For the first time I am not feeling handicapped due to my inadequate English vocabulary because any amount of words would fall short to describe the beauty of this trek. I was searching for an easy trek option which could be done in weekends and came across a few(hopefully I will right blogs about them also shortly), and narrowed down to the famous Beas Kund trek: a trek to the source of the Beas river. Ironically the trek is way too much secluded (and thus peaceful, and breathtakingly beautiful) even when the nearest township Manali is irritatingly overcrowded.
Day One: Chandigarh to manali by bus (around 300 km overnight journey)
Nothing much to mention here except for the poor conditioned Him-Gaurav bus and the wonderful starry night sky that opens up as soon as you enter the holy land of Himachal. I tried hard to not to look up the starlit sky and the similar mountains to decipher where one ends and the other starts and decided to sleep. But the uncomfortable bus and the breathtaking view outside was conspiring against me. I kept myself reminding that morning itself we have a trek to start and I should sleep. Finally I managed to get some.
Day Two: Manali to Solang (almost 14 km by Cab) to Dhundi (almost 8 km by cab) to Bhaker Thatch (almost 3-4 km, but the distance seemed a bit more)
We reached Manali at around 7 am. May be early morning is the only time during this peak season of influx of tourist when this hill town sleeps. Weather was pleasant being it mid June. We decided to get a room for one hour to freshen up. Peak season in mountains is extremely costly and a room for only one hour costed us 500 INR. But keeping in mind that these are the only few months when the mountain people earn some good money, it did not matter much. One can also avail the option of trying the pay-n-use toilets and bathrooms situated at the both end of the mall road (one beside the Taxi Drivers’ Union and the other near Ram Chawk). Once we were ready we came out to break our fast with Bread-omelet and Gobi paratha.
Next we headed for the taxi drivers union to fix how to get to Solang. There is one bus at around 8 am for Solang but as we did not have that choice any more cab was the only option (well, not really, one can walk through the paved path through Palchan. and if you have a guide he will take you through some nice short-cuts). We talked to the drivers if they can arrange for the permit to drive upto Dhundi, a place 8 km from Solang. Driving in the road between Solang and Dhundi is strictly prohibited as the construction of the Famed 9(almost) km Rohtang tunnel is being carried out by BRO. Dhundi falls in the southern end of the tunnel. Luckily one of the drivers (I have the name and the phone number) managed to get through Solang up to Dhundi and we arived at the starting point of our trek. one can also try and if lucky can get a lift by the trucks that travells in this part for the construction. It was time to say goodbye to the civilization.
The trail is pretty much clear in most of the parts and is one of its kind. It starts with the raging Beas at its left. But soon a makeshift wooden log will take you to the other side of the river. From there it was an amazing walk through a flower bedecked valley. We were carrying our own tents, sleeping bags and food, and that’s why even the simple trail, at times, was feeling tiring.
Sometimes the trail goes along some small streams, sometimes you need to cross one, well, not exactly one, many small and large rivulets. Many a times, you have to walk over solid ice which covers the streams. One has to be extra careful while crossing these as the ice, while melting can be weak or broken. At one such point, we came across a situation, when needed to cross a raging rivulet. the upper part of the river was under a glacial ice-sheet and the lower part was milky white due to the rushing water. even the boulders were not much stable. Anyway we decided to cross one by one. Suddenly a porter, who was going to the same place as ours to deliver some items with his horses, appeared like an angel. He made the river crossing easier for us. we hopped over the shaky boulders holding his hands and successfully came to the other side of the river.
After some time we came across the Beas river itself. Luckily the shepherds have made another makeshift wooden log bridge at this point. Walking over a swinging wooden log beneath which the river Beas was gushing through ebulliently. At this point, due to the over-weight rucksacks we all were dead tired. The trail for us was “breath-taking” in every possible way.
We saw some tents a little distance away and mistook it for Baker Thatch. It was a nice camping ground but Baker Thatch was at a distance of almost one hour from this point. We kept walking with our rucksacks which seemed heavier and heavier with each step, took rest often and again kept walking untill we reach the gorgeous meadows of Baker Thatch. We met several people who were coming down after completing the trek and one such person told us that Baker Thatch camping ground is almost full of tents so we can put up our tents a little ahead of Baker Thatch. This place most probably is called Bhoj-patra. It was a good advice, as the place was secluded, away from all kind of hustles, totally heavenly peaceful and much more near to the water stream. It was a heaven that I spent the night in. Never before have I seen such majestic color combination of Green and white. Never before have I seen the lofty and huge icy slopes of the Pir-Panjal range which lead to the mighty peaks of Hanuman Tibba, Shitidhar, Indrasaan, Deo Tibba, Friendship etc.
