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Snow Trek To Nag Tibba
Whenever I hear the word “winter”, the first word that strikes my mind is “Snow”.
Feb 2017
Kodaikanal Munnar Winter Trekking Expedition
As we all know that North India is famous for trekking. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand provides best and tough trekking routes
June 2015
Har Ki Dun Trekking Expedition
The state Uttarakhand has a long list of trekking trails. Some are easy, some are moderate, some are difficult and some are strenuous.
August 2015
Ilaqa Pass Trekking Expedition
We were planning this trip since February 2016 and every time our plan got cancelled due to reasons such as college placements, project presentations, sessionals, etc.
August 2016

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Trek to Parashar Lake - Part 2

Manu Khandelwal

Day 1: Trek from Baggi to Parashar Lake

We hailed “Jai Mata Di” and began our trek. This time we were accompanied by a local guide so we did not have any tension related to the route. We walked casually for about 100 meters through the village, passed a local liquor shop but did not buy any because we already had our stock. Soon we reached a valley full of boulders and tiny river streams (locals call it Nalah). 

Our guide told us that some years before there was a road which used to go through this way but it got demolished after a severe flood and now there are only boulders. We negotiated those boulders and reached the no-road head. It was plain but mild steep and was working as a warm up for our body. After walking for 20 minutes, we reached a point from where the forest starts. We took the right turn and entered the forest. 

As we entered the forest, there were some other beings who were eagerly waiting to accompany us during the trek and make our trek more adventurous. Yes there were leeches… so many leeches. As we took the first step in the forest leeches started attacking us. Initially, we were little scared of leeches but after some time we got used to. Now we knew that there would be no pain and how to defend us from them.

We just followed one thing to defend us from the leeches that “try not to stop at one place, continue walking and if you want to stop then only do it on a stone”

After around 2 hours of trekking with leeches, we reached a meadow and got a good news from the guide. He told us that further from this point we won’t find any leeches. Now we could trek freely. It is due to the fact that Leeches don’t survive at altitudes higher than 7000 feet. We had our lunch at the meadow itself and then continued our trek. We crossed 2 meadows and again entered into the forest. This forest part was small as compared to previous one and after trekking for around 40 minutes we reached a hut on a meadow. We crossed that place full of cow dung and continued our trek towards the lake. Now we could see the boundary wall of Parashar Lake. The lake was just 15 minutes far from us. We did not stop and entered into the vicinity of the lake. 

As we were hungry, we ordered a maggi and tea at a shop near the lake. Then we started exploring the place and the temple. The architecture of the temple was great. The lake was not much vast but the views were breathtaking. We spent around 1.5 hours there and moved towards our campsite. The campsite was situated at a walking distance of 2 km from the lake. When we reached the campsite we found our camps were already pitched there. We put our rucksacks into our respective tents and relaxed there. Later we did bonfire followed by ghost stories session. Also played antakshri with other groups.

Then we had dinner and all went to sleep except us. We were not feeling sleepy so we decided to venture out into the forest during midnight and add some extra adventure into our trip. We 4 took the torch, started the video recording and began walking. The night was totally dark and silent. We could only hear the creepy sounds of insects. After walking for 10 minutes, we reached a point where we saw a white color thing. Later we found that it was a skeleton of an animal. That moment our heart beat got increased gradually and we started getting goosebumps. We decided not to move further and turned back towards our camps. Though we got scared, but it was fun.

Day 2: Trek from Parashar Lake to Baggi

Woke up with a fresh and cool morning. It was a wonderful camping experience. I just unzipped the tent and experienced the cool mountain breeze, chirping of birds, lush green trees all around and the smell of mountains. We quickly freshened up and got ready for the breakfast. The breakfast was delicious and my favourite. 

After all this, we wrapped up all our things and started our return trek towards Baggi village. The downhill route was the same as the uphill route. 

It was overall easy for us to descend. I always find descent easy as compared to ascent. It took us around 3 hours and we reached the village. We fell several times due to slippery terrain but the good thing was no one got injured. Later we had a mango shake at Krishna Bhaiya’s Café and then departed for Delhi. The return journey was little low as usual because we were returning back to our mundane work life from the mountains. However, we also had hope and excitement for our next trip.

Alike Ilaqa Pass, Parashar lake trek was also a successful trek and we enjoyed a lot. We added one more memorable trip in our list.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Trek to Parashar Lake - Part 1

Manu Khandelwal
Parashar Lake
I have been trekking since 2014 and have trekked a lot till now. Have done trekking with unknown groups, friends, and solo as well and every time I had a unique and wonderful experience. If I compare all my trips in terms of how much I enjoy then I would always go for trekking with my friends. Yes, trekking with your close friends has its own fun especially when you all are engineers 😃 You can do weird things that you cannot do with strangers, you don’t give a fuck what others think, you just enjoy and remain in your own zone.

