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Chikmagalur : A Perfect Weekend Getaway

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“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”  -Robert Louis Stevenson

Chikmagalur is one of the top weekend destinations from Bangalore, though it is still away from the lime light. The hill station is famous for coffee plantation, greenery and a number of waterfalls. On one weekend we, a group of five friends: Abinash, Ritesh, Britto, Prabina and I decided to explore this beautiful place. Abinash has a Grand i10 and Britto is a self-proclaimed F1 racer :p So ‘how to reach’ wasn’t a hassle at all this time 😀

How to Reach Chikmagalur:

It is around 250 km away from Bangalore and is a 4-hour journey. The road is pretty good for most of the part. A number of state-run and private buses ply to the place. The nearest railway station is Kadur which is 40 km away. The best option is to hire a cab. Now a lot of options are there: Ola Outstation, Goibibo Cab, MMT Cab service etc. If you have  a car, you can even hire only a driver and go. DriveU, Hire4Drive, ezidrive, Zuber are a few driver hiring sites. We decided to make it a self-drive road trip to reap the most out of it. We started from Bangalore around 4:30 AM.

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A dam we came across on the way

Where to Stay:

A lot of options are available depending of budget, luxury and experience. Zostel Chikmagalur is one of the top choices in terms of budget and experience. But we decided to  go beyond that and to choose the best in terms of experience. We had booked our stay at Forest Homestay – Maradi(Aldur). It is 27km away from the main city Chikmagalur, and exists among dense forest and coffee plantation. A few of my friends had been here last year and had shared their experience with me. If you want a serene and out of the world experience, then this is the place. Apart from Airtel, you hardly will get any network here. So like literally out of the hustle bustle of busy life.

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For booking, you can check online on Goibibo or you can contact directly at below mentioned no. (Nuthan: 9449175960, Omar Homestay Advisor : 9538280008. This is just for reference purpose only.) They charge by person basis which includes Stay(Cottage or Tent), Food(Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks & Dinner : Both Veg and Non-Veg), welcome drink, one morning trek, night campfire and a few other engaging activities. Additionally, you can inform them for additional snacks: Chicken(400 per KG), Fish(500 per KG), Mutton (600 per KG). This includes making and service charge. Even home made wine is available on chargeable basis(Figwine: INR 500 per bottle, rest: INR 250 per bottle). They have made provisions to play badminton, cricket, carom, rifle-shooting and Bow & Arrow. Visit their official site for details.

Mulyangiri:

It is around 23 km away from Chikmagalur. We reached Chikmagalur around 9:30 AM and our check-in time at hotel was 12 noon. So though we had planned to go here the next day, we went the same day after having some breakfast at Chikmagalur.

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On the way to Mulyangiri

The last stretch of the road was bit bumpy and narrow; but we had Captain Britto at our side. We never hesitated to stop n click on the way. We reached around 11 AM at Mulyangiri peak. The weather was pleasing, neither cloudy nor sunny. There is a temple on the Mulyangiri peak which is a 15-20 mins climb. The route is smooth and there are stairs till the top. The view from up there was magnificent. There was greenery everywhere, till the eyes could see. We enjoyed the beauty for sometime and started our journey to the home-stay around 12 noon.

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We had to again comeback to Chikmagalur and to take a different route for the Homestay. The last 4km of the road to the homestay was really in bad shape. But they were repairing that. Hopefully, in a few months, that will be fine. The Homestay was at the remotest corner of the forest and the road ends there only. We reached the homestay around 1:15 PM. We were taken to our cottage which was 100m away from the parking area. We were greeted with welcome drinks: Mango and Lemon drinks. After a long travel, it was the best one could get in that dense forest. The location of the homestay was just perfect like a single cottage in the middle of the forest and coffee garden. As it was Friday, there was no one apart from us. So the entire place was ours to enjoy.

Though everyone was damn tired, two had directly come from Chennai and almost everyone had 1 to 2 hrs of sleep last night; still everyone could have been found at the badminton ground.

