Imagine walking in a Himalayan field with the breeze carrying  the intoxicating smell of a mixture of rare alpine flowers one can fathom. Bagini Glacier trek traces a rare and refreshing highland walk winding through some of the most intriguing garhwali villages and glade-like upper lawn of Bagini & Changbang camping grounds which are in full bloom with majestic yellow and purple wildflowers. It is not just the raw beauty of nature that draws travelers here but the proximity to some lovely snow capped Himalayan peaks like Kalanka, Changbang and Dronagiri which dominates the landscape. The route which takes you to the Advance camp taken for mountaineering expeditions to High ranging peaks like Changbang and Kalanka gives you a feel of being in Everest Base Camp without it’s hustle and bustle of overcrowding and commercialization. Recently with the increase number of trekkers opting to explore the campsites of Bagini and Changbang than the more popular Dharansi Pass Trek from Nanda Devi Outer Sanctuary (NDOS) realm, it is a fair assumption that Bagini Glacier trek is viable option for adventurous travelers and backpackers who want to explore and know more about the mountains of the region

History about Bagini Glacier & Changabang B.C route

The twin peaks of Nanda devi and Nanda devi east(7,434 m) exude an aura unsurpassed by any mountain in the Indian Himalayas. Lying entirely within Indian borders Nanda Devi is just short of being an 8 thousander, but that has not been an impediment to its grandeur nor it has been a stumbling block in its reverence. Climbed first in 1937 by legendary climber and explorer Major Harold William Bill Tillman better known as H.W Tilman and famed Noel Odell,  (Noel was the last first person to see Mallory and Irvine supposedly climbing the Second step on Mount Everest on 8th June 1924) its tryst with exploration goes back to 1930s when a number to expeditions repeatedly failed to reach even its base. The reason for this lying in the fact that the main summit is surrounded by an impenetrable barrier of peaks. The average height of this barrier being 20000 ft,  the tag impenetrable is just right.

The Nanda Devi National Park is a national park situated around the peak of Nanda Devi.  The park encompasses the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, a glacial basin surrounded by a ring of peaks between 6,000 metres (19,700 ft) and 7,500 m (24,600 ft) high, and drained by the Rishi Ganga, through the Rishi Ganga Gorge, a steep, almost impassable defile. The entire park lies at an elevation of more than 3,500 m (11,500 ft) above mean sea level.Some of the peaks in this sanctuary are Dunagiri, Kalanka, Changabang, Rishi pahar, Nanda khat, Nanda Ghunti, Panwali Dwar, Trishul etc. After  many failed expeditions and ardeous explorations in 1934, British explorers Eric Shipton and Tillman found a route inside the sanctuary through the Rishi Gorge. Nanda devi main (7786m) is surrounded by a thick wall of peaks, there is an inner wall as well as an outer wall. Bagini glacier lies to the North of this outer wall. Bagini glacier trek is a short trek, it can be done within 5-6days. The trek starts from Jumma a small village on the Joshimath Malari highway which is around 40 km. From jumma its a 2-3 hour easy hike to Ruing. From Ruing it is a gradual steep hike to a place called Chaza which is devoid of any vegetation, after which there is a steep hike over landslide zone to the Alpine village of Dunagiri. From Dunagiri it is a two day hike to Bagini glacier and Changabang base camp.

How to do the Trek

Day 1: Jumma to Ruing village (2800m) 

The trek starts from a non descript village called Jumma which is an hour ride from Joshimath.Trek Ration and kerosene can be picked up from Joshimath, as further up things get dearer by the metre. The ride from from Joshimath to Jumma is part bumpy and part smooth. Tapovan, Reni, Lata, Suraithota, Phagti are many villages which fall on the way. In between Suraithota and Jumma the road is in par with the Dhauliganga river, which makes it a good watch in autumn, but will surely play havoc during the merciless monsoon months. If you want to stack kerosene Suraithota is a good option.
The Hanging bridge at the beginnning of the trek in Jumma
Jumma is near the tibetan border so during afternoon there will be a fierce wind, blowing you off your feet as soon as you alight from your vehicle. The trail starts with a steel suspension bridge over the Dhauliganga after which the ascent of Ruing begins. The road to Ruing is mildly steep through the forest. Its about 3 kms from Jumma to Ruing and won’t take more than 2-3 hours. Staying at Ruing is a bit tricky, you can stay at the panchayat ghar. If the village elders permit the trek team to camp there for the night, nevertheless another option is to hike further 2-3 km from Ruing and reach a small grassland just before the ascent of Dronagiri. 
 
