Gaumukh Tapovan Trek:

Tapovan trek group departure on 18th May 2024 as per the itinerary from Dehradun.

Tapovan trek is a strikingly different type of trail inside Bhagirathi river valley to high up at the base of majestic Mt. Shivling. Tapovan (4,270 m/14,270 ft) a patch of green, situated on the west bank of Gangotri glacier amidst glacial moraine and debris. This is among few known trails which takes you to a the core of the Himalayas inside a glacial valley.

Mt. Shivling from Tapovan in April

The word ‘Tapovan’ means a sacred and serene place, where the sages meditate for spiritual bliss. According to Hindu mythology, King Bhagiratha (Lord Rama’s ancestor) of the Ikshvaku dynasty, meditated here to Shiva for Ganga’s descent to the earth. From time unknown, Hindu sadhus or spiritualists come here to pay tribute to Lord Shiva and River Ganges. Tapovan, lush green in summer, blooming with wild flowers, turns golden in post-monsoon season.

Colourful Tapovan meadows and Mt. Shivling – just after monsoon (PC – Tanay)

The valley, flanked by majestic Himalayan peaks like Mt. Shivling (6543 m), Mt. Meru (6630 m) and Kedar Dome (6808 m) is a favourite destination for trekking enthusiastic, both Indians and foreigners. The Bhagirathi Group of peaks – I (6,856 m), II (6,512 m) and III (6,454 m) are visible on the eastern bank of Gangotri glacier. The trail from Gangotri to Tapovan via, Bhujbasa and Gomukh, is only 24 km and two days trek but it covers a vast array of Geo-morphological features, like the ‘I’ shaped river gorge of Ganges, then the snout of the glacier from where the river originates, followed by the glacier itself with lateral moraine and ice covered glacial debris and finally the steep edge of the glacier. Initially the trail runs amidst pine and birch forest, but crosses the tree line to reach this Alpine meadow where only perennial grasses, sedges, and forbs can survive. Sighting of Bharals (Blue Mountain Sheep) on nearby mountain slopes is common. The high altitude, rarity of oxygen, average 6-7 km walk in the difficult terrain and the erratic weather make this a short but challenging trek.

Tapovan camping ground (P.C. Rimjhim)
Chirbasa: Chir is Pine, the last patch of jungle on the trail
Bhojbasa: A patch of green on the trail
Much needed rest hopping on moraine, Mt. Shivling setting backdrop
Bharal or Blue Sheep sighting is common (P.C. Suvendu

Brief itinerary for Gaumukh Tapovan trek:

Day 1: Drive from Dehradun to Gangotri  (~ 3100 m/10170 ft) – 245 km – 12 hours. Lodge accommodation.
Day 2: Trek to  Chirbasa (~ 3580 m/11750 ft) – 9 km – 4/5 hours. Camp.
Day 3: Trek to Bhojbasa (~ 3780/12400 ft)– 5 km – 2/3 hours. Camp. Post lunch we hike to(wards) Gaumukh – (~ 4050 m/13285 ft) for an acclimatisation walk. This is a return trip of approx 3 hours.
Day 4: Trek to  Tapovan  (~4350 m/14270 ft) – 8 Km – 5/6 hours. Camp
Day 5: Early morning explore Tapovan meadows and after breakfast descent to Bhojbasa – 6/7 hours. Camp
Day 6: Trek back to Gangotri – 14 km – 4/5 hours. Lodge accommodation.
Day 7: Drive to Dehradun – 245 km – 11/12 hours.
Day 8: Mandatory buffer day. If we utilise this day during the trek, you need to pay an additional ₹ 2500 for the same. Our staff will collect this amount on spot.


  1. You need to reach Dehradun latest on Day 1 by 6 am or previous Day 0. You will return to Dehradun on Day 7 (or Day 8 if buffer day is utilised ) by 7-8 pm. Arrange your tickets accordingly.
  2. Prior high altitude trekking experiences are mandatory and you need to submit Medical Certificate.

