Harsil, sometimes also spelled as Harshil, is a beautiful valley and a cantonment area. It lies along the banks of the Bhagirathi river. This valley is on the way to the Hindu pilgrimage, Gangotri. But it has its own charm which attracts many visitors every year.
It sits at a height of 7,860 ft (2,620 meters) in Uttarkashi district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The town lies at a distance of 73 km from the district headquarters of Uttarkashi.
30 km further from the valley, Gangotri National Park region begins. This covers the area of 1,553 square km. Harsil is one of the lesser known places of Uttarakhand. And it is a preserved gem of nature, unaware of the consequences of being a typical tourist place. Heavenly places like this deserve to remain this way forever.
Best time to Visit: Apr – Oct
Ideal Duration: 2 Days
Railway Station: Dehradun
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun
History of Harsil Valley:
The amazingly beautiful valley became popular for the legend Pahari Wilson or Raja Wilson. Wilson deserted the British army after 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
Wilson escaped into the Garhwal region and went to the King of Tehri to hide. But King refused to shelter him. Then Wilson ran to the mountains to hide. But the destiny of Wilson brought him into this valley located on the banks of the Bhagirathi River.
Some historians say that the timber trading in Harsil made Wilson so wealthy and powerful among locals that even the local king of Tehri-Garhwal was unable to deal with him.
Things To Do:
Surrounded by beautiful valleys, lush green meadows, the well-preserved valley of Harsil is still not known by many people. There are several small adventures trekking routes in Harsil, which provide a good insight of natural beauty along with Pahadi lifestyle.
This valley offers great Himalayan mountain views and beautiful landscapes to indulge in many fun activities such as:
Trekking: Harsil valley is blessed with rich flora and fauna, landscapes and several amazing trekking routes, which provide a unique and everlasting experience. The landscapes here are so beautiful that make you want to come back again and again. The place is surrounded by oak and deodar trees. These treks will take you through dense forests, small waterfalls and river streams.
Photography: The valley provides great views of mountains along with the Bhagirathi river flowing. You can indulge is photography and videography.
Sightseeing: Harsil is an example of eco-tourism. You can experience calm environment and hardworking lifestyle of village people, their customs and beliefs.
The Bhagirathi river serves as an ideal companion for this sleepy town, and one can also visit the nearby region of Gangotri during the trip to Harsil.
Sattal, which has seven lakes, is also located near this valley.
Places to Visit in Harsil:
The small picturesque hamlet of Dharali lies at a distance of 6 km from Harsil (or Harshil) valley.
This place is well connected to Harsil with roads. Dharali village sits at a height of 648 m above sea level and falls in Rajgarhi tehsil.
It’s the home of the Hindu goddess Gangotri during winters because of heavy snowfall in the Gangotri region.
Devotees from all parts of the state and country make a visit here every year.
During monsoons, the area receives heavy snowfall and it is not the best time to visit this region.
Sat Tal is a cluster of seven small natural lakes near Dharali.
A 3 km long trek from Dharali to Sat tal would turn out to be an unforgettable journey.
Some of the lakes of Sat tal have dried up due to deforestation and changing weather conditions.
Weather of this valley remains pleasant throughout the year. The best time to visit Harshil valley starts from April and weather remains pleasant till mid July. During this time, the sky remains clear and mountain peaks are clearly visible. This is the best time for sightseeing. Harsil receives a good amount of visitors during these months.
One can also visit Harshil during September to November months. During these months the weather remains slightly cold with cool breeze blowing and the temperature drops significantly.
The months of winters begin from October till January, Harshil receives a good amount of snowfall. Then again the month of February brings pleasant weather and snow starts to melt. If you are into snow trekking then December is the best time to visit Harsil for you.
In winters the region witnesses a large amount of snowfall, which makes it a good destination for solitude seeking snow-lovers.
Harsil valley receives a constant amount of snowfall during winters. Between the months of December and February, the valley remains covered with a thick sheet of snow.
During these months, the temperature in Harshil ranges from 0 to 10 Degree Celsius. However, by the end of February, the weather becomes calm and pleasant.
We recommend to inquire about road conditions in advance and pack your bags with woolen clothes before visiting Harshil during Winters.
Few Facts About Harsil or Harshil:
Harsil’s apples and Rajma (Kidney Beans) are quite popular in the whole state. They have a rich taste, which one can easily identify.
They are very high in demand but the valley can produce a limited amounts of apples and Kidney beans.
Harsil was a popular tourist spot in 1980’s also. It was the shooting place for popular Bollywood film “Ram Teri Ganga Maili”.
During the 80’s it was more popular than it is now. Today it witnesses only a few thousand visitors per year.
Because of the beautiful landscapes, some people refer Harsil (or Harshil) as “Mini Switzerland of India”.
It lies on the route to Gangotri, a popular pilgrimage site. One can stop by in the valley while on the trip to Gangotri.
The heavenly valley of Harsil is primarily inhabited by Bhotiya tribe, who have very unique and interesting customs and a great way of living.
Staying and Food:
Even though Harsil is a lesser known place but it has a large number of lovers who come here again and again to seek solitude. There are a few budget hotels and guesthouses in Harshil.
These hotels offer decent staying facilities and serve typical North Indian food. There are a few fast food stalls which offer
And other on-the-go food items.
Rishikesh or Dehradun to Harsil via Shared Cab:
If you are a group of 4 or 5 people then booking a cab from Rishikesh or Dehradun to Harsil is a cheaper and convenient option. In taxi stand Rishikesh and Dehradun and even Haridwar you will find many taxis. It will save you a lot of trouble and its not so expensive either. Or you can talk to a travel agency, which will provide you many options from low cost budget vehicles to SUVs.
How to Reach Harsil:
Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest Airport to the valley. It is situated at a distance of 232 km. Harshil or Harsil is connected by motorable roads with Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis are available to Uttarkashi, Tehri, and Harsil. It is 78 km from Uttarkashi.
The nearest railway station is Rishikesh, 215 km away from Harsil. Taxis and buses are available from Rishikesh to Uttarkashi, Tehri, and Harsil. You can also find many transportation options from Dehradun to Harsil. It is 220 km away from Dehradun, which takes 8-9 hours to complete via cab.
The valley is well connected by roads with major destinations of Uttarakhand. Buses and Taxis to this valley are easily available from all major cities of Uttarakhand such as Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Haldwani. Harsil lies on NH-108. Buses and taxis from ISBT, Dehradun are available. Harsil is 280 km away from Dehradun via NH34.