Situated in the lap of nature in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand, Chamoli has become one of the most popular hill destinations in India. One of the foremost Hindu pilgrimage spots in the country, Chamoli is home to some of the greatest centers of Hindu religion, such as Joshimath, Kedarnath, Badrinath and other popular temples, because of which the town sees a steady flow of tourists and devotees throughout the year. Chamoli has also become an important hub of eco-tourism because of the tremendous efforts of its people to look after the environment. Chamoli is famous for being the home of the Chipko Movement, an ecological activism movement that has protected the fragile eco-system of the region. The Valley of Flowers in Chamoli is one of the foremost eco-parks in the world and has become an important part of tourism in the Uttarakhand circuit. Auli has become a hub of adventure sports and skiing, putting Chamoli on the global tourism map.
Chamoli has become one of the most popular destinations in northern India because of its unending beautiful natural resources and prominent religious destinations. It has so many travel destinations that tourists visiting the Chamoli district are generally spoilt for choice. For travelers interested in religion and those who are devotees on pilgrimage, the temples of Chamoli are an absolute must-visit. The Kedarnath Temple and the Badrinath Temple are a part of the Chhota Char Dham circuit, one of the holiest pilgrimages in Hindu thought. Along with that, Joshimath, a part of the four mathas established by Sankaracharya, is also an important pilgrimage spot of Chamoli. For tourists interested in spending their time indulging in ecologically sensitive tourism in the lap of nature, Chamoli has many options. The Valley of Flowers National Park is breathtaking and an eco-tourism hub, as is the Nanda Devi National Park, situated in the breathtaking locales around the Nanda Devi peak. A quiet getaway is the charming town of Auli, which is also a popular skiing and adventure tourism spot.
There are numerous must-visit places in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The most sought-after places in and around Chamoli district are:
- Gopeshwar (which is also the district headquarters)
- Satopanth Lake
- Vasu Dhara
- Bedni Bugyal
- Rudra Nath
- Kuari Pass
- Hemkund Sahib
- Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers
- Kagbhusandi Tal
Chamoli, being one of the up and coming hill destinations in the country, enjoys good connectivity to the rest of the country via air, road and rail. The nearest airport to Chamoli is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, which is situated roughly 220 km from Chamoli. There are many airline operators that connect the Jolly Grant Airport to other main metropolis airports of the country such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, etc., either by direct or stopover flights. Some of the airlines operating out of the Jolly Grant Airport are Jet Airways, Jetlite, Air India and GoAir. By train Chamoli is easily reachable via the nearest railhead, Haridwar Railway Station, which is about 200 km. The Haridwar Station is connected to important railway stations of the country by trains such as Haridwar Mail, Dehradun Express, Hemkund Express, etc. Chamoli is very accessible by roads as well, both by Uttarakhand State Road Transport Corporation buses as well as private cars and taxis which are available all over the town and from nearby areas such as Dehradun.
Chamoli is a very well connected district. The Uttarakhand State Road Transport Corporation has many buses that ply between the main cities and the towns of Chamoli (Dehradun, Haridwar, etc.) as well as other towns such as Rishikesh, which fall within the same pilgrimage circuit. These buses are the best for touring on a low budget, and these have excellent connectivity and frequency. Within the town there are auto-rickshaws available, that are reliable and connect to all the major tourist attractions in the area. The best way to travel to all the main pilgrimage spots in the district is by hiring a private taxi or a car, although it will be more expensive. This will make the journey more comfortable and even shorter.
The food available in Chamoli and other districts of Uttarakhand is generally Kumaoni food, which is mouthwatering and has a unique local taste. Most of the available food is vegetarian, and indeed, the main tourist spots in the state are all vegetarian because of the fact that they are deeply religious. There are some local delicacies that tourists must try out in order to experience the local flavor more accurately. Pinalu Gutuk is a mouthwatering preparation made by frying the rich local potato crop and is a must-try for all tourists. Other delicacies are often made with different kinds of lentils and daal, such as Chais and Dhubka, the first a soup-like preparation made with fried urad daal, and the second a delicious rich curry made with a mixture of local lentils and local spices. Different kinds of green-leafy food such as Saag are available, along with a very popular chutney-like spinach preparation called Kaap. Bal Mithai is a popular sweet dish, made with khoya and sugar, and is a must-try for tourists with a sweet tooth.