The place has two distinct advantages, one you get closer to Dronagiri and it would be easy for you to negotiate the herculean climb through the landslide and second this place has a nearby stream so a good natural place to camp.
Bagini Glacier Trek (2)
Day 2:Ruing(2800m) to Dronagiri Village (3610m) 
Starts with the same type of trail ( trail from Jumma to Ruing). Its a well laid path through the forest sometimes meandering up and sometimes down. There is no possibility of someone to get lost here. This a solitary trail with little or negligible sideways. At a distance of around 3.5mtrs from the Campsite, you reach the beginning of the landslide zone. You notice two distinct trails, one on the upperside and another downward. Do not take the upper one as it is a remnant of an earlier trail that used to be the main trail to the village. But it was destroyed some years ago by massive glaciers from the Nandikund area. This has led to the making of something of a mini Canyon which will require the help of a guide or porter to negotiate if you are not sure footed.
Bagini Glacier Trek (4)
The trail is dusty, steeply inclined at an angle of 60° to 70 º to the horizontal and full of mud slides, small streams crisscrossing your path, while you take your tired body surely and slowly to the top. Once you reach there, a cemented pavement awaits in silent anticipation to take you to the Village. The scene is straight out from a Swiss alpine landscape. The horizon is dotted with the snow laden peaks of Hathi Parvat, Ghori Parvat. If its summer, flowers will be in full blossom. For once you forget this is not a trek but a walk in the Swiss alps.

But reality dawns on you quickly as you will gradually see the dilapidated houses of Dronagiri, most of them will be uninhabited, and those not will seem to you are from a bygone age. There are no shops in the village, the nearest bazaar is at Suraithota almost 20 kms away, though there is a shop in Ruing but it is very very basic.
Bagini Glacier Trek (8)
Camping options in Dronagiri are limited to two. One in the village outskirts and another in the GMVN which is nearing completion. Expenses in staying there, will range from Cheap to outright pricey depending on how you and your guide can negotiate with the Chowkidar. If you are not from be ready to pay a hefty sum. This autumn it costed 1500 for one room for two trekkers from England.   Two surprise infiltrations of Technology are the presence of satellite phone in the village which costs around rupees 2/ per minute for a local call inside Uttarakhand. Nevertheless be prepared to be met with dejection. Satellite phones in these areas are prone to malfunction or not function at all and subjected to the whims of the village phone operator, another is solar lights ,the village is dotted with solar tubelights and solar street lights.   There is a temple of the Bhumial God situated on the higher reaches of the village which is revered and worshipped by the local folks. From the village, the first views of the Dunagiri mountain is visible.      Bagini Glacier Trek (7)     Day 3: Dronagiri Village (3610m) to Bagini B.C (4484 m) via Longatulli (3800m)  After leaving Dronagiri we reach a meandering path which leads us to a high ridge from where the first views of the Rishi peak is visible. Bagini nala too is first visible from here. Around 30 mintues after we left the village we reached a concrete bridge over the Bagini Nala. Do not take the left trail as it leads up to the Kanari khal and then gradually towards Garpak village. After crossing that bridge the path again takes a meandering turn upwards. The area here is almost completely devoid of any vegetation. Its boulders and more of boulders which fill the landscape. There is a patch of green beside a stream which we reach after an hour and 15 minutes from the bridge, This is a good camping ground. Further an hour more we reach the camping ground of Longatulli which is again a very good campsite, People who are still not acclamatized can stop here for the day. The route from Longatulli is ascending. Its not steep but it continuosly ascends with boulders on the way. After around 2 to 3 hours of hiking you reach a plain plateau which is the Bagini Lower Base Camp(12360 foot). Many of the peaks which are visibe from here are Rishi pahar, Satminal, Hardeul etc.    Bagini Upper base camp is again around 4kms from here. From Bagini Upper base camp at a distance of around 30 – 45 mintues, there is a better camping place called Bagini Advanced Base camp(15530 ft).The trail is pretty much the same throughout ,ascends mildly at most places, steep at very few places. Try to cross the bagini nala/garud gad/garud stream early in the morning, because as day the progresses so does the volume of water. Crossing the nala in the afternoon is not advisable. The route is not well marked especially for the novice trekker but a careful look will provide you with the sight of cairns, small pebbles positioned one on top of the other so that you can locate your trail. You can camp at either of the places for the night.

