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Unveiling the Wonders of Mountain: An Excursion to Badrinath and Joshimath

Day 0: 10/10/23- Brief Introduction

A proper introduction is essential to set up the tone for the upcoming tour. In the evening, everyone united for a proper planning discussion about the tour, along with a brief self-introduction, followed by dinner, which became a platform for making new connections. We all were equally excited about the adventurous yet educational journey.

Day 1: 11/10/23- Trip started from Roorkee to Srinagar
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In the morning we all gathered and with full enthusiasm, we departed from Roorkee on our way to Srinagar. We crossed Haridwar- a sacred pilgrimage site, lying in the foothills of the lesser Himalayas, with a view of sacred temples and, holy Ganges. As we crossed Haridwar, we reached our first halt- Rishikesh- the gateway to the Lesser Himalayas. Along the banks of the Ganges, we had our first initial presentation on topics related to earthquakes, main fault zones, etc. After lunch, we moved towards Srinagar. En route, our professor provided insightful commentary on the surrounding terrain, mountainous life, and various types of rocks. We stopped near the Devprayag to witness the confluence of river Alaknanda and river Bhagirathi, leading to the formation of the river Ganges. After reaching Srinagar, we went down to witness River Alaknanda flowing beside our hotel. The whole mesmerizing view relieved us from our tiredness. After this, we all gathered to attend a lecture by Dr. Till which was highly informative and interactive. Finally, we had dinner together before we could retire to our comfortable beds to get enough sleep to get ready for the next day's trip at 6:30 am sharp.

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Day 2: 12/10/23- From Srinagar to Badrinath

We started early as planned in a convoy of four cars, full of excitement to witness the beauty of higher terrains and mountains. We stopped for a while to see the Rudraprayag, at the confluence of river Alaknanda and river Mandakini. Continuing our journey towards Joshimath, a recent landslide in this place made it a focal point of discussion as we could see some houses with cracks. After having lunch together, we headed towards Badrinath- renowned for the Badrinath temple, one of the char dhams in the North. Upon reaching Badrinath, our first task was conducting an experiment along a river stream. Utilizing the Dilution method with uraninine dye, we measured runoff and calculated the dilution coefficient before introducing the dye into the streams. Two fluorescent sensors were strategically placed to capture measurements over the next day and a half. After reaching back to the hotel, we gathered for a lecture by Prof. Saurabh Vijay, where he mainly focused on the glaciers. After dinner, we fell asleep with the excitement of waking up early to witness the main highlight of the trip that is hiking for about 3800 m elevation.

Day 3: 13/10/23- Hiking from Mana Village to Vasudhara Falls
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After having our breakfast, we headed towards Mana village, amidst the cold weather, all areas surrounded by the high mountains. Upon reaching Mana village we all started to climb up towards the destination of Vasudhara Falls. The trek spanned 6.5 km and 3800 m above MSL. En route, we enjoyed different types of landforms, vegetation, and topography, making the journey highly interesting. Despite facing environmental challenges, particularly challenging for first-time hikers, the sense of satisfaction upon reaching Vasudhara Falls was unparalleled. Totally worth it! The breathtaking view, coupled with the outline of Satopanth and Bhagirathi Kharak Glaciers, made the trek totally worthwhile—a truly remarkable and unforgettable experience. On our way back, we listened to another lecture on the different types of vegetation found in the Himalayan regions. Then we came back to the Mana village, and we saw the local villagers selling some beautiful handicrafts. The day concluded back at the hotel, where we gathered to listen to yet another presentation on glaciers and climate change followed by a delicious dinner.

Day 4: 14/10/23- From Badrinath to Joshimath
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In the morning, we began our day by collecting back the sensors from the streams and conducting additional measurements. Following this, we embarked on a short hike, halting above the Badrinath hydroelectric power station. Then we returned to the hotel and we left Badrinath with a lot of memories. After lunch, we went to Vishnuprayag, the confluence of river Alaknanda and river Dhauli Ganga. Along the riverbank, we listened to another lecture on the Chamoli flash flood. Most interestingly, we can see the evidence of destruction by flood there itself. Upon reaching Joshimath in the evening, we gathered to listen to two more presentations - on Hydropower and energy security, and on climate and extremes in the Himalayan regions. The day concluded with a delightful dinner along with talented performances by our friends and professors.

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Photo while coming back Lata, Joshimath Pic credit: Patricia Mecha

Day 5: 15/10/23 Dhauliganga Valley- A Day of learning and exploration

The day started with a delightful Sunday breakfast, surrounded by the mesmerizing beauty of mountains and a touch of sunlight coming in between them. After our breakfast, we moved to our new destination, Lata. Upon arriving there, all the students were assigned to do a terrain mapping assignment in a pair in order to mark the geomorphologically relevant features. After this, a round of discussions took place which was a very interesting and knowledge-gathering one. After a mandatory lunch and tea, we returned to our hotel due to heavy rain. During the journey back, we took a halt near one of the small hot springs, heated by the tectonic activity of the mountain (contrary to the initial belief of volcanic activity). Upon reaching the hotel again, we gathered in the evening to listen to yet another presentation on Natural Hazards in the Himalayas and some past flood events in the Uttarakhand regions. After the presentation, we had an amazing dinner and we headed towards our comfortable bed for a much-needed restful sleep after the demanding day of exploration.

Day 6: 16/10/23- Tapovan Hydroelectric Power Station.

It was a chilly morning in the Joshimath and my health didn’t allow me to go outside. However, I learned from my friends about their visit to the Tapovan Hydroelectric Power Station dam. With proper permission, guided tour, and all the safety gear, they visited the dam wall where they observed the evidence of power plant damage during the Chamoli flash floods. Upon their return to the hotel, I accompanied them for the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) office visit, where we had a discussion with some officials regarding Joshimath’s present conditions and the preventive measures taken in place. The highlight of the visit was their early warning monitoring room, which was a very fascinating experience. Then we went back to our hotel and gathered for my presentation on the topic of agroecology practices in the mountainous regions followed by a delicious dinner. As it was our last night together, we spent the evening engaged in some games till late at night. Knowing we had an early start at 6 am the next day, we retired for a well-deserved rest after the tiresome day.

Day 6: 16/10/23- Tapovan Hydroelectric Power Station.
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It was a chilly morning in the Joshimath and my health didn’t allow me to go outside. However, I learned from my friends about their visit to the Tapovan Hydroelectric Power Station dam. With proper permission, guided tour, and all the safety gear, they visited the dam wall where they observed the evidence of power plant damage during the Chamoli flash floods. Upon their return to the hotel, I accompanied them for the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) office visit, where we had a discussion with some officials regarding Joshimath’s present conditions and the preventive measures taken in place. The highlight of the visit was their early warning monitoring room, which was a very fascinating experience. Then we went back to our hotel and gathered for my presentation on the topic of agroecology practices in the mountainous regions followed by a delicious dinner. As it was our last night together, we spent the evening engaged in some games till late at night. Knowing we had an early start at 6 am the next day, we retired for a well-deserved rest after the tiresome day.