Arrive at Shimla on your own. The base camp of this trek is Janglik. We organise pick-up vehicles from Shimla old bus stand to Diude, which is the closest road head to Janglik. From Rohru to Diude the road follows the blue waters of the Pabbar river. In an exquisite journey, the road climbs gracefully along the Pabbar, the scenery changing rapidly. From square wheat fields along the river and beautiful Himachali homes, the road climbs rapidly along pretty villages and mixed forests until it gets to the pine forests around Tonglu.
The motorable road at Tikri, just after Chirgaon, turns left and becomes an absolute dirt track for the rest of the way. It takes two hours along the dirt track to get to Tonglu. At Tonglu, the dirt track drops down to the river, crosses the Pabbar and climbs to Diude in swift switchbacks. Janglik is a short walk from Diude.
Today’s trek is perhaps the most beautiful first day of any trek that you will walk on. Climb out of Diude past the superbly crafted wheat fields – lined by beautiful wooden farm houses on their edges — some of them with attractive roofs in red and green. In fifteen minutes the last huts of Diude are behind you. The climb, though beautiful, gains altitude rapidly. In an hour, step on a ledge and look behind you for a commanding view of Diude, Tonglu and other villages.
The ledge under a pine tree is a wonderful place to take a break. Fifteen minutes later, past a clearing on your right, the trail climbs into a oak and pine forest. Getting deeper into the forest, the steep trail levels off to remain a gradual pleasant climb. The trail through the forest is just the treat that you needed after the long climb. Under the shady trees of the forest, streams running across the trail, brings a bounce to your step.
Half hour later, the trail pops out of the tree line into a vast expanse of meadows climbing into the hills to your left. The sudden change in scenery is startling. It takes time to soak in the view of the climbing meadows to your left and the dark shadowy tree line of the pines to your right. Ahead, the white snow patches that still remain in the folds of the cliffs opposite the Pabbar compliment the view to an extent that is hard to believe.
The trail out of the tree line descends gradually, skirting the top of the pines. The trail is well defined and broad. Almost an hour later, the trail enters another magnificent forest of pine and oak — this time thicker and denser. The walk on the dark moist earth and the brown carpet of leaves strewn over them is a moment to be cherished. Through the forest, the trail climbs gradually before popping out of it again in another half hour.
This time the scenery is even more jaw dropping. In front is laid out the almost perfectly landscaped meadows of Dayara. Sometimes, there are moments on a trek that make your heart sing. The first sight of the Dayara meadows is one of them. Across a stream running through the meadows, pitch camp for the day. This is known to be one of the prettiest campsites in India.
Start your day exploring the Dayara meadows. It looks most glamorous as it soaks up the golden glow of the morning sun. A walk on the meadows early in the morning needs to be savoured by every trekker.
The trail from Dayara to Litham will take you through dense forests, wide green meadows, gushing streams, and little brooks as you gain an altitude of 737 feet in 3 hours. The trail traverses across the meadows towards the Gunas Pass. A gently ascending trail enters another clump of pine forest fifteen minutes out of the Dayara camp site. Then you get to a stream that needs to be leaped over.
Across the stream, the trail climbs out of the forest and rounds a wide curve to regain the views of the snow capped mountains of the Dhauladhar range and Gunas Pass. Just as the trail takes the curve is a superb scenery of the grasslands leading down from the trail and into the dark depths of pine forests about 300 feet below. Behind the pine forests are snow lined towering cliffs completing a scenery that is perfect in its harmony.
Half hour later the trail dives into another beautiful forest — this time of Silver Birch (Bhoj). The forest is old and the silver birches gnarled with age. Descending gently through the forest leads to another perennial stream in the fold of the mountain. Refresh here and climb out of the fold to your first clear view of Litham.
Across the meadows the trail dips to the Chandranahan stream that you need to cross before throwing down your backpacks at the Litham campsite. There are plenty of brooks running across Litham, choose a flat spot and good views to settle down for the day.
Litham has gorgeous views on three sides. On your left is is the snout of the Chandranahan waterfall, beyond which is the Chandranahan lake. In front are the towering snow clad mountains that hide Buran Ghati but set the heart fluttering in anticipation of a great adventure ahead. On the right are the snow patched cliffs that hide the Rupin valley. The Litham campsite is a dramatic nest, the last of the great meadows of the trek.
The Chandranahan lake is a glacial tarn that is perennially fed by snow flanks of mountains that surround it. It is not a very big lake, but getting to it is an exciting journey and extremely rewarding. Cross the stream that you get just before the Litham campsite. Continue upstream on the shepherd’s trail to a ridge top. Walk towards the snout of the waterfall from where the stream emerges. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the snout of the waterfall, marked by beautifully placed stone cairns.
Trekkers usually assume that Chandranahan lake is close to the snout of the waterfall but it is another hour of trek into the glacial valley. The journey to the lake takes a difficult turn the moment you get to the flat at the snout of the waterfall. The closed alpine valley with snow patches all round is a treat. In later June, the valley floor has good amounts of snow but nothing that is difficult to walk on.
