- Difficulty: Intermediate
- Elevation: Close to 12,000 feet
- Base Camps: Haripurdhar, Nohradhar & Chaupal
- Route we took: Nohradhar 17 km route
- Important update: As on May 2017, Jamnala and Teesri Stops have been removed from this route, so plan your supplies accordingly. Always a good idea to check with locals on any recent changes.
- Day 1, 27 May 2017: Departure 0700 Hrs. from Chandigarh in Mahindra Thar
- Day 1, Pit stop 1: Dharampur, Breakfast
- Day 1, Pit stop 2: Near Shoolini University, Tea Break
- Day 1, Pit stop 3: Chhaila – Yashwant Nagar – Kumarhatti Road, Break
- Day 1, Pit stop 4: Rajgarh Road, picked up snacks & juices
- Day 1, Pit stop 5: Rajgarh Road, photo session
- Day 1, Pit stop 6: Crime Scene, 7 km after Nohradhar
- Day 1, 27 May 2017: Arrival 1600 Hrs.
- Day 2, 28 May 2017: Trek ascent taking 17 km route @ 0600 Hrs. from Nohradhar market
- Day 2, 0715 Hrs.: Breakfast, 2 km from starting point on 17 km route
- Day 2, Jamnala: 0915 Hrs
- Day 2, Teesri: 1115 Hrs
- Day 2, Churdhar: 1445 Hrs.
- Day 3, 29 May 2017: Trek ascent towards Shiva Idol Mountain top @ 0700 Hrs
- Day 3, Boulder: 0800 Hrs
- Day 3: Shiva Idol Mountain top @ 0920 Hrs
- Day 3 descent: From Shiva Idol Mountain top taking shortcut route @ 0945 Hrs
- Day 3, Teesri: 1200 Hrs
- Day 3, Hotel: 1600 Hrs.
- Day 4, 30 May 2017: Departure 0520 Hrs. from Nohradhar
- Day 4: Nobody had the strength to click any more pictures, so journey back was not timed.
It’s been getting rather exasperating, switching between jobs, adjusting to the new one although it was a job with an Employer that I had worked with in the past. I wanted some fresh air and Mountains were calling me, so it was time to answer their call but too many uncertainties were lingering around my plans and I just hate uncertainties the most. To tackle the situation, I made three different plans and decided to act on the plan that felt viable in the end.
What were these plans? I ‘ve been planning to revisit the Spiti Valley since my last trip in October of 2014. And obvious choice as a companion was the same friend that I went on the last trip to Spiti with. My friend and I started planning the trip a week before the date we decided to go. But those plans had to be canceled because of some unavoidable circumstances and I got the news about it from my friend two days prior to the date we were set to leave for Spiti. I then thought of a solo trip to Spiti but the very same day I got to know that much-awaited approval for a leave was still unresolved.
It was time to set in motion my backup plan that I had in mind, which was a solo trip to Kasol. My last trip to Kasol was in October 2016, which was for trekking to Kheerganga, that story is also worth sharing. Anyways this time it was just for the sole purpose of finding peace and tranquillity, which was missing in my life lately. My mind made up for Kasol as the plan to Spiti was out of the question, I completely forgot about a talk already going on among my Team about a trip to Churdhar. A day before I was actually leaving, I was indecisive between Kasol and Churdhar. The team members who were going on this trip, they had plans for a trek.
To my disbelief, just a few hours before leaving to God knows where, I had apparently decided to embark upon a journey with my new teammates to Churdhar. I for one, never go on a trek unprepared unplanned, but maybe that’s what intrigued me to choose it over Kasol. I had never been on this trek before, so I was trusting on the research one of my teammate did for this trek. My one-year-old daughter is not letting me write further, enjoy the below video I’ll be back after playing a little with the attention seeker naughty daughter of mine.
Back to the story – even though this was supposed to be a totally unplanned trek that I was taking for the first time and that too to a place I never trekked before, I was still hesitant to go without the essentials. So, I told my teammates to at least list down those essentials and to buy them if we were to do this. As per the plan, I picked three of my team members going with me on this from their homes and we headed out the city at around 7 in my Jeep. As part of my list, I packed the med kit for a trip like this which involved trekking as well. We bought two cartons of Mineral water, trust me half of the problems people face during trips like these are because of water. For the reasons, either sometimes the source is not clean or the mountain water is too much for one’s body. Change in type of water creates a whole lot of problems on a trip so to standardize it and avoid such situations I prefer to take water along. This leads to a health-related incident-free trip.
