Pan India Shipping On All Orders

Trekking to Kheerganga | An adventurous journey into the world of trekking

Trekking to Kheerganga – an adventurous journey into the world of nature’s beauty

This is an amazing experience and it’s just like travelling to a different world. This trekking to Kheer Ganga experience was full of wonder and excitement and for me, the journey to this place was like a few seconds in the serene arms of nature. Everything I saw there was just full of serenity and beauty. Kheer Ganga is one of the most refreshing treks that one can go on anywhere. The natural hot water spring experience is just amazing and the trek is very pleasant and offers some exhilarating views. We were a few friends who have been there together. Trekking starts at a place called Barshaini. Barshaini is a place in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh(India). From Barshaini, one has to do around 12-15 KM of trekking to reach Kheer Ganga. Very few people know about this place and I think only a few have travelled to this part of the world but those who know and have seen it, call it a magical valley.
Local People waiting for the bus to Kasol.
It’s really fun and full of excitement if you go to a place you don’t know how exactly it will be and then discovering that place and feeling like you’re in a different world, and the only word that comes out from your mouth is just “wow”. It was the first week of February, the winter season in the northern part of India, and Himachal Pradesh is one the coldest part of India with its snowfall and high range mountains. At 11 AM in the morning, we all friends reached Barshaini. It was pretty cold as the temperature might be less than 10 degrees Celsius, and therefore we have to wear jackets and all other things to save ourselves from the cold. Then we all together started moving towards Kheer Ganga. After trekking for 3 KM from Barshaini, a little tired we reached Nathan. It’s a small village on the way to Kheer Ganga.
A home at Nakthun Village
This village offers a place for the trekkers where you can get delicious food cheaper than it’s in nearby places and believe it or not here in Nakthun, there’s even a pool table(made by the local people with woods) thrown out in the open where you’ll find local kids from the village enjoying their time. Travelers can also get a room in the beautiful wooden cottage and a few steps ahead from this village is a Rudra Naag temple and a waterfall. The feeling at that moment when we reached the Rudra Naag temple and saw the beauty around and the waterfalls were like we are in a different world. At that place, all one could see is just a dense jungle and huge mountains all around. Looking at nature’s beauty, I realized that we live in a world where we are surrounded by the walls, building,s and all the other things like road traffic, crowded places etc but there is another beautiful world behind those walls and I was experiencing that world in Kheer Ganga. After crossing Nakthun, the real adventure begins, I must say the extreme adventure of my life. Now after reaching Nakthun, it was almost 2-3 hours trek to Kheer Ganga and there are 2 ways to go there, one which is a safer but long path and another one is a comparatively shorter path but a dangerous one. We took the shorter path, the dangerous one. To be frank, I had no idea how dangerous it would be to choose the shorter path and I think none of my friends knew that too. We were just cheerful and excited to be there. As we entered the jungle area the view gets more and more beautiful. There was so much peace and natural beauty all around. As we were getting closer to Kheer Ganga, the path is getting really difficult to travel, it was very slippery, there were frozen waterfalls on the way, slippery frozen ice was on the narrow paths. Steep slopes on one side and huge rocks on the other, there was hardly a place to walk. At the time we went to Kheer Ganga, there was fresh snowfall all the way and so it was very difficult for us to walk there at that time. The slopes on our one side were around thousands of feet down and we know that a single mistake could cost our lives. So we were very cautious while putting our feet on the ground. All the way long flows a waterfall on one side of the path with its full fury and I couldn’t even imagine how cold the water would be in it as it was coming from the glaciers which were not far from that place. The sound of the stream of water was so loud in some places that one could hardly hear each other voices. We needed to cross that waterfall in order to move further. We crossed the waterfall by walking over a wooden bridge formed by the local people. Now, the path gets steeper and more steeper, it was getting harder for us to trek and then we saw a scene, we saw a board on a tree with something written on it that a young person fell from this place and lost his life, and that shows how dangerous is that trek. You need to be careful at every step. On our remaining path, we crossed many small and beautiful waterfalls, some of the waterfalls were frozen, there was frozen water on the path and narrow slippery paths having beautiful flowers all around and huge trees covering the sky. The jungle was so dense that sunlight was hardly reaching the ground but in spite of all the danger, we couldn’t stop ourselves from appreciating the beauty of that place. Now, Comes the moment, the moment when we stepped in Kheer Ganga. There was a huge ground, it was totally whitewashed and surrounded by tall mountains covered with white snow, dense white and blue clouds were floating all around us. I rubbed my eyes, I was just full of wonder after watching that place, what a beauty. It was like I want to pinch myself to see whether I was not dreaming. The place was so peaceful, so pure, and all I think is that it’s the amazement of this area,  calmness of this part of the world, the isolation of the habitation, the stunning beauty of the mountains, beautiful wilderness of the pine trees and then snowfall to decorate this place with its whiteness which gives Kheer Ganga its charm, its beauty and fills this place with serenity.
Kheerganga
Kheerganga as seen in Summers. This pic is from our other journey to Kheerganga.
Far away we could see small 4-5 hut-shaped wooden lodges providing shelter for travelers. We went up to the lodges and took a room in a lodge and I heard that the owner of that lodge is a French woman(I am not sure about that). The Nepali man we met there is living at this place for almost 5 five-years and he is taking care of that place. There is no electricity in Kheer Ganga and the lights are all run on solar power. There are some extraordinary things about this place like there is a hot water string at this place. Two of my friends decided to take a hot water bath in that hot water spring. The water is hot because of the Sulphur in it and it’s amazing to find a natural hot water spring in this kind of place where usually the temperature remains very low. This place is amazingly beautiful and one can easily spend a day or more here because you can get a lodge, food, and other essential things at Kheer Ganga, or either you can make your own arrangements by taking your own camping stuff.
Hot water pool at Kheerganga Temple
We stayed there for the whole night, had a very special drink, it was like a black lemon tea. We also had dinner over there provided by a man who stays there. According to my information, I searched some more facts about this place and I came to know that the French lady was living there in Kheer Ganga for the past 3 years(I am not sure about this information). She left everything from her country and has been living here for no reason, then there’s a Russian man living in the lodge, who was in Kheer Ganga for past 2 years and just practicing yoga, a Nepali man who provided us food came from Nepal and was living here from last 5 year and working in Kheer Ganga as a guide and provides food and all others things like woods to burn fire, blankets, lodges room, etc to earn his livings. Everything was different and unique about this place that everyone who sees this place starts building a bond with Kheer Ganga, a bond of peace and love. There is no road connectivity to this place and this is the only reason why the beauty of this place is preserved. We humans need places like this where nature has not been re-arranged and altered by the hands of humans. The next day, it snowed again in the morning and therefore we had to leave this place because if we didn’t return soon then we could be stuck there because of the heavy snowfall. So we left that place in the morning. And returning back to the Barshaini under that heavy snowfall is something that I couldn’t even explain here, it was extremely difficult for us as the path was already full of snow at the time we were climbing to this place and now after this fresh and heavy snowfall in the morning, it was really difficult to see the path even. Now, the path was completely covered with fresh snow. The slopes on our one side were around thousands of feet down and a chilled stream of the waterfall was flowing in it with its full fury making a huge roar, it was like one step wrong and we would be out. I am sure, if anyone comes to this place once, they would love to come here a second time again as you simply can’t get enough of these kinds of places. Trekking to Kheer Ganga has been an amazing experience for us. With so many good, beautiful, and a few scary memories we said bye-bye to Kheer Ganga hoping we could visit it again someday.  
Kinner Kailash Trek

All you need to know about Kinner Kailash Trek

All you need to know about Kinner Kailash Trek

Kinner Kailash trek distance- Approx 70km
Elevation Gain – 5240 mtrs
Difficulty Level – Extremely Difficult (90% steep slopes, 5% normal and 5% rocky and hard climbing)
Min. days required – 4 days

Best Time to visit Kinner Kailash Trek  – August and September are the best times

How to reach the base – For Peo, we have direct buses
One leaves from Chandigarh around 2:30 AM (Delhi-Peo), 4:50 AM (Chd- Peo – Ordinary), (5:45 AM, Chd – Peo – Semi Deluxe). The journey from CHD to Peo is around 14-15 hours.
Route: Chd>Shimla>Narkanda>Rampur>Jeory>Peo then Peo>Tangling

About Kinner Kailash Trek – Performed by both Buddhists and Hindus, a parikrama second only to that of Mt. Kailash.

Trek starts from Tangling with stairs and then crossing the village. you will find apple trees along the way. After walking around half km trek starts with steep slopes but yeah nature and mountains towards both sides.

You can have your first meal here and head towards Ganesh park. this place is around 6 km from the 1st 2 food points you will find on this trek. you will cross a small stream and then again a steep uphill leading to a mesmerizing view of the peo city and satluj river.

The inclined rocky patches on the trail are very difficult

It will take around 4-5 hours to reach Ganesh park and even more sometimes. At Ganesh park, you can find small food points where you can have tea, Maggi or food. Even you can stay here for the 1st day in tents or you can continue your journey to caves where you can stay by the end of the day.

 

One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that there is no food point after Ganesh park so one can get his/her food packed for the night and the next day as well or if you have your own utensils you can prepare there as well.

After Ganesh park the slope declines a little bit but yeah you have to keep moving uphill till the time you reach a point where you will find a steep downhill of some hundred metres. After covering another 4-5 km you will find the site for camping (in case you have your own tent and sleeping bags) or you can stay in caves as well. Again sleeping bags must be carried.

Staying inside the cave

We reached Ganesh park around 2 Pm and had our lunch done over there and started moving towards the caves. Reached there around 6 pm in the evening and stayed in caves and sleeping bags.
We started our journey the next day in the morning around 2:30 AM and reached Parvati Kund around 6 in the morning this could have been reached earlier if we had not lost our way when we started our journey from the caves.

 

From the caves, the path is well defined for another 1 Km and after that, the rocks start where the path is marked by stones kept on one another (Please do not touch those stones). This way will lead you to the Parvati Kund.

 

Try to carry less luggage on this trek or after caves don’t carry your tents and sleeping bags or anything extra. We hid our backpacks in between the rocks at Parvati Kund. Carrying heavy luggage won’t allow you to climb the rocks after Parvati Kund because the way is like doing rock climbing without any tools. Shoes with good grips will be the best.

From Parvati Kund, it took around 2 more hours to reach Kailash. The way was full of big rocks and to reach the top you had to climb the rocks. there was no other way and one has to complete it and has to be cautious while climbing.

 

Amazing views at Kinner Kailash

While heading back it will take again another 7-8 hours (approx) to complete the journey till Tangling.

 

Alternate Itinerary for Kinner Kailash

Trek begins at Thangi (Thangi is a Village in Pooh Tehsil in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh State, India. It is located 23 KM towards the East of District head quarters Reckong Peo. 18 KM from Pooh. 157 KM from State capital Shimla) on the right bank of the Tedong, about four hours by road from Reckong Peo. It is 10 kms. to Lambar (2950 m.), all along the steep Charang khad. The initial trek is stairs and then after crossing the village, you will find apple trees along the way.

Day 2 takes one 20 km. to the larger village of Charang (3400 m.), situated just above the confluence of the Charang and Shurtingting streams. There is a rest house here and a gompa where pilgrims receive blessings before moving on.

Day 3(13kms.) involves crossing the high pastures of Charang and ascending up a stream to Lalanti (4300 m.), camping on its left bank.

Day 4 (27 km.) is the most difficult, ascending more than a thousand meters, over immense rockfalls, past the snout of a glacier on the right, and then clawing one’s way up a steep, scree slope to the Charang Pass (5240 m). The view from the top is awesome. From the saddle, it is a steep descent of almost 2000 meters to Chitkul (3400 m.), the last village in the Sangla valley and the road-head. Across the Baspa river, one can see the huge, verdant pastures known as “kandas” which offer infinite trekking and camping possibilities themselves. High above is the Rupen Pass, guarding the western flanks to the remote Dodra Kawar valley. Conclude the trek by worshipping at the temple of the Chitkul Devi and offering thanks. Incidentally, beyond Charang one is prohibited from plucking any wildflowers or shrubs by an edict of the Devi! One can stay at the rest houses in either Chitkul or Sangla, 24 km down the valley. From there it is a fantastically beautiful drive down to Karcham, and on to Shimla.

Kinner Kailash | Photo by Pankaj Sharma

Things to keep in mind before attempting Kinner Kailash Trek.

  • there are limited shops on this trek that too till 6-7 km after that you won’t find even a single shop where you can have something to eat. Suggest you to prepare yourself accordingly.
  • Carry all essentials for the trek.
  • People with problems of high altitude sickness and asthma are not suggested to go
  • If you are hiking in rain it’s better to carry a big umbrella or rain poncho.
  • Mobile network is not available on most of the trek.
  • Trek is very challenging and you may need to prepare for this in advance

If you are planning for the trek and want to hire camping/trekking equipment you can rent it out at Chandigarh from Gadget Rental India. Gadget rental india is a rental company in Chandigarh from where you can rent Camping and hiking gears like camping tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mattresses etc.

Author | Pankaj Sharma

Want to add anything? Comment below and we will add it. Want to read more click here

 

Kedarkantha Trek | Experience shared by Mohit Negi

Kedarkantha Trek | Experience shared by Mohit Negi

Trekking is an experience which you receive with lots of adventure in it. It tests your actual strength and stamina.

I went to the Kedarkantha trek last Christmas and the experience was amazing. I booked the trek from bagpackclan. It was a 5-day trip that started from Dehradun at about 6:00 am in the morning.

Day1- We were waiting for the bus at the point and there I met with the co-travellers. The first meeting was okay as all were the new faces as I travelled solo on this trip. We sarted our journey to Sankri at 8:00 Am.

The road was scenic as we were going from Mussoorie. Just when we crossed Mussoorie there was a small food joint where we all had our breakfast ( Not included in the package). After breakfast, we again hit the road. One of the groupies has a Bluetooth speaker so the journey was musical with all the travel songs. People were singing along and enjoying the route and those who woke up early were trying to get some sleep as well. The entire path was full of scenic views;

Mountains around and the river flowing right next to it. We reached Purola city by 3:30 PM and had our lunch over there. The city of Purola looked beautiful and the Houses painted in different colours make it more eye-popping.

Kedarkantha Trek - Mohit Negi - ShepherdTrail Blog 33

In the late evening, we were at our 1st destination Sankri Base.

We were provided with the High Tea and we were aligned in the group of 3 or 2 to stay in the rooms. The rooms were comfortable and had warm blankets (Much required as per the weather out there). We were at a temperature close to 3 or 4 degrees at night there. We had our dinner for the first day and right next to the bonfire we received a few of our gear and a small instruction was provided by the team leader. We spent a few more hours at the bonfire knowing about the other people talking about their experiences and where they came from.