The lake is not very big but what it lacks in size, it makes up for it by its setting. Nestled in a bowl like glacial amphitheater, the lake is fed by the snow fields all around. In between are grassy patches that jut out of the snow. Tiny waterfalls that turn into brooks trickle down to the lake from all sides. Lovely arrangements of stone cairns mark the lake. Spend time taking in the sights of the setting before heading back to Litham the way you came. It is a steep descent from the lake to Litham. You must start early in the morning to be back at Litham at lunch.
Buran Ghati is a trek that can be easy or difficult depending on where you camp for the pass assault. Dhunda at 13,300 ft is perfect. It is a short two hour climb to the pass. The pass is always visible and inspirational. The setting is extraordinary. The Dhauladhar range looms over the trail with the Gunas pass sitting pretty on top of the snowy flanks of the grey mountains. It is a monochrome setting of grey and white in front with the green grasslands of Litham to the left and cliffs of the bordering Rupin valley to the right. The Pabbar is no longer a gently descending stream. It is now a virulent stream descending rapidly. The trail takes a sharper ascent. Continue up the left bank until the trail gets into a U shaped gorge like valley and you get the first view of the Buran Ghati on your left. Take a moment to take in the splendor of the pass and the upcoming thrill of the next day.
Start the climb to Dhunda by following the well marked shepherds’ trail that leads in the general direction of the pass. An hour of climb, perhaps a bit more, will bring you to the ridge top of Dhunda. At Dhunda you get absolutely clear views of Buran Ghati and the trail that leads to it. The camp is in an alpine zone. Snow capped mountains flank the campsite on all sides. Even in late June snow patches are everywhere. If any campsite can give you the beauty of an alpine mountain zone and the thrill of a splendid climb to come, then Dhunda would be voted among the best.
In September, the snow melts and it is not difficult to climb the pass. Out of the Dhunda campsite follow the ridge and hop over boulders towards the base of the pass. From the base it is an hour long climb to the top, mostly on snow. Buran Ghati at exactly 15,000 ft is a thrilling climb. It is a narrow ledge on the top. The drop on the other side is sharp and steep.Without the rope, the descent can be risky even with an ice axe. Getting down to the first snow field about 100 metres below the pass is your first objective. Thereafter it is a series of descents over smaller ledges that you can slide down!
Descending on the Buran Ghati trek is quick and very soon you lose all the altitude that you have gained. It takes about 2 hours to get to the end of the snow line. You also lose about 3,000 ft in altitude. Out of the snow line, the descent takes you down a ridge with junipers and lovely flower crested shrubs. The view of the valley in front is lush green as far as the eye can see. Beyond, a long range of mountains tower over the setting. Descend for another hour to get to a stream that needs to be hopped over. Across the stream the first farmers’ huts appear. This is where you camp for the night.
The descent to the Barua village is remarkable for the variety in vegetation and diversity. The trail is full of surprising changes in scenery that makes it an absolute delight. It is difficult to find another trek that has so much diversity while descending. Takethe path that logically follows the Barua Khud. Stick to the trail that is broadest and most used. The trail descends rapidly through the high altitude pines, giving way to a mixed forests of other trees.
An hour and half later the trail descends to a large gushing stream thundering to meet the Barua Khud. A makeshift bridge lined with junipers and mud is the only way across. Climbing out of the stream, the trail is greeted with more diverse vegetation.Late in June, lovely purple shrubs line the trail on either side. Further on apricot, peaches tree laden with fruit crowd the trail. An hour later the first apple orchards and signs of civilization await the trekkers. From an overhanging rock on the trail the entire view of the Barua village sitting on the ridge below is breathtaking.
Half an hour later the trail enters Barua village through an arch. It is a long descent through the village as the trail meanders and descends through. Life on the trail comes alive as the simple villagers are happy to see you. They want to hear your stories and invite you to tea. Look out for the grand temple on your right as you continue your descent. From time to time the trail rushes past apple and other fruit orchards.
Once at the heart of the village, the descent is more rapid. In half an hour the trail pops out on to the road bridge over the Barua Khud. Transport will be arranged to leave from Barua to Shimla at 1:00 PM and you will reach Shimla around 2:00 AM.
If you wish to set out on your own, you can wait to get a vehicle to Karcham, which is a junction 3 km ahead or you could simply walk it. Karcham is a junction where roads from Rekong Peo and Sangla meet. The big hydel project by the Jaypee group also starts at Karcham. From Karcham either take a vehicle to Sangla, 17 km away, or to Reckong Peo for more connectivity to Shimla.
If the buffer day is not used, you can rest at Shimla for the night. You can explore Shimla the next day and take a Volvo bus to Delhi in the evening.
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If you’re shopping or packing for the trek, you can download this quick and simple checklistfor offline use.