Tucked away from the regular hustle and bustle of the city is a beautiful cradle shaped valley with pristine beauty. Marred by the city blues? Seeking for an ounce of solitude? A trek through Har ki Dun is the magical antidote. The cloud kissed mountains, the denim blue skies and the alluring lush greens of the pines..it’s no surprise that Har Ki Dun valley is also known as the “Valley of Gods”. Only God could have created this untouched panoramic view without a doubt.
Location: The 63 Kilometre stretched trekking trip, at one of the most remote locations in Uttarakhand.
Level: It’s ideal for even beginners as it’s of moderate difficulty.
Duration: The one week trek is challenging. However, the sense of accomplishment after finishing is beyond words.
Old fascinating tales:
Step into this iconic location and you sense a feeling of sanctitude seeping into you. Maybe it is because Har ki Dun roughly translates to “Shiva’s music”. Legends say that there were several clans in the area ardently loyal to Duryodhana, the oldest of the Kauravas. Fables even go as far as the clans even helped Kauravas in the great war. The mythological connection of this place doesn’t end there. Sipping tea from a small shop nearby, the chai wala, almost as old as the time, told about the final journey of Pandavas through these flexuous valleys.
The journey embarked together by all 5 brothers ended with a single survivor- Yudhishtir. The old man said that Yudhishtir made his way to the final adobe accompanied only by a dog. A tug at my jeans and I saw a dog at my feet. That was Har ki Dun’s welcome to a trek to be remembered. As I made my way, I noticed, the dog did follow.
Base camp: Sankri
The ascend is enigmatic in a nutshell. As you walk along the meandering trails on an elevated terrain you almost feel like climbing a park slide. The flushing meadows and the lush greens on the ground remind you of a green blanket covering the entire terrain. The cool breeze gently stroking your face feels like a loyal companion- from start to the very end it’ll be with you. Every view is a moment to savor. The sun may not blaze with his full pride and glory, but it has its moments. The tiny rays falling on the calm waters of the Sindh river just near Narang is a mesmerizing view. The river lights up like a tungsten filament even at the narrowest rays. The sun may not be at his utmost brilliance, nevertheless, he wasn’t to be denied of the smallest of moments.
A hike further is a feast for all your senses. The Maple forests with its burning red vibrance is a captivating sight without a doubt. The sweet cherry smell makes you salivate. You get a feeling that nature rewards you for every bead of sweat you perspire. The climb takes you to a breathtaking view of the Sonamarg valley. Yes, breathtaking is the most accurate description, not just because of the splendor, but the higher altitude- meaning lesser oxygen. An hour more will take you to Ninchai. It’s time to roll out your sleeping bags and call it a day. Consider yourself lucky, while many have photographs in their bedrooms, you have impeccable beauty of Kashmir in the background.
Way to heart of Valley of God:
The hike further gets progressively more difficult-a small price to pay for the ever-increasing beauty around. The first thing to do is to cross the Ninchai pass. The hike will take you to a beautiful crystal blue lake. Stare at its depth for a moment and you practically feel like your future unfolding in a crystal ball. Is it your reflection or is it you on the other side? This is probably the point where you realize the mystical side of this mesmerizing valley.
Once the Ninchai pass is crossed, the descend begins. Ever felt the butterfly in your belly as you swing down a typical park swing? More or less the same, except you are doing it over a 1000ft. Mindblowing isn’t it? Enjoy the walk down-the green pastures, the spectacular plumes of the wildflowers, and yes if you are lucky, the golden eagle. It’s funny how many don’t even spot one and the ones who do can see them during the entire length of the trek. Looking up you wonder if it’s telling you something. Is it warning you the danger ahead or is it just asking to brace yourself for the spellbinding view in advance? Only time will tell.
The day will end at the bewitching Vishnusar river. Its calmness dips you in utmost tranquility. Camping here is a no brainer. Set your tent and let yourselves go for a heavenly sleep.
The Double Dilemma:
Ass you embark on your journey on the final day, you are torn between the happiness of the nearing destination and the sadness at the end of a wonderful journey. The final day is the most tiring and consuming of all, but worth it. The steep rocky climbs and the zig-zag paths can pose some difficulties. The aching legs and the breathlessness seem not to bother you, once you get a glimpse of the verdant hills. The streams, diverged in the hills with its sparkling water is inviting. As you bend down and splash the cool water on your face, the rejuvenation is beyond words. It’s fascinating how mother nature caters to your needs to help you through the way-be it the cool breeze or the pure pristine waters.
However, one of the quintessential views that strikes you on the final day is the spotting Gujjar huts. The brown studded beauties about a carpet of green is a mesmerizing view without a doubt. Traversing the downward journey, you spot a tree line and that’ when you realize you are nearing the end of the trek. After this moment, every step seems to be a striking reminder that the wonderful journey is about to end. The gentle breeze that was your loyal companion throughout seizes effortlessly. It knew it’s work was done.
Every journey is essentially a retreat to oneself. Making the final step back to the base camp you realize how much you have truly understood yourself. Sure, this truly inspiring trekking experience must have ended, But the experience of the journey will be etched in your minds for eternity. As someone wise said, it’s the journey that matters, not the destination. Live and let live. So, these are must-visit places during har ki dun trek.
Suggested reads– Valley of Flowers