Although Har Ki Dun is not ideally recommended for beginners, it can be a Beginner’s delight because it is one of the most challenging ones that you can try. It gives a right amount of glimpse into high altitude treks but takes a lot of preparation and fitness. The gradual ascents & descents make you aware of your stamina and the innumerable waterfalls, streams, willows & woods are an utter delight to one’s eyesight. Now that’s about what everyone already knows. How this trek holds mythological importance, what’s the terrain, what are the campsites or what are the peaks visible, articles about these are flooded all over the internet?
So here I am going to tell you 5 things that you would NOT have expected on Har Ki Dun trek:
1) Cozy home stays in such wilderness of Sankri and Osla:
I knew that we have a homestay at village Sankri but it would be this royal, I didn’t know that. It had well constructed wooden attic that opens to a majestic view of mountains, low ceiling wooden bedrooms that regulate the temperature. Amazing hospitality where I get to taste the freshly cooked local cuisine ‘Mandua’ on demand.
2) Satellite phone at village Osla:
The first glimpse at Osla village and it is hard to believe that this village has a satellite phone. The region is so remote that it does not even have a medical shop or phone signals, not even electricity. Even the solar lights were installed in early 2018.
No matter how irrelevant it seems right now but when heading on to trek one must know what are the options available to establish a connection with the base so this information might come in handy when in need.
Village Osla seems like hanging from the cliff
3) Rock climbing at Har Ki Dun:
Little did I expect that the terrain would have such huge boulders where one can conduct rock climbing sessions? Rock climbing is in itself an adventurous activity and doing it at 11200 feet amidst the Har Ki Dun valley is just incredible
4) Valley of Flowers at Har Ki Dun Valley:
Streams and waterfalls?... Checked.
Valley of flowers!!... woohhohoooo !!
Yes, that’s true. Har Ki Dun valley surprised me with its unconditional beauty. The whole valley was decorated with the bright yellow, blue and white flowers but of course, this view is limited to summer edition only.
5) Rest house at Har Ki Dun, the final destination:
I mean what??
After spending 3 nights at camps on the way to Har Ki Dun, I was not expecting a well-constructed guest house at Har Ki Dun. There are no roads, the terrain is steep and difficult, there is no provision of getting food from any place nearby then how did they manage to build a rest house here? Never mind, it was an utter delight to see that! And also not just 1 rest house, there are two of them; one belongs to GMVN and the other to Forest Department.
Forest rest house at Har Ki Dun Valley
GMVN Rest House at Har Ki Dun Valley
I had so many unexpected experiences on this trek that I just can’t stop at 5 points, so here we go with 2 more:
6) Matriarchal Rule:
A village in Upper Gharwali region follows matriarchy rule in which the head of the family is a woman. To witness something like this is quite unexpected in India and almost unbelievable in socially and economically underdeveloped regions. I visited Osla village and got to know that women do all the work while men usually are the ones who are laid back. Women in these villages are as strong as men since they are used to carry 40 to 50 KG weight every day collecting woods from the forest. All the government ration cards are made in the name of women of respective families and they have the upper say in all the family matters.
Women at Osla Village
7) Rice Fields at Kalkattiyadhar:
First of all, the view of rice fields out of nowhere was unexpected. Secondly, there were no villages around, we didn’t cross any village on the way from Seema to Kalkattiyadhar then who does it belong to? These rice fields belongs to Osla villagers who, because of lack of flat land at their site, climb all the way up to Kalkattiyadhar to grow some crops. Who said life in mountains is going to be an easy one!