The above article has been originally sourced from Curious Eagle with prior permission.
Have you experienced the magic of the mountains ? If not, plan your next, (or first ) trek to Har Ki Dun (in the state of Uttarakhand, India)!
Har Ki Dun is a cradle shaped valley in the Garhwal Himalayas (Hindi: गढ़वाल). It is in the Uttarkashi district of the state of Uttarakhand in India. It is surrounded by snow-covered peaks and alpine vegetation. This valley is at an altitude of 3500 m (11,480 t) above mean sea level and is snow-covered during October to March. The valley is about 25 km from the village of Taluka. [wiki]
Detailed travelogue of the trek will be documented in following posts very soon:
- Har Ki Dun Trek – Day 1 & 2 : Bangalore to Mussoorie to Sankri
- Har Ki Dun Trek – Day 3 : Sankri to Taluka to Seema
- Har Ki Dun Trek – Day 4 : Seema to Har Ki Dun
- Har Ki Dun Trek – Day 5 & 6 : Har Ki Dun to Osla to Taluka to Sankri
- Rishikesh Trip – Day 7, 8 & 9 – Sankri to Rishikesh, and return to Bangalore
Rest of the post describes over all summary, trek planning and preparation details.
Har Ki Dun valley provides a beautiful view of ‘Swargarohini’ mountain. The legend says, Pandavas scaled Swargarohini mountain in a bid to enter heaven in mortal form.
This trek is of Easy-to-Moderate intensity. Starting point for the trek to Har Ki Dun is Taluka village (2110 m, 6922 ft). Trail passes under the Datmir village, in front of Gangaad village, through Seema/Osla and ends at Har Ki Dun. Trail runs along the tributary of Tons river and has few steep climbs and descents.
Each major crossover and climbs from the mountain ridges, offers stunning views of ice clad peaks of Sankri range of Garhwal Himalayas.
Round trip trek duration is 4-days. Distance from Taluka to Seema (13 Km) is covered on the first day, and from Seema to Har Ki Dun (12 Km) is covered on second day. Trekkers usually camp at Har-Ki-Dun for one or two nights. Return route is same as the onward route and also completed in two days. If trekkers are habituated to trekking long distances (~ 20 Km) in one day, they can attempt return journey from Har Ki Dun to Taluka in one day.
The trek takes you to a completely different world which is so close to the nature and completely free from any kind of gadgets! Beautiful vistas, unfolding in front of your eyes, are a visual treat. It makes you appreciate beauty of the Himalayas and the mother nature. This is a ‘must do’ trek for every nature lover !
Har Ki Dun trek can be done from May till September, or during months of early winter that is November-December. Following are the possibilities:
- May : If you want to enjoy comfortable trek, and see the ice covered peaks and play on the frozen rivers at Har Ki Dun.
- June: Same of above, little more comfortable and warmer, rapidly reducing ice cover.
- August-September: More warmer, almost nil ice, except on the far-away peaks, and entire trek route is full of greenery and beautiful wild flowers.
- November-December: If you love freezing temperatures and lots and lots of ice everywhere right from the beginning !
Make your choice and plan and prepare accordingly.
Twelve of us from our office team started planning for the trek from the Month of Jan-2015. Abhishek, experienced trekker from our team, started gathering leads and began communicating with his old contacts. We decided to do Har Ki Dun trek and visit Rishikesh after the trek. It was a 9 day trip. We planned the trek in third week of May and immediately booked onward and return flight tickets to Dehradun.
After booking flight tickets, one of our team member, who had already been to Har Ki Dun, contacted his previous trek guide and told the dates. Trek guides handle all the logistics during trek duration. It includes booking accommodation at Sankri, booking Forest/GMVN guest houses or making arrangements for tents and sleeping bags, food, and luggage transport (on Mules) during the trek. About 2-3 months before the journey, you need to follow-up with them at least once in a fortnight to make sure accommodations at Seema and Har Ki Dun are booked. You can tell trek guides if your group have any specific food constraint (e.g. Jain food). However individual food customization will not be possible. They will prepare and serve you morning tea, breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner. Food served will be simple and nutritious. For us, we got excellent food on all the trek days, it was much better than our expectations ! However, it is best to keep expectations at minimum level.
