Trek Details - Janki Chatti to Yamunotri

Trek Details - Janki Chatti to Yamunotri

Yamunotri Temple lies in Uttarkashi district (Western Garhwal Himalaya) at an altitude of 3,201 metres (wrongly attributed as 3291 metres), Uttarakhand. According to Hindu belief, Yamuna is considered pure and bathing in its waters is believed to absolve you of your sins and grant immortality.

The Padma Purana narrates the story of two brothers who lived a life of indulgence and lust and gave up the virtuous ways. They finally plunged into poverty and resorted to robbery and were killed by beasts in the forest. Both of them reached Yama's court for judgement. While the elder brother was sentenced to Naraka (hell), the younger was granted Svarga (heaven). Astonished, the younger brother asked the reason for it as both lived similar lives. Yama explained that the younger brother had lived in the ashram of a sage on Yamuna's banks and bathed in the sacred river for two months. The first month absolved him of sins and the second one granted him a place in heaven.

The Yamuna is often called Yami in the Vedas and in later literature, she is known as Yamuna and Kalindi ("the dark one"). This is the rationale for the black marble idol of the goddess at Yamunotri temple. Yamunotri is accessible via a 6.5-kilometer trek from Janki Chatti (wrongly attributed as 5 km).

Yamunotri temple flanked by Bandarpoonch in Winter/Spring 2017.

Yamunotri temple flanked by Bandarpoonch in Winter/Spring 2017.

Trek Journal

Walk with me and experience Yamunotri's magic in my Trek Journal.

Trek Details

The trail to Yamunotri is over two metres wide and clearly marked. This is not surprising as this place gets thousands of pilgrims during the chota char dham yatra. The trail is dotted with water points, benches along the way and small sheds over the trail every 500 metres or so. Yet during the off-season, these water points don't work, the benches are decked in snow and sheds have slippery floor due to overnight ice formation. It is next to impossible to miss the trail even in deep snow, yet due to the heavy snow, a winter trek to Yamunotri should not be underestimated. On the other hand, this is an excellent trek if you're new to winter trekking because

  • there is no route finding involved and

  • a retreat is easy if things get hairy due to inclement weather

The trail is a wide concrete path that bisects Janki Chatti. A GMVN rest house lies a kilometre from the starting point to your left. The town ends after a kilometre and a half after which the route gets slightly steeper. There are three temples along the route and the first (Ram temple) lies to your right just after the town ends.

The trail hugs the mountainside and keeps to the "true right" of Yamuna river throughout. The midway point of the trail is a steel bridge over one of the tributaries to the Yamuna. Three hundred metres after the bridge there is a bifurcation on the main trail. The path to your left is an alternate path to Yamunotri temple that meets the main trail after the final switchback. Nevertheless, in winters we recommend sticking to the main route as the alternate route has much more snow and is thus difficult to negotiate. There are three switchbacks along the main route. The first switchback is immediately after the bridge, there is another before Bhairav temple (last temple along the route) and the steepest and final switchback is immediately before Yamunotri temple.

Start of the Yamunotri trail from Janki Chatti

The trail starts to climb after Janki Chatti

The trail starts to climb after Janki Chatti

Alternate route to Yamunotri. It is best avoided in winters.

Map showing the main trail (in yellow) and the alternate trail (dotted grey line)

Map showing the main trail (in yellow) and the alternate trail (dotted grey line)

The trail hugs the mountainside and keeps to the true right of The Yamuna river.

This is one of the covered portions on the trail. A good place to change socks and stamp the snow from your shoes. However this can be extremely slippery as the melting snow freezes to ice overnight.

One of the switchbacks along the trail

Final switchback just before Yamunotri temple

Final switchback just before Yamunotri temple

Trek Summary

DIFFICULTY

April to November - Easy. T1 on Swiss Alpine Club Scale (SAC)

November to April - Moderate. T2 on Swiss Alpine Club Scale (SAC)

(Understand SAC)

DURATION

A two-hour ascent and one-hour descent from April to November. In winters this time could triple depending on the amount of snow.

DISTANCE

6.5 kilometres from Janki Chatti (Parking spot just outside town) to Yamunotri temple

MAX. ELEVATION

3176 metres

AVERAGE GRADE

10.1%

START AND FINISH

Janki Chatti, Uttarakhand (Google Maps). 45 kilometres from Barkot (Google Maps) which is the nearest big town.

GETTING THERE

Regular bus from Mussoorie and Dehradun till Barkot. Shared taxi/jeep from Barkot till Janki Chatti.

ACCOMMODATION

There are numerous hotels, dharamshalas and a GMVN Tourist Rest House at Janki Chatti (Google Maps). However, accommodation during the pilgrimage months is iffy as it gets very crowded (May - July and then September - November). From November to April none of these hotels are open. The same goes for dharamshalas and ashrams which offer a dormitory style accommodation near Yamunotri temple. If you're planning to stay overnight at Yamunotri temple, check at the police post in Janki Chatti if any of the ashrams are open.

One option is to stay overnight at Barkot and make an early morning start to be back at Barkot late in the evening. Hotel Dev Bhoomi (Google Maps) in Barkot has clean budget rooms.

WEATHER

Snow after December and usually lasts until March. You will need a fleece and jacket in March and April. Summers are pleasant with day temperatures in the mid-20s and night temperatures at around 5 degrees. In March the night temperature at Yamunotri dips below 0.

CONNECTIVITY

BSNL only at Yamunotri, reception is spotty. 2G network on major carriers at Janki Chatti. 3.5G at Barkot.

Janki Chatti to Yamunotri trek route. View in Google Maps / wikiloc

Elevation graph Janki Chatti to Yamunotri trek (What is this?)

Essential Gear

Trekking gear Janki Chatti to Yamunotri trail.jpg

If you're attempting this trek in March in all likelihood you will deal with a metre of snow as you get close to Yamunotri. (More winter trekking tips) This means that the following gear is essential:

  • Gaiters

  • Winter Boots (or something with a closed toe box that does not allow snow or water to seep in)

  • Synthetic trousers (cotton/denim is a big no-no, read why)

  • Fleece / Softshell

  • Cap / Hat

  • Category 4 Sunglasses (understand sunglass categories)

  • Trekking Poles or a stout stick

  • 1 litre of water per person. While there are many water points, none of them work during the non-pilgrimage months (November - May)

  • Trail snacks / warm drink (see our list of top three warm drinks)

Downloads and GPS Logs

Download route and waypoints as GPX file (compatibe with most GPS devices and smartphone apps)

View / Download route and waypoints in Google Maps

View / Download route and waypoints in wikiloc

A taste of Sahyadri. Accessible monsoon weekend treks for Mumbaikars

A taste of Sahyadri. Accessible monsoon weekend treks for Mumbaikars

Trek Journal - Janki Chatti to Yamunotri Spring Trek

Trek Journal - Janki Chatti to Yamunotri Spring Trek