There are multiple starting points to take this trek. We chose to approach this trek from Nohradhar. And to reach Nohradhar we started off towards Kandaghat. We started empty stomachs and we were starving while approaching Dharampur. The Giani’s dhaba was not open yet, avoiding wastage of time we moved forward with a hope to find a place to eat in Dharampur. I am not very fond of Tandoori Paranthas, I prefer Tawa parantha only, but there was no point in driving further starving, so we had to settle with the Tandoori Paranthas. And they were not even tasty for a tandoori parantha as well. After a crestfallen breakfast, we moved on. I had learned a very imperative lesson of not relying on technology with the tragedy I faced during my Nainital trip, so I keep on checking with the locals for the right directions and the conditions of the roads ahead as that keeps on changing frequently for Indian roads.
One of the locals on the way told us that we should take the other route which goes through Solan city, I would advise the same as we found that route to be much more comfortable while our journey back. On our journey towards Churdhar, I’m afraid that advice came way too late as Kandaghat cross road was 15 km in the opposite direction now, and we decided not to turn back the whole way but went back to a point where a road goes down towards Shoolini University. I work Night Shifts, so do the rest of the Teammates who joined me on this Trip, I was feeling a bit tired behind the wheel so we took another pit stop at a Shop on the road to Shoolini University. I usually don’t drink tea, but to keep myself alert behind the wheels I drink whenever I am on a road trip. It was time to pay up for the tea and when I handed over the amount, the owner of that shop returned 10 bucks out of the total bill. I asked him the reason and he replied that he overheard us being heading to Churdhar so he requested me to offer that money as offering to Chureshwar Mahadev on his behalf, and I promised him the same.
After exchanging promises and words over tea we moved along on our journey towards Nohradhar. Crossing Shoolini University route made me nostalgic, remembering the good old days of college life and masti. That route eventually merged with the actual route that we took on our way back home. Our next stop was somewhere between Kalor and Timli, before the Giri pul. I stretched my legs a little and after taking a 15-minute break we continued our drive to Nohradhar. Somewhere on the start of Rajgarh road we took another small pit stop to pick up some snacks and juices. But we sent in the wrong guy. A guy who measures every calorie intake, all the packets he bought were Haldiram’s Snack Lite, all 5-6 of them. For this story, he is our calorie conscious character. Anyways we moved on and came across a valley view so it was time for another pit stop, purpose, photo session. When everyone was satisfied with their pictures we continued the drive to base camp. I did not know the details about the Churdhar trek, so I was assuming that Churdhar was a base camp and same was entered on Google maps as a destination. Nobody in the car with me noticed that we drove right past the base camp Nohradhar and were driving to God knows where.
The Crime Scene
After a while, we decided to stop near a small bridge over a small stream in the hope of asking around for directions, that was a big mistake. This was the Crime Scene where two partners in crime (calorie conscious one and his friend) went on an exploration of this stream and its plunge pool beneath, right next to the bridge. I was sitting side of the road on the grass with my laptop, and the third team member (who did the research about this trek), he was busy clicking pictures of the areas around the bridge. Anyways calorie conscious screamed and asked the researcher to bring the camera to click their pictures. After exactly 5 minutes he started screaming again, this time his words were, “Come fast, he’s drowning”, now you need to understand that calorie conscious often crack jokes, so me and researchers thought he was just making a fuss so that we go to them and click their pictures as they asked before. Okay, taking pity on him we started strolling towards them. But then he screamed again “Bring a rope, he is drowning”, now after listening to this I and researcher ran towards them. I was wearing slippers so I slipped and fell, with phone screen broken and some scratches to my laptop, which I didn’t have the time to pay any attention to because he was not lying, the other teammate was actually drowning. Anyways researcher saved him because he got to him on time, I was still recovering from the fall that I had myself running towards the crime scene. Once he was out of danger, he earned the name for this story as the troublemaker. Even after surviving something like this, the first thing he was worried about was his cell phone, which was lying at the bottom of the plunge pool. After all of this nobody was interested in retrieving his cell phone, but then a local man helped us by going under water to fetch his phone. For his help, we paid him with a small reward. Once troublemaker was out of shock, researcher and I asked the partners in crime about the story. They said they were climbing a stone to see the fishes when troublemaker’s foot slipped and went straight into the plunge pool. He said he knew swimming but the way he fell and because of the gooey plunge pool bed he was unable to find a footing.
