A mountain called. The call was answered.
Ridges of the Dhauladhar don’t lend themselves to easy trekking. More so when the rains are pouring. The trails are conspicuous by their absence and all you have is a rocky terrain. Distances cease to exist and the mountain looms directly above. The ascent and descent are pretty steep on both sides of the Indrahar pass which is a high altitude pass at 4342m(14325 feet).
Adventure starts from McLeodGanj as a jungle path leads you all the way to the beautiful Triund 9 km away. Triund in itself is a beautiful camping destination which is ideal to laze around and do nothing but to simply admire the natural beauty. Camping here is a must or so I believe.
The last shop is a few km after Triund, so make sure that you stock up on essentials for the rest of your journey. A few hours walk leads one to Lahesh cave where it is recommended to stay the night basically for acclimatization purposes. Enroute you will pass through a stream which will invite you to take time off and enjoy its waters.
Now Lahesh cave is simply a cavity in the rocks formed by one huge rock being placed on the rest of the rocks in a precarious manner. The cave will be shared by as many travelers as there are on the route and it does get pretty crowded. The entry and exit are both challenging. However the trickiest challenge is reserved for the moment when the nature comes calling for its call to be answered. Good luck. Take it you may actually need it.
From Lahesh cave it is a straight climb to the top of the pass. Very steep, very unforgiving should there be a mistake. Of all my trekking to this day, both the ascent to the Indrahar and the descent to the other side are the steepest that I have seen. Since the terrain is rocky, there is hardly any trail and one needs to do a lot of boulder hopping by the time the day is over.
I had heard that nature brings one back to the basics. While descending the mountain, a friend for a little while just got too intimidated and scared to descend down. Word quickly got relayed around that one person is in distress on the mountain. Since the cell phones are basically useless without a signal, the progress that day of the dude in distress was conveyed through multiple relay calls through other travellers going up and down. The primitive mode of communication ensured that the situation was calmly handled and we all were very glad to enjoy a hot of cup in the evening together at Lahesh before finalizing our strategies to counter the night at the cave.
The arduous climb and the hard work involved is more than aptly rewarded with stunning views of the Pir Panjal range. If you are lucky you can get a clear view of Mani Mahesh Kailash from the peak too.
On a clear day, it is amazing how far one is able to see on this trek. Down below the town of Dharamashala was visible and so was its spanky cricket stadium. Alas even the Great Indian plains didn’t look too far away.
There are a few excursions from the pass on the other side that are worth taking, leading one to beautiful serene high altitude lakes. However the treks are tough and will basically involve lots of boulder hopping. The trek holds many advantages. This is one of the closest points from Delhi where one can reach snowline. The trek is doable with small overheads. Couple of overnight Volvo journeys and one can have magnificent views in a matter of few days.