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Har ki Dun Trek- A Picturesque Route to Tranquility

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

This is the second post of my HKD Trek. To check the first post Click here Har Ki Dun Trek – Part I

“ Wake up ! Everybody WAKE UP !!” No, that wasn’t an alarm. That was Dushyant’s wake up call.It was the D-day. I slipped out of my sleeping bag and stretched up a little bit. Then I checked my watch and felt amazed at finding even the minute hand and hour hand stretching up at 1800 .Ofcourse the minute hand facing north and the hour hand facing south. I zipped out the camp and found Shravan, the local guide, standing just outside the camp with morning tea. That was the best luxury we had at those 10,000+ feet up there and in those freezing temperature.  Then I gulped down one full bottle of water. It was not the thirst, but the necessity of the body. There were a number of water streams near-by; but taking a bath was out of question. I couldn’t dare to change my clothes, forget about taking a bath. By 7AM, breakfast was ready: Poha, cake with honey, boiled egg and hot milk. The food was very delicious and yummy. All thanks to the Indiahikes cooking-team. We packed our lunch and got ready to touch the HKD summit.

The trekking line up was very systematic. Normally, there are two experienced people/guides at both end of the line: sweeper at the back, guide at the front. And the rest of the crew move in between so that there is least chance of being misled. Apart from this, one has to ensure that he/she can see the next person ahead of him/her and at the same time he/she must be within the visible range of the person behind him/her.

Kalkatiyadhaar to Har ki Dun:

Har ki dun campsite is a 4km journey from Kalkatiyadhaar, but time taking due to heavy ascend and presence of snow in the route. There was a stiff ascend just at the beginning of the journey. And when you are climbing with a 12kg backpack, the distance seems longer.  It’s moment like this when you get a feel of the gravity.

After climbing up for around 20 minutes, the view of HKD peak just got clearer. The route was so scenic that you’d feel like sitting there for some time and enjoying the beauty.

But time is a bitch and everybody has to obey its rule. After another 20 minutes of walk, there came another small waterfall. There was a small dhaba beside that. One thing that amazed me was that the dhabawala was keeping the cold-drinks dipped inside the water-stream to keep it chilled. A natural fridge. 🙂  There we filled up our water-bottles, took some photos and moved ahead.

A Shot I Longed for...

There was a small wooden bridge after that and a bit of ascending. After this ascend, the route was flat for next 2 km. Snow-covered white mountains at the right side , greener grass beneath and spotless blue sky up above. Then we entered into an area full of cherry-blossom trees. This looked like a red-blanket upon those green grass and white snows. If there is a dreamland, this is it.

Cherry Blossom Tree

After crossing this, I was at an open area. There was a big rock at the left. Sandeep, Shravan , Devesh were sitting there. This must be our lunch point. Though technically Shravan was showing us the path, but for most of the time Sandeep was ahead of him. We waited there for others. The next person to reach was Anandi followed by other menon family members. And at last the group of girls. The last person to reach was always fixed. There wasn’t any deviation in that position. It was always Jyothi. She was the tortoise of our group; slow and steady, but a winner. We had our lunch there. By the time, we were resuming the journey, it started raining like small tiny snow-balls. We put on our poncho and moved ahead. That poncho was giving a devil like ghost look.

After walking for a few minutes, we came across lots of snow. It was fresh and soft. That first step on the snow will always remain special. I was very careful while walking on the snow. Because one wrong step and bhussssh…. You are in deep snow till your knee or even waist. The trick is to step on a step-mark that somebody has already stepped in. After walking through those snow for 30 more minutes, I got a glimpse of the campsite. The location of the campsite was a marvelous one.

HKD Campsite

HKD Campsite

View from the HKD camp

View from HKD camp

The mules couldn’t move ahead. So the camp was set just at a 100m distance from the Har ki Dun site. Just when I reached the camp, it started snowing. I got into the camp and waited for others to reach. It was around 2:30 PM.

Everybody reached the camp in next 30 minutes and started playing. They were throwing snow-balls at each other. Shravan was catching the snowballs thrown at him and re-throwing at the same person.

In the mean time, Anandi and Angad created one master-piece of a snowman.