Altitude and distance profile graph for Tapovan trek:

Tapovan trek: Distance & Altitude details

Seasons for Tapovan trek:

Like all high altitude treks you can do Tapovan trek in following two seasons:

  • Spring Summer: Mid April to June
  • Post Monsoon/Fall: September & October

Why Tapovan trek is NOT suitable for a reasonably fit beginner?

There are quite a few Moderate grade treks which we suggest in planning of your first time trek on the Himalayas. However Tapovan being also graded as “Moderate” but NOT really a trail which we recommend as your first trek. It isn’t the highest altitude of this trail which is too high, rather the trail reaches relatively lower highest altitude.

The trail till Bhojbasa is relatively easy on wide track. Things start changing as you approach towards the Gangotri glacier’s famous snout Gaumukh. On popular “Moderate” treks like Roopkund, Rupin, Goecha La and others you don’t need to negotiate a glacier, more specifically on deposited moraine. Moraine is  rocks, boulders, scree and debris carried down by the glacier. One Km hopping on this terrain can be physically demanding as twice the distance. It takes 3/4 hours to cross Gangotri glacier breath-wise and the the final climb to Tapovan,  for a reasonable fit and well acclimatised person. Prior trekking experience(s) will prepare you both physically and mentally for this challenge.

Furthermore this glacier valley lacks oxygen, resulting in more challenges from acclimatisation perspective. Our itinerary has a full rest and acclimatisation day at Gangotri, still a considerable number of trekkers struggle to cope with rarefied oxygen on difficult terrain. Acclimatisation problem can happen to anyone, but people with prior acclimatisation problem will face problem on this trail for certain.

We recommend Tapovan trek to trekkers who have at least twice been on high altitude treks (on or above ~4000 m/13000 ft) with good physical fitness and no prior acclimatisation issues reported.

Reaching Gaumukh: Moraine zone begins (P.C. Suvendu)
After Gaumukh: Moraine hopping (P.C. Suvendu)
A closer look on the terrain (P.C. RBM)

Changes in Gangotri glacier and Gaumukh snout :

There is no debate now on that the “Climatic change” is affecting the Himalayas in general. Increase of receding glaciers are alarming for quite sometime. Gangotri glacier is a prominent example. The glacier retreated more than a kilometre in last 30 years or so. We organised our first trek to Tapovan back in 2011 and since then observed the trail course. On glacier and moraine trekking groups keep changing their path suitable up to Tapovan almost every year. A study of NASA in the beginning of millennia can be found here.

Gaumukh 2005 (P.C. Budhaditya)
Gaumukh 2007 (P.C. Sapta)
Gaumukh 2011 (P.C. Tanmoy)
Gaumukh: 2016 (P.C. Suvendu)

Access to trek base Gangotri (250 Km from Dehradun):

Depending upon the number of trekkers we may arrange a car pickup from Dehradun to Gangotri and back. This will get equally divided amongst the trekkers opting. You pay directly to the driver. At present a Tata Sumo/Bolero type vehicles charge approx ₹ 10,000 for drop from Dehradun to Gangotri, one way. This can accommodate up to 7/8 persons.

Alternatively if you wish to reach Gangotri on your own by public transportation then:

  • There is a direct bus from Haridwar (Roadways bus stand, opposite to railway station) to Gangotri starting at 6 am. These depends on season and road conditions. Almost 300 Km tiring journey can take 13/14 hours.
  • From Dehradun take morning bus at 5 am (just beside railway station) for Uttarkashi town or you can get shared vehicle/Tata Sumo. Reach Uttarkashi by latest 2 pm. There is a bus from Uttarkashi to Gangotri which starts 2/2:30 pm. Also you will get shared vehicle/Tata Sumo to Gangotri.

Download the list of things to carry in Tapovan trek or check here

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Why treks with HT?

Highest Point4350 m/14270 ft
Trail Length50 Km
Tapovan trek

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