The trek towards Har-Ki-Doon, that is, the Gharwal region of the Great Himalayas was first unveiled by Jack Gibson, a teacher at Doon School, who fell in love with the U-shaped valley and popularized it among his students and was also credited for inspiring Indian Mountaineers like Jagjit Singh and Cheema, who then later on became the pioneers of the world of trekking.
The Har-Ki-Doon valley is in the Uttarkashi district of the Uttrakhand state of India at an altitude of 3,566 meters at the base of Fateh Parvat, this moderate level trek is one of the famous treks in the Himalayas as it offers everything to a trekker, nature lover and bird-watcher, trailing through treacherous mountain roads, thickly wooded mixed forests, catching the glimpse of rare medicinal herbs, home to high altitude birds through the Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary, and venturing into the most remote regions of the Himalayas with ceaseless views is what the trek encompasses.
This week long trek starts off with a drive on those sharply curved roads with blustery water steams, that leaves one's heart pounding against the rib cage, and reaches a small village Sankri cloaked with clouds, which is where for the first time, the feeling of being in a completely different world is dawned on oneself. Trekking through Taluka, Seema the other two remote villages which in themselves are unaffected by the passage of time and are still culturally intact and untarnished in any way, as the native tribe of the region, the terraced cultivated land patches of rajma, potatoes and rice is seen in abundance, locals here are known for their simplicity and childlike directness, one also gets intrigued by the unfamiliar yet complimentary settlement pattern of the double storied energy efficient houses, made up of cider beams, stones and mud, decorated with the intricate illustrations from the great Indian epic Mahabharata on the wooden doors. The people here claim to be the descendents of the "Kauravas" a clan of royal warriors considered as anti-heroes from the epic Mahabharata and adding to the uniqueness of this place residing here are one of the rare communities that worships "Duryodhana" and has a beautifully constructed and carved temple dedicated to "Duryodhana".
The trek while crossing the ridges and going through moderate inclinations, presents astounding beauty of the snow clothed earth and the picturesque shows itself as the live glaciers that converge and then break through the encircled mighty mountains in one grand gully, Har-Ki-Doon valley is known for the enchanting and spectacular view of the snow clad mountain peaks like the Kala Nag, the Bandar poounch, the mighty Swargrohini and is the centre to the route to excursions more daring in nature like the Shinka Pass, the Borasu Pass, the Ruinesara Taal, the Bali pass and Dhumdharkandi Pass.
A couple of kilo meters ahead and one reaches Jaundhar Glacier 4,300 meters right beneath the legendary Swargrohini peak 6,249 meters, as mentioned in the religious scriptures that the Pandavas in order to enter the heaven climbed up to this mountain as "the pathway towards heaven" hence standing on the name Swagrohini, and the other great mountain range the Bandar poounch is named so because it looks like a tail of a monkey, differentiation of the fact from the fiction and true to what extent is the question that lures many new trekkers towards this destination.
The trek to the Har-Ki-Doon is an easy to moderate trek but one needs to be physically fit, the well marked trails, bridges for the crossing of raging water streams, mild ascends and descends, couple of tricky patches of inclinations, peek to the unexplored regions of the Garhwal Himalayas, glimpse of the local life of the villages is an strangely pleasant encounter in itself that one experiences, the exquisite and vast variety in the flora and fauna, the magnificent mountain peaks with the folklore, the uncertain and ever changing weather and the "can't be explained in words" quality of this Himalayan trek makes it a trek of a lifetime.