Auli- a place I had never heard of till 2010, it was the final year of our engineering and continuing the college tradition of a farewell trip, our batch decided to ditch Goa and go for something more adventurous. White river rafting and camping in Rishikesh followed by skiing at Auli, this was the first time I came to know that a place by this name existed in India and is close to Joshimath in Uttarakhand.
After a two day camping stay at Rishikesh, we left for Auli in our sturdy mini bus ;). It was then we realised that the distance of 265 kms ,which we had hoped to cover in a time span of five-six hours, is a journey amidst tortuous roads and ever increasing altitude. Auli is located at an altitude of ten thousand feet above sea level and is barely at a distance of 55kms from the Badrinath Shrine. It is a breathtaking journey with river Ganga flowing in the steep valley parallel to the route. Many people from our group suffered from nausea, I recommend taking a very light meal and keeping some medications handy as the serpentine roads can easily trigger motion sickness.
The route passes through a number of small pilgrimages like Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Vishnuprayag, Chamoli-Gopeshwar etc, each of which holds a special value in the Hindu mythology. It took us about 10 hours to reach Joshimath which is the nodal point for Kedarnath/Badrinath. It is one of the most spectacular road journeys that one can encounter, a must visit for photography enthusiasts. The climb from Joshimath to Auli is very steep so night driving is not recommended, so we decided to take a halt in Joshimath where basic lodging options are available.
Early morning we started our journey, it took us about 45mins to traverse the 15km distance from Joshimath to Auli. There is a cable car rope way which connects Joshimath to Auli and is one of the longest rope ways in Asia. An administrative body called Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd (GMVNL), managed by Uttarakhand government, runs skiing courses for mountaineers and travellers and also provides lodging facilities, which is where we stayed. It was a wonderful stay at a very affordable price. For those seeking luxury, Cliff Top Club is the best available option.
Enclosed by snow clad mountains of Garhwal Himalayan Range, Auli is a paradise for skiing lovers. Even as beginners we could ski through the gentle slopes meant for novices, GMVN provides instructors and all skiing equipment at very reasonable costs. Walking through the misty slopes provides one with the imposing spectacle of some of the lofty mountain ranges like the beautiful Nanda-Devi, Mana Parvat, Kamet etc. It also has the highest man made lake in the world, which is used for skiing. The scenery is surreal, as if you are a part of a beautiful painting sketched by a dexterous painter.
Auli is a must visit place for all the nature lovers and of course for all those who are passionate for skiing.