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Old 13th October 2012, 17:58   #1
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Default Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

Where is it : Churdhar is in Sirmour District of Himachal Pradesh.

So what's special about it : At 12000 ft (3647m), its the the highest peak in Outer Himalayas. Churdhar is snow covered in winter and is visible from Shimla.

How far is it : Churdhar peak can be approached from at least three routes - Chaupal in Shimla district is the base for the shortest route of 7 kms, while Haripurdhar in Sirmour district is the base for a longer route of some 50 km. Nauradhar (Nohra) is the third base from where Churdhar is a 20 km climb and this is the route I took. Nauradhar is a small town on the Solan - Rajghat -Sangrah road and is about 388 km from Delhi, which can be covered in about nine hours by car.

Who goes there : Mostly local pilgrims visiting Chureshwar Mahadev Temple near the summit and some trekkers.

OK, why did I go there : Was intrigued by the fact that most trekking guides had no mention about Churdhar, in spite of being the highest peak in Outer Himalayas and just a day's drive from Delhi. However, a search on the net yielded all the information that was needed and looked appealing.

When did I go there : A three day trip from 5-7 November 2011.

So why this travelogue now : Better late than never.... and didn't find any other thread on this location. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and physical effort of reaching on top was exhilarating.

Who can make this trip : Nauradhar - Churdhar is a moderate climb of about 1600 m in 20 km distance. The facilities available on top and enroute are very basic ... just the temple dharamshala to spend the night and a small dhaba serving luke warm food. The peak is above tree line. Fuel (and hence) water is scarce. There is no mobile coverage during most of the trek. A couple of friends who made the trip later in winter had seen foot prints of Himalayan Black Bear in the snow. So I would recommend this trip for a group of at least two persons carrying a tent, sleeping bag and a stove.

I did this trip alone and with very little water and no food- definitely not advisable.

OK, enough of intro... Here's the photologue.
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Old 13th October 2012, 18:41   #2
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Default Re: Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

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A 6 am start from Delhi meant that I was soon on NH1 heading north before dawn.

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Passed the Delhi Lahore PTDC bus shepherded by police Gypsies somewhere near Sonepat.

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Soon diversions for flyover construction beyond Panipat on NH1 slowed the progress. At places, there were heavy local traffic causing long delays. Sadly even a year later things are yet to improve on this section.


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Some people believe in putting down their address in addition to registration number... rather helpful of them


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Ambala - Chandigarh stretch is now dual carriage and can be covered quickly. Overtook this speeding train...

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But trains don't have to stop at toll booths


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My MMI, updated just a month before, didn't guide me to turn right under the flyover at Zirakpur towards the Chandigarh bypass to Kalka. Ended up taking the flyover and entering Chandigarh losing time. Found my way back to this excellent road to Kalka. (Now this stretch is part of the Himalayan Expressway, which takes you to Timber Trail from Zirakpur bypassing Chandigarh, Kalka and Parwanoo traffic.)


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But a year back I had to go through Kalka and Parwanoo towns. Ended up waiting at a railway crossing for over 30 mins.


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Once past Parwanoo, the hill section started and the chaos and traffic of plains were soon things of past.


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Quality of tarmac was great and matched up to the quality of air. My 1.6 ltr petrol engine and I exhilarated in this new found freedom.

Last edited by rajcs : 17th October 2012 at 22:27.
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Old 14th October 2012, 09:36   #3
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Default Re: Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

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As I climbed higher towards Solan, the mountains turned greener.

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This Toyota Station before Solan could be handy for vehicles going up north on Hindustan - Tibet road.

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Approaching Solan Town.

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Reached Solan at 1.20 pm some seven hours out of Delhi. At Solan took the right turn to Rajgarh. Left continues towards Shimla.

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Quality of road took a down turn almost immediately after I branched off to State Highway towards Rajgarh.

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A truck that was stuck on this narrow road caused some delay. But the local drivers waited patiently and helped in clearing way. Himachal has always delighted me in people showing better civic sense than most other parts of the country.

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Once the jam was cleared I was virtually alone on this country road and driving was delightful.

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A young gurgling Giri river kept me company as I crossed Gaura.

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While the road surface condition was not the best, the signages were precise and there was no need to enquire directions. Kudos to HP Govt.

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By 3 pm, I was at Himachal Tourism's Trekkers Destination near Rajgarh. The rooms were inviting and I considered staying put. But moved on towards Nauradhar some 20 km further, since I wanted to start climbing as early as possible the next day.