Chamoli, primarily being a pilgrimage spot, does not offer much in terms of shopping attractions. Neither are there exceptional shopping spots, nor any local treasures that can be collected as souvenirs. But there are certain things that the shopaholics can enjoy in the local bazaars around Chamoli. Chamoli is a primarily tribal area and local women wear beautiful tribal jewellery, especially toe rings (bichhuas) and heavy neckpieces (hansulis). Tourists interested in the local culture should definitely pick up some of these interesting items. Being located somewhat close to Tibet, the place also has plenty of Tibetan silver jewellery with semi-precious carnelian beads, turquoise, coral and lapis lazuli stone designs. These are considerably cheaper here, offering a good opportunity for shopping.
There are a number of things that can be done in Chamoli. To begin with, there are many historically relevant pilgrimage spots all around the area, and each of them are worth exploring. Kedarnath, Badrinath and the Joshimath are all ancient abodes of Hindu thought, and exploring them thoroughly will prove to be a soothing activity. In the vicinity of Chamoli are some of the most exciting adventure sports spots in the world. The Nanda Devi Sanctuary is a mountaineer’s haven, while the picturesque tourist spot of Auli is perfect for a skiing trip. For the travelers who are interested in extreme adventure and mysterious places, the Roopkund Lake is an absolute must-visit: an ancient water body with mysterious skeletons strewn around the banks from an unknown past gives the Lake and its surroundings a very adventurous feel.
While Chamoli is a beautiful tourist spot and quite safe and easy to navigate, there are some things that need to be kept in mind while visiting the district:
- Almost the entire Chamoli circuit is dominated by pilgrimage sites. Therefore only vegetarian food is served and there is no access to alcohol, etc. Decorum needs to be maintained while visiting the temples and other religious sites.
- Devotees staying at pilgrimage spots should be alert for the many touts around temple areas who harass and swindle innocent travelers.
- For travelers in search of adventure, it is important keep safe. Mountaineering expeditions should only be embarked on if you have proper traning and excellent fitness. Make sure you have proper guidance and support of agencies with proper licenses and recognition.
- Skiing at Auli should only be done under supervision of properly trained operators.
- Cities such as Haridwar a multiple of people coming from across the country and world; hence, travelers should keep themselves and their belongings safe.
- While mountaineering or climbing up to high altitudes, travelers are strongly advised to spend some time getting familiar with the thinning of the atmosphere; otherwise, there is danger of altitude sickness, which can turn quite dangerous if ignored.
Chamoli, although a little remote, is well connected and can be travelled through on anything from a shoestring budget to a high-paying luxury tour. The state buses that ply from nearby metropolises such as Delhi and cities like Dehradun, etc., make the travel very pocket-friendly. There are many budget hotels around Chamoli, which charge around Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,000 per night. More luxurious options are also available. Because it is primarily a pilgrimage district, Chamoli also has many dharmashalas and hostels, where devotees can stay for extremely low rates and have access to the very basic amenities. Tourists going for mountaineering and trekking will have to shell out some money, as most of the trips are expeditions and may cost about Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 for an approximately one-month trip.
Duration of Travel
Tourism Department Contacts
While Chamoli is a popular tourist spot and quite easily navigable, it is advisable to carry some basic information about tourism offices in the area and their contact numbers. Some of the bookings for government guest houses and circuit houses should also be made via the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board's official website. Travelers are advised to make bookings well in advance as Chamoli is a popular tourist destination and bookings during peak season can become very difficult.
Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Paryatan Bhawan
Near ONGC Helipad, Garhi Cantonment
Dehradun - 248 001
District Tourism Development Office
Tourism Information Centre, Joshimath
Phone: 01389 222181
Emergency Contact Numbers
Because Chamoli is a slightly remote tourism experience, tourists are strongly advised to keep safe and take special care of their health and their belongings. While it is a relatively safe area and the locals are remarkably tourist-friendly, it is always a good idea to keep handy a list of emergency contact numbers. It is more so advised for travelers as they are not going to be familiar with the local conditions and may not know where to get help in an emergency.
Police Station, Chamoli
Gopeshwar, Chamoli District
Phone No: 01372-252307
Chamoli District Hospital
Gopeshwar, Chamoli HO, Chamoli - 246424
State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC), Dehradun
Phone: 0135-2710334, Fax 0135-2710335
District Emergency Operation Centre, Dehradun
Helpline Number: +91-0135-2717300
Last Updated on : February 26, 2014