Last year, I went on a trek to Ilaqa Pass in Mcleodganj with my 2 niggas (Vini & Donald) and it was a hell experience. We had a ball on that trek. After that trek, all got busy in their jobs and we didn’t get time to go on any other adventure trip again. Now after 1 year, we made a plan for a trek when we all were available and it was exactly the same date on which we did our first trek in the previous year. So technically, it was our trek anniversary. The trek we decided to go was Parashar Lake trek.

About the trek:

Parashar Lake trek is a prominent weekend trek near the Mandi city in Himachal Pradesh. The trek starts from a small village called Baggi, which is around 2 hours from the city. The overall difficulty level of the trek is easy, however, the terrain is steeper and tougher than other weekend treks such as Nag Tibba and Triund. The trek passes through dense forest and offers beautiful panoramic views of snowcapped peaks of Himachal Pradesh. The lake is pristine and is surrounded by scenic meadows and a temple.

The interesting thing about this lake is that there is no water source to it. In spite of this, the level of water is constant since centuries and according to locals, it will remain the same. There is also an island in the lake which keeps floating and changing its position. It is said that locals can predict the weather with the help of the position of the island. There is also a temple called Parashar temple situated beside the lake and it is believed that the temple is constructed of the wood of just one tree. It is made in a Pagoda type structure.

Day 0: Journey from Delhi to Baggi Village via Mandi

So we were in a group of 5 and decided to travel by taxi. Before this, we arranged some essential stuff which was required on the trip and then started our journey. As usual, I occupied the front seat as I am always the DJ in my group, so I was supposed to play songs during the road journey. After crawling for about one hour on the roads of Delhi, somehow we got able to exit the capital and reached the highway. Took our first stop at Murthal and had the official dish of this place, Paranthas at Gulshan dhaba. Then bought some chewing gums because we knew that it would be quite difficult for us to remain awake after this heavy dinner. Soon we crossed, Karnal and we were on the way to Ambala. As the time was passing, our energy was getting low and the genre of songs was also changing. The only thing which remained us awake was our excitement of the trip. We took our second stop after crossing Chandigarh and had a yummy kulfi at a dhaba situated at Kharar bypass. Our energy got boosted when we entered in the mountains. The genre of songs altered to rock music and we were enjoying the journey completely. 

We reached Mandi at 8 AM and had a piping hot tea. The weather was very pleasant. Resumed our journey to reach the Baggi village, which is around 30 km from Mandi and is the starting point of trek to Parashar Lake. The drive to Baggi village was scenic and we were driving along the Beas River. Amidst the way, we found a point from where we could descend down into the river. So we stopped our car and went on the river shore and had fun. After all this, we continued our drive and reached the village in another hour. There we had our breakfast and then started our trek after relaxing for half an hour.

Chilling on the way to Baggi from Mandi

Baggi Village

Part 1

Part 2

Sunday, September 10, 2017

An Informative Guide to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib Trek

Manu Khandelwal
Valley of Flowers National Park
Firstly, let me tell you that this account is not an experience. It consists of almost all the information related to Valley of Flowers Trek.

For my experience, check out A Trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib

Let’s get started with this..

Valley of Flowers is one such place that is on almost every traveler’s list. The valley is quite prominent and it attracts visitors from all over the world. It can be reached by a moderate trek of 16 km. If one wants to go on this trek then he/she can book a trekking package from any adventure travel company which will cost around INR 10,000 (Haridwar to Haridwar). In case one wants to travel cheaper then the only option is by doing the trek on your own. If we talk about other treks, there is no connectivity, no food, no stay, so buying a package for a long duration trek can be a wise option unless you are not in a mood of an alpine trek. The good thing about Valley of Flowers trek is that you don’t need a guide to show you way, a tent to stay and a cook for food.

About Valley of Flowers:

It is a huge valley full of flowers and is expanded across a large area of 87.5 sq. km. The valley is situated in the region of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The valley consists of several rare species of flowers which bloom during the monsoon season. These flowers are used in making important medicines and scents.

Preparation before leaving:

If you are planning to do this trek independent then the first thing you should do is that you book a room at Ghangaria village because monsoon season is the main season to visit valley of flowers, hence a large number of people visit the valley during the same season. So booking rooms in advance is a better option and you can trek tension free.

The difficulty level of the trek varies from easy to moderate and the trail is well paved throughout the whole trek. If you have done treks before then its great otherwise beginners can also do it.

