We went to trek in Kashmir. But we did it in Himachal. That’s been our story, as we had to abandon our Great lakes trek in Kashmir due to heavy rain in mountains. It is no fun to get stuck in the rain and stay in the tents.
Our other option was to try our luck in Dharamshala. It was raining cats and dogs when we checked into lovely Chonor house, possibly the cutest hotel in Dharamshala. The forecast wasn't encouraging either. We wanted to do a day trek in the Dhauladhar Ranges of Himalayas. We chose climb Triund.
Triund or Trikhund as it is locally known is one of the lovely peaks on Dhauladhar ranges. At 2875 meters or 9500 feet, it allows you have excellent views of not only Dhauladhar ranges beyond but also spectacular views of Dharamshala and Kangra valley. As the name suggests, it is a summit from where you can see three peaks of Dhauladhar ranges. Triund is the first stop for people who do Indrahar Pass trek on the way from Dharamshala to Chamba. In trekking parlance, it is categorized as Easy to Moderate trek.
We told Ravi our guide that we would be up early in the morning and ready to trek around 6AM provided the weather is good. He was surprised as many don’t get up so early and don't start the trek before 8.30 AM. We are the firm believers of doing it early in the mountains, as weather in mountains is always fickle.
We were ready at 6.30 after a cup of tea and yummy Walnut cake. Ravi had come with a cab and we were to drive up to Galu matha temple from where we were to ascend. The drive to Galu Matha temple from McLeodganj was picturesque as we went through scenic areas of Army Cantonment. The last few kilometers of the drive was through cedar and pine forests. We had to stop 500 meters from Galu matha temple as a landslide had blocked the road. Thus, our trek actually started ahead of Galu matha temple. Galu Matha temple is normally the start point for Triund trek as this is where the road ends. Some people start the trek from Dharamkota, which means an addition of another four kilometers.
|Cedar trees swaying in early morning wind|
|Galu Matha temple - The start point|
|Yes, this is a litter free zone.|
It was a clear morning. The sun was shining and the sky was hearty blue with spatter of few clouds. We were happy and hoped that it wouldn't rain till we completed the trek. There was no indication of rain but in mountains you are never sure. The trail is well marked and broad enough. Soon, we were climbing, albeit slowly. The trail is at an edge of the ridge, which meant it offered charming views of valley with Dharamshala in the distance. Soon the route led us through wooded valleys and we crossed a chuckling stream.
|Spectacular view of the mountains basking in morning sun|
|View of McLeodganj, Dharamshala and Kangra valley - I|
|View of McLeodganj, Dharamshala and Kangra valley - II|
The first few steps on a trek are always difficult. Being a day trek, we did not carry heavy backpacks. The unkindest part of any trek in the mountains is the hard realization that there is always more hills in front of you. It is dispiriting. The question with trekking in the hills is you never know what’s to come. Walking through the wooded trail, series of rolling hills in front of you to conquer, you lose track of how much you have walked already. The fact that these hills are not visible at one go makes you feel whether you will ever reach the summit. You reach the high ground and think you have done it, only to be deceived by another hill in front, which is the one you have to climb. The hill continuously retreat making you think whether you will be able to climb at all. We don't have an option but to march on. That is what we did.
The best part of trek to Triund are the views you will see on the way - luscious and green, to the left and right. On our right was the spectacular view of the valley with clumped woodlands, winding trail, colourful hamlets all made exquisitely picturesque due to distance. On the left was mighty mountains, which are to be climbed. Being monsoon, the snow had melted and we could see dark granite peaks in the distance. We realised the fact that we were walking in Rhododendron forests only when Ravi showed us the trees. The forests are full of them along with Himalayan oaks and Cedars. We had never seen such huge trees of Rhododendron. We were actually in the wrong season and could visualise how beautiful this trek would be in spring when the trees are in bloom. That must be strikingly scenic.
|Magic view cafe with peaks in the background. The ridge line is where Triund is.|
|Lovely landscape of Oaks, cedars and Rhododendrons |
|The trail goes through rhododendron forests as you can see in this picture|
So we walked. We walked up the mountains crossing streams, on a trail, which at some places is really narrow to allow only one person. We walked over loose stones supporting ourselves with the hiking stick. The rains in the past week had turned the landscape green and many streams were revived though not to fullest of their glory. At a distance over the hills, we could see many waterfalls tumbling down. Halfway through, we reached Magic view café, a small restaurant where you can have some chai/snacks. Located on a cliff, the place provides amazing view of the valley below.
|Magic View cafe - the oldest on the trail. The valley view from this place is magical!|
|Another nice camping ground - the one in blue colour |
|Waterfalls gently tumbling down|
The climb from here got steeper and trail was made of rocks. One has to be careful to balance on the rocks and move lest you may fall into the valley. We stopped for a moment and looked up the mountain. Ravi shows us the final destination on a distant mountain - a forest bungalow, which looks pint-sized from the distance. We ask him much more to climb. He says another two hours! Did we have a choice? We trudged on.
|Notice the forest rest house in the middle of the picture on the ridge. This is the final point.|
We walked through a small stream fed by waterfalls. There wasn't much water and was tumbling gracefully over the rocks. We crossed the stream and climbed a small rock to get into a vantage point for a stunning valley view. The gorge here is really deep and we could hear gurgling sound of water below. At a distance, a cascade of milky white flowed down the mountain. To its right was another tall waterfalls. For the first time on the trek we saw beautiful wild flowers.
