Gwaldam, with its untouched and unexplored serenity, is a little heaven, nestled between the Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand. There’s so much to explore in Gwaldam, making it an exceptional destination as it represents the culture and tradition of both the Uttarakhand regions – Garhwal and Kumaon.
Gwaldam is still an offbeat lesser-known destination in Uttarakhand, and thus, makes the perfect holiday getaway for those looking for a vacation amidst quietude and pristine nature.
While very prominent for multiple treks and pilgrim routes, Gwaldam is virgin territory for travelers. Case in point, the town is adorned with soaring Deodar trees and luscious apple orchards is the base camp for treks like Kuari Pass and Roop Kund.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Gwaldam is a sleepy little town nestled on the border of Garhwal and Kumaon. The place has several apple orchards which add to the Himalayan charm of this hamlet. The farther your eyes travel, you’ll be able to soak in all the snow-capped peaks in your panoramic vision.
The valley that stretches for miles and the far-spread fields only adds to nature’s joys! Adding to the views is the scintillating River Pindari which looks like a silver streak making its way through the lush forests.
It is also one of the important stoppages for pilgrims during the Nanda Devi Raj Yatra, which is a three-week-long festival and pilgrimage of Uttarakhand. Gwaldam is the home to some of the sacred temples like Badhangarhi, Buddhist Khamba, and a few others. Gwaldam is a nature lover’s paradise and is thus a perfect place to plan a holiday in Uttarakhand.
The entire area up to Talwari is full of orchids. A 3-km track amidst beautiful nature in the company of unknown flowers, boundless springs, and innumerable birds will take you to Badhangarh temple, perched on a narrow ridge. From here you can have a glimpse of the never-seen marvels of the Himalayas.
Gwaldam also functions as the starting point for some of the most exciting trekking routes in the Himalayas. And, most prominently it is the base for the trek to Roop Kund.
This quaint little hill station, set amidst green woods and apple orchards, is perched at an altitude of 1629 mts above sea level and is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. Gwaldam offers a fascinating view of Himalayan peaks Nanda Devi (7817 mt), Trishul (7120 mt), and Nanda Ghunti (6309 mt).
Given its strategic location, connecting Garhwal & Kumaon regions – Gwaldam is truly an amalgamation of cultures. And, what a delight to experience the Sangam of different, yet similar ways of living.
The town is known for its panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks like Trishul, Nanda Devi, and Nanda Ghunti. Due to its location – Gwaldam is only 22 km away from Baijnath, the town enjoys a plethora of activities nearby.
The highway connecting Bageshwar, branches off into a fascinating route amidst thick pine forests, against the backdrop of the Himalayas. From Gwaldam, the road winds its way through dense forests and terraced fields dotted with cottages of Tharali and Narain Bagar up to the Ranikhet – Pandukhal road.
Strategically located between two Kingdoms, it is no wonder that Gwaldam has always been a historically rich place. The place saw the hierarchy of several provinces such as the Garhwal kingdom followed by the Chand Dynasty of Kumaon, Gorkhas, and British in the Battle of Gwaldam (1590 AD).
Weather in Gwaldam
While Gwaldam enjoys great weather throughout the year, it is basis your preference that you should choose your time of visit. Here’s a breakdown for your reference –
Summer – The summer season is represented in Gwaldam from March to June with a magnificent view of the mighty Himalayas. With the temperature rising to 22 °C only, the weather is going to be pleasant for all types of sightseeing tours in Gwaldam.
Monsoon – Monsoon season, much like the rest of the Himalayas is laden with heavy rainfall. As August accompanies heavy rainfall, nearing the end of June and July can still be enjoyed here. The temperature during monsoon remains between 15 °C and 20 °C. It is advised to check for the weather forecast before planning a holiday trip in the monsoon season, anywhere in the Himalayas. This is so, because, the hills are prone to landslides during monsoons.
Winter – Winters, according to me, is true to the best time to visit this place. Temperatures are relatively mild for you to continue exploring while also indulging in some cold! The temperature stays between 5 °C and 15 °C, which is pretty suitable from November to February.