Day 4: Bagini base camp(4484) to Changabang base & back to Bagini B.C
You need to begin early if we need to catch sunrise from Changabang base camp, which is around 3-4 kms from Bagini Advanced Base Camp. Leave your rucksack in the base camp and carry only the necessary accesories. From Bagini Advanced Base camp the route to Changabang base camp again ascends. The road is full of moraine, and you will spot a number of crevasse on the bagini glacier. 
Bagini Glacier Trek (24)
Changabang base camp is a huge amphitheatre. The peaks which are visible from here are Hathi(6507m), Ghori,Satminal(6911m), Dunagiri east(7066m),Garur peak, Trishuli(7057m), hardeul(7323m), Rishi(6099m), Kalanka(6931m), Changabang(7174m). We return the same way to Dronagiri Village where we camp for the night
Bagini Glacier Trek (14)
Day 5: Bagini B.C to Ruing We return to Ruing by the same path. Take a jeep from Jumma to Joshimath and proceed for Haridwar.   Bagini Glacier Trek (13)   Day 6: Ruing to Jumma by trek, jeep drive from Jumma to Joshimath

Trek Reviews


 

Trek Diary 


by Abhinaba Naskar

Abhinaba Naskar is a software professional at Cognizant Technology Solutions. Every autumn and summer he tries to venture out into the unknown, sometimes well known paths sometimes some obscure ones. One of his goals in life is to complete the traverse of the base camps of each of the eight thousanders.

The hamlet of Joshimath looked radiant and pristine in the early hours of october 2nd 2011, early morning before we started for the trek from Jumma we headed towards Auli. It was around 8 km from Auli. After the Auli trip we began our sojourn towards Jumma in a rented Mahindra Max.

Initially the road was very good, partly because some of it was and is maintained by the Indian army. Near the Village of Tapovan we had the first and only glimpse of the fabled  Goddess, Nanda devi. Though clouds were obscuring the view but grandeur of the mountain was so evident, a little later we stopped at Suraithota to buy kerosene for our trek.As we let Suraithota the villages gradually lessened. The high point of the trip was the journey along the Dhauliganga river which ran in parallel and in level with the road towards Jumma.

This road in stark contrast is in a bad condition to the road which started from Joshimath. It was around 12.00 pm when we landed in Jumma, but a cold wind was blowing which chilled us to the bone. 

There was a hanging bridge to take us on the other side of the Dhauli ganga. It was here our guide Birendra joined us with the Ghorewala, as we cross the bridge we get a fascinating view of the Dhauli ganga and the meandering view of the Joshimath Malari highway.The path to Ruing village is not far away but we feel tired and drained of energy. 

As we reach Ruing village we find a village made of brick and mortar houses, not more than 15-20 houses in total, a generally amused village folk who with inquisitive look in their eyes see us as one by one our trek team passes by their village.

Normally people make Ruing a stayover but we did not stay here for the night, this happened courtesy our guide Birendra who said that around 2-3 kms from the village outskirts there is a place for camping, if we need to negotiate the steep climb to dronagiri we need to be a little ahead. But on reaching the place, we found the place to be a far less ideal place for camping. Water source was far below and the camping grounf far from level, nevertheless it was dusk, cold and we were dead tired. So we decided to call it a day as slept early eventually after a light dinner. 

