Crossing the towns of Rishikesh, Devprayag and Karnaprayag, you reach the mountain town of Auli. Nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas, it is locally known as Auli Bugyal. The local term ‘Bugyal’ means grasslands that grow at an altitude of about 3000 meters. This town comes alive during winter when thousands of professional skiers descend here to test their skills along nearly 20km of mountain slopes. In summer, Auli becomes the base for treks to the Valley of Flowers and for pilgrimages like Badrinath. Here are some interesting experiences in and around Auli for the summer season.
Stroll around Joshimath
Joshimath’s town centre is not too far away from Auli. Also known as Jyotirmath, this is where Adi Guru Shankaracharya established an 8th century temple, which is popular among pilgrims. Other temples worth a visit here include those of Narasimha, Ganesha and Hanuman. Besides temples, Joshimath offers some spectacular sights, particularly of Kalpavriksh, a mulberry tree, which is believed to be one of the oldest trees in India.
Strolling around the small town centre here while admiring the terraced houses is also enjoyable. Indulge in some local shopping on the street, where local fruits, vegetables, local spices and apparel are available at affordable prices.
Sample authentic Garhwali food
Even though there is a dearth of restaurants in and around Auli, the small eateries do a commendable job of serving fresh, authentic Garhwali cuisine. Ask for local recommendations and savour some mountain pulses like white rajma with mandua ki roti made out of local flour. Do try the sweets of the region like bal mithai and singhori.
Panoramic views from the cable car
Connecting a stretch of four kilometers, the Auli Ropeway is one of the longest and highest in the country. Going up to about 3000 meters from 1110 meters, it affords panoramic views of the town and the mountains around, from lush green meadows to snowcapped peaks.
Hike up to Gurson Bugyal
Put on comfortable walking shoes and hike three kilometres to Gurson Bugyal. You can walk one and a half kilometres beyond the last stop of Auli Ropeway to start the trail. This trek is best done in spring, when the meadow turns into a lush carpet of greenery surrounded by white peaks like the magnificent Trishul and Nanda Devi. Rugged oak, rhododendron and pine trees pave the trail for this truly scenic hike.