Have you ever dreamt of sleeping underneath the starlit skies? Millions of twinkling stars spread across the dark blue velvet background, the cool night breeze lulling you into a deep slumber, and the muted rustling of trees and grass - the lullabies that drift you into dreamland. Sounds like a fairytale, right? Uttarakhand’s Benital village can turn this fairytale into a sweet reality!
Located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, Benital has been developed by the Uttarakhand Government as an Astro-village to promote Astro tourism in the state. Benital is an untouched natural beauty in Uttarakhand and is set at a height of 2500 meters.
Due to the sparse population in the area, the village has low light pollution which makes it a perfect spot for stargazing. The spellbinding unobstructed night sky and the vast expansive space calls out to the skywatchers and stargazers from all over the country.
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If you’re expecting simply some tents and camping space, then you’re in for a surprise at Benital! The Astro-village is decked with high-range telescopes, guitars, and bonfire sights, and surrounded by tall alpine trees that seem to be touching the sky. The local authorities with the help of Starscapes Experiences made this Astro-village into reality. From camping sites to tents to a variety of stargazing equipment, Benital offers a genuine and well-versed skywatching opportunity unlike any other.
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The experience begins as the sun begins to set past the Shiwaliks mountain range. One might encounter some photographers scampering to click the last few perfect clicks before the darkness takes reign. The trained Starscapes Experience guide will then set up various high-range telescopes that will allow you to see and identify various stars, novas, constellations, planets, and other heavenly bodies.
You get to gaze at Nebula - a nursery of stars or catch the clearest sight of Saturn and its mesmerizing rings. While stargazing with naked eyes does have a romantic appeal, viewing the skies through high-resolution telescopes is certainly an experience that you don’t want to miss out on. You can swift through the Milky Way Galaxy and if you’re lucky enough, you might even sight a double cluster of stars (when two constellations seem like they’re merging into one another).
By Road: Chamoli district is well-connected by a network of roads with major cities around Uttarakhand. You can also avail of buses going towards Rishikesh or Srinagar and then hire a cab to reach Chamoli.
From Chamoli, Benital is about 90 km and will take you 3.5 hours to reach. The district is connected to other cities like Rishikesh, Uttarkashi, Srinagar, Gopeshwar, Pauri, etc. Chamoli is located on NH58 making it easily accessible from other major cities in the country like Badrinath, Devprayag, Muzzafarnagr, Meerut, Haridwar, Srinagar, etc.
By Train: The closest railway station to Chamoli district is the Rishikesh Railway Station. The railhead is well connected to various major cities and is located 226 km away from Chamoli. It will take you about 7 hours to reach the railway station by road. You can either travel by taxi or bus from Chamoli to reach the station. Rishikesh Station has several trains running to and from Delhi, Chandigarh, Muzzafarnagar, Patna, and other major cities.
By Air: The nearest functional airport to Chamoli is the Dehradun Airport in Uttarakhand, which is about 243 km away and will take about 7 hours to reach by road. The airport is well-connected to Delhi and daily flights are flying back and forth from the capital city. You can either take a direct cab to the airport or catch a bus until Srinagar or Rishikesh and then change buses or hire a taxi to reach the airport.
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The summertime is the best time to visit Benital as you will have clear skies and no rains or precipitation during this time. The months between February and June are the time you go stargazing at Benital. The temperatures stay between 15° to 32°C on average and the climate is pleasant. You won’t find it too hot or humid to hinder your skywatching plans, instead, there is a constant waft of cool breeze from the mountains that makes the atmosphere cool and comfortable.
The winters also offer a good time to visit, though the region does experience snowfall and there is a possibility of cloud covers obstructing the view.
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Chamoli is a haven for adventure junkies who are looking for the next activity to get their adrenaline rushing! The district is home to some incredible trekking trails, skiing slopes, and camping grounds, and also offers river rafting to its visitors. So, make sure to check out these adventure activities at Chamoli to get a wholesome experience of the Astro-village and its surrounding towns.
