cheater
  • 2 full arm shirt and full-length pant
  • Rain jacket /pant or Poncho (For snow fall)
  • Sunglasses
  • Suncap
  • Hand gloves (both inner and outer – Inner – Woolen Outer – water/snow resistance)
  • Socks (4 Pairs – Min) + Woolen Socks for night
  • Banaclava or neck warmer
  • Liner for sleep hygiene (Optional)
  • Knee cap and trek pole (Optional)
  • Day pack – 10 lts (Optional– its required only in last stretch for few hours)
  • Water bottle Or Hydration Pack
  • Plastic Cover for wet clothes
  • Toiletries (Paste, Brush, Sunscreen, Moisturizer, Toilet paper, Sanitizer, facewash, Comb)
  • Basic medicine Kit
  • Good camera with extra batteries or Power bank


  • A book or Kindle
  • Snacks
  • Earphones – I suggest not to use while hiking.

Short Itinerary

Day 0 – Reach Rishikesh/Dehradun
Day 1 – Travel from Risikesh/Dehradun to Tapoban (10 kms from Joshimath). `250 Kms.
Day 2 – Drive from Tapoban to Karchi and Trek from Karchi to Akhrotghetta
Day 3 – Akhrotghetta to Khullara
Day 4 – Khullara to Tali via Kuari Pass
Day 5 – Tali to Auli 
Day 6 – Drive back from Auli

Day 0 – Reach Rishikesh/Dehradun

We took a flight to Deharadun Jolly Grant airport and from airport we took a taxi to Rishikesh. We stayed in a hotel close “Live free Hostel” thinking it would be easier for our next day pick up. We roamed near Laxhman Jhula, eat in Beatles café looking over the Ganga. Roamed in the streets and spent our time Joyously.  

Day 1 – Travel from Risikesh/Dehradun to Tapoban (10 kms from Joshimath). Approx -250kms- 10 hours drive

We got up early in the morning and reached Live free hostel in Rishikesh to meet with other trekkers and start our journey towards Tapoban. We group of 11 people took a Indiahikes arranged TT and started our Journey towards Tapoban at 6.15 AM. Our first stop was in Devprayag. The confluence of Bhagirathi and Alakanada was Mesmerizing. We had our breakfast on the way and  lunch in Pipalkoti. We see 4 prayag out of 5 during our journey to Tapoban

Pancha Prayag

  1. DevPrayag — Alakanada and Bhagirathi confluence
  2. Rudraprayag – Alakanada and Mandakini Confluence
  3. Karna Prayag – Alakananda and Pindari Confluence
  4.  Nanda prayag – Alakananda and Nandakini Confluence
  5. Vishnu Prayag – Alakanada and Duali Ganaga Confluence (We won’t see this place enroute)

Enjoy this beautiful confluence enroute. By the time we reached Tapoban it was 5.30PM. I was dying for the first glimpse of Mt.Dronagiri and Dhauliganga.  However, by the time we got settled in, it was dark and I had to wait till morning. We spent the rest of evening repacking our bag, meeting other trekkers and some time getting familiarized with India hikes policies.

Day 2 – Drive from Tapoban to Karchi and Trek from Karchi to Akhrotghetta

Early in the morning I got my wish fulfilled with a beautiful view of Dhauli Ganga and Mount Dronagiri. We had breakfast and were all set to start trek.  Drive from Tapoban to Karchi is short. It took half an hour to reach Karchi.

 Kuari Pass trek being easy to moderate in nature is extremely convenient for beginners. We took the popular “Lord Curzon Trail”. Its an easy, gradual hike of 3-4 kms to Akhrotgetta Campsite. We didn’t see snow patches almost till campsite. But the trail is filled with thick forest cover with lots of oak and walnut trees. Campsite got its name from all the walnut trees. Akhort means Walnut. It’s a beautiful litter free trail. View from this campsite is splendid. You can lot of 6000 & 7000-meters mountain peaks covered in snow. You can see Mount Dronagiri (7066m), Hathi(6727m), Kamet (7756m), Nilkantha(6500m), Mana(7274),  Avalanch and several other peaks through out the hike.