Best time to visit Gwaldam
If you’re like me, you want to be out in the open, exploring the unexplored! Let your love for visiting unexplored heights take you to this refreshing town of Gwaldam where the whole year is ideal enough to plan a trip. However, for optimal activities and pleasant weather, I would suggest planning your vacation from February – to June, and September to November.
How to reach Gwaldam
Gwaldam is well connected with most of the important towns and cities of Uttarakhand.
The nearest airport to Gwaldam is Pant Nagar, at a distance of 250 KMs. From here, you can easily access taxis (available privately or for sharing) at the airport itself.
The nearest railhead is Kathgodam, at a distance of 160 KM. Similar to the airport, you can easily find taxis to reach Gwaldam from Kathgodam.
Gwaldam is well connected by roads from all sides. It is 36 km from Kausani, 22km from Baijnath, 45 km from Bageshwar, and only 149 km from Nainital.
Things to do in Gwaldam
Even though the town is not explored by a lot of mainstream travelers (adding to its charm, in my humble opinion) there is still plenty you can do and explore. First things first, as with any eclectic hamlet – go out and speak with the people of the town – learn their ways of life and understand the complexities that come with living in the hills.
Also, there are a bunch of trails to explore in the region – so do remember to get lost in the woods!
Gwalnaag is a picturesque place near Gwaldam that offers an unobstructed view of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks. This beautiful place, located about 3 KM from Gwaldam, is situated on the Dhalua meadow. In the winter season, the slopes of the meadow make for an ideal skiing experience. Also, the Garud Valley is situated around 2 KMs from here and resembles a bowl.
Buddhist Khamba Temple
Within the diaspora of Gwaldam, a sect follows Buddhism. And around 1.5 KMs from the main market, you can enlighten yourself in the revered Buddhist Khamba Temple. The whole temple is adorned with a peaceful aura and statues of Gautam Buddha sculpted out of stones. Learn about how Buddhism settled in this corner of the world and how Buddhism impacts the culture and way of life here.
There’s a unique relationship between religion and hills. Dev Bhoomi Himachal and Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand are called so for a reason! One such beautiful example is the beautiful Badhangarhi temple, dedicated to divine Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali.
Situated 8 km away from Gwaldam and perched at an elevation of 2,260 meters above sea level is the Badhangarhi temple. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali and was erected during the Katyuri dynasty that ruled the region from the 8th-12th century.
One can witness panoramic views of the most prominent peaks of Uttarakhand, including Nanda Devi, Trishul, Panchachuli. The pilgrims can travel the first 4 KM by road till Taal and from Taal onwards, the journey is covered on foot.
Hidden in a nook in the ridge along a calm creek, 9 km out of Gwaldam on the road to Debal, Machhi Tal came up in 1928, when the British thought they would breed fish here for personal consumption. This makes for a perfect picnic spot to soak in the sun and the views
The state-run Angora farm is a kilometer ahead of Gwaldam’s main bazaar and was established in 1987. The farm has five Shila which houses 35-37 animals. During the day, the goats are taken to graze in the nearby meadows leaving the newborns safely behind.
One enclosure has 60 massive German Angora rabbits. The man-in-charge runs a tight ship on the elaborate breeding and feeding habits of these exotic rabbits. The cultivation of Angora rabbit wool is considered an alternative to sheep rearing.
Sightseeing Places near Gwaldam
When you’re on your excursion to Gwaldam, remember to pack your hiking boots! The region has some of the best trekking experiences waiting to be explored. Taking you through the oak and pine-covered forests while also offering stunning views of waterfalls hidden in the mountains, it serves as the base camp for Kuari pass, Roopkund lake, and Nanda Devi Yatra.
On your various treks in the region, you will come across the beautiful sleepy villages such as Mandoli, Debal, Wan, etc. The Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra, the most revered religious journey in the region, takes place every twelve years and follows this route.
