Camping at Khaliya Top – The longest night of our lives !

After what we thought was a decent sleep of around 5-6 hours, we woke up to the rustle of wind against our tent. It was dark and still snowing. ‘Should be another couple of hours to dawn’, I thought. 

At -15 degrees, we were now uneasy and fidgeting, desperately waiting for the first signs of the sun. Rahul, on his first ever trek, was clearly not at ease, when he asked for the time. I looked for my torch, which lit up my watch only to my dismay. The hour’s hand was only hovering around 11. I was appalled. 

‘2 am it is’, I lied in fright.     

I knew it was going to be a very long night… 

Also read: The night when I slept in a cave

THE STORY BEFORE

Fairyland.
Fairyland.

An upward hike led us to the KMVN guest house under 3 hours. Three young, amicable and enthusiastic photographers joined us which made the experience all the more amusing. The plan was to camp nearby due to access to the food and water at the restaurant. Khaliya top is less than an hour’s trek from here.

FIRST SNOWFALL

Before we even had our first sip of tea, the clouds introduced themselves and the heavens opened up. Little white balls of cotton came flying down over the valley. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had waited a lifetime for this. The weather gods made sure that the reward was nothing less than miraculous. And it just kept on snowing for hours, turning the place into a white wonderland.

Our excitement and energy levels knew no bounds.  We performed our snow rituals, had some snacks and quickly pitched our tent. It was getting dark and a lot colder than I had expected.

Also read: Camping with the locals

Our first experience of snowfall.
Our first experience of snowfall. Bliss.

THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT

Waiting for dawn.
Waiting for dawn

...I sat back and tried to calm myself. Sleeping bags and all our woolen and jackets weren’t enough for the enormous cold that the Earth emitted. I had spent quite a few nights(even alone) at sub-zero temperatures, but this was something else. The night didn’t seem to end. A quarter turned into an hour.

I turned, twisted and changed postures every couple of minutes but slumber was nowhere to be found. I breathed deep and tried to talk Rahul through the night; comforting myself at the same time. Chatter from our neighbors was now distinct too. And for what could only be worse, it started snowing heavily again.  

I realized that this was only a trailer of the mega adventures I wanted in life. Maybe a sign. Nothing worth having comes easy.

The unbearably slow passage of time made me check all the trivial activities possible in a 6*4 feet tent. Little naps in between helped. By 5, we started prepping for the trek to the peak and were out of our tent to the harsh cold and quiet dark valley.

UNFORGETTABLE SUNRISE

Summit. Serene and Spellbinding.
Summit. Serene and Spellbinding.

The track was slippery and dark. Head-torches and a little shine from the half-moon came to the rescue. An upward cautious trek was definitely better than shivering in our sleeping bags.

The horizon changed colors and I believe there is absolutely nothing prettier and awe-inspiring than this sight at dawn. Silence and expansive nothingness stood out. And then there were the 5 Panchachuli Peaks, the tallest of them, which looked at you right into your eyes. The Majestic and the Invincibles. The first rays of the sun hit the snow to pay their daily homage to the mighty.

Nature’s artistry and romantic sublime; conditioned men of the cities will never know.   

Also read: Summit with 360 degrees view of the Himalayas

A sunrise to remember.
Soaking in the first rays. A sunrise to remember.

It is said that the best view comes after the hardest climb. In our case, it was after the longest night.

 

Mountains. Majestic. Mesmerizing.
Mountains. Majestic. Mesmerizing.

DETAILS

Height : 11,500 ft.

Where: The trek starts 8kms from Munsiyari. Ask anybody in the town. It is the most popular place there.

How to reach Munsiyari : Delhi >> Haldwani>> Munsiyari

*There are only one or two vehicles that make the long journey early morning from Haldwani. So plan accordingly.

How: Buses and shared jeeps run every day to the starting point to Khaliya Top trek.

Time: Around 4-5 hours to the top.

Camping and gear: There are a few shops at the Munsiyari bus stop which provides all kinds of camping gear at very reasonable prices. Tents, sleeping bags, sticks, etc.

Best Time: April-June and Oct-Dec for snow.

Read all my treks here – MY TREKS

 

Rebel. Radical. Raw.
Rebel. Radical. Raw.

The whole point of our lives is meaningless if not lived with passion.

Stay Raw!

Connect with me on Instagram and Facebook. Happy to help and inspire!

To Bhrigu Lake – A 3 day trek near Manali !

Another one of my solo treks.

And with every trek, I am only realizing how much I love my company, the need to spend more time with myself, undertake more challenging treks, get fitter, inspire, experience the new and fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.