Last edited by rajcs : 14th October 2012 at 09:45.
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Old 14th October 2012, 21:16   #4
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Default Re: Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

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A view of my ultimate destination from Trekkers Destination. I was told Churdhar is somewhere beyond the high ridge. Looked like a formidable climb.

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Beyond Rajgarh, the road surface further deteriorated - but was still motorable without difficulty. Much of the road to Nauradhar passed through densely wooded surroundings.

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Rajgharh is now known as the peach bowl of Asia producing over 3000 tons of the fruit annually. During my visit the peach season was over. I wonder if the condition of roads permit rapid movement of this produce and transportation losses could be high.

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Traffic in this stretch was sparse and barely crossed a vehicle or two. Even this cow was little interested in my car when I parked by a sparkling stream.

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I reached Nauradhar by 4.15 pm - around 10 hours of driving from Delhi covering 388 km. If you take the Chandigarh bypass you could do this in under nine hours.
Nauradhar is a pleasant one street town - more like an enroute halt to Haripurdhar with a clutch of some twenty shops. But you do get the essential food items and toiletries, if you need to stock up last minute.


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The town has a PWD guest house, which I found locked and couldn't locate caretaker around. The only other stay option is Chureswar Resort shown in the picture. This family run place has some five rooms with hot water facility. Vegetarian food is cooked as per your request. The rooms are kept quite clean and linen is OK. Parking is available for about three cars on the terrace approached through a steep unpaved road. For a remote location like this, one could not have expected anything more.
The owner and caretaker are helpful and told me all I needed to know about my trek up to Churdhar next day. They said it would take a 'Himachali' about four hours reach on top and a city dweller like me could do it in five to six hours (It took me seven strenuous hours).

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Since sun set was still some time away, I walked around a bit exploring the surroundings and picking up some biscuits for next day. Nauradhar is about 2000m above msl and receives snow fall in early part of the year. Overall it is a scenic place nestled amidst tall mountains.

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I had been told Churdhar is about 17-18km trek from Nauradhar. But this board at the foot of the mule track claimed it to be 20 km.

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This path branches off from the road from Rajghat just before Nauradhar town and leads to Churdhar peak.
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Old 14th October 2012, 21:58   #5
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Next day I got up to a cold but bright morning. Packed my haversack mostly with woolens and sheets, filled up a bottle of water, slung the camera around my neck and set out on this path leading up from the hotel at 7.30 am.

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The initial climb was rather steep. The morning chill, fresh mountain air and music on my headphones got the adrenalin pumping and I climbed hard. Looking around found Nauradhar getting smaller and smaller by the minute.

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Soon I was getting a bird's eye view of the town.

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There isn't many trees in the initial few kilometers. The path is now well marked and a pipeline runs along.

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There are a few settlements up above and well attired villagers make their way down to the town and beyond through this path. I asked for directions to who ever passed by. In any case there was just one clear path.

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Not sure why this gate was barring the path. Climbed over and continued the journey.

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Half an hour of climbing and Nauradhar was now just a speck in the mountain side.

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Terrace farming is attempted where ever possible.

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The stony path wound up through barren hillside past small, neat houses.

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The houses have roofs made of stone, probably from the surrounding hills. One with nature.
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Old 15th October 2012, 21:50   #6
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Default Re: Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

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Where Terrace Farming and Terrace Parking are necessities of life, Terrace Cricket is a natural progression!

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Good to see electricity and DTH TV reach such remote locations.

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I had been walking for over an hour and the heavy back pack was telling on my progress. I regretted having stuffed up my bag in spite of being warned by the attendant at Chureshwar Resort to travel light. When you are climbing, every extra pound takes its toll...

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Sight of this elderly gentleman tugging along with his heavy load enthused me to move on. Are Himachalis born with three lungs?

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Soon I was entering this heavily wooded forest of pines and deodars. I had been walking in the sun all along and although it was cold, I had begun sweat out of exertion of the steep climb.

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The shaded woods were a welcome break as the mountain path eased up a bit and meandered through the temperate forest.

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I often passed trough small streams with sparkling cold water and washed my face to invigorate myself. But it never struck me to top up my water bottle; something I was to regret later.

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Just short of 10 am, I broke out of the forest onto this charming lush meadow. I was told this place is called "Jamta", the first of two break points on the Churdhar trek.

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This is an ideal place for camping overnight, although I didn't find any water source nearby.

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It seems 'Gujjars' settle here in summer months for grazing their cattle. These built up areas may be being used by them.

