Har Ki Dun Winter Trek
Being on social media these days is not a choice but a necessity and when you are on handles like Instagram and others, you are bound to get tempted to all the marvellous photos that people post from their travel diaries. And yes, I am also a victim of that ‘temptation’
So, when some of my friends posted their travel pics of the treks they undertook, I too decided to undertake one but with a twist. I thought of taking a moderate trek since I was a novice, but to make myself feel a little brave, a winter trek was a good option and yes somewhere I was also excited to see the snow.
And so, my research began for the trek and the company which I could trust and finally I zeroed down on Har Ki Dun trek with Wanderers, recommended by many. To give you a little background, the Har Ki Dun is also known as the Valley of Gods which as per the legend is the path the Pandavas took to reach the Heaven and is nestled in the Garhwal Himalayan range of Uttrakhand.
Excited to see nature in its full glory for the next one week, I set out for Dehradun with fellow trekkers and a great team of Wanderers. Our base camp was at Sankri which was around 200kms from the main city of Dehradun, a travel time of 9 hours which we reached just in time of sunset and witness the snow-covered peaks in hues of orange and red.
Being a winter trek, we given extensive information about the climate and the winter gear to be carried by Loki from the Wanderers team, but still getting acclimatized to the freezing weather in practical conditions was a new experience. But all this is forgotten when you are surrounded by breath-taking scenery and the silence of the hills
Mornings in the Himalayas are beautiful and serene and our starting point was from a small village called Taluka, around an hour drive from Sankri. After getting instructions and our packed lunches, we started walking towards our destination which was the Gangaad, a distance of about 9 kms. The trek was easy, guided well by the trek leads Jai and Shakun from Wanderers amidst the forest, the calm river with sparkling water and the distant snow peaks of the Har Ki dun valley. With water, tea and energy bars to keep us hydrated and energized, we reached the camp and were excited to sleep under the stars in our tents and sleeping bags.
The worst part of a winter trek if any is coming out of your cosy sleeping bag in the morning, but today was the real day of the trek where after having a full breakfast we were supposed to walk 8 kms to Kalkatiyadhar, our next camp site. The trek was steep, infact for me it was quiet steep. This is where the trek also diverts for Bali pass trek. After crossing Seema village, we got onto a bridge on the left and practically entered the Har Ki Dun Valley.It was a cold day and I was somehow feeling exhausted. Our destination Kalkatiyaa Dhar did not have any water source so the trek lead Jai told us that we need to manage another 30 minutes ascend. For which, we practically took an hour and finally reached Seematra campsite. But what compensated was the beautifully lit twinkling sky with the mountain peaks shining in the bright light of the white moon.
Today was the D – day where our destination point was Har Ki Dun. The team at Wanderers told us that today its going to a ‘white day’. Confused, we got to know later that the path of our trek would be laden with frozen snow patches. So, off we put our shoes, took our trekking poles and we were on our way to Har Ki Dun. Words fail to describe the place when we reached there. It was truly like being in other world surrounded by flora and fauna, the colours, the pure smell of air and the background of snow capped mountains, it was something like being on a Bollywood set . I really did not understand why we all ran to foreign places when we had such beauty hidden in our own motherland. Frankly, I can not explain the feeling of that evening at the campsite. It was magical to say the least.
We were today embarking on a trek to Jaundhar Glacier from the base of Mt. Swargarohini, which passed through snow and we could catch the glimpse of the high peaks of Fateh Parvat and Bandarpoonch Ranges. Exhausted and tired after reaching the campsite, we were left to explore on our own and take in the calmness, purity and the tranquillity of the moment under the magical sunset. Everything looked so baseless in that moment where you were soaking in the nature and its essence near the warmth of the fireplace in the bitterly frozen weather.
Time to bid goodbye had come to these beautiful snow mountains, which meant we started our descent. From freezing snow to a pleasant temperature, our journey back was soaking in the warmth of the sun under the crystal clear blue sky. Oslo village is the largest setllement in Har Ki Dun Valley. The village also has a very famous 13th century Shiva Temple known as the Saumeshwar Temple. As per the folklores, it was built by the Pandavas.
Although the trek did finish and all I can say that the week spent in the mountains make me value Mother Nature and although you cannot explain it in words, the memories and the bond it created would stay lifelong. The journey would have not been a piece of cake without the help of the team at Wanderers who at every step guided us, took care of us, looked after all our needs, instructed us and even enjoyed with us.
It’s a once in a life time opportunity but Mother Nature left me spellbound and although I was back to the city life, a part me was left in the hills seeking peace. I would also like to take a moment and thank the trek leads Jai and Shakun for managing everything so well.
Look forward to my next trek now in 2018.