A trip to Manali is incomplete if you haven’t trekked to Bhrigu lake. And the sad part is that most people don’t.

About the trek

Camps at Gulaba.
Camps at Gulaba.

If you are not taking a guide along, it is important that you take the right trail. It can be via Kothi or 22nd mod(turn) after Gulaba as some blogs or websites refer.

But the best and the most trod one is the 14th mod after the Gulaba check point.  The 6km trail would take you to one of the most beautiful campsites in a charming meadow within 3-4 hours. Now identifying the starting point of the trail near the 14th mod may not be the easiest thing (it should be under 100 metres from the hair-pin bend).

I waited until I met a shepherd who directed me. Shepherds remind me of Santiago. I must have read it a dozen times. Still remains one of my favorites. Quoting from The Alchemist:

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

And mine is only to travel to unknown territories.

Read: All my treks here !

Of Camping and Trekking

  • Rola Khuli - One of the most beautiful campsites.

These beautiful camps in yellow(in the picture above) at Rola Kholi belong to Indiahikes; one of the popular trekking communities in India. 

No I do not trek with them nor do I have any intention to. These communities provide proper guidance, delicious food at 15,000ft and all sorts of facilities and back up. A 2 day trek gets converted into a 4 day one and becomes doable for beginners and the fearsome.

That has never been my idea of trekking. I love uncertainty, the anxiety, fear and the rush that comes along while climbing mysterious mountains and taking up unfamiliar trails. Too much comfort beats the whole idea of hiking. Also I do not have a lot of people to talk to, which is a bonus. Conversing with nature and oneself gets easy.

FYI: I spent 1,200 bucks(Manali to Manali) for an otherwise 10k one. That includes overeating and my raw adventure.

For beginners :  Weekend treks near Delhi !

My stay and experiences

  • The Uncle and the nephew.

I reached the campsite only to find out there were no tents on hire (another adventure I thought). The only shop providing food and camping facilities had their tents all eaten up by the grazing cattle along with grass.
I took off my shoes, talked to the owner and headed straight into the shop with my backpack and lay down without asking too many questions. I knew this was going to be my home.
An Uncle and nephew run the shed, which remains open from May to around mid September depending on the weather.

Little did I know that my short stay(2 full days) here would turn into one of my most cherished experiences. Since it was raining incessantly, I spent most of my time inside – binge eating, drinking all kinds of tea and sharing experiences with the congenial duo.

The elder one was funnier than usual, cracking jokes and taking a dig at every known human being(not even sparing myself). I laughed even if I didn’t fathom all of it. With the usual bidi in his mouth, he would narrate unusual stories of that part of the mountains, mostly in his local pahadi language and accent.

The rains wouldn’t stop and and the night got colder. I was offered lugdi, the local alcohol made of rice. And though I don’t feel the need to intake intoxicating drinks or substances, I couldn’t refuse on this. It was strong and stirring. After much insistence, I gulped down 2 glasses and pretended to feel sleepy. 😛

Read: Another trek, another adventure. My stay in a cave !

Bhrigu Lake

  • Tucked high up at 14,000ft.

Take detailed instructions from locals at the campsite or risk it on your own on a trail that is not clearly defined. I was on the verge of getting nowhere until I found a trekking group and hiked with them.

It takes around 3 hours to reach the lake, which is tucked high up in the mountains at 14,000 ft. Covered in fog, the green lake hid quietly, ascertaining whose presence is difficult otherwise.  Although small, it’s presence is mysterious and captivating at the height it is.

It’s water level has been decreasing, people say. Give that to global warming.

*Have to say that the trek and the campsite are equally dreamy. This should be a must do for everybody.

Details:

Height: 14,100 feet.

Length: 11 kms to the lake. 6 hours.

Best time: Monsoons(June- Sep). Yes this is a monsoon trek.  You would find snow in other months. Needless to say, the trek would get difficult too.

Stay: Advisable to carry your own or risk it like myself. In the latter case, you should be ready for whatever comes your way. The only shop there remains open from May to around mid September.

How to reach: As mentioned above, take the trail from 14th mod after Gulaba checkpoint.

Read: The best monsoon trek in India !

More from the trek..

The genius of George Orwell or the poetry of cumulus clouds ?
Enroute Bhrigu lake.

 

Priceless dawn !

If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.

Take risks. Challenge the status quo. Question yourself.

Stay raw! 🙂

 

 

 

Kareri Lake Trek- Pristine and less explored !

Hill stations nowadays are no more than crowded towns at high altitudes. Treks to Triund and Kheerganga are getting too popular and as a result are in the process of getting ruined by litter, noise and ignorance of ‘educated’ people from the cities (yes, that is us).

