Archive for the ‘himachal pradesh’ Category

Kangra Fort

Posted: September 17, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in himachal pradesh, India
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Kangra Fort is the largest fort in the Himalayas and perhaps the oldest fort in India (and hence in the world) and definitely one of the most picturesque forts I have seen thus far offering breathtaking views of the Dhauladhar range, although major part of the fort is in ruins owing to the 1905 earthquake. I would strongly recommend to anyone with interest in history and architecture.

Location and how to Reach: 3 km from Kangra town and 20km from Dharamshala and best reached only by hiring a cab or auto from Kangra.

Timings: 9am to 6pm; all days of week

History: The exact year of its construction is unknown but it was built by the Royal family of Kangra (The Katoch Dynasty). As per legends, Rajanaka Susherma Chandra, after being defeated in the battle of Mahabharata (allies of Kauravs), retreated to the valley and built this fort.

1009: plundered by Mahmud of Ghazni

1337: Captured by Muhammad bin Tughluq

1351: Captured by Firuz Shah Tughluq

1622: Conquered by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir after a siege of 14 months

1789: Raja Sansar Chand-II

1809: Maharaja of Punjab, Ranjit Singh

1846: British Government

1905: Earthquake

Layout: The Fort is surrounded by a high rampart over a circuit of about 4 km. The fort has many gates, stairs and courtyards, believed to be added during the various stages of its history and siege by different rulers. The palace fell down and the shrines were defaced during the earthquake and remain as such today but looking at them one can imagine the grandeur of the entire structure before the earthquake!!

Interesting Trivia: Kangra= Kaan=ear + gaddha= create/mold. Thus the city was named such because it housed the ancient plastic surgeons of the region

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Kareri Lake Trek

Posted: September 14, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in himachal pradesh, India
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Dates of trek: 4,5, 6 Sep 2015

Day 0: Overnight bus from Delhi (ISBT) to Dharamshala: Time taken 12 hours. Cost: INR 1000. Booking website: hrtc.gov.in/

Day 1: Dharamshala to Ghera village (1306 metres): 20 km away cab (Alto): INR 800

Ghera to Kareri Village (1746 metres): 2.5 hours

The road after Ghera is in a state of disrepair and hence there is no option but to start trekking from Ghera itself although many sites say you can take a cab till Kareri village. We got a lift from a pickup truck till some distance further, which was quite a bumpy ride and we had to hold on to the truck for our lives.

Hike from Ghera to Kareri village takes roughly 2-3 hours and the trail is pretty straight forward passing through Sari Village and one river crossing along the way, although there are options of using the so—called longer motorotable road or the much-touted shortcuts with steep stairs most of the way. We took a mix and match of the two routes and reached the village in 2.5 hours. We had lunch at Kareri at a local’s place and hired him as a guide along with tent for INR 700 per day.

 

Kareri Village to Camp:

After the village, the trail is a wide road still under construction but easy to tread on. Parts of the road had overgrowth so it appeared to be a scene from a Harry Potter movie. The welcome surprise for us were these temporary tea shops that had been set up for trekkers on account of Janmashtmi on 5th Sep, thus we got tea at regular intervals during our trek.

After the road there is a dirt trail for some time which gives way to boulders and stones acting like stairs that form majority of the trail. A number of times you would be required to skillfully hop over large boulders to cross the various streams of Nyund River, that flows almost all along the trail. Thus there is no dearth of fresh water supply throughout the trail.

There are warnings about bears and leopards, but we did not encounter them. We did get stung by bees on our way and by the poisoinous shrub that locals call “bichhu buti” and seem to be growing almost throughout the trail. Brushing past the leaves of the shrub causes severe rashes and itching. Ironically the sheep of the region feed on the shrub!!

We camped at the dedicated camp site, roughly 4 kms before the lake.

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Day 2: Kareri Camp to Lake (3034 meters):

Next morning we started late and covered the remaining 4 kms in roughly 2 hours, arriving at the Temple overlooking the lake just in time to enjoy the Janmashtmi langar.

Kareri Lake is a high altitude, shallow, fresh water lake fed by melting snow from Dhauladhar range, but dam has been built on the side of the temple to prevent water from overflowing. A few Gaddi kothis (Shepherd’s temporary dwelling place) are present on the other side of the lake and they live and graze their livestock there when there is no snowfall and after snowfall return to their village- Naholi. Post lunch we just hiked around the lake and enjoyed the views. At night the night sky was just mesmerizing, of course could not be captured by the camera. So the sight of the sky strewn by stars, of nebula clouds and of shooting stars every 15 minutes remains only as an indelible memory.

 

Day 3: Kareri Lake to Mcleodganj:

We descended about 19 km in 5 hours and caught a cab to Mcleodganj from Ghera (cost: INR 1000) and my feet were numb post that with blisterds. We enjoyed a great meal at Mcleodganj before catching our bus back to Delhi.

