“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
It’s been quite some time since I had made this trip, but couldn’t have shared the experience. As it is said, “it is never too late”. Last year(2016) when I was at Delhi for my internship, I had utlized 6/8 weekends in exploring the nearby places in and around Delhi. McLeoganj and trek to Ilaka Got via Triund was one of those six trips. The trip was for a span of only two days and it was a solo trip.
- Duration: 2 days
- Budget: INR 3500 (Including transport from New Delhi)
How to Reach:
A lot of buses ply to Dharmasala and McLeodganj from ISBT, Delhi. I boarded the Himachal State Transport(HRTC) Volvo AC Bus (these govt. Buses are indeed good !) around 6:15 PM on a Friday evening from ISBT, New Delhi. The ticket price was around INR 700 after applying some discount coupons on Paytm. I met Sam here who was sitting just by my side and was on a world tour. He was going to stay for a month at Mcleodganj and then had plans to explore the North-east region of India. He had just completed his studies and before going into a full-fledged business; he decided to explore the world. The benefit of solo travel is that you get to meet a lot of travellers like this and get to know their motivating story. The bus reached Dharmasala around 6AM and McLeodganj around 6:45 AM.
Trek to Ilaka Got via Triund:
Before setting out, I had carried out a preliminary research on the area and had contacted a tour operator who was organizing trek to Ilaka Got at a cost of INR 2500 per head. But I hadn’t booked any. When I got off at McLeodganj bus stop, I came across a board “Himalayan Treks” (just near the tea shop at McLeodganj bus stop). As it was early morning, there was noone except a local who was sleeping on a bench there. When I talked to him, I got to know that he was a trek guide(Vijay – +91-7831804538) and he agreed to take me till Ilaka Got(including Food + Accommodation) for just INR 1500. But as I was the only person, he told to wait for some other trekkers till 10 AM and if noone woould turn up, then he agreed to take me only.
I walked towards the market and from there walked down a bit till I found a reasonable hotel. As it was a Saturday, the road was filled with school kids waiting for their pick up bus. A lot of hookers were asking for hotel stay on the way, but I preferred bargaining with the hotel directly and finally fixed a deal of 2 hr stay(for refreshments only) for just a price of INR 200. I took a quick snap and was ready for the exploration around 9 AM. The view from the hotel was refreshing and picturesque. The entire McLeodganj was basking in the golden ray of morning sun.
I explored the market area, had breakfast and went to the guide around 10:30 AM. On the way, I came across this small, but beautiful temple which is situated within the market area.
Unfortunately or fortunately, there wasn’t sign of any other trekker. So he agreed to take me alone. I had aimed for Indraahar pass(14765 feet) which was a 5-6 days trek. In two days, it was impossible to cover Indraahar pass. So I settled with Ilaka Got(11800 feet) which is also a 3 day trek. Had I had one more day, I would have gone for Indraahar Pass definitely. I had to complete it in 2 days due to lack of time. The journey started at 11 AM.
Drop off till the starting point of trek(Gunadevi Temple) was provided by the tour operator. I had kept all the unnecessary luggage at the tour operator office to increase my walking pace and had taken only the essential ones. The trek to Triund started around 11:30 AM. The path was passing through a thick jungle. The view was getting better with each step. A lot of fellow trekkers were on the same path, a few were just sitting on the lush green grass and were enjoying the picturesque beauty. The path is extremely well-marked and there is no chance of someone getting lost, in case someone is travelling alone. There weren’t much water sources on the way. After around one hour of trek, we reached Magicview cafe from where entire Dharmasala and Kangra valley was visible(including the cricket ground).
We took a short break and continued the journey. The route was filled with rhodendron trees. We reached at Triund(10,000 feet) around 2:15 PM. It started drizzling the moment we reached there. We rushed into one of the Maggie shops there and enjoyed our lunch. Hot Rajma-Chawal and pickle in that chilling weather was a bliss.
The sky got cleared in 15 mins and I went out and explored the vicinity. It was a long stretch of lush green field(bugyal) and the slight pour of rain had made the sky clear. A group of foreigners were playing guitar and enjoying the awesome weather to the fullest. A duo of Belgium beauty were relaxing on a piece of rock in awe of the gigantic snow-clad mountain standing in front of them. A few trekkers were setting up their tents. Tents are available on rent here. The higher you’ll go, the costlier the food will get. A bottle of water was INR 60 here and a plate of Maggie around INR 100.
