The Valley of Gods or more popularly known as Har Ki Dun (alternatively spelt, Har Ki Doon), is a cradle shaped valley, nestled in the deep, dark inaccessible gorges of Uttarakhand. Set at an elevation of 3,566 MSL, a hike to this mesmerizing secret of nature, passes through the Govind National Park, taking you through some of the remotest villages, yet untouched by the crusades of modern day civilization. As you walk through the deep coniferous woods, you are greeted by long, old pine trees and an unrecognizable sequence of flora and fauna. Tucked away, from the chatter of maddening cities and corruption, there is an unsettling silence that follows you everywhere. One sound, however, that keeps you constant company is the gushing flow of turquoise waters of Supin river, intertwined with mysterious calls of unseen and unheard birds.
Your life, you feel freezes in a postcard moment.
This one moment wraps all your insecurities and worries. You are truly in the lap of mother nature and connected to a self, previously unknown. You make connections through your heart, you trust instinctively, you live in the moment. The starting point of the trek begins at Sahstradhara, 16 KMS away from the Dehradoon airport. A halt at night is recommended to pep up yourself mentally and gear up for the changing weather, cold shudders and increasingly welcoming high altitudes.
Here’s our story of a week of disengagement with the outside world, and a week of fun with the #incredible India:
As most of you probably know, this was my first Himalayan trek. As a beginner, I obviously, came with my own set of misconceptions. I was drawn towards the misty snow-clad mountains, thinking green and brown hues made the mountains look naked and ugly. But I was surprised and how! If you are trekking in summers, most part of the trek is amongst the heavily green hued mountains. The snow epic exists only in the winter season of the trek, when the desolate villages are covered underneath snow. But that’s a story for another post. As we went in summers, we were welcomed to a riot of colours. Sometimes green, purple, brown, tamarind and some times white. Off course, glad to announce that the fresh white shade of mountains honoured us at the summit camp.
P.S- You must be wondering, why the photographs are in B/W, when I talk of colours and clearing the misconceptions. I actually feel that the beauty of these majestic mountains is actually reveled well in B/W instead of colour. What say? 😉
As I mentioned earlier, our reporting camp was Sahastradhara. From there, we left for Sankri, our base camp, the next morning. Reaching Sankri, takes almost the whole day by bus. There are many local state transport buses available. Since we went through, YHAI (Youth Hostels Association of India), we had a small bus arranged for our group. Though, it was bright sunny when we left, by the time, we reached the entrance of Govind National Park, the landscape changed and it started raining ominously. It started raining heavily, and I had forgotten my raincoat. In Himalayas, one piece of advice you should always heed is to what your organizers or locals say. If they say, it will rain, it will! If they say it will snow, it will! So heed to the expert advise and pack accordingly.
On reaching to Sankri base camp, the organizers welcomed us with a pool of hot chai and pakoras. Within minutes, we hogged our way to glory and left the scene with empty plates and satisfied bellies. As per plan, we rested the night and next morning left for our acclimatization walk. In the mountains, acclimatization is the key to survival and it is very essential to not skip the regimen. Have leisurely walks, do some exercises, shop for any essential trekking items, for this spot will offer any last sensibilities required for a trek, before you are completely cut off from the civilization. The next day, early morning, after a scrumptious breakfast, we drove to Taluka village. It is from this village, that we had to start our trek. Lot of trekkers, in fact skip the drive and start walking from Sankri onwards. But since we were with a group, we had little choice. Honestly, it did not mattered. The drive upto Taluka was too dangerous, crossing some of the least pucca, rocky roads, driving on the edge of the mountains! It was fun.
From Taluka onwards, it’s a deep walk into the wild. We walked continuously for 6-7 hours straight at a stretch. Some ascending slopes, some descending.. Some times we walked through a stretch of green meadows, some alpine walks, with a backpack on our backs. One important thing to note on these treks is the weight of the your backpacks. On trails such as these, it can get difficult to manage even a single extra kilo of your own body. So while it seems, I am repeating myself- pack light and pack right. By the time, we thought we were close to our higher second camp, the rain gods played fowl. Everything was going right, but suddenly the sky grew somber. The green pastures turned too grey and dark landscapes. There was fog all around, you could hardly see the person walking in front of you. On such altitudes, the rains can really play an havoc on the strongest of the minds. Your chirpy little self can feel bogged down and you suddenly feel as if you are the biggest failure on this earth. At such times, small pit stops for fueling and recharging yourself is advisable. Maggi was my answer to all the problems. I know currently it’s embroiled in all not so good things, but I’m sure it will bounce back, you now know why! 😀
As soon as we reached Seema camp, it became clear. If weather continued its mood swings, we were doomed. And so, it was critical we geared ourselves for all the possible options. By this time, we were all drenched, all clothes wet. Socks, gloves, everything wet. Again I repeat- back light, but pack right. In Himalayas, everything is unpredictable. Even if it’s not the season to rain, you don’t know when the mountains will turn dark inside. Raincoats and raincoats. Don’t forget. The next morning, we began the next phase of our walk. It was steep incline, the descender reminded us. The guide promised the weather looks bad. But soon it started shining bright. Reminder- yes don’t forget to listen to the locals and guides, but don’t even forget, the mountains can play a joke or two on you. So be prepared for anything. Fortunately for us, most of the steep trek turned to be a cake walk under the sun. It’s always so easy to make your hay while the sun shines. Soon after noon, the clouds decided to play a joke. The mood again went somber. It started raining. Again.
The ascend turned steeper with the clouds bursting. Everything stood motionless suddenly. The last leg of the Har Ki Doon trek began looking impossible. Along with the above pouring rain, my own eyes started their own rainfall. It was nearly done. But it was so far. After coming so far, slipping off a narrow gorge, falling in a pool of muddy water, climbing some huge rocks, the summit felt impossible. At this stage, the only rescuer is Johnny Walker’s “Keep Walking.” Take a sip or two, or just remember the beautiful black background, with a sticky figure on it. And complete the climb!
So how did you enjoy this virtual adventure through the majestic moments of Himalayas? Tell me in the comments 🙂