We put up our tent and suddenly we realized the blunder that we have done. We forgot to take some food from Manali! Although we had brought some dry food like bread, butter, biscuits and cakes, those were not enough for the coming two days that we were planning to spend in this unearthly beauty away from civilization. Luckily along with us, there were two more tents put up by a Japanese group. They had a guide and a cook. We requested them if they can make something for us too and I could not deny the presence of a divine power when those two mountain people served us Japanese soup, Spaghetti, and hot Rajma-Chawal but did not accept even a single penny when we offered something to pay. Who would have thought that we would get these at this height. Content with the hot food and more with the worm gestures by those two angelic person, we sat in front of the lofty slopes to take in the vastness of whatever was in front of us: the Mother Nature and the human nature. Perhaps, in a place of such grandeur all you get is of the same “grand” level. The petite human nature that we observe in our day to day lives seemed so futile. With moist eyes, I sat their, incapable of taking in all the greatness that this place has offered, yet just spellbound, too happy to be there and at the same time, weirdly sad for the futile inhuman rat-race down the hills. that was some hours of pure happiness. And yes, if this was to be called happiness, then definitely money can not buy it; quite literally.
After hours of spending time out in the wilderness, we finally retired to our tents. Other than the heavy rain that woke us all up in sudden terror, we had a sound sleep! the gushing sound of the water bodies around played the sleeping tune in the background.
Day Three: Baker Thatch to manali via same route
Although our plan was to go to the Beas Kund, (The trail to Beas Kund goes straight up the water body from Baker Thatch after crossing a solid glacial ice cover. This is a steep ascent to the mountain ridge visible from Baker Thatch. After crossing the ridge, The Kund lies beyond) we decided not to trek to the Kund, because of the rain, the heavy rucksacks and lack of food. The Japanese group was moving down today. So we would be alone and we did not have adequate food for next one and a half day. Additionally, due to the rain, it might be risky also and it might rain again. Plus carrying the rucksacks, the kind of heavy they were, it seemed impossible for us to complete the trek. So we decided to move down. But due to the over-weight rucksacks, all of our shoulders were aching heavily. Now the challenge was to carry them down through a wet trail. Suddenly the same porter who helped us cross the river, appeared again with his horse and we came to know that he is the porter for the Japanese group also. We requested him to carry our rucksacks, tents etc and he agreed to do so for 500 bucks. This fellow does this trek thrice a day in order to earn some bread for his family. We agreed and after saying goodbye to the gushing water stream that was coming down the mountain ridge directly from the Beas kund, the glacial lake, and at the same time promising to come back to complete the trek, we started the joyful descent. While coming down, we spent quality times in stopping at places just to breath in all the beauty that we saw in front of our eyes. we were surrounded by lofty green and white monstrous yet unearthly beautiful mountains through out the whole trek. Behind us were the great walls of Hanuman Tibba range and in front of us some other snow capped peaks. On the left and right, the most amazing combination of green and white, the seven hills and the other mountains. Once we reach Dhundi, we gather our bags from the porter and yet another time got lucky to get a lift by trucks which were moving down to Solang.
From Solang, we planned to board the 3 pm bus for Manali. But when it did not come due to excessive traffic jam near Palchan, we decided to walk. We came down to Palchan. This is the place where the Solang road meats the Rohtang road, and as it was the peak season, the road was jammed for miles after miles. All movement around Manali came to a halt. I wonder, till what time the innocent nature would take this torture of bustling motors! We requested almost all possible vehicle in that line of Jammed traffic, but surprisingly got refused each and every time. The reason still unknown. even local buses travelling from Keylong to Manali refused us as if we will travell without ticket. They did not even ask for a ticket, they simply refused. Finally, near the Palchan bridge which would you to the Old Manali, we got a cab which got us to Manali for 800 bucks. We took a hotel, freshen up, had an amazing dinner with Japanese and Tibetan cuisine and retired to our rooms.
“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion…I go to them as humans go to worship. From their lofty summits I view my past, dream of the future and, with an unusual acuity, am allowed to experience the present moment…my vision cleared, my strength renewed. In the mountains I celebrate creation. On each journey I am reborn.”