Supercool Snowman with its creators

Supercool Snowman with its creators

Tea and soup were ready by that time. Everybody enjoyed the hot cup of soup. We moved to the HKD point then which was just a 2-minute walk-away. We reached the point where HKD valley and Swargarohini 1,2 were clearly visible.

The Final Step to HKD

 

HKD Valley & Swargarohini Peak

 

Dushyant briefed on its history. Swargarohini is the same mountain from which Yudhisthir had climbed to Swarg. As per facts, no human has yet able to climb this peak. We took a few group photos and everybody returned.

The HKD Groupie

The HKD Groupie

Anandi & Jovina

But I, Angad & Sunayana planned to climb down to the HKD valley. But we can see a fierce rain coming our way. Though I hadn’t taken poncho, still I took a risk. But Shravan denied and talked us out of it. And it started snowing heavily, just when we reached the camp. There was nothing to do. So everybody gathered in the dining tent for some games. And Dumb charades began. It was fun. A few hot nos were “The shawshank Redemption”, “Pakija”, “Jajantrum Mumuntrum” etc. It was dinner time when the game finished. The atmosphere was getting cooler and cooler. I had my dinner, brought a bottle of hot water and slipped into my sleeping bag.

Next day , we started the journey a bit early as it was a to and fro journey. The destination was maninda lake. We had to make our own route as there weren’t any. And add to that it was all covered in snow. Prakash and Shravan were  making the way and we were following. The route was very treacherous, but scenic.

It felt like walking on a soft white blanket of snow.

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As I hadn’t carried any day-pack, so I was sharing with Sandeep. After walking for two hours through the snow, we came across a small pond like area. But nobody could believe it to be the Maninda lake. As the only person who already have been there was Shravan and he was far behind at that moment. There were hardly any footstep marks ahead of that. So everybody settled there and waited for the others to reach. I and Anirban moved ahead a bit to take some photos and then a little ahead and then a little more ahead.

We could see everybody sitting at the same position and resting.

We waited for 10 more minutes. Only one more living being joined us by that time. It was Fifi- the local dog who accompanied us the whole trek. There was a straight stretch of snow in front of us at least around 3 km. And at the end of the visible sight, we could see a turn of a valley. We thought of reaching that point or till we came across maninda lake. We  moved ahead and ahead. In between we were stopping by to click some photos.

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Then  we lost the sight of our trek-group. But we weren’t coming back. Then I remembered I had Sandeep’s bag with me. His watter bottle and other belongings were in it. I thought of returning, but with the same effort I could reach our marked destination. And once I returned back, I couldn’t come again this far. So finally we decided upon moving ahead till 11:30 AM, because then it’d take 3 more hours to return back assuming  a 25% increase in speed. We walked and walked and walked till we could. The snow was totally virgin-snow. There weren’t any mark of foot-steps. Totally pure white untouched snow. At one point, we found out that we couldn’t move ahead. There was not any trail or path beyond that. Not at least visible to us. The maninda taal was still out of our sight. So we sat there on a small stone, took out our refreshments: Orange and Biscuits. After having those, we regained some energy to walk back. And we started the return journey. After walking for 30 mins, we heard a sound. Anirban thought it was a wolf or something. We looked everywhere, but there was not any in sight. After walking around 30 more minutes, we came across Dushyant moving in our direction in search of us. Just the sight of him, charged me up. He told us that it was Badassu pass route and we had covered almost half of it. He also told that that small pond like thing was Maninda lake 😛

@Maninda Lake

 

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Had he been with us, then we could have marched ahead. But it was also the first time for him of coming this far. Then we returned back to the camp and reached at around 2:15 PM. Everybody was sleeping after having a hearty lunch. We had our lunch and got some rest.

In the evening, I, Anirban and Sam went to explore the HKD valley. We climbed down to the valley and went near the water-stream to take some photos.

HKD Valley

 

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After some time, I saw a rain moving in our direction. So packed up and returned. I was the only person who was not wearing any rain-coat or waterproof jacket. So literally I had to run till the campsite. Maggi was ready when I reached the camp. Add to that hot delicious soup with papad. Then I took some rest in the camp. At around 7PM, we had dinner and went to sleep.

