UNTRODDEN, REMOTE, CHALLANGING TRAILS
Centered on a trek to Bara Bhangal village, this exhilarating itinerary includes sightseeing in Delhi, Chandigarh and McLeod Ganj. Traversing two passes at nearly 5,000 meters, this trek demands endurance and prior experience. From Delhi we travel by train, north to Chandigarh, then by road to Mandi and finally to Manali in the verdant Kullu Valley. The trek from Manali begins with a steep ascent through thick alpine forests to reach the campsite at Lamadugh, with amazing views of the Dhaulandhar and Pir Panjal ranges.
Continue through untouched, pristine forests and meadows with wild Alpine flowers and a variety of birds before ascending to Kaliheni La (4,650m), offering magnificent views of glaciers and snowcapped peaks. Crossing several streams we walk through a beautiful, hidden valley with unrivalled views of the Pir Panjal, Bara Bhangal and Dhaulandhar ranges. Descending steadily we reach Bara Bhangal, one of the remotest villages in India. We continue on well-maintained shepherd trails to eventually reach the snow, moraine and ice of the Thamser Pass (4,750m). After a long descent through Panattu and Rajgunda we reach Billing – famous for paragliding. From here we take a short drive to McLeod Ganj, home of the Dalai Lama, where we spend a night before returning to Delhi.
- Chandigarh fit its architecture and urban design
- Manali – a picturesque hill station famed for its scenic beauty and golden apples
- Bara Bhangal – one of the most beautiful yet least known regions in the Himalayas
- Thamser Pass – a spectacular mountains pass with views of Mount Kailash
- McLeod Ganj – ‘Little Lhasa’, home to the Dalai Lama and a vibrant Tibetan community
Day 2Train to Chandigarh followed by drive to Mandi
Delhi - Chandigarh
Early morning transfer to the Railway station to board the train to Chandigarh, the shared capital of Punjab and Haryana states.
Chandigarh - Mandi
Chandigarh stands like a gateway to many hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and the northern parts of Punjab. Upon arrival at Chandigarh we board our vehicles and drive northwards to the old market town of Mandi. We’re soon on the winding mountain roads as we follow the river deeper and deeper into the foothills. Upon arrival at Mandi we transfer and check-in to the hotel.
Day 3Journey to Manali
Mandi - Manali
After the breakfast, we start early and drive to Manali, the famous hill station. Our drive follows the route of the old Hindustan-Tibet highway alongside the Beas River that flows through the Himalayan foothills. The drive is beautiful along the road lined with deodar trees and apple orchards and tantalizing glimpses of the Himalayas. Following the Beas River we reach the Kullu Valley famed for its fruit trees and rich agricultural land. Driving further up, we arrive in Manali (2,050m) in the early afternoon.
Post checking into our hotel, we leave for a walk around the streets of this busy bazaar town. We also have time to do some sightseeing.
Day 4Trek to Lama Dugh (2950m)
Manali - Lama Dugh
Today being the first day of our trek the walk is not that long. However the trail is a bit steeper at places. We soon find ourselves amongst woodland made up of deodar, oak and pine, before we reach a rocky outcrop with a good view of Manali. Just above this vantage point is a small meadow before a steep ascent through small pastures and conifer and oak forest. Continuing through open forest and pastures we reach our camp on the grazing area of Lama Dugh (2,950m), a lovely meadow ringed by maple, spruce and oak.
Day 5Trek to Riyali
Lama Dugh - Riyali
Today the trail ascends across the ridge along the southern margin of the Manali Sanctuary and crosses a high pasture area with fabulous views northwards to The Solang and Rohtang valley. The ascent is long, gradual and exhilarating, with views of the peaks of Indrasan and Deo Tibba. Following the trails of the Gaddi shepherds and sometimes with no trail at all, we continue to gain height until we reach the highest of the alpine ridges. From there, the trail heads south across a series of verdant ridges followed by long descent. Descending into a valley,we set up our camp in a meadow beyond Riyali.
Duration of Trek: 6 Hrs
Distance: 10 Kms
Day 6Trek to Kaliheni Base Camp
Riyali - Kaliheni Base Camp
Today , the route follows the course along the upper river before we descend progressively to the valley floor. After traversing the river we commence our climb towards Kalihani Pass. After crossing a small stream, we will ascend couple of grassy ridges passing a number of shepherd encampments en route. We will have panoramic views of Chanderkhani Pass and the distant peaks of the Indian Himalaya. In this high and wild location we can look out for wildlife such as ibex, golden eagles and the majestic bearded vulture or lammergeyer.
Day 7Cross Kaliheni Pass(4650m) and trek to Devigot Camp
Kaliheni Base Camp - Devigot Camp
In the morning the landscape gradually begins to change as forests and meadows give way to rocky terrain with patches of snow. It is a tough day today with a steep and long climb to the top of the Kalihani Pass (4,650m). We follow a grassy ridge to a small plateau beyond which there is only moraine, snow and rock (Kalihani means ‘black ice’ in the local Gaddi language). The views from the pass takes in glaciated terrain and many snow peaks from the Bara Bhangal and Pir Panjal ranges to the main Himalayas. Trudging down beyond the pass we continue our descent into the remote valley of the Kalihani Nullah (stream) to reach our campsite at 3,550m (8 hrs).
