The Gharwal region in the state of Uttarakhand has its own unique essence. Adorned with some of the ancient temples of Shiva and Shakti, picturesque mountains, crystal blue water of river Alaknanda, and traditional Gharwal Bazars, the region is a simmering blend of Himalayan culture, nature, and spirituality.
The region of Badrinath highway in Gharwal is one of the focal points of its growing tourism industry. It has well-established tourist’ townships such as Rudraprayag and Sri Nagar (not to be confused with JK’s capital) and is also known as the gateway to the Chardham. The annual tourism footfall in the region is close to 0.85-0.9 million, which also includes religious tourists.
The region has plenty to offer to visitors, from religious and spiritual pilgrimages to planning a honeymoon trip to undertaking a simple leisure escape in the mountains. It has so many things: towering mountain peaks, spellbinding valleys with traditional bazaars, plenty of handicrafts, scenic natural lakes, tranquil white riverbeds, thick green forests, and much more. Add to this some of the ancient temples which are hundreds of years old with natural kunds (or ponds), medieval-era architecture, and wall carvings.
The summer months are cool, which makes it a perfect gateway for the North Indians. The winter is cold with occasional snowfalls.
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An emergent staycation hub
At a time when workcations, staycations, and long vacations are picking up, the picturesque Gharwal region is becoming the next favorite of people of all ages and walks of life – youth, creative folks, tech entrepreneurs, WFH IT professionals, consultants, freelancers, retirees, etc. The region is perfect for north Indians to disconnect from hectic city lives, spend some time in the lapse of nature, and recharge their batteries. And all of this without going very far off.
The nearest major railway station to reach is Haridwar, although there is a station at Rishikesh. The closest airport is at Dehradun, which is at a distance of around 150 km.
Staying in the Badrinath highway region comes with numerous benefits. There is plenty to watch, explore and do. Like any other Himalayan territory, there are ample adventure sports to do. From rock climbing to high-altitude trekking to camping in the thick forests, there are things to give some adrenaline rush. If high-thrill games are not one’s forte, then one can simply walk and cycle around the beautiful landscape or visit a local café to enjoy some Gharwali delicacies.
The region has enough for water sports enthusiasts as well. The river of Alaknanda and Mandakini is perfect for boating, Kayaking, etc. Another remarkable feature of the region is the spiritual vibes it is known for. The region with its calm jungle, fresh air & water, and beautiful mountains is perfect to do Yoga, pranayama, mindfulness, and other meditative exercise. At a time when stress and noise are the by-products of modern lives, meditation can help us heal and rejuvenate our spiritual elements.
Potential investments in realty and second homes
The region is a potential hub for investments in real estate, hospitality, second homes, wellness, etc. Currently, the land price in the region is close to INR 2,000-2,900/ sq ft and is accelerating at the rate of 5-7%.
Still a relatively less explored destination, there is tremendous potential in the Badrinath region for both traditional hospitalities as well alternate tourism. To cater to the growing tourist inflow and religious pilgrimages, developing hotels, resorts, and lodges are always a profitable idea. There are presently 160-180 conventional hotels (excluding homestays and rental villas) and in the face of accelerating tourists’ arrival, the demand is always upbeat.
Meanwhile, there is tremendous potential for alternate tourism to flourish. As tourism is both growing as well as transforming, in the times to come there will be a spurt in demand for vacation villas, homestays, second homes, farm stays, etc. Simultaneously, there will be renewed demand for wellness, rejuvenation, and fitness. This will unfold demand for new tourism packages combining multiple forms of tourism such as wellness, health & fitness, yoga, Ayurveda, adventure, etc. The space between tourism, rejuvenation, and real estate will increasingly blur, creating new opportunities.
(By Ankit Kansal, MD, Axon Developers. Views are personal).