Gartang Gali: Explore Nelong Valley in Uttarakhand

Gartang Gali is a high-altitude mountain pass located in the Nelong Valley, in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, India. The pass sits at an elevation of around 5,100 meters (16,730 feet) above sea level and connects the Nelong Valley to the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The Gartang Gali pass was historically a trade route between India and Tibet.  The famous Chinese explorer Hiuen Tsang used this route to come in India in the 7th century.

Historic Pathway

This historic pathway spans 136 meters  in a wooden lining. it  was constructed by Peshawari Pathans over 150 years ago. This architectural marvel was meticulously carved into a vertical granite rock face. Initially utilized by merchants trading between India and Tibet. The route fell into disrepair following the Indo-China conflict of 1962.

After extensive reconstruction efforts, the 1.8-meter-wide bridge now stands at an altitude of approximately 3,352 meters (11,000 feet), offering a thrilling challenge to even the most adventurous souls. Hanging precariously from the rocky ledge, it provides panoramic views of the enchanting Nelong Valley and its diverse flora and fauna, with the Jadh Ganga river flowing far below. The arduous 2.5-kilometer hike through dense forests leading to Gartang Gali.

7 Years in Tibet

Interestingly, History has it that this very bridge served as the escape route for Austrian climber Heinrich Harrer during World War II, a tale immortalized in his book “Seven Years in Tibet” and the subsequent Hollywood film starring Brad Pitt.

Nelong Valley 

The Nelong Valley is a remote and pristine Himalayan region that was closed to tourists for several decades due to its proximity to the India-China border. The valley was reopened to tourists in 2015 but remains a restricted area, requiring special permits to visit.

Today, the pass is a popular trekking destination among adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers who are willing to brave the harsh weather and difficult terrain of the Himalayas. The trek to Gartang Gali is one of the most interesting treks in Uttarakhand and requires a high level of fitness and mountaineering skills.

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Nelong Valley Uttarakhand
Nelong Valley Uttarakhand

Wooden Hanging Bridge

The Gartang wooden bridge, constructed by cutting the mountain rock in a traditional style, provides breathtaking views of Uttarakhand’s Nelong Valley and its flora and fauna. The Uttarkashi district administration allows only 10 tourists on the bridge simultaneously. Don’t forget to visit the Lal Devata Temple.

Best Time

Gartang Gali is accessible between May and November, making it the ideal time to visit Nelong Valley in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand. Plan your trip accordingly.

Trekking

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Nelong Valley Village Uttarakhand
Nelong Valley Village Uttarakhand

How To Reach

To visit Nelong Valley, you need an inner line permit and a fitness certificate from the sub-divisional magistrate of Uttarkashi. It’s an India-China border area open for tourists during the daytime, located around 90 km from Uttarkashi HQ. Personal vehicles are not allowed inside, and Forest Department vehicles can carry a maximum of 4 travelers. Only Indian travelers are currently permitted.

Conclusion

Despite the challenges, the trek to Gartang Gali offers stunning views of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks, glaciers, and pristine alpine forests, making it a memorable experience for those who undertake it.

 

Author

Namaste! I am Om. I am a licensed Tourist Guide ( Approved by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India), I’m originally from Varanasi. Now, I am living in Rishikesh. I set up this blog to share my tips and experiences for traveling to inspire and help you to travel more. Hari Om

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