Har Ki Dun to Puani Garaat via Kalkatiyadhaar :

The return journey started the next day. We started early as we had a long distance to cover i.e. around 11km. We passed through the same snow, meadows, water-streams and bridges. Descending was fun. “A cake-walk in a park”- as per Anandi. We had our lunch break at kalkatiyadhaar site and moved to Puani garaat via the other route. That is not through osla village, but through the other side of the river.

As this was a long distance walk, so everybody was spread up a bit. I was in the middle. At one point we had to climb down to the level of river and cross a bridge.

Shades of Nature

 

At that very moment, it started raining and wind was very heavy. I had to take out my poncho from the bag and put on. Till the time, I was ready to move ahead, there wasn’t anybody in my sight in the front. So I just kept on walking. I walked for 20 mins, but still nobody was in sight. I was bit afraid. Was I lost ? Then I saw a person in a poncho waving at me. I moved ahead and she was none other than Anupama. I was relieved. But the relief was temporary. Soon I got to know that she was in the same situation as I was. Were we both lost ? We kept on walking. After 15 minutes of walk, we came across Devesh resting under a tree. Now we were relieved. We walked till the Puani garaat camp site.

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But it was already occupied by another group. So we had to choose another spot. It was a blessing in disguise. We found a better spot just near the river. I got freshened up in the river and changed my clothes that I was wearing for last 3 days.

Puani Garaat Campsite

 

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Puani Garaat to Sanki via Taluka:

Puani Garaat to Taluka is a 13km journey and from taluka to Sankri a 12 km journey. We started early due to the long distance. The path was simple and soothing. It was a straight walk till taluka. A few snaps from the return journey…

Bholu

 

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Gangad Village

 

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That nap after Lunch

 

From taluka, we travelled by bolero till sankri and reached there in the evening.

Rooftop Journey to Sankri

Rooftop Journey to Sankri

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The Final Sun-Set of the Journey @ Sankri

 

After reaching sankri, I got a bucket of hot water from a nearby shop at the cost of 30 rupees and took a bath after 6 long days. In the evening, the briefing session was held where everybody shared their experience. Then there was a cake-cutting ceremony for successful completion of HKD trek. Later certificates were distributed to each one.

TrekLeaders.. Saranveer & Dushyant

 

The Group that Conquered HKD

 

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Everybody had dinner and went for a sound sleep in the coziness of soft bed after sleeping for 6 nights inside a sleeping bag.

In the morning, we started our journey to Dehradun. That was also a hail of a journey. The tire got punctured thrice on the way to Dehradun. Luckily, we reached on time. We went directly to Doon Darbaar :A must visit place for all the non-veg foodies.

The Heaven of a Non-Vegetarian

The Heaven of a Non-Vegetarian

Then I moved to Haridwar railway station from Dehradun railway station where I had to catch the train to Bhubaneswar.

It was  an experience of a life time.

Tips:

  • Try Rhododendrons’s juice at the local area. Rhododendron is a red color flower and is only available in some particular season.
  • Bring some chocolates with you to distribute to the local village children.
  • Bring some booze and save it for the return journey. You aren’t allowed to take those to the trek with you. Enjoy after coming back from the trek. At sankri, you won’t find anything.
  • The less you carry, the more you enjoy. So make sure to take only those with you that you can’t manage without.

 Awards of the Trek- (Unofficial, my personal view: fun intended 😛 )

  1. The Energetic Trekker- Sandeep
  2. The Tortoise of the Group- Jyothi
  3. The Backpack Trekker- Me 🙂  I was the only person in the group to complete the whole trek with my backpack.
  4. The Drama Queen- Jovina 😛
  5. The Best TrekLeader- Dushyant
  6. The Best Guide- Shravan
  7. The Man of Patience- Prakash

Signing off…. Till the next story…..  Adios Amigos  🙂

Photo Repository:

Click here to see my Flickr HKD Photo Album 

Info. Repository:

Click here for HKD Trek Details


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Har Ki Dun Trek – 8 days of awesomeness in the Himalayas

HKD Camp Site

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

I had been planning for a trek in the Himalayas for quite a long time. But the idea was far from reality due to scarcity of time and resources. One single opportunity.. i.e. what I was looking for. And I got it this April finally. I registered for the Har Ki Dun(HKD) trek with Indiahikes team at the eleventh hour and managed to turn it into reality within the stipulated time. The rest is pure bliss. It was a trek of a  lifetime.