Day2- On the next day morning we started the day with breakfast and get ourselves ready for the trek to Juda ka Talab (Campsite) at 11:00 AM. This Campsite is about 6-7 KM of the trek and included many steep paths in it.

The first day of the trek can be said it is a little difficult, especially for the ones that have less experience. (A suggestion keep your bag as light as possible if you are taking the bag by yourself). This part of the trek included lots of green mountains around, you can see the Himalayan Range and Peak Bandar Poonch from there.

There were many Dhabas on the way so if you are feeling tired and want to rest you can rest for some time and move ahead. We reached to Camp Juda ka Talab around 3:00 PM. The camps were kept at a very nice place the temperature was dropping as the site was surrounded by trees. We did rest for some time and had our lunch at the base. Soon it was dark and on these sites no bonfire was allowed. However, that did not stop us from enjoying ourselves. Once everybody had some rest we played music and danced off till we get a little tired.

Then we had our dinner and later on, we went to bed as the temperature was dropping very fast; I believe it was 0-2 degrees at 10 PM although it was very difficult to adjust in the sleeping bag.

Day3- The morning was cold we got up early. There was ice next to our tents as the temperature was less. We had our breakfast clicked some pictures and moved to start our trek for day 2. At the beginning of Day 2, we went to Juda ka Talab. It is a frozen lake surrounded by trees.

The Ice was dense on the lake we were walking on it. Once we had our fun there we started back the trek. The second-day trek was comparatively easier. We completed this trek in 2 hours and we reached Kedarkantha Base camp by 12 noon. We climatized ourselves and enjoyed the view of Kedarkantha peak from distance that day.

We enjoyed the pahadi Maggie from the dhaba at the campsite. Later in the evening after the High tea, we received our rest of the gear for the 4th-day trek to Kedarkantha Summit: a headlamp snow spikes and hiking stick (recommended not necessary).

The weather was a little funny that day it felt like there will be snowfall and that could have jeopardized our trek but thanks to sweet god the sky became clear again. We ended up having some dance and music in the evening till we received the dinner. We went to sleep early as we had to wake up early that night.

Day4- We got up at 2:30 in the morning to have a small breakfast and at 3:00 AM we started our trek to Kedarkantha summit. There were many groups going so it was an experience like never before. The whole path was surrounded by people; the headlights were shining all the way. Our goal was to get to the peak before sunrise. We took a stop in between at a dhaba from where the trek was steeper. This day of the trek was difficult and tiring. The temperature was extremely low close to -10 degrees and everyone was wearing at least 2-3 layers to contain the heat inside the body. We reached the peak around 6:30 just before sunrise.

 

The view was mesmerizing with a 360-degree view of the Himalayan range. The temperature was around -15 degrees and we were waiting for the sunrise. As the weather was not so great the day before it was cloudy and the sun appear late than expected which made us wait and freeze. However, everything was worth waiting for once the sun came up at 7:15 am.

 

The sunlight was pretty amazing and the view was breathtaking. We clicked a few pictures over there. As the temperature was very low the batteries drained very quickly. We started to go back after staying for some time.

Going down back to basecamp was fun compared to going up. There were many paths where you can go sliding and can play with snow if you still have the energy to do that. We reached the base camp enjoying once we reached the base we had our lunch there and had some rest packed our things and we were ready to go to our next campsite Hargaon.

When we started going down to Hargaon the weather suddenly changed and there was snowfall on our entire path.

The view became more beautiful and jaw-dropping. We reached Hargaon after 2 hours of downhill trek and the campsite was beautifully surrounded by big pine trees and snowfall. We had our dinner that day and took a rest for the later night.

Day5- We had our breakfast and started our way back to Sankri. This route was with lots of downfalls as it snowed the day before and was a little slippery. We reached Sankri by 12 noon and received our certificate for completing the trek. I shared goodbye with the fellow trekkers who became good friends during this trek. We took our bus by 12:30 and we hit the road back to Dehradun. We reached by 9 pm in Dehradun and with that this beautiful adventure came to an end with lots of memories and activities and fun.

Please take all gear and clothes for this trek recommended by the trip advisor.
Suggestion – Have a Jacket suitable for at least -15 degrees, Headlamp, Spikes, and Snow Trekking shoes.

Kumara Parvatha | South India's Toughest Trek

Kumara Parvatha | South India’s Toughest Trek

Kumara Parvatha | South India’s Toughest Trek

Being a traveller and trek lover I always wanted to try Kumara Parvatha which is located in Subrahmanya, Karnataka, India. It’s called south India’s toughest trek. I’ve done Karnataka to Kashmir by a walk by road. But that was walking. But Trekking is different.

So after completing K2K by walk I got a DM from a trek team. They told me that they wanted to host the next Kumar Parvatha Trek. I was so down I cancelled all the other plans over that date and went for it. This is how it all started. It was around 150 km from Subrahmanya from my home. I still remember I didn’t know a single person in that group, by the way, it was 40 people’s batch that day.

I reached the starting point and the guide Jagadish Kulal who had done KP 6 times explained about the Kumara Parvatha Trek and water points and tips. So we started from the starting point like 2 pm and the first day it was around a 7 km trek.

We reached the first destination which is Bhattara Mane. Bhattara mane is the only place and house where he will give food and you can camp nearby for food he charges 150Rs per meal. This is where it gets interesting. There was a pooja at Kumar Parvatha so the previous day there were around 1500-2000 people were there at the pooja out of which some stayed and some left.

As I said that is the only place where food is available, imagine there are only 10-15 plates at that place and after completing the first day of trek everyone was hungry also I’ve seen people cry when they got their food.

Forgot to mention in this trek you will come to know about the food’s importance.  This was about the first day
We stayed in Bhattara mane and there are camping sites also available. We got like 3hours of sleep and morning we woke up like 3 am and headed to the camping point

And after explaining about the day 2 trek we started at 4:30 am but there was a long line to the KP Trek.

There are fees for the trek it’s around 250-500 per person I don’t know exact and they take the plastic count over that place and according to that you have to pay some amount and when you head back you’ll get that money back. We wasted around 1-hour standing and plastic counting. We started our trek like 5:30 and it was a bit late but nothing can be done at that point.
On the way, we had a great talk and got to know about the team

And we reached KUMAR PARVATHA around 11:30 am and which was around again 7 km trek
The view from the there was amazing

Kumara Parvatha - ShepherdTrail Blog 7
As I said this was 40 people’s batch and only 20-25 people completed KP.


And we took around 30-45 min rest and had some snacks and we stared but its trek downtime. We reached Bhattara mane like 3 pm and had lunch and again continued towards the starting point
And it was a 28 km trek up and down on a single day we reached base around 6 pm

And oh boy this is the most difficult time!

You have to say goodbye to your trek partners
Who knows you might see them again or not
But the friendship which is made over there
They were there for you when it was hard and you for theirs

But finally, everyone was there
We said our final goodbye and started our ride home

But to be frank I’ve done like 10-15 different treks and this is one of my best and most memorable trek of all time

And i want to thank Jagadish Kulal, Bharath Beltangadi, Sowmya Stetty 🙏🏽❤️

Kheerganga Trek - Vishwa - Shepherdtrail Blog 2

Feeling Low? Go to the mountains! | Kheerganga Trek

Feeling Low? Go to the mountains! | Kheerganga Trek

After a weary workday, I got a call from my friend we were sharing glimpses and he came up with the Kasol tour plan. I wanted to escape from the routine so I didn’t check anything about it and without any hesitation, I said let’s go. And that’s how we ended up on this trek.

It was a companionless journey from Chennai to Delhi to join my friend at Delhi airport we were about to kiss goodbye to the bus that we booked. We could catch the bus at the last minute, met strangers on the bus who were planning to trek Kheerganga. After staying in Kasol for two days, on the pleasant morning of Day 3, we reached Bharshaini Dam to witness the beauty of nature.

 

I think there are certain moments which people will never forget, like All the firsts when the first tide touches your feet, first snowflake, first love, first kiss!! That’s how I felt after seeing the snow-capped mountains.

From there we started the 12Km trek, on the way we met a few students rushing to schools in the mountain terrain and walked through the villages to experience the completely unknown culture of Himachal on the way to reaching  the base camp

After trekking for 7km we reached the base camp of Kheerganga trek called Rudranaag amidst the white-capped hills, where we saw the poster stating reward for finding the person who lost in the trek and realized it’s all fun and games until you lost and cease to exist.

 

We were a team of 7 members and accompanied by a local guide in Rudranaag not to miss the stray dogs, who stayed with us from start to end of the trek. From base camp, we crossed the Parvati valley to climb the mountains covered with slippery snow. Trekked almost 3 hrs to reach the kheerganga camp at 13000 ft above sea level, where one could embrace the mighty Himalayan ranges.

On top, we found one hot spring, At that moment I felt “God is a great artist but we are luckier than him to live on his finest art!!”

Barefoot we walked in the snow to reach the hot spring, the warmth given by the hot water, Oh, God!! That was heaven in real-time.

After a long trek, we camped at Kheerganga that night, amidst the Himalayas and clear night sky showing its beauty, next day we started our return journey. Trekking downhill on a slippery surface is not an easy task. I would personally say the return journey was difficult and one should be mentally ready to face the fear because while trekking uphill we will be facing the mountain but in the case of downhill, it is the valley. With the help of a veteran guide, we made it back to Rudranaag.

The trek hasn’t only given us adventure but shown us the culture of Himachal. You may not remember their names, you may not meet them again but you will always remember their quick laughs, quiet smiles, small chats, and great gestures, you will cherish them forever.

 

Some people say that unplanned trips are the best, I don’t know how far it’s true but the Kheerganga trek was unplanned, which will stay as a core memory in my life.

 

P.S: Find all information about Kheerganga Trek here.

Kedarkantha Trek - Photowalk - ShepherdTrail Blog 11

A Photowalk to Kedarkantha Trek

I recently went to Kedarkantha Trek. To say the trek was magical is a small word. Being on this trek has helped me realise that the saying  ” Be the change you wish to see in the world” is true,

Juda Ka Talab - Kedarkantha Trek

Juda Ka Talab – Kedarkantha Trek

A skill that I learned was how to pack your backpack, and how to handle the trek poles.

I also was observing how the guides almost like gazelles just glided through the paths when I was struggling to understand where to place a step, I realised the whole body posture helps in playing a role

Taking part in GreenTrails was a beautiful experience. It reminded me that in spite of the beauty and majesty, the mountain ecosystem is still fragile. We need to be much much much more careful with how much of a footprint we’re leaving behind.

The climb, the views, the freezing weather.. it was all worth it once we got to see the peaks in all their glory from the top.

The skies were clear and we got to spend a quiet 60 minutes on the summit after a long day of trekking.

One word, PRICELESS. We also got to experience snowfall on our last day and it was amazing to see how everything around us felt surreal!!

With that, this is Vaani on Kedarkantha Trek ! Keep Hiking! Live your life.

 

 

Kheerganga - My first Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 1

 Kheerganga- My First Trek – By Bisheshwar Das

 KheerGanga- My First Trek

Whether listed down on a paper or not, everyone has a bucket list- a list of things they want to experience before their soul leaves the body. No matter how beautiful one’s city is or how upgraded and techie one’s room is, the pleasure of enjoying nature is unmatchable.

A frustrated engineering mind from exams wanted some refreshment. The evening after the last exam, our group of Nepali students studying at Thapar University sat down and started thinking of going on a trip. We certainly didn’t want to visit any cities but to go to nature. I have always wanted to go on a trek, so I suggested a place my friends had recently been to, Triund. Later we found out about Kheerganga Trek and decided to go there. We planned on leaving the following evening, and so we did. We left Patiala at around 7, we reached Chandigarh, and as there was no direct bus available for Kasol, we had to go on the bus to Manali and stop at Bhuntar. We arrived at Bhuntar early in the morning and then sat on a bus and we were off to the base of trekking, Barshaini. We then had some lunch and started our trek.

Kheerganga - My first Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 2

Trekking to Kheerganga

I was very excited about this trip, my first trek. I can still feel that feeling putting my first foot on the inclined hilly small path with a tripod in one hand and a helping stick in the other. We reached the top around 4 pm. There was no network, just nature; Gosh, that feeling is fantastic. My legs were hurting, but my soul was pleased to reach the camp.

Kheerganga - My first Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 1

Our group at Kheerganga

We then had mango juice(maaza), and then we went for a hot spring bath. We then went to the Shiva temple beside the hot spring (Parvati Kund). After that, we returned to camp and had Maggie noodles. Later, we enjoyed dancing to music. After that, we all went for a bit of rest, and then we all gathered for a campfire. We played Etymology (antakshari) in a group of two and danced. Some people from other groups joined us as well. Though from different regions, we were certainly united by the music. After that, we had dinner, and then some stayed by the campfire, and some, including myself, went to sleep.

 The following day, while most of us were asleep. Four of us went up the hill with determination to reach the snow point there. We went through bushes and rugged paths, but eventually, we got to the snow point, enjoyed it for a while, captured some photos, and returned.

Kheerganga - My first Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 3

Reached the snow point

After we reached the camp, the rest of the members were awake as well, and thus we had our breakfast, and then we set our backpacks to return. We captured group photos and then got back to our journey. We ended up on a different way around with no intention, which was a little tricky but more fun trekking. This path passed through a beautiful village as well.

 We had planned to spend some time in Kasol, so we didn’t spend much time in Barshaini. We got there fresh, had some chips and cold drinks, and sat on the bus to Kasol. We reached Kasol by around 3 pm. Then we had some evening snacks, momos and chowmein.

Kheerganga - My first Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog - Kasol

Beautiful Kasol market

We then booked our tickets to Chandigarh. The bus was at 10:00 pm. So we decided to spend time by the riverside, and so we did. We went to the nearby riverside and spent the evening there. We took some photos and piled up rocks as a pagoda.Kheerganga - My first Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 5 We later brought some cold drinks and snacks and enjoyed singing. After that, it was almost dark around 07:30 pm. We returned to the city and roamed through the local market. We went to the bus stand at the respective time, reached Chandīgarh by morning, wandered a bit there, and returned to the hostel by noon.

 Have you ever been into addiction? The addiction of tick marking the list, the list you make of things that makes your soul relaxed and happy. This trek was on my list, and I walked every step with excitement, like, yay, I am doing this. This trek was a wholesome pack of excitement and happiness to my soul. The more the uneven and uneasy path, the more keen my heart was to cross it.