Day 8Trek through the Kaliheni Valley to Lambapad
Devigot Camp - Lambapat
After breakfast we spend the entire day hiking down the Kaliheni Valley. There are no villages in this upper part of the valley and we follow a path above the tree line with great mountain views. As we descend we enter sparse woodland of juniper and birch, then pine and oak. There are several tributary streams to cross some of which may need to be forded. We set our camp in a grassy clearing overlooking the river valley.
Day 9Trek to Bara Bhangal
Lambapat - Bara Bhangal
In the morning we trek across the ridges on the side of the valley and cross the streams, heading towards the west, and pass Gaddi encampments and alpine meadows. A long and steep gradual descent leads through terraced fields to the Gaddi village of Bara Bhangal (2,550m). The trail takes us through a forest of silver birch, rhododendron and blue pine. In summer this isolated village is occupied by people from the upper Kangra Valley. The final 500m-600m descent is steep and dusty. We set up our camp close to the confluence of the Kaliheni and Ravi rivers.
Day 10Rest day at Bara Bhangal
After breakfast we explore this settlement of 60 or so houses that extends across the lowest part of the valley. It is the only village in the entire 300 square miles of the Bara Bhangal Range and is completely cut off from the outside world during winter. Bara Bhangal is remote and rarely visited except for the Gaddi tribe who inhabit the village during summer months. We spend the day here resting and enjoying the views and the rhododendron trees.
Day 11Trek to Marhu (Base of Thamser Pass)
Bara Bhangal - Thamsar Pass Base
In the morning our trek turns towards south as we cross the Kalihani River and commence a steep 400m ascent. We continue further to a broad glacial valley. There follows a gradual ascent across open meadows and steep slopes passing through pleasant upland grazing areas with a number of Gaddi encampments. Then we follow a good trail as this route is regularly used by the Gaddi. We set up camp on a flat knoll below the Thamser Pass at the place known as Marhu.
Day 12Cross the Thamser Pass to Panattu Camp
Thamsar Pass Base - Panattu Camp
After breakfast we start early as we make our approach to the Thamser Pass via a glaciated valley and crossing scree and moraine. The trail climbs gradually passing a prominent side valley and a glacier to the east. We climb steep boulder fields to reach a glacial lake at the base of the pass, then up to the ridge-line and the Thamser Pass itself (4,750m), marking the watershed of the Dhaula Dhar range. From here we have magnificent views of many snow-capped peaks including Mount Kailash. There are also fine views of the deep valleys of Kangra and Ravi that lie south and north of the Dhaula Dhar. We descend steeply across snow and then moraine before reaching the first pasture. There follows a steep descent to our camp at the meadow at Panattu.
Day 13Trek to Rajgunda
Panattu Camp - Rajgunda
We start the day with a walk on the Glacier . The route descends across a series of permanent snow bridges to reach a well-defined trail which leads through a mixed forest of rhododendron, spruce and oak down to Palachak (2,500m). At Palachak, we cross the metal bridge and continue through the forest to reach the fields of corn, bean and potatoes near Rajgunda (2,400m). From Palachak, we continue further on our trek with some gentle ascents & descents passing though mixed woodland of pine oak and rhododendron leading to the fields of Rajgunda (2,450m), a tiny settlement where we set up our final camp.
Duration of Trek: 7 Hrs
Distance: 20 Kms
Day 14Trek to Billing and drive to McLeod Ganj
Bir Billing - Mcleod Ganj
Today is our final day of trekking that takes us through the pleasant foothills of Dhauladhar. We walk through pine, oak and rhododendron woodland and across farmland with tiny fields of corn and potatoes. The trail heads around contours and ridges to Billing, then a gradual downhill walk takes us to Bir where we visit an exiled Tibetan community before we have lunch and meet our transport.
Duration of Trek: 3 Hrs
Distance: 11 Kms
From here, we drive to McLeod Ganj, part of the town of Dharamsala (3 hrs drive). Upon arrival we check into the hotel. The evening is free to explore the area.
Day 15Drive to Pathankot and train to Delhi
Mcleod Ganj - Pathankot
After a leisurely breakfast we visit McLeod Ganj, home of the exiled Dalai Lama and his Tibetan Government. We have the morning to explore this lively and colourful town settled by Tibetans in the 1960s and now home to an interesting collection of monasteries and temples.
Pathankot - Delhi
After the lunch, we drive to Pathankot to catch the Overnight sleeper train back to Delhi.
Day 16Departure from Delhi
In the early morning we arrive in Delhi and transfer to the hotel where we have facility to use day rooms to freshen up.
Towards evening, we are transferred to the international airport to catch our flights to our respective destinations.