OverviewTapowan, a place called where yogis and sadhus (saints) are known to perform tapahshcharya (meditation in Sanskrit) for varied amounts of period, sometimes going up to a few years. This is supposed to be a place where one goes through the process of self-introspection. There are other sacred places around tapowan, like Nandanvan,
Tapowan, which itself is a beautiful trek, serves as a base camp for a lot of peaks in what is called the "Haven for Mountaineers". It is the base camp for Mt. Shivling, Mt. Baby Shivling, Mt. Meru 1, 2, 3. Further, if descended from Tapowan on to the Bhagirathi Glacier, further access to remote peaks like Chaukhamba could be gained. This peak almost marks the end of the approximate 32 kms. of Bhagirathi Glacier, from underneath which the holy river Bhagirathi flows out to greet the world. Bhagirathi Glacier is the second longest glacier in the Indian Himalayas, after the disputed Siachen Glacier.
Getting ThereThe regular route to reach Tapowan is as follows:
New Delhi - Rishikesh - Uttarkashi - Gangotri - Chidbaas - Bhojbaas - Gaumukh - Tapowan (14,500 feet above sea level).
New Delhi, the capital of India can be reached by train, plane or road. From Delhi, one has to go to Rishikesh by road only. From Rishikesh, the bus size reduces to a smaller size, which is more suited to go on the narrower roads of the Garhwal Himalayas.
From Rishikesh, one reaches Uttarkashi, where one can find a bunch of international expeditions for the innumerable peaks surrounding the region. Uttarkashi also happens to be the place where Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) is located.
Uttarkashi - Gangotri - Chidbaas - Bhojbaas - Gaumukh - Tapowan
Route DescriptionThe trek starts from Gangotri to Chidbasa, which is approximately 9 km. Chidbasa, as the name suggests the name “Chid”, which is a pine family tree typically seen in abundance in the valley from where the Bhagirathi river flows.
From Chidbasa, the trek goes to Bhojbaas. Some people hike the complete Gangotri-Bhojbaas distance in a day, as it is almost 15-16 kms, but for some, it becomes a bit tiring. Bhojbasa derives its name as the place where one can get access to “bhoj patra”, which used to be the thing on which people used to write, like a paper. Almost all the four Vedas (one of many foundations of Hinduism) were written on a bhoj-patra. Current usage of these leaves are in spiritual ceremonies, also called “home/havan” in India.
From Bhojbaas, the trek to Gaumukh is approximately 4 kms, and can be easily covered at a decent pace. Gaumukh is the snout from where one can see river Bhagirathi gushing out with full force. At first, the force doesn't seem too big, but is quite a lot, when observed closely. The trek to Tapowan includes climbing the snout from its left side, crossing the entire Bhagirathi glacier, which is nothing but complete morrain, and then finally, climbing up the steep slope to Tapowan. This slope is almost at an inclination of 45 degrees, thereby making it an exhaustive climb.
On Tapowan, we had heard of sadhus meditating and praying for the last couple of years. There is one sadhu (saint) called Mauni Baba, who supposedly hasn't spoken even a single work since, probably the last 6-7 years. "Maun-Vrat" in Sanskrit means abstinence from speaking. So, Mauni Baba is the one who has woved not to speak, thereby maintaining Maun-Vrat. There is another Baba, called Shimla Baba, who is supposed to have been staying on Tapowan for the past couple of years.
From here, the number of peaks visible and access to most of these peaks are probably endless. The ones that I can remember are:
Mt. Baby Shivling
Mt. Meru 1, 2, 3
Mt Bhagirathi 1, 2, 3
Mt. Saifi 1, 2
Mt. Kedar Dome