Chopta Tunganath Chandrashila Trek through my lens

Chopta Tunganath Chandrashila Trek through my lens

Having a bucket list is good but getting started with living them is great. I always wanted to have a Himalayan trekking experience. So, I chose the Chopta Tunganath trek which is said to be an easy-moderate trek as compared to other Himalayan Treks.

Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila - ShepherdTrail Blog1

Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi at Devprayag

We boarded a bus from Delhi at midnight and reached Rishikesh at 5:30 am. There we witnessed a serene sunrise and a cool morning breeze. From there, we started in a cab arranged by the Snowclad team who had also arranged our stay, food and trekking guide for the trek. On our way to Chopta, we were fascinated to see the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi at Devprayag that makes the Holy River Ganga.   We reached our base camp by afternoon. After reaching Chopta, we had a great time playing with colours by the side of a river stream just below the camp, as it was the occasion of Holi. Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila - ShepherdTrail Blog2We stayed in Swiss tents which had basic things like bed blankets and a washroom.

The next morning, we had a light breakfast and carried packed food for our trek.

The path towards Tungnath is cemented. This beautiful route is surrounded by Rhododendron bushes all around. On our way, we could see views of the mighty Himalayan Mountain ranges. One would never fall short of views throughout the trek. The mountains allow us to pause and be in awe of the world’s natural splendour.

Tung Nath is the world’s highest Shiva temple at an elevation of 12073 feet. It is a Panch Kedar temple located 4 kilometres from Chopta. After slaying their cousins in the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas are said to have embarked on their quest to find Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, however, was enraged by all the killings and wanted to avoid them, so he transformed into a bull and vanished into the ground, his bodily parts scattering in various locations. The place carries an amazing vibe with it.

Another climb of 1 hr leads us to Chandrashila peak. Chandrashila translates to “Moonrock.” The path from Tungnath to Chandrashilla was difficult as it was covered with a thick layer of snow and it was slippery. So we had to be very careful in choosing our steps. On reaching the top we had an experience like never before. I felt like I am on top of the world! We could have a breath-taking 360-degree view, including the Himalayan ranges like Nanda Devi, Kedar Peak, Chaukhamba Peaks, Trisul, and BandarpunchBeing in the mountains reminds us how insignificant we are on this magnificent planet. Making us feel excitingly vulnerable while emphasizing how much we still haven’t seen.

On our way back, we could see a beautiful sunset. The sun, with its warm colours, painted the sky and made the place an enchanted world.

We returned to the comfort of our tent yet it felt like we had been cast a spell that made us go back to those mountains in our thoughts. My heart was full of the moments, views and experiences. At night we had a bonfire and a great time getting to know other trekkers in the camp there.

Although the trek is over now, we are left with a lifetime of experience and memories to cherish!

You can read more experience about this trek here.

 

 

Churdhar Trek - shepherdtrail blog

Churdhar Trek – The best trek near to Chandigarh

130 KM from Chandigarh, Churdhar (elevation of 3,647 metres; 11,965 feet) is the highest peak in Sirmour district and is also the highest peak in the outer Himalayas and offers a 360° view of the Himalayas. Once you are at the top you witness one of the best landscapes from the peak. You can find all the essential information about the trek here. I consider this as the best weekend trek from Chandigarh as it’s equally challenging and mesmerising at the same time. Moreover, you can reach the trek base in just 4 hours.

So I was planning Trek to Churdhar peak along with Pankaj and my friends from work. Pankaj also got 2 of his friends to join for the trek. We were short of the camping gear so we got the same from the market outside the Air Force station Chandigarh. Though these days you can easily rent the required gears from Gadget Rental India in Chandigarh. I started my journey from Chandigarh and agreed to meet Pankaj at Solan the next day morning. On trek day Pankaj reached Solan around 6:00 AM. After some time we started our journey towards Noradhar.

Noradhar is one of the bases for Churdhar Trek and is a small village. The main routes for arrival are from Nohradhar to 18 Km, (Sirmour)and Sarahan, Chaupal of 8 km. You can get all the essential items for the trek at Noradhar.

We reached Noradhar at 10:30 am and got a new cooking pot. We also got some food and water as we were told that this was the last point where we would get food.

We started the trek at 10:50 am. There is a big gate of “Shirgul Maharaj” temple at starting of the trek.

Entry gate for Churdhar Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog

The entry gate for Churdhar Trek

Churdhar is a holy place related to Shri Shirgul Maharaj (Chureshwar Maharaj), a deity widely worshipped in Sirmour and Chaupal.

At the very beginning of the trek, we found 2 different trails which meet at Jamnala. We followed the unpaved path which goes straight up and is a bit inclined.

Hiking to Chureshwar Mahadev | Churdhar Trek

Hiking to Chureshwar Mahadev | Churdhar Trek

I recommend taking this path only as it is very scenic however you need to start early in the morning as the sun is directly above your head for an initial 2-3 Km hike and there is no shelter/trees.

Once we entered the forest we were welcomed with the Rhododendron Tree forest. There is a bit flat trail and meadow once you cross the initial 2-3 km.

Meadows on Churdhar Trek

Meadows on Churdhar Trek

You can see the entire Sirmour valley from here. On one side of the trail, you will find a Churdhar wildlife sanctuary which is well protected by wires and on the other side, you keep hiking the trail. The trail further goes deep into the forest which is wide and thick.

Rhodo trees on Churdhar Trek | Shepherdtrail Blog

Rhododendron Tree forest on Churdhar Trek

Around afternoon we reached Jamnala. Before Jamnala there is only one water source which is maintained as this trail is also used by devotees for pilgrimage journeys to Churdhar.

Jam Nallah Campsite | ShepherdTrail Blog


Jam Nallah Campsite | Pic Credit: Campydingle

Jamnala is having a small rain shelter that is used by Shepherds and devotees while on the way to Churdhar. When we reached Jamnala it started training so we waited in the shelter for some time.

Rain Shelter at Jamnala, Churdhar Trek | Shepherdtrail Blog


Rain Shelter at Jamnala, Churdhar Trek

After waiting for some time we started liking again through the mesmerizing forest. Between Jamnala and Tisri you will find another water source. By 4 PM we reached Tisri and started setting up the camp as we wanted to stay at Tisri for the night.

Camping at Tisri - Churdhar Trek


Camping at Tisri – Melting Ice to arrange water for cooking – Churdhar Trek

We didn’t carry enough water when hiking though we had a fair idea that there will be no water source however we drank all the water before we reached Tisri. We had to collect some ice and melt which we used for cooking.

Enjoying food at Tisri | Churdhar Trek

Lunchtime at Tisri | Churdhar Trek

We were ready to sleep inside our tents when we heard a few voices approaching us. It was way too dark and at first, we were a bit afraid as we were the only ones who were camping at Tisri. Then we heard someone calling us. We were afraid and paused for a few minutes as it was way too dark and if you know there are a lot of haunted stories which we hear in mountains. After waiting for a few minutes we asked who it is? We were shocked when we heard a kid’s voice. We came out of our tents to find out what’s the matter. We were shattered to know what happened after that. There were 2 tall men, wearing just normal shirts without any sweater, with a child, totally lost. It was freezing cold outside. They immediately started requesting us to get their kid inside the tent.

Upon enquiring we found out that they were tourists from someplace in Haryana and they were misguided that they can reach the temple in 3-4 hours and everything is sorted there including food and stay. We felt angry and concerned at the same time.

Advice to every parent, please do a proper research of the trail if you are planning to get your childrens on a trek along with you. The treks are not the place for picnic and you definately need to consider all odd options and prepare for it before you get  your kids join it. I suggest consider double the time you were able to do a trek when you are doing the trek with your kids.

We got the kid inside the tents however both the male persons had to spend the night outside besides the campfire. fortunately, we had collected enough firewood to cook in the morning which kept them going throughout the night. I wonder what could have happened if they didn’t find us at night.

The next morning we started the final hike at around 7:00 AM. After Tisri there are two ways to reach the Churdhar peak. One of the ways first go to the temple and Sarai and from there you need to hike to Shiva sculpture. There is a Sarai at the temple where you can stay for the night after paying nominal charges. The second way goes straight up and is very inclined. The trail is also tricky at a few points and you literally need to cross rocks. After hiking for approx. 2 hours we reached above rocks from where the path is not that inclined and is very easy.

Completed the toughest stretch from Churdhar Trek

Completed the toughest stretch from Churdhar Trek

On one side of the way, you will see the entire valley. Also after this point, Shiva sculpture is visible and you feel new energy to keep hiking.

Final Stretch to Churdhar peak

Final Stretch to Churdhar peak

The final stretch was where Prabh found out/fought and conquered his fear of heights. Once we were in the final stretch you can literally feel that you are walking on a mountain top and one step here and there could put your life at risk. This is where Prabh literally panicked and started shivering for a few minutes. He sat on the ground and said that he can’t walk further and he will wait for us here. We waited for a few minutes, rested and motivated him to walk as the peak was very near. After a few minutes, he was able to overcome the fear and after that, he was literally jumping over the rocks. This is where I think he discovered and lost his fear of heights and this was the blessings of Lord Shiva that helped him.

Prabh after winning over the fear of heights! Thanking Lord Shiva!

We reached the peak at 10 am. The views from the peak are just from another world. The peak feels like a place from where you can say Lord Shiva is watching on us 24*7. The peak has 360-degree view and you can see all around.

Nag Pathar in Churdhar | Pic Credit: Campydingle

The peak has a Shiva sculpture and a small temple.

Shiva Sculpture at Churdhar

Shiva Sculpture at Churdhar

I sought the blessings of Lord Shiva and thanked him for being the guiding spirit throughout the journey.

Churdhar Peak | Chureshwar mahadev

Churdhar Peak | Chureshwar mahadev

Views from Churdhar Peak

Views from Churdhar Peak

We started heading back @ 10:30 AM and cooked and had Maggi on our way back to Noradhar.

Heading back from Churdhar Peak

Heading back from Churdhar Peak

From jamnala we took another trail on the left which is well paved. By 4 PM we reached Noradhar.  Till this date the memories of the trail, the lost family and Prabh overcoming his fears is very fresh in my mind.

Mountains are definitely the place where I feel most alive and I am sure the same is the case with every trekking enthusiast.

Trident at Churdhar Peak

Trident at Churdhar Peak

What’s your Churdhar story? Do share with us in the comments section. DM if you wish to share your blog/story on ShepherdTrail.

Har Har Mahadev!

Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking

Never Ending Voyage – Lessons learned from Trekking

Blue, green and brown were my most used pastel colors all through my childhood not knowing that these colors will forever leave firm imprints on my life. I am a total hill person. I love anything and everything about mountains, clear blue skies, vast green meadows and dense forests. I don’t remember what kick started this love but it’s there now for a while and one thing that I am sure of is that it will last till my legs give away. Mountains have given more than have taken from me. Here are my life lessons or  things I learned from my trekking experiences –

You can’t succeed if you don’t try. You could only fail if you didn’t try .

 I have been a soft corner for nature since childhood and was automatically drawn towards mountains and their beauty. Often times reading several adventure series and travel books made me wonder if I could also embark on such journeys! What would it be like treading difficult paths like these amazing men did? I used to underestimate myself thinking I can never scale such heights till I made up my mind one day to give it a shot and there hasn’t been any stopping since then. My first trek to Kedarkanta was not only strenuous but also painful.Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking1

My body did not expect hardships that I suddenly hurled on it and neither was I mentally prepared to hike more and more. But more I trekked along, pushed myself ahead, ignoring the pains and sickness, the easier it got for me to walk ahead. I slowly began to see things differently beyond the hardships and discomforts that nature bestowed upon me. I started to observe more, feel more and see the beauty of things around. That was the first time I realized how many other things I was capable of doing if only I tried. There is no point in letting the fear of failure hold you back from doing something you want to do or capable of doing. Just start with venturing out, see how far you get, improve your abilities and keep going!

Rise above yourself, there is a bigger world ahead that awaits you.

We are so engrossed in our own world, with our own little problems that we have lost all our capability to look beyond ourselves. It’s only when we are exposed to rough terrains wherein we are cut off from civilization and see local tribes with bare minimum necessities to live on, yet never complaining and living in harmony and complete submission with nature, that we wonder whether the Glass is half full or half empty? Mountain life is tedious and difficult. Hill people live in wooden houses with basic amenities and in areas that are always prone to natural calamities, bear tremendous cold weather, walk for miles to fetch water or woods from the forests. Kids with cracked red cheeks that hurt all the time, often walk for hours to attend school yet you will always find the locals hospitable with whatever little they have, ever smiling at you when met enroute. Sometimes they lend a helping hand or just pass a good luck smile and move on. In contrast, we the urban city life dwellers always live a life of tension and stress – we have loans to repay, our salaries are always too less, loved ones who never reciprocate, we love foods which we can’t intake as we have the growing obesity issues seeping in to our lives. We are constantly put under the scanner of society with people analyzing our every step. But if you manage to break free of this cluttered city life every once in a while you will come across people who care, and who bond with strangers with no high expectations.

A trek develops a sense of gratitude to things and people around.

Trekking makes you ponder over how many people and things came together to make your success possible. You instantly feel thankful about it. A monsoon trek to Deomali helped me realize “how many things” and “how many people” have contributed to our well-being.Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking2

Trekking gives us time for reflection, which promotes clarity. Clarity significantly improves decision making abilities.

There are many things about trekking that simply make you think. It could be the alone time, the view, the scale of the mountains, anything. But it promotes thinking and often gives you clarity. Walking alone in mountains is a great experience. Trails cut between mountains and run by the riverside. I get this opportunity mostly in my Himalayan treks. There are miles and miles of mountains in front of us and miles behind us. I feel minuscule among the mighty mountains. It is here I start wondering about the purpose of our existence. Have we found it yet? Do we even know that we need to find it? What are our primary and secondary duties in life? What are the factors derailing us from our duties?

Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking

These questions are not tricky ones. Sometimes on a trek, we get answers that are extraordinarily impactful on our lives.

Trekking helps you realize that true happiness is not a product of amassing things.

On the Bramhatal trek in the December of 2021, we walked past some beautiful forest and mountain passes. In my opinion, they were the the best seven days I have ever spent. Now let us look at it the other way. We were walking with a backpack, eating simple food and having “the best time”? How can someone be having the “best time” when they are deprived of basic necessities of a comfortable bed, car and sophisticated restrooms? What does happiness depend upon then? “What” and “how much of it” do we need to possess to be happy? How much mental baggage do we absolutely need? What I have said afore is by no means a complete cover of my experiences, but it gives you an idea of my biggest learnings. Never Ending Voyage - Lessons learned from Trekking3While some of my learnings are universal, learnings from a trek is also a subjective experience.