For packing list, you can refer any of the lists that is available on the internet. Make sure you carry a poncho or a raincoat because there is a high probability that you find the rain. In case you don’t get the room at Ghangaria then you can take rented tents with you to stay. If you are carrying tents then you need to find a right place at Ghangaria to pitch your tents. For some places, you are required to take permission and pay some amount to Forest Department. You can consider the area of GMVN, just talk to the manager and he will ask a nominal charge and allow you.

How to reach the starting point of the trek?

The starting point of the trek is Govindghat. Govindghat is a small village situated on the Rishikesh Badrinath highway. The village acts a base camp for the treks to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. The village is also the confluence point of rivers Bhyundar and Alaknanda. If one doesn’t want to trek till Ghangaria, then he/she can opt for Helicopter service from Govindghat to Ghangaria. The cost for dropping is INR 3150.

Govindghat can be reached by taking a road transport only. Govindghat is 275 km far from the city of Rishikesh. Rishikesh or its nearby city Haridwar can be reached by Road as well as Rail. From Haridwar/Rishikesh, one can opt for a bus (government or private) or taxi (shared or private) to travel to Govindghat. You can board any bus or taxi going to Badrinath, which will drop you at Govindghat. You can find buses at a private bus stand just adjacent to the ISBT Rishikesh. Either Nanda Devi or GMOU is written on the bus. At Haridwar, you will find buses at the bus stand itself. Choose your conveyance wisely as it is a long hectic 12 hours mountain journey and roads are also not good. The buses and taxis run only in the morning, so make sure you reach Rishikesh/Haridwar by 4 AM or AM.

  • Fare for Private bus to Govindghat - INR 400
  • Fare for Government Bus to Govindghat - INR 560
  • Fare for Shared taxi to Govindghat - INR 500
  • Fare for Private taxi to Govindghat - INR 6500


Day 1: 

Reach Rishikesh/Haridwar and then proceed with your onwards journey. The taxi takes bit lesser time than the bus but it would be more hectic (according to me). The traveling time from Rishikesh to Govindghat is around 12 hours. The complete journey is through mountain roads. The road passes through the towns of Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Chamoli, and Joshimath. You will reach the Govindghat village by evening. This day you have to stay at Govindghat. There are several hotels and guesthouses available at the village and the good thing is that they remain available. You can try in Hotel Shubham.

Fare for room: INR 600 – INR 1000

Govindghat Village

Day 2: 

Begin your trekking journey to Ghangaria in the morning. The distance from Govindghat to Ghangaria is 13 km, 3 km motorable and 10 km trekkable. Take the downwards route going through the market and Police Station. Walk for 800 meters and you will come across a bridge where several taxis are on standby. Register yourself at a window near the bridge. Now there are two options to cover the distance of 3 km till Pulna village, either by taxi or by trekking. I would suggest that you take a taxi. If you go by doing trek then you will get tired very soon. The shared taxi will take around half an hour to reach the starting point of the trek.

Fare for taxi to Pulna: INR 35

Deboard the taxi and start your trek. From here, Ghangaria is 10 km far. The route is well paved all the way and the trail is a blend of uphill and downhill. You will find several villages amidst the way where you can have refreshments. All the time, you will be trekking along the Bhyundar river. The trek is scenic. You will encounter several waterfalls and will be passing through the forest. It will take you around 6 hours to reach the village. After reaching Ghangaria, relax and explore the village. If you are not tired enough then you can watch a documentary based on Valley of Flowers at the campus of Eco Development Council (NGO). It is better to watch the documentary. The half an hour movie will give you all the necessary information related to the Valley of Flowers.

Charges for Documentary: INR 30.

A bridge near Bhyundar Village

Ghangaria Village

What and where to eat:

There are several restaurants available in Ghangaria. You can find north Indian as well as south Indian food. The good thing is that rates are same in all the restaurants. Only taste differs. You can also try the food at GMVN restaurant.

Some restaurants and hotels in Ghangaria
Hotel Kuber
Hotel Nanda Lokpal
Hotel Priya
Hotel Gangotri

Day 3: 

It is advisable that you start your trek in the early morning so that you will have more time to explore the valley and you will enjoy its beauty to the fullest. The valley is 3 km far from the village of Ghangaria. Take the upwards route from Ghangaria and take a left turn from the check post after walking for 800 meters around. The trail to Valley of Flowers is also paved. It is mild uphill till the bridge over the Bhyundar river and steep after the bridge. The valley is mesmerizingly beautiful. Experience the infinite beauty of the place. You can go to the grave of John Margaret and also up to river belt. Start descending towards the village before 4 PM so that you reach back during day light. 
After coming back, relax and get prepared for your next day trek to Hemkund Sahib.