You know swimming or not, do not underestimate such water bodies, especially the plunge pool beneath these water bodies. Such places are not for outsiders, only locals know the exact depth and other specifications of such places. Even when their intention was not for a quick dip in the plunge pool, one of them ended up in it anyway and nearly paid a very heavy price for checking out the fishes, he almost ended up drowning beside them.
My medkit was put to use even before we started on the actual trek. The wound I got from slipping, I attended that with the first aid kit. Later when we reached Nohradhar, I got it properly dressed and I was worried that the wound might bug me on the trek. Anyways, once we reached Nohradhar I asked the researcher to get the updates on Trek routes and other details from the locals. He got very interesting updates from a confectioner, all the info he got from a site which deals in paid packages of treks to various places, all that info turned out to be outdated. Jamnala stop and Teesri stop were removed on the order of forest department. And the same confectioner gave us the advice to try the climb using 17 km route. Which diverts from the original 20 km route after a km. You can find the info in the above video that you just watched. After taking all the info from the locals we then checked into a hotel. Nohradhar doesn’t have any fancy eating options so we had to make do with what was available. Taking into consideration we bought some more snacks and Bananas for our trek the next day as there was no stop that could provide us with any refreshment along the route as per the latest info we got from the locals.
Next day early morning we started our ascent on the 20 km route at around 0600 Hrs. After climbing nearly a km we then diverted onto the 17 km route suggested by the locals. As we made the mistake of taking the 20 km route on our way back, comparingly 17 km route was much more scenic and the 20 km route in its last stretch had the stone paved track which takes a toll on your feet, especially when you are so tired on your descent back to Nohradhar. So I would advise not make that mistake. We started off empty stomachs, so after climbing for almost 2 km we came across a shop. Be advised that this is the last point where you can get something to eat or resupply, check out the video for info. Beyond this, you will have to reach Churdhar 15 km from here to be able to get something to eat. Along the 17 km route, we were crossing a certain part infested with Langurs. Our friend, Mr. Calorie conscious crossed that area being in the last of the pack. May be he was still shaken up from the incident the day before. We exhausted our snacks, juices and banana supply by the time we reached Teesri. And the last stretch to Churdhar from there was a struggle against fatigue and hunger. Thanks to me there was no shortage of Water along the whole trek. The weather on this Trek changes very frequently but we were lucky to reach Churdhar @ 1445 Hrs without any major change in the weather. People who were approaching Churdhar around 1800 Hrs had to face heavy rain and even hailstorm. The eating options at Churdhar are not very satisfying either, all you will get there at the shops is Maida paranthas and oversweetened tea made from Milk powder. The Dharamshala area for men was scheduled to open at 1600 Hrs, so we took some rest in the empty section of women Dharamshala. At 1800 Hrs the struggle for getting blankets for the night began. The next day was Monday and that is the day of the Shiva so the place was jam packed by 1700 Hrs. The researcher brought the blankets apparently, there was a limit of 2 blankets per person but I did not think that would be enough for the night. We decided to fool the authorities a bit and I went again and rented 8 more blankets pretending to be a fresh customer. So now everyone had 1 blanket to use as a sheet on the mattress, 2 blankets as a wrapper and 1 blanket as a pillow, with this set up we slept the night like babies. Rest of the team skipped their dinner, majorly because in order to eat the langar one had to stand in line out in the rain. I was willing to do that because I couldn’t sleep starving.
Next day again morning, again we had to settle with those Maida paranthas and the oversweetened tea, which we ate after visiting the Churdhar Temple and I fulfilled my promise made to the Tea shop guy near Shoolini University. We bought some biscuit packs for the Journey back. From here we broke into groups of two as researcher and I were not willing to skip our visit to the Shiva Idol mountain top, whereas Calorie conscious and troublemaker headed on their trek back to Nohradhar. We started off @0700 Hrs and in one hour we reached the famous boulder. We spent some time there, climbed the Boulder and took some pictures. A word of advice, do not imitate the locals in climbing and getting down the stone. Moving along on our ascent towards Shiva Idol Mountain Top, we reached the top @0920 Hrs and there are no words that can truly describe the view from up there. There are 3 ways for you to choose from, to get down the mountain, the way you came from Churdhar temple’s back, there is one more that meets somewhere in the middle from the original trek to Churdhar and there’s another which is the shortest one saves you time and takes you somewhere near Teesri stop. Ask the locals or the priest on the mountain top for this route. The whole trek is rated intermediate but this route is no cake walk for any beginner so be very cautious on this route and avoid if you don’t have much trekking experience or you’re not accompanied by someone who has.
I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Travel safe and keep on exploring.