 

Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 9

How I Met Me – A Trek Date – Tunganath and Chandershila Trek

How I Met Me – A Trek Date

At times, all it takes is just that 1 trip, 1 destination, 1 moment, or 1 experience to see through oneself.

For me, that was my 1st Himalayan Trek to Tunganath and Chandrashila (12,500 ft) in Uttarakhand. A trek that made me see life with a new lens. This blog is more about that lens than the logistics of the trek.

The Trek (Tunganath and Chandrashila)

It was a 5-day trek from Sari Village – a beautiful hamlet at an elevation of 6500 ft in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, around 200 KM from Rishikesh.

The trek had actually begun days before reaching Sari. There was a lot of prep work that went in, starting from cardio exercises, weight training, a few breathing exercises, shopping the trekking gear, making a packing checklist, first-aid kit, etc.

And finally, I reached Sari – the base camp for my Trek. Reaching the base camp was a Trek in itself😊.

First, Fly from Hyderabad to New Delhi. Then take an overnight train from New Delhi to Haridwar. And then comes the 7 hours long road journey from Haridwar to Sari.

Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 1
This has been always the same in all my treks. It’s like getting you prepared for the real trek 😊.

The next 5 days were absolutely thrilling and exciting filled with memories of a lifetime. Of course, it was very tiring for a beginner, but it was equally relaxing around gorgeous campsites as you can see.Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 2

Each day was full of scenic views of Mt. Chaukamba, Rhododendron forest trails, idyllic glens and meadows, beautiful Himalayan birds like the Yellow-billed blue magpie, and Uttarakhand’s State Bird – The Monal.Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 3

It was all about how you keep going and push yourself to complete that 1-day target, instead of thinking how to reach the summit, as the saying says – One step at a time.

No matter how far or high is the summit, if you just focus on today’s target, push yourself to achieve that one thing today, that’s how you reach towards your summit.

The Summit

“One day, the mountain that is in front of you, it will barely be visible in the distance. But the person you become in learning to get over it? That will stay with you forever. And that is the point of the mountain.”― Brianna Wiest

This is exactly what happened to me in the trek. I am an entirely different person after the trek; I am more of a minimalist than a materialistic, confident, adventurous, living life to the fullest, respectful and mindful of the power of Nature more, valuing Living over Existing. Impossibilities are sometimes the gates to new possibilities. Exploring one’s fears and limitations opens such gates that we never imagined.

This is what standing on the summit felt like – That eureka of accomplishment; that gush in self-confidence, self-motivation, and seeing a totally different world up there – a different power of creation that I never realized even existed. A moment of nothingness which was also a moment of wholesomeness.

Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 5

You are out of thoughts – that blank moment of life when all you have are those mighty peaks, those high swirling birds, that soothing chillness of the breeze, You, and your heartbeat. That’s all is your World there.

Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 4
That moment of stillness when you find yourself pondering over – Who am I? What is your Life about? What is this creation about? Are you Living or Existing? What’s your purpose on this Planet? Universe has the mystical power to show you what you are seeking.

The Fears

I am a very fearful person 😊. I am claustrophobic, aquaphobic, minor acrophobic, and cynophobic.

I was never aware of these phobias so strong within me until this trek. The moment I went into the sleeping bag in my tent that night, I couldn’t breathe. I felt suffocated, anxious, increased heartbeat – I was just unable to sleep inside the tent. In the entire trek of 5 days, I could sleep a total of 8 hours only. That’s when I faced this phobia head-on – that was the moment I realized this is so strong within me. Every night I used to try different ways to put myself into sleep –mountain pictures, music, staring at the moon and stars in the sky, keeping the tent door slightly open, etc.😊At times, I just walked around the campsite like a zombie 😊. That made me witness some amazing twilights and star-lit skies though.Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 6

This was very difficult during my 1st trek, however, the subsequent treks were a bit better and now I’m able to sleep at least 5 hours every night on a trek 😊.

My next phobia was fear of dogs. Due to a not-so-good encounter with an angry dog in my childhood, I have been very scared of dogs all my life. I met a couple of mountain dogs on my trek and I bonded very well with them, as you can see😊 That’s the 1st time when I really petted a dog. This guy was with us for the entire trek – he followed us from Base Camp to the Summit, like a true companion!

Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 7

Anyone who has been to the mountains can certainly relate to what I’m trying to convey here – even dogs in the mountains are so compassionate and full of warmth. You just need to feel them. From that day on, mountain dogs are my friends 😊. I’m still trying with the city dogs though 😊.

As I mentioned above, reaching the Summit brought in a lot of confidence and everything seemed possible to me thereafter. So, I decided to face my next phobia – Fear of Water. Claustrophobics are mostly aquaphobes too. I did go for River Rafting in The Ganga at Rishikesh, after my trek. The oarsman literally pushed me out of the raft saying “you should try this” 😊 Trust me, it gave me chills all over, I was scared to death and couldn’t process what’s happening.

Tunganath and Chandrashila Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 8

It was really horrifying for a person who never has even tried any basic water sports 😊. You can see that on my face (lol).

It’s always better to face your fears and limitations and fail than to fail anyways running away from them. It will either break you or accelerate you as I did. So, take that plunge towards yourself and explore the real YOU.
This is how I met Me on 1st May 2018, when are you meeting yourself?

Please share your here, it will be my delight to read them.

Kuari pass trek - ShepherdTrail Blog

Kuari Pass | The Coldest Winter Trek | Awesome Experience 2021

It was this time of the year when like every year we go on a trek to explore the mighty mountains, to push our limits, to find peace within, to detach ourselves from our daily routines and to transform into a better human being.

This year we went on a Kuari Pass trek, which is also known as ‘The Curzon Trail’ as Lord Curzon trekked from this route in 1905. It is also one of the coldest winter treks in India. Specifically for us who are used to staying in 40°C heat to go on a trek where temperatures could go around -10°C at night, just the thought of it gave us the chills which actually helped us being mentally prepared for the challenge.

Snow covered tree on Kuari Pass Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog

Snow covered tree on Kuari Pass Trek

To acclimatize ourselves, we decided to stay at Rishikesh for 2 days before starting our trek. The day one of the trek was travelling day where we travelled from Rishikesh to the Tapovan base camp from where our trek was going to start. The journey is very pleasant and you get hang of great mountain views and the river flowing beside all day long. However, if you are someone with motion sickness, you may not enjoy the journey as much as others 😅.

On day two, we started our trekking from Karchi village and we had to reach to Akhrotghetta camp site. Just the first few steps gave us the reminder that the next few days are gonna be challenging in terms of the cold and steep climb. Just after we reached the camp site, had lunch and layered up for the cold evening. It started to snow, it was just magical how the snow flakes were falling down from the sky, it felt like the god is showering his blessings on us in its own way. Few of us witnessed the snow fall for the first time in the life and everyone enjoyed playing in the snow like a kid.

Camping on Kuari Pass Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog

Camping on Kuari Pass Trek

Our day 3 started with a blurry thought that we might not be able to trek to the Kuari Pass summit as it has snowed the whole night since past evening plus it was still snowing while we started to trek for the day from Akhrotghetta to Khullara camp site. It was like a dream to walk while its snowing and it was fulfilled on this day as it was still snowing while we were trekking to our camp today. The views were mesmerizing, we walked through the forest surrounded by the oak trees all around. The sunrays through the trees gives us immense joy and belief to push our limits and continue to grow along. We get the good view of some of the mountain peaks like Mt Dronagiri, Hathi Ghoda, Kamet, etc while on the trail which keeps you motivated and grounded at the same time. Just when we reached the camp site, we knew this is gonna be the coldest night and it indeed was, it went down till -13°c on that day, we all spent our evening in the dining tent as it felt warmer there comparatively. We all talked, played, prepared DIY tomato soup and after having delicious dinner we all went to our tents inside our sleeping bags to face the coldest winter night.

Cooking inside tent in Kuari Pass Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog

Cooking inside tent in Kuari Pass Trek

Day 4, this was the most important and challenging day of the trek. It was the long day so we started little early as we had to do the summit push and then to reach at the Tali campsite. When we started to trek there was a slight sun rays which gave us the hope that if there is no snowfall today like past few days, we will be able to successfully summit. And the god heard the prayers, it was still the chilly and freezing but there was no snowfall and weather was clear for us to push ourselves.

Trekking at Kuari Pass Trek - ShepherdTrail BlogAfter a few hours of decent climb and walking through the snowy slopes we all successfully managed to reach to the Kuari Pass summit point which was a relief and much satisfying, emotional moment for everyone that our planning, preparation of past 3-4 months have paid off. Also, not to miss the view from the top, it has the astonishing 360° view of mountains from the top which includes more than 20 mountain peaks like Chaukhambha, Dronagiri, Nilgiri, Hathi Ghoda, etc so close and clear for you to witness the beauty of nature. After spending some time at the top, we all started to decent , but due to snow mostly everyone had to do a scary snow slide to reach down from the top and heard that due to that other groups were even not able to go to the top. While on the way to Tali, there’s a ridge walk with beautiful views around you. I personally love walking on such ridge and we also had our lunch stop with such view on the way. Today was the long exhausting day and all were very tired, some felt mild headache and body pains, but nothing was serious and everyone successfully completed the summit day.

Trekking at Kuari Pass Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog

Our Group on Kuari Pass Trek

The last day of the trek and it was also the last day of the year 2021, yes in last few days we were totally disconnected and didn’t remember which date or day it was but as the trek was coming to the end and it was 31st everyone was up for ending it on high note. So, today we had to reach from Tali campsite to Joshimath. We had to skip Auli as there was lot of snow on the way and in last few days we have seen the lifetime of snow and life in snow. First on the way we went to Tali lake, which is a frozen lake and we spent good quality time there as the weather was clear, the views were great and we also did a small activity to write a post card to our loved ones expressing our gratitude, feelings and emotions. We were writing the post card just in front of the mighty Nanda Devi peak which makes it more special. This activity made people emotional, opened up and write what they feel and look within ourselves. After that it was a lovely gradual decent walk with the most amazing views of the mountain peaks which was the highlight of the trek. You feel you are constantly walking towards the mountains and they are welcoming you with their arms wide open. After walking few kms and walking through the village we managed to reach Joshimath where we had to end our this year’s trek journey.

Trekking at Kuari Pass Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog

That’s me standing tall at Kuari Pass!

As it was the 31st Dec, we welcomed the new year with all the positive vibes and wishing each other a happy new year by cutting a new year cake🍰. Also, we looked at the past few days spend together in not so comfortable space and everyone talked about their journey to reach here and how they felt about it by expressing their thoughts.

Kuari-Pass-Trek-ShepherdTrail-Blog

Team at Tali Lake on Kuari Pass Trek

It was a life time experience, thanks to everyone for being part of it. Hope we continue to go on such adventures. God bless🙏

Kheerganga Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 2

Kheerganga Trek | Mountain Kids and unexpected Rainbow Gathering!

As usual “Pankaj” called me again for one another trek, he was planning for the Kheerganga Trek. It was also his birthday which he wanted to celebrate in the mountains. We ended up planning the Kheerganga trek. So the idea was to camp for a day in Kasol and then do the trek.

On day 1 we left Chandigarh and agreed to meet at Bhuntar (Kullu). I took a Volvo at night from Chandigarh and Pankaj after finishing his US shift drove to Bhunter. Bannu one of my friends happened to work in Bhuntar so I called him in advance so that we could meet. I reached Bhunter a bit earlier in the morning and after waiting for a few hrs Pankaj also reached along with Pulkit.

Pulkit was Pankaj’s work colleague who was very excited to go for a trek and joined him for the trek. Vinesh (Bannu) used to live in a beautiful rented home near Bhunter Airport. The setting there was beautiful with a huge mountain facing opposite to his home. He welcomed us with awesome Maggi (pahadon mein maggi nahi khayi to kya khaya).

Maggi at Bhunter - Kheerganga Blog - ShepherdTrail 1

Maggi at Bhunter – From Left Pankaj, Me & Pulkit

Our original plan was to go to Bijli Mahadev if time allows but we skipped the plan as we were late. It was somewhere close to 6:30 PM when we decided to go to Kasol for camping. My friend asked us to stay for the night at his place but we also wanted to spend some time in Kasol. I took his bike and we drove all the way to Kasol which is approx. 30 KM from Bhunter.

If you want to visit Kasol you don’t need to go towards Manali and there is a detour which you need to take from Bhunter. Kasol is a beautiful hamlet and you can simply say it is the hippe capital of India. By 7:30 we reached Kasol. Kasol is a different place when you visit in the evening. It looks like a hippie town and there are a lot of foreigners who you can see there. That’s one of the reasons it is also known as the mini-Israel of India. There are a lot of cafes that are always packed and you have to wait for some time before you get a table (If you have been to Kasol you know it !!).

After a bit of challenge and going through cafes we found a cafe that allowed us to set up our own tent on their property. We sat up our tent in dark, to be honest, it’s not easy to sit up a 4 person tent especially when you are setting it up for the first time and it’s dark 😬. The vibe at the Cafe was really cool and it was only in the morning when we realized that we were so close to river 😃.

Bridge at Kasol - ShepherdTrail Blog 1

Bridge to the cafe where we stayed for the night! These beautiful bridges are common in Kasol.

In the morning we started our journey to Barshini. Barshini is the base for Kheerganga Trek and is around 16 KM from Kasol town.  There are a couple of shops at Barshaini where you can find essential items and there are few dhabas where you can eat simple food. You can find more about Barshini and Kheeranga Trek travel guide here.

On the way to Barshini, we stopped at a cafe and did breakfast where we met this beautiful family who was waiting for the bus as they were going towards Kasol.

Family on the way from Kasol to Barshini - ShepherdTrail Blog 1

On the way to Barshini, we witnessed some of the most beautiful mountain villages. Life in the mountains is a bit tough and while on the way you will see a lot of villages on the opposite side of the road where you will see a lot of trolleys which are used for to get essentials from road-head to the village.

Beautiful village in Parvati valley - Kheerganga Trek

Beautiful village in Parvati valley – Kheerganga Trek

After reaching Barshini we got all the necessary things and food which we would require for the trek as we were planning to cook our own food which we generally do when we do treks.  We spoke to a few shopkeepers in Barshini and found that there are 2 trails which goes to Kheerganga. We took the trail through Pulga village which is on right from the bridge. I personally recommend that you should take this trail while hiking and take another one while returning from Kheerganga. Few minutes into the trail we found ourselves in the forest. The trail is well marked and you can see it is followed by Shepherds. Kheerganga Trek through Pulga

Halfway into the trek, Pulkit got cramps in his legs as it was the first time he was doing any trek and also was not physically active, he could hardly walk. We motivated him to keep walking. He was hardly able to walk so took his bag and carried that. The trail was becoming more beautiful the more we were into the valley. Parvati valley is very beautiful valley and you can literally feel that it is blessed.