Chamoli is a skiers paradise and Auli’s ski resort is incredibly popular throughout the country. Auli is located in Chamoli and has an elevation of 1917 - 3027 meters. The massive snow-covered mountain slopes have everything from cable cars to skiing courses for beginners to skiing trails for experienced skiers. During the winters, Auli turns into a winter wonderland and offers panoramic views of the Nanda Devi mountain and the snow-clad pine trees. Auli celebrates and organizes various skiing festivals and events that one must visit.
Chamoli has several trekking trails ranging from one-day trek routes to multi-day treks. Two super popular treks in Chamoli are the Hemkund Sahib Trek and the Valley of Flowers Trek. The Valley of Flowers trek takes you through a valley laden with thousands of colorful, vibrant flowers. About 80 species of flowers grow in this valley between July and September which you need to experience! The Hemkund Sahib trail is on the same route about 14,000 feet high. It is popular among Sikh pilgrims trekking to Sri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara.
For all thrill seekers and rafting enthusiasts, Alakananda’s River Rafting experience is something you must try! The rafting trail starts at the base of the River Ganges in Rishikesh and launches itself through the Chamoli district to end at Rudraprayag. The river runs through thick alpine forests and deep gorges and has several large rocks scattered throughout its path. The gushing bluish-white water, foaming rapids, and the coarse sandy river basins are a sight to behold.
Chamloi’s Benital Astro-Village is India’s one of its kind astronomical village created with boosting adventure and Astro-tourism in mind. Benital’s wide open grasslands, bordering alpine trees, and the pollution-free clear night sky, make it an experience worthy of adding to your bucket list. Unlike other stargazing trips, Benital offers its visitors an immersive experience with state-of-art telescopes and knowledgeable guides to make the most of your stargazing night!
What Is An Astro-Village?
An Astro-village, as the name suggests, is a natural open space with minimal light pollution making it a perfect spot for stargazing and sky watching. Astro-villages may be equipped with high-resolution telescopes and astronomy experts to point out constellations and other heavenly bodies.
What Is Night Sky Tourism?
Night Sky Tourism is a project launched by the Rajasthan State Department of Arts and Culture that aims to promote stargazing activities using high-resolution telescopes set up at Jaipur’s Jawahar Kala Kendra and Jantar Mantar. Other than these spots, the project aims to have set-ups in each district including 4 prominent spots in Jaipur.
Why Is Chamoli Famous?
Chamoli is famous as a place of pilgrimage since the town is home to numerous religious shrines and temples. The district is also famous for its range of adventure sports like skiing, trekking, river rafting, and camping.
Is Chamoli Near Dehradun?
Chamoli is located in the heart of Uttarakhand and is located about 265 km from Dehradun by road. You can reach Dehradun via private car or state run buses.
Is There Snowfall In Chamoli?
Yes, Chamoli receives snowfall during the winters and the temperatures drop below freezing point during this time.
How Do I Get To Chamoli By Train?
The closest railway station to Chamoli is the Rishikesh Railway Station which is located 226 km from Chamoli. The railhead is connected to major cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, and Patna. Once you arrive at Rishikesh, you can either hire a cab or take a bus to reach Chamoli.
Is Chamoli In Kumaon?
Yes, Chamoli falls under the Kumaon division which is located in the northern hills of Uttarakhand. The Kumaon region is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas and consists of 6 districts viz. Almora, Bageshwar, Nainital, Champawat, Pithoragarh, and Udham Singh Nagar.
Is Chamoli Worth Visiting?
Chamoli is certainly worth the visit. Nestled amidst the alpine forests and lush green valleys, and home to gushing rivers and stunning landscapes, Chamoli is like paradise on Earth. The city is connected with the NH-58 and is a perfect weekend getaway from Delhi, Chandigarh, or other cities in Uttarakhand itself.