Head to the Hi­malayas this mon­soon for a uniquely ad­ven­tur­ous MOUN­TAINEER­ING ex­pe­ri­ence

Make the most of the mon­soons with a hike in the mag­i­cal moun­tains! Citadel cor­re­spon­dent and avid hiker NIDHI MEHTA short­lists the best treks that you can un­der­take this rainy sea­son!

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Plan­ning your an­nual midyear get­away? Look no fur­ther, be­cause there’s noth­ing more mag­nif­i­cent t han t he moun­tains in mon­soon! The lush green hill slopes, the heady pet­ri­chor lling the fresh air, and the rain­drops awak­en­ing every pore of your be­ing as you climb to the sum­mit are a treat for the senses! Though sev­eral trails are closed in the rainy sea­son due to risks of land­slides and in­ac­ces­si­ble ter­rain, there are some treks which are un­der­taken es­pe­cially in the mon­soon for the sheer beauty of the val­leys in full bloom and breath­tak­ing wa­ter­falls and streams that dot the jour­ney to the top. The sooth­ing serenity of the moun­tain­side, a far cry from the noise, pol­lu­tion and stress that are a way of life in the city th­ese days, cou­pled with the adrenalin-lled ex­cite­ment of travers­ing the slopes, makes a hol­i­day in the hills an ex­pe­ri­ence like no other! Here are some of the most scenic treks that will make you wish you lived in the moun­tains... Shimla dis­trict in Hi­machal Pradesh is a rel­a­tively un­ex­plored t rekking des­ti­na­tion. There are sev­eral treks of easy to mod­er­ate level difficulty here, and one such trek is Bu­ran Pass Trek, which serves as a pas­toral bridge be­tween Pab­bar Val­ley in Shimla dis­trict and Sangla Val­ley in Kin­naur dis­trict. It in­volves cross­ing of Bu­ran Ghati at 15,500 ft above sea level. Bu­ran Ghati is a hidden gem. This trek is a blend of lush green de­o­dar and pine forests. Stun­ning views of wa­ter­sheds, wa­ter­falls, mead­ows and lakes add to the beauty of this trek. Poised grace­fully at 9,000 ft, the vil­lage of Jan­g­lik is where it all be­gins. The trails take you through

the serene mead­ows of the Da­yara and Litham Thatch, with their up­close and spectacular views of mighty snow-capped moun­tains, to the sa­cred Chan­drana­han Lake, a glacial lake which re­mains frozen for most part of the year. The most ex­cit­ing and nerve-wrack­ing part of this trek is the 400 me­ter ice wall de­cent which you rap­pel down from with a rope, fol­lowed by six long snow slides that are sure to bring out the child in you. The trek ends in Khar­cham, which is lo­cated at the junc­tion of the Baspa and Satluj river, and is con­nected by road to Shimla. Af­ter a day’s rest, one can also visit the an­cient tem­ple of Hatkoti, sit­u­ated be­tween Jub­bal and Rohru and the pic­turesque vil­lages of Kin­naur, Chitkul and Kalpa. Of­fer­ing breath­tak­ing panoramic views of the Hi­malayan foothills, Bu­ran Ghati is def­i­nitely one of those spe­cial treks that will re­main etched in your mem­ory for eter­nity.

Hampta Pass Trek con­nects the two beau­ti­ful val­leys of Kullu and La­haul, and on this trek one can wit­ness ever changing land­scapes from in­cred­i­ble views of glacial val­leys to thick pine forests, and lush open mead­ows to adren­a­line pump­ing water­ways. The unique­ness of this trek is that each of the camp­sites on this trek is dis­tinct from one another – the wildower mead­ows of Jwara, the fjord of Balu ka Ghera, the desert oa­sis that is Shea Goru and Ch­ha­tru, which lies be­side Chan­dra river in the in­te­ri­ors of La­haul. Every day of this trek brings forth a dif­fer­ent ter­rain to ex­pe­ri­ence. As the Hampta Pass ap­proaches, the ter­rain be­comes a bit chal­leng­ing and in­volves walk­ing over screed slopes and boul­der rid­den trails. The close views of Deotibba, In­drasan and other un­named peaks give a feel of be­ing com­pletely im­mersed in the lap of the mighty Hi­malayas. The last stage of the trek is in the