Another bite of energy bar and we were now ready for the summit run.
The most picturesque spot on the trek, the water falls, the valley view, wildflowers makes it special
|Well deserved break!!|
The last two kilometers was hard on the knees. It was sheer climb compared to the gentle trail we had left behind. We were now climbing in real sense. The forest guest house was visible but looked receding with every step. We were curious and excited to see the panoramic views on the other side of the mountain. The weather was still holding good. Rains seemed to have given a temporary break. We could see clouds building up over the mountains. We had to move faster so that did not lose out on the views due to fog when we reach the top.
|Rugged granite landscape - notice the clouds cover|
The hike to the top was steep, seemingly endless. But it was worth an effort. The wow feeling you get when you reach the summit is every trekkers joy. To hike for hours through cool, green forests, navigating through delicately positioned rocks and reach a summit, which is nothing but a large open space on a ridge, covered in thick layers of grass under a dome of heavenly blue sky with spectacular 360 degree views is an experience to cherish forever. Beyond the valley was bald and endless mountains extending into horizon. Two shops-cum-restaurants are the only tenements on the summit apart from the forest rest house. We had to rush to vantage points to savour the views of the valley on the other side. Fog was filling in the valley. Slowly it engulfed the summit and soon we could see nothing of the mountains. We were lucky we reached in time. Had we arrived few minutes late, we would have been disappointed.
|Views of the valley from Triund. Notice fog enveloping the valley|
|Mules by local shepherds grazing in the meadows|
|Yes. we are on top @ 9500 feet|
We were hungry and had to eat something. Maggi with Chai was god sent. When we were enjoying the Maggi, a group of local villagers with heavy backpacks trudged in. They were local Gaddis or shepherds who were trekking past Indrahar pass to a temple to set up temporary kitchen for devotees coming there for Janmashtami celebrations. We lifted their backpack and it was really heavy as they were carrying rations. They had to walk another two days before reaching the destination. They do it every year and it is amazing to see how faith moves man.
|Brinda with Maggi|
|Guys with the backpacks!|
Thick envelope of clouds on the peak meant we had to get out of the place fast lest we would get stuck in the rain. Going down the trail was again a delicate balancing act. An hour passed and valley gets filled with fog. It starts to drizzle. Sooner it turns into merciless deadfall shower from the sky with thunder and lightning playing over the hills. It was steady and heavy rain. There was no place to cover and we walked on. The trail became slippery and a running stream. Many waterfalls, which were dry and non-existent when we climbed, come to life and were all over. The trail near the spot where we had taken a break while climbing is now under water. The trail is nothing but a ferocious stream now. The cascade, which was a trickle in the morning, was now flowing with all fury. The change that was brought by the rain was amazing to believe. We were not sure whether we would be able to cross it. The water level had increased tremendously. We had two options - to wait till the rains stop or to cross the stream straightaway. We could see the magic view restaurant at a distance. There was no guarantee of rains stopping either. We took a decision and cross the stream, all three hand in hand. It was terrifying experience to walk on slippery rocks in gushing stream under the canopy of waterfalls. But we have to do it. We cross the stream and look back in wonder at the way nature changes in few minutes. Mountains are always unpredictable and we learnt it in hard way.
|Is this the same place we saw in the morning? Notice the stream and waterfalls in full flow|
|Ready to cross!|
|This waterfall was non existent while going up. It was roaring when we saw after rains. We missed the zoom.|
|This one too......in full glory after rains|
|Look at the lovely vistas!|
After this point, the trail evens out and is gentle. Rain continued though falling steadily. The boots were full of water and squeaking. We reached the Magic view and shout out to Chotu to get us hot chai. We need it, badly. Energised by Cuppa, we continued on the trail passing by many waterfalls, walking through streams. As we reach Galu Matha temple, the rain takes a breather. But by now we are wet from the waist. The rain cape protects us from getting wet completely. The cab is waiting for us as we cross the landslide spot and get into it. We drive back to Chonor house.
A day well spent amidst lovely vistas of Himalayas. It was truly an adventure and a trek we will always remember. The mountains, waterfalls, streams, meadows, clouds, the gorgeous views all make this a delightful trek.
McLeodganj is 12 KMs from Dharamshala which is well connected by air, train and buses to other parts of the country. Triund trek can be done as a day Trek from McLeodganj.
There are many options to stay in Dharamshala and McLeodganj suiting all budgets. We found Chonor House a lovely place to stay.
a) Always leave early. Mountains are best seen early in the morning.
c) Wear good hiking boots. Carry hiking stick.
d) During dry season, you will not get water on the trail. Carry it along.
e) Only places to eat or drink are Magic View restaurant and the restaurant on the summit. Food is expensive as they have to carry it all the way from town.
f) If planning to stay in Forest rest house, book well in advance.
g) The open ground on the ridge in Triund has good camping spots.
h) Triund and surrounding mountains will be snowbound during winter. Winter temperatures will be freezing. Carry adequate woollen.
Please check out the other trekking tales on this blog
Dudhsagar Falls - A monsoon trek on railway track!
Five Lovely Treks in Karnataka
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