A trek to Churdhar: A missed opportunity

As of last month I had planned my next blog to be about a trek I was to take with my friends to Churdhar in Himachal Pradesh. Alas, due to various reasons the trek got cancelled. If I am honest I was heartbroken, as I was desperately awaiting this opportunity to get out of the city and for once get to unwind and be with myself for a few days. At that time I decided to drop the idea of this post, however, at the suggestion of a friend I decided to put it up regardless. This is so that someone else may benefit from all the planning that had gone into the process and may be able to make the trek I was unable to make.

The idea of the trek came up when we realised that there was a really long weekend coming up in the first week of October. Excited by the fact that for once we were getting 5 days off due to festivals and national holidays, we jumped at the opportunity to get out of the city. Due to the fact that almost all organisations had the same long weekend, we also realised that we needed to make our bookings as early as possible to avoid a situation where we couldn’t get transportation or hotel reservations. It is unfortunate that we have already faced this situation in a previous attempt to get out of town earlier this year. Keeping this in mind, we began planning in early September itself. We quickly zeroed in on two destinations, Jaisalmer and Churdhar. We finalized on Churdhar due to budgetary constraints and the fact that one of our friend’s home was very close by and swore by that place.

For those not familiar with the area, Churdhar is located in Sirmour, Shimla Districts in Himachal Pradesh in India. At 3647 metres above sea level it is the highest peak of the outer Himalayas. It is also known for the temple of Lord Shirgul Maharaj ( Lord Shiv) at its peak. despite the altitude, it is not a very steep climb but yes it does take time.

The peak can be approached by multiple routes, of which the most preferred are from Nohradhar (14 km) and Sarahan (8 km). While Sarahan is shorter, it is also the steeper climb. Since we had sufficient time, we decided to take the Nohradhar route and take a leisurely pace. There were three possible itineraries in our mind, they are:

Option 1:

Day 0: take a bus/train from Delhi to Ambala, reaching Ambala by 11:00 pm 12:00 am. Take a cab to Nohradhar

Day 1: Reach Nohradhar by 6:00 am – 7: 00 am. Relax in the village and start trek by 9: 00 am -10:00 am. Reach Doosri (the mid way point/camping site on the trek) by mid afternoon. Relax, catch some sleep, basically enjoy. Camp at Doosri for the night.

Day 2: start early morning to Churdhar, reach by mid afternoon. Spend the night in the Sarai (rest house) at the temple and enjoy ourselves.

Day 3: spend the day at Churdhar, exploring the surroundings, doing some bird watching and catch up with friends

Day 4: start descend early morning and make it to Nohrdhar by late afternoon or evening. Spend the night at Nohradhar.

Day 5: take a bus/cab to Ambala in the morning. Take train from Ambala to Delhi and reach Delhi by late evening.

Benefits: An extra day at the summit.

Negative: begin trek on the first day, without a proper night’s sleep. Also slightly more expensive since we would take a cab to Nohradhar

Budget:  INR 2500 per person, in a group of 5.

Option 2:

Day 0: travel from Delhi to Ambala by bus/train in the evening. Travel from Ambala to Nahan, reach Nahan by 11: 30 pm – 12: 00 am. Stay over at friend’s place for the night

Day 1: Take bus from Nahan to Nohradhar early morning. Reach Nohradhar by afternoon, spend the day at Nohradhar

Day 2: Start hike early in the morning. follow day 1 itinerary from Option 1

Day 3: Day 2 itinerary from Option 1

Day 4: Same as Option 1

Day 5: Same as Option 1

Benefits: Lower cost. Dont trek on the first day. Get to spend some time in Nohradhar

Negatives: the road from Nahan to Nohradhar is pretty bad.

Budget: INR 2000 per person in a group of 5

Option 3:

Day 0:  Same as option 1

Day 1: spend the day and night at Nohradhar

Day 2 –  5: Same as option 2

Benefit: don’t trek on the first day. Get to spend some time in Nohradhar

Negative: cost

Budget:  INR 2800 per person in a group of 5

Keeping all the factors in mind, we chose the first option, just so that we could spend more time on the peak.

But like I said, due to various reasons beyond our control, the trek never happened. Even though I was heartbroken and no matter how much I tease some of my friends, I can’t honestly blame anyone for it. However, here is hoping that I do get to go out some other time.

If anyone does ever plan to undertake a trek to what I am sure is a beautiful peak, some essentials are:

  • a good rucksack
  • hiking shoes
  • basic medicines
  • trail mix and other food supplies
  • bottle of water (there are numerous streams along the way to fill them up)
  • sleeping bag and an extra pad to buffer against the terrain
  • tent
  • torch
  • winter cheaters or light warm clothes for the evening
  • rain coat or poncho (there are always chances of rain)
  • binoculars and bird guides (for those interested in bird watching)
  • portable chargers for your cell phones (if you plan to use them for photography)
  • camera

Here is hoping someone benefits from all this planning and has a good time of it. Cheers

 

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