Chandigarh to Aadi Himani Chamunda Devi Via Kaza

“A guest post from one of our field contributor, we decided to share the content as it is… 🙂 “

Chandigarh to Dharamsala via Kaza

The Making

October 8, 2011I’d been looking at the posters of Kaza terrain in one of the washrooms of Sector 34, Chandigarh for a long-long time and read more on only over the internet.

Then after 3 years came a moment when I decided to stop gazing at the posters and visit Kaza myself in practical. I searched on the internet about travel options, distance and choose my mode of transport and routes.

Fixed October 14, 2011 as final day to check out for Dharamsala (Aadi Himani Chamunda Devi) via Kaza from Chandigarh. Then I asked some of my friends if they would like to join me on this trip.

All declined with the excuse of beginning of cold weather in Kaza and which eventually set my mind also to postpone my Kaza excursion and instead head to my home.

Chandigarh to Kaza- Day First

As the days neared to October 14, I searched again on internet if it was rightdecision to visit Kaza in October but found no response. Then I tried some forums
contributed by various travelers on internet, I joined them and put my question about visiting Kaza in October….but there too I got no response from senior members.Well then it was the morning of October 14 and I was in the market of Sector 22 Chandigarh getting prints of some photographs for home and after getting the prints, something made me to reach my room as soon as possible.

Upon reaching my room at 04:05 PM, I searched the internet for the contact number of HRTC Dept in Chandigarh and called them to inquire which and when bus to Kaza will leave Chandigarh.

The representative of HRTC told me the bus will leave at 06:00PM sharp. As I was staying at a distance of about 1 hour of travel from ISBT Sector 43 of Chandigarh (Since all buses to HP, Jammu and Uttaranchal depart from Sector 43, except for Delhi, Ambala that depart from Sector 17 ISBT of Chandigarh) I hurried and packed up backpack with my laptop, one jacket and other stuff and was ready to leave room by 05:05PM.

At the bus stop the local bus showed up by 05:15 PM and I was not sure if I would make it to Sector 43 ISBT on time….and as I’d assumed, the local bus dropped me at Sector 43 ISBT at 06:10 PM.I felt the bus might have left already….and walked to the platform from where buses to Shimla leave and was surprised to see the bus to Kaza still there, but it was already almost full and I was looking for a window seat on left hand side.

Still happy to see the bus still available approached the ticket counter only to find out the last seat was already taken a few moments ago :\ … As I thought it was the only and only one bus to leave for Kaza in a day….went for advance booking for the other day….and there the representative informed me that there will be another bus up to Reckong Peo leaving at 07:30 PM.

Hearing that I decided to wait for 07:30 PM and board the bus up to Reckong-Peo. In the mean time I inquired more and found there were at least more buses that leave at the interval of 2 hours up to 04:30 AM from Chandigarh up to Reckong Peo!

At 07:30 PM I lined up to board the bus from Chandigarh to Kalpa near Reckong Peo. But the conductor gave me the ticket up to Rampur and the ticket cost was INR -270 and he told me from Rampur, we’ll have to change the bus to Reckong Peo, and from Reckong Peo I need to change another bus for Kaza.
Well there started my maiden trip to newer districts of HP beyond Simla.

Chandigarh to Kaza- Day Two in Reckon Peo

As I read in internet fellow travelers complained it was not easy to travel in regular buses for 14 hours up to Reckong Peo and further up to Kaza….some suggested a deluxe bus service up to Reckong Peo and a shared taxi from Reckong Peo to Kaza.

But I felt no unease on traveling more than 12 hours in a regular bus (probably because of my curiosity of new place and a night travel) wearing only a T-shirt and jeans (though I was carrying a jacket).

As the bus entered Parwanoo in Himachal from Kalka, we were stuck in the traffic for about 1 hour as some irresponsible truck driver had parked his truck in the middle of the left side lane, blocking the traffic flow coming down from Simla.

Further to my surprise after getting out of the traffic jam….the HRTC bus driver held mobile on his left hand and steered the bus with his right hand and to my surprise no one complained to conductor and neither the conductor stopped the driver from using mobile.

Since the road on which the driver was using one hand drive is accident prone with hundreds foot deep slide, I was concerned but could not gather the courage to ask the driver to stop using mobile on drive and he continued for more than 2km with one hand drive on night and then he put the mobile aside.

