Over to Uttarakhand Peaks
Uttarakhand has some of the highest and most beautiful peaks of the Himalayas in India and we were really lucky to catch perhaps some of the best views of these peaks. Before writing this post I searched the Internet for the pictures of the peaks that we've seen and captured in our camera. I was delighted and also surprised to find out we got better views than most of the ones published.
From whatever I learnt I can recognize the following peaks: Chaukhamba cluster of four peaks (highest one 7138m), Neelkanth (6597m), Gauri (Ghori, Ghoda) Parbat (6708), Hathi Parbat (6727), Dunagiri (7066), Nanda Devi (7817), Trishul (7120), Nanda Kot (6861) and Panchchula (5904).
On way from Karnaprayag to Joshimath along NH58, close to Pipalkoti the Gauri and the Hathi Parbat are visible to the left. From Gorson's Meadows, the view of both the peaks is much clearer. From what I could understand from our local guide at Auli, Gauri Parbat is also called Ghodha or Ghodi Parbat, perhaps to associate with the close by Hathi Parbat. As can be seen in one of the photos, the two peaks look like twin peaks. The Valley of Flowers is at the base of the Gauri Parbat.
Dunagiri, one of the most photogenic peaks of the Himalayas was close to us for three days during which we stayed at the Clifftop Resort in Auli. Though not visible that clearly from the resort, it appears in its full splendour and magnificence within a stone's throw (less than 25km) from Gorson's Meadow, an easy 3km trek from the resort. The green surroundings of the gentle slopes of the Gorson's Meadows and the spotless blue sky provide a mesmerizing ambience for the milky white almost-symmetrical Dunagiri peak which looks like a perfect triangle near the pinnacle. I've learnt that the peak provides a wonderful view along the trek through Kunwara Pass.
Like many people I didn't know that Nanda Devi, at 7817m, is the highest peak of India, if we leave aside Kanchenjunga (8598m), which is partially in Nepal. It's the most wonderful peak I've ever seen. It has a beautiful sculpted shape with steep slopes, which make Nanda Devi one of the toughest to climb. The shape is so unique that it can't me missed even from a distance. We first saw the peak from Binsar, but not very clearly. The shape is so unique that even my 6 and half year old kid identified it from a partial view of the peak, hidden behind many layers of mountains, from Binsar. It took us another 2 days before we could get a proper view of Nanda Devi on our way from Garjiya, in Corbett, to Ranikhet. Different sides of Nanda Devi are visible from Auli and Ranikhet. The two views are very much like the mirror image of each other. The view of Nanda Devi from Auli, at an aerial distance of less than 25km, is so serene that it becomes obvious why it occupies such a divine status in mythology and ancient literatures. Till 18th century it was the highest peak known to mankind. The Nanda Devi National Park around Nanda Devi along with the Valley of Flowers is inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There is a photo of our first glimpse of the snowcapped Himalayas. We were travelling from Garjiya in Corbett to Ranikhet. We'd already been to Binsar, which is quite famous for its fascinating views of the Himalayas, a few days back. But unfortunately we couldn't get any view of the snowcapped peaks from Binsar. The only snow we saw was of a fragment of Nanda Devi, discovered by my kid. We were eagerly waiting to get our first glimpse of the mighty Himalayas. After about 2 hours of drive from Garjiya, immediately around a curve on the road, we suddenly got the view of a long range of Himalayas with some of highest peaks of the world - our first glimpse of the snowcapped high Himalayas. The route between Garjiya and Ranikhet is quite adventurous. It's not a national highway, and not maintained properly. The narrow road, without any barricade along the open steep valley, winders treacherously along a barren mountain crest. One side of the road always overlooks very dangerously a deep valley. As our Indigo was meandering slowly on the bumpy road we were just too concerned about our own safety and were praying that our driver finally manages to cover the entire stretch without any mishap. It was exactly during such a not-so-entertaining drive we suddenly got this view. We're mesmerized beyond any description. In a moment we forgot all the tensions of the risky drive and got totally immersed in the beauty of the range. To the leftmost was the trident shaped Trishul, to its right was the southern part of the Nanda Devi - the peak that never went out of our sight for the next four days. To the east of Nanda Devi were Nanda Kot, Panchchula and many other peaks which I could not identify. We happened to get an uninterrupted view of a range of the Himalayas, stretching for a few hundred kms, at a distance of some 150-200km from us. This was undoubtedly one of the best views of our entire trip. The summits of the fully snowcapped high peaks extend above the clouds at many places, thus making the lower parts invisible. The dazzling snow covered landscape glows like a huge piece of glass floating in the sky. Even the much closer views of the same range from Auli was not that much enchanting and mesmerizing as that of the first glimpse.
There is a snap is of the northern side of Nanda Devi and Trishul - an exact mirror image of the snap from near Ranikhet. The trident shape of the Trishul is much clearer in this snap as Trishul is within 50km of aerial distance from Auli.