Isn't it great to break out of the mundanity and escape into new landscapes? It's like escaping the monotony of everyday life and discovering the hidden treasures. Experiencing new places and meeting new people is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. Tourists prefer to visit well-known locations across the world, while true travellers prefer to delve deeper and seek out lesser-known locales that offer fresh perspectives and memories to be cherished.
One such spot in the Garhwal Himalayas is the Kuari Pass. From here, one can see the holy city of Haridwar, pilgrimage sites like Devprayag and the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers, the tranquilly of Chitrakantha and Chaukhamba, the splendour of Nanda Devi Peak and the Rishi Ganga River.
Shikhar Chauhan and his younger brother, Kshitij, decided to join Thrillophilia on a trek to this remote location in order to see the most unusual sights that the area has to offer. At Kuari, which literally means 'a gateway', you'll find meadows and lush green trees, as well as a magnificent vista of snow-covered peaks.
And The Trek Begins
"The holy town of Haridwar served as the starting point of the Kuari Pass trip. We arrived in the town early in the morning after catching a night bus from Delhi. Because I don't usually eat while riding the bus, I was starving when we got off. Maggie and chai at a dhaba came to our rescue. Once we arrived in Rishikesh, our driver picked us up and took us the rest of the way to meet up with the rest of our group. Morning fog forced us to drive more slowly than usual. All the remaining passengers boarded the bus in less than 30 minutes during our stop at Rishikesh and we began our 10-hour journey to Joshimath from Rishikesh."
The Trek Begins At Joshimath
"It's a beautiful drive from Rishikesh to Joshimath through rhododendron and oak-filled woodlands that opens up to a large expanse of lush green meadows. An important Hindu pilgrimage exists in this picturesque hill town, which is surrounded by the snow-capped Himalayas. The journey to Joshimath was enjoyable in itself. Our journey along the banks of the Ganges was filled with serenity as we listened to the birds' chirps and felt the sun's warmth on our skin. Upon our arrival in Joshimath at around 6 o'clock in the evening, we quickly checked into our rooms. It was becoming chilly when our trek leader arrived to give us instructions for the following day. He had a pleasant demeanour, and I was confident that the trip would go as planned. An unpleasant hike with a guide you dislike can make the experience miserable. We ate and slept like logs in the middle of the night before embarking on our epic journey."
“At 5.30 a.m., my alarm went off. Before we left Joshimath for the trek, I went for a walk along the city's streets. The sun had not yet risen. A pleasant wind and bird chirps filled the early morning air. I was immediately able to locate a tea shop. As I wandered around, I came across four dogs who were following me. While playing with them, I discovered that I had gotten a little too far away from the village and could see Mount Dronagiri from where I was sitting. This is when I realised the trek would be a magnificent sight."
The Contrasting Landscape
"Kshitij and I woke up early the next morning to meet the manager, who gave us some instructions before sending us to Dhak Village, our starting point for the major trip. Our guide led us to a village from which we could see Dronagiri and Pangarchulla in all their glory.
It began at 10 AM, and it was a glorious day. All of our lunch supplies were ready to go, including cookies, an orange, paratha, and sabzi (cooked vegetables). An eager 10-year-old shepherd approached us soon after we began our hike, and the youngster posed numerous questions to us. In this area, the local shepherds are said to be very active and I frequently come across one on your trip."
"After an hour and a half of hiking, we came across some snow! Even though the trees only shaded a little portion of it, we could see it directly in front of us. We finally made it into the forest after another hour of travel. Snow blanketed the ground, making the environment peaceful, and towering, green trees shielded us from the sun. The view was stunning! The contrast of white and green was perfect!"
In Gulling, the campground was situated next to a little brook. The travellers arrived to find their tents already pitched and a peaceful atmosphere waiting for them. When Shikhar had some free time throughout the day, he used it to practise walking on the knee-deep ice wearing gaiters and snow boots.
Chitrakantha To Tali
"The next morning, we set out early for the hike and the scenery transformed within 20 minutes of beginning our journey. Bright yellow-orange trees towered over the heavy snow for miles in every direction. The scene in front of us was complete with moss-covered trees, massive logs that had fallen to the ground, and ice-covered streams. To the already vivid scenery, oaks, pinecones, and rhododendrons added colour."
"During our 2-hour journey, we could see that the snow was waist-deep and that the next trek would be exhilarating. We arrived at Tali Lake, a frozen alpine lake surrounded by deep forests, gorgeous meadows, and a vast panorama, around noon. In the vicinity of the lake, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and some much-needed rest. Everyone in the party was in awe of the visual treat's magnificence."
"Even though it took several hours of trial and error, we even managed to build a snowman that stood tall in the snow."
The critical day had arrived, and the trekkers had to make their way to the 14-kilometre-long Kuari Pass from their last camping location. Shikhar found the trek difficult, despite the fact that the difficulty category for novice trekkers was moderate. At that precise moment, he realised he needed to conquer the obstacle while synchronising his mind and body in order to keep going and ultimately succeed. As he puts it, "Mountains challenge your limitations and break you down. Walking on the summit is the one achievement that will be imprinted in your memory, heart, and soul for the rest of your life."
Water, caps, gloves, and food were all that the group needed for the hike. They could easily see Chaukhamba, Nilkanth, Kamet, and Kedarnath as they climbed the steps. Despite Pangarchulla's presence, the Kuari Pass could be seen in the distance. As the group marched forward, the ascent became more challenging.
Suggested Read: The Adventurous First Attempt Of Prashant At Indrahar Trek Pass!
Snow had accumulated and the temperature had plummeted to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. "Our guide Sandeep made a route for us in the snow while we were on the Pangarchulla peak's slopes. We had to carefully cross a frozen waterfall some 200 metres away, and then make our way up a difficult 100-metre ascent to reach the pass. For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When we reached the summit, Sandeep surprised us by opening a box of Sohan Papdi he had stashed away. The trip back was sped up by the fact that most of us slid and rolled in the snow like children."
Tips From The Traveller
The clothes I had packed were unnecessary. Before each trek, check your shoes for wear and tear, as my sole had started to tear a bit and that made it difficult for me to find a good grip. The descent could be a bit difficult. Also, a balaclava is far superior to a cap in terms of protection, and trekking poles are an excellent addition. If you want to capture the best moments of your walk with GoPro, be sure to pack it.