(The Mountain Dressed in Moonlight)
Location: Churdhar>Sirmaur District>Himachal Pradesh
“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.” ― Susan Polis Schutz
Route: Delhi- Karnal- Ambala- Panchkula- Solan-Rajgarh- Nohradhar- Churdhar
Distance: 800 kms round trip
Timing: 21-23 February
Cost: 9000 INR for 3 persons
Best time to visit: April-June and September –October (But no snow, pleasant weather)
Most adventurous time to visit: November- February(Full of snow, chilling cold, difficult trail and no human)
Mode of transportation: Ford Figo
Alternate Mode: Public transport
Churdhar sanctuary is located in Sirmaur and Shimla districts of Himachal Pradesh. Churdhar sanctuary is named after the Churdhar peak, which is the highest peak (12000 feet) of Shivalik or Outer Himalayas Range. The place is related with ChureshwarMaharaj and Lord Shiva. This peak is also related to Sir Everest. The famous Sanjeevni of Ramayana was found in this range only and Lord Hanuman came to Churdhar Range when Lord Bharat was unconscious. It has geographical, geological, religious and mythological significance. It is also an excellent region for trekking. This is basically a summer trek. It is tough but both enjoyable and memorable.
Plan and Trip
I was thinking of an unexplored and preferably a lesser known destination for a weekend. Initially Kausani came in my mind, but I have already travelled to this place so I was not that motivated. Later, anyhow I came to know about Churdhar. But, there are very less information available about Churdhar. So, I started exploring more about the place. Finally I decided for this place. The problem was how to reach there, bus timing and whether it is possible to go to this place in Mid-February. There was no clear information about the correct weather condition of Churdhar, its accessibility. Finally, I decided to travel this place by self-driving. I shared this with one of my friend. He is always ready. In the end we were three guys for the trek.
We left Delhi at 3 am and reached Panchkula by 7 am, Solan 8:30 am, Rajgarh 10 and finally reached Nohradhar at 11:30. Nohradhar is a small village and the base station for Churdhar trek. There are two more routes to reach Churadhar peak. But based on distance and other factors we have decided to take Nohra route only. We parked our car at PWD guest house. This village is overall safe. You can park your car anywhere but make sure that it does not disturb the normal traffic. PwD guesthouse is the best place to park, provided there is no crowd. I would recommend you to book a room in advance. It will cost hardly 300 INR ($5) for a room.
There is a small shop, where you can have lunch. Lunch will include Rice, chapatti, dal/rajma, curry and vegetable. This is a small hotel, so you can-not expect menu based options. Further, we hired a local guide which can not only guide us but will carry some of our load while trekking. Our guide was quite good, knowledgeable, courageous and religious person. Whenever we talk about wild animals and attack on human. His common reply was “Bhagwan ki kripa se abhi tak mere saath aisa kuch nahi hua hai (With God grace, I have not faced such problem)”
We left Nohradhar at 1 PM and reached Jamunala at 4. The route from Nohradhar to Jamunala is quite tough as elevation rises drastically. First 30 mins will be the most difficult and tiring part of the trek. First part is quite barren land with hardly any vegetation. You will find some isolated habitat near the route in first 1-2 kilometers. Then the trail passes through the forest. As you move forward, the forest will become denser. In the route there is a Kali Temple, you can have rest here for some-time. After this point there was snow trail. As we were travelling in mid February, we were quite aware that this route is not accessible. Even local people suggested us not to go beyond Jamunala. I was driving almost whole night and then I started trekking. So I was quite tired. Anyhow we reached Jamunala at 4 PM.
Jamunala is a small meadow or Bugiyal. This was the only place en route where we could manage to put our tent. It was almost entirely covered by snow. Our guide stated collecting wood for fire. We were in dense forest with no weapon. Only fire could protect us from the wild animals. This sanctuary is natural habitat of Himalayan Black Bear, Barking Deer, Musk Deer, Common Langur and Leopards. Till now everything was normal. But once there was sunset, fear started emerging inside us. We stored sufficient wood, so that we can burn it for whole night. After sunset within few minutes there was just darkness. We can see a beautiful moon, sky full of stars, snow and trees. We started bonfire at around 6 pm. Now the wind was blowing very fast. We had some dry fruits, chikki (sweet ground-nut) and banana in dinner and went to tent at 8 am. This was the first time, I could visualize the fear. We were in deep forest disconnected from the entire civilization without weapon. If you are traveling in summer, you won’t find the opportunity to experience the same. We could see the animal crossing near our tent.
We had an excellent guide. He did not sleep whole night. We could see fire flickering from inside the tent and he kept roaming near our tent. Whenever he expected any animal he was prepared to fight with them. Anyway, nothing happened. We came out of the tent at 7 am when there was sufficient light and sun was about to rise.
Whole night wind was blowing very fast. Whole night we could hear the sound of blowing wind. All the water bodies were frozen by the morning and we had left with just 2 liters of water. After packing tent and other things we started moving for next location, Teesri. Based on ourphysical condition and availability of resources like food, water as well as the condition of trail…we decided to move forward. Our initial plan was…we will keep walking till 11 am and if the trail is okay we will go to Churdhar peak or otherwise we will come back to Nauradhar.
Trail was full of snow. Snow was quite hard in the morning so it was easy to walk. Slope was relatively less. On the way we found one spring…so water was no longer the limiting factor. We reached Teeesri at 11 AM. Snow was softer and deeper here, trail was invisible. It was neither possible nor safe to go forward, so we decided to come back to Nohradhar. We had covered approximately 14 kms of 20 kms trek. When we reached back to Nohradhar, we all were tired and exhausted at the same time we were quite aware that once we sleep, we won’t be able to walk or drive. So let’s go to Delhi first.
We started driving at 4:30 and reached Delhi by 2:30 AM. We were tired so it was difficult to drive.
This was the first time; I not only encountered but came to know what fear is? How our forefathers have lived their lives hundred and thousands of year back?
How to reach
- The nearest railway station is Solan (Narrow gauge) and Kalka (Broad gauge).
- Take a bus or train from Kalka to Solan
- Take a bus or taxi from Solan to Nohradhar via Rajgarh (3 hrs).
- The Jubbar Hatti airport is the nearest airport.
- If you are travelling in summer or in peak season. There is no need to hire a local guide. But if you are traveling in winter or during off-season, make sure you have a local guide.
Where to Stay
- PwD guest house, private hotels at Nohradhar.
- Optimize your load. Do not carry jeans or anything that can-not be used.
- Pack only loose cloths preferably trekking pant and t-shirts along with warm cloths
- You must have a good water proof trekking shoes
- Hire a local guide/potter
- If you are travelling during off-season, make sure you are in a sufficiently large group.
- Keep some utensils and anything ready to eat type food or magi. It is quite challenging to survive on chocolates and dry fruits.
Things to carry
- A good tent
- HDPE Mat
- Walking stick
- Warm and woolen clothes, a pair of shocks for each day
- Light and extra cell
- Medical kit
- Water (at least 2L per person)
- Chocolates, juice, dry fruit and glucose