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And the irony was I had fever the previous day, but it all vanished once we reached Chikmagalur 🙂 We played for around half an hour and then asked for the lunch. After getting refreshed, we came to dining table. Thank god, they had  a geyser there. The lunch was delicious, as we were all non-vegetarians; they had made two chicken dishes. All the dish was cooked in local malada style with a flavour of their speciality. After a sumptuous lunch, we were supposed to go to Shankar falls which was  nearby only. But due to some reasons, it was closed those days. So we decided to pay a visit to a nearby pond(they call it lake :p) after a short break.

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Coffee

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Spiders were ruling the spot!

Around 3:30 PM, we started for the pond. They provided life jackets to everyone for the safety. It was just a 5 min walk from the cottage. But when we reached the pond, we were disappointed. The water wasn’t that clean and it was a small one. Noone was ready to take a plunge in that. Then the staff members jumped in and cleaned the water a bit. Prabina and Britto finally took a plunge. I didn’t risk it as I was out of fever just a few hrs back 😀 And it wasn’t that tempting also.

Then we came back to the cottage and played some games. Some were busy with badminton and a few other with the rifle and bow n arrow.

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Around 5PM ,we started for the sunset point. It was a 15 mins walk from the cottage. The place was awesome. Peace and calmness was in the air. The forest was surround us and a huge mountain at our back. And the sun in its golden glory descending below the horizon. We sat there for quite sometime and enjoyed the golden touch of nature to the fullest. We clicked some awesome sunset pics and made our way to the homestay. It was pitch dark by the time we were returning.

We took a short break and then had snacks: pakoda and fresh filter coffee. After  a while, we lighted up the campfire and started the forest party. We had ordered for pepper-chicken, chicken kabab, chilly chicken and fish fries. They kept bringing one by one and under that almost full-moon night, beside the campfire ; we continued our party. It wasn’t that cold that evening, but it was pleasant weather. The babbling sound of the nearby waterstream was overpowering the powerful of bass of our Bluetooth speaker. It was dense forest around us, but there were two dogs with us all the time. They were just lying beside us and were enjoying the chicken bones. The party went on till late night, then we had our dinner and went back to bed.

Next morning, we had to wake up at 6 am to go on a nearby trek. Britto literally dragged me down out of the bed to wake me up. By 6:30 AM, everyone was all set for the trek. It was 7 km up and down. Though I had done a couple of treks earlier, this was different. Though this was short, but was full of surprises. The route went through the dense forest and to the top of a mountain. There was a butterball there and one could see the surrounding area clearly from up above. The place was a bliss.

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After a tiring, but refreshing trek

We clicked some pics and came back.

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Breakfast was ready by the time we reached the cottage. We packed our bags and did some more shooting before we checked out. The staff member Uday was very courteous. The stay was extremely pleasant.

Jhari Falls:

We then drove to Jhari Falls.which is 48 km away from the homestay and in the same Mulyangiri route. But what we didn’t know that there was a walking distance of around 3km before you reach the waterfall. As it was a Saturday, the waterfall was heavily crowded. This is also called the milky waterfall as the splash of water almost looks white as milk.

Baba Budangiri:

It was just 8 km from Jhari Falls. The weather was cloudy and chilly that day. There is a temple of Baba Budangiri there. There is also a waterfall 3km away and a lake around 4km away from the temple. But as we had less time, we stopped at a nice location, enjoyed the weather a bit and started our return journey.

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A few other points of interest are : Kudremukh, Hebbe Falls etc

It was  a perfect road trip and  a must try with friends if you are nearby Bangalore.

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The Ride, The Riders and the Clicker (Behind the Lense)

Tips:

  • Make sure you don’t have any booze with you when you are going to Mulyangiri. There is a check post before that.
  • On the way to homestay, you’ll find one booze shop at Aldur market and one at Chikmagalur.
  • Take a Bluetooth woofer with you.
  • Take a pair of shoes if you are going for trekking.

 

Reference: Forest Homestay

 


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A Weekend Trek to Ilaka Got via Triund (McLeodganj)

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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With my guide (Vijay) at Ilaka Got

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.

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Dal Lake:

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.

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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.