Well we stopped at Sonawaar for dinner and arrived Simla new ISBT at 01:25 AM. I was welcomed by all new ISBT of Simla in Tutikandi….and saw some fuming passengers there,  who had no bus to reach the old bus stand of Simla about 7km from new ISBT. Since I was wearing only a T-shirt and jeans felt the cold of Simla and had second thoughts about the weather in Reckong Peo and Kaza ….but even then did not brought out my jacket.

At 03:30 AM the bus stopped somewhere in a shop for tea….and there I’d to pull out my jacked from bag….as I didn’t wanted to spoil my trip with cold that gets severe on me mostly.  At the outside of the shop I saw an aged driver bathing with cold tap water….seeing that gave me some courage to face the cold.

I could not sleep all night not because it was cold but because I was more enjoying seeing the dark woods and mountains silhouette out from the window of my seat.

Then came the sunrise and we were still on ride….and as I was sitting on the left window side and down the road which was amazingly carved out of the solid mountain sides could see the river flowing.

You will be surprised (If you visit for the first time) to see how the personnel of Border Road Organization have cut out the road on mountain sides  and only a professional can drive here….!

But the drivers of HRTC are more competent here and some were driving as if they were on an open wider Broadway. Though I’d been riding (bus ride) on such roads from childhood but these were the extreme sort of and giving me more of joy than fear.

As the bus was moving up and down some time slow, some time fast….I was just enjoying the beauty outside and had the desire only if I could get down the bus and feel the surroundings myself for a little longer.

But we were on constant move and reached Rampur of district Kinnaur around the morning of 06:30 AM. At 07:45 AM from Rampur, I boarded a private bus up to Reckong Peo with ticket cost of INR 110, the bus stopped at Jeori stop for breakfast from where on right hand side there is another road for Sarahan with a distance of around 17KM, another interesting point with temples of Bhima Kali and more.

Further from Jeori the views outside are just amazing and for some like me an open invitation to come again. The road gets more adventures (If you can manage own vehicle, it’ll we more of more adventures, but please do not throw garbage).

I saw new faces of Kinnaur region and noticed that here men also use eyeliners.
We crossed many villages, bridges but the river was constantly flowing on the left hand side. I was amazed to see how the electricity wires were put up from one point to another point with thousands feet of depth and across the wide mountains.

After climbing another 1000 feet we reached Reckong Peo around 12:00 PM. As there is only one bus leaving to Kaza early in the morning by 06:30 AM so I headed to Kalpa and after returning from Kalpa stayed in a guest house and next morning woke up early by 05:30 AM.

Chandigarh to Kaza- Day Third in Kaza

Since the bus leaving to Kaza is the only one so there is good crowd.

I reached Reckong Peo bus stand at 06:15 AM, but the bus arrived at 07:00AM half an hour late. After getting the ticket to Kaza for INR -260….I witnessed the sun rays slowly kissing the mountain series above Reckong Peo.

Well the bus started off at 07:30 AM. Prefer a seat on the right hand side window as 98% views are on the right side with calm and constantly flowing Spiti river and here too the road is well engineered by Border Road Organization though in most of points the work is still in progress rest the road is in good condition.

Not to mention here, also on this route the HRTC driver was careless or overconfident as he was using mobile while driving….and this time inside the bus I noticed a number 09459100100 where anyone with complaint on driving or traffic violation could send instant sms.

I sent a text about the driver but lucky for the driver I was using a private mobile operator the service of which is not available there and the sms landed on outbox instead of sent item box 🙁 and since the driver was using BSNL mobile  he was enjoying his chat.

Well then we stopped for breakfast and I took the opportunity to shoot some photographs. After the stop we started again and the views around were or are awesome and inspiring with each turn the bus went up a few feet more and more and some time were at a height of 2621 meter and then 2518 meter and 3624 meter. By 04:30 PM we reached the bus stand of KAZA.………to be continued

Stone Cold Mountains

Cold Stone Mountains

Mostly people refer Mountains as nothing but a heap of granite boulder and rocks…may be, but these days, it is opposite!

January, 1st, 2017, I completed my year’s first humanly solo hiking and hill-walk all the way to Billing and RajGundha, the gateway to Thamsar Pass, Bara Bhangal of high Dhauladhar Mountains!
By 02:00 pm I was back at Bir and boarded Anurag Bus service for Baijnath, as the passengers boarded along the bus, a tourist couple/friends (may be from Delhi/Gurgaon, as they later boarded Delhi bound bus) also boarded on the way (my guess they had landed after paragliding from Billing).