This trek requires endurance. Although it is an easy trek, it can be quite hard on your knees if you are not accustomed to long distance (~20-25kms in a day) trekking or walking. We all started preparing couple of months before the actual trek. Some members of our team started going to gym and started doing cardio exercises (Jogging, climbing stairs, etc.) to improve stamina. About one month before the actual trek, as a warm up exercise, some team members went for a one day trek to Madhugiri hill near Bangalore.
I suffered severe knee joint pain issue towards the end of the third day of the trek and that day we did almost 20+Km of trekking ! I had never trekked so much in one shot. Walking on the road is different and trekking downhill is completely different ! Downhill trek will test your knees. However, with more practice it will be easily avoidable.
Another important consideration is reduced air pressure and hence reduced oxygen availability at the height of 3500 m above MSL. Usual oxygen percentage in the air at MSL is 20.9, and effective oxygen percentage at 3500 m is 13.5, which is reduction of 35% !! Although for average youngster, this will not be a significant issue (unless one is couch potato !) as body will naturally adjust as the trek progresses. Some people might feel weird feeling as you start final climb before reaching Har Ki Dun. Hence, stamina building is very important if you really want to enjoy the trek. Simple half an hour of jogging or 1-1.5 hours of walking can be very helpful.
Things to Carry:
|Common Items for the Group (of 12)|
|Safety Pins||few||General use|
|Needles and Thread (Big)||1||For sewing fabric|
|Crape bandage||1||For any twists or sprains|
|Matchbox||2||For campfire, etc.|
|Common Food Items for the Group (of 12)|
|Chutney packets||~ 2||Since most of our group used to like spicy food, we carried some chutney packets to sprinkle over rice or khichdi.|
|Tang or Some instant drink powder||~ 50 small sachets||Extremely useful for keeping yourself hydrated during the trek.|
|Groundnut chikki||300 gm PH||This was immensely useful while walking, it provides lot of energy and make you feel full.|
|Besan laddu/ Dal laddu||3-4 nos PH||Very useful. Source of energy and nutrition. We had carried only 1 or two per head few laddoos and it was a mistake.|
|Biscuits||1-2 packs PH||Preferably crunchy and non-sticky biscuits.|
|Chocolate bars (snickers, perk)||2-3 PH||For quick energy.|
|Post trek NOTE:
Do not carry too many spicy items, this was a mistake we made. We carried more spicy / fried stuff than dry fruits and chikki. Spicy items will give you less energy but at the same time will make you extremely thirsty.
|SLR camera with 18-55/Portrait lens||1||
Each camera had 1 extra battery. Only three people carried cameras as we wanted to keep things simple.
|SLR camera with 10-22mm wide angle lens||1|
|SLR camera with 50-250 mm zoom lens||1|
(Consult your physician for more details about these medicines, and to know when and how to use them)
|Crocin, Combiflam||3 each||Fever, Pain killer|
|Band Aids||20 pc||For wounds or cuts|
|Povidone||1 tube||Antiseptic cream for wounds or cuts|
|Entroquinol||2 strips||For treating loose motion|
|Gelusil||3 strips||Acidity cure|
|ENO||20 sachets||Acidity cure|
|Avomine||3 strips||To avoid motion sickness (vomiting, etc) before long bus travel. Should be taken at least an hour before travel, only then it was found to be working.|
|Diamox (250 mg)||4 strips||For altitude sickness.|
|Coldarin||2 strips||For common cold|
|Camphor||~ 1 pack||It prevents altitude sickness. One can just smell the camphor intermittently while walking, if he wants to avoid chemicals.|
|Zhandu balm||1 pc||For headaches, sprains, etc.|
|Electral||5 sachets||In case of severe dehydration|
|Glucose-D||1 pack||In case of severe dehydration|
|Post trek Note:
We did not use any of the medicines during trek !! Not even altitude sickness medications. Almost everyone was confident about themselves and wanted to avoid unnecessary chemicals. In fact I had to use medicines for stomach upset in Rishikesh, that too, due to over eating !!
