Snow-clad Himalayan peaks, trek at an altitude of 11,000 feet and a walk that preaches historical significance; if you are a traveler who gets all pumped up after reading this, then you must visit Gartang Gali.
Gartang Gali, also known as the world’s deadliest skywalk, is one of the most thrilling and adventurous treks in Uttarakhand. Located near the Indo-China border at an altitude of 11 thousand feet above sea level, the Gartang Gali promises to give you an adrenaline rush like never before. The Gartang Gali bridge, constructed 150 years ago, is now open again for tourists. Offering a splendid view of the Nelong valley, this ancient route is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
In a bid to boost adventure tourism in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district, the state government has re-opened the Gartang Bridge which was closed in 1962. The bridge has been reconstructed keeping its traditional style and historical importance. Gartang Gali runs along a rocky mountain on one side, and overlooks the picturesque Nelong Valley and the vibrant flora and fauna that surrounds the area on the other. The bridge is located inside the Gangotri National Park and is 90 km from the Uttarkashi district headquarters. The bridge is 136 metre-long and 1.8 metre-wide.
“To walk into nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” One such miracle is the historic Gartang Gali route which is believed to be built by the Pathans of Peshawar in the 17th century. Dubbed as one of the most dangerous routes in the world, the stretch was built by cutting the Himalayas’ steep hills and has witnessed several years of Indo-Tibet trade. Before 1962, Indo-Tibet traders travelled through this route by loading goods on yaks, horse-mules, and sheep-goats. The narrow route was used by merchants to reach Uttarkashi via Sumla, Mandi, to trade salt, jaggery, spices, gold, Pashmina wool, etc.
During the Indo-China war in 1962, Gartang Gali played an important role as it was used by the troops to reach the border. After the war, regular movement on this route stopped, but the army continued using it. Ten years later in 1975, the army also stopped using this route. Lack of maintenance resulted in the decaying of structure which left the bridge in a dilapidated condition.
Further, this is considered to be the same Gartang Gali bridge through which Austrian climber Heinrich Harrer successfully escaped to Tibet from the British internment camp at Dehradun where he was kept during World War II. The climber also recounted his escape in his book ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ which later became the basis of a Hollywood film of the same name.
Braving all odds, efforts were made by the Public Works Department Bhatwadi of the Uttarakhand government to reconstruct the bridge. The narrow road situated at an altitude of 11,000 feet is an engineering marvel as well. The route was constructed carefully keeping in mind the Jad Ganga river which flows below it. The bridge was renovated after overcoming several challenges such as weather, heavy snowfall, frequent landslides and roadblocks. The bridge now keeps attracting a flock of adventure-seekers from across the country.
How to reach Gartang Gali Trek:
By Flight: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun (about 200 km from Uttarkashi). Tourists can avail taxis and buses from the airport to reach Uttarkashi, Gartang Gali is around 93 km from the main market of Uttarkashi.
By Train: Dehradun, Haridwar, and Rishikesh are the nearest railway stations to Uttarkashi. You can book taxis or buses from these stations.
By Road: You can also reach Uttarkashi through state transport buses. Regular buses and taxis can be hired between Uttarkashi and Rishikesh (200 km), Haridwar (250 km), Dehradun (200 km).
Gartang Gali is located about 93 km from Uttarkashi district headquarters. From Uttarkashi district headquarters, the route goes through Purali, Harshil, and Dharali to reach Bhairoghati where the trek to Gartang Gali begins.
Gartang Gali Trek:
The treks in Uttarkashi district are divided into three categories – easy (below 3500 m), medium (3500 m – 4000 m), and difficult (above 4000 m) according to the difficulty levels of the trek. The Gartang Gali trek is one of the most thrilling and challenging treks which has been opened for tourists after 59 years.
The best time to visit Nelong valley and Gartang Gali is from April to November. During summer, the trek becomes even more spectacular with the combination of snow-clad peaks and the lush greenery surrounding the areas. The Nelong valley is also an abode to infrequent Snow Leopards, Musk deers and also offers many stunning Himalayan landscapes.
Visiting Nelong valley and Gartang Gali in the monsoon is considered risky as there is a possibility of landslides owing to heavy rainfall. During the day the temperature of Gartang Gali ranges from 10°C to 15°C and during the night the temperature drops to 5°C.
Gartang Gali Trek Guidelines:
Mandatory registration at Bhairavghati check post
Maximum ten people are allowed at a time to walk on the bridge
Jumping and running are prohibited on the wooden bridge
Do not peep down from the railing of the wooden bridge
Do not litter or carve names on the wooden bridge
Smoking is strictly prohibited on the track
The renovation of the Gartang Gali bridge is an important step towards protecting and promoting our rich heritage. The trek can be made more exciting and thrilling if we abide by the rules and regulations as stated by the government. It is imperative that we promote sustainable tourism and do not get involved in causing any damage to the bridge or the local surroundings.
If you are a traveller who loves to have an adventure trip and feel the thrill, Gartang Gali is one such place which never disappoints.
You need to apply for visit the Gartang Gali trek. Online registrations can be done through the following links:
Permission to visit Gartang Gali and various treks in Uttarkashi – https://uttarkashi.nic.in/
Online ticket booking/Online application for permission to visit Gartang Gali –https://www.swstourismuki.com/