An easy trek in the Kumaun Himalayan range. It takes around eight days from Upperlohar Khet and back. The entire route is full of breathtaking landscapes. Varity of the route will give you a feeling of complete trek. First two days you will have gradual ups and downs through different habitations. In the third day you will find the Pindar River all along the day. Fourth day is a short but steeper route. And finally on the fifth day morning you should be at the Zero Point.
At Lalkuan: When we get down at the Lalkuan station, early in the morning in mid October 2007, we were not feeling that much enthusiastic. A small station with two three chaa-wala was not enough to impress us. We had already spent last two nights in the train and now a nine – ten hour journey by road was waiting for us. Our leader hired one Bolero for five of us. Today we need to reach Varari. A long journey by road. And the condition of the road is not always comfortable. But as usual the more we are into the hills, more we got charged-up. Once you are in the hills, specially in Himalayan, rest are of little importance. We were all set and discussing the final nitty-gritty of the trek while enjoying the view around us.
Planning:Sometime around early March of 2007 we were discussing where we can go this Durga Puja vacation. It’s a long time we did our last trek in Sandakphu. After browsing few books on trekking and surfing net a bit, we choose Pindari. It was a total fifteen days plan, from Kolkata to Kolkata. Once the route is finalised we started giving shape to the finer details of the program. Initially we thought of a quit strict itinerary. But in that case we would miss the beauty of the journey in hurrying to reaching the destinations. So our final itinerary was a bit relaxed. Even after that we managed one day for Lucknow. Other than the itinerary one more important thing is to finalise the list of items we need to buy / hire. It includes right from sleeping bag to soap paper. Also we need to ensure that we do not miss the exact date of the ticket booking, sixty days before from our date of journey. As during puja time there is always a possibility of getting a waiting list ticket if you can not book your ticket within the first 30 min of opening. And another important thing we had to ensure. Almost all of us gained wait and not in a physical state of walking for 6-7 hours a day in Himalayan terrain. So we started doing exercise to make ourselves compatible with the environment we were targeting at.
Beginning:We took 3005 Amritsar Mail from Howrah to reach Lucknow in the next day evening. After we reached Lucknow Jn, we need to change the station, from Lucknow Jn(LJN) to Lucknow City (LC), for our next train to Lalkuan. Initially we were bargaining with taxi and autos but the fare was not fair at all. So again our leader asked us to wait just outside the station and went to explore the other options. Within 10 mins he came back with 3 ricksha each of them asking for Rs 20/- only. We were really surprised and impressed!
Our train to Lalkuan, 5308 Nainital Express, was scheduled at 2110 hrs from Lucknow City. When we got onboard, we found the train was not roomy enough. It seems something was different. The lamps were not adequate, the berths were quite narrow, the passage was not comfortable enough for moving along. But we were not getting what was wrong. Then after some time we realised that it is a meter gauge line. And this our first experience of a journey in a meter gauge train. But what ever it may be, we reached without any delay!
It was almost dark when we reached our hotel at Varari. All of us were quite exhausted after this long rail-road journey.But few important things were still to be setteled.
Day 1-16.Oct.07:Next day morning, we set out by 0730 hrs. From Varari we need to book a car to reach Upperlohar Khet. Trek will start from this point. So we booked our car in the previous evening. Also we decided to have a guide and one porter with us. In the hotel at Varari we asked the manager to arrange one guide for us. And he introduced Gopal Ram Jee with us. A mid aged person with a pleasant personality, though as a guide his appearance was not very impressive. But he was confident about his roles and responsibilities. We decided to go with him. The rate was Rs 250 for him and Rs 200 for porter per day. So now we are a team of seven. We were told that, after Varari electricity would not be available. So we need to make sure that all our camera and cell phone batteries are fully charged.
The journey of the first day was very nice. But it was the most laborious part of the trek. There are two reasons for that. First is, the first day of every trek appears tough. And the second is the ascent of Dhakuri. There is steep ascent of around 1.5 km to Dhakuri Top named as Dhakuri ka Charai. It is believed that if any body can reach the Dhakuri Top he/she can make the trek. The reason behind this believe is probably because this is the most steep gradient in the entire trek. There is another important thing related with this land mark. This is the last place where from you will find the signal in your cell phone. Well, there is a small PCO beside the Dhakuri Lodge also. From the top there is a steeper descent of around 1 km before you reach the KMVN guest house. It took us almost six hours to complete the first day’s trek. Though the weather was not so good, we were hopeful to have a better weather in the next morning. But at night it started raining.