Entry Fees to Valley of Flowers: INR 150 per person

A majority of people do Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers Trek together. Trek to Hemkund Sahib takes only one day for ascent as well as descent. However, if you don’t want to do Hemkund Sahib Trek then you can leave for Govindghat on this day.

Checkpost of Valley of Flowers National Park

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

Day 4: 

Start your trek in the early morning with the same initial route. The Gurudwara is 8 km from the Ghangaria village. The trek to Hemkund Sahib is difficult as compared to Valley of Flowers Trek. The trail is paved but steep all the way. It will take you around 5-6 hours to reach the Gurudwara. After reaching there, explore the place and have the world’s highest langar. Later descend back to Ghangaria village.

Starting of Hemkund Sahib Trek

Reaching Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib: Highest Gurudwara in the world

Day 5: 

If you want to leave for Rishikesh/Haridwar on the same day then you have to leave early morning by 5 AM.  The buses which go to Rishikesh/Haridwar, start from Badrinath in the morning and pass through Govindghat. So If you want to catch the bus then you have to leave early from Ghangaria. In case if you don’t get a bus, you can try for a taxi as well or you can also break your journey by traveling to Joshimath, then to Chamoli and then to Rishikesh/Haridwar. In case you don’t want to go back and extend your journey then you can also visit Badrinath and Mana village on this day. Badrinath is just 25 km from the village of Govindghat.

Start early from Ghangaria and take the same route and descend all the way. Reach Pulna and take the taxi to Govindghat. Trek ends here.

Day 6: 

Buffer Day or for returning back to Rishikesh/Haridwar

So this is the whole plan that you can follow to do the Valley of Flowers Trek. By following the plan, you can do this trek in around INR 6000 (Delhi to Delhi). So pack your bags and move your ass :)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Trek to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib - Day 4, 5 & 6

Manu Khandelwal
A view of Mana Village

Day 4: 

Woke up with a fresh and cool morning after the last night heavy rain. We quickly freshened up and got a thrilling news from one of the local persons from the staff of GMVN. He told us about the last night incident of a bear. Yes, the person spotted a bear inside the area of GMVN last night. We hadn’t noticed because we were sleeping. However, the good thing was that everyone was safe and the bear ran away.

We had our breakfast and got ready for our trek to Hemkund Sahib. We started the trek at 9 AM. The Gurudwara is situated at a distance of 8 km from the village. However, on every signboard, the distance is written 6 km but it is wrong.

We took the same upwards route from the village and trekked up to the check post. From there, we took the straight route and moved towards steep trail of Hemkund Sahib. As we moved, we were welcomed by a waterfall falling from a mountain. After crossing the waterfall, we took a left turn and continued our trek on the zig zag path. The trail was quite steep and tiring. As we were gaining height, the weather was also getting changed and it was changing dramatically. At sometimes we were inside the clouds and at some, we were enjoying the sunlight.

Trekking towards Hemkund Sahib

Ghangaria village seen from the trek route

Steep trail to Hemkund Sahib
It took us 4 hours to cover 7 km and we reached a point from where there were two routes, both were going to Hemkund Sahib. One through stairs (shorter one) and another one through a steep trail. We relaxed at a shop for a couple of minutes and decided to trek through the trail. It took another 1.5 hours to cover the last leg of the trek which was of 1 km.

We reached the Gurudwara at around 2:30 PM and got the news that the Gurudwara has been closed. As the saying goes “hard work never goes in vain” so it happened exactly in that way, we talked to one of the care takers and he permitted us to visit inside the Gurudwara. The interiors were very beautiful and the place was so peaceful.

Valley of Flowers trail seen from the route

Reaching Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib - world's highest gurudwara

Inside the gurudwara

Hemkund Sahib is a Gurudwara situated at an altitude of 4630 meters (15,200 feet) above the sea level. The Gurudwara is one of the most sacred places for Sikhs in India and is dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh (tenth Sikh Guru). According to local stories, Guru Gobind Singh practiced meditation here. Besides the Gurudwara, there is also a glacial lake and a temple devoted to Lord Lakshman (younger brother of Lord Rama). The Gurudwara is encircled by huge mountains. Besides the Gurudwara, there is also one glacial lake in which pilgrims usually take a holy bath. The views from Gurudwara are breathtaking and one can spot the mighty Nilkanth peak during lucid sky. During monsoons, the Gurudwara region is filled with a flower called Brahmakamal. The flower is very rare and is used for several medicinal purposes. It is only found in the parts of Uttarakhand in India.

