Bhavini’s Romantic Travelogue with the Chadar Trek!
“I would like to travel the world twice. Once to see the world, twice, to see the way you see the world.”
“…days passed by with the same routine of pushing myself to wake up and get out of the
comfortable sleeping bag, struggle for basic stuff like going to the washroom in -20 degrees
Celsius, removing gloves to click a picture on the phone and within few seconds, my
hands would freeze…so many small things made me so grounded and I feel gratitude for each
and everything after coming back home. The peace, joy to see birds, stars, flowing water and the huge Rocky Mountains is beyond words to describe…”
This is Bhavini’s travelogue of days on the Chadar Trek.
The Woman Who Ate, Prayed, Loved and Trekked – Bhavini Dhaliwal
There is a very fine line between being a tourist and a traveller. Tourists find
happiness in over-the-top exploration when they visit a place, click a photo or two, and
head back toward the comforts of their homes. On the other hand, there are travellers like
Bhavini who take an extra step ahead to venture out into lanes unknown and listen to
stories just because their hearts tell them to, just because this is what gives them the sense of freedom, just because this is their calling!
Meet Bhavini, an HR Payroll Manager by profession, whose office lies inside glassed walls of
an MNC but heart beats for the outdoor, always! As an outdoor lover, one can find Bhavini
in the mountains trekking with her husband, and together they have covered quite a bit – a
bike ride to Lahaul and Spiti, skiing in Gulmarg and an endless number of small treks across
Her next set of dream trips include watching the Northern Lights at Iceland, skydiving in New
Zealand, taking up the Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal and the Jeep Safari in Africa.
Eat – Planning the Chadar Trek
Bhavini + 1, at Chadar
A lot of planning goes behind planning the trip, whether a 2-day trip or a 9-day one. In
our post-trek conversation with Bhavini, we asked her about her decision as to why did she
choose the Chadar trek. The traveller, who wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to
being on the roads, was quick to state, “Chadar Trek is a unique trek which pushes you to
survive in extreme climatic conditions with limited resources available.”
A quick Google search landed her on Thrillophilia’s page of Chadar Trek, and after being
thoroughly satisfied with the genuine questions that she did have to ask; she made her
booking for this “once in a lifetime experience”, as she likes to call it.
Pray – The Fellow Trekmates
The trekkers with their wonderful Ladakhi guides, Tashi and Stanzing
When the roads meet, it brings along travellers from different walks of life, united for one
simple purpose – to create stories for the next set of travellers they will meet.
Although, Bhavini was accompanied by her husband in this self-introspecting trek on the
frozen river; nonetheless, they developed a strong bond with the other trekkers.
Bhavini calls the bunch of other trekkers as, “energetic and full of enthusiasm”.
Love – Entering Chadar
The eternally pristine River Zanskar; frozen!
The Chadar Trek takes our soul away, molds it, betters it, and give it back to us anew, shares Bhavini. She says, “Please do the Chadar Trek once in life, and I guarantee you will come back as a different person altogether.”
It all began on the night of 26th January 2018 when the couple boarded in the late night from
Mumbai and arrived in the city of Leh. “Temperature in Mumbai was 26 degrees, Delhi was already
freezing for us at 9 degrees and I still remember the first step out of the plane at Leh, in
minus 6 degrees” recalls Bhavini with an excited expression.
On the day of the trek, the group drove until Chilling, from where they started their journey
of trekking across one of the most dangerous terrains of India – the frozen River Zanskar.
The first step on Chadar is always special, and chances are that by the fourth step, you’ll
probably have a fall. Right before the group stepped on the ice, the guides prep talked them
about the ideal walking technique on ice, how to skate, how to check whether the ice sheet
is thin with the walking poles, and so on! “Excitement was building up, and so was the
freezing temperatures”, recalls Bhavini.
Bhavini testing the thickness of the ice sheet with her walking stick.
The next few days witnessed the group cross about 13-15 km distances on the thick (and
sometimes broken) ice sheets of River Zanskar, all the way until they crossed Gyalpo and
reached Tibb Caves, which was the second last destination before they officially reached the
last stop at Chadar Trek, viz., the frozen Nerak Waterfalls.
Bhavini’s fondest memories were yet to be lived but until she reached Tibb, she experienced
peace in the sound of birds, winds roaring, waters flowing and the mountains standing still
and skies azure. Such was Ladakh and the Chadar Trek.
Trek – Completing Chadar
It was the end of Day 4 on the nerve-wracking belt of Chadar when the group reached Tibb
Caves after a long trek. The past few days made them adept at walking on Chadar, blessed
them with challenging experiences, and even made them struggle for
basic calls of nature, for instance, attending to needs of going to the loo at minus twenty
Day 5 marked one of the most important days at Chadar, for it is was this day when the
group was officially going to complete one leg of the journey; beautiful, kempt and
playfully settled in the laps of nature. The group marched toward the mighty 50 feet Nerak
Waterfalls which becomes completely frozen at this point of the year.
The couple pose for a quick click on Chadar
When we asked Bhavini about the best part of her Chadar experience, she added,
“While people chose to rest after the longest trek of the day for 18km, we chose to trek for
another 6-8 km to visit the Nimmu village”. The Nimmu village has only 4-5 houses dusted
with snowflakes all around and had about 15 people living in there, at the time the couple
visited. True to her words of being travellers, not tourists, Bhavini learned about their lives, livelihood and the sights of Leh-Ladakh, all that she could in that hour she spent with them. “The view from
Nimmu, and the people there – were extremely beautiful”, she goes on to add.
On their return journey to Leh, she took a holy dip into the freezing-cold river of Zanskar. “I
could not stop my tears when we finally had to go back and leave behind those mountains
and the beautiful River Zanskar”, said Bhavini.
Bhavini ate, prayed and loved to her heart’s content on the Chadar.
The Chadar Trek was accomplished.
Uniquely beautiful shapes of the ice as the flowing Zanskar River freezes
Considering your trek on Chadar? – Check out what Bhavini has to advise
Chadar Trek is a beautiful feat, unquestionably. Bhavini’s prior experiences with high-
altitudes and numerous treks across Maharashtra made her prepared for Chadar Trek. On the basis
of her experience, she has been kind to share a couple of pointers to take
care of, before you take your once-in-a-life experience:
- Physical fitness is a must.
- One must ensure a proper layer of clothing (2 jackets, 2 thermals).
- Pack your bags smartly. Keep extra dry clothes always, just in case you get wet during the trek; you would need to immediately change.
- Power banks are to be wrapped in multiple layers of clothing, else they drain battery pretty fast.
- Gumboots are the best for walking. Of course, carry an additional pair of trekking shoes, for usage after reaching campsite.
- Get good water-proof pants, socks, and gloves at the Leh market. Save money, and avoid buying it from cities.
- Lastly, head torch and walking pole are a must.