I had been wanting to do a Himalayan trek since 2000 when I was 10 years old. Unfortunately I never got a chance to until this year. I signed up for my first Himalayan trek in July 2016 because I worked for a hiking company and felt the need to know the ‘product’ I am meant to market. I decided to go to Chandrashila – Deoriatal in October and was very excited indeed. Like all my other plans this one had to have a twist. It came after I spoke to a friend of mine, who convinced me to change my trek to Har Ki Dun last minute.

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Har ki Dun also spelt as ‘Har ki Doon’ translates to ‘Valley of Gods’ (Hari means God and Doon is a valley). It is a magical trail in Uttrakhand, that takes you back in time with its unbelievable views and 3000 year old villages. The highest point in this trek is at 3566 m approximately, which is not considered a very high altitude in the mountaineering world. Yet I was scared that I dared to do this given my fitness level was not exactly awesome.

All the things they tell you about preparation for a Himalayan Trek is true. It’s one thing to huff and puff and almost crawl your way to the top and completely another to actually be able to enjoy the trek. I knew I had to do this one way or another and so I did.

 

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Swargrohini peak in the background. The story according to the villagers is that the Pandavas tried to make their way to heaven from Har Ki Dun.

The Trek Highlights

They were the most terrific 6 days of my life. It was the first time I pitched a tent, slept in the open under the stars, did not shower for 9 days and had an absolutely fabulous time.

My backpack became a part of my body after the first day. unnamed-15In the beginning it feels weird to lug around an 8 kg bag on your back and at the end of the first day you are ready to give up. But after that it becomes a part of you. Everything you need in life is in that backpack. The whole trek is you and your backpack.

From some of the amazing people I met I won’t ever forget Chaman who is part of the local staff of Indiahikes and Yoko, a Japanese girl who lives in Kolkata for now. Chaman belongs to Sankri, which is a small village at the base camp and was responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the kitchen staff and other operations. Yoko is a petite, sweet and kind Japanese girl who loves mountains.

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(L to R) Me, Yoko & Chaman duing a pitsop just before reaching our last campsite.

We were tent-mates and I often woke up in the middle of the night to find her gone. After some investigation I realized she hadn’t left the tent at all and was in fact really inside her sleeping bag; so far inside that to me, it looked like the bag was empty. While crossing the tiny villages I also had the chance to interact with the locals, especially kids with pink rosey cheeks who would look at you like little puppies and ask for chocolate. It was hard to refuse them.

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I am most definitely adopting the last kid (on the right) in this photo.

 

Lastly, I had heard a whole lot about the food Indiahikes gives to its trekkers. I honestly had a hard time believing those stories till I actually went on this trek. We had 4 meals a day, all freshly cooked in front of us in the kitchen tent. The meals were healthy, enriching and so delicious that every time we ate I forgot we were in the middle of snow-capped mountains and not at home.

How the view changes you

A trek doesn’t have to be an intense soul-searching experience for all but it definitely does affect your perspective. Day after day I saw the landscape changing around me. One minute I was under the scorching sun with a nose burn and the other minute I was freezing because it had started to rain. From the far off views of gorgeous neighboring peaks to close ups of lush green meadows that resemble a film set the entire scenery took my breath away. I was in a constant state of awe taking photos of everything from a baby cow to a flowing river It’s hard not to feel positive when you wake up to something so beautiful and pure every morning. The trek left me feeling stronger and happy in a way. It was almost as if the mountains gave me their strength to face life.

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The view at 6:00 am from my tent on my third morning on the trek.
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This gorgeous waterfall comes on route to the second campsite.
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I witnessed this magic while waiting for the sunrise at 6:10 am one morning

How trekking satiated my need to travel

I am one of those travel crazy people who thinks living out of suitcase to see the world is one of the greatest ideas. However I acknowledge my limitations and understand I can’t possibly do that all the time. This trek has been my epiphany trek for two reasons.

  1. It made me realize why I travel.

Of course seeing pretty places and eating delicious food is all part of it but most importantly I travel to meet new people, to experience a new culture and to experience something I haven’t before.

    2. This trek gave me all that and much more.

Living in our over crowded cities with our monotonous jobs can make us forget to appreciate life. I met some of the most humble people in these mountains. People who are completely different from city folks. Who follow a very different lifestyle; one that is minimal and simple. We cant possibly understand the joy of drinking from a fresh water stream without worrying about getting sick. Neither do we know what a simple home cooked meal feels like after an exhausting day because although we all work hard at our jobs, when we come home we are too tired to cook and even if we do its not exactly by choice.

This experience was an eye opener on so many levels. I met some amazing people, even learnt a sentence in the local language which my guide taught me.

  English: Do I talk too much?                                                                                                                       Garhwali: Kya me bahut Boludu?

Har ki Dun is in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas and they speak in Garhwali which sounds a lot like Hindi and Gujarati but is totally different.

I can’t say that trekking can replace traveling but it can definitely bring in the novelty travel does. I recommend a Himalayan trek, especially Har ki Dun if you are a beginner like me, to everyone!

Happy Climbing

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2 thoughts on “Valley of Gods

  1. Beautifully written! I’m setting up a blog on camping; would love to include your camping stories and photos in and around India.
    Cheers!

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