Still pristine and lesser known is this 13 kms long trek that starts from Kareri village. As a beginner with little experience, if you are looking for a trek in the mountains near Delhi and need some fresh air along with some spectacular views, the trek to kareri lake fits the bill perfectly.

Let us have our adventure, but also learn to trek responsibly.

THE WRONG TRAIL 

Kareri Lake

Now, I have done a lot of solo treks and make it a point to read a little bit about the trail and this was no different.

The trail starts from Kareri village and joins a road in 15-20 mins which leads to a bridge from where the main trek begins.   

Having known this, I started with the company of a couple and a few others as well. The trail seemed clear and as an established rule, we kept following it. Gradually the trail started getting narrower and we realized that it was the wrong track; so much for my knowledge of the trail. It was only me and the couple now; the others it seemed had changed their course some time back.

It was 2 hours into the forests; we still decided to go on until we finally caught up with the main trail which guessed, would not have been too far away. The trail had all but ended and we opted for some adventure; ascending the mountains without a trail, fighting the tall bushes, retreating and then again looking for some other way. Another hour passed and we had realized that something was definitely wrong.

It was not just the wrong trail; we were climbing the wrong mountain.

It was decided that we should retreat. It was about 4 in the evening and we were back at the same little cafe treating ourselves to some packaged juice and noodles where we were 5 hours back. I found in myself a case of stupidity and the situation funny.

THE RIGHT ONE 

As mentioned above, the way through villages will ultimately lead to a road which reaches the bridge and this is where the trek to the lake begins. It must be just a little more than half and hour from Kareri. A right turn just before the bridge(picture below) and you are well on your way. No further instructions required as the trail is pretty much clear henceforth.

Kareri Lake- The Raw Traveller

Down with fatigue but refreshed from a break, we started again on the right trail. I decided to stay at Reoti, which was halfway down the trek. I learned that camps would be available there. Every step was getting difficult since I had been carrying a 55 litre backpack too which was filled with unwanted stuff. I had intentionally got it heavier just to get used to it and train my shoulders. It served the purpose more than my imagination, though.

Also read: Solo trek to Deorital lake and Chandrashila summit. You can too.

GUFA CAFE – Story of the cave

Kareri Lake trek

The trek was a decent ascent through forests to mountains and a stream intersected it within the first couple of kms. I kept going. It was 2 and a half hours when i finally caught sight of a tea stall on the rocky mountains where the waterfall flowed through the valley. I threw my bag in relief and sat down. ‘Done for the day’, I told myself.

It was here that I met Bablu, my saviour. He invited me to his little cafe/shop(named Gufa Cafe) and gave me the option of sleeping in a cave, he implicitly owned. The cave could easily accommodate me and he had an extra sleeping bag. I was overwhelmed. I had no second thoughts. This saved me from another 300m tiring climb to Reoti and provided an experience raw enough to remember.

I sipped black tea at the evening twilight as the colors of the skies gradually faded. More trekkers could be seen,tired and eager to reach Reoti. I lay down and counted stars as dinner was underway. Fresh rotis and potatoes were cooked by Bablu at the cave itself.  In no time, I gulped it down and slept on a bed of leaves; smug and carefree.

This was a night to remember. The gentle rays of the moon kissed the valley and the mountains resonated with the gushing sound of waterfall.

Explore Bir and paragliding: 2 hours from Dharamshala

Kareri lake trek
View from my room at dawn. Priceless!

KAANCHA – The trekker

Kareri Lake trek

I woke up before the sun to the amazing view of the quiet valley and started the trek. Now I was quite sure I would be all by myself before someone started barking at me. I tried to calm him down. He introduced himself as Kaancha, the fittest trekker there was in those mountains who had completed the trek a record 253 times. I told him that that there was really no need to accompany me since the trail was pretty clear. He insisted. I agreed. We made friends and trekked a little more than 2 hours soaking in the first rays of the sun.

Kaancha would now and then, run here and there looking for food in every packet he could find but never went out of sight. He turned back and made sure I was on the right way. He though made it a point to bark at every cow he could spot. It was though just a statement he was trying to make to them; never serious.  I pat him and tried clicking pictures but he didn’t seem too interested. Trekking was fun for him; pictures didn’t matter.

Finally after reaching the lake, I offered him his favourite pack of biscuits(Parle-G) and we bade goodbye to each other. In a nutshell, he reminded me everything about the life of a nomad.

THE TREK

Kareri lake trek

Reoti to Kareri lake is about 6kms. The trail is upward, chasing the waterfall. It is well defined and the whole trek from Kareri village to the lake can be made in 5-6 hours.

