Breaking the mediocrity always gives you a high, isn’t it? It is like going away from the mundane, exploring the hidden gems and you will probably see yourself walking on the road less traveled. When it comes to travel, there is a pure distinction. The tourists would like to go to famous places around the world while the real travelers would choose to explore the options and find undiscovered places that bring out new colors and frames for people to cherish.
Such a place is the Kuari Pass, which is situated in Garhwal Himalayas and the trek enables you to witness the holy destination Haridwar, pilgrim spots such as Devprayag, the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda, serenity of Chitrakantha and Chaukhamba and the beauty of Nanda Devi Peak along with Rishi Ganga River among many attractions and natural beauty.
Travel enthusiast Shikhar Chauhan, with his younger brother Kshitij, decided to explore this trek with Thrillophilia to enjoy the most exotic sights that are there in this hidden spot. Kuari which literally means ‘a gateway,’ has an interlude of meadows, lush green forests with a full view of the splendid snow clad peaks
The Trek Begins
“The journey of Kuari Pass began at the holy town Haridwar. Having caught the night bus from Delhi, we reached the town in the early morning. I generally do not eat during the bus travel hence; I got really hungry when we got down. To our rescue was lip-smacking chai and Maggie at a dhaba. Next, our driver picked us up and we drove all the way to Rishikesh where we were to meet our fellow travelers. It was a foggy morning and we drove slowly. Within half an hour during our stop at Rishikesh, all the other travelers boarded the bus and we began our journey to Joshimath, a grueling 10-hour drive from Rishikesh.”
The route from Rishikesh to Joshimath is a splendid road where you will find numerous dense forests blooming with rhododendron and oak trees opening to a vast expanse of luscious green meadows. The quaint hill town nestled in the lap of snow-clad Himalayas is an important pilgrimage of Hindus.
“The drive to Joshimath was a treat on its own. The turquoise blue water of Ganges, fresh morning air, chirrups of the birds and the warm sun filled our ride with bliss. We arrived in Joshimath at around 6 PM in the evening and resorted to our rooms in a jiffy. It started to get a little cold when our trek leader came to instruct us about the following morning. He was a warm personality and I felt assured of the trip. Imagine going on a trek with a guide that you don’t like can be a nightmare. We quickly had dinner in the night and slept like logs for the ultimate trek.”
“I woke up at 5.30 AM to the alarm. I went for a stroll on the roads of Joshimath before we departed for the trek. The sun wasn’t out yet. The chirrup sounds and a cool breeze filled the morning air. I soon found a place serving chai. With chai glass and few biscuits in my hand, I walked around and found 4 dogs following me. I fed them the biscuits and was playing with them when I realized that I had come a little too far from the town and I could see the Mount Dronagiri from there. That was the moment I knew that the trek is going to be a spectacle.”
The Greens & Whites
“In the morning, the manager gave us some instructions and Kshitij and I got our stuff packed to head to Dhak Village which was our starting point of the main trek. Our guide took us to the village that tantalized us with the breathtaking view of Dronagiri and Pangarchulla.”
“The trek started at 10 AM when the sun shone in all its glory. We had everything packed for our lunch- biscuits, oranges, paratha, and sabzi (cooked vegetables). Soon after we started the trek, we came across a 10-year-old shepherd, an inquisitive child who showered us with multiple questions! Apparently, this region is extensively used by the local shepherds so it is a common sight to find one during your trek.”
“An hour and a half into the trek, we saw snow! It was only in patches shaded by the trees but it was there right in front of us. Another hour later, we entered the forest zone. The ground was covered with snow which made the landscape quiet and the tall green trees giving us the shade. The blend of white and green made the view amazing!”
The campsite was situated beside a small stream in Gulling. The tents were already set up for the travelers and the calm environment offered peace for them. With some day time to spare, Shikhar practiced walking on the knee deep ice which he did to his heart’s content wearing gaiters and snow boots.
Chitrakantha To Tali
“The next morning, we started the trek early and within 20 minutes of the walk, the landscape turned magnificent. As far as my eyes could see, bright yellow-orange trees towered above the thick snow. Moss covered trees, fallen giant logs and partially frozen streams made the whole picture in front of us. The beauty of oaks, pinecones and rhododendrons added hues to the brilliant landscape.”
“We reached our campsite in 2 hours where we could see that the snow was reaching waist deep and it was going to be ecstatic to trek next. By noon, we were at the destination called Tali Lake, which is a frozen mountain lake hidden amidst dense forests and stunning meadows and widespread landscape. We had lunch near the lake and took rest. Needless to say, the entire group was awe-struck at the magnificence of the visual treat.”
“Also, all of us decided to make a snowman in the evening and although it took us few hours of trial and error, we finally made a standing man in the snow.”
The crucial day arrived when the travelers had to travel to the Kuari Pass which was a 14 Km trek from the last campsite. Although the difficulty level was medium for the newbie trekkers, Shikhar found the trek challenging. It was at that moment when he felt the need to overcome the hurdle as he synced the mind with the body to not give up and emerge victoriously. He says, “Mountains break you down and test your limits. They reveal your true strength and walking on the top is that achievement that is going to be permanent in your mind, heart and soul and nothing else.”
The group carried only the essentials such as water, caps, gloves and food for the trek. As they took the steps further, they witnessed the mighty Chaukhamba, Nilkanth, Kamet and Kedarnath clearly. The Kuari Pass was visible as well with Pangarchulla overshadowing it. The ascent started to get difficult as the troupe marched ahead.
“The winds were rough, snow was deep and the temperature was low. We were on the slopes of Pangarchulla peak when our guide Sandeep went ahead to make a route for us in the snow. At around 200 meters away, we crossed a frozen waterfall cautiously and after a steep climb of 100 meters, I was finally at the pass. It was an awe-inspiring experience for me. Sandeep had been hiding a box of Sohan Papdi which he opened to celebrate our summit to the pass. Heading back took us half the time because most of us slid through the snow and rolled down like kids.”
Do’s And Dont’s For The Kuari Pass Trek-
“I didn’t need as many clothes as I had carried with me. It is essential to check your shoes for wear and tear before each trek as descent could be tad difficult because my sole had started to tear a bit and that made it cumbersome for me to find a good grip. Also, balaclava is any day better than a cap and taking trekking pole is a good idea. Take GoPro if you want to make the best memories while on trek.”