A very famous temple, Baijnath is located on the bank of the Gomti River. This group of temples was built by the Katyuri rulers in the 13th century. The main temple houses a beautiful idol of the goddess Parvati. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati were married here.
It is located at a distance of 45 km on the confluence of the local Gomti and Saryu rivers. It is an ancient pilgrimage center. This is also the base for treks to Pindari, Kafni, and Sunder Dunga glaciers.
Located 40 km from Gwaldam, Kausani is a picturesque tiny hamlet set amidst dense pine forests. Offering a closer and intimate view of the Himalayan splendor, especially the Nanda Devi mountain range. The ‘Anashakti Ashram’ was built here in Mahatma Gandhi’s memory, who stayed here for a while.
Roop Kund Trek
If you love mysteries enough then you should not miss this secretive skeleton lake of Uttarakhand. Situated at an altitude of 5029 m, this lake is mothered by the Trishul Massiff and is a popular tourist destination for trekking.
Why is it referred to as a mystery lake you ask? It is so due to the hundreds of frozen human bodies and skeletons found here, which are believed to be the remains of royal expeditionary, lost on their way to a pilgrimage. The route to Roop Kund passes through pleasant mountainous meadows and snowfields, offering glorious sights of the Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, and Chaukhamba peaks.
It is located at a distance of 45 km on the confluence of the local Gomti and Saryu rivers. This is also the base for treks to Pindari, Kafni, and Sunder Dunga glaciers.
Places to Stay in Gwaldam
Gwaldam is a quaint little hamlet situated on the border of the Kumaon and Garhwal region and hence gets the best of both the regions. There are only a handful of places to stay available at Gwaldam due to its relative anonymity among the tourists.
Nevertheless, one can find lodges and budget guesthouses that offer limited amenities. Budget-friendly GMVN guesthouses are also present in the region. Also, you may stay at the KMVN Tourist Bungalow – also a government-owned entity. Homestays are also available – Green Stay Homestay has some splendid views. Hotel Nature Retreat, Hotel Trishul, and Parashar Resort are other places worthy of exploring.
However, if you’re looking for more luxurious stays, then at a short distance from Gwaldam, in Talwari, luxury properties like that of Saffron stays are available. You may even stay in Kausani, which is some 40 km from Gwaldam and is well-connected to it by road. Kausani has more options in terms of accommodations.
Where to eat in Gwaldam
Finding a high-end restaurant that serves a variety of cuisines and delicacies would not be possible at Gwaldam. At best, you’ll find roadside food stalls and local restaurants serving North Indian cuisine and popular Chinese items like noodles and momos.
Some local dhabas may also serve authentic Garhwali cuisines like Gahat Dal, Sisunak Saag, Kappa, and Chains to name a few. Honestly, eating at high-end restaurants is a waste of time and money when you’re visiting such places, anyways. Try authentic local cuisine and indulge in the experience and the place for maximum immersion. Homestays and food there is a brilliant way to experience true culture.
Before I conclude this post, I truly want to urge you to travel authentically and consider Mother Earth to be yours! Please don’t litter when in the hills. If you’re enjoying a picnic by a riverside or deep in the woods on some trek – do remember to please clean up after yourself. No trash-collecting drives are happening in the hills – we don’t have the infrastructure to do so. It breaks my heart to travel to the hills and see litter all over the place.
We are the ones dirtying Earth, making it unlivable for other species. We are making the lives of the residents of these villages harder. Let’s enjoy the beauty of nature and leave it as we found it – untouched – for others to enjoy the same. If I don’t like looking at filth when on a trek – I should not be leaving the place filthier either! Let’s do our part and carry our litter back with us and dispose of it properly!
Gwaldam is a small, relaxed and enchanting town situated on the border of Garhwal and Kumaon. Marked for its green woods and apple orchards, Gwaldam offers a hearty view of Himalayan peaks including Nanda Devi, Trishul Parvat, and Nanda Ghunti.
I hope I have been able to provide you with as much detail as possible here! However, if you need any more guidance, please feel free to connect with me by commenting below! Happy to help! See you out there, fellow travelers!