Must read: Weekend treks near Delhi for beginners

KARERI LAKE 

Kareri lake

The origin of the waterfall is the Kareri lake. The lake is pristine and you would find horses and cows gazing around the green meadows surrounding the water body. The Dhauladhar mountains cover the other side of the lake. There are also a few shops near the Shiva temple providing food and tents.

I took a stroll around the lake with my camera and in my enthusiasm even tried going to the midst of it until i found myself struggling against the marshy ground that kept pulling me towards it’s swampiness, however hard i tried. I tried recalling Bear Grylls’s strategy and it was definitely not to try hard in such circumstances. 😛
It was an adventure nevertheless and yet another episode of amusement.

Kareri Lake- The Raw Traveller
Warning : Too much enthusiasm and adventure may lead to this.
Kareri lake
The Dhauladhar mountains on the other side of the lake.
Kareri Lake
The Shiva temple and the tents overlooking the lake.

Details:

Height: 9,625 feet.

Length: 13 kms. 5-6 hours.

Best time: March-June and October-December. Avoid monsoons.

Stay: Camps available at Kareri, Reoti(at halfway) and at the lake too. Same goes for food.

How to reach: Dharamshala>> Ghera>> Kareri

Limited buses(2-3 in the whole day) run from Dharamshala to Ghera village(1 hour distance). Please inquire at the Dharamshala bus stand about the timings since it keeps changing. Shared jeeps ply from Ghera to Kareri(half an hour). Needless to say, take an overnight bus from Delhi to Dharamshala.

More from the trek !

Kareri lake - The Raw Traveller
Aunty sahi raasta kaha hai. Bas beta udhar. Udhar kidhar aunty ? Bas wahi par. She tried her best though.
Kareri lake - The Raw Traveller
Apun ko toh bas nap maarna hai !
Kareri lake - The Raw Traveller
Dekho chaand aaya. Chaand nazar aaya.

What you can do nearby..

  1. Explore Dharamshala and Mcleodganj.
  2. Stay at hostels in Dharamkot.
  3. Experience the fascinating ‘temples under water‘.
  4. Paragliding at Bir-Billing– 2 hours from Dharamshala.
  5. Explore the lesser known Naddi – 15 mins from Mcleodganj.

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. 

Read: All my treks here

Stay raw 🙂

 

Kuari Pass – The perfect beginner’s snow trek !

You don’t have to be a trekker for this. Need not have climbed great mountains. No prior experience required. Two weeks of jogging (2-4kms) everyday and regular exercise and you are ready. This is the minimum.

Kuari Pass is one of the easy treks covering about 30-35kms in a span of 4 days and is the perfect snow trek for a beginner.  If you have always wanted to experience treading on snow, you will find yourself surrounded by it everywhere from the second day of the trek itself. I should also mention that the temperatures in winter may drip down to negative in double digits. But then, snow cannot be enjoyed at a pleasant 20 degrees.

DAY 1- GULLING

  • The gang.

The first day of the trek starts from village Dhak(near Joshimath) and is a 6km ascent through villages. The views get better as you go higher and there was relief for us when we finally reached our campsite Gulling in about 3-4 hours.

A stream flowed by colourful camps around and snow capped mountains showed up distinctly.

While the tents were being set up, we explored the area, had our lunch and took a nap until it was time to collect wood for the red flower which was pretty much all we did in the coming trek days. And not to forget hours at the campfire chit chatting, playing games and sipping black tea.

It was a cold starry night; the same food tasted better than usual days though the same could not be said about the night.
*Sleeping in tents at -7 degrees Celsius may not be the easiest of things. But you have got to experience it.

DAY 2- KHULLARA

  • Posing at the start of the second day.

The second day begins with patches of snow on the way which gradually converts to a snowy wonderland. The 2.5 hour trek through dense forests takes you to the second campsite- Khullara.
Words fall short to describe the sheer beauty of this place. Clear skies clubbed with eye catching tents, grand mountains and snow all around makes this one of most beautiful campsites.

DAY 3- KUARI PASS

  • Feeling at the top.

At a height of 12,516 feet, Kuari Pass is a trek which provides you 360 degrees view of some of the highest peaks of the Himalayas which include Nanda Devi, Hathi Ghoda and Dronagiri.

Though steep at intervals, the trek is an amazing walk on the snow trail and easily one of the best and most rewarding for the efforts put in. The scenes from the top are mesmerizing. There is white beauty as far as your vision can go. Some of us were clicking, few playing with snow while others simply chose to sit and soak in the charm.
It took us 2 hours to the top, a couple there and return to Khullara again in what was the most eventful and exciting day.

Day 4 was back to Dhak via Gulling.

*Descending takes more on your knees than you think. Squats recommended.