It started snowing around 3.0 clock. We enjoyed the snowfall. It was cold during night. I guess if you haven’t experienced -10 C, you have no idea how cold that can be. Due to snowfall, we didn’t have wind chills. This made the weather bearable for me. Lot of us struggled with cold but the early morning sunrise made up for that.

Day 3: Akhrotghetta to Khullara

All around us everything was looking white. Trek was shorter but due to snow patches and cold we walked slowly. The level of difficulty was very much similar to previous day. We pass through the beautiful Oak trees. When we were passing through the picturesque trail, we stopped in between to rephase the Chipko movement which started in Tehri Gharwal of Uttarakhand.

Chipko Movement, also called Chipko Andolan,  a nonviolent social and ecological movement by rural villagers, particularly women, in India in the 1970s, aimed at protecting trees and forests slated for government-backed logging.

Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sundarlal Bahuguna led villagers into the forest and embraced the trees to prevent logging. They started this with organization called Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh. However, we all hugged trees to see the connection between trees and us. It was very special, it sort of made me feel calm and relaxing. Everyone had a different word to describe their feelings. Walking in natural environment and using your senses to connect with what’s around me has been the most essential part of me to do treks.

 Since most of us struggled with cold, they stayed in tent. However, I just roamed all round the campsite and took in as much mountains. In evening, Rahul showed some simple easy to carry cooking stove and gas. I loved it and wish I will use one of these when I do my own alpine style treks someday.

The splendor of nature, the stillness in the valleys, the astounding views of night sky, the ardent display of colors during the sunrise/ sunset, the delight of staying in the tents out there in open exhilarated me for the summit push.

Day 4: Khullara to Tali via Kuari Pass

“The Big Day” Summit Day. We started the day early, so that we can be in the pass early and avoid other group of people. The first half of the hike is via a steep uphill trail, which flattens out as you approach the ridge. As you climb, you will be treated to views of rolling snow meadows and frozen mountain streams, that stretch as far as the eye can see. View from here is spectacular. You can see lot of peaks above 6500 mts.

From the ridge, we take a left towards Kuari pass. This walk to the pass is glorious with Mt. Pangarchulla on one side and other big mountains on other side.  Last stretch seems slightly steep for first timers. View from highest pass range of Kurai and Pangarchalla was marvelous. It offers a view of multiple peaks. None of the photo’s would give justice to the actual view. The freezing chill winds, numb hands and toes, followed by cryogenic nights was worth tolerating for this view.

We spent some time here and traversed the same path till the ridge. We had a nice hot lunch here and started our trek back to Tali Campsite. It’s a steep downhill for solid 3 hours. On the way, it started snowing again and the view became heavenly. We walked from meadows to forest.  All the trees around us turned white in few minutes. I was lost in my own thoughts while walking through peaceful, mystic forest. Campsite looked like a fairy tale place.

Most of them were very tired when we reached campsite. Several people vomited due to tiredness and over exhaustion. All of us were fit and fine by next day after a good nap.  I enjoyed the tasty pasta and beautiful snowfall in the evening.

Day 5 – Tali to Tugasi Village

We were supposed to go to Tali and trek down to Auli via Gurson Bugyal. Roads to Gurson Bugyal was blocked. We decided to change the route post visiting frozen Tali Lake. This day and campsite were indeed a fairy tale place.

I just couldn’t get enough of this place. Walk till Tali frozen lakes amidst those beautiful forest was staggering. This place was peaceful and unspoiled.  One can find snow that goes knee deep and frozen trees that tower all around. It is totally quiet here, and it is possible to be in harmony with nature while walking through these woods. I was greeted with was fluffy snow peacefully adorning the branches of the many trees all around me.

With every passing minute’s view got better and better. Tali Lake was indeed remarkable. I was flabbergasted by its beauty. I was excited for this day. I always dreamed of viewing Mt. NandaDevi from those beautiful valleys. I was dying for the glimpse of Mt.Nandadevi. However, mountain gods didn’t bless us and clouds covered our views.