Then after some distance a local folk’s family boarded in and one of its family members sat on the empty seat by my side. The bus was moving to Baijnath and my mind still in RajGundha, still repenting for not having stayed over there and ending my solo-hike at Barot, which of course was not planned!

Anyway we approached Baijnath, the tourist couple/friend stood up to get off at the entry point of ISBT and in the process from the side pouch of the girl’s bag the empty water bottle jumped out on the bus floor, the girl though asked her friend to pick it up, but he ignored it and sidelined with a kick.

I was watching those moments but without much attention and the girl also stood up and moved on, BUT it was then my intuitive eyes saw something heavy also jumping from the seat where the girl was sitting, I felt it but almost ignored until when the local folk’s male member sprang towards the empty bottle. At first I thought “wow, he might hand over that bottle to girl”! But wait, he got hold of something like a FAT pouch! Wait that pouch turned out to be a really really FAT wallet

The local folk quickly picked up the wallet and rather than calling on the girl, he changed the seat side and perched over the wallet like some “Bald Eagle on the ground tries to defend its fresh prey with its wide wings by covering it!”
The couple got off the bus and as the bus was about to enter farther inside ISBT, I gentally asked the male folk to “hand over that wallet to the girl”, to which he angrily and very arrogantly in abusive manner said “Why is this, your wallet? / Kyun ye tera purse hai” (You/Tera type of Words are insulting, specially if used with angry expressions) and further said “I will hand it over to her later”. Which actually meant he will not, as the couple was moving to the outer opposite perimeter of ISBT, probably waiting for the Delhi bound bus! I again asked him for the wallet, so that I could hand it over the couple/friends, but the local folk just denied.

I stood up to get off the bus and decided to call them and noticed the conductor and told him about the girl and the wallet!

To my surprise even when the conductor was asking for the wallet, the local folk repeatedly kept on saying “I will hand it over to her later” LOL.

Ignoring them I moved at normal but long pace towards the couple, as I was certain that they will not be going anywhere for next 10-20 minutes. But then the conductor outpaced me by running toward them and handed over the wallet to the girl and as he turned around, the girl was saying “O thank you, thank you” and then I also told them (what may sound to be rude) “Hey brother, you did not picked up the bottle but at least should have picked up the Wallet”. The girl again “O thank you”.

That wallet was sure FAT! 😀

I bet the local fellow was cursing me like hell! Well not an issue with that curse, as already have plenty of and I moved on and was really hungry after around 35 to 40 km light weight hike (just 3kg Camera set, an self defense symbol and water bottle) that I gulped in two plates of Chole Poori and also got Jalebis and continued on with RajGundha and Snow Clouds over Thamsar Pass of Dhauladhar Mountains, still possessing my heart!

I was wondering how fast humans have changed and that too just for paper/metal/digital MONEY!

These very humans stab their own blood relations and kick out the mother cow just for property and money, which ultimately will be of no one’s!

For this money their hearts are becoming like solid lifeless, dramatic, Granite, while the mighty Mountains may have the skin of Granite with harsh appearance but with the core of a soft heart, which is more ALIVE and attracts, refreshes everyone, that too without asking for money!

So who’s Cold Stone?

Lahesh Cave to Indrahar Pass

Jota Wali Mata of Indrahar Pass

Lahesh Cave to Indrahar Pass

(Last time on December 2012 I’d witnessed a lone girl from Germany staying all night alone in cold Lahesh Cave and in the morning heading to Indrahar Pass. I’d followed her foot prints in snow and managed to climb up to 200 meters above Lahesh Cave but since I’d a terrible night in Illaqa I’d lost all strength to climb further, so I decided to enjoy the snowy views from there.

As I was climbing down I’d met two more hikers heading to Indrahar Pass they even offered me their guidance but since I was out of strength I politely refused. Well that was 7 months back in year 2012.)

Today I was feeling good and ready to move up.  With Gordon, Manu Singh and his friends, from Lahesh Cave we started our climb for Indrahar Pass. Fog was also accompanying us.  This time the trail was almost clear (except Fog) and Red Arrow marks were visible at some points and Cairn at some points. We followed both and were thinking of bringing Red Color paint on next trek so that we repaint those faint Red Arrow marks.

We had climbed only 400 meters when it started raining and were equipped with only 3 umbrellas 2 temporary rain coats, Gordon had his own rain coat and I’d forgotten mine back at home.

We found a rock for shelter and managed to cover our selves……with every drop of rain it was getting colder.   Good thing was that it only drizzled for 15 to 20 minutes and after that there was a spot of bright opening with shining blue sky in the middle of thick fog and clouds. But as we could see the sky above Triund Hill and Illaqa was covered with thick fog.

