Right up in the northern most frontiers of the Kumaon Himalayas, the Johar Valley remains till today one of the less frequented but well coveted destinations for the true lovers of the Himalayas. Nanda Devi needs no introduction. Ever since the closure of the sanctuary, knowledge about this cross section of the Himalayas continues to be the preserve of books and periodicals only.
But lately with relaxation of the inner line permit has now become possible to walk upto the Nanda Devi base camp through the Johar Valley from Munsiyari.The trek begins from Munsiyari, the drive to which itself is fascinating, Munsiyari is facing the Panchchuli range and commands an excellent close-up view. Rolling meadows, small bazaar, untouched villages and open valleys form essentially the fairy tale township of Munsiyari.
This is a trans-Himalayan trek in the heart of Kumaon Himalayas. At 2290m, Munsyari is on the arterial water body of the Goriganga which emerges from the Milam glacier system of the eastern flanks of the Nandadevi sanctuary, fed also by the Kalaband glacier and Panchchuli from the east. Into the Milam glacier flow the subsidiary glaciers coming off peaks of Mangraon (7542m), Deo Damla (7,602m) and Sakram(7,182m).
At Martoli & Milam village during the first fortnight of September on Nandashtmi day a fair is held which attracts a large number of villagers in the Jauhar Valley (the Gori Ganga valley). The Milam village itself represents the ruins of the history of the Indo – Tibetan trade. Once a big village, one can clearly see in the ruins stories of a mighty commercial center Milam was long time back in the heart of Himalayas.
The local inhabitants are full of tales about how they used to cross high passes to reach Tibet, at base of the fabled Kailash Parvat where a big market used to be held and goods were exchanged. Milam was its counterpart in India, where the Tibetans used to reach and a big market held for barter trade.