|Torch + cells||1||This is a MUST.|
|Cotton||tennis sized ball||As ear plug for cold protection, or cleaning wounds|
|Tissue paper roll||1||As a general hand wipe or for emergency dumps in jungle. Single roll can be used for saving a space, before starting you can cut small pieces from roll and keep them in your shoulder bag.|
|Rucksack||50-80L||Big enough to fit everything and should have at least 10% free space, while leaving from home. This rucksack will be carried by mules.|
|Back pack||small||For keeping water bottles, cameras, eatables, tissues, etc. while trekking.|
|Dry fruits (Cashew, Almonds, Dry apricots, resins, dry figs)||As per your taste||These will be most useful for munching during trek.|
|Relief / Volini spray||1||For sprains, twists, etc.|
|Sunglasses with polarizer||1||MUST. Otherwise your eyes will get extremely tired and will become red due to excessive UV and IR exposure.|
|Sunscreen lotion||1 tube||MUST|
|Mosquito cream||1 tube||Required for overnight stays at Mussoorie/Rishikesh.|
|Cold cream||as required||Extremely useful. Prevents itching and dry skin in cold weather.|
|Shower gel/ Soap||as required|
|Hand sanitizer||1 small bottle||Quite useful|
|Medicines – Personal care||if any|
|Monkey cap||1||Very useful to protect your self from chilling winds during evening, night and early mornings.|
|Ear muffs / covers||1||Very useful during daytime walk. Protects ears from sunburns and from cold valley winds.|
|Daily cloths and warm cloths.||as required||It will be extremely cold during nights. Better to have at least 3 layers of clothing for the night.|
|Water bottle||2||These bottle will be filled completely at the begining of each day and we used to refill them from mountain streams on the way.|
|Walking stick||1||We did not carry this. But we realized that it would have been really really useful !|
|Trekking shoes||1 pair||I used Forclaz 100 from Quechua|
|Floaters||1 pair||Very useful on non-trek days|
Detailed Trip Itinerary:
(Shaded cells give itinerary of the actual trek)
|Day 1||Bangalore to Dehradun||N/A||Flight||7 am||1 pm|
|Dehradun to Mussoorie
(With late lunch on the way)
|27 km||Cab||2 pm||6 pm|
|NightStay: In Mussoorie at Hotel Ever Green
Dinner: Hotels/Dhabas on Mall road
|Day 2||Mussoorie to Sankri
(With breakfast at Kempty falls, and lunch at Purola)
|7 am||5 pm|
|Walking and local exploration in the evening||2 km||Walk||5.30 pm||Till dusk|
|Night stay: at Sankri in theHotel Swargarohini Palace
Dinner: In small eatery at Sankri
|Day 3||Sankri to Taluka (Starting point of the trek)
Breakfast: At small eatery in Sankri
|12 km||Jeep||7.30 am||8.15 am|
|TREK: Taluka to Seema
Ate packed lunch on the way, and tea-coffee in trail-side thelas
|13 km||Trek||8.30 am||4 pm|
|Local exploration: Hanging bridge on the river||1 km||Walk||5 pm||Till dusk|
|Night stay & Dinner: at Forest Guest House in Seema|
|Day 4||TREK: Seema to Har Ki Dun
Breakfast at camp, ate packed lunch on the way, and tea/coffee/omelette in trail-side thelas
|12 km||Trek||7.30 am||3.30 pm|
|Local exploration: Climbing small hill behind forest guest house, walking around||1 km||Trek||5 pm||Till dusk|
|Night Stay & Dinner: At Forest Guest house|
|Day 5||TREK: Manindar Taal
Breakfast and then small trek to Manindar Taal
|3+3 km||Trek||9 am||12:30 pm|
|Lunch: At Forest Guest House|
|TREK: Har Ki Dun to Osla/Seema||12 km||Trek||1.30 pm||6.30 pm|
|Dinner: At Trekkers campsite in Olsa|
|Day 6||TREK: Osla to Taluka
Breakfast at camp, ate packed lunch and tea-coffee from trail-side thelas on the way
|13 km||Trek||9 am||4 pm|
|Taluka to Sankri||12 km||Jeep||4:15 pm||5 pm|
|Dinner: At small eatery in Sankri|
|Day 7||Sankri to Rishikesh (Via Mussoorie)
Breakfast at Purola and lunch on the way at Mussorie.
|7:30 am||6 pm|
|Local sight-seeing, Ram Jhula,Ganga ghaat
Dinner at Rishikesh
|2 km||Walk||7.30 pm||10 pm|
|Night stay at Rishilok (GMVN guest house)|
|Day 8||White water rafting, and local sight seeing|
|Breakfast at Rishilok|
|White water rafting (16 km, 2 Hrs) in Ganga||16 Km||Rafting||8 am||12 pm|
|Lunch at Rishikesh|
|Ganga Aarti in the evening at Parmarth Ashram|
|Dinner at local hotel|
|Night Stay at Rishilok|
|Day 9||Dehradun to Bangalore||N/A||Flight||12 pm||8 pm|
Per-head expenses for the trek:
This table is provided for a reference and to get an idea of overall, per head, expenses. I have clubbed some small-small expenses together to keep things simple.
