Much have the mountains to offer than one can absorb in a single visit. Someone once rightly said that it is not about the place that you are revisiting, it is the viewpoint that you are seeing it from. And what more can one hope for when Nature itself conspires to change that viewpoint of yours.
I did this trek once before in October’14. That time it was lush green, the most soothing to the eyes.
This time I had no prior plans to come here again. I was as usual searching a needle in the haystack of my Ph.D. life and suddenly I came across a post in FB with some pics of this Heaven-beyond-seventh-Heaven-“Triund”… being fully covered with fresh snow. I couldn’t resist it and suddenly decided to venture it out at any cost, be it with the risk of going alone. And so I did. Saturday night I took a bus from Chandigarh to McLeodganj, the little Tibet in Himachal. The bus dropped me there at around 6.30 am in the morning. I started my hunt for a cheap accommodation, as I only needed to leave behind some stuffs and refresh. In January, it’s not such a big deal to get a room in reasonably less price. And when I opened the window of my own little cosy room, I was blown away immediately. Just in front of me, standing was the snow-capped high peaks of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, redefining grandiosity and splendour.
I decided to start the trek as soon as possible as I was planning to get down the same day. After having a light breakfast (which is very important before starting any trek) and a cup of hot tea, I set off for the white beauty. I was carrying only a rain jacket, gaiters, gloves, medicines, water bottle, trekking stick and off course my camera. That’s it. Everything else I left behind in the hotel room. Since it was a snow trek, gaiters and trekking sticks would be of much help.
The main trail starts from Gulu devi temple, a little ahead of Dharamkot. There is one Hotel near to Gulu devi temple also which I did not know about previously. At around 8.30 am I started ascending. As soon as the trail starts, it provides an amazing view of Mcleodganj and Dharamshala downhill. And in the morning, they were sunbathing. Golden beams of rays were being poured by the Sun through the “light-holes” of clouds. The magic of the view would surely impel any nature lover to freeze in moment for an instant.
In gulu devi temple itself, small patches of snow were present on the ground. But the initial trail remains free from being snowy, although just for a few turns. Soon the trail started offering you the challenge of crossing extremely slippery, frozen-ice-covered paths. I was thinking how to get down, but soon decided not to ponder upon that obvious risk, rather concentrate on the present. So, deliberately shaking off the faint possibility of an impossible descending, I continued ascending. And suddenly, after one turn, again that huge peak was visible, standing as a gigantic sentinel to watch out this ancient route of Gaddi shepherds.
By the time I reach magic view café, which marks the middle point of the trail, I got some good companies. We were having tea, maggi, energy drink, and spending some time there relaxing our muscles a bit, when suddenly it started snowing. Yes it felt awesome, the first ever snow fall in my life.
The shop owner warned us about the more perilous next half of the trail being fully covered by snow. Just in front of the café, the trail was snow covered. After that it was a white sea of glittering snow. Due to heavy snowfall, I was not being able to match the trail as I knew it to be from my early experience. We just followed the footmarks. Time to time, getting up was so difficult that it was heard to block my mind from thinking about that impossible descending. But still I continued. At times, there was no trail as such, no place to keep both the feet side by side. But luckily those tricky parts were covered with a highly pumping heart and without any “incident”.
The final ascent of half an hour, in summer itself, was tiring due to its steepness. And to add to that, it was covered with thick snow. In this scenario, a stick is of great help. Soft snow help in getting good grip, but to decide, whether there is any ground beneath the soft snow, you need a stick. Otherwise, it can be dangerous. So without a proper trail, we all completed the almost vertical final ascent and then, there it was, Triund, clad in thick fresh snow, impeccably white and completely indescribable. I will not compare the lush greenery with the blinding whiteness, but for me it was the most out of this world view that I have ever withstand, spellbinding, horrifying, pleasing and awe-inspiring at the same time. And behind the ridge, there was that Sentinel just a stone throwing distance away. The Moon peak, as it is called, was standing there with all its grandeur. In front of it my time froze, no matter how much I tried to grasp the horrifying beauty of the snow giant, it seemed too less. A bizarre feeling of “I am” grasped me instantaneously. Where, what, when, how, I didn’t care. Only thing obvious to me was “I am”. I cannot really express this in words. Better to go there and experience.
After completing 9 km of ascending and a similar descend, my knees started revolting against my mind. I took a cab and came to my Hotel room to take a few hours rest before setting off for my return journey.