To stop at Devprayag on the way to Joshimath is a must to witness the Sangam.

More about the trek

  1.  Days required– Minimum of 6 (including 2 days stay at Joshimath). Delhi to Joshimath would take around 14-15 hours.
  2.  How – Via various trekking groups or hiring a team of guides. The latter too can be searched online. We hired a guide I knew personally.
  3.  Trekking gear – Visit to a decathlon store is a must. 😛 Honestly speaking, good water proof shoes are very important. The rest can be done with.
  4. Solo Travellers -It may be difficult to do it totally alone since the trail is through dense forests and hiring a guide may ease the way. Not saying it is impossible though, but then solo trek here should be preferred in non-snow months.
  5. Best Time– This can be done throughout the year. Avoid monsoon months. For snow, best time would be from mid December to March.
  6. Other Treks near Delhi for BeginnersHERE

 

At Decathon- Pre trekking
At Decathlon- A Pre Trekking thing.

To trek is to be with yourself. That’s what it is to me. What does it mean to you ?

Trek to Valley of Flowers

Trekking solo to Deorital-Chopta-Chandrashila summit!

At Rudrapryag
Trekking solo !

This was my first solo trek and it was better and much more than I had expected it to be.

Trekking solo in India unlike the west, remains unknown, untried and unthought of and hence looked at with raised eyebrows, weird faces emitting amusement and scepticism; and also sometimes with an acknowledgement for some kind of an accomplishment.

To me, it is a necessity and seems absolutely normal.

THE WAY

After going through a lot of treks on the web, I had finally narrowed it down to Deorital-Chandrashila. Lake, forests, meadows, snow-capped mountains, the feeling of the summit; all were on offer in this exciting trek.

An overnight bus from Delhi took me to Haridwar in about 5-6 hours. The early you reach, the better, so that you can take the bus to Rudraprayag and reach by noon. Buses from Haridwar start as early as 04.30 in the morning since none ply during the night. The route throughout runs alongside the aqua blue Ganges and you can feel fresh air around.

(Note: The journey is long and may not be most comforting in the crowded local buses, but that is the essence of it all.)

Halt on the way to Rudrapayag for a quick tea and some snacks.
Halt on the way to Rudraprayag for a quick tea and some snacks.

 

At Rudraprayag!
At Rudraprayag!

RUDRAPRAYAG

The bus dropped me at Rudraprayag at around 11.30 am and I was in need of a break after the long journey. Had my breakfast and went about for a walk in the small town.

After speaking to a few locals, I visited the Narad temple and took a dip in the cold flowing water at Sangam.

One can spend some time here and enjoy the sangam (the point of confluence) of the Alaknanda and Mandakini river and immerse in the vibes of the holiness of the city.

How to reach Sari ?

Sari is where the trek to Deorital lake starts.

Delhi to Haridwar >> Rudraprayag >> Ukhimath  >> Sari

Alternatively, one can hire a shared jeep from Rudraprayag to Agastyamuni and then to Ukhimath in the same mode. Since there are few buses from Rudraprayag, you may have to wait quite a bit.

Also read: The perfect snow trek for beginners

UKHIMATH/SARI

On the bus to Ukhimath, I found company in a group from France who were also on their way to the lake. Travel stories and plans were discussed. There is this thing about travellers; they bond in no time and have lots to talk about, though everything directly or indirectly comes down to the same thing i.e travel.

It had started to drizzle and none of us were sure if the trek should be undertaken that evening. We reached at around 4 in the evening and the weather was still gloomy. The French stayed at Ukhimath and I decided otherwise. I immediately took a cab to Sari who charged me 500 bucks for the drive which otherwise would have been a mere 20.

(The next bus to Sari would leave in another half an hour and I couldn’t afford to wait; courtesy- the uncertain weather.)

DEORITAL LAKE

  • Deorital lake
    The hidden gem near the village Sari - Deorital lake !

The trek to Deorital lake starts from the village Sari. Though it is only a 3km trek, it is an uphill and well defined trail and will take around 1-1.5 hours. Since I was here on the eve of Diwali, I hardly found anyone on the trek until I reached the lake and found a tent being fixed. I was relieved.

The lake reflected the mountains and was looking magnificent. It was about sunset and mountains changed from impeccable white to red, orange and pink.

My tent was fixed by a local and I found company in a guy group from Dehradun. A young couple from Hyderabad also joined us later that evening. It was great to see that out of all the places, this couple had chosen to be here at this lesser known serene lake in this festive season- far from the madding crowd, from thousands of miles away. (Wish more travellers like them.)

It was getting cold; we had our dinner and the night was spent at the campfire under a zillion stars visible through the naked eye.