Pilgrims taking holy bath at Hemkund Sahib

Later we had our lunch in the langar and started descending towards the village. It took around 2 hours 30 minutes to reach Ghangaria. We explored the whole village as it was our last night at Ghangaria. We had to leave early morning for Govindghat so we packed up all our belongings and slept.

Various Brahmakamal flowers

Route of Hemkund Sahib

A glacier amidst the way to Hemkund Sahib

Day 5: 

We started our trek at 7 AM and it took us only 2 hours to descend a distance of 10 km. We did not trek while coming down, we jogged all the way and reached Pulna at 9 AM. Then took a taxi to Govindghat and after reaching there, we just put our rucksacks in the room and started looking for a taxi to Badrinath. We decided to take the bath at the hot water springs of Badrinath. As there were fewer tourists, the taxis were also less frequent. We found two folks from Gurgaon and they joined us as they also wanted to go Badrinath and Mana. We hired a taxi to Mana and Badrinath for INR 1200. It was a little bit costly but we did not have any other option. The road from Govindghat to Badrinath was scenic and we were driving along the Alaknanda river.

while going to Badrinath and Mana
Badrinath is situated 20 km from Govindghat and Mana is another 3 km far from Badrinath. Our taxi dropped us at Mana and gave us a time of 2 hours to explore the village.

Mana is a tiny hamlet and is popular as the Last Indian Village near the India China Border. The road ends at Mana village. However, there is a road that goes beyond from Mana village and ends at Mana Pass but only military personnel can go on it. One needs to have permissions from military to drive on that road.

Mana Village
The village Mana is also famous for several mythological stories such as Pandavas crossed this village on their way to heaven. Also, Mahabharata was also written here. Ved Vyas recited the Mahabharata and Lord Ganesha was the writer. There are places which are linked to these stories.

We moved towards these places and explored them.

Places to see in Mana:

  • Ganesha Cave
  • Vyas Cave
  • Bhim Pul
  • Saraswati River
  • Vasudhara Falls

We first went to Bhim Pul. Bhim Pul is a bridge made by Lord Bhim (one of the Pandavas) over the Saraswati River. Bhim made the bridge to help Draupadi crossing the river. According to locals, the Saraswati river originates here and goes underground. The river comes out at Allahabad and is mixed with Ganges River. The mythological story behind this phenomenon is that when Ved Vyas was telling Mahabharata to Ganesha, the Saraswati River was making noise due to which it was getting inconvenience for Ved Vyas to tell. He ultimately cursed the river to go underground.

We also saw the footprints of Bhim or Bheem (claimed by locals) on a mountain wall. After all this, we visited the caves. We did not go to see the Vasudhara falls as it was 5 km away from the village and it can be reached by only trekking. We dropped it and started exploring other things. We bought many Himalayan herbs such as Kedar Kadvi, Vajradanti, Jamboo Khara and some more (forgot the names). We were also looking for a local liquor made of rice as we were told by someone that villagers make it here. The local name was "Kachhian". We asked some shops and women about the "kachhian" but they said no to us. Later we moved towards Badrinath and got ready for our bath.

Temple dedicated to Saraswati river

Bheem's Foot

Last Indian Shop

Saraswati river

Ganesha Caves

Vyas Caves

Last Indian Tea Shop
As we entered the temple premises, we just looked out for the bathing area and proceeded towards there. The water there was so hot but it was fun and quite relaxing. We were taking too much time to bath because we were enjoying, but then a priest told us that it is not advisable to bath for more than 2 minutes. The water has some nutrients which will affect your brain and you will faint down. After listening to this, we quickly came out and got ready for the darshan. We had our lunch at a restaurant called Hotel Urvashi. The food was good there. We came back to Govindghat in the evening and winded up the day early.

At Badrinath- Himanshu, Me, Gaurav (left to right)

Day 6: 

We got ready by 5 AM, as we had to catch the early morning bus to Rishikesh. The bus came but we had to miss it because there was no space. We waited there till 8 AM for next bus by sitting on the road but unfortunately, no bus came. We also tried asking lifts to some people but we did not get any. Then we decided to break our journey. We took a shared taxi to Joshimath and from there we again took a shared taxi to Chamoli. From Chamoli, we finally got a bus to Rishikesh and then we continued our journey. We reached Rishikesh in the evening and after having dinner, we boarded the bus to Delhi.
Reached Delhi in the morning.  

Trip Ended.

Well, I always say, weather and your companions are the two most important things that can make your trip memorable from an ordinary one. From Day 0 to Day 6, we got a very nice weather. One can barely expect this weather on mountains during monsoon season. We only faced rain during the night so it did not cause any inconvenience to us. It was a great place and we had a great trip J

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