Last edited by rajcs : 16th October 2012 at 22:12.
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Old 15th October 2012, 21:54   #7
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There is a small dhaba here operating out of a hut. The owner told me that he gets brisk business in pilgrim season, but he would soon be leaving since in winter, this place is covered in snow. I had luke warm tea and Maggi noodles from him. He was short of water though.

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From this meadow, the path leads on to another forest of stately Deodars. Fresh from the rest, I felt invigorated and this was possibly the most enjoyable part of the trek.

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For next one and half hours I walked through these multihued forest with a variety of trees and birds, most of which I couldn't identify.

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I read somewhere that Lord Hanuman found Sanjivani in these mountains to revive, Laxman. No wonder I felt enlivened.

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Four hours of trekking from Nauradhar brought me up to the second break point in - Teesri. I found a couple tea shops and a run down rain shelter. There were shepherds grazing their herd.

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Teesri is a ridge, which exposes you to cold winds from snow clad mountains to the north. Till now I was on the southern side of the mountain well protected from the cold. From this point the views change dramatically.

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I also got a glimpse the Churdhar Peak from Teesri. This picture is at 15x zoom and I still had a formidable distance to go.

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A close up of the grand Shiva statue on the summit.

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As I crossed over to the northern side of the ridge I shivered in the gusting cold wind. But I was rewarded by fantastic views of the Greater Himalayas for the first time in this trek.

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Soon I was over the tree line and in stony, barren landscape. By first week of November, the streams had already frozen over.

Last edited by rajcs : 16th October 2012 at 21:47.
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Old 15th October 2012, 21:57   #8
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A lonely walk over a frozen stream.

Beyond this point the path took me over what seemed to be a never ending series spurs on the ridge. Losing height for some fifty meters and climbing again for 100. By now I was getting seriously tired and panting. The tree cover was gone. There was bitter winds buffeting me mos of the time. My water bottle was nearly empty. I was taking rest more frequently. Only positive thing was the amazing range of snow covered mountains to the north.

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Lord of all we perceive.
Finally by 2.20 pm I reached the summit. Giant statue of Shiv faced north towards Kailash. I was prostrated for a while, thanking the almighty for having brought me up safely.

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When I got up some of the most amazing views I had seen greeted me. There was no peak taller than where I was for miles around. The Greater Himalayas formed a white barrier to the north. Hazy plains of Northern India lay to the south. I was mesmerized.

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Beneath me there were series of hills with rich coniferous forests. This would be the Churdhar Sanctuary.

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Soon I realised how bitterly cold it was, when my fingers began to go numb and couldn't click any more. I couldn't spend more than ten minutes on top.

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I climbed down quickly and headed for the temple complex.

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The Chureshwar Mahadev temple complex is about 300 meters below the summit.

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The temple runs a Dharamshala for yatris - the only place to stay put unless you intend camping.

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There is a small dhaba that serves barely warm food. Being above tree line, fire wood has to be carried from below. Even boiling water is difficult.

Last edited by rajcs : 17th October 2012 at 21:18.
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Old 15th October 2012, 22:01   #9
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A dormitory at the Dharamshala. There are around 10 such dormitories. One can pick up bed rolls and sheets on hire. By night fall, this dormitory was full - with local pilgrims in high spirits. They were singing and dancing late into night, while I shivered under four blankets and tried to sleep.

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Next morning I got up with sun rise - still tired after the uncomfortable sleep. The temple was bathed in sunlight.

There was very little water available and after much pleading the dhaba guy gave me half a glass to drink. The facilities available are quite inadequate to support trekkers and pilgrims. That's probably why this place doesn't find much mention in the trekking trails. If you plan to tent and carry food, the place is great though.

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The Himalayas glowed in the morning sun.

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Still shivering from the cold, I decided to head back by 7.00 am.

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The Himalayan range in multiple hues in morning light kept me company.

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The small plants along the path were dying in frost and would not come to life again till spring next year.

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The lonely path stretched ahead of me. I was mighty thirsty with an empty water bottle. How I longed for those sparkling streams of the forest below.

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Frustrated with thirst I yanked off some icicles from this frozen stream to get some water. These icicles were so hard, it wouldn't melt even in sun. I chewed on them to quench my thirst.

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I walked downhill over an hour to reach the tree line.

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The Himalayan range was still visible in full glory under the rising sun.

Last edited by rajcs : 17th October 2012 at 21:43.
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Old 15th October 2012, 22:06   #10
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Once I reached the forest, I found flowing water and filled up my bottle. I made rapid progress thereafter, stopping at Teesri for tea.

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Saw this dog at Jamta. Apparently he got left behind when the Gujjars migrated to the plains for the winter. Wonder if he would survive the winter.

