Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Indrahara Pass Trek - Abhijeet Kashyap (Guest Post)

Indrahara Pass Trek (Experiences of a first time trekker)-Abhijeet Kashyap:

It was the month October. It marked my fourth month in the national capital. I had been a bit disappointed by Delhi in terms of food, people and art it had to offer. I later realized that I could not make judgments about the city unless I had met different people (by different I mean people who were not from my college or locality) and covered almost the entire city. I have never had a very competitive attitude and despite the rigor which MBA had subjected me to, I never felt anything close to challenging (except for DMM, i.e.  Decision Making Models where I had to save my ass despite scoring the lowest internals among 180 students).It was during this time that I came across a trekking event organized by my friend Suman. Needless to say, I registered for it because I wanted to escape boredom and not out of any uncontrollable fascination for Mountains. The trek was going to start from Bhagsu Nag near Dharamshala and end at Indrahara Pass. We left on a Friday night and we were expected to return by Tuesday morning.
Indrahara pass is a very popular trekking route that is usually accessed from Dharamshala or Mcleodganj. Located at an altitude of 4,342 metres (14,245 ft) above mean sea level, it forms the border between Kangra and Chamba districts of Himachal Pradesh. The Indrahara Pass trek is considered a moderate to difficult trek. The trekking trail passes through the popular camping ground of Triund, Laka Got, and Lahesh Caves. Popular camping stops are Triund at 2,842 metres and Lahesh Caves at 3,475 metres. For all the effort required to get to the pass, the spectacular views more than compensate for it. thestunning Dhauladharsof Himalayas form a backdrop of the trail for the most part of the trek.
Day 1- 11th Oct, 2013 (Friday):
I board a tempo traveler from Connaught Place in Delhi and see 12 odd strangers to accompany me. I had met Suman and Geetanjali once at CCD. I happened to meet Sunanda an hour before meeting the other strangers since we both live in the same locality. I was more excited than bothered among so many strangers. We left Delhi at 9:30 PM and had our dinner at ‘Sukhdev’sDhaba’ inMurthal.  The journey was tiring and I had become friends with 3 people by now. The person sitting next to me was Akshay. I was really comfortable in his presence because he spoke fewer words than me.
Day 2-12th Oct, Saturday :
The road was not really good and I was completely awake for most of the journey. Moreover, a girl’s Whatsapp notifications prevented me from catching even a decent nap. I remember falling asleep around 4 AM. Someone wakes me up in the morning. I am not bothered to look at the time, I get down, brush my teeth and enjoy morning tea at this place called Kinnu. We continue our journey and I prefer to remain awake and not miss the beautiful landscape that had welcomed us with a faint shower.
We reach our hotel at Bhagsu around 11 AM. After getting fresh and telling my parents not to expect any communication for the next 3 days, I head for the breakfast where I was joined with 4 another strangers- Harry, Pradeep, Rohit and Gill. We exchanged greetings and then I ate like an animal eats before hibernating (I had stopped counting after 6 Paranthas).Porters could not be arranged and so we kept our luggage in the traveler and then started the trek at 1:30 PM with essentials, sleeping bags, etc.I was walking a bit faster relative to others, except those new 4 strangers. I soon realized they were supposed to guide us upto the Indrahara Pass.  The entire group of 17 had split into 4 different groups and my group lost its way initially, but we soon managed to meet the other groups at a common point.
Our guides tell us that that the route is not difficult. I bonded well with Anshul and Akshay, because of cigarettes and camera respectively. I am not a good photographer myself, but I have a decent knowledge of photography. We meet other members at the ‘magic café’ which is supposedly the oldest Indian chai shop.At there, I also met a childhood friend who had come from Gurgaon for camping in Triund.
The trek gets steeper after this point and I wanted to reach the top as early as possible, just because I was enjoying the physical drill. We encountered really good sceneries on our way.

I registered the images in my mind while those with a camera clicked some beautiful shots. I increased my speed beyond this point and left everyone behind. I took out my player and played the ‘metal’ playlist. I reach the top at 5:30 alone and had the best moment of my life on seeing the mighty Dhauladhars suddenly appearing in front of me.

