The hike to Dodital

Trekking in the Indian Himalayas isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There are high trails to traverse that can be knocked out by landslides, the temperatures can plummet overnight and there are few, if any, services along the way. But as I found out on a recent trek to Dodital, in Uttarkhand, north India, the rewards are immense.

Snow capped peaks poking through the cloud. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Snow peaks, remote villages, grazing cattle, blooming flowers and endless vistas greet the hiker in every direction. In fact the views are so incredible that it’s easy to forget the difficulty of the terrain with every corner bringing  further unparalleled views from the one before.

Flowers blooming by the track. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

The trek to Dodital starts just beyond Uttarkashi in the Garwhal, a region of Uttarkhand in north India. And the scenery and terrain just getting here will prepare you for the route  ahead. Landslides affect the roads here every monsoon and at times the route is simply a recently cleared track through rock with some rock showers still falling as you go through.

After Uttarkashi the road is little more than a 4wd track up a valley that was recently inundated with rock and debris from a landslide in mid 2012. Road builders have cut a way through but there’s still about 1km to traverse on foot that is pretty hard going.

Once you reach Sangamchatti the real route begins – a constant climb for two days or 22km up through picturesque villages that hug the hillsides passing the odd gurgling streams and wandering through alpine forest.

The picturesque village of Agora is just one of the small settlements you pass on the way to Dodital.

Companions on the journey are cows, goats, vultures, eagles and the odd village where there is some accommodation, space for camping and the opportunity to get very basic supplies.

However given the remoteness of the terrain it is best to be self sufficient at least with a sleeping bag and any food you want beyond chai (tea) and noodles.

Little dhabas (shops) are available along the way where you can get chai (tea) and noodles cooked. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Dodital is the final destination nestled high in the Himalayas just above 3000m. The lake is surrounded by oak woods, pine, deodar (a Himalayan cedar) and rhododendron. It’s also full of Brown Trout if you fancy some angling. It’s an ideal place to wile away at least a day and recover your legs before you attempt the descent back down.

Dodital lake, the final destination at just over 3000m. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

While Dodital can easily be undertaken by any adventurous soul, you do need at least rudimentary Hindi to get directions along the way. The paths are not necessarily well marked and village people will not speak English.

A woman collecting grass for her buffalo. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

It’s possible to get a guide in Uttarkashi and/or porters and mules to carry supplies for you. In villages along the way you can also find porters if you find the going harder than you anticipated.

Permits are required to hike to Dodital; ask about these in Uttarkashi.