Har ki dun peak is one of the most beautiful valleys in the western Himalayas ans is accessible through Govind National Park. Sankri is its base camp. HKD site is at an altitude of 11,700 feet. The route has all the flavours that a nature lover would like to experience.

Bhubaneswar to Dehradun:
The journey started on 24th April from Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Luckily, I managed to book a cheap flight ticket to Delhi just before two days. The flight was in the evening.
Spicejet- Flight No- G8162
Departure: 07:05 PM
Arrival: 09:15 PM
From Delhi, I had booked NANDA DEVI Express which had the best suitable timing for me at that moment. Because the pick-up was scheduled at 06:30 AM from Dehradun Railway Station.
Train No- 12205
Departure- (NDLS)- 11:50 PM
Arrival- (DDN)- 05:40 AM
Dehradun to Sankri:
The train reached Dehradun station right on time. I could feel the chill right from the moment I got off the train. The first thing that I did is I dialed the phone no of Pravin who was assigned to pick up from Railway station. He was right in front of the railway station. There were also another group of trekkers from same Indiahikes who were going for Kedarkantha(KK) Trek. The base point for both HKD and KK was Sankri. As I had registered a bit late, I had little knowledge of my group members. There were six vehicles from Indiahikes. I got into one and got settled for a long but wonderful journey ahead. Dehradun to Sankri is a journey of 10-11 hours. The route is a blend of splendid scenic beauty, chilled  waterstream, fresh greenery and a bumpy ride. The journey started around 7:30 AM. The initial part was a ride through the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie. The view was magnificent.

A Snap during the journey

A Snap during the journey

One thing I noticed is that most of the buildings had car parking area at the top of the building i.e the total reverse of usual case. This was because the houses were on the down side of the hill. The rest of the route seemed to revolve around river Yamuna.
We stopped near Kempty waterfall for breakfast at around 9:15 AM and then the journey continued.
A view near Kempty waterfall
The higher you go, the cooler you feel. The breeze was getting cooler and cooler. And the picturesque at both side was getting good to better.

A Glimpse of Yamuna River A Snap on the route

We stopped at Purola for Lunch at around 1:45 PM. One could feel the calmness and freshness around the city. There was absolute Z.E.R.O hustle and bustle of the city.

It took three more hours to reach Sankri. On the way, one could see a glimpse of HKD and KK peak.

A View of HKD

It also started to drizzle just before the check-gate of HKD. So by the time we reached Sankri, the sun was about to set. The climate was totally chilled and the weather was totally cool. Hot n sweet tea was the call of the hour.
Document verification was carried on by the Indiahikes people. They checked the medical fitness certificate and photo-Id proof. After that, hot soup and papad were served. Then there was an introductory session. There were total 13 members in our HKD group: A Nature-Lover Daring Menon Family(Ashok, Anupama, Angad, Anandi, Jovina), A Four-group of Adventurous girls(Jyothi, Sunayana, Sanjana, Blossom), One Ex-Army Person(Devesh), One Media Person(Sandeep) and one independent soul(Anirban) and ofcourse me. Only 2 or 3 persons were the first time trekkers. I was obviously in that list. Our group leaders were Dushyant, Shravan and Prakash from Indiahikes team. All three of them are awesome persons. It just seemed like those are the best guides one could get. Dushyant gave some useful tips to the team on trekking etiquettes and rules and a brief detail on the trek. Then I charged my batteries as this was the last point to have electricity. We all had dinner and went for a sound sleep.
Next day timing was 6-7-8 i.e 6 AM- wake Up call , 7 AM- breakfast & 8 AM- Start journey. I woke up right on time and got freshened up. The water was freezing cold, but still I managed to get along with it. Everybody gathered at the roof top of the hotel for morning tea. There Saranveer(The trek-leader of KK team) showed us how to pack the trekking bag with proper optimization of space. He showed how to uniformly balance the weight of the bag at both side to do away with the shoulder-pain. And a brief on what to take and what not to take. We packed our backpack accordingly, had breakfast and took packed lunch for the journey ahead.
Sankri to Puani Garaat via Taluka:
From Sankri, We drove to Taluka which is a 12km journey by Bolero. The route is extremely scenic, but rough. The bolero passed through a few waterstreams, a many up-and-downs and a real treacherous path.

