Getting to Camp Ghangaria is a challenging task. On the other hand, I suppose it’s unfair to expect a place to retain its pristine beauty and be easily accessible. Run by the Sarovar group of hotels, the camp is located at the gateway to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. If you have set out from Delhi, like I did, you need to take a train to Haridwar, then brave a 10-hour drive on stomach-churningly twisty mountain roads to Govindghat, and then undertake a 14km trek or mule ride on a stony, steep path to the camp. But the location of the camp is well worth all the aches and pains that you will inevitably end up with after the long journey. Set on a grassy slope and surrounded by high mountains that are perpetually wrapped up in mist, the location is breathtaking.
The tents at the camp are spacious and done up in a cheery yellow. The beds are comfortable, the pillows fluffy and the blankets soft and warm. The attached bathroom, though, is quite basic. The flooring is uneven, as the tents don’t have a concrete base but are instead made up of layers of hay, waterproof sheets and carpets. The bathroom floor, covered in vinyl sheets, is slippery but the management is considering changing it to a skid-proof surface. There is no electricity; kerosene lanterns and torches are the only source of light once the sun sets. There is no running hot water either but the staff helpfully brought me buckets of hot water whenever I needed it. The food is vegetarian, local and simple but delicious. This might not sound like the ultimate in luxury, but compare it to the basic tents with sleeping bags and common washrooms that are the norm on most treks and you will indeed consider it indulgent. In any case, you are not supposed to hang about the camp all day — you should be out walking the mountains. The entry gate to the Valley of Flowers is a little more than a kilometre away through the tiny, messy village of Ghangaria and the gurudwara at Hemkund is a hard 6km trek from the camp.
Visitors to the region are either going to be seeking spiritual solace at the gurudwara or, like me, worshipping nature in all its glory in the Valley of Flowers. Whichever path you choose, Camp Ghangaria ensures that you embark on your quest well-rested and well-fed.
Location Ghangaria village (near the Valley of Flowers), Garhwal, Uttarakhand
Accommodation 19 luxury tents
Tariff Rs 2,250 per person, including breakfast
Contact 1800-111-222, www.sarovarhotels.com