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Tibetan Museum:

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.

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Bhagsu Waterfall:

Though I couldn’t visit this place due to lack of time and this is one of the top tourists spots at Mcleodganj.

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PC: Flickr / Anamika Baghel

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 !

 


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Everest Base Camp Trek in 30 Photos !

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#01 The journey starts with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla.  The weather at Lukla is extremely unpredictable and volatile. I had to wait for four days to reach Lukla due to bad weather. Most of the aircrafts are 16 seater, you can literally watch the pilots controlling this complicated machinery  if sitting  at front row. It’s preferable to sit at left side to get a glance of the Himalayas. The thrill while landing at Lukla can’t be explained in words, but can only be experienced.

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#02 Lukla Tenzing – Hillary Airport (2860 m). Lukla is one of the most dangerous and deadliest airport in the world with a very short airstrip abruptly ending to the valleys.

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#03 Prayer wheels en-route Lukla – Phakding. You’ll come across a few small villages and chortans during this 3 hr journey.

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#04 A suspension bridge en-route Lukla-Phakding. There are total seven suspension bridges in EBC route.

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#05 Phakding (2651 m) First stop in EBC trek.

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#06 A small village en-route Phakding – Namche Bazaar. This is the toughest of all with steep ascent most of the route.

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#07 Lunch point ! EBC route is extremely commercialized with tea-houses, lodges and restaurants throughout the way. Dal-bhat is one of the most common food item. Wi-fi is available at most of these restaurants on chargeable basis.

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#08 After this point, there is steep ascent till Namche Bazaar. You need to move onto the next mountain through the upper suspension bridge. Crossing the bridge was an amazing experience in itself.

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#09 Namche Bazaar (3438 m), second stop in EBC trek. Most of the trekkers stay here one day for acclimatization.

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#10 First glimpse of Mt. Everest and Ama Dablam. Trekkers climb till Everest view lodge for a better view.

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#11 Namche Bazaar market. This is the last major market in EBC route. All trekking gears can be found here, but with a higher price tag.

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#12 A Chortan en-route Namche Bazaar – Tengbonche

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#13 The Split ! One to Gokyo-Ri and the other to Tengbonche. EBC through Gokyo-Ri is a more difficult, but scenic trek.

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#14 Tengbonche (3870 m), third stop in EBC trek. There is a monastery of Lord Rinpoche. To the right, there is a small hike to get a better view.

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#15 View from Tengbonche

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#16 Sun-set view of Ama Dablam(6812 m). Though it is around 2000m shorter than Mt. Everest, but it is lot more difficult to climb due to its steep ascent and treacherous trail.

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#17 The landscape takes a drastic change after Somaroi and the height of trees get reduced to shrubs. It looks like green patches.

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#18 A mesmerizing view en-route Tengbonche – Dingboche.

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#19 Dingboche (4360 m), fourth stop in EBC trek. Most trekkers stay here one day for acclimatization and either hike till Nagarjuna Peak or till Ama Dablam base camp.

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#20 Nagarjuna Peak (5088 m) This is a 2.5 hr hike from Dingboche. Ama dablam, Lhotse, Peak 38 can be seen from here.

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#21 View of Ama Dablam from Nagarjuna Peak.

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#22 Valley to the left (way to Pheriche) en-route Dingboche – Lobuche.

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#23 Lobuche (4940 m), fifth stop in EBC trek. Mt. Pumouri can be seen in the background.

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#24 Gorakshep (5170 m), the last stop in EBC trek. The no. of lodges is very limited here.

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#25 Kala pathar (5545 m), a 2 hr hike from Gorakshep. It’s around 700 ft higher in altitude than EBC. The route is extremely steep, rocky and windy. One can see the best view of Mt. Everest, EBC, Everest summit last trail, Lhotse and Mt. Pumouri from its peak on a clear sunny day.

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#26 View of Everest Base camp, Mt. Everest, Khumbu Glacier from Kala Patthar peak.

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#27 South-side view from Kala Patthar peak.

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#28 Everest Base Camp (5364 m), the Final Destination.

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#29 A close-look of Everest base camp and Khumbu glacier.

