Karol Tibba | Pandava Caves | Most Untouched and underrated trail in Solan near Chandigarh | Complete Guide
First thing first, I want to be straight here that if you are looking for a day hike near Chandigarh which is untouched, raw, challenging, deep and well-preserved then you should definitely visit Karol Tibba. I think Karol Tibba is the most underrated day hike in Solan, Himachal Pradesh. Here is the brief information about the trail.
Karol Tibba and Pandava Cave history:
Legends reveal that this age-old cave exists from the times of the Mahabharata. Interestingly, the epic’s closing scene was at Pinjore (near Kalka). Let’s pick up the legend’s familiar threads: When the five Pandavas overcame the 100 sons of blind Dhritarashtra, the region from Hastinapur (one of Delhi’s old names) to Panchpura (place of five Pandavas, as Pinjore was then called), became part of their newly recreated kingdom.
The Pandavas rested here during their agyatvaas (exile). As Shakuni (Kaurava’s maternal uncle) desired to burn them alive, he built a house of lacquer (lakshagrih) for the Pandavas.
However, “When Bhisham Pitamah learnt of this treachery, he had a long cave dug from Panchpura to Karol Mountain.” He thus helped Pandavas to escape through this tunnel — like cave to Karol, where they stayed for five years.
Lore says that Karol Tibba (grassy mounds) is a fragment of Mount Kailash. When Hanuman was flying with the Kailash Mountain in his hand, a part of it fell down here. Since Kailash Mountain is said to contain healing herbs, undeniably they are continuing this legacy in Karol Mountain. Interestingly, one of Karol’ peaks is believed to resemble famed Shimla’s Jakhu peak.
Karol Mountain contains natural uncovered water tanks called johar, which are prone to contamination. Strangely, Paharis safely drink rain johar-stored water as herbal leaves blown by winds in johar, prevent bacteria formation in it.
Also a habitat of wildlife and flaming rhododendrons, Karol Mountain’s mystique of hidden Pandava cave remains unsolved.
Information Source: Tribune
Karol Tibba Trek Distance: The total distance is around 10KM if you go straight to Karol Temple first from the Chambaghat side and then go to the cave and return.
Best Time to Visit: Avoid monsoon and winters
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Travel to the Karol Tibba Trek base: The trek starts from Chmbaghat in Solan. If you are travelling from Chandigarh towards the Shimla side then just after crossing Solan you will arrive at Chambaghat from where the trek starts.
I was planning to do a trek as I wasn’t on any trek for a long time so I thought of starting again with a day hike. I posted in the Chandigarh Trekking Club group about the same and got a response wherein a few other trekkers also wanted to hike the trail. DJ (Devijung) also joined for the hike. DJ runs a gadget rental business (Viknick) in Chandigarh, you can find hiking gears here. He is Nomad stuck in the city life, who loves to travel a lot!
We started our ride from Chandigarh around 6 AM. By 8 AM we were at Chamaghat where we parked our car and started our hike. The initial path leading to the trail is very tricky.
So when you start hiking from Chambaghat you need to hike towards Gurudwara. After you hike for a few meters you need to keep right till you reach this Gurudwara.
Once you cross the gurdwara you need to follow the trail on left.
A few minutes into the trail you will be on the raw trail which goes straight to the Karol Tibba.
Once you ross this rough patch you will find this properly brick laid path which is used by the villagers for commuting daily to Chambaghat.
Alternatively, you can drive to Basal village from where you can start the trek (But you will miss the awesome initial trail). From the initial trek, you can see the Chambaghat and Solan city and also the road leading to Shimla.
There are few plain areas perfect for camping though I am not sure if locals allow camping here as this is part of the path taken by locals every day.
Once you finish the initial trek you reach the Basal village and you will find a road here. From here you need to follow the trail just next to the house. The trail from this point is a bit open and you will face the sun directly over your head. There are not many trees before you reach the cafe. We took a short break just before the cafe.
Right after the cafe, you will start getting into the open trail wherein you will have more sun-facing right above your head for approx 500-600 mtrs. There are beautiful meadows from where you will see beautiful views. These are grasslands from where locals get grass for winters. The grass is dried and is then stored in the cow sheds for the winters.
Once you cross these meadows you will get into the final part of the trail which is in dense forest. The tempertrure drops down one you enter this part of the Jungle. From here you just need to follow the trail which goes straight to the top.
Once you reach the top you will see the beautiful “Karol Temple”. From temple you can see the Solan as well as Shimla Valley.
We sat in the temple for a few minutes and enjoyed the beauty around. The atmosphere at the temple is altogether different. Found this story written at the temple.
We finally started moving back to the city and s per plan we started our journey toward Pandava Caves. When you are coming back from the temple, just 20 meters from the temple you will find another trail on left which leads to the Pandava Caves. The Jungle here is very dense and you need to keep following the trail. Pandava Caves is at around 1-1.5 km distance from the temple.
On the way, we found a few families who were visiting the temple from the Pandava caves side. Pandava Cave is another attraction on this trail. Once you reach the caves you will find this beautiful temple just next to the cave.
Just behind the temple is the cave. The cave is very deep and dark. We went inside for approx 20-30 mtrs and it was very dark. The torch lights from our smartphones were of no use inside the cave. We used 3-4 smartphones together to see inside the cave. The more you go inside the cave the more narrow it becomes.
The cave is generally opened to the general public but is closed during night and rainy seasons and on some special occasions.
From the temple, we went back on the same trail and just 20 meters from the temple we followed a trail on the left which heads back to Chambaghat (Solan). The trail is trickier and we lost our way multiple times here. You should have enough time before sunset if you want to hike down through here as the jungle is very dark at certain points here.
We thought that we have almost lost our way back before we arrives at this temple from where we followed another trail which goes down to the village.
Some more time into the trail and we came across this building and grass ground.
Just next to the building you need to take the narrow trail which goes down towards the Village.
The village is having 3-4 houses and a lot of fertile grounds where villagers grow vegetables which they sell in the city. I think this is the main source of income for these villagers. After village you will find a well-paved trail which goes towards the Chambaghat. The Solan city is clearly visible from this point.
We were back by afternoon and then we headed back to Chandigarh. I am definitely thinking about visiting this trail again and for next time will camp for a night.
Things to keep in mind before attempting the Karol Tibba trek.
- There is one tea stall on the trek after the village however it is not operational throughout the year. Please check the cafe status (9816870535) if you are thinking about using any service.
- Mobile network is available intermittently on most of the trek. I placed a video call from the top and it went superfine.
- There are no stay options throughout the trek. It is recommended to carry your camping gear or hire an agency to manage your stay and food needs.
- Water sources are not available on the trek except at Pandava Caves. Carry enough water for the trek.
- Trek is a bit challenging at a few points and you may need to prepare for this in advance.
- If you are doing this trek during winters please carry trekking and snow gear.
If you are planning for the trek and want to hire camping/trekking equipment you can rent it out at Chandigarh from Viknick .
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