With the rain coming to halt we decided to move on. Manu Singh suggested that he and I should keep the lead on the rest of the group members so that we trek the trail and our lead will keep others move on.  We opted for 2 minutes break after every 15 minutes climb and that provided us the opportunity to enjoy the views and keep a watch over other members that were trailing back.  This way I also got the moment to shot the trails.

Pause on Trail to Indrahar Pass amidst Fog and Rain

Pause on Trail to Indrahar Pass amidst Fog and Rain

On the trail Manu Singh shared his trekking experience in Churdhar Pass. As we were climbing up Manu Singh kept asking me about the feature and landmark of Indrahar Pass and since I had seen the images of Indrahar Pass and read in Blogs of Rijul Gill, I told him that we will see a temple and Trishuls in Indrahar Pass. We kept on moving and I was able to spot the Trishuls on the high edges of Dhauladhar Mountains and pointed to the spot, on seeing that Manu Singh was full joy and like more of strength.

Now we felt more energized and continued our climb but then Dhauladhar showered again but it was only a drizzle and again we were lucky to find a rock for shelter. Vicky and Gordon had also caught us up. Vicky had with him a spare plastic rain coat. Vicky and Manu Singh offered me that spare rain cover and which was also my need for the moment.

Manu Singh kept on moving with his fixed umbrella and Vicky also moved further with Gordon. Now I was alone under the cover of the rock, so I decided to use the rain coat and move on. After a little climb as I turned to my right side the moment was like “W0W”!

We were on the shoulders of the mighty Dhauladhar Mountain. I walked further and saw Manu Singh with umbrella standing in front of the temple. The view was perfect for the photo shoot.

Manu Singh Panwar at Indrahar Pass and Temple of Jota Wali Mata

Manu Singh Panwar at Indrahar Pass and Temple of Jota Wali Mata

I spotted a central point and took a few shots of Manu Singh standing in front of the temple. Manu Singh was shouting “HAR HAR MAHADEV!” and I also responded with “HAR HAR MAHADEV!”  I asked Gordon Cole to shout “HAR HAR MAHADEV!” and he did :D!!

Well that was the end of our unplanned hike for Indrahar Pass….but as I saw the Red Arrow marks going further, I was feeling tempted for climbing down towards Chamba. Leaving it for some other day I offered prayers to Jota Wali Mata and took more of shots. We had allotted 1 hour for staying in Indrahar Pass. Gordon, Manu Singh and his friends were enjoying the views and I was feeling like I was at home!

 The wind was cold with another drizzle. As I said was tempted so I climbed down about 50 meters towards Chamba district and…..!  I was surprised with the steep very steep stairs laid using rocks. I took some more shots of the left over Glaciers and of the valley down in Chamba district. From Indrahar Pass we can see Pir Panjal Range, Holy ManiMahesh Kailash Peak of SHIVA and SHAKTI, Tent Peak and many other…but that day all was fog and clouds that we saw.

There was another thing that surprised me….the magic flowers of Dhauladhar Mountains; they were so bright, vibrant, colorful and full of energy. I thought of uprooting some to bring back at home but then felt that these magic flowers are good and prefect with Dhauladhar, so I discarded the thought of bringing them to home.

Magic Flowers in Indrahar Pass ~ Dhauladhar

Magic Flowers in Indrahar Pass ~ Dhauladhar

Chamba Side from Indrahar Pass Dhauladhar

Chamba Side from Indrahar Pass Dhauladhar

It was 05:20 pm and I saw a thick layer of fog crawling up slowly from Chamba side…..seeing that I climbed back to Indrahar Pass and suggested to my friends that we should start our descend for SnowLine Cafe.

We bid farewell to Jota Wali Mata of Indrahar Pass and started our trek back to SnowLine Cafe and Triund.

Jota Wali Mata of Indrahar Pass

Jota Wali Mata of Indrahar Pass

Triund Snow and Views

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Langha Mata

Since long Mountains have fascinated humans and some felt scared of them. But only within these Mountains the sage and saints find Peace. Mountains have been watching every activity down on Earth and have kept a record of all incidences and they share it with whoever comes to them and has the capability to communicate with them.

