The Harsil Village, Uttarakhand
India Photolog Tourism Travel

Harsil: The Virgin Village of Uttarakhand

When I say, Harsil the virgin village of Uttarakhand, I don’t mean the villagers don’t like themselves or their surroundings being touched as it is in Malana village of Himachal.  But the word virgin here means the village is unpolluted; not destroyed, has retained its natural beauty and traditional culture. The Harsil Village of Uttarakhand is serene and it has not been influenced by the fast developing urbanization andcivilization. I actually had a feeling that Thank God! at least this village is saved.

Village Harsil, Uttarakhand
First Glimpse of Village Harsil

The dense lush slopes of deodar trees encapsulated the Harsil village from all sides; the clear bluish green River Gangotri make its own way amidst the village and snow capped peaks kissing the blue sky makes the village look abode in heaven.

The Harsil Village

The Village Harsil lies at an altitude of 7860 feet and is located 70 Km ahead of Uttarakashi and 23 km before Gangotri on the Uttarkashi – Gangotri Highway. Harsil is an army cantonment area with only a few houses, guest houses, small market and local Dhabas.

Harsil Village, Uttarakhand

How to reach Harsil

Route from Delhi: Delhi – Noida – Muzaffarnagar – Roorkee- Haridwar – Rishikesh- Uttarkashi – Harshil

Time to reach from Delhi: 13 -15 hrs by road.  By air, one can fly to Dehradun airport (Jolly Grant) and from there the rest journey till Harsil Valley can be covered in 6-7 hrs by car.

Advised Stoppages:  At least one-night stoppage is advised for Harsil if you are driving by car. One can opt to stop either at Haridwar or Rishikesh. That covers almost half of the journey. We stopped at Uttarkashi, which covered  3/4th of the total distance. You can read my Uttarkashi post Uttarkashi post here.

Best Season to Travel: April – June and September to October (full season); November – March (offseason)

Expected Temperature: In Summers temperature day temperature varies between 10 -15 degree Celsius and night can go till 7-8 degree celsius whereas in winters the day temperature is between 0-10 degree Celsius and at nights it can dip too low as – 5 degree Celsius or more.

Interesting History Behind Village Harsil

The Village Harsil is famous for Raja or Pahadi “Wilson” whose original name was Frederick. E. Wilson. He deserted the British army and escaped into the Garhwal mountains. While rescuing he landed at a remote beautiful village Harsil; where he married a beautiful Pahadi girl and got settled. For his living, he started selling huge deodar trees/wood to Britishers by floating them in the river. This was sold for railway construction. By selling these rail sleepers he became so powerful that he started his own currency coins which were even available with the locals till 1930s.

Wilson Forest Guest House at Harsil Village, Uttarakhand
Wilson House

He too built his own mansion a Wilson Cottage at a beautiful location. The cottage is just located after crossing the bridge which later on caught fire and got turned into ruins. Now the cottage has been restored by Forest department and converted into Forest Guest House.

Wilson Mansion at Harsil Village in Uttarakhand
The Wilson House

Attractions of Village Harsil

On walking ahead of the Wilson cottage there is a wide river which was almost dry during my visit but locals told in summers it is filled with one of the purest and cleanest waters. The water of this river has medicinal properties as it is rich in minerals and digestive enzymes.

River passing inbetween village Harsil and Bagori - Harsil Village, Uttarakhand

Keep following the trail ahead for almost 1- 1.5 km and there is another small village Bagori having traditional wooden Pahadi row houses. I simply loved these houses, they look so homely. During my visit in February the whole village was closed, I mean locked (I have actually never seen anything like that). There was not even a single human except some Pahadi dogs which were our companions till Buddhist Monastery. Honestly, it was scary too.

The way to village Bagori - in Harsil Valley of Uttarakhand
Trail to Village Bagori

From the river itself, there were few more trails going up the mountains which looked adventurous but I was advised by my guest care taker not to explore them in the late evening.