Though my heart was saying to stay for a little more time, the mind was against it. We had to reach Ilaka Got before the sun set. So with a heavy heart, we started for Ilaka got. After ascending for around 15 mins, I got a better view of Triund. It was believed that the entire Dharmasala town is built on a pond and any tectonic vibration may result in sinking of the town. Now there is also work in progress to connect a rope-way directly from McLeodganj till Triund. I was doing a two days’ trek in a day. And the path was mostly steep at the beginning. The guide was walking very fast as it was a daily routine for him, but for me it was getting difficult to keep pace with. On top of that, there was hardly any source of water on the way. After an hour of walk, I was so exhausted that I would have slept on the road given the chance. But the path was getting more scenic and greener.
The last stretch was mostly flat. Then we came across another Maggie point. The shopkeeper seemed to be a friend of the guide. They started chit chatting and a laid down on those lush green grass. Clear blue sky was up above my head and snow-clad Dhauladhar mountain in front of me. The campsite of Ilaka got was visible from here, but there were still miles to go.
We moved ahead. For the first time, I heard the sound of water stream; but it was way below. The half-rotten body of a horse was laying down below. The guide told that the horse got a heart attack two days back due to overburden of luggage. Once the campsite comes in sight, the distance seems to fade away. Finally, we reached the campsite around 5:30 PM and I took a sigh of relief.
A group of trekkers were returning from Indraahar pass when we reached Ilaka got. They showed the pictures of Indraahar pass and it was tempting to pay a visit there; but I hardly had time. After a short break, I went out and explored the surrounding. There was still some snow by the side of the camp. There is a cave named Lahesh cave around 1 hr away from Ilaka got, but the route is treacherous and filled with boulders. So I skipped exploring that as it would be difficult returning to Ilaka got in dark. Moreover, the path is extremely steep and I wasn’t in a condition to climb till the cave after such a long trek. Once the sun went down the horizon, cold breeze and chillness got a grip over my body.
But it was time for some fun. We were three there: the guide, the cook and myself. I took out two bottles of beer from my backpack that I had carried all this way for this auspicious moment. I put those into the snow beside the camp and we started to make a campfire. But the wind was so cold that it was hardly bearable to sit outside. So we made the campfire inside the dining tent, yeah not recommended. 15 mins was enough to chill the beers in those super chilled weather. I handed them one and made myself cosy beside the fire. After a while, they both started telling me folk stories of their community and of their locality. The talk went on across a time frame of past, present and future. After an hour or two, we finally decided to have dinner and went to bed. The sky out was crystal clear with millions of stars twinkling to the tune of the universe.
Next morning, I woke up around 7:30 AM, had breakfast and started our return journey. The return journey was pretty smooth and comfortable. We reached Gunadevi temple around 11:30am. The guide dropped me at McLeodganj market around 12 noon. I had booked JAT MURI ROU Express (18110) from Pathankot railway station which was scheduled at 11;45 PM. Pathankot is the nearest railway station from McLeodganj which is around 90km away. So I decided to explore McLeodganj till evening.
Things to Do at Mcleodganj:
I fixed a deal with an auto driver to cover the top tourists places nearby within 4 hours for INR 500.
Church of St. John in Wilderness:
This spooky church is situated just a km away from the McLeodganj bus stop. The building is bit old and stands tall among tall trees. An evening visit to this place will surely tickle your adventurous appetite.
This is not a big lake, but the ambience around the place is serene. You can take a walk around the lake. There is a temple beside the lake.
Dalai LamaTemple (Namgyal Monastery):
This is just a stone’s throw away from the market. The place is extremely peaceful and serene. You’ll get to see a lot of Tibetan monks here. Most of the people were engrossed in reading holy books and praying.
This is just next to Dalai lama temple. The history of Mcleodganj and Tibet is well-documented here. You’ll get to know all the struggle and war these people have gone through in the past.
Naddi View point:
This is just a few km away from Mcleodganj city. The view of the Kanga valley from here is astounding. Some part of the trail of the trek was also visible from here.
Though I couldn’t visit this place due to lack of time and this is one of the top tourists spots at Mcleodganj.
Mcleodganj is an awesome place to get some fresh air from the hustle bustle and boredom of life. A lot of foreigners come and stay here for a month and more. The place is lively and refreshing. Hope I will have to pay another visit to this awesome place to complete the unfinished activity of Indraahar pass trek. See you soon Mcleodganj !