Day 2-17.Oct: Even in the next day morning we found it’s raining. At around 0900 hrs it stopped but it was still cloudy. We did not have any other choice but to start for our next destination Khati. It is already late. You may target Dwali right from Dhakuri, and not staying in Khati . But as I said earlier, we decided to have a smoother itinerary. This route was pretty easy. You would not have much ups and downs. Infact Dwali is around 350m below than Dhakuri. Though the terrain was pretty easy, still we could not walk that fast. As due to the rain in the last night some places are slippery. But later we found that this rain made our trip an excellent one.
We reached Khati some time around 1300 hrs. The weather by that time was pretty good. Infact from this day we got an excellent weather all along. So you can see we completed the trek just in four hours time. After reaching Khati, while enjoying hot tea with snacks we were discussing that we could have moved to Dwali. But later we realised that we did the right thing. As Khatii s a really nice place to stay. The guest house is in a valley and the hills around you are deep green. Though it is the last village that you will have in your route, the surrounding of the guest house were very calm. And if you have a clear weather, like us, the sunset is really nice to watch.
Day 3-18.Oct.07:Gopalram jee told us that today’s route, Khati to Dwali, would be the best route in our trek. We did not take his word that seriously. As we thought the entire route is so beautiful, no need to put any extra emphasis for a particular day. Within an hour, we started for Dwali, we happily found ourselves wrong. In Himalayan, it is obvious that you will get excellent landscapes every where every time. But this route was really unexpected for us. From Khati, it ascents a little. Then the trail goes down to the bed of the Pindar River coming all along from the Pindari Glacier, our destination. After walking around 2 Kms, and crossing the river, the trail enters into a forest. An excellent forest to walk. It was not heavily dense, but a lot of Rainforest features were there. The trail continues thorough the forest until you almost reach the Dwali guest house. When we were almost there, the guest house was clearly visible, we got another excellent view. The Pindar River was still with us on the right side, and in the left side from an overhang a nice thin waterfall is flowing and it will wet you when you cross it. After next 30 mins or so we reached the guest house after crossing the river again. This route itself feels like a complete trek.
We were really enjoying every moments of the trek and weather was getting more and more picturesque. In the late evening suddenly Nanda Devi became clearly visible. And we enjoyed one of our most memorable sunsets.
Day 4-19.Oct.07:Phurkia was looking like a base camp of an expedition. Though few huts are available for night stay but the view of Nanda Kot and the snow covered path makes it looks like a base camp of a high altitude peak expeditions. We started from Dwali around 0800 hrs and reached Phurkia around 1100 hrs. This day the trail is short, only 5 kms, but pretty steep. We were excited to notice that the trail is partially covered with snow from 1 km before the guest house. We were almost sure that next day’s route to Pindari Glacier would be definitely full of snow. It would be a real extra to our expectations. At this time of the year, snow at this height was not that much expected. But we were lucky. Then our guide Gopal Ram jee explained; the rain we faced in Dhakuri caused this snow at this higher altitude. So we were lucky to have a bad weather at Dhakuri!! At around 1200 hrs we saw one person coming down from Pindari Glacier. With all our excitement we rushed to know his experience. But he made us a little scary. He could not complete the trek due to heavy snow in the last few kilometers. The moment he left for Dwali we were a bit tensed. Now we started to measure the snow from a different angle. But the weather was just awesome. It was really hard for us to believe that we may fail….