Kheerganga Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 2

Kheerganga Trek

We were just near to the waterfall which is also like the midpoint of the trek when we found this board on the trek. The paths in such trails get tricky at a few points and you need to ensure that you are keeping an eye on your feet.

Kheerganga Trek - Shehpherdtrail log 2

After walking for a few more minutes we reached the waterfall where there is a small shop where you can find food and tea. I observed a few foreigners who were camping here and the shopkeeper told us that they were camping there for good enough days now.

Waterfall on Kheerganga Trek - ShepherdTrail log 1

Waterfall on Kheerganga Trek

The trail after the waterfall meets with another trail that is coming through Kalga village. While returning we can take this trail or vice-versa. There are few cafes at the point where these 2 trails meet and then a single trail goes towards Kheerganga. We were on the way to the final destination when we met Sidhant. Sidhant was travelling solo from all the way from Goa and was going to camp solo in Kheerganga. We became friends while on the trail and he joined our pack. Fortunately enough we are still in touch and keep on talking about travel very often.

We all 4 kept chatting and kept walking. The last stretch to Kheerganga is a bit steep. Finally, we reached Kheerganga and we were very happy when we saw that we reached our destination.

Kheerganga Trek

First look of Kheerganga!

Well, Kheerganga is such a place which you can’t explain in words how hard you try! It’s a place out of the world. The hippie cafes, temporary setups, camps, dome tents, shepherd herds, a cool vibe and on top of that an amazing hot water pond! That’s Kheerganga for you! The trek is a hard one but when you reach Kheerganga and take a dip in a hot water pond you forget everything. It’s the perfect combination of chilled weather and a hot stream, better than any jacuzzi in the world!

Camping in Kheerganga - Kheerganga Trek Blog

Pankaj with our friends from Kheerganga Trails – They can be posy at time !

I was thinking that we won the world and was underestimating what there was in store for tonight! Then happened unexpected thing which I never thought I will witness. This is the night when I got introduced to the Rainbow family and I went to my first ever rainbow gathering. The story goes like it…

When we reached Kheerganga we agreed to pitch our tent a bit far away from the cafe. We pitched our tent and then went for a dip in a hot water spring. There were a lot of foreigners there at the Kheerganga at the moment. We thought it was a normal day as there are a lot of cafes/bakeries that were being operated by foreigners there. Though Pankaj observed that none of the foreigners was camping at Kheerganga and they were going deep into the forest. We thought there is some secret Full Moon party going on which they have kept as a secret (We were not observant enough I think).

Tents at Kheerganga Trek

Camps at Kheerganga

We were about to start cooking our dinner when a group of foreigners passed by us. One of them (Kal) stopped by to take a break and sat with us. After chatting a bit he told us that there is a rainbow gathering happening at the time we were camping there. He invited us to the Rainbow gathering, asked us to follow the rock signs and left. We thought let’s visit there and then we will come back and prepare dinner. First, we got confused as we were not seeing any signs and then we saw there were small rocks placed with their sharp edges pointing towards another set of rocks. It felt like a scene from the Harry Potter movie (seriously) but we kept following and kept moving.

After walking for around 15 minutes we found ourselves deep in the woods and to our surprise after crossing a few trees we found a whole plain ground covered from all sides with dense forest (almost invisible from the outside) and there it was the whole rainbow community. The atmosphere there was totally out of the world. We were welcomed by the rainbow family as their own (actually we became part of the rainbow family the moment we walked in). There were good 200-250 foreigners from around the world bonded by a code and mutual respect.

The way to the Rainbow gathering - Kheerganga Trek Blog - ShepherdTrail

The way to the Rainbow gathering – Sidhant and Pulkit

The campfire was lit and we all sat around the fire. There were a lot of musicians from around the world at the rainbow. Everyone played the instrument they liked, sang songs (even we were given a chance to sing one of the local songs which everyone enjoyed). There were groups who were cooking for the night, some were arranging things, helping everyone to pitch their tent, guiding about the camps, toilets (woods) and other rules for the gathering. I suggest everyone should attend at least one of these events, you got to know a lot of people and understand different cultures. We enjoyed it till late in the night and then returned to our camps.

The next morning we were woken up by the cheering sounds of mountain kids. We came out of the camps and found these three joyful, cheering, cute, little mountain kids. They were from the nearby shelters. We felt really happy with these kids and started playing.

Mountain kid at Kheerganga Trek

You Beauty !! – Mountain kid at Kheerganga

These kids were so fearless and curious that they were running on small mountain trails like a pro. They kept talking to us to understand how we got our beautiful tents, how much they cost, where have we come from, how cities look etc. I usually carry a trail guide by Himachal tourism which I opened to show them. They were very curious to see pictures of different places in that.

Kheerganga Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 2

Mountain Kids and stories!

We left Kheerganga as we had to join back our offices and I never got the opportunity to visit again though those memories are still fresh. I think to meet these kids again, someday! They would have grown into teenagers by now and I keep on thinking about meeting them again and showing the innocence they had. Have you seen these kids?

 

ShepherdTrail Blog - Kedarkantha Trek 23

Kedarkantha heaven on earth !

So we were at Sankari base camp where we can purchase our trekking gear like a jacket, gloves, waterproof pant, Wollan cap. We started our trekking with one night stay at Sankari base camp for taking a rest.  And the early morning around 8 am we were ready for a trek on the same day we are trek 4 km in 5 hours continuously walking and reach Hargaon base camp where trip partner arranged some food like maggie and soup.

Complete our lunch and go somewhere sightseeing which name was Juda ka Talab the frozen lake, Such an amazing experience it was my first trekking.

Juda ka talab

Kedarkantha Trek Blog - ShepherdTrail 12

The Kedarkantha peak base camp was so beautiful and opened up to the valley in front of the tents. From here we could see the Kedarkantha peak where we need to climb the next day. We spotted a lot of crows and some small birds here. Our trip partner was @tripmysoul.in.

I came here with my 8 groupmates, the fun was unexpected our group name was famous in whole, group name was Topa Ganges.

OUR TOPA GANGE IS HERE 👇👇👇👇😜

ShepherdTrail Blog - Kedarkantha 11

The timing for the big day was 2 am, 2.30 am and 3 am. Yes, we need to be at the peak for sunrise and hence this timing. We couldn’t believe we started walking by 3.30 am after tea & breakfast. It was very cold in the morning with a chill breeze throwing snow particles on our faces. We were walking with our heads bent down looking at the feet of the person walking ahead.

After 2hr walk, we reached a Maggie point where we could take some rest. During this 2hr walk, we could only stop for some time on the way for water. There is no place to sit until we reach this spot as the entire stretch is covered with snow. As it was dark we could not enjoy the beautiful views on the way, but we could feel the thick snow around us and the walking trail had little hard snow. The temperature was -14°. We were walking with cold feet and cold hands, it was like our feet and hands were frozen.

Again, we continued the trek from Maggie point with a steeper path ahead. Due to the speed variation between the teammates, sometimes we got mixed up with other teams. The Trip my soul trek leaders were observing each one of us and made us feel that we are not lost anywhere. They were so encouraging and kept us all motivated. They timed the trek so perfectly that we reached the peak right for the sunrise at 7 am.  Altitude – 12,500 feet.

It was an amazing view to see the sun’s rays filling the top of snow near us. The golden colour view of the snow cannot be explained in words.

Kedarkantha Trek Blog - ShepherdTrail 18

Sunrise at Kedarkantha Trek

It was so cold that I could not take out my gloves for taking pics. I was thinking of capturing so many different shots in the peak. But it did not work for me. Though there were lot of others who were normally clicking pics over there. The experience of seeing mighty Himalayas all around you was so amazing.

Kedarkantha Trek Blog - ShepherdTrail 20

The return journey was furthermore exciting in a different path less used by people and covered with thick snow. We covered around 1km of the return journey by sliding in the snow. The trek leaders were so experienced to show us the right spots where we can perform snow slides.

We reached the Hargaon campsite around 3 pm and stayed there for the night to relax. Altitude – 8900 feet. This site was also having an excellent viewpoint and we spent our evening with team games. As usual the evening tea, soup and dinner were tasteful with gulab jamun as dessert. Morning tea was served in the tent as tent tea since it was too cold for us to come out at 7.30 am. After breakfast at 8.30 am, we started from this site at 9.30 am and moved through the snow-filled mountain. The views were excellent here too and we wanted to continue the trek for a few more days. Reached Sankri village by 12noon. Yes, as the trek leaders told Sankri was warmer than the peak 🙂 We all received certificates for successful completion of the trek.

Last but not least the trekking team was amazing with people from different parts of the country. Had a memorable fun time with them. We played a lot of games during the relaxing time like smoking some stuff, anthakshari, guess the personality etc. The trek leaders also joined us to make it more fun and to get to know us before the summit climb. I would say not a lot of people in South India knows about these treks. But it is definitely far more enjoyable for trek enthusiasts and cost-effective too. The Trip my soul team was perfect in all aspects and ensured the safety of the trekkers.

Kareri Lake Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 4

Journey to Kareri Lake Trek – Nov 2017

Well, it was late Nov’17 when Pankaj called to go for a hike close to Dharamshala. At the moment I wasn’t aware of Kareri Lake and heard the name for the first time. Kareri lake trek became famous in the 20s and it was a pure offbeat place before that and most people were not aware that we do have such a preserved trail which is less crowded and is a better option than Triund. The year 2016 was the year by when the popularity of the Triund trek already reached its peak and it’s still one of the famous hikes among the trekking community.
So instantly I agreed to join him for the trek. That was also the time we were planning to start our own trekking business though we were unable to execute the same. So Pankaj managed to get 2 of his work colleagues to join for the trek.

I boarded an overnight bus from Chandigarh to Dharamshala and we agreed to meet at Dharamshala as Pankaj would leave for Dharamshala after his work hours in the early morning. So there was I standing at 4:00 AM standing in Dharamshala on a chilled morning.

I waited for about 2 hours when Pankaj reached Dharamshala. We had an awesome tea and then we departed towards Kareri village.

Dharamshala - ShepherdTrail Blog

Sharma g finally arrived!

The road to Kareri village was under construction and was a bit jumpy and completely off-road. The road is inclined and was a narrow road with a very low margin for error and you would end up straight at the bottom of the valley if you slipped. It was a fun journey to Kareri Village. When we entered Kareri village you will see fresh developments and camps being set up. There were also a couple of homestays being set up and fresh structures being built up but majorly it was a small dune over the mountain.

We chit chatted with the locals to ask for the place to park our vehicle and parked the vehicle opposite to tea stall we had our breakfast. There were not many options available for food when we visited Kareri. Only 2 small tea stalls and one under construction café/campsite.

We started our hike to Kareri lake around 10 in the morning. There was a road head from where the trek starts till that point we could drive our car but we thought of leaving vehicle safe at the tea stall and took a walk through the village. There is a path which goes straight through the village and I think that was the best decision. While we were going through the village there were multiple locals who asked us pleasantly where we have come from. One old lady even offered us to rest and have tea as we were going through the village path. Well, that’s the beauty of being in a Himalayan village. The village is majorly occupied by the “Gaddi” tribe of Himachal Pradesh who are mostly shepherds (or used to be) though civilization cached up and people either started doing jobs and came down the hills children’s studies. Though if you will closely observe the guides on trails they are mostly from the same community and are open-hearted people who will show good hospitality and are reliable in mountains.

Kareri lake trail is being followed by Gaddi Shepherds also known as “Paal” from centuries to commute between Kangra and Chamba region. The path goes through Kareri Lake, Minkiani Pass (4250m) and Baleni Pass (3710m) to connect Chamba to KANGRA.

While you go through this ancient village you will find a lot of ancient mud houses, structures, livestock and sheep herds (Also called “Dhan” in the local language ). If you have ample time and want to experience Himalayan village culture you should definitely stay at Kareri village for a few days. There are a couple of homestays now available in the village.

Kareri Village - ShepherdTrail Blog

Taking a break at Kareri Village on the way to Kareri Lake

Just after the village we took a paved path upwards to the road head and reached the road head from where we started our hike to Kareri lake. The initial path is a bit tricky and you may get lost initially. The best bet is to follow the stream which is coming from the lake. The rest of the path goes beside the stream.

A few minutes into the trail we found ourselves in a deep forest and crossed the stream and started hiking on the left side of the steam. The point where we had to cross the stream was very scenic and there was a small pond of freshwater. We refilled our water bottles and clicked a few pics. The atmosphere here was completely silent and rejuvenating. If you may ask me I was ready to camp here for the day though it was just 20 minutes into the trail.Kareri lake trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 1

After a few minutes, we started our hike again. The trail now was well defined and clear. Forest became a bit denser. Few more minutes into the trail and we were joined by a solo foreigner trekker who was hiking solo. He joined our group and we started hiking together. After a few hours of trek, we started feeling exhausted and we took a small break. We literally found animal skulls here, having found skulls we were pretty clear that the area is inhabited by many wild animals.

After a few minutes, we thought of having our lunch. We had a few instant noodle packets and hot water which we carried from the village and we made instant noodles. After lunch, we started walking again and we found a beautiful iron bridge near reoti.

Kareri lake trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 2

Iron Bridge at Reoti

The café here was closed and we moved on. We reached Reoti in a few minutes. We could see a temporary café which was closed for now but there was camping space available at the café just across the small stream. We sat up the camp for the day and rested.Kareri Lake Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 3
The next morning we left out our gears in the camps and started hiking to the lake. The final stretch is a bit steep but at the same time is equally beautiful. The trail goes along the stream which is coming from the lake and you just need to follow the stream. There are a few shepherd huts on the way which were vacant when we visited. There were few nomads who were camping there and after speaking to them we found that they were from down south and were camping there for almost a week.

We could see the temple on the lake and got a bit excited to hike to the final destination. We literally ran for the last few steps and finally, we were there at the lake beside the lord Shiva temple. The entire lake is a beauty and you get satisfied to witness a lake that is storing water straight from the glaciers. There was no snow at the lake when we visited and it was a bit dried up so we entered the lake and clicked a few pics there.
The feeling of accomplishment fulfils you with new energy when you visit such a place which was a dream at some point. We sat there at the temple, sunbathed for a few minutes and finally headed back home. To this day the memories are so fresh from this trail that I can visualize this at any moment.

