Bugyals are high altitude alpine grass lands, or meadows, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, where they are called "nature’s own gardens". The topography of the terrain is either flat or sloped. The surface of these Badyals is covered with natural green grass and seasonal flowers. They are used by tribal herdsmen to graze their cattle. During the winter season the alpine meadows remain snow covered as their elevation lies between 3,300 metres (10,800 ft) and 4,000 metres (13,000 ft). During summer months, the Bugyals present a riot of beautiful flowers and grass. As Bugyals constitute very fragile ecosystems, particular attention needs to be given for their conservation.
Auli Bugyal meaning "highland meadow" lies in an elevation range of 3,650–3,962 metres (11,975–12,999 ft). The meadow is covered with riot of wild flowers during winter and green grass cover during the summer season. It is in the backdrop of Nanda Devi, Kamer and Dunagiri mountain peaks of the Himalayas. During the winter months the slopes are covered with 3 feet (0.91 m) mantle of snow. It is a skiing resort.
Meadows of the Bedni Bugyal are at an elevation of 3,350 metres (10,990 ft) (3,354 metres (11,004 ft) is also mentioned. Alpine camps are established here for the pilgrims to visit the Rupkund ('Kund' meaning "lake"). From this camp to its west, views of the Himalayan peaks of the Gangotri, the Trishul and the Nanda Ghunti provide a scenic backdrop. This Budyal also has a small lake called Bedini Kund. It is an artificial lake built with a concrete dyke by reclaiming a marshy wetland. There are two shrines here, one a small temple of Nanda Devi and the other a shrine for Latu. The temple is built with stones without using any mortar but moss growth is seen in the crevices. The temple Nanda Devi has two small carved stone images of the goddess and a pure white conch shell. Bedni is near Mundoli village and is accessed from Karna Prayag.
Auli Bugyal is a very large alpine meadow which has expanse of grass land that covers several hundred acres of land, towards the sides of a wide ridge; Bedni Bugyal lies beyond this ridge. The meadows have vegetation of anemones, potentilla, lousewart, wild salvia and thistles. Grazing by cattle and sheep is extensive. There are many trails that pass through the meadows.
Tunganath Bugyal is at an elevation of 3,400 metres (11,200 ft) and consists of moss cover over soil mantle on rock surface.
Dayara Bugyal, meaning "high altitude meadow" is at an elevation of 3,408 metres (11,181 ft). The beautiful meadows are developed into ski slopes covering an area of 28 square kilometres (11 sq mi). It is in Uttarkashi district and is accessible from the Bhatwari village, about 28 kilometres (17 mi) from Uttarkashi along the Uttarkashi-Gangotri road.
The alpine meadow of the Chhiplakot Bugyal (Chhiplakot is also known as "Najurkot") is luxurious and is at an elevation of 3,290 metres (10,790 ft). Its slopes are suitable for skiing. Close to this Bughyal is a cave where God Chhipula is deified and worshipped. A tri yearly fair is organizaed at this location.
Panwali & Kush-Kalyani Bugyals are located at an altitude of 3,970 metres (13,020 ft) on the route from Gangorti to Kedarnath. Gorson Bugyal is near Joshimath. Panwali Kantha-Matya Bugyals, situated 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Ghuttu, are high altitude meadows which have colorful flowers blooming during the months of July and August. They are popular locations for skiing and hiking.
Bugyal is a fragile ecosystem and it is essential to maintain a balance between ecology and environment. In this context a court case was filed by the public objecting to erection of the prefab houses and by introducing non-biodegradable matter in the upper meadows of the Bugyals by the tourism departments. It was averred that the peace and tranquility of the Bugyals was getting affected. The court had ordered that the polluter must pay for the damage to environment based on absolute liability principle, which covered payment of damages to the affected people but also to compensate for all costs for restoration of the degraded environments.
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