Guide To Traveling To Uttarakhand Pradesh During Covid
The tourism industry is a big part of the economies of many Indian states. All these states have taken a major hit during the lockdown phases of the covid pandemic. Now that the unlock procedure has progressed through a few phases, Unlock 5.0 has seen a lot of states lift more regulations to make interstate travel easier once again.
Like most northern states, a decent bit of Uttarakhand’s economy comes from its tourism sector. And the state has lifted some regulations as part of the Unlock 5.0 protocol that will make it slightly easier to travel there. Although, there are some rules and guidelines that you’ll still need to follow.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about traveling to Uttarakhand during covid.
Uttarakhand Regulations & Guidelines
If you are travelling to Uttarakhand after Unlock 5.0, here are a few things that you should keep in mind.
It is no longer mandatory to carry a covid negative certificate with you (although it is better if you do have one).
All people who are inbound to the state have to register on the smart city web portal of Dehradun.
The 2 day quarantine that was made compulsory during the initial days of Unlock and has been lifted by the Unlock 5.0 protocol.
The Aarogya Setu app has to be installed on your phone.
For a more in depth look at the regulations and guidelines, the Uttarakhand tourism website offers a comprehensive set of documents that you can read through before you plan your trip to the state.
Getting To Uttarakhand
While states have started opening up their borders, the government still recommends that we should view travel as only a necessity and not as a source of entertainment. Even the transport facilities have been kept minimal because of this. So if you plan on travelling in the near future, you could find some trouble finding transport facilities for your trip.
While trains are the cheapest option of traveling during this time, they are also the least available option. Most of the major metro cities like Mumbai and Bangalore have no trains going to Dehradun, which is the primary station for out of inter-state trains.
There are, however, a few covid special trains running from New Delhi to Dehradun. These trains have to be booked months in advance. So do not opt for train travel if the need for travel is more immediate.
There are daily flights from major cities to Dehradun airport. However, you should consider taking adequate precaution before travelling by air because airports also have the toughest screening process. People who do not pass the temperature checks can be asked to quarantine for the next few days.
Travelling by road is relatively safer, although it is also the costliest option. Travelling by a small car (while adhering to the rules of social distancing) is really the best and safest way to travel during this pandemic. So if you can afford to travel by road via a private vehicle, please take that option. After Unlock 5.0, the state has also allowed the entry of inter-state buses. However, if you are going to opt for this option, you will need to check if there is any provision of such a bus from your state to Uttarakhand. You’ll also have to be extra careful while travelling, because buses are closed environments where social distancing is harder to enforce.
Things To Keep In Mind When Traveling
Starting travel after lockdown is going to be a little more complicated than it was before the lockdown. You have to be a lot more careful about who you come in contact with, and what resources you should use during your trip. Here are a couple of things that we think you should keep in mind while travelling.
Keep Your Circle Small
The best way to travel in these times is to travel alone. This significantly reduces the chances of you being in continuous close contact of another person. If travelling alone is not an option, then try to travel in a group of less than 5 people.
This way you’ll be adhering to the Section 144 (which states that a gathering of more than 5 people is prohibited) which was imposed on multiple occasions to reduce contact.
Use Private Vehicles
As far as possible avoid using public transport. There is no way of telling who you are coming in contact with, or if your co-travellers could be carriers of the virus. When using private vehicles, you can actually choose your co-travellers. Make sure to find out who they have come in contact with in the past 15 days as an added measure of safety. Which brings us to point 3.
Recheck For Infection
The most recommended course of action of course, is to get tested negative for COVID before you travel. In fact, presenting a COVID negative test was mandatory until very recently, and it is still required in some states.
If you decide against getting tested (even though we suggest you do it as a safety measure), make sure that you or your fellow travelers are not suffering from any of the regular symptoms of the COVID disease. Also make sure to ask them if they have come in contact with any COVID+ve person in the last 15 days (ask yourself the same question).
Once you have taken all these precautions, then you can consider traveling.
Reduce Contact Based Transactions
Since minimising interaction is the ultimate goal, you can start off by doing the following.
i) Book every stay in advance via online transactions. ii) Pay for meals and other shopping items using UPI or other online wallets.
Things To Carry When Traveling
Hand sanitizer (preferably alcohol based although herbal is also okay)
Lots of clothes (Avoid doing laundry)
Smartphone with Aarogya Setu app, and UPI payment app (Internet is required)
Covid Negative Certificate (Better to be safe than sorry)
Things To Do In Uttarakhand When Traveling During Covid
Uttarakhand is a relatively safer place to travel to since the overall population of the state isn’t much. That being said, Dehradun actually is a gateway for people who are planning on visiting popular places in the state like Rishikesh, and Mussoorie. So it is best to be cautious.If you want to visit some sites while adhering to social distancing norms, here are a few things you can do.
Skiing in Auli
Auli is one of the handful places in all of India where you can actually go skiing. Since skiing is not a very popular sport in India, Auli is not a crowded place, making it an ideal place for some social distancing approved travel.
You can find lodging in one of the many ski lodges in that area. Skiing is not an option in the monsoons and the summers, so travelling between the months of December to February is actually the smart thing to do.
If you are unfamiliar with skiing, there are courses you can take over the period of a few days, to learn skiing before braving the slope yourself. Don’t forget to carry plenty of thermals. The temperatures can drop down to up to -15℃.
Jim Corbett National Park
Jim Corbett is one of the largest national parks in India. It is also the country’s premier tiger reserve. Jim Corbett was closed during lockdown, but the park is seeking to open its doors to the public very soon. You will have to call and confirm whether the park has started allowing entry to the general public.
While Jim Corbett is usually a popular place for tourists, the remote location and the inherent requirement of the safari being for a small group, makes it a good destination for distancing friendly travel.
A trip to Jim Corbett will allow you to actually get away from the urban life and enjoy the forest greenery for a while. Your guides will make sure to take you to areas that are frequented by animals. You’ll probably get to see fauna like Chital deer, Barking deer, Indian Pangolin, the Himalayan Black Bear; and you might even catch sight of the elusive Apex predator itself.
While booking the safari, please ask the guides to make sure that the group that you are travelling with is small and is adhering to social distancing norms.
Trek to Kuari Pass
There’s nothing more social distancing-friendly than a good trek. Luckily, Uttarakhand has Kuari Pass in it. The trek to Kuari Pass is an easy level trek that can be attempted by even a novice trekker. So if you are relatively new to trekking, and looking to put some distance between you and other people; Kuari Pass is the trek you should go for.
The popularity of the trek could mean that you run into more people than you’d like to. However, you are unlikely to find a crowd, and so you should be able to adhere to social distancing rules while doing this trek.
If you do not have food, water and shelter provisions, there are many shabas and guest houses along the road that you can use as rest stops to relax and restock. However, it is highly recommended that you stock up on all these things before the trek so that you can avoid interacting with other people. Carry lots of thermals, no matter which season you’re travelling in. It can get really chilly along the road.
Uttarakhand is lifting more and more restrictions in order to rejuvenate their tourism industry which had suffered during lockdown. And with prominent places like Char Dham, and Rishikesh being part of the state, it will no doubt attract a lot of people. In these cases, it becomes even more important to travel responsibly, and adhere to social distancing at all costs.