Post Tali we weren’t ready to bid our adieu to this place. We walked slowly and took in as much of nature as possible. After a solid downhill of 3 hours, we surpass the snow face and entered the dirt trail. It’s a gradual descend till Gulling village.  The terrain is mostly rough here. Leaving out the terrace farming lands, there is no affluence of greenery, but offers a sweeping view of the Garhwal frontier all around. Post this after few hours we reached Tugasi Village. From here vehicle took us back to our stay in Joshimath.

This how you fall in snow and enjoy 🙂

Our Additional stay in Auli

I always wanted to explore the skiing in Auli. However, when I reached Auli I was slightly disappointed by the view. That may be because of our unmatched spectacular views of Kurai Pass. Due to new year ahead of us, it was crowded. Auli is the skiing destination and is famous for its peaked snow mountains, it is better to visit this beauty during the winter season. We stayed for half a day in Joshimath and roamed around Narasinga temple and Shankaracharya Matt

Stay in Auli

There are several guest houses and hotels in Auli. One of the most prominent ones is GNMV Nanda devi Eco tourism resort. One needs to go in ropeway to this resort. There are few other GMNV Resorts available. I was staying in GMNV Skii Resorts. You can get details from Uttarakhand Tourism office in Bangalore.

Bangalore Office Address.
Uttarakhand Touism GMNV
2nd floor Nanjappa Mansion
KH Road (Shanti Nagar)
Bangalore  -560027
Ph – 080-22249378
9886180515 — Anurag

You can also book online in blow link

Auli offers amazing views with high peaks of the Himalayas. One can see Nanda Devi from here. The mighty Nanda Devi is at the height of 7816 meters.  Nanda Devi is the tallest complete mountain located in India.

Hanuman Temple

One has to climb close 150 stairs to reach the top. Natural vistas, panoramic views of Himalayan peaks, lush wooded vegetation and green pastures of Gurson Bugyal give Auli a colorful look. Mount Nanda devi is visible from this temple. I had my fill of Mt. Nandadevi (7816 mts), Mt. Trisual(7120 mts),  chukamba, Kamet, Hathi, Ghoda, Neelkanth and other peaks.

This offers spiritual feeling to all those who would like to share the religious vibe along with peace amidst the mountains.

Cable Car and Ropeway

We took a chair car to reach top from Ski Resort. One can take a ropeway from Joshimath. Its one f the longest ropeway in India. If you prefer taking ropeway I suggest you to do pre booking.

Cable car  links the lower slopes of Auli to the upper slopes, and through this, tourists can reach the skiing spot directly, in a matter of ten minutes. Before visiting Auli I had plans to try skiing however, once I reached the upper slopes I was bit disappointed and chose to have fill of mountains.

Artificial Lake

Auli has the world’s highest man-made lake. This artificial lake is in the middle of the slopes of the mountain. This beautiful lake is surrounded by colorful flowers and white views that enhance the beauty of this lake. For me Auli seemed dull post Kuari pass trek.

Stay in Srinagar – Ramesh’s Sir’s home

We started our journey back towards Rishikesh and stopped near this beautiful village near Srinagar in Ramesh Sir’s home. As i walked through the threshold of the village and house, I felt like I have come home, even if my physical home is in the other side of India. On the hammock I could breathe the scents of the wonderful garden and listen to the sounds of the wild winter nights. It was a great place to stay with a beautiful house close to nature. Hospitability we received was excellent.  I still can’t get enough of Panner, Carrot halwa and Methi paratha which was so loving served to us. A triumph of flavors and colors to taste the finest Indian cuisine, all strictly bio and homemade.

I just can’t Thank Ramesh sir enough for this. It was a short visit and it was time to leave, but a piece of me definitely stayed there.

Approx cost for 10 days

This costed me ~32500 Rs for 10 days. Here is the break up

Expense DetailsCost
IH Cost ( 7 days Trek, Food and Accommodation cost)10309
Flight both ways( Bangalore – Deharadun)11507
Stay in Auli ( for 3 nights) 5000
Stay in Rishikesh 600
Drop from Deharadun to Joshimath 1100
Drop from Auli to Airport 2000
Food + local roaming car and other expenses ( for 4 days) 2000

Have you ever been for a trek’s like this? What’s your favorite? What’s your wonderland, do let me know in comments.

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