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#30 The prayer flags, the devotee and the mountain (EBC). Smell of accomplishment and sweetness of satisfaction was in the air.


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Everest Base Camp : The Dream of Every Trekker ! [Part – I]

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The times demand that we not settle for climbing ordinary mountains; we must hoist ourselves up and climb extraordinary ones. – David Gergren

This year has been legendary so far to quench the thirst of my eyes. In last two months, I had completed three International trips: a not-so luxurious but lot of activities based trip to Dubai- The city of Skyscrapers, a fascinating snow-filled trip to Bhutan- The city of Happiness and a toilsome and knee-jerking trekking trip to Nepal – The gateway to heaven. I’ll start with the last one. Not only because everything is fresh in my mind as it’s just got over, but also because this one demanded maximum effort both physically and mentally. Yeah… it’s trek to Everest Base Camp(EBC) and Kala Pathar.. an altitude of 18,600 feet !

EBC is in each trekker’s To-Do-List and so was mine. But I had planned to go for EBC  after 2-3 more high altitude treks. But they say, “You don’t decide, but the mountain calls for you”. And the mountain echoed… the best one in the lot this time.. I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. I just grabbed the opportunity and started my preparation. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy one and I needed to work on my fitness. But I had only a week time after my convocation. That too I slept like a child. Now there is just three days left for the journey to start. Everything is settled, except one: fitness. I hadn’t started my fitness preparation till then. It was 7PM. I thought “Now or Never”;I put on my running shoes and went out. Started with a 2.5km running stretch, by third day it was 3.2km. Something is better than nothing. I packed my backpack making sure not to miss any essentials. I was going by road to Kathmandu. Puri to Howrah and then to Raxaul. After crossing the border at Raxaul-Birganj and then by bus to Kathmandu. Seems hectic, huh !! When you’ve budget constraints, you need to set your priorities clear: Comfort or Experience.

Kathmandu by Road:

Howrah to Raxaul : Train No 13043 :Howrah – Raxaul Express
Raxaul to Kathmandu : By Bus
PS: Best option is to catch a flight from Delhi

This time I was doing the trek with XLANC(An adventure club by XLRI students), not Indiahikes. So I was bit skeptical about it. Rahul was our ground coordinator. We were four members from XIMB: Swayam, Shaz, Barsha and Myself. We were given accommodation at Alobal1000 hostel. The atmosphere was very lively and happening at this hostel.

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Rooftop Restaurant of Alobar

Rahul briefed us about the trek and other essentials like porter, insurance, lodging, route , amenities etc. As I had prior high altitude trekking experience, I was selected as the Group Leader. We packed our backpack and went for a sound sleep. Here goes the itinerary.

Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,350m/4,428ft) : before 3 pm
Day 02: Fly to Lukla, trek to Phakding (2,651m/8,700ft): 40 minutes flight, 3 hours trek
Day 03: Phakding to Namche Bazaar (3,438m/11,280 ft): 5 hours
Day 04: Acclimatization Day/Rest Day – Namche Bazaar
Day 05: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3,870m/12,694ft): 5 hours
Day 06: Tengboche to Dingboche (4,360 m/14,300 ft): 5 hours
Day 07:  Acclimatization Day/Rest Day – Dingboche
Day 08: Dingboche to Lobuche (4940 m/16,207 ft): 5hours
Day 09: Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5170 m/16,961ft), visit Everest Base Camp (5364 m/17,594 ft): 6 hours
Day 10: Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar (5,545m/18,192ft) to Dingboche (4,360 m/14,300 ft) 6 hours
Day 11:  Dingboche to Namche Bazaar (3,440m/11,280 ft): 6 hours
Day 12: Namche Bazaar to Lukla (2,800m/9,186ft): 6 hours
Day 13: Fly to Kathmandu in morning. Sightseeing (Buffer Day)
Day 14: Kathmandu: Sightseeing (Buffer Day). Possible Bungee Jumping (3rd highest in the world)
Day 15: Go back to India

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EBC Route #1 (Source: TrekkingMart)

Next day, we had a flight to catch to Lukhla which is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable airport in the world.