Must visit: Trek to Valley of flowers and Enchantment

CHOPTA

On the 14km trek to Chopta.
On the 14km trek to Chopta.

After breakfast, we left the for the 14km trek to Chopta with a guide.

(Note: I would advise for a guide since the trek is complicated with a lot of confusing trails. The guide can be hired at the lake itself.) 

Some members of the guy group decided to leave late and we were to mark the way for them with tissue paper. The trail was long but kept shifting from rocky terrain to dense forests, meadows and downhill towards a stream.

It took us about 5 hours to reach Chopta which was but a very small and beautiful town covered with glorious mountains on one side.

It was evening and the rest of the trekkers had not yet reached. (Our tissue rolls were limited and had finished just before the last hour of the trek.)

Due to unavailability of any network, no contact could be made. The sky was getting darker when we decided to go back and search them with the help of a local, calling out names and signalling with torches in the dense quiet forest.

We finally found them taking rest in an abandoned hut which was a big relief and the end of an adventurous and tiring day.

It was Diwali and no better way to have celebrated it in the absolute noise and pollution free town of Chopta with a handful of people.

Diwali at Chopta!
Diwali at Chopta- One of the rare crackers going off !

 CHANDRASHILA

If you want the charming and surreal views of the mountains, the best time to reach the top is either at sunrise or sunset. I slept by 9 to start the trek early in the morning. It was dark with temperature below 0 degree Celsius. There was absolute stillness on the way and the sky looked bright filled with stars.

Although I started the trek alone, it was agreed with the others (the Dehradun group and the couple from Hyderabad) to start the trek early and reach the summit by dawn. So although i was trekking alone, I knew that there were others on the trek with me. That gave me some kind of comfort.

Tungnath (the highest Shiva temple) is 2 kms from Chopta and the trail is steep throughout.  A 1.5 km trek from Tungnath would take you to Chandrashila peak where you would get a 360 degree view of the mountains of lower Himalayas.

Grand mountains all around with clear skies at about 4,000m(13,000 ft.) is a delight for a traveller. The view is one to savour  for the rest of your life.

It will stay with you forever. 

  • The temple - Chandrashila summit !

This is a must do trek and is a relatively easy one. Live it now!

Uncover more treks near Delhi.

Any queries- Connect with me on Instagram or facebook.

Valley of Flowers and enchantment- “The monsoon trek”

Valley of flowers is not just a trek, it is a walk amongst the floating clouds; a surreal experience of a slice of heaven. With the valley blooming with a plethora of colours on one side, the snow clad mountains on the other and the alluring river dividing them, the scenery is picture perfect.

River dividing the valley of flowers!
The river flowing through the valley!

Add to that, the trek to Hemkund Sahib, the calm and secluded; highest gurudwara in the world and the scenic freshwater lake at 14,200ft., this is a must do trek for everybody.

Hemkund Sahib- the raw traveller!
Hemkund Sahib and the freshwater lake at 14,200 ft.

TO GOBINDGHAT

The journey starts from Gobindghat, which is a 15-16 hour drive from Delhi. I took a bus to Haridwar from Delhi at 10.30 pm and reached by 04.30 am. Within 15 minutes, I was already on the bus to Badrinath which would drop me at Gobindghat.

(If you want to trek in the higher altitude in India, there is no other way but to travel by bus. No flights or trains ply. Moreover, it is unlikely to find any A.C bus or taxi. One has to be patient during the journey. Take your pills if you have got any motion sickness. The weather most likely will be cool and between short naps, food and pee break you will not know when you have made it.)

Bus to Gobindghat !
Kudos to the drivers in the hills who drive through such treacherous roads!

I reached Gobindghat at around 4 in the evening. There are only a handful of hotels here but there would be no problem finding a room unless it is an extended weekend. The prices are low and the food is more than decent considering the altitude.

Checked in, refreshed, took some rest and went for a walk in the town. It was gradually swarming up with trekking groups and pilgrims.  The evening was spent talking to the locals and enjoying the tea and food in the wonderful weather with raindrops falling seamlessly and endlessly till the next morning.
Also read: The perfect snow trek for beginners

TO GHANGARIA

The trek to Ghangaria from Gobinghat is 13 km but you can take a shared cab to Poolna which decreases the distance to 9 km. The trail is alongside the river and well defined. Dhabas can be found at regular intervals.

Sikhs pilgrims can be seen on the way making their holy journey to Hemkund Sahib.  A lot of them I met were either from Jalandhar or Amritsar. To my surprise, I also found a lot of trekking groups from Mumbai.

