Clear your mind, relax and tune in to “Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. If Led zeppelin would have visited the valley of gods, this song would have been a perfect match made in heaven. Way beyond the clutters of city, everchanging norms and materialistic forms, lies a paradise in the mystic mountain ranges of the Himalayas. Har Ki Dun (The valley of gods). It makes me wonder, is there a scale to measure the superlative beauty of nature?
Now, let me take you through the highlights of this mountain marvel.
About Har Ki Dun –
It's a spectacular valley settled in the Garhwal Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, India. Geographically it fits into the Govind Ballabh national park at a height of 3500 meters from the ground level. Offering a blend of ancient cultures, lush scenery, and mythological tales, this is a high-altitude Himalayan trek that can be attempted all season round.
Day 1 – Ride till Sankri (Altitude – 1900 mts)
Like a story, every journey has a start and an endpoint. But, for Har Ki Dun, we have three start points. First, we start from Dehradun, then reach the base village Sankri and then reach another village named Taluka to start our Trek.
The journey begins at 7 AM at the ISBT bus terminus of Dehradun. This is the meeting point for trekkers who have opted for a shared cab. A little into the journey, you will gain a beautiful bird's eye view of the gradually retreating city of Doon on your right. As we make our way to the first stop of the day, Mussoorie, Dehradun fades away and is replaced by a thin blue line of the Yamuna River snaking its way in the valley below. This is where we stop for breakfast.
The next pit-stop, after this, will be at Purola. Located at a distance of 99 km from Mussoorie, it takes around 4 hours to reach here. As we advance towards Purola, we will be gaining an altitude of 1500 M and the lush green mountains of Govind National Park take over the landscape. Please note that Purola is the last point where you will get a good phone network and find functional ATMs. Post this, you will hardly find one or two spots in Mori.
From Purola, Sankri is 60 kms away and takes around 3 hours to reach. The route and the landscape change quite distinctly here. The journey will take you through slim hairpin bends, tall pine trees, and old bridges constructed by the Britishers. Once you are close enough to Sankri, you get treated to lovely views of river Tons running on the left hand side.
Expect to reach the base village around 5-6 PM in the evening. Engulfed by snow-capped mountains, the Sankri range holds a soothing sight for on-lookers on a clear day.
Day 2 – Trek from Taluka to Pauni Garaat (Altitude – 2500 Mts)
From Sankri, the day begins with a one-hour ride to Taluka. This 12 km drive is a delight for all bird lovers out there because the forests on either side of the road are home to a plethora of rare Himalayan birds like the Himalayan Raven, Red-Billed Blue Magpie, and Himalayan Bulbul.
Taluka is the village where the concrete road ends and the trekking trail begins.
You commence your trek on the stone trails of the village initially. A few minutes in, the trail expands into an open land and you will find yourself walking on the right-hand side of the beautiful Supin river.
Every tough ascent is followed by a welcoming descent sheltered in the shade of long pine trees and Bhojpatra trees. The sound of the flowing river will be a constant today, therapeutic to the senses. The dark trees, olive green moss, melody of birds, and changing sceneries are other treats one encounters today.
After completing 12 km, we reach our first campsite, Pauni Garaat, an extension of the ancient and rustic village of Seema. The temperatures here can fall till -5 degrees in the night. So please ensure you layer up accordingly.
Day 3 – Trek from Pauni Garaat to Kalkattiyadhaar (Altitude – 3000 Mts)
Today, you will cross the massive Seema bridge. The turquoise blue waters of the Supin river gushing through the grey boulders and rocks below is truly a view to behold.
The nature of the trail changes from here. From the bridge, we begin ascent on the left-hand side of the river. When tired, take a break on the natural table rocks around. Throughout this section, you will be treated to amphitheater views of the Saraswati Range. It is true high-definition imagery to be enjoyed.
From here, the ascent gets steeper and we rapidly gain altitude. A 7 km hike will finally bring you to the campsite of Kalkattiyadhaar, a vast expanse of land much bigger than a Golf course with panoramic views of prominent peaks like the Bugyal Devsu and Mt. Black Peak. Do not miss the spectacular views of the Ruinsara Range on the left and the Kedarkantha Summit on the right.
At night time, the campsite takes on a new look altogether. On a clear day, when the moon is out, the snowcapped peaks glimmer brightly while the stars twinkle merrily against the dark backdrop of the night sky.
Day 4 – The summit day (Altitude – 3500 mts)
Today, we begin our trek early. We will be covering a total of 18 kms, the longest of all days.
If nature permits, your journey is likely to be accompanied by mild Snowfall as well. In the winters, the landscape is covered in white. Another beautiful element here is the art of fall. Fall season has a different gradient of highlight on these trails.
A moderate 9 km hike brings us to the Summit of Har Ki Dun, cradling some of the prominent peaks of the region.
In the immense concert of ice and snow spread out in front of you, the massive Har Ki Dun Peak sits on the left corner connected to the Jaundhar Glacier in between and the Swargarohini peak on the right.
Post a fulfilling lunch at a Shiv Temple on the way, we end our day back at the Kalkattiyadhaar Campsite.
Day 5: Trek from Kalkattiyadhaar to Gangaar village
The Gangaar is known as the hanging village of Har Ki Dun.
En-route the village, we will be taking a small detour to the Kanda Rani Temple near Kalkatiyadhaar. It’s a stop where you can notice the colors of the local culture. Near the temple, you will find wild berries called katta growing on small shrubs. These are edible. The sour taste of the berries is a treat to the frozen tongue.
From here, the descents are quite easy. We will be crossing Pauni Garaat and reaching Gangaar directly.
Day 6: Trek from Gangaar to Sankri
Today, we will be retracing the path from the first day along the beautiful riverside trails of Supin.
Expect to reach Taluka by evening. From there we will be taking a cab to Sankri. The Sankri market is a delightful place to get souvenirs. Post freshening up, consider paying it a visit.