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@Kathmandu Airport

 We checked-in to Kathmandu domestic airport, but after waiting for around 2 hrs, we got to know that it had started raining at Lukhla. All flights to Lukhla got cancelled that day. We waited till 3PM, but after no positive reply from airlines, we returned to Alobar. The same thing continued for next two days also: though sometime for weather, sometime for airlines’ irresponsibility. Most of the airlines to Lukhla are pvt. owned and they gives priority to foreigners(other than Indian) to get high value for ticket. They can do anything.. I mean anything. Sita Air was the worst airlines, seemed like a family run business :p On third day, we boarded the bus four times which was supposed to take us near the flight and got off due to sudden change in weather at Luklha. After three days of continuous cancellation, we didn’t have any buffer day left, on top of that we had one day short. Shaz backed out and went for Annapurna Base camp trek. But somewhere in my mind, it was still EBC. I wanted to give one last try, but we would have to make for this one day short as others had scheduled international flight to catch. I made myself clear, “Let’s split (as getting a single early flight for all was difficult and after noon the weather was keep on changing at Lukhla) and move to Lukhla in whatever way (1+1+1 or 2+1 or 1+2) possible. But whoever will reach there, there is no backing out. He/She’ll have to complete the trek or at least try his/her best.” Rest agreed on the plan. Next day, we splited and tried to get early flight to Lukhla. This was the fourth day. It’s Now or Never situation. Luckily, there was a vacancy for three and we all got in same flight. But we weren’t that lucky , were we ? There was some technical issue(hydraulic leak) in the flight and it got delayed. Finally Tara Air moved us to another plane and it took off. Finally, we were all in air, on our way to Lukhla. The flight landed at Lukhla after 45 mins and we all knew EBC was happening: this year and this time only. Nothing could come between us and EBC now.  The journey to Lukhla seemed way more difficult than journey to EBC!

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Finally, we landed at Lukhla 🙂

We had our lunch at Lukhla and got introduced to our guide Lakhpa. As we were already three days behind our schedule, so we got clubbed with the next batch who were from IIM-A. There were four of them: Sidharth, Nikhil, Preet & Pallavi. We waited for them. After around 3 hours, they finally landed at Lukhla. We started for Phakding once everyone was done with lunch.

Lukhla to Phakding (3 hour / 8700 ft):

We started around 3:30 PM from Lukhla. At the check-post, we entered our details and the belongings details and hit the road.

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The Group : XIMB + IIM-A !

The route was scenic and passed through a couple of villages; little bit of descend but easy going. Most of us were first time trekkers, so we were moving slow n steady. On the way, there were a few hanging bridges.

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One could see the tired, fatigued but accomplished souls returning to Lukhla on the way. It seemed like a very commercialized and structured route. There were coffee shops and refreshment corners throughout the route. And it was full of lodges, restaurants and tea-houses; mostly made up of wood. We reached Phakding before it was too dark around 6:40 PM.

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Phakding

After a short rest, we had our dinner – Sherpa Soup and went to our room. The water was freezing cold. One had to think thrice before even washing his/her face :p It was too early to sleep and to our surprise the other group had brought cards 😀 Sid taught us a new game that 6 can play at a time and the time just flew away.

Next morning, we had breakfast – Bread toast with Omelet and set out for Namche Bazaar.

Phakding to Naamche Bazaar (6 hour / 11,280 ft):

This was the toughest of all with ascend and steep climb most of the route. We started around 7:45 AM. There was a hanging bridge just at the start. After little bit of up and down and passing through a few villages, we reached the 2nd check-post.

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The first timers were having a tough time, but they were keeping pace with. To ease the load, a few decided to go for porter from Namche.  Porter normally charges 1500 NC/day (avg load 25 kg), but the higher you will go, the higher will be the charges : NC 2000/day from Naamche. So I told the guide to call a porter from down there Lukhla on base charge and he will get some extra for coming up till Naamche. This way, there will be some saving for those who were opting for porter. At around 12 noon, we reached our lunch point.