The next began early, since the camping site was in the sunshine less zone. We were feeling chilly so we decided not to waste time and began our sojourn early, after  a criss cross up down traverse through the forest we reached the beginning of the uphill climb to the vilage of the Dronagiri. There are two distinct paths to the village. An initial problem was deciding in which trail to take. We waited for our guide to arrive who pointed to us the trail on the up. It had ended abrupty after a sudden drop. The landslide and the broken trail is the result of earthquake which had destroyed much of the remaining trail. As a result of this everyone venturing out for this trek, had to negotiate for the steep climb. As we reached Dronagiri we noticed two distinct things. One is, inspite of a many number of houses, the village wore a deserted look.

It looked to me as if I am in mediveal era. The calm, the serenity was almost too real to be true. Another thing noticeable was the huge GMVN structure which is awaiting completion. From far it looked to me huge and should be able to accomodate 50-70 trekkers. We did stop at Dronagiri for 2 or 3 hours buying vegetables but we decided not to spend the night here and carried along forward. The path leads to the ridge which was visible when we were entering the village. We negotiate the curve and cross a downward spiralling path which brings us in confrontation with the Bagini nala. After about 20 - 25 minutes from Dronagiri, we reached the bridge over the nala. Once we crossed the nala it is again an upward climb over loose rocks. An hour and a half later we reached a place which bore resemblance to a meadow. Our guide decided that this was the place to camp. Unlike the last camp,this was a good place. The Rishi peak and the Kalanka peak were visible from here. As Bagini nala was flowing so getting drinking water was not a difficulty. There were huge rocks in the midde of which we pitched our tent. It protected us from the wind.The night was cold, but the chill factor was absent.

As we began our trek on at 9 am, we found that we have crossed the treeline zone and what remained of the vegetation was only shrubs and bushes. An hour from our camp was the meadow of Longatulli, where many trek teams were camping for the night , in order to acclamatize for the hike upto Bagini base camp. After Longatulli there is a sea of boulders in the path to Bagini lower base camp. The route is not very steep nonetheless its all the way up, as we walked we heard the roaring noise of the bagini nala in full flow. We reached bagini lower base camp at around 1 pm. It took us around 4 hours to come up to Bagini lower. At this point of time, the weather turned for the worse, as afternoon approached the weather became foggy and the mountains became hazzy. We had decided to camp here, but our guide said that around 5-6 kms from here is Bagini upper base camp. 

Since its only 1 pm ,we should continue and camp there for the night. So we dragged ourselves over the ocean of boulders, hopped from one to another and another 120 minutes later reached upper Bagini. The weather had cleared a bit by then and we were treated by a panaroma of peaks which unfolded before us one after another. The Garuda, Trisuli, Hardeul, Rishi, Kalanka, Dunagiri, Satminal. Soon this period of panaroma viewing was over, the area became covered with mist. We anticipated snow but eventually that did not happen.

The weather pattern did not change today. It was still cloudy and misty. The early hours of morning were spent in eager anticipation of the fact that the weather will clear a bit and we will make our dash to Changabang base camp. We missed the glorious sunrise. Had it been cloudless, it would have been a treat to watch. The weather cleared a bit around 8am. But our guide decided against venturing out. We gradually and slowly traced our path back to Dronagiri village. The rest of the journey was uneventful, as we slowly headed back to the village, tired and dejected of the fact that we could not go to Changabang base camp.

We came back to Jumma . The journey back to Joshimath was twice as tiring as the trek, we had to wait over one hour for the vehicle and we had to share our vehicle with another trekking team. Finally the trek ends. On the whole it was a great experience but somewhere we lament the fact that we could not make to Changabang base camp. 


How to get there

  Reach Haridwar by train/bus/car from Delhi.
Route: Haridwar/Rishikesh - Jumma - Ruing - Dhronagiri - Longatulli - Bagini base camp - Changabang base