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By 11am I was back in the habitation. The crooning rooster welcomed me back.

I reached the hotel by noon. It had taken me seven hours to climb up and five hours to return. My legs were sore from pounding on stones. A nice warm water bath and a hearty lunch gave me much needed energy.

Return Leg

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I decided to return to Delhi via Renukaji - Nahan. There two routes from Nauradhar to Renukaji - One via Haripurdhar is longer than the one via Pallar. Both routes merge at Sangrah. The guys at the hotel told me to take the shorter route through Pallar - " The road is quite fine"

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Absolutely wrong - the road turned out to be only slightly better than a dirt track for the next 25 km till Pallar. A local woman I gave lift to enroute told me this road was never surfaced and there is hardly any vehicles that pass by.

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The road tumbles down a narrow hill side. Car was skidding at every turn, ABS coming alive even at 40 kmph.

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There was no traffic on this road. Still it took me an hour cross 25 kms.

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It was only near Pallar that surfaced road, well, surfaced again.

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By four 4pm I reached Renukaji and crossed a much wider Giri river.
Had tea at Nahan by sunset and headed home via Kala Amb, Narayangarh and Saha joining NH1 at Shahbad.

I reached the hustle and bustle of South Delhi by 11 pm, a far cry from another world I woke up in the morning at 3600 m above msl.

Last edited by rajcs : 17th October 2012 at 22:22.
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Old 18th October 2012, 13:26   #11
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Default Re: Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th October 2012, 14:14   #12
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Default Re: Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

Beautiful travelogue rajacs! And lovely pictures too - kudos ! Reminds me of a trek we did a long time back in the Garhwal Himalayas - the Nagtibba trek. It's a 8 Km trek of moderate grade right up to the summit of Nagtibba peak. We had carried tents and stayed at the base and went up the peak & came down the same day. seeing the avid trekker you are , you may consider this trek sometime in the future. This too is within drive-able distance from Delhi. Happy trekking !

Cheers !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nag_Tibba
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Old 18th October 2012, 19:55   #13
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A wonderful photologue indeed. Must salute your spirit, more so for the fact that even after such hectic climb down you decided to drive back to Delhi.
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Old 18th October 2012, 22:04   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironhide View Post
Beautiful travelogue rajacs! And lovely pictures too - kudos ! Reminds me of a trek we did a long time back in the Garhwal Himalayas - the Nagtibba trek. It's a 8 Km trek of moderate grade right up to the summit of Nagtibba peak. We had carried tents and stayed at the base and went up the peak & came down the same day. seeing the avid trekker you are , you may consider this trek sometime in the future. This too is within drive-able distance from Delhi. Happy trekking !

Cheers !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nag_Tibba
Thank you for the the appreciation and the tip.

I did trek to Nag Tibba in Feb this year
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It is a great place to trek to and can be done in a day from Mussoorie.
My colleague and I did the Nag Tibba - Flag Hill - Lal Tibba circuit from Landour.

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We returned to Delhi via Dhanaulti which had snow even in Late February. I was on my colleagues Punto (instead of my usual Fabia) and it was fun driving through snow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandjha View Post
A wonderful photologue indeed. Must salute your spirit, more so for the fact that even after such hectic climb down you decided to drive back to Delhi.
Thanks.
I don't know what I enjoy more... Driving in the hills or trekking in the hills.
So it was fun all the way.

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Last edited by Technocrat : 19th October 2012 at 01:40. Reason: Please read the note in your post, thanks
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Old 19th October 2012, 13:19   #15
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Default Re: Trekking to Churdhar - A short photologue

Excellent trip and trek. I have done extensive treks in this region along with camping. You did the most strenuous trek route to Churdhar. A few corrections I would like to point out:
1. The best trek point is not Chaupal but Sarain on the other side of the mountains.
2. The dogs are a mix of Bhutia and Gaddi breeds and do quite well in winters, infact its the temperature more than about 20-25 degrees, what kills them, lol.
3. The locals told you correctly. In those parts as long as there is a track the road is "fine". lol.

Another route is carrying onto Haripurdhar and onto Meenus and thereafter you can drive through Dakpathar-Vikasnagar-Herbertpur-Saharanpur-Delhi or take Shillai-Sataun-Paonta Sahib-Yamunanagar-Karnal-Delhi.

The area is yet to be explored and its full tourist potential realised. If you are fond of treks next time try the following: Solan-Rajgarh-Habban from here trek to Sarain through Pulvahal. You can then either retrace your route back or take a bus back to Rajgarh from Nerwa. Nerwa can be reached on foot from Sarain.
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