Where to travel
Dayara Bugyal is about ten kilometers from the trailhead Barsu in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand. A bugyal means an alpine pasture stretching between the snowline and tree line (3,600 meters to 2,727 meters) in local language. You can explore flora of the meadow in summer, participate in the Butter Holi Festival in August and ski during winter.
What to do & see
Barsu at 2,272 meters is a single-caste and single-religion village. Since families within the village are related, intermarriage is not permitted within the village. The principal occupation is cattle rearing and agriculture.
Dayara at 3,048 meters, surrounded by the Kushkalyan, Gangotri and Bandarpunch ranges, offers a glimpse of barren and snow covered peaks of Banderpunch (6,320K meters), Dropadi Ka Danda (5,720 meters), Janoli (6,630 meters), Kalanag /Black Peak (6,387 meters), and Kushkalyan (3,820 meters). The meadow doubles as skiing ground in the winter.
The trail to the meadow featuring a lake (Barnala Tal), winds through thick forest of birch, cedar, and oak. Lovely wildflowers blanket the rolling meadow, covering 28-square-kilometer of area, during summer. Temporary homes of shepherds (chhani), mud huts with thatched roofs, come to life. If you visit the meadow during summer, you have a chance to interact with them. If you have energy and time, trek to Bakria (Bakaariya) Top (3,800 meters), Gidara Top (4,200 meters) and Siyari Top from the meadow. Gidara Top, about ten (10) kilometers north of Dayara, is located at the foot of the Bamsaur Khal (4,700 meters).
Butter Holi Festival, an age-old tradition, is celebrated in mid of August every year at the meadow when the shepherds with their animals start returning to the village after spending 4-month long summer at high altitude away from their families. The festival is locally referred to as Andyud, which means “coming inside”. Holi is celebrated to thank Mother Nature and seek Her blessings for good fodder in the next season as well. Lord Krishna and the hills are worshipped. The villagers break matki (an earthen pot) and drink buttermilk and milk. The holi is played with buttermilk, butter, and milk, instead of colors used in other parts of India.
When to go
Trekking: May-Mid June, September –October
Skiing: December – February
How to reach
Uttarkashi is about 375 kilometers from New Delhi, the capital of India. From Uttarkashi, Barsu is about 40 kilometers. An eight (8) kilometer trek to the meadow starts from Barsu.
Alternatively, you can start about 17-kilometer-long uphill trek from Raithal to Dayara via Raithal-Goi, the summer residence of the residents of Raithal. Goi, about five kilometers from Raithal village, features a camping ground with drinking water. Raithal is about ten kilometers drive from Bhatwari on the National Highway (NH) 108. Bhatwari is about 30 kilometers from Uttarkashi.
You can book budget accommodation offered by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) at Bhatwari online. A bed in dormitory costs just INR 200.00 per day (US$ 4.08, EUR 2.96, GBP 2.59). Hire camping gear from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) in Uttarakashi.
Notes & Tips
The ninth 5-year plan proposed to build a skiing center of international standards, Dayara Bugyal Skiing Center, at the meadow. The plan also suggested to construct an airstrip at Chinyalisaur (Chinyalisoud), about 40 kilometres from Uttarkashi, to improve accessibility. In the Annual Plan 2010-11, the idea of constructing Barsu-Barnala-Dayara Ropeway was mooted. On completion of all three projects, everyone would rush to the meadow. So why not visit it now to enjoy its pristine beauty and tranquility.