(all costs given on per head basis)
Bangalore – Dehradun – Bangalore
|Cab : Dehradun – Mussorie : Innova for 6 people||~ 460|
|Night stay at Mussorie, Double bedded non AC rooms (Hotel Ever Green)||~ 650|
|Tempo Traveler : Mussoorie to Sankri + Sankri to Rishikesh||~ 2,000|
|Guide Fees : Includes : Accommodation at Sankri and during trek, Break fast + lunch + dinner + tea during trek, mule charges, cook charges, extra tips given at the end of the trek.||~ 6,500|
|Accommodation at Rishikesh in a dorm rooms at Rishilok (managed by GMVN)||~ 300|
|Rafting at Rishikesh. Includes pick from guest house and rafting charges||~ 500|
|Misc : Food, common items purchased, and other expenses||~ 3,100|
Thoughts on clothing:
Since this was my first Himalayan trek and I am usually over sensitive to the cold, I carried lots of cloths. However, I ended up not using 30% of them (This is after discounting contingent cloths that I carried considering possibility of rain) !!! Since weather is cold, and sweating will happen only during the day time, cloths will not get that much dirty. We were lucky for getting clear weather on all days of the trek, if it rains you will need extra cloths.
During the trek days (Sankri-to-Sankri) I used following cloths:
Day time: Inner wears, Dark coloured thick half sleeve tee shirt, and sweat shirt (on-and-off as required), stretchable jeans + cotton warmer (bottom)
Night time: Inner wears, Cotton warmers (top) + same tee shirt + thick jacket, cotton warmer (bottom) + track pant + trouser, monkey cap.
Other Important Points and Tips:
Following are some important points you should consider while planning and executing the trek:
- After returning from the trek we realized it was our best choice to plan the trek during 3rd week of May. Because, this is the time when Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) will also begin their month long trek program to Har Ki Dun. It is advisable to align starting day of your trek during first few batches of YHAI, because the ice and route will still be fresh. Although YHAI takes immense efforts to leave nature neat and clean (and I am really positively surprised at the discipline shown by their huge groups throughout the trek), ice will become murky/dirty as number of footfalls increase.
- Be prepared for the rains, there will be about 30% chances of rains. However, no need to carry rain-coats. You will get cheap plastic ponchos at Sankri. These ponchos can cover you from head to knees.
- Wear stretchable jeans or flexible trousers during the trek. In summer even though it is cold, you will still sweat as you trek. Strictly don’t wear tight fitting cloths.
- Have a jacket preferably with a zip, so that you can open up the zip whenever you start sweating. As soon as you stop walking, you will start feeling cold due to valley breeze. This effect will be much more pronounced as you start nearing towards Har Ki Dun.
- Do not compete with others or push your self too much during the trek ! It is an high altitude trek and if you don’t listen to your body, altitude sickness will start affecting you. Take frequent breaks as required and enjoy the nature at your own pace.
- Pack your rucksack at least 2 days before the trek and DO NOT overstuff it at any cost. Keep at least 10% free space.
- There is no guarantee of mobile network or electricity from Purola. Electricity and mobile network at Sankri is not reliable (Only Cell One network, no other networks will work there even in roaming mode). Plan your calls accordingly. There absolutely no electricity or mobile coverage after Sankri.
- Drink plenty of water during the trek, it will prevent muscle cramps.
Our trek logistics were arranged by Mr. Meghraj (ID: garhwaltrekguide [a~t~] gmail [-d~o~t] com, Num:nine~4[one][one[380[eight~1[8 OR9~]four]five]6~double 3[five six~ double 3)
Our trek guide was Mr. Chain Singh. He is very simple and extremely enthusiastic person. He and his team handled our trek really well. We got exceptionally good food during our trek. He acts as a guide for treks in Himalayas (Har Ki Dun, Borasu Pass, Swargarohini, etc.) (Num: seven~three[five[1~5[one-two~0]four 1)
It is advisable to send them an email or text message before calling them on phone. You will not get reply immediately if they are on a trek. [Note: Cell Numbers and Email addresses are purposely obfuscated to prevent spammers.]