On the way back we witnessed one of the best sunsets you could witness. We lost our way while coming back though we could find an alternate path from road head to reach Kareri village. If you may ask me this is one of the good beginner’s trek and is a must-do. Planning for Kareri lake? You can find all the important information here.

 

ShepherdTrail Blog - Triund Indrahar pass 1

My solo trip to Triund and unfinished attempt to Indrahar Pass – Himachal Pradesh

This story is 5 years old, in the month of April 2016, My exams were over for BBA Final Year. I thought of going on a tour on my newly purchased 2nd hand bike, I asked my friends but they had other plans, so I decided to go solo, I checked my bike’s papers and serviced it the day before the long run.

That night I had a fever, but I decided that whatever happens in the morning I’ll go for my adventure on my first solo trip. The next morning I woke up all excited for my adventure. I prepared my breakfast, had it full as I didn’t know where I’d be able to eat next, because it was my first-time solo road trip to Himachal from Jalandhar, Punjab. I still had a fever but as I’ve decided, I went for it.

So I reached Mclodeganj, Himachal Pradesh from Jalandhar on my bike in the Afternoon (165 k.m.). I arranged my food at the Mclodeganj square, took information from locals about the trek distance, camping gear, food etc.

In the evening I left for trekking of 8 km, excluding the Bagshu fall, On the way, I took a break for 3 times as it is a pure mountain trek, On the way, I outpaced some group of trekkers maybe because I was single and didn’t have to wait for my mates or might be I’m a quick trekker :p , Finally, I reached Triund top and sat on a rock to catch my breath, I sat there, enjoyed the view and strong blow of wind which I think was felt by my soul, I saw people walking and sheep herds, which as guided by the shepherd’s dogs and then I went to the shop and rented a camp which cost only Rs 400/night, it was a small tent for a single person, If you’re a group of people you can rent a bigger one which will cost you Rs 800, Rs 1200 and Rs 1600 which can accommodate up to 6 people.

Since I was alone, I didn’t know what to do next so I sat and kept on staring at the mountains, it was magical, it was soul-soothing, I felt so relieved, I can’t explain it in words, since words won’t do justice to what I felt, suddenly I heard dog fight, one of the shepherd’s dog has almost killed the other one, the dog’s bite was so strong that it almost chocked the other dog, I intervened and shouted really loud, after that the fight was over and I started my buffer-free view of the mountains and clouds, I was sitting and I heard a voice, Hey, are you also on a solo trip? I said yes and introduced ourselves, He asked me what’s your plan, I said, I rented a camp so I’ll set my camp and I’ll stargaze at night and I’ll leave in the afternoon, He said why, won’t you go up to the mountains, I said, is there more to go?

He said yes, I’ve been in Himachal for a month and I know there’s more than very few people know, I agreed to stay and to climb the mountain, then we set our camp and stayed for the night with a complete stranger turned friend.

There were a few foreigners too, They also came for trekking with a group of 8-10 people, they played soulful music, set a bone fire, it was magical. We ate Daal Chawal at the shop, it tasted good, don’t know how, then I stayed up to stargaze, It was a little cloudy yet very beautiful night sky.

Shepherdtrail Blog - Triund 2

Triund

The next morning we left for the mountaineering to the Indrahar peak, without any mountaineering gear, without any guide, with the slippery sole of my shoes. We trek for 6-7 km of normal mountain trek, on the way, there was another shop and we ate Maggi there, then we continued our trek, Indrahar Paas is the top of the mountain visible from Triund top, yes, the highest one is Indrahar Pass.

So, we reached the valley of Indrahar pass and saw a few empty shelters there, don’t know who lived there, then we saw a few locals, we offered them to be our guide but they refused and showed us the way a little, we followed the trail and climbed up after we reached the halfway I saw clouds filling up the valley and slowly coming up, I never saw clouds beneath me, I was astounded by the view. I said to my friend to have look behind, he saw then we decided to climb faster.

We were at 75% of our mountaineering when clouds finally caught us, and it was raining snow, yes It was snowfall on the mountains, it was heavy snowfall so we took shelter under the rocks for around 30 minutes after it stopped we started to climb up again, but it was very slippery, because of the snowfall, so we reached about 90 % of the peak but now there was no way we could have climbed up without the professional gears as it was a straight mountain with snow, so we decided to climb down now, we don’t want to go back but there was just no way for us to climb the remaining 10%.

So we started coming down, it was so slippery that I slipped 1-2 feet thrice, and trust me I felt like I’ll die and prayed to God, Bhagwan bacha le aaj, my friend was ahead of me and he just kept saying just a little bit more we have almost reached don’t worry, thanks to him we finally climbed down to the valleys, stopped for the Maggi again as we were totally exhausted.

Then we came back to the Triund with a bottle filled with mountain’s water which was fresher and healthier than your RO+ UV combined :D. Handed over the camp to the shop and trek down to Mclodeganj. We were so tired that our knee couldn’t take it anymore, my friend was barely able to walk, luckily we found a stick for the support and climbed down at last.

So we trek for 30-35 km from McLeodganj-Triund-Indrahar pass-Triund-McLeodganj, so the people who say it is one day trek they might don’t know about Indrahar Pass trek, which starts from 7 km ahead from where the Triund trek ends.

Oh, the fever faint away, I never felt more alive.

Thank you so much for reading, I truly appreciate it.

Kareri lake - Shepherdtrail Blog 1

Kareri Lake – A Solo Adventure

The weather outside was clear. The evening breeze was cold and my brain was thinking, “it’s almost winter… So what next ?”. I wear a personality that longs to be in the wild but COVID and lockdowns had played their part in being a spoilsport. So when winter 2021 came and the world moved from “revenge travel” to “plain old travel”, I was the first one to get on the wagon and decided to go on a solo adventure.

I was longing for a sight of the mountains and Kareri lake was on my mind because it was the easiest to reach in terms of transportation. Booked bus tickets and ran off to Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh from Delhi. Took a taxi to the quaint Kareri village early morning. Nothing could give you more peace than being in a traditional pahadi homestay, talking to the locals who are yet to see destruction through commercialization. I had the whole day and also left my work laptop at home, so I decided to do some exploring on my own around the village. And ended up descending down a kilometre from the village and found a quiet stream to sit by, soak up the sun and just be present.

Day 2 was trek day. Since I did not get my own camping gear, I had decided to complete the trek in one single day, although I don’t recommend this because I did not have that much time to enjoy the path. Woke up early and when I got out of my room, I was welcomed by cloudy and cold weather with negligible visibility. I was recommended not to go by my Pahadi host, but, you know what they say, when the longing is strong enough, even God comes looking for you. So there I was, started walking from my homestay in Kareri village. My phone showed a biting 3-degree temperature, a weather warning highlighted in red, time was 8:32 am, my hands aching from the chill but my legs feeling strong ready to go all the way.

It took me around an hour through the village to reach “Nauli ka pul” as the locals’ state from where the trek starts. There are 2-3 shops around the bridge and you need to go along the ascending path just beside the bridge. The trek here was covered with overhanging pine, rhododendron and oak trees. I lost my way here twice because of fallen trees obscuring the path. But the beautiful forest kept me going. All the while I was walking alongside the stream which ended up being with me for the whole trek.

At around 10 am, I crossed the stream by jumping around some boulders and entered into a much more dense forest. There were wooden bridges but they were all in a dilapidated condition. The forest pushed me into a small meadow after a short while and the path was pretty much clear after this. It was like walking, all the while the stream brushing off of your trek path. The trail was pretty much defined except the fact that while ascending you may not be able to see it clearly due to huge boulders & stones. By 11:30 am I entered into territory where the temperature dropped steeply and I could see that even the stream was frozen in places where the sunlight couldn’t reach. I became reassured of my path when I came across a few closed dhabas and a Shiva temple. I could see the problems with going solo.

The last part of 4.5 km of the trail was the most difficult because the path was covered in snow and even though my trekking shoes were helping me, I had to tread carefully. I did not want to slip and injure myself since I hadn’t seen another soul along the way. At around 1:06 pm, I reached the top where I could see all of Dhauladhar, Pir Panjal and parts of Kangra valley just melting together into Kareri lake, which was starting to freeze. It started snowing lightly, but the biting cold wind gushing around, made me decide to immediately head down the mountain.

All the shacks and dhabas were closed & there was nobody around. Just me standing at Kareri temple, which is dedicated to Shiva and Shakti. I just automatically bowed down to the temple and the mountains. Thanked them for showing me how minuscule I was.

Just as I started to head down, from nowhere a stray dog joined me along and started following me, and as if it was god sent, the dog, unlike any I have come across, followed me all the way back to base which was around 10 km of descending. 4 hours of descending just flew by. Exceptional Dog, an exceptional day and an exceptional view etched in my memory forever.

A few points to remember :

I stayed at Maan Homestay in Kareri Village. Everyone knows the host Maan Singh so just take a cab and ask around the village.

I did not take any vehicle to the starting point. Just took the beaten path just shooting off of the roadhead in the village. Had to walk 1-2kms extra due to this.

The very definition of adventure for me is to be alone and just be crazy in whatever you do. However, I do not recommend going solo especially if you have zero experience of hiking in the Himalayas or you are physically unfit.

Brahmatal Trek - ShepherdTrail Blog 1

Brahmatal Trek – My experience being in Mountains !

Mountains!!

The relation I have with them, is the one that remains less expressive from the moment I start talking about it.

You do need a break from your normal life and a monotonous job. What I can say and as per the max % of our population we observe: People take a break and spend some time on beaches or on mountains chilling up with a bottle of beer or whiskey, dancing on the high beat songs and borne fire around it, getting hangover to an extent, exploring different cafes and food.

Great and one should do that!!

It is necessary. After all, we do have a saturation point.

But the moment I talk about the mountain is always my way of showing gratitude towards it. I don’t know why and how, but when am on it my brain works in a different manner. There is always a Thrill and adventure when I talk about my fun…I get high on it.. except food too But then why do I choose something where there is no rest no chillness and every day you will face some challenges. And people do ask me the same question. Why can’t you just simply chill and relax?

To that my answer is like :

The real fun of being on Mountains is to climb one of them!! High altitude mountain trekking!! Not all of us can do. You can have a good physique to climb a mountain but what you need the most is your mental health. As I said, “Chilling is fun … climbing is not!!” Don’t take them lightly. Respect Mountains and they will respect you back.

In case of trekking, I would say: Do it once if you truly are a mountain lover. Get those Goosebumps, that adrenaline rush, fear of falling down on a snowy patch, to live with minimalistic things, helping your co-trekkers in climbing, feel that wind, listen to birds chirping, midnight stargazing, fear of washing hands in cold water, taking hours to feel the warmth of your sleeping bag, pink nose, sunburnt face, hefty breath, 70ltr of the rucksack on your shoulder, mobile shut, fewer ppl around… this is just little of what we used to do.

Brahmatal:

They say it was God Brahma Ji who used to mediate here near the lake. This beautiful trek is in the mountains of Uttrakhand.

It started from our base camp which was Lohajung. It takes 10 hours from Rishikesh to reach Lohajung.

Day 1 because of the travel we didn’t walk we stayed in Lohajung for acclimatization. The next day, we had our trek started. The Initial 2 days were fine clear blue sky, windy, a normal 6-8km of the trail we had to walk per day day-1 campsite was Gujreni ( covered in greenery with all those high trees and in between the Jungle) and on day 2 it was Tilandi ( plane barren land no trees all you can see were mountains around it) and a beautiful view of all major mountains were visible from there ( Trishul, Darya Bugyal, Roopkundetc ). We (14 trekkers + 3 guides) all were walking slowly at our pace.

It was on Day 3 of my trek: Walking through the trails on a stormy snowy day where all you can see was land covered up with a white layer. The journey is full of twists and turn. Originally we loved watching the snow, being in the snow risks were there and so was fun. A footstep behind and a footstep ahead with trek pole by ur side and a fear inside the next step I keep I hope I don’t fall. It was Windy, with those snowflakes hitting your face making it difficult to walk. They say in mountains slow is fast. Brahmatal the lake was our campsite for day 3.

But then opening the zip of our tent became difficult because it was all frozen, and similarly, washing utensils for our meals was getting difficult because of the chilled water we had. Temp was between-7 to -10.

And then I was wondering what these climbers/trekkers go through while climbing peaks like Mt Everest or K2 or Annapurna.

I was searching for a line to describe what my feelings are: Until I saw 14 peaks on Netflix and boom a mountaineer said :

“it is a place where you have to cope up with the pain”

Pain: Which your body goes through while ascending and descending the peak. Everybody part has that sensation, you may even go through lack of oxygen. But then the urge to be on peak and do summit is itself happiness for a climber!!

On the summit, your soul becomes part of the mountain.

ShepherdTrail log - Brahmatal Trek 2

Yea! That’s me, Standing tall at Brahmatal, Discovering myself!

And when you are in the mountains you know who you really are.

 

ShepherdTrail Blog - Kedarkantha 1

Kedarkantha – The unforgettable Himalaya!!!

I am an avid trekker, did so many treks in Sahyadri and two treks, expeditions in Himalaya, both were in Spiti Valley. First one is from Batal – kunjum  la-chandratal- tokpo Yong ma- tokpo gong ma – Surajtal- baralacha la. The other one is Mt. Kanamo from kibber. Both were breathtaking experiences.

The Kedarkanth, one of the most scenic and must to do treks on every Trekkers’ list. Uttarakhand literally stands for its nickname Devbhumi. Kedarnath can be done by the beginners also as it thrills u at 12500 feet with some Snowy terrain. We have decided to go with Himgiri Trekkers tied up with Decathlon, Mumbai.

Trek starts from Sankri, goes up to Juda ka Talab basically a dry region but if rain or snowfall accompanied you while to ascend it will show you the real character of Himalaya. We had a great snowfall, very low temperature would give u the chilling and bone-shaking experience.

ShepherdTrail Blog - Kedarkantha 4

The route from the Juda ka Talab to base camp is not that much difficult but then to climb up to the summit is totally different from what you went through till now. Early morning climb to the summit, is what everyone is waiting till now. The most scenic Sunrise and surrounding valley that’s what we can see with the windy Himalaya. I am totally spellbound and speechless to describe the whole experience.

ShepherdTrail Blog - Kedarkantha 2

But I must say Kedarkanth is a must to do and must add to a bucket list of the trekkers.

Superb experience, breathtaking, scenic, chilling, icy, inexpensive these words are not enough!!!!

ShepherdTrail Blog - Kedarkantha 3

When you reach Summit!

Thank u for having me Himayala and my brothers from  Uttarakhand( sankri), you guys nailed it.

