This is going to a be picturesque story. Be prepared to get blown away by what I am going to show.
Pin Parvati Pass trek is, by far, the most beautiful trek I have ever been on. From forests to meadows, to rivers, to lakes, to walking on a massive glacier; we got to experience everything in just a matter of 10 days. How does your mind comprehend all of that in such a short amount of time? It is a trek where you would constantly want to look up because every second of every hour of every day, you will get to see beauty. It is an adventure you will never forget.
Here are 10 reasons that make Pin Parvati trek epic and so unforgettable:
1. Hipster Kheerganga and the hot springs there:
The day you start the trek, brace yourself because you are going to be walking through lush green valleys right from the start and it will most likely rain, which makes it even more dreamy. You’ll most likely make a pit stop at a hipster village called Kheerganga on your first day, and although crowded, it is super beautiful.
What’s interesting about Kheerganga is that, according to legends, Lord Shiva meditated here for 3000 years and the hot springs there are meant to have supernatural healing powers. No wonder it is quite popular. But what’s even more interesting is that it has such a psychedelic hipster appeal to it, you’ll find Bob Marley posters, Pink Floyd quotes written on some walls next to Lord Shiva’s posters. It is a beautiful place to camp, and of course, chilling in the hot springs is like getting a spa treatment in the middle of the mountains, which is awesome.
2. Lush green forests of Tunda Bhoj:
From the meadows of Kheerganga, you'll walk straight into a beautiful pine forest, with trees so tall, it seems like they almost touch the sky. The last time I walked in a forest was probably 5 years ago, so for me walking in the woods again was quite special. You’ll walk in and out of this rain forest, and come face to face with the Pin river with beautiful flowers all around you. There will never be a dull moment on this trail for you.
3. The thrilling Pandu Pul:
On your way to Odi Thatch on day 4, you’ll cross a stream in style, over two huge boulder bridges, called Pandu-Pul 1 and 2. Nature’s art, right in front of you. You rarely get to see such massive natural arrangements on treks. Crossing these bridges is thrilling because it requires techniques, but you are in safe hands with your guides. So, listen to them and hop over the bridges carefully.
4. The sheer pleasure of walking in the meadows of Odi Thatch:
There are few things in life so beautiful they hurt, and walking in the vast meadows of Odi Thatch for me felt somewhat similar. The views will turn you into a daydreamer. You would happily walk the distance with your favorite songs playing in your head. It's just the mountains, clear blue skies and you. Well, maybe some sheep too. This was my happy place.
Local shepherds there own up to 500 sheep, and you'll see them walking with their flock in the meadows.
5. Uncountable waterfalls:
The waterfalls on this trail are special, and you’ll stumble across so many of them right from the start. They’ll creep up on you unannounced and will make you realize how alive everything is around you.
6. Mantalai Lake and a temple in the middle of nowhere:
Mantalai lake is at 13,500 ft. and excites everyone since it’s the first massive lake you camp next to. There is also an ancient temple of Lord Shiva there, called Aparneswar, whereas per Hindu mythology, Maa Parvati got married to Lord Shiva. And according to our cook, who told us about this after we reached the campsite, you can see the formation of an Om symbol on one of the mountain tops as you approach Mantalai lake. Believers will be believers, and even if you are not, it is beautiful to see symbols and idols of faith in such remote places.
7. The challenging glacier and the crevasse zone:
Before reaching the pass, you’ll have to walk for a few hours on the Parvati glacier. For those who’ve never set foot on a glacier, this is an awesome experience. You will rope up, wear your spikes and learn the techniques of glacier march, and how to spot and hop over crevasses. It somewhat gives you a feel of an expedition and a sense of accomplishment after you cross the glacier patch.
8. Climb over the pass and stepping on to Spiti:
The pass, the highest point on the trail, is not your finish line but feels like one once you reach the top. This is the point where everyone rejoices, knowing that the hardest part of the trek is over and that they made it to the top. There will be hugs and tears, hifives and jumps, followed by loads of pictures. This is one of the most special moments of the trek for everyone.
But hold on, the special moments don’t just end on the pass. As you descend from the pass, you walk into Pin Valley in Spiti, and you see a dramatic change in the landscape. Everything is so different here, so barren and brown, yet beautiful in its own way.
9. The challenges you face along the way:
Some of the best parts on the trek were also some of the challenging parts.
Due to a broken bridge, the team had to change the route one day and we had to climb over rocks with our backpacks and cross a patch. So, on one side we had rocks where we barely had space to stand, and on the other side was a 20 meter drop and the fierce Pin river. But thanks to our calm and jolly guides, we weren't scared even for a single moment. Crossing this patch was one of the favorite things amongst many in our group.
You will also have to cross the Pin river barefoot a few times along the way, and the freezing cold water absolutely numbs your feet. But everyone’s reactions and expressions while crossing the stream are priceless. It’s tough but it's always followed by laughter.
And sometimes the water levels in the rivers go up, and you’ll not just have the challenge of freezing water, but also the fierce flow of river. The moment we saw the ferocity of the river we had to cross, we were all silent, probably freaking out in our heads. But we did cross the stream unharmed and this for us would be one of the scariest and unforgettable part of the trek.
10. The element of surprise:
And lastly, you may never know what you’ll stumble across on the trek.
A rainbow connecting two hills at sunset…
Curious horses approaching you…
PC: Arun Bose
Pashminas right outside your tent...
Or sheep grinning at you.
Oh did I tell you, we also got to see the milky way almost every other night? For these and many other reasons, Pin Parvati Pass is my favorite trek so far. It is a terribly beautiful trek that will make your heart smile.
Come and see for yourself.
Pic Credit: Surja Gain