Started early in the morning and reached Ghangaria by noon. There were a lot of hotels/lodges and I rented a room for 3 days for my upcoming treks to both the valley and the gurudwara.

 

  • Resting at a tea shop - Bagpacking to Ghangaria.

VALLEY OF FLOWERS

The way to the valley opens at 7 am and the last visitor is allowed till noon. We had to wait till 08.30am due to heavy rainfall which is an alarm for any landslide on the trail. The route though not tough is but slippery and treacherous.

The trek is picturesque and you get a glimpse of the valley and the glorious mountains. It is beautiful with waterfalls every few hundred metres and flowers blooming on both sides of the trail.

Once you reach the valley(about 3.5 km from Ghangaria), you will be in awe of what you see. Words fall short in praise of the wonder this place has to offer. Flooded with flowers – pink, green, white and even black, this place is a leaf out of the heavenly tree. Small streams flow throughout the valley, which stretches a further 7-8 kms.

Since it is a world heritage site, there are no food stalls. Lunch has to be packed and carried and the journey back also has to be made on the same day. 

Another monsoon trek that can be done solo: Bhrigu lake

  • The white.

HEMKUND SAHIB

After returning back from the valley, I got a leg massage done in the evening and boy, it was worth it. I knew the trek to Hemkund(6-7 km steep uphill) was never going to be easy, also considering that I had been trekking the past two days.

I started early again the next day. Although I got tired within the 1st km, the enthusiasm of the mini Punjab that was here, drove me. Sikhs mostly elderly and between 40-60 and even in their 70’s were walking in their shoes and even slippers with bags and a stick in their hand. No fancy branded shoes or trekking gears. Nothing.

Faith really is something. Maybe everything.

Of faith, history and food: Amritsar

And then I met people of a third kind. 

Young, loud, cheerful and energetic people shouting slogans and speeding their way on the not so easy trail but seated comfortably on their ponies with their bags tied to the burden bearer. You guys for sure will conquer the world someday(on the ponies). 

In about 4 hours, I made it to the gurudwara. Warmed up with tea and khichdi at gurudwara langar. Though I do not like the idea of having khichdi until my teeth part from me one day, I was grateful enough to have whatever was on offer here. It is worth commending the efforts that go to make it possible at such a height.

The serene lake stood between the gurudwara and the mountains. It reflects the grand mountains and is a sight to behold.

  • Hemkund Sahib- the highest gurudwara in the world!

Also read: Trekking solo to Chandrashila summit

To note:

  1. It remains open for 4 months i.e June-September but I would advise to visit it in the months of July and August. That is when you would get to see most of the flowers.
  2. Try NOT to visit the place on the Independence day extended weekend, both for the crowd and the surge pricing of rooms.  
  3. Leave early for the valley and gurudwara to spend maximum time there and since you have to make your way back the same day before nightfall.
  4. Raincoat/Poncho is a must since this is a monsoon trek. If not raining heavily, it would be drizzling most of the time.
  5. Trek cautiously since the wet and rocky path becomes treacherous in the monsoon weather.
  6. Get adequate rain care/protection for your rucksack and camera.
  7. Get a leg massage done before(or after if you may) you make your trek to Hemkund Sahib. 
  8. Solo Trekking: Obviously possible. I did it. You can too.

Explore more Treks near Delhi.

Travel safe. TRAVEL RAW!

 

Weekend treks near Delhi for beginners !

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.

– John Muir

And the numbers are only going to get better. Gradually, there has been an increase in the number of people taking up treks in India and learning that it can be a lot of life and recreation.

The following treks near Delhi can be done in a weekend/extended one. I would though always recommend adding a day to explore places nearby and so that you are not in any kind of hurry. Take your time. That is the objective.

Tips before trek:

  1.    Trekking may not be a walk in a park. Don’t let the exhaustion wear you down. Just keep on taking small steps and moving forward. Jogging and squats from two weeks prior to trek will help. 
  2.     Do not bring your home/city/comfort to the trek. You already are home.

1. Triund 

Triund

Triund undoubtedly is one of the most popular treks in India and is the best for a novice. It can be covered in a weekend although it would be better if you take another day and spend some time exploring places nearby.

Breathtaking views all along the trail and view of the snow-capped mountains from the top. This trek can be a perfect start for your next trekking adventures.

While you would find posts terming it as an easy one, it is definitely going to trouble absolute beginners who have no experience. It would take around 3.5-5 hours to cover the 9kms trek from Mcleodganj or 7kms from Dharamkot. I would recommend one to spend a couple of weeks jogging and preparing for the trek. The trek can be done either from Mcleodganj or Dharamkot.  Snowline is an option if you have an urge to trek further. (Snowline is about 1-1.5 hours from Triund)

Moral Duty: Pay a visit to Namgyal monastery(also the residence of Dalai Lama), Shiva Cafe (near Bhagsu falls), St. John’s church, Tibetan food including Thukpa and Thenthuk, stuff yourself with  bakery food

Free advice: Stay at Dharamkot away from the hustle-bustle of the city, a 2 3 day trip.

