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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

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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).

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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 😃.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

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.

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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.

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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!!!!

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When you reach Summit!

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

Campshala Blog - Churdhar Trek Banner

All you need to know about Churdhar Trek

If you are around Chandigarh and want to go for a nearby trek then Churdhar trek is the best trek near Chandigarh. Churdhar is the highest peak in Sirmour district and also the highest peak in the outer Himalayas and offer a 360-degree view of the Himalayas. This trek is surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary. The total covered area of this sanctuary is 56.16 square kilometres as notified on 15 November 1985 (Wikipedia). This is a holy place related to Shri Shirgul Maharaj (Chureshwar Maharaj), a deity widely worshipped in Sirmour and Chaupal. Trek is a bit challenging at a few points and you may need to prepare for this in advance. You may find how to prepare for a Himalayan trek here.

Since you will not find anything on the trek you should carry every essential for this trek. We find many first time trekkers feeling exhausted due to steep hikes but they stay motivated since you can see a peak right in front of your eyes. Once you reach the top you will see a 360-degree view of the Himalayan range. The view is worth hiking and you definitely get relieved and relaxed after reaching the top. It’s a reward for all the hard work.

How to Reach

Churdhar trek starts from Noradhar which is approachable by road. Noradhar is 134 km from ISBT Sector 43, Chandigarh. Alternatively, you can come by Air or by Train till Chandigarh from where you can take go by road till Noradhar.

Things to keep in mind before attempting Churdhar Trek.

  • There are very few water sources on the trek so keep enough water for the trek.
  • There is no tea stall / dhaba on the way so carry enough food.
  • The last stretch is a bit inclined if you take a shorter path.
  • There is a Sarai at the temple where you can stay for the night by paying nominal charges.
  • Mobile network is not available on most of the trek except a few points.

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.

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