Local Guide Contact Details (highly recommended): Purushottam: 09736986581 (stays at Kareri village itself and can arrange for tents, sleeping bags etc)

 

Triund Trek

Posted: May 26, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in himachal pradesh, India
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1st May 2015

Triund is perhaps the most popular non-religious trek in Himalayas. I have wanted to do the trek since forever but had been searching for company, but finally embarking on the trek with a friend, I realized it could have easily been accomplished alone given the number of people doing it especially over the weekend.

McLeodganj: This was perhaps my 4th trip to Mcleodganj over the past 2 years, the culturally rich quaint little Tibetian town has a unique appeal to me. Last time around I had spent 10 days here for a wood-carving workshop. An easy overnight volvo buse ride from Delhi ISBT gets you here in 11 hours.

Stretch 1: Mcleodganj to Galu Temple (1750 m to 2100m); 3 km
One can take a car till Dharamkot and upto Galu Temple itself but we decided to trek the whole way so started at McLeod itself. This 3 km stretch is really steep- perhaps a gradient of 40deg most of the way but the path is lined with dense Deodar plantation and is thus worth the effort as the plantation is beautiful.

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Stretch 2: Galu Temple to Triund: (2100 m to 2825m); 6 km

This stretch of 6 km is not too steep and here onwards you meet a lot of people as most people take a car or auto to this place. This stretch is lined with Rhododendrons. The red flowers are beautiful but offer no protection from the sun, thus despite the gradient being much lower here, I was soon exhausted by the sun. There are 2 cafes on the way offering basic packed foods and maggi at double the cost you get elsewhere. This is the only place at Himalayas, as per my experience thus far, where they had really jacked up the rates, ascribing the reason to getting things there. Somehow I believe I have been to places that are harder to reach but still selling things at same rate or just slightly higher rates, not double, that reflected on how commercial the place was.


The entire trek one doesn’t get even a glimpse of the great Dhauladhar range but your reward on reaching the Triund Hill is the magnificent view of the range, in particular- Mun (4610 m), Rifle Horn, Arthur’s seat & Slab (4570 m). There is no vegetation atop the Triund Hill- only grass and rocks, made me wonder as to the vegetation had been cleared for camping or it never existed. There is a forest guesthouse but during season one needs connections to get a booking there as they don’t take booking on phone or email. For the lesser mortal like us with no connections, the only staying option is to rent a tent and sleeping bag from one of the 4 cafes there and camp.

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But there was a hailstorm and the temperature dropped and the rented sleeping bags were grossly insufficient to keep us warm. Thus I passed the night, tossing and turning in the sleeping bag, in futile attempts to keep myself warm.

Stretch 3: Triund to Snowline/ Laka (2825m to 3350 m); 3 km:
In the morning after breakfast at the café, we hiked to the snowline/ Laka. There is no vegetation on this trail, just boulder covered grasslands.

If Triund Hill felt like being at the lap of Dhauladhar Range, Laka Ridge feels like being a part of the range itself and from there one can go further upto Lahesg Caves or further to Indrahaal Pass and cross it over to Chamba on the other side. We were not equipped to trek over snow and the shepherds had not paved their way to the pass as yet, so we headed back from Laka.

The trek back, although just downward gradient, appeared harder due to the scorching sun and no enticement of reaching somewhere. Most people are after while hiking down but I literally had to drag me feet, perhaps dreading the return journey to civilization!! Why do all good things have to come to en end!!

Prashar Lake Trek

Posted: February 28, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in himachal pradesh, India
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Delhi to Mandi: Overnight bus (10 hrs)- Himachal Road transport volvo hrtc.gov.in/

Manali to Baggi Village: Bus- 26 km- 2 hrs, Altitude: 1,353 m

Trek from Baggi Village to Prashar Lake: 7.5 km: 4-5 hours, Altitude:  2,584 m

Thus the trek although only 7.5 km is very steep as you ascend to almost twice the altitude. It starts with a flowing stream but somewhere midway terrain changes and the entire landscape becomes snowcapped. On the day we trekked we also witnessed a cloud cover in the valley below, thus the entire panorama was white: snow, cloud cover in the sky above and the valley below.

The lake was beautiful and frozen. Not surprisingly, an ancient temple stands next to the lake.

We stayed overnight at the camps there. I couldn’t sleep a wink in the sleeping bags so I sat outside gazing at the clear night sky, which was slightly cloudy initially but became really clear as the night progressed. To a deprived soul dwelling in the over-polluted city of Delhi where the sight of a single star is such a rare feat, that the star studded sky at Prashar Lake seemed artificial, as if someone had been overzealous in painting the canvas and had sprinkled the entire space with specks of gold, no area left untouched. Even Nehru Planetarium did not have those many stars. Alas the only memory I could carry of the unrealistic scene is the imprint on my memory, sadly no camera shot could have done it justice but of the whole trek the most indelible memory I have is of the star-studded sky.