Height: 9,350 ft.

Time: 3.5- 5 Hrs

2. Nag Tibba


Nag tibba
Some 60 km from Mussoorie, starts an 8kms  less travelled-to trek from the village Pantwari. It is advisable to do this trek between October-March since it will be pretty tiring in the scorching sun the rest of the year. The route is not the easiest one and will require the help of a guide which has to be done at the village itself. Camping and food will be provided by them.

The trek is steep and will remain so for the first 5kms and there is no food/water facility anywhere until the campsite. Just when you think that the trek is taking a toll on you, you will be invited by a well tread-on trail in the dense forests and it is the best part. The hike to the Nag Tibba mandir campsite is going to take around 4-5 hours. I got the best view up there with the place filled with grazing cattle and the shepherds.

The trek to the summit can be taken the next morning.
** 3-day trip recommended.

Moral Duty: Camp at Nag Tibba mandir, to avoid an overhyped filthy waterfall(your call), Cheese Omelette at Lovely Omelette Centre, Char Dukan and church at Landour

Height: 9,914 ft.

Time: 4-5 hrs to Nag Tibba mandir

Nag tibba camp

3. Prashar Lake

Prashar lake templeThis is a hidden gem in Himachal Pradesh and words fall short to describe the surreal beauty of the Pagoda style temple at 9000 ft. and the lake with the floating island.

The trek starts from Baggi village which is around 1.5 hours from Mandi. The rocky terrain will form the first hour of the 7.5 km trek. It is better to ask locals at Baggi regarding the exact turn from this track which leads to the forest. I and my brother got lost in the middle and had to find our way back. Gradually the trail will become steep and you may not find a lot of people on the way. (We found none.)

In the end, the result of this tiresome trek will be more than satisfying. You will also enjoy the 180-degree view of the snow capped mountains.

Buses to Mandi from Delhi run every day and it is convenient to take the bus overnight and start the trek in the morning.

***To reach Baggi village may not be easy with very few buses on that route. Also, inquire before stepping on the bus since there are two villages with the same name.

Recommended: Stay at the artistic temple itself and live the divine and angelic night under a starry sky

Height: 8,957 ft

Time: 4-5 hrs

Prashar lake

4. Kareri Lake

Kareri lake- The Raw Traveller

Still pristine and lesser known is this 12 km long trek that starts from Kareri village. As a beginner with little experience, if you are looking for a trek in the mountains near Delhi and need some fresh air along with some spectacular views, the trek to Kareri lake fits the bill perfectly.

The trek starts from Kareri village which is under 2 hours from Dharamshala.

How to reach: Dharamshala>> Ghera>> Kareri

Limited buses(2-3 in the whole day) run from Dharamshala to Ghera village(1-hour distance). Please inquire at the Dharamshala bus stand about the timings since it keeps changing. Shared jeeps ply from Ghera to Kareri(half an hour). Needless to say, take an overnight bus from Delhi to Dharamshala.

Height: 9,625 feet.

Time: 5-6 hours.

Read full blog: Solo trek to Kareri lake !

5. Kheerganga 

Kasol- way to Kheerganga

Kheeganga is a 16 km trek in the Parvati valley starting from Bashaini. It is believed that Lord Shiva meditated here and kheer (Indian dessert) used to flow from the Himalayas, which is now the Ganga river.

Don’t let the km deceive you. In fact, it is the easiest of the above. The trial is well laid with gradual ascent after the halfway mark where you would find a bridge connecting one mountain to the other. The flow of the river is majestic and the refreshing sound will accompany you till the top.

You will find a lot of small shops and cafes throughout the trail. The food is amazing and the view of the glorious mountain peaks at night will definitely reassure the presence of some divine force here. Add to that, natural hot water springs. A dip here and you would not want to be out for long.

Barshaini can be reached by bus or taxi which can be hired from Kasol.  Buses to Kasol run every day from Delhi. Prefer an overnight one.

Must do: Bathe in the hot springs at Kheerganga and Manikaran, trek and stay at Chalal village, Israeli food, Hello to the Queen(dessert), You know it better

Height: 9,711 ft. 

Time: 5-6 hrs

Kheerganga- view from the cafe window

Read: All my treks here.

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Type in your queries regarding the treks or connect with me. I will be more than willing to help you out. Just start 🙂