If you want to go on an off-beat trek, then Dayara Bugyal is the answer for you. Bugyal means meadows in local language. Meadows are nothing but high altitude grazing grounds. This trek has one of the most prettiest meadows in India. In summers and rainy season, the meadows are lush green with streams flowing around, while in winters they turn into thick carpet of snow. And not just that, you also get grand mountain views on this trek. Keep reading to know more about the trek.
Typical Garhwali Villages
You can start the Dayara Bugyal trek from either of the Raithal or Barsu Village. These villages will take you back in time. You get to experience the authentic Garhwali culture here. Spend a day admiring the architecture of the village and witnessing the simple lifestyle of the villagers. There are children playing in the streets, women bringing fodder and firewood from higher reaches, and men working in the fields. People here are still depended on animal powered agriculture. One should definitely visit beautiful temples that both the villages have.
Forest here consist of tall green Oaks, brown Oaks and Rhododendrons. In the months of March and April, the forest is lit by the vibrant red Rhododendron flowers. Walking on the well laid out trail, under dark forest cover, listening to the singing birds is an unforgettable experience. The quietness of the place will clear your minds. If you are extremely lucky, you can even spot monkeys, foxes, bears or wild boars.
Mountain Views From A Clearing
High Altitude Lakes
There are two lakes (Tal in local language), Gui and Barnala Tal that you see during the trek. Gui is halfway between Raithal and Dayara Bugyal, Barnala is halfway between Barsu and Dayara. There is a small Nag Devta temple near Barnala. Gui is surrounded by forest on one side and Shepherd’s huts on the other. During peak winter, both the lakes freeze and they look like an ice skating ring. Although walking on the frozen lakes gives you a chill, but it’s not safe due to underlying soft ice that could give way under your feet.
As you climb higher, leaving the tree line below, huge meadows appear in front of you. The meadows spread for miles. Unfortunately, due to the high court ban, you cannot camp in the meadows in Uttarakhand. One could camp just below the meadows to spend more time in the meadows. There is a huge mountain that appear at the back of the meadows towards west, this is Bakaria top also called as Dayara top. Climbing this mountain will take another hour but you will get 360 views of the mountains. You can see entire Dayara Bugyal from this point.
One of the reason to do the Dayara Bugyal trek is for the panoramic mountain views. You get to see many 6000 meter plus peaks including Bandarpoonch, Black Peak, Srikanth, Gangotri I, II &III, Jaonli and Dropdi Ka Danda on the extreme right. Mighty Bandarpoonch dominates the skies once you reach the meadows. There is a mythology that Monkey God, Hanumaan Ji, after burning Lanka, extinguished his burning tail at this very mountain.
How To Reach?
Both Raithal and Barsu are about 170 KM from Dehradun, the capital city of Uttarakhand. Uttarakashi is the nearest major city and district. There are buses and shared taxis which run from parade ground, Dehradun to Uttarkashi. Both taxis and buses run from early morning till afternoon. From Uttarkashi, one can take shared taxi or bus to reach Bhatwari. From Bhatwari, both the villages are 10 Km apart and there are shared taxis which will take you there.
Where To Stay?
Although there are few homestays in both the villages, but Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) tourist rest house is the best option to stay. It comes under Uttarakhand Tourism (Govt. body) and has presence in both the villages. They have cooks which can prepare delicious meals for you plus you get running hot water. GMVN offers clean beds and a double sharing room will cost you around 800 Rs.
Where To Camp?
On the first day, you can camp at Barnala if you are starting from Barsu. If you are starting from Raithal, you can camp at Gui. During winter camping, be prepared to melt snow to make water for drinking and cooking as the water streams freeze or dry out in winters. It’s a good idea to ask the locals beforehand about the water availability. They might be able to tell you where the water could be available. For the second day, you have two options. Either you can leave early morning for Dayara top and come back to your campsite or you can camp a little below the start of the meadows, in the tree line, if you want to spend more time in the meadows.
You can buy tents and sleeping bags from any major city or you can rent them from Uttarkashi, near Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. For food, oats, dalia, rice, poha, dry fruits, jaggery are your friends. Try to avoid packaged snacks made out of Maida, such as biscuits, as they can cause digestion issues on high altitudes. You also need a small stove (you can easily make one with a soda can, check it on Youtube) and a utensil to cook food. If you hire a guide then, generally, he can arrange these things for you.
Do You Need A Guide?
Although the trail is well laid out, but If you do not have prior trekking experience, I would recommend that you take a guide with you. You can hire a guide from Raithal or Barsu.
Raithal Or Barsu?
This is a tough question. I have trekked from both Raithal and Barsu. The trails are similar and equally beautiful. The trail is slightly less steep if you start from Raithal, though, as compared to Barsu. I recommend ascending from Raithal and descending in Barsu. Total trek distance is about 15 Km to and fro.
Best Time To Trek
If you want to see snow, then 15th Dec to 15th Jan is the best time. I wouldn't recommend going in late January or early February because the snow could be too much to camp and walk. The temperature in peak winter could go till -15 Celsius. Alternatively, you can trek in March. The snow would still be there but not too much and weather will be pleasant during day.
For mountain views and green meadows, the best time to trek is autumn, from early September to late October. The skies mostly remain clear in these months and visibility is high.
That's all from me on Dayara Bugyal. If you liked the article, please share and give it a thumbs up. If you want to know more or you have something to add, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.