Situated at an elevation of 11,000 feet above sea level, Nelong Valley is a rocky desert in the Gangotri National Park. The much-talked-about valley was opened for tourism in 2015, and since then it has become a go-to place for adventure junkies. The valley was an essential trade route between India and Tibet before it was occupied by the Chinese.
This rocky region looks exactly like Ladakh, Spiti, and Tibet and features high altitude peaks having similar weather and landscape. Hence, it is becoming one of the most popular places to explore in Uttarakhand. Since the valley is situated under the Gangotri National Park, it is not allowed to spend the night within 25 kilometers of the region but still, it is no less than a treasure trove for the explorers.
The best time to visit Nelong Valley is any time between May and November when the weather is ideal and sunny. During the winter season, the valley remains closed for travelers because of the region’s heavy snowfall. Until the valley is reopened properly and made more accessible for travelers, it is very difficult and futile to go through the trouble.
The grueling Nelong Valley is located near the Indo-China border, which was closed to tourists after the Indo-China war in 1962. The valley was reopened in 2015 to promote travel and tourism in Uttarakhand. Once a part of the ancient trade route between India and Tibet, Nelong Valley got affected by the 1962 war. The indigenous population living in the valley, known as Rongpas or Bhotiyas, was forced to migrate to Bagori village in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
After the valley was vacated, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police took charge of the region and set up their checkpoints. Visitors can still see the ruins of the ancient trade route and the narrow wooden bridge erected along the gorge.
famously deemed as Spiti of Uttarakhand, the valley is an attraction in itself. The view of the Tibetan Plateau will leave you speechless. Built-in the 17th century, Gartang Gali, a wooden walkway, that was used for trade between countries is one of the main attractions of the valley.
Gartang Gali is a wooden bridge said to be built by the Pathans of Peshawar in the 17th century. The 105-meter bridge is famous amongst adventure seekers. The bridge got damaged over the year after it fell into disuse during the Indo-China war in 1962 after it was declared off-limits for civilians. After being reopened by Uttarakhand Tourism in 2015, travelers require special permission to visit Gartan Gali.
Best kept secret of Dev Bhoomi, Nelong Valley is nestled in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand and is well-connected by motorable roads. However, you would require to book a gipsy provided by the forest department as they are the only vehicles allowed to go further towards the valley.
The roads leading to the Nelong Valley are quite dangerous and aren’t for the faint-hearted, however, they offer the gobsmackingly beautiful views. The best route is via Delhi-Dehradun-Bhairav Ghati.
Several trains are available that will take you to the nearest railheads to Nelong Valley. Spend the night in Rishikesh or Haridwar or Dehradun and then get a cab till Bhairav Ghati which is located a few kilometers away from the Gangotri shrine.
Frequent flights are available from Indira Gandhi International in Delhi to Jolly Grant in Dehradun.
Travel Tip - Nelong Valley is also known as Nelang Valley. Book cabs well in advance because only six vehicles are allowed to enter the region in a day. Carry an Indian passport, a pass signed by the SDM, a medical certificate for fitness, lots of chocolates and dry fruits and the warmest clothes you have Nelong Valley temperature is unbearable after the sunset.