ShepherdTrail Blog - Nag Tibba 1

Nag Tibba Trek – Perfect weekend getaway near Dehradun

If you are around Delhi and looking for a weekend trek that is entertaining and challenging at the same time, Nag Tibba is something you should look up to.

So last year around the same time we were looking for a year-end trek when Swati came as a saviour. She was planning a trip to Nag Tibba. Without thinking I got myself in and also got my friend Pankaj ready for it.

A day before the trek we drove our bike to Dehradun and stayed overnight at Dehradun where we were hosted by Gaurav. The next day early morning we started our journey from Dehradun to Pantwari which is also the base for Nag Tibba.

We reached Pantwari around 9 and started hiking. The initial trek takes you through the beautiful garwali village. 15-20 minutes further up the trail, you will cross a road. From there we took the trail going up and hiking for another 15-20 minutes we reached the water spot.

Once you reach the water spot you need to hike further and will reach a small village and again cross the road and take the trail going up on left.

The first 1 hour of the trail is very exhausting as it is quite steep and the sun is just on your head.

**You will find a lot of little Shepherd huts on the way to Nag Tibba. The trail is very steep and you need to stay hydrated. Ensure that you are carrying enough water as there are not many water points. Also while hiking keeps something handy to cover your head as you may get headaches if not covered.

We hiked for approx. 1 hour when one of our team members had a severe headache. We rested for some time till the time medicine he took can work.

While you are outdoors and especially in challenging treks like Nag Tibba you learn a lot, especially working as a team. Also, you meet new people, exchange ideas and share your thoughts. Although most of us were exhausted still almost everyone volunteered to carry the extra load and carried the bag pack he was carrying in turns. This was also the time team started interacting and knowing about each other. After hiking for another 1 hour we came across a beautiful Shepherd hut which was abandoned. The team posed there happily for photographs. Sharing one of the memory.

Shepherd : Shepherd's hut
Shepherd’s hut on Nag Tibba Trek

The trail from here is gradual and after walking for another 20-30 minutes you come across another water source. On right is the farmhouse being set by the forest department. We rested for another 5 minutes and started hiking through the rocky trail. Another 20 minutes on the trail we found some clear space which also showed like a temporary base. We were quite late as we were a bit slow. It was already approx. 4 pm by then and we agreed to set up the camp here for the day. In another 10 minutes we set up the camp, by the same time sunset happened and we witnessed one of the best sunsets.

Shepherd : Nag Tibba Camping
Setting up the camp enroute Nag Tibba

From there we could see the complete valley and witness how fast sunset happens. The entire valley looked golden orange for some time :-). Sooner we were ready with the food and did campfire and enjoyed some music. Also discovered that we had the best of people in the group. Very good storytellers, poets and comedians as well. Ended our day after listening to some horror stories 🙂

The next day we woke up and had breakfast. Since we wanted to come back after hitting the top we dumped our backpacks in the forest and started hiking further. We were a bit fast and in 2 hours reached the top. The path above was mixed with gradual walks and steep hikes. Almost every path is covered with trees above this point. You can witness the nest of nature and it’s so entertaining that you wish you could stay for a long time there.

On the way to Nag Tibba

On the way to Nag Tibba

Shepherd : Nag Devta Temple Nag Tibba
Nag Devta Temple at Nag Tibba
Shepherd : Nag Tibba Trek
Fun Time at Nag Tibba

We were running out of time so after spending some time at the top and Nag Devata Temple we headed back to Pantwari. On the way back had delicious food just above.

Nag Tibba is one of those places which are challenging and tough trails considering the fact that on half of the trail you are walking under direct sun. Still, there are perks of being in the wild that always overcomes it. Had some awesome time there, made a lot of new friends, learned new hobbies and a lot more.

P.S.: If planning for a trek please help the community by keeping the mountains clean !!

We all are travellers on this planet. Keep exploring 🙂

Shepherdtrail blog bharmour 10

Exploring the Roots…..Snapshots from an (almost) Outsider’s Travelogue

Gadheran 010

Nyagraan to Gronda (over starhsyo bridge over river Ravi)

Well….So, here I am…not refering to the piture(coz of course that’s supposed to be me otherwise what’s the point of my starting a blog if i’m nowhere to be seen,ryt????…What i mean is that i’ve got no business being here,writing a blog, for many reasons,good or bad,,,,,to begin with:

  1. I never had given starting a blog a serious thought because i’m too lazy a person and a habitual procastinator to keep updating a blog.
  2. I belong to a rare breed of ambiverts with DNA of introverts ,so sharing anything personal is nothing less than”original sin’ to them.(for it “gives them away“)
  3. I belong to a generation in India that saw a shift from audio cassettes to i-pods,Mario-Contra-Icelander-Gilli Danda to X-Box,DD1-Cable to DTH etc….and much of this advanced techno-geeky stuff just passed me by right under my nose though i gave my best to run along….and got stuck in books midway 😦 🙂
  4. Nor I’ve got no writing skills whatsoever and if the idea of “Division of Labour” even remotely holds true,then professionally also “writing” is the last thing my profession allows me to do or will allow to in the forseeable future 😉
  5. Finally,my unripe age does’nt allows me to even “think” authoritatively on any issue let alone “write‘,…..but…i like to take my chances 🙂
    Someone has once rightly said that a man has got only two reasons to do anything:
    a.) A good one
    b.) and, A real oneSo, my good one is…. I’m writing this because i want to share what was one of the great experiences of my life……and it was fun!!!!!!
    and ,my real one is/are…
    I want to get done with this “experience sharing” project ASAP and move on to attend for my current “materialistic” calling of the scheme of things…..and (perhaps the truest one is…) i want to see where those books/novels i have mugged ,things thought and seen ,in my life so far have gone.

May be i’ll write after another couple of days or months or years or may be never!!!!Who knws!!!! All this work is my personal observation/opinion ,with which some may differ.I’m open to such criticism and hold full responsibility for the same.

I dedicate this writing to the common “Gaddi Shepherd”Who , to say “THROUGH CHANCES VARIOUS and VICISSITUDES MANY ……HAS ALWAYS MADE HIS WAY…..So this writing is for “Gaddi Spirit”….Hope you enjoy it!!!!!!!

Since childhood i was intrigued by the funny sounding last name “Bharmouria” attached to my name.I was told by my parents that we belong to a tribe called “Gaddis” who used to ( and many of them still do) make their living by rearing herds of sheep and goat across the northern regions of country and who basically belong to a place called “Bharmour” in Chamba district in H.P.Gaddis call their herd as “Dhan” which obvisiouly meant wealth for them as it was their sole means of livelihood. As the time passed by i grew up not totally uninfluenced by Gaddi culture as language at home was strictly gaddi language( althugh i skipped on dat earlier but became quite fluent later), and also marriages,social functions and more importantly Gaddi folk music (We have our own version of Ramayana sung in Gaddi language!!!!) etc. kept me hooked to it.So hearing the interesting fables of Gaddis from my family and relatives….eg.How a lady scared a Pahadia (local ghost) with her wit and wisdom, glowing of mysterious lights( jaldhirs ) on the hills , tales of “Chaledaa(cunning&witty ghost)“, the gaddi who almost scaled Kailash Parvat but the last step, “Dain kund” and many such intriguing tales….I wanted to visit this mysterious sounding land since childhood but seemed like it was not in the scheme of things till last year,when,after so called completion of my higher studies i finally got the chance to visit the place.

16th July,2011:

The plan was to go to “Manimahesh” darshan first and then to Gadheran. So we started off from our home in Palampur in the early morning on 16th July,2011 towards bharmour and took a route of jot but due to heavy landslide enroute had to change the route but neverthless reached Chamba through Chuwari in the afternoon and saw it for the first time.The geographical setup of the place was clearly discernible from that of the lower himachal(mainly Kangra valley). Liked the beauty of Chamba with the Chaugan in the centre of this beautiful place and river Ravi flowing nearby but drizzle and fog kept me from capturing the real beauty.Anyway, got off the car and took some pictures and had stopped for lunch in a place known as “Chhatrari”. Moving on we reached “Kharamukh”.A place from where road to Nayagran(the last point where vehicle can go…) and Bharmour are seperated.So we headed to Bharmour through some risky roads and then finally reached Bharmour at around 3:00 P.M.The beauty of the place at once struck me and I suddenly found myself in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.(Though I run the risk of being inherently biased in my judgement but it surely was a masterpiece of nature).

Iddylic ‘Bharmour

One of the main attractions of Bharmour is the “Chauraasi Temple”, dedicated to Ganesh, Lakshmi Devi, Manimahesh and Nar Singh gods in Bharmour.According to legend, 84 (chaurasi) yogi’s visited Bharmaur, capital of King Sahil Varma. They were so pleased with the king’s humility and hospitality that they blessed him with ten sons and a daughter, Champavati.

Chaurassi Temple

It is a common practice to visit “Mata Bharmaani” temple before going to visit manimahesh.So after resting for a while we started uphill to the temple almost 1 km from the base.On the way were the houses built in old setting with “gharaals”(cowsheds) in the basement and residences above it.Children playing,apple and khumaani trees.The way to the temple is filled with a vantage point view of Bharmour city and the beautiful hills surrounding it.After sometime we reached the temple and again as the common practice we were supposed to take bath in that blood chilling water.In my 7th attempt finally I managed to dive into the pool and believe me those were the worst 3 seconds of my entre life under that cold water (even ‘cold’ is a cold word to use for that water).

Taking a dip in “holy cum Chilly waters“….

Anyways I enjoyed the experience and after offering flowers etc inside the temple headed back down to Bharmour.On the way down interacted with some people who told us that there is a”Jaatar”i.e holy pilgrimage(originated from hindi word Yatra) in the evening in the temple and the asked us to join them but as we were tired from a day long journey and also next day we had to wake up early to begin with Manimahesh Yatra,we had to decline the offer.On our way back I capture some of the local beauty through my lens.

Village Kids(Nikke-Chhuke….)
At first she was reluctant to be phographed ……….”Gaddan in Lawanchadi(Traditional Gaddi female outfit)
Gaddans in Lawanchadi on way to Bharmaani temple for Jaatar.

Finally in the evening we checked into the hotel and after a light dinner went to bed with a day full of ardous yet even more adventurous journey awaiting us.

17th July:

We woke up early at around 4:00 am and headed to “Hadsar”on car, the base from where the journey starts.Started the journey uphill exactly at around 5:00 am.The Manimahesh lake is around14-15 kms from Hadsar.Usually the yatra season begins in Mid August but still in mid july sufficient people were going for the Yatra.Our first stop was to be a place called “Dhancho”, which was around 6 kms from Hadsar.As we kept going the beauty of the trek kept us enchanted with a number of small tent-shops on the way where we halted for a break.The weather was chilly and on top of it has already started drizzling.It cant be called drizzling exactly as it was more like a barber’s water spray kind of drizzling which kept on wetting us till we reached the lake.The trek offered us with great chance to view nature’s various masterpieces and reminded us how superior are the works of nature to the works of mankind.Foggy snow cladded mountains,cattle grazing,fountains and large blocks of ice frozen over the river flowing by us was an amazing view.After taking our time we reached Dhancho.It was nice to see an almost plain area after some time of beginning the track in the morning.We halted into one of the tent shops to freshen up.Met a Saadhu-Baba there with long locks(jataayein) and he shared with us his thoughts on religion and stuff which i found quite revolutionary and opposite to the message of Peace and universal Brotherhood usually portrayed by so called “Religious Teachers(If that means anything)”.I could infer that he was not in favour of strict “Secularism” which solidified my belief in useless existence of such pretenders of “messengers of God”(another achievement of mankind)”. Anyways we had to keep moving on.On our way i came across many herbs and natural plants/flowers that are supposed to have medicinal qualities but only a few have the right eye to separate the medicinal from the poisionous ones.Also as the altitude rises one can experience difficulty in breathing due to lack of oxygen and smell of various herbs can give u a “mild high” but don’t go crazy!!!coz dear !!!U r going to the home Lord Shiva also known as Vaidyanath(The healer of Healers).So natural herbs/drugs and stuff is supposed to be commonplace there ,Is’nt??? ”

Another place of attraction was a place on the way known as “Shiv ka Gharaat”(Flour mill of lord Shiva).It’s that when you listen carefully you feel water flowing inside the rocky hill where there is no source of water and thus it is a folklore that Shiva ji had a flour mill inside this mountain.After a while we reached a place where I could see a lots of small hand made house type of structures made by the pilgrimages.It is thought that after one dies one again has to follow this path to enter the heavenly abode ,so it is a common practice to make houses for the after-death journey(Why can’t there be direct lifts instead to heaven or hell,one wonders!!!!!) So,after making our way through the scenic track,slippery Glacier and almost never ending track we finally made it to the Gauri Kund(Religious pond named after Godess Parvati ).

First View of Gauri Kund…..A sigh of relief & Joy

Gauri Kund is where you get the first Darshan of shiv-ling shaped “Kailash Parbat” but we could not yet see it due to heavy fog .Gauri kund is where women are supposed to take the holy dip, but, as generally is the case, non-following of the basic instructions by the pilgrimages like “Not littering,not throwing clothes etc in the pond” has made it a bit unhygenic.Neverthless it was very cold there and drizzling had made me wet, I was shivering with cold and “checked-into” one of the tent-shops there .After having lunch there we headed on to our final destination i.e Manimahesh Lake, where it is said that taking a dip during a particular time provides you with a one way ticket to God’s own abode.So after around 1/2 an hour we reached the lake and also by that time the fog has gone off and thus we had our first “Darshan” of the “Kailash Parbat”.

Kailash Parbat.

So after taking thee holy dip in the lake we headed back down to Hadsar,athough it is advised to stay there for a night once u go but i was not in favour of this decision and started my journey back down.Reached Hadsar back around 7:00 PM in the evening and again checked into the hotel and took a good night’s sleep as the “real journey” was yet to begin…

July 18th

Said “goodbye,c ya” to Bharmour in the morning and headed to “Nayagran” .The road seemed dangerous and adventurous at the same tyime.Neverthless reached Nayagran in the afternoon.So, i was thinking”This is Gadheran” The place seemed beautifully situated with large hills showing nearby across river Ravi. Nayagran seemed to me like any other remote village in the lower Himachal as the basic facilities of Road,water,shops and a Thekka (Liquor shop-essential in those parts ) were there.Trees were mainly of ‘Apple’ and ‘Apricot’.Anyways stayed for night there in a relative’s house.I took naps during night with “Makh“(a mosquito type of thing) giving me company throughout night.Neverthless,woke up in the morning and after managing my morning affairs and believe me management skills are tested there due to lack of basic ameneties as mention the word “Washroom” and your belonging to this planet is being doubted at.Anyways got ready to go to my Bua ji’s place ,”Chanehar”, from where i had to go to my ancestral village”Thanetar“(The main purpose behind planning the whole trip).So started on to bua ji’s village and enroute was “Laake wali maata’s” temple.There also a function of Jatar was going on with people whirling and shaking (Khela)under the influence of Godess.After offerings , we started our journey to “Chanehar”,uphill on foot,this “on foot” journey combined with my loss of appetite for next couple of days was to make me a live example of how to go from 70 to 60 on a weighing machine in 7 days.Anyways started my journey uphill and as i kept going up through various grassy fields and narrow tracks i started to get a clear and awesome view of villages situated in the opossite hills.