stark and beau­ti­ful La­haul Val­ley, which con­nects to Cha­tru from Shea Gahru. Gen­er­ally, it takes 5 days to com­plete the Hampta Pass Trek, but one more day is added to visit the fa­mous and strik­ing Chan­drataal, a jewel of the moun­tains and one of the nest high alti­tude lakes in the coun­try. One of the least ex­plored treks in the In­dian Hi­malayan re­gion, Pin Bhabha Pass Trek in Hi­machal Pradesh, is a bridge be­tween the rich Kin­naur val­ley and bar­ren land­scape of Spiti. This trek fas­ci­nates you with its changing to­pog­ra­phy, from the ever­green and re­ju­ve­nat­ing na­turescape of Kin­naur val­ley to the stark cold desert of Spiti val­ley. The jour­ney be­comes more ad­ven­tur­ous as it crosses two other ma­jor moun­tain passes, the Kun­zum Pass and Ro­htang Pass. Fur­ther on, the trail moves through sev­eral quaint vil­lages that reect the an­cient In­doTi­betan cul­ture and one can pay a visit to sev­eral Gom­pas that house an­cient manuscripts and paint­ings. The ma­jor at­trac­tions are the Kun­gri Monastery, Ki Monastery and Tabo Monastery. The di­vine beauty of snow-clad moun­tain peaks, charm­ing ham­lets, stun­ning ap­ple orchards, dewy mead­ows, car­pets of alpine ow­ers, vir­gin forests and gor­geous land­scapes that you en­counter through this route make the jour­ney easy and re­ward­ing. Once you reach the Bhaba Pass, breath­tak­ing vis­tas of sur­round­ing moun­tains, beau­ti­ful Kin­naur and Spiti val­leys and Pin Par­vati Pass, will make you speech­less and you will want to stay here till eter­nity. De­scent from the Bhabha Pass takes you through the Pin val­ley that lies on the pe­riph­ery of the Pin Val­ley Na­tional Park, giv­ing am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to have a glimpse at rare Hi­malayan birds and an­i­mals, which in­cludes snow leop­ards, ibex, and Hi­malayan fox. The Pin Bhabha Pass Trek is an op­por­tu­nity to soak your souls in ex­quis­ite scenic beauty and wildlife adventures, and also of­fers you a chance to in­ter­act with lo­cal Hi­machali peo­ple and their rich cul­ture.

Bhrigu is a prom­i­nent holy lake of the Kullu re­gion, lo­cated to the right of Ro­htang Pass. Leg­end has it that Ma­har­ishi Bhrigu med­i­tated here and many lo­cal gods of the Kullu re­gion took a dip in its sa­cred waters. The trek com­mences from the pop­u­lar hill sta­tion of Manali and leads to Gu­laba. The rolling mead­ows here stretch far and wide, un­du­lat­ing, al­most like an end­less car­pet. Of­ten one nds horses gal­lop­ing and sheep graz­ing in this high alti­tude pas­ture. The trail con­tin­ues from Gu­laba to Kothi Thel. Af­ter a steep as­cent from Kothi Thel, the trail winds up for an overnight camp at the vicin­ity of Bhrigu Lake. At al­most 14,000 feet, this glacial lake changes colour and shape every week! Some­times it is to­tally frozen. At times, its wa­ter is a royal blue; at other times, an emer­ald green. Just to see which gor­geous colours the lake has adorned, it is worth do­ing this trek. The down­hill trek leads to the Vashishth vil­lage and the jour­ney presents trekkers with a great view of the en­tire Kullu val­ley. The trail down to Manali passes through a thick for­est and slowly emerges into the ap­ple orchards and nally reaches the Vashisht hot springs be­fore cul­mi­nat­ing in Manali. ‘Kanamo’ is com­posed of two words, Ka and Namo, which mean ‘a white lady’. Loom­ing in the back­ground of the Kib­ber and Tashi Gang vil­lage, the Kanamo Peak or White Host­ess is a snow-bound moun­tain ridge that is an ad­ven­ture wait­ing to un­fold that of­fers the ex­pe­ri­ence of na­ture in its truest and rawest form. In the rst stage, there is an ar­du­ous but spell-bind­ing drive from Manali over the Ro­htang Pass into the La­haul val­ley to reach Kaza, from where the trek com­mences. Sur­rounded by the Kib­ber plateau, the re­gion of Kaza is pris­tine and has its fair share of wildlife rang­ing from blue sheep to Hi­malayan to Ti­betan wolves and the elu­sive snow leop­ard. From Kaza, there is a hike up to Chan­dratal (Moon Lake), a high alti­tude glacial lake that is a fan­tas­tic sight to see with high moun­tains all around it! The Kanamo peak re­quires es­tab­lish­ing a base camp near Kanamo Lake. The sum­mit ap­proach is from the South-East side of the ridge. From the sum­mit, one gets a 360 de­gree panoramic view of Ladakh, Spiti, Kullu and Kin­naur peaks! With so many beau­ties wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered in the Hi­malayas, pack up your bags and head to th­ese snow­clad peaks, lush am­biance and placid lakes this mon­soon for a well-de­served ad­ven­ture-lled break!

The sa­cred Bhrigu Lake in June

The scenic Da­yara mead­ows in Bu­ran Ghati

Sparse beauty seen from the top of Kanamo Peak De­scend­ing the pass by rapelling at Bu­ran Ghati

Wild horses gal­lop­ing in the alpine mead­ows seen dur­ing the Bhrigu Trek

The lush green Jwara camp­site en­route the Hampta Pass Trek

Breath­tak­ing vi­su­als of the Pin Bhabha trek in mon­soon

The sum­mit climb at Kanamo Peak

De­scend­ing to the La­haul Val­ley in the Hampta Pass Trek

From Kafnu to Mulling in the Pin Bhabha Pass Trek

Head up to Hi­machal for a mon­soon hike this year!

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