When the wind calls, you know, that somewhere in the mountains, it has found the answers that you were looking for. The pull of the horizon overcomes the inertia of reason…And you just have to go- Vikram Oberoi
Route: Delhi-Dharmshala-Mcleodganj- Dharamkot-Gallu Devi Temple- Magic View point- Triund.
Distance covered – 600 Kms by bus and then 9 km trek.
Total expenditure- 2500 INR (40$) per person (approx for a group of 7 people)
Mode of transportation: Public transport
Number of days- 3
Timing: 13-16 March, 2015
Maximum Elevation: 2875 Meters Above sea Level
Starting Point of the Trek: Mcleodganj or Dharmkot
Rating: Easy (in summer) otherwise moderate
Best time: April to November
This was not the first time I was travelling to Dharmshala or Mcleodganj. But this trip was totally different from the previous trips. I was quite aware that a trek which is considered as an easy trek will not be easy and it is going to be a challenging trek. There was a weather forecast of snowfall and storm. For me it was both a challenge and opportunity.
The trip was full of challenges from the very beginning. We missed our booked bus by few minutes. The direct busses for Dharmshala were booked. But fortunately there was a bus for Kangra. Dharmshala is located at a distance of approximately 20 kms from Kangra. We left ISBT at 8:30 PM and reached Kangra at 6:15 AM. As we were travelling in an ordinary bus, the trip was not very much comfortable, but it was definitely better than our expectation. From Kangra we can see ice capped mountains. From Kangra we took a local bus for Dharmshala. Again, it was a local bus and it took approximately 45 mins. We hired a car for Dharmkot. The hiring cost is approximately 300 INR ($ 5).
At Dharmkit, we met our guide. His name is Kuldeep. He is not just an awesome guide. But he is expert of mountains. He is a trained guide and has participated in many rescue operations. Apart from these skills and capability, he is a fun loving and cool person. If you are travelling during lean period or offseason, I would recommend you to take a guide. It won’t cost more than 1000 INR a day for a group. But it will pay you. You will feel confident, and guide will definitely help you in the worst case scenario. I have the similar experience during Churdhar trek. I always prefer a guide while hiking or trekking in a small group.
After breakfast at Dharmkot, we left for Triund at 10:15 AM. Our first halt was Gallu Devi temple. It is located at a distance of approximately 2 km via forest route and we were expected to reach there by 11 AM. The trail is relatively easy trail. It was a favorable day for trekking. Day was sunny, there was moderate wind and temperature was in comfortable range. We reached Gallu Devi temple at expected time, after a short break we moved for Magic view point. It is located at approximately mid way. The weather started deteriorating. First it was mild shower and we kept walking. Now people started tiring. We got divided in two groups. The first group reached Magic view point at 12:30. Second group was beyond the visual range. There is a small tea point where you can find magi, bread omelet and normal cold drink.
We left Magic view point at 2 PM. Now the trail was relatively steep and full of snow. We were aware of weather forecast and our aim was to reach the Triund peak before sunset and preferably before the weather condition become worse. Till Magic view point there were a number of people visible on the trek. But after that point there were very few people. There was one other group from NIT Kurukshetra. All of them were first time trekker and they were not equipped with minimum trekking requirements i.e shoes or even waterproof cloths. I suggested them to trek in a single group. So now we were 12 people.
As we were moving upwards the trail was becoming steeper and the thickness of snow was increasing. At some places, the trail was quite slippery. Some of our group members were trekking first time, and it was no more an easy trek because of the snow and weather condition. They were afraid and under such condition, my first responsibility to keep them motivated and confident. Now I told my guide to lead the group, because the trail was no more clearly visible and I was in the end so that no one is left behind. Finally we reached forest guest house at 4:30 PM. We were expecting snowfall anytime. But we reached the peak in time. There are very limited places to stay at the peak. There is one forest guest house. It has four rooms. There are some shades. It is not recommended to stay in shades during winter. During summer, tent accommodations can be tried.
We managed to book a room in forest guest house. It was a luxury. In fact we were prepared for the worse and the situation was much better. I would recommend you to book a room of this guest house by phone if you are traveling after 15 April, otherwise just go there and talk to care taker. It will cost 500 INR for a night ($ 8). Caretaker will also arrange some food like rice and pulse at a reasonable price.
If you are at peak, you can hear the sound of blowing winds. Temperature falls rapidly after sunset. After taking dinner at 7 pm we went to bed at 7:30. It was a stormy night. There was heavy snowfall. The scenes were quite mesmerizing and wonderful. It can’t be explained in words. The snowfall was so heavy that it was difficult for us to go outside. We enjoyed snowfall in morning. The wind was blowing so fast that it was carrying the snow of Moon peak (Dhauladhar Range). What we can see was just snowfall and black cloud.
The weather condition was changing fast, and we were not sure when the snowfall will over. Our first plan was we will leave the peak at 9 am if weather condition permits. There were some more groups at the Triund peak, but because of weather condition we planned to move in a single group. It was a safer option.
Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory. We left Peak at 9:30 am. This time I was leading the group and the guide was at the end to make sure that no one is left behind. Because of heavy snowfall at night I was not able to visualize the trail clearly. Climbing up on the mountain is physically tiring but climbing down is in fact more difficult. You have to be very careful. You have to be very attentive even when you fall or slip, otherwise it will be dangerous.
When we were at top we were enjoying snowfall. When we were at midway, there was hail, once we were about to reach Magic view point there was heavy rainfall. We all were completely wet. We came back to Gallu temple by the same route. From Gallu temple to Dharmkot we opted for the road route and not the forest trail. The forest trail was slippery due to rainfall.
There is no easy or difficult trail. Weather, local conditions and your preparedness determine the difficulty level of a trail. It is definitely an easy trail if you are traveling in summer. It will become little more difficult in rainy season and in winter it is no more an easy trail. Be prepared for that.
We reached Dharmkot at 1:30 PM. After that we moved to Mcleodganj. We visited monastery there and then we came back to Dharmshala.
Triund peak was the highest accessible area during the period we visited there. But if you are travelling during winter season I would recommend you to visit Snowline or even explore more. There are some caves in the nearby areas. There was mobile network even at the top, although signal was weak and intermittent but again quite helpful.
Things to carry:
- Water-proof trekking shoes (preferably waterproof)
- Wind cheater
- Some basic medicines, first aid box, painkiller
- Water (2 l/person)
- Chocolates, glucose, juice( 500 ml preferably)
- Walking stick
- 1 pair of shocks for each day and same for inner garments.
- LED headlamp or other light source
- Goggles (Class III or class IV)
- Extra pair of cloths
- Try to explore snowline area.
- Do not drink while trekking.
- If you have time, you can explore waterfall near Mcleodganj and Shiv café.
- If you are travelling during lean period, be self sufficient. Have a good sleeping bag and HDPE mat.
- I would suggest you to have a guide especially during winter season. In summer there is no need as the trail will be full of people.
- Try Tibetan food in Mcleodganj
Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing ― Barry Finlay