On the other side of the bridge crossing the cantonment offices, there is a trail going to another religiously famous Village Mukhwa.

Village Mukhwa near Harsil Village, Uttarakhand
The Village Mukhwa

In off season/winters; when the main Gangotri Temple is closed, the deities of Goddess Gangotri are brought down here in the village temple, so the Village Mukhwa is a winter abode of Maa Gangotri.

Goddess Gangotri at village Mukhwa near Harsil in uttarakhand

This village lies almost 3 km from the village Harsil and the views from here are breathtaking.

The views from Village Mukhwa near Harsil are breath taking
Breathtaking views from village Mukhwa

One can hike ( bit steep) or go by car, as the road is motorable. I went by car but personally recommend to go hiking, if you can to get the mesmerizing views of nature.

Places to stay in Harsil

There are few guesthouses and hotels in Harsil. All of them are fully equipped and operational during the seasons but the problem arises during offseason. During my off season visit, only two of them were operational – GMVNL and Sunder Guesthouse. So, first, we checked the stay option with GMVNL (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd) and I didn’t like the rooms. They were smelly as well as not at all cozy; which was must require for the dipping temperatures in Harsil. So, we headed to the Sunder Guest House. The attendant here was welcoming and he helped us out in every way. He even took the pain of preparing fresh food with the selected vegetables available in the market. Don’t expect that you can get all type of food and vegetable. So, relish your tongue with the limited options only. Even the place  and rooms were warm, cozy and comfortable.

Sunder Guest House in Village Harsil
Sunder Guest House, Harsil

Overall this small village is an incredible gem in the lap of nature. It bestowed me in every sense and I wish to go back to explore the left out trails.


  1. Always carry some of the woolens as temperatures are low in this belt of Uttarakhand and they can further dip anytime.
  2. In offseason, the whole of villages are locked. So refer locals about the available accommodation and food options.
  3. Always keep some snacks handy for the way, as there are not much running Dhabas during offseason.
  4. The food options and Vegetables available are very limited at these altitudes, so eat whatever you get. Sometimes you need to kill your taste buds too.
  5. Do carry a small heater or hot water bottle if you feel excess cold.
  6. Avoid driving if there is old snow on the road. Your car/ Bike can slip and put you into trouble for life.
  7. Check the weather conditions with locals before heading ahead on this route.
  8. Be slow while driving as at point the road is for a single vehicle. There is no race going and you won’t be rewarded for anything.

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Harsil: The Virgin Village of Uttarakhand

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63 thoughts on “Harsil: The Virgin Village of Uttarakhand

  1. I had never heard of this place before, so thank you for sharing this post! The scenery and experiences available inspire me to add it to my list the next time i’m in the region

  2. Thank you for exploring and writing about these remote habitations. 🙂 I think many of us would never make it there, so these are important chronicles of the stories and people who are there. I’m curious about how they managed to ‘close’ a whole village… and lock it? Is it a walled village?
    My suggestion is that you hyperlink your article for Malana village (if there is one). Because I got curious about what ‘virgin’ means for that village so it’s easy if I can quickly get to that story. 🙂 But I can’t find it.

    1. No it is not a walled village. All of the habit ants rediding here in season lock their houses and move to some other places during winters/ off season. Thanks for the suggestion. I have added a link.

  3. Such a wonderfully fascinating part of the world and those mountains look absolutely incredible. Certainly, you did a great job of capturing them with your photos and it’s pretty clear you have a good eye for a shot. A really thorough write-up of somewhere I would love to visit

  4. Harsil is really a pristine and beautiful place. The views of the snow clad mountains are really spectacular. I was also fascinated by the history of the village. Hope to get to this untouched piece of paradise some day.

  5. I think we understood that you were referring to the village 😉 This looks like a beautiful place. For some reason it seems like it’s more and more difficult to find places like this. I’ve been interested in exploring India for quite sometime but there are so many places to visit. Will be bookmarking this for another time. Thanks!

