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Old 3rd December 2009, 12:46   #1
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Wink Trip to Kareri Lake

I promised some travelogues long ago in my introduction message and at long last, unlike politicians, I am finally keeping my promise. I have been travelling for the last 4 months, primarily trekking in the Dhauladhars and other Himachal Himalayas and writing about it on a site, which shall be nameless for the fear of the moderator. So, from the site that shall remain nameless, I am producing the latest travelogue and some photos for this forum. Please do write in with your feedback. I will keep posting more as and when possible. A sincere request to everyone who reads this. If at all you decide to go to any of these places, please treat them with great respect. These are the few unspoilt places left in the world, please do not litter around at all and absolutely no polythenes. If you are looking for a detailed map of the trek, you can find it at OpenStreetMap. I map treks using a GPS. If you have any questions about the route, please feel free to ask.
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While the first short trip to Parashar (पराशर) came as an afterthought, this one to Kareri (करेरी) lake almost did not happen. Having been there now, I realize what I would have been denied. This has been on the radar since September 2009. My brother was scheduled for a visit in November 2009 and I had set this one aside for a trek with him. Come 18th November and I was calling Jango (जैन्गो), fixing a start for the 22nd November. Jango being the busy man that he is, ditched me on the 20th. So, we had to choose between no trip and a trip without a guide. Jango, true to his spirit suggested trekking alone to Kareri village and then hiring a local man for the trek. No prizes for guessing which option we took.

Part 1: Ghera (घेरा) at 1306 metres Kareri (करेरी) at 1746 metres, 2 and hours, total altitude gained 440 metres
The trip began with a 4:30 am start from home at Sundernagar (सुन्दरनगर), driving on a cold morning for almost 7 hours. On the way, we photographed a beautiful sunrise and collected the permit for Kareri rest house from Dharamshala (धर्मशाला). The walk begins from a village called Ghera (घेरा). Ghera is 20 km west of Dharamshala and can be reached by taking the Dharamshala Pathankot (पठानकोट) road for 11 km and then taking a right. This 9 km road is almost unpaved and is a very slow drive.
The walk from Ghera to Kareri village is the most deceptive part of the trek. It starts from a relatively low altitude of 1306 metres and meanders up through hardly any jungles. A couple of stream crosses, a couple of villages and a slope up, we reached Kareri. Hardly anything striking on the way except the clear view of the freshly snowed Dhauladhar (धौलाधार) peaks. Kareri, the village though, is different. Set on the top of a flat ridge, bristling with life, the journey through Kareri started with a foreigner filing his nails through a group of villagers mending a tin roof; ladies sitting in open courtyards completing domestic chores, faintly smiling at the passers by; green village fields set against the beautiful backdrop of the blue sky; mud village houses; stacks of dried grass drying more in the sun and finally the ever present Forest Rest House of the British times. The night was spent at the rest house, dining on cold cooked chicken and a generous helping of rum.

Part 2: Kareri (करेरी) at 1746 metres Kareri Dal (करेरी डल) at 2934 metres, 4 and a hours, total altitude gained 1188 metres.
Having figured in the evening that the walk to the lake (Dal is local language for lake) is pretty straightforward, though a little long, we were off at 6 AM the next morning, without any guide. Sure enough, 100 metres up the trail, thanks to the dark, we were already lost. And it was not bad at all for that meant yet another beautiful sunrise. While my brother figured the way to the lake with a torch in his hand, I made those customary feeble attempts at shooting the sunrise. With the sun up and the path figured, we were on our way soon. However, as always with a jungle trail, there were choices to be made and thankfully, we ended up making the almost right choices each time. Once we reached the Nyund (न्यूंद) stream, though not through the most preferred route, the way up to the lake was as simple as it can get. It runs along the biggest stream right up to the lake. Moreover, given the religious importance of the lake, there is a stepped path in most places which looks much like a village path. On the way were some really nice treats like a whole jungle of Saru (सरू), see through water in a stream and hordes of shepherd stops of all shapes and sizes.
If someone had asked me what I had expected from this lake when I started in the morning, as I actually did ask myself, the answer would have been a small lake, approximately the size of Parashar lake in the middle of a depression. And how sometimes life has a strange way of bestowing things on you when you expect them the least. Instead of a lake in a depression of a ridge, we reached a Dhauladhar mountain called Mankiani (मनकिआनी), full of fresh snow, right in our face, trickling melting snow into a shallow lake surrounded by lesser hills, full of browning grass. Around 400 metres in length and 100 metres at its widest, the lake surface was frozen at noon and it took fairly large pebbles thrown with quite some force to break the ice. The water and in turn the resultant ice was so clear that the entire lake acted as a mirror to the surroundings. For the non believers, here is a photo. If it was not for the slight layer of ice which gives away the truth, I could have produced an upside down version of the photo here and you would be none the wiser. If the same someone had asked me after seeing the lake what more could I ask for from life, the answer would have been 'nothing'. Kareri Lake is by far the single most beautiful thing I have seen in my Himalayan trips in the last 4 months. It is where nature makes the beauty of snow capped mountains, of crystal clear water, of sloping grasslands, of blue skies amalgamate into one single piece of heaven, stunning and serene at the same time. I would actually take the credit of the Amir Khusrow saying away from Triund (त्रियुंड) and give it to Kareri. And I am told there is more on the other side of Dhauladhar, another lake called Lam Dal (लम डल), circling which takes 5 hours. Whooo!! That lake and the snow capped Dhauladhar would make for a life's trek.
Kareri lake also has a small Shiva (शिव) temple, much revered by Kareri and the surrounding villages. There are overnight prayers held during Janmashtmi (जन्मष्टमी) and villagers take a dip into the holy lake. Having satisfied ourselves with the views of the lake, we cooked some maggi with chicken pieces on a fire which made difficult lighting owing to wet wood and set off back towards the village. The way back was marked by a 'getting lost' in search of the actual trail, which we had missed earlier. While we did not find the trail, what we did discover was how desperate situations make desperate people take desperate measures, like crossing a stream and climbing a vertical mountain face strewn with wet oak leaves in search of the familiarity of a already walked trail. It did not turn out to be that tough in the end but it was a little concerning while it lasted. Relieved at last on finding the trail, we managed a few sunset photographs and the finished the day with a dinner of dal and rice and a plan for the trip through Kareri lake, across the Mankiani pass to Lam Dal and onwards.

Regards,
Shalabh
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Old 3rd December 2009, 14:59   #2
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Sounds like a really nice trip - have always found something truly magical about the Dhauladhars...
Next time, I'll swap Triund with Kareri Lake
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Old 3rd December 2009, 16:46   #3
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Sure do, I have been to Triund as well and crossed the pass above Triund. While Triund and the Indrahar trail are more popular, this one is far more beautiful, just stunning! I am going to cross this pass next summer with camping at Kareri Lake and Lam Dal and I just cant wait for it.
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