Around Gangotri valley

By- Ishita Goel

The Himalayas are filled with glacial lakes, actually a lot of them at various altitudes and in different sizes. All of them have their own distinct beauty. There are many lakes which are single and many others attached to a single system. Many are mystical and a lot mythical as well. So, having seen most majestic high-altitude lakes in Indian Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim, it wasn’t a surprise at all to have heard about seven lakes known as Sat Taal in Gangotri valley of Uttarakhand, just above the village of Dharali, around 12 km from the holy town of Gangotri. But what kept my interest was the fact that these lakes have been largely unexplored. The trek was’t tough, somewhere in scale between easy to moderate. Lakes would not have been too majestic but were very interesting. The trek starts from Dharali village, which is just three kilometres from Harsil on the road to Gangotri. After trekking for 15 minutes, we reached the second of the lakes. Actually, here we have two lakes close to each other. One of them has been now covered with stones and boulders rolling down from the mountains during rains and slides. This second lake is called as Dabriataal. Dabria refereed to here as stones. But the third lake is very interesting. Area wise, this is the biggest of all the lakes. But it is a lake in disguise. On the first lake, you will wonder where the lake is! As you won’t see a pool of water anywhere. What we see is a big meadow surrounded by deodar trees around. This meadow rests on the lake bed. There is water beneath this green carpet and as soon as you put a foot on this meadow (more towards the centre of it) you will feel the ground shaking! These are the only lakes that can be seen. But that makes only five. We were told that other two lakes still remain unexplored and they are bit higher in the mountains. Still, legends say that there are seven lakes and hence they are called as Sat Taal. Most importantly all these seven lakes are perhaps fed with a single system. Since they are at different heights, water from the highest lake flows down to the next one and that continues. Water from the lowest one the Mridungataal flows down to Bhagirathi river near Dharali. Besides enjoying these lakes, this place is beautiful for trekking, hiking and may be camping. You have carpet of flowers at various places. You will largely see rhododendrons in red or orange colours in this region. But here you can even find rhododendron flowers in a mix of purple and while colours. As you go up, view keep getting better and better. From the area just behind the Srikanth and Draupadi Ka Danda peaks, on a clear day you can have a very clear view of grand peaks. Dharali is just three kilometres from Harsil. So, though Dharali has a few hotels and guest houses, you can make Harsil as a base for the trip to the region. Trek from Dharali to Sat taal is a moderate one. A round trip will take at least three hours, depending on stops. You can even think of camping up in the mountains.