”It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves!”
– Edmund Hillary
There is a magic in the mountains, watching them is awe-inspiring while scaling them…well, that gives a sense of achievement like no other! Trekking can be exhilarating as well as liberating at the same time. Trek to Triund offers an opportunity to indulge in trekking to people of all ages as it is not as arduous as many others. In the last post, I wrote about a trek to a cave temple, Shiv Khori.
Located at a distance of around 9kms from McLeodganj in Himachal Pradesh, the trek officially starts from Gallu Devi temple. To reach the temple, you can hire a cab from McLeodganj at a very economical price of Rs.400 or choose to start your trek from McLeodganj itself; depending on your stamina and endurance. The route is treacherous and you may need to disembark at times so the cab can move forward. You cross Dharamkot on the way and reach Gallu Devi temple in no time. Government officials have pitched up tents in the location and that acts as a base camp of sorts. The officials note down the details of trekkers and the guides accompanying them. A personal choice again, whether to hire a guide or not but if you are a novice or an amateur, it would be a good idea to hire one!
The Sun and Moon Cafe is a small cafe near the Gallu Devi Temple and is run by Mr. Thapa. If you are a book lover like me, you will probably forget the trek and get lost in the collection of second-hand books he has for sale. Can you think of grabbing a Harlan Coben for a hundred bucks? Sounds incredible, no? There are books in various other languages as well. As you shake off the joy of beholding the wide array of books, you gaze at three beautiful hills ahead of you. The farthest one, of course, is your destination but fret not. The trek passes through picturesque rhododendron and oak trees that mesmerise you beyond measure.
Now, the guide passes on his words of wisdom, listen carefully:
- Golden rule of trekking- do not compete with anyone else; walk at your own pace. It isn’t a race!
- Move in pairs, if not more. As you climb higher, the mobile loses reception and it becomes difficult to connect with each other if you stray apart.
- There are ponies that carry those who are not able to trek. Stay towards the side of the hill, not the ravine, as they pass you by.
- Be careful not to scrape your arms and hands on bushes. In case you do, rub a sanitiser on the affected area (so carry a sanitiser if you don’t already, everywhere like me!).
- Stay hydrated-keep sipping water in between. (Sounds like a no-brainer but often neglected).
The trek to Triund rises up gently at first and you can’t get enough of the beauty of Dhauladhars and Kangra valley. Traversing through the forest, you witness virginal greenery and plush mountains which take your breath away. Another interesting thing you notice is the green expanse peppered with trekkers dressed in a variety of contrasting colours and attires. You see them in the perfect trekking apparel, in shorts, in chinos and what not. You may even spot a few newly wedded women who seem extremely inappropriately dressed for a trek. You can’t help but wonder how far they are going to last!
The guide announces you have reached the midpoint and you feel like an achiever. You choose to rest at Magic View cafe there and munch on snacks. Then you start again with the knowledge that the trek gets trickier from there on. The last one kilometre or so near Triund is known as ”22 curves” and true to its name, comprises of 22 switchbacks that test your mettle as a trekker and all the days you missed your walk come back haunting as pain in your calves.
As soon as you reach the top, around 4 hours after you begin the trek, the view literally makes you feel on the top of the world. For a brief moment there, you forget the fatigue and just try to take in as much of the miraculous beauty as you can. The limited menu of Maggi at Rs.100, Egg-Maggi at Rs.140, cold-drink for Rs.60 , mineral water bottle for Rs.40 and tea for Rs.30 feels more than enough.
The hilltop is speckled with tents of various colours and sizes. Spending the night in a tent on a hilltop is an experience in itself. There is a forest lodge in Triund too but you need to book it in advance if you wish to stay there. My suggestion? Ditch the lodge, pitch up a tent but only if you can manage without water and electricity and ahem, no restrooms. The tents cost around Rs.500 per person per night.
Wake up to the mountain breeze caressing your cheeks and a majestic view of the Dhauladhar beckoning you. Sip on syrupy tea and devour bread omelette to fuel up for the trek down the hill, back to the base. The downward journey is tricky as Madam Gravity plots your fall, literally! You need to be careful while treading down and plant your feet firmly in the ground.
As you reach the base and look back at the three hills once again, you are filled with a sense of pride and achievement. Travel they say changes you, and you return a different person than the one who climbed up that hill. It is an amazing change!