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The place was so refreshing and awesome for a break: at one side glimpse of gigantic mountains and just below  a stream with crystal clear bluish water flowing through lush greenery. After lunch, we moved by the side of stream for some distance.

We didn’t know that we yet had to face the steepest climb until we reached this point.

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Just the sight of hanging bridge up above is enough to get the fear a grip over your mind. We took a quick halt, gathered our energy and went for it. And after crossing the bridge, we were told that it’s just the start, another 3 hr of steep climb is up ahead. A few were on the verge of breaking, but they pulled themselves up and gave their best. The picturesque scenic sight was more than enough to reenergize and to motivate. After that steep ascend, there came a rest point where one could get the glimpse of Mt Everest for the first time. But we didn’t get any as that day it was cloudy.  We came across 3rd Check post after around 2 hour and finally reached Naamche around 6 PM. Yeah… too slow 😦 but this is bound to happen when someone starts trekking career with EBC ! If it’d have been that easy, everyone would have been doing. What I mean is though it wasn’t that difficult, it wasn’t that easy either. After such a toilsome episode, when we reached hotel, the rooms weren’t good and on top of that the owner was at his worst behavior. After much deliberation and a phone-call session of 1 hr with XLanc members, finally we shifted to another hotel: Hotel Komal, a good stay. Too much of cost cutting had been done by XLanc for which we had to pay the price: in both physically and mentally. We had our dinner with a cup of black tea and went to sleep.

Next day was an acclimatization day. We went to nearby Everest view point and clicked some pictures. Here we got the first glance of Everest:The mighty.  One can see a couple of peaks from there: Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Peak 38, Nuptse

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Naamche Bazaar

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First glance of Mt. Everest

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Museum

There was a museum there depicting the history of Everest trek and its flora and fauna. Then we climbed up a small ascend for a better view, spent some time there and came down.

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 We had our lunch and took a short rest( but No Sleep in daytime). In the evening, we explored nearby market area.

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Naamche Bazaar

Pubs, Cafes, bakeries:  one can find everything up there; just that your wallet will get lighter bit faster there. Tengboche was our next stop on route.

Namche to Tengboche (6 hour / 12,694 ft):

The initial trail was an easy one : concrete road and mostly flat. There were a few ‘Chortans’ on the way.

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After crossing AmaDablam restaurant, there came a split : one leading to Tengboche and the other to Gokyo route.

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Then there was a descend till the bridge and a sharp ascend from there. We were supposed to have lunch at Tengboche, but as were moving bit slow so it was already noon at the the bridge.

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We had our lunch there : Egg Fried Rice and moved ahead. There came the 4th and last check-post. The next stretch was bit tricky and steep. On top of that, the scorching heat of sun adding icing on top. There wasn’t any water-source till Tengboche except one which was just around 15 mins before Tengboche. The journey was like walk 20-30 steps, find a tree(some shade), catch your breath and move ahead. At around 2:40 PM, I reached Tengboche and the group being little behind. The view up there was marvelous. The sight did away with all the pain. I clicked some pics till other members reached there.

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We stayed at Trekkers’ Lodge just by the side of the monastery. After a short break, we paid a visit to the monastery. The atmosphere was awesome in there : peace, calm and serene.

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We watched the sunset till the last ray of sun vanished up in the sky. I got some good clicks also.

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In the evening, the temperature was below 0 deg C. Everyone piled up in the dining room where there was a heater. After we had our dinner, the other four had this plan of campfire, but the old way i.e. lighting fire by cracking stone to stone 😀 They had also brought FireStone that makes it easy to spark. But the weather was hostile, windy and cold. The tissues were getting wet too quick, even deo-spray didn’t help. After an hour of trial, finally we decided to go for the match-stick and the fire was on. It was bliss to get some heat in those freezing zero degree and cold wind. After absorbing some of the heat, I clicked some photos and we went to bed.

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Next day, we were scheduled to leave for Dingboche, our next stop.

This already has been a very long post. I’ll pen down the rest  in my next post. Stay tuned and keep travelling….

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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:

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Info. Repository:

Click here for HKD Trek Details