Mountains have found an honorable space with the Gaddi shepherds. As these Gaddi shepherds have been frequenting them since long time and used Mountain Trails and Passes to migrate with their live-stock from one region to other. Though at present this trend is on decline as so called future generation finds this tradition a symbol of backwardness, but they keep forgetting that the Real Life is what their parents and ancestors had. The first generations of Gaddi Shepherd have dedicated temples across series of Mountains and Hills as a symbol of Respect to Nature gods and till date local villagers come to offer prayer to these temples and also frequented by Gaddi shepherds as well as hikers and trekkers. One of such temple is dedicated to Langha Mata (the form of SHAKTI). Within the levels of Triund Hill this serves as another trekking destination in Palampur. To know more
follow..

Illaqa to Lahesh Cave

mineral water on the way of Lahesh Cave a head Laka Glacier

Illaqa to Lahesh Cave

As we reached the centre of Illaqa we were welcomed by in-bounding thick  fog with visibility of 5 to 10 meters. Now we were dependent on the Cairn.

Thick Fog on the way to Indrahar Pass(I recalled the night of Dec 15th-16th 2012 when in snow I’d lost my way here while attempting to reach Lahesh Cave and had to take shelter under a rock  makeshift cave and to save myself from cold…and initiate a night run to SnowLine Cafe. Well that was a lesson and I learned that I’m not experienced in trekking in dark and need to work on that.)

I asked Gordon to sit and wait for me and went further searching for Red Arrow markings. At one moment the thick fog forced me to think whether we’ll be able to reach even Lahesh Cave or not. But I kept searching for the “Om” symbol and Red Arrow markings and was lucky to spot the arrows and finally the “Om” symbol.

mineral waterIt took more than 45 minutes for us to spot the markings and then only we were able to resume our Lahesh Cave trail. We refilled our water bottles from the Mineral Water Stream coming right from the Glaciers of Dhauladhar Mountain.

From that point it was a smooth climb even in thick fog but we were not overconfident and were stepping up cautiously.  I told Gordon that in Dec 17th 2012, it was the same trail where I’d lost my Sleeping bag in snow.

Gordon Cole making his way to Lahesh CaveBut this time I was confident and we reached Lahesh Cave at 10:00 AM. The Glacier on the opposite ridge of Lahesh Cave had shrunk to smaller size and the strength of waterfall was also considerably weak.Entrance of Lahesh CaveWe sat up on the huge rock of Lahesh Cave and eat “Parle-G” Glucose biscuits and Gordon was not happy with cave. For him this was not a cave. He kept on defining what a cave is like and I was listening to him and also enjoying. Well after some time Gordon started video recording the flow of waterfall and started enjoying the surrounding.

Lahesh Cave and Glacier WaterFallThe fog was still thick and now our concern was the group of Manu Singh Panwar. We were not sure on seeing this type of dense fog they will come up for Indrahar trail. But we were optimistic, so we waited for them and in the mean time enjoyed the Fog and mystique sounds of waterfall (sounds like of some girl singing with the flow of water).

Beauty of Dhauladhar MountainsAround 30 minutes later we heard some voices…they were shouting…..hearing them we shouted back since it was not possible to see in thick fog. We shouted about the directions for Lahesh Cave, so that they could follow our voice.

It took another 30 minutes and we saw two silhouettes appearing in distance and realized that it was Manu Singh and his friends….but wait we saw only two and we’d met four of them in SnowLine Cafe.

We could see only Manu Singh and Vicky but Nirpender Singh and Kirit were not in scene. Vicky shouted that they had lost traces of two of their friends. Now that was not good. Our eyes tried to scan around through the fog but no use. (During trekking or hiking never get separated from the group)

We kept on looking for them and then Gordon pointed towards waterfall. We were able to spot Nirpender and his friend and that was relaxing. Now we were a group of 6 persons ready for Indrahar Pass and with the blessings of Dhauladhar Mountain the dense fog was not causing any trouble and from Laka Glacier waterfall we started our unplanned Indrahar Pass trek

SnowLine Cafe from Triund Hill

SnowLine Cafe from Triund Hill

August 18th 2013 by 06:00 am we were prepared and ready to leave….for SnowLine Cafe (Though I’d planned to take Gordon up to Lahesh Cave beyond SnowLine Cafe and Illaqa). The morning sky above Dharamsala and Kangra was cloudy but something bit of different from the sky above Triund Hill (Sometimes we see city sky cloudy but often it is not same up in high mountains). The morning sky above Dharamsala and KangraAs we moved upward and took the first turn to SnowLine Cafe we saw family of Red Jungle fowl gliding towards the water source in the ridge of Triund Hill Continue reading