 I see two people waving hands at me. They were Rohit and Gill. I was the third person to reach at Triund. I went inside a chai hop and played Guitar to kill time. It was almost an hour now and the weather was chilly. There was no sign of other members and these two had gone to make some arrangements for the night and later help others in reaching the top since it was dark now. I am then joined by Anshul and Akshay around 6:30 and within next 20 min everyone arrives. We head to a forest department’s guest house, have bonfire sips of old monk to combat the cold weather accompanied with rain. I had  a good time chatting with strangers and Harry and I become friends instantaneously when he plays Led Zep tracks on his mobile. We finish our booze and come inside the guest house for dinner. It’s a bliss to have hot Rajmachawal served at this altitude amidst cold weather. I talked to Prachi over general stuff and soon everyone is in their sleeping bags.
Day 3- 13th Oct, Sunday:
Sun rose from the mountains and I preferred warmth of my sleeping bag over the scenery. I wake up quite late and I am still feeling sleepy. I try to freshen up and the chilled water brought my all senses alive, thought the areas it touched were turned numb. We have our tea and click a group photograph.
3 people turn back from Triund thinking that the trek was too demanding. We were 14 now. We start our trek for Laka, which usually takes 2 hours from Triund, to reach the Snow Line café. Suman had a leg cramp and she made the wise decision of not going beyond Laka. Few more people decided not to accompany us any further. I have a good chat with Harry and Pradip just after our lunch. It drizzles for few minutes and then we start our trek to reach the Lahesh caves at Ilaka. It takes us around 3.5 hours and we reach the caves before 6 in the evening. At an altitude of 3,475 metres I could not see even the faintest light coming from the town of Dharamshala. It was a full-moon night and the moonlit hills appeared too beautiful to seem real. We again have shots of Old monk. Harry sings a Pahadi song. I like the tune so I memorise it right there and join him. Altitude sickness had affected 2 people by now and they lay inside the caves. We were then joined by the other members. The night was harsh.  I could not sleep the entire night. There was snowfall up the mountains and the negative temperature was unbearable, especially because of the winds.
Day 4, 14th Oct (Monday):
Akshay is running temperature and Anshul has to board his return bus. They decide to return from Lahesh.  9 people march towards the Indrahara Pass. This was the toughest part of the trek. There is no definite route and the path is really steep. One can easily feel effects of altitude when you gasp after every step. Fresh snow had shown.
The trek was scary at several points where a slip would mean death on the rocks. It was more dangerous for me considering my sub-grade sports shoes. I was feeling scared and exhausted, I could not walk more. We walk for few more minutes and Geetanjali decides to return, she is accompanied by Pradeep. This was a tough moment for me, at one side there where the mountains where I had wanted to be for the last 3 days while on the other side I had to only descend. I made a choice which I shall cherish throughout my life. We were now only 7. You can see 2 of us climbing the steep rocks.
The trek got the toughest just 200 metres below the destination. I could not move but Harry kept pushing me. I saw that everyone else was struggling. I see Prachi, the only girl there, moving ahead despite a bad health. I was motivated to reach the top. I stopped resting and Harry almost dragged me for the last 10 metres for cliclking a group photograph.

We reached there around 1:30 PM. After taking a rest for 20 min, we start moving back to Lahesh. The view from Indrahar on the Chamba side was spectacular.
After resting for 20 min, we start moving back to Lahesh. I was running high temperature and I ask harry to consider me as an 85 Kg baggage that can’t move. He helped me a lot during the initial steep parts of descend. I later discovered a technique of ‘ass climbing’ to descend from the rocks! We started reaching Lahesh by the evening and it was terrifying to see 3 of us missing. Geetanjali, Pradeep and Gill had not made it to the caves yet. The first two did not even reach uptoIndrahara. I was too tired to move outside the caves and Harry took my torch and started shouting on mountains for them. I could listen other voices, but if I stepped out then I would be fourth one gone missing. It was completely dark and those 3 arrived by 10 PM. We had cup noodles. We were supposed to descend upto Dharamshala the same day, but we could not send a message to Suman since there was no signal. By that time half of Mcleodganj knew that 7 people were missing on the hills.
Day 5: 15th Oct, Tuesday:
Next morning Gill’s phone miraculously receives a message from Suman and we convey her our status. We start descending down. It was dark before we could reach Dharamkot. We descended the mountain using torch light and I saw Suman waiting for us with cars to take us down. I can’t really tell if this was the best moment of my life or seeing the Dhauladhars for the first time. We all try to make ourselves look human and then board the tempo traveller for Delhi.

Indrahara was the first trek of my life. I have been on a forest trail before in Kodaikanal, but that was not physically demanding. Indrahara had broken me mentally and physically. I could not open my eyes fully. I had a frostnip. I lay my head on the seat of the traveller, look outside at moonlit Dhauladhars for one last time and realized that I had done something big as a first time trekker.


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