Nestled in the picturesque Nelong valley in Uttarkashi in the Garhwal Himalayas, Gartang Gali, a wooden skywalk bridge which was closed in the aftermath of the 1962 India-China war, is all set to open for tourists soon.
Built by Pathans from Peshawar over 150 years ago, the bridge, situated at an altitude of 11,000 feet, is of both historic and strategic importance. It offers a stunning view of the Nelong valley landscape and was part of a trade route between India and Tibet in earlier times.
Pratap Singh Pawar, range officer of Gangotri National Park, who has jurisdiction over the area where the structure lies, said, “The area is rich in flora and fauna and is home to rare animals like snow leopard and Himalayan blue sheep. If all goes well, the region — which has a mountain desert landscape like Lahaul-Spiti — will be opened up for tourists by July. Other things like the number of visitors to be allowed, the ticket pricing and other formalities will be decided once 50% of the restoration work is complete.” He added that the PWD has started work on the structure earlier this month.
Doon-based heritage activist and anthropologist Lokesh Ohri, who had visited the region in 2019, said that the bridge was earlier an important route for cross-border trade between India and Tibet. “It was one of the oldest trading routes for transporting wool, salt, jaggery and spices among other item,” he said.