17 July (Gangotri to Bhojbasa, 14km): Breakfast in the city, returned to find Panda was down with a wonky tummy. Vishnoi would start out with him a couple of hours after us. So we divided up the kerosene...
... and set out, past the temple (where Vishnu, our guide, offered a brief puja).
The route runs up the right bank (looking downstream) of the Bhagirathi. After a kilometre or so, there's a little checkpost where a guard checks your permits and levies a fee based on how many days you're going to camp higher up. Dialogue ensues:
Guard: Aap kahan ja rahein hain? (Where are you going?)
Us: [innocently] Tapovan.
Guard: [suspiciously, looking at our massive backpacks] Tapovan?
Us: Haan. (Yes.)
Guard: Sach bataiye, aap Kalindi Pass ja rahe hain na? (Tell me the truth, you're going to Kalindi Pass, aren't you?)
Us: Nahi bhaisaab, hum Tapovan ja rahe hain. Teen din ka rasta. (No Boss, we're going to Tapovan. Three days' journey.)
Well, in the end I think he did charge us only three days' fee, since he had no way of disproving our claim that we were going to Tapovan, which is just one day's march beyond Gaumukh. But my memory is a little rusty in my old age.
Here are a few pics from the route. It's pretty much like this throughout upto Bhojbasa, the camp before Gaumukh. The peak in the distance in the second picture is Bhagirathi II. Clouds made it impossible (from my position at least) to see Shivling.
Plenty of saffron, too :P.
Nice guys, this lot. We must've hit the height of the kavde season -- there were hordes and hordes of them off to Gaumukh with their two little jerrycans to collect the holy water.
After a rather landslidey stretch, we made it to Bhojbasa, at about 3650m. Vladlen promptly started doing some weird stretching exercises which he'd no doubt picked up from his hobby: dancing. I don't know whether this had a "come hither" effect or not, but he did manage to attract the attention of another firang, Yaniv, who turned out to be Israeli too, and had spent time in India and picked up "thoda thoda" Hindi. A very sweet chap. He was going to Tapovan. The two started jabbering in Hebrew...
... while we attacked the tea and pitched camp a short distance downhill and upstream from the line of teastalls, beyond the GMVN and the ashram. We were getting a little worried about Panda and Vishnoi, since it was almost dark and they were about a couple of hours behind us, so we sent some staff members back to look for them with torches. We were relieved when they turned up after some time.