Villages: Helaan(left) and Bajol(Right)

After around 2 hours i reached Chanehar.Just at the beginning of the village were large apricot trees and a few apple trees .The village consisted of 6-7 houses with houses made of mud and roof covered with wood, so as to help during heavy snowfall .The village seemed quite sleepy in apperance. Already tired of the journey ,after having light lunch, i made myself comfortable on the bedding on the floor near a window outside from where i could see beautiful trees n grassy fields and also was visible a primary school about which i came to know that it only remained opened for few days in the year due to snowfall in the winters and lower student-teacher turnover throughout the year.Anyways , after having a refreshing nap,

woke up to a chilly evening with a little drizzling.The evenings in such places can turn out to be quite melancholic.Although basic facilities like Light and water are now being provided here,

its very common for light-cuts of long duration even during night making oil-lamps a necessity .During daytime light is not much needed as people are not much fond of T.V here and prefer

being busy working in the fields.Although it is a difficult task for many ,not in good health, to go work in fileds as all the work is done manually ,from cutting of crop to carrying it back up to

the house.Life,it seems,was and is hard in these parts…..anyways had a candle-light dinner and after a long chit-chat with relatives went to bed with a hope of heading off to my ancestral

village “Thanetar” next morning.

Bua Ji’s home

July 19th

Woke up to a bad weather and slight rain at around 6:00 next morning.As the journey to thanetar on foot was to take somewhere around 3-4 hours , going there in a rain was not advisable as the terrain could be slippery and we did’nt had much idea about the condition of the terrain.So , had to cancel the plans going there.Spent the whole day exploring the village after the rain stopped.In the evening a we were apprised by a villager who was coming from Thanetar’s side that the terrain is not in that bad a condition and that we can make it tomorrow morning if weather is on our side.With a positive hope i went to bed.

July 20th

As i woke up next morning it was still drizzling,bu after waiting for an hour or two weather started to get clear and we started off our journey uphill to “Thanetar“.This was in real sense an “Uphill” journey as the hill was almost straight and it took us around 45 mins to reach halfway of the top,from where we had to take a route in slanting direction.There was a small temple of local deity “Naarsingh”(half man-half lion) made of mud-bricks and wood there.After taking rest there,we continued with our journey through one of the beautiful and unexplored terrain i’d ever seen or will see in my life.

Making our way through such a beautiful place, we came across a herd of some deer like animals .They were quick in running and disappeared behind the trees after they heard our footsteps.Some places were very dense with trees and bushes etc. Saw various plants and their uses as food or medicine.Although animals like “bear” are a common sight around these areas we did’nt came across any,although here’s something i almost stepped over…….. 😉

It seemed like a never ending journey,till i first saw the glimpse of Thanetar village.The houses were barely visible.But the scenery was mesmerising.

Taking some rest en route….The hills seen are known as “Paandav ban”

Being There: Journey is the Reward.

So finally after after half an hour,i reached my “Destination”,…”Thanetar” village.After crossing the brook we entered the village .The path was covered with long grass(Tilfar), so had to make use of sticks to make way .The village was made of six houses,that’s it!!!!!!and those too were in debilitating condition.Now nobody lived there.Only Shepherds passing bye make it there halting place(Dera) for a night or two. Mom told me that long ago there used to be more than 20 houses in the village and more than 250 people residing there,although I found it hard to believe.

So,anyways ,finally, ‘Thanetar “,There it was…. lying sleepily, like an old person,whose existence, long forgotten by its children whom it has nurtured so dearly when it was young and full of vigour.Provided them with shelter,a place to play together,grow up together, learn to live together so that they could cherish those memories later together…..although knowing well somewhere deep inside its heart that it’ll have to let go of them at some point of time,as parents usually have to…..but for their own good.So called Laws of nature are cruel and imperative at the same time.There are no compromises there.None.

Being there….”Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto” (If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here)

Channi Bhagwati (Kul Devi)

On the top of the village lies the temple of Kul Devi-Channi Mata.First thing we did was to visit the temple.Offered flowers and parsad and prayed.

Waqt Rehta nahi kahin tik kar……………Iski Aadat Bhi Aadmi si hai

It is so hard to believe that life bloomed here once.People lived there.Did farming.Families grew up.Sang songs.Weaved dreams.Cried.Laughed .Thought things.Saw things.Helped each other.Danced.Had ideas about life.Shared.Fought.Loved…Lost….………..and all this while…..time moved on.….doing what it does the best…..Destroying and Recreating things………..

Surprisingly,after such a long and labourious journey i was’nt hungry a bit.Anyways we had lunch nearby under an apricot tree and chatted for a while.While having lunch a bird came and sat on rooftop of one of the houses.May be it had seen people coming there after a long time.I was reminded of one very beautiful couplet of Bahadur Shah Jafar:

Ik Shakh-E-Gul Pe Baith Ke Bulbul He Shadman
Kante Bicha Diye He Dil-E-Lalazar Mein,
Umr-E-Daraz Mang Ke Laye The Char Din
Do Arzu Men Kat Gaye Do Intezar Mein,
Din Zindagi Ke Khatm Hue Sham Ho Gayi
P’haila Ke Paon Soyen-Ge Kunj-E-Mazaar Mein ….”

After resting for sometime,it was now time to say goodbye to the place as it was getting cloudy and usually the evenings set in quite fast in these places and getting stuck here during night was not a good idea,believe me!!!!!!

So , with heavy hearts we bid bye to the village and started our journey back.

On this brook lied a Flour Mill(Gharaat) ,once run by Daada ji

Last Panoramic view of Thanetar

So that’s almost it!!!!!

After returning back i headed to see rest of the Gadheran .Went back to Nyagran.From there to Kharudu.It was a also a beautiful place set near River Ravi furiously flowing nearby.Spent 2 days here and headed to next destination. i.e Grondaa village.

Kharudu…Mamaji’s shop and house…The road leads to ‘Bara Bhangaal”Village….The origin of River Ravi

Ropeway over Ravi(Would’nt suggest this ..for the heavyweighted and light hearted)…. Although two ropes should be used instead of one, but despite of a casualty once, the administration could’nt care less…

View of village Gronda from Dangi-MaataTemple….On the Hill across is Village”Dhaarar“…The road ahead of Dhaarar leads to Village “Khanaar” and then to “Baraa Bhangaal”….behind which lies “Kullu Valley..

 Dangi Maata temple

Would like to add the folklore behind this temple.”Dangi” is name of a dance type performed by women(Gaddans) here.It is like they they dance in a circle rotating and revolving and singing along as they dance.As the story goes, once in some function during “Dangi” as the women were dancing and singing,they were forgetting the stanzas of the folk songs and one lady dancing among them started reminding them wherever they forgot the lines.This happened many times and just as the “Dangi” was about to finish, the lady had dissappeared.Hence,the name”Dangi-Wali maata“.

Some more pics:

After coming back from Gronda,Last stop of the trip was village “Bajol” ,in maama ji’s home.Everywhere we went some things were common like great hospitality,apple and apricot trees,desi liquor(jhol,chatki & sur) and non-veg food,….and believe me if u are a pure-vegetarian and a Teetotaler (just like me) u’ve got no business whatsoever here (or Nowhere,if some experts are to be believed 🙂 )

So,friends thats it!!!!!!! That was all about one of the most exciting,remarkable and unforgetful experiences of my life.All of it has been like a dream of some distant past.

On an ending note,I want to confess that i was trying to keep myself from writing an “ending note”, because ending notes are supposed to have a ‘melancholic’,’advisory’ and ‘goodbye’ kind of undertones…and i’m not sure i’m ready for either of it.Still, I could’nt stop myself from writing one,,,, for reasons unknown to even my own self…..I’d like to venture a little on two extremes I found prevalant there…that is,,” Underfocused education and Overemphasised religious practices“. I know this writing,for obvious reasons of inaccesibility, may not reach for a long-long time to come…. “to a farmer working in the some remote hilly field in Bharmour’ or “a kid in Bajol’s school who has just began to learn to read and write” or “a Gaddi Shepherd sitting alone in some distant mountain-top along with his herd”,,,,but i want this writing to reach to the common Gaddi people who now have the means,, administration related people who are in a position to bring change by providing basic infrastructure,subsidies,farming implements,fair wool prices etc to that farmer and shepherd,,,,or to the teacher teaching that school kid, who , the least he can do is make that child understand and realise the importance of dreams and give wings to his dreams and not cut them instead.What’s the importance and meaning of the success and progress that is’nt shared and which is unable to uplift others.Such success is fundamentally bound to be transitory.History of mankind stands witness to that.

On second extreme,,,Ignorance is bliss…..but being ignorant/unaware for long may let darkness to prevail for so long that it may turn you blind to even a hint of light coming your way.Our faith is symbolic and it is very easy and obvious to get stuck in the symbols and miss the underlying point.As it would have been very difficult for early humans to verbally explain and make other person understand what “hate”,”love”,”power”,”proud”, etc. are, these were transformed in human like figures so as to make people associate,understand and inculcate such concepts for good….hence,the gods we worship are Anthropomorphisation” of such qualities ,good or bad,inherent in us which gave rise to the Vedic concept of “That art Thou” (“Tat twam Asi“). I’d like to conclude this writing with these wordings of a famous Gaddi folk song,which is dedicated to the Shivji in everyone of you :

Ak araj meri hor hunne,Andhyaan jo Lochan Laayein……Bholeya bo Saamiya”.( O innocent lord Shiva!!! Please listen to one more request of mine ” Give light to the eyes of the blind….So that they can see…………again”!!!!!!!!!!)

Triund Trek Blog - Shepherdtrail 3

How trekking to “Triund” helped me build a long lasting relationship with treks ?

Starting my own blog was on my bucket list for quite a long time and what’s best than starting with almost every trekking enthusiast’s (at least most I know) first trek “Triund”.

Although Triund is a day hike and most people who are older into the trekking game won’t consider this as a proper trek still it is the best trek to enjoy and build a long-lasting relationship with treks if you are a newbie in Trekking and want to test something easy before bringing your game. Before we go further let me take you through my experience of the Triund trek.

Triund Trek is a beginner trek and one of the famous day hike around Dharamshala. Also it is famous among anyone coming to Mecleodganj or Bhagshu Nag.

Well, it was October 2014 when a friend called for the trek. I was working in Chandigarh and reaching Dharamshala was just a night’s journey. There was not much Volvo/Deluxe service available. I and my friend boarded an overnight Dehradun Depot bus from Chandigarh and reached early in morning at Dharamshala bus stand.

If you have to reach Dharamshala there are multiple options available these days. There are overnight bus service available from Delhi/Chandigarh or you can board a direct flight to Dharamshala. Alternatively you can come by train till Pathankot from where you can board a bus/cab till Dharamshala. It’s 4 hour journey by bus from Pathankot.

So in the morning, we were accompanied by my school friends, Sharad (master g), Gopal and Ranju. We were meeting after a long time (precisely 9 years). There was this excitement of meeting good old friend and also going on the first trek.

We sat together for some time and headed to Mcleodganj from where we collected our camping gears.

If you want to go for Triund trek you can reach Macleodganj from where you can hire a guide/porter or you can also book a complete package from any agency. There are multiple agencies operating at Macleodganj which can help you for this trek.

Finally, we started our hike to Triund. To be honest the moment we started the hike I was filled with a different energy. Also, the idea of going on a hike with my school friends added joy to it. On the way, we talked about our hostel days which we spent together.

On the way to Triund, you will see a lot of porters, mules and group treks being organized by different agencies. One this which is very good about this trek is the landscapes you will see on the trek. You can see the entire Dharamshala (Kangra Valley) from the trek and also from Triund top. If you are someone who loves to trek in peace and don’t enjoy much company this is just not the kind of trek you should take. If you want to hike in peace you may have to stretch a bit beyond Triund to Ilaka cave or Indrahar pass.

So after a walk of 30 mins, we took our first halt. Since most of us were not into treks we got a bit exhausted at the moment. So we thought of taking a quick break. Another 45 minutes onto the trek we took our second halt.

 

Triund Trek Blog - Shepherdtrail

Enjoying the views on Triund Trek | Oct’14

We started hiking again and after hiking for approx 2 hours we finally reached Triund top. The trek is gradually inclined except for the last stretch which is bit steep and a bit challenging. We were a bit exhausted by the time we reached Triund but after reaching there we almost forgot all the tiredness.

If you go to Triund on a weekend you will find it just like another picnic spot. Since it was also Dussehra there were a lot of groups gathered at Triund. After we set up our camp we enjoyed the company of a lot of people. Sunsets at Triund are an absolute delight and something which you should never miss. People were enjoying themselves throughout the night. Entire Kangra valley is visible from Triund at night and it looks like flashing stars on the ground. It’s just like watching the lights from an aeroplane.

As far as I know, camping is not allowed on Triund top when I am writing this blog so do check before you’re planning to hike and camp at Triund. Night at Triund are bit chilly and night temperature falls drastically so don’t forget to carry warm layers.

The other best part which I liked about Triund is the morning at Triund. If you are there don’t miss watching the sunrise. It is just a delight to watch. You can see the sun rising from just another peak and then illuminating the entire valley. Sunrises in hills are a bit early so do set an alarm before you go to sleep.

Just before sunrise, we decided to climb a bit to see the Triund top and below is the picture which we captured.

Triund Trek Blog - Shepherdtrail1

Morning view at Triund

After sunrise Triund turned into a happening place. There was a lot happening with people doing yoga, chilling cuddling and a lot. We enjoyed the morning tea and let our camp dry a bit. After that, we clicked a few pictures and headed back to Macleodganj.

Triund Trek Blog - ShepherdTrail2

Mornings at Triund

If you may ask me it’s the journey and feeling of being there which filled me with love for trails and after that, I decided to explore different trails. I am still on the quest to visit as many as trails I can visit.

So planning for Triund hike? Do comment/message in case you have any queries. Do let me know your thoughts about this trek.

If you have been there don’t forget to share your own experience.

Back to Top
Product has been added to your cart