My introduction with Gwaldam was a pleasant surprise. I was searching for the Valley of Flowers on the internet and found a blog, that introduced me to this small beautiful hill station of Uttarakhand. I forgot the name of that blog, but the pictures of Gwaldam from that blogpost stuck in my mind forever. A narrow paved road covered with the orange carpet of pine needles, passing through the dense forest of pine trees in a misty weather..I thought the heaven is somewhere near Gwaldam ! Oh, There are so many heavens on the earth. Life seems too short to visit all of them. But, its good that I am visiting some of them one by one. After reading that blogpost, I made and broke many plans for Gwaldam in next two years. And one day, finally, while moving towards the base camp of Roopkund Trek, I got a chance to spend a night in Gwaldam.
It was almost 20-hours long journey from Delhi to Gwaldam. First, we boarded a train from Delhi to Haldwani and then, from Haldwani got a shared jeep to Gwaldam. Most of the shared jeeps from Haldwani operate upto Garur only (20 kms before Gwaldam), but they generally arrange another jeep from Garur to Gwaldam. (To know details about how to reach Gwaldam from Delhi, Please go through this post: How to Reach Roopkund Lake? ). The road leading from Haldwani to Gwaldam passes through the most beautiful landscapes of Lower Himalayas, also through the hill stations like Nainital, Almora, Kausani and Baijnath on the way. The final 30 km road from Kausani to Gwaldam passes along one of the most beautiful pines filled landscapes in India.
By the time we reached Gwaldam, it was 4’o clock in the evening. Body was tired after a long journey, but the mind was refreshed and rejuvenated with the surrounding views. Blue sky was filled with dark and white clouds, those were eager to shower. Under the sky, there was the beautiful hills covered by the pine trees, there was terraced farms on the hill slopes and in the middle of them, were the small houses scattered all around. The first view of Gwaldam was very charming.
We left that shared jeep just outside the Tourist Rest House of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN). The place for night stay was not yet decided. The dormitory beds of GMVN were in our knowledge, but before booking, we wanted to explore other options. While we were thinking about the place to stay, drizzle started. To keep our backpack safe from that drizzle, we kept them below the shed near the SBI ATM. There was the anticipation of heavy rain, therefore, it was decided that without searching any other place , we should settled at GMVN Dormitory. We went to the GMVN office and found that all rooms in the rest house was unoccupied at that time. Dormitory was very clean with five beds and two attached bathrooms and toilets. Facility of Hot Water was also there. Since, we were four people, we booked the dormitory beds, as it was a cheaper option.
The moment we settled down in the dormitory with our backpacks, the heavy rain started outside. It was about 4.30 PM, so I thought that there would be no chance to walk around Gwaldam, as we were planned to leave Gwaldam in the next morning as soon as possible.
But the rain stopped almost after 45 minutes and there was still some time left before it gets dark. The surrounding atmosphere was very pleasant after the rain. We went for the tea, before exploring Gwaldam. There was a nice restaurant adjacent to the SBI ATM, just in front of the Rest House. We enjoyed the evening tea with hot pakoras. There was no sign of rain then, so we moved around in the market. Sanjeev wanted to take some rest. He returned back to the Rest House and we moved ahead on the road.
There is a small market in Gwaldam, where the household items for daily needs are easily available. But for hiring or purchasing some trekking gears, Dewal and Lohajung seems better option than Gwaldam.
As soon as we passed the small market of Gwaldam, the beauty and charm of Gwaldam welcomed us with its majestic beauty. As such, there is nothing special to visit in Gwaldam. There is a small Buddhist temple about 3 kms away from the main market and a SSB training center (where entry in not allowed) about 1 km away from the main market. But, we don’t had enough time to explore individual places.
Gwaldam is also a perfect place to watch the high snow-covered peaks of The Himalayas, mainly Trishul and Nanda Gunti, but since the target of our trip was Roopkund Lake and Junargali Pass, that is very close to those peaks, we didn’t care about sighting those peaks from Gwaldam. Moreover, the surrounding hills was totally covered under dark clouds, so nothing was visible after a certain distance.
At Gwaldam, its better to walk along the road towards the pine forest (about 4 kms away from the main market) or or to proceed on the trails passing through the terraced farms. We didn’t have sufficient time, so just moved on the road going towards Dewal. After 2 kms of walk, we reached to the end of the town, where the alpine trees are in abundance. But they don’t form the perfect symmetry of the pine trees that we found along the road between Garur and Gwaldam. Those trees are still 2 kms ahead of that point.
The sky was still covered with the clouds and day end was approaching. There was no chance to walk further, so we returned back to the rest house. The Sun was setting down behind the hills somewhere, but changing colors of the sky made a perfect picture in front of us.
By the time, we reached to the rest house, it was completely dark outside. After taking some rest, we went for the dinner. There is a small dhaba down the road, just opposite to the GMVN rest house entrance. We were supposed to wonder in the wilderness of the Himalayas for next 7-8 days during the trek, so it was the last chance for a good dinner before coming back again from the trek. Luckily, they prepared a nice chicken meal for us.
We went back to the rest house and charged our gadgets, mobiles and cameras, as we thought that the electricity would not be there after that night at Gwaldam for next 6-7 days, however it is available in Wan Village also. We also prepared our backpacks for the upcoming trek.
Our next day plan was to reach Dewal from Gwaldam for onwards journey to Wan Village, the base station for Roopkund Trek. The usual way to reach Dewal from Gwaldam is via Tharali. That distance is about 36 kms. There is another direct route exist between Gwaldam and Dewal, that reduces the large part of the distance (at least half of the distance via Tharali), if we travel directly rather than via Tharali. We also wanted to use that direct route. But when we enquired about the possibilities of the shared jeep on that direct route, most people informed that only hired vehicle could go on that route, no shared jeep, because of the bad condition of the route. We dropped the idea to go on that route and finally went via Tharali. There is also a trekking trails of about 8 kms from Gwaldam to Dewal, but people rarely trek on that trail. The narrow trail is very scenic and passes through the green terraced-fields and alpine trees.
We left Gwaldam at 8’o clock in the morning and moved to Dewal via Tharali using a shared jeep. While retuning back from the trek, we passed through Gwaldam and didn’t stop there. At the end of the trip, I was unable to find the orange carpet of alpine needles anywhere (for this, we are suppose to travel before Monsoon), but I really enjoyed the clouds, hills and pine trees around the small town of Gwaldam. It was a short, but nice stay indeed. I wish to move on that route again from Haldwani to Karnaprayag via Nainital, Almora, Kausani, Baijnath and Gwaldam. I hope to back soon, preferably to walk on the orange carpet of those alpine needles in a misty weather.
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