From Taluka, the real trek began. The major part of the route revolved around the Supin river. I blissed out throughout the journey. Below there was a layer of wide spread soft green grass; up above there was clean n clear blue sky; to the left the continuous babbling buzz of Supin river and to the right a stretch of mountains.

On the way, we came across Gangad Village. The picturesque scenic route made me spellbound. There was hardly any sign of fatigue though I was carrying a 12 KG backpack. We stopped by a dhaba, had our packed lunch, rest for a while and moved on. After walking around 13km, I saw a glimpse of the camp sight. That was the best feeling in the world. It is like you walk , walk and walk……… think of giving up in between….. but still you move on……and then you see your destination. Just the sight of the camp site charged me up. I reached the site after a 5-mins of walk. I was the third person to reach. Sandeep and Devesh have already reached there. This place was Puani garaat and our camping site for the night. It was a perfect camping site. The supin river flowing by the side of the camp, skytouching mountaions at both sides and the glimpse of HKD peak at the front.

trekkers in action

Camp Site- Puani Garaat

Camp Site- Puani Garaat

I chose a camp and settled down with Sandeep and Anirban. After a while everybody reached the site. We were served refreshing tea and hot soup. Then Dushyant checked everybody’s oxygen level and pulse rate. We explored the nearby areas in the evening. The water of the nearby river was super-cold. I was thinking of having a bath, but the chill of the water changed my mind.

Then Dushyant showed us some relieving exercise and briefed us on the next day plan. He also showed us how to pack/unpack sleeping bag. By 7PM, dinner was ready. Rice, Dal, Chapati, Sabzi, salad and pickle were in the menu. In dessert, there was mouth-watering sweet seviyan. And at last a glass of milk-bournvita before going to sleep. I was so tired that I was asleep with a blink of an eye.
Puani Garaat to Kalkatiyadhar:
Next day timing was 6-7-7:30. Dushyant showed us how to pack the tents. The breakfast was awesome: Paratha with butter/jam/honey , boiled egg and cornflakes with milk. By 7:30 AM, everybody was ready to move on. I put some sunscreen lotion, took my packed lunch, filled up my water bottle and began the journey. After walking for a while, we crossed the river across the bridge. Then there was a little ascend…. Well not that little though :p After ascending, we reached Osla village. The village people were so simple. There wasn’t electricity in the village, though on a few roof top one could see small solar panels . All those village boys were keep asking for chocolates, sweets, toffees to each trekkers/outsiders. I had a few chocolates with me. I distributed those among a group of children and took some photos of them.

There was a temple in that village, but there wasn’t any deity at that time. There are 22 villages in that area. All of them have one single deity. The deity moves from one village to another village throughout the year and gets worshipped.

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After the village, there was a long stretch of flat grassland.

Then we came across a small waterfall. There was a canteen beside that. We stopped by and had our packed lunch. Tea, biscuits and Maggi were also available at the canteen. After a short rest, we marched ahead. It was a stiff ascend. Only after a 20 minutes of ascend we reached the Kalkatiyadhar camp site. As per the instruction from Dushyant, the tents were not pitched sothat we could do it ourselves. We pitched our own tent and relished on the refreshing tea and soup. Beside the camping site, there was a high base. I decided upon exploring that area. Angad joined me in the exploration. We climbed up and reached on that top base. It was a long stretch of flat grassy area. There was a small waterstream up there, which was totally covered with snow. The view of Himalayan mountains was splendid from up that point. When the sun set behind those mountains and the clouds got washed away, we got a clear glimpse of the Black peak(Kalang).

Camp Site: Kalkatiyadhaar

Camp Site: Kalkatiyadhaar


When we got down to the camp site, maggi noddles was ready. We played some games and then Dushyant did his daily routine of exercising, briefing and oxygen level and pulse rate checking. By 7PM, dinner was ready. After a hearty dinner , everybody went to sleep. The temperature was around 2 Deg C and freezing cold. I quickly got into the tent, slipped into my sleeping bag and went to sleep with a hope of putting my footsteps at HKD site the next day.

                                                                                                                        ……. to be continued….

Click here to go to the second post Har ki Dun Trek – Part II

Photo Repository:

Click here to see my Flickr HKD Photo Album 

Info. Repository:

Click here for HKD Trek Details