  6. Oh wow but this is a great post so informative! I’ve been wanting to plan a different and exciting trip! Definitely will be keeping this post for reference

  7. This looks like such a beautiful place to visit and even more so a serene place to live. Excellent tips for visitors. It must be terribly cold there!

  8. Seriously, India is filled of surprises and beautiful destinations. It’s like the alps in India seriously! Many don’t know this and we are happy to read blogs like yours to discover it!

  9. This area is so pristine and lovely. I’ve never seen a part of India that looks like this before. And I was very interested in the story of Wilson and his own currency. I think I’d find that empty village scary too!

  10. Going to such places is the perfect getaway! Going to such places gives a peace of mind like no other! Wilson had his own currency?! Whoa! That’s something!!!

  11. WOW. Love the Himalayas and truly this place looks so serene and idyllic..Perfect for solitude and some me time with the hills. Interesting history too.Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Love untouched places. Glad to see blog posts written about places still off the tourist grid. Harsil looks so serene and tranquil, like a place locked in time. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  13. Amazing views – this would be probably my favorite place to stay for holidays – I would prefer it than a beach or resort – it’s pure, with endless space and mountainous peaks in the background. pure perfection 🙂 Reminds me of my trek in Annapurna Range in the Himalayas – I’ll never forget it.

  14. The more undiscovered, untouched parts of India are my favourite! I’ve never properly visited the north but have some friends in Dehradun I’ve been meaning to visit for some years now, so when I do I should make sure to take a trip out to Harsil Village! Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous.

  15. I have went to uttatakhand but only as far as Nainital. But after your nice pictures and descriptive virginaries I will plan a trip to Harsil. Thanks for such a good post.

  16. This place is simply amazing! never heard about this part of india before though! I really loved reading up on this beautiful place. thanks for sharing! Cheers!

  17. North India is like the paradise, so many untouched places to discover… I have been in some places there but never in Harsil!! The landscape around the village it is something from another world! Thanks for the final notes, I will miss my vegetables but I can avoid it for a while 🙂

  18. Interesting find! I havent been to a virgin village such as like this. Must be so refreshing to go off the beaten path and find these kinds of places. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Good that there are still unspoiled villages like this one. I enjoyed discovering Harsil and its amazing surrounding landscapes with you, thanks

  20. This is a beautiful village alright. I like the history behind it. I wonder if we are allowed to just go see the guest house and if any of the old stuff is still around.

  21. Village like this remind me of some small places in the Philippines. It’s better to ask some locals before seeing this in its off season to be able to see the beauty behind. A true beauty of nature, that ig photo you have xx

  22. I have not explored the regions near Uttarkashi yet and Harsil looks so pretty. I love Uttarakhand and also going offbeat. Will surely check out the next time I go.

  23. is that himalaya mountain? such a beautiful view there. I love it and I wish someday I can go there… if you have a virgin village with breathtaking mountain view, I have Raja Ampat.. a beautiful beach paradise at east indonesia. I also write how to get there if you interested with budget calculation for backpackers of course…

  24. Wow! These places are so beautiful. It would be great to visit here and learn and absorb the serenity. My favorite line is, “virgin here means the village is unpolluted; not destroyed, has retained its natural beauty and traditional culture” – love it!

  25. I love such small unexplored places. Turns out they are the best places one sees. The river waters and the views are so stunning here. A great find I must say.

  26. It is nice to know that there are still a virgin village in this time and age. I would love to check it out, I think it would be a refreshing village, to see how people live so different from the rest of us who couldn’t even live without our mobile phones. It’s also interesting to read about its history.

  27. wow, I can truly say that Harsil is such a secluded place that everyone should visit. I like how cloistered it is and it feels like it is really peaceful and full of beautiful panoramic views. I haven’t heard about this place before and I’ll surely bear this in mind for a future reference. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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