Day 5-20.Oct.07:During our dinner at Phurkia we decide to start by 0530 hrs in the next morning. It is necessary to start early and reach to the glacier as early as possible. Usually it is mornings in the hills when you have the best weather. Also we need to go back to Dwali on the same day. Finally we managed to set out at 0630 hrs. The weather was fantastic. Every thing was going just as it should be. The glacier is 7 Kms from Phurkia. After 2 kms trail was fully covered in snow and the landscape was total white as far as we could see in bare eyes. In some places the trail in front of us was not that obvious. Except me, all of us were wearing normal sneakers. Their foot started getting wet. We were discussing, what should we do if the snow gets thicker ? Gopal Ram jee assured us that snow would not make any hindrance for us. From the last morning it was absolutely sunny out here. So most of the snow should had been melted off. In fact we should found a moderate snow level and it should be a real enjoyable trek. With full support from him we felt a little comfort. Infact the more we approach towards the glacier the more we goggle-eyed!! The peaks are seems like within a hand reach distance. Surroundings can not be explained in words! Gopal Ram jee said, “allow me to move forward, so that I can arrange some tea / snacks for you…”
At Glacier:At around 0945 hrs we reached our destination. And found our guide is having a chat with Pindari Baba – Swamy Dharmanand Giri. The view around us, the weather, the peaks the landscape every thing were simply breathtaking!! We started identifying the peaks. Among other peaks like Panwali Dhar, Maiktoli one peak took our special attention. The Changuch. One of the most challenging and risky peaks in the world and still unclimbed. Just few days before an Indian team attempted the peak. But failed due to a devastating avalanche. Pindari Baba was telling us how horrible it was. Two HAPs from the team were lost, few severely injured. And helicopter came for their rescue could not fly continuously more than 15-20 mins due to the thin air at that altitude. We were trying to imagine the consequences the ream faced. But probably could not get one percent of it. As were seating in a safe / calm place. Enjoying hot puri-sabji prepared by Pilot baba. A few hours easy walk would allow us to enjoy the luxury of a bed in a standard guest house. It is really not possible to get feel of a situation when you are at a height of around 18,000 ft with a temperature far below zero and any point of time situation may worse…
Back to..:We spend around two most memorable hours of our life at the pindari glacier. Enjoyed the unexplainable ambience. The weather was far better than we would imagine. The baba was an excellent character to talk to. We took our group photograph using his tripod!! Around 1130 hrs we started for Dwali. First we would reach Phurkia. Had our lunch and then started for Dwali. The trail for going back to Dwali felt like the easiest trek of our life. This is because we were done! And the overall experience were so pleasant, every thing were looks like perfect for us. Coming back to Dhakuri, in next two days, was simple and straight forward. We had a felling like nothing much were left for us in this trek. But we were wrong…
The night, we spent in Dhakuri, the weather was still excellent. And we got a clear view of the Maiktoli peak in moon light!! Next day morning also the weather was kind enough and gifted us a fantastic sunrise on the peak. With full of experience and the feeling of a complete trek we started from Dhakuri. We took a break at a tea shop between Dhakuri and Upperlohar Khet, which is a very common practice in a trek. We found two local persons were seating there. Nothing special about it. The senior person asked us how was our trek, what route did we have etc. etc.
The person was very polite (well, as far as I have seen, people in the hills are polite). And we were enjoying to describe how easily we completed the trek and trying to prove how capable we are. After few minutes of discussion we also asked where is he going. He said he is also going to Pindari as guide with a team. We then asked his name and he said Roop Singh. Now we realised…We have heard so many stories about him, have read so many incidents of saving lives of the mountaineers by risking his own live. He is a living legend in Himalayan. No doubt this trek is really full of experiences.
Final touch..:We reached Upperlohar Khet around noon. We had had our lunch there and took a car to reach Varari. As it was not much late, the same day we started for Bageshwar. Before leaving Varari we thanked Gopalram jee once again for his excellent support and help. And on the way we got a lovely view of Panchchuli. As Bageshwar is basically small town, we did not have much activity. Rather we were more waiting for the next morning as we had a plan to spend the next day at Nainital. In Nainital we did a little shopping and roam a lot around the tal. Then we took that same meter gauge train and reach Lucknow. We reached there early in the morning and took a hotel for a day. Our train was late at night. So we had a full day in our hand. We explored the city as much as possible. Tried to cover all the historic monuments of the city. A nice city for any tourist. Finally we got onboard into our train for Sealdah. And we reached our city Kolkata on 27.Oct.07 morning.
- An easy trek in the Kumayun range of Himalayan
- It takes around 9-10 days to trek from Upperloharkhet and back
- The height of the zero point is 3666m
- Varari is the the last place with electricity facility
- Dahkuri Top is the last place where the cell phone signal is available
- Tent is not required in this route. Trekkers’ hut are available from KMVN/GMVN
- Advance booking is not must, but in season better to have
- Sleeping bag also not required
- Khati is the last habitation in this route
- Best time May – Oct
- Guide is not must, but better to have one
- The gradient of the route
- Day 0: Howrah -> Lucknow by 3005 Amritsar Mail -> Over night
- Day 1: -> Lucknow -> Lalkuan by 5308 Nainital Express -> Over night
- Day 2: -> Lalkuan -> Varari -> By hired car -> 9 hours
- Day 3: -> Varari -> Upper lohar khet(1758m) -> By hired car -> 30 mins
- Upper lohar khet -> Dhakuri (2686 mts) -> Trek (8 km) -> 6 hours
- Day 4: -> Dhakuri -> Khati (1334 mts) -> Trek (8 km) -> 4 hours
- Day 5: -> Khati -> Dwali (2640 mts) -> Trek (11 km) -> 5 hours 20 mins
- Day 6: -> Dwali -> Phurkia (3220 mts) -> Trek (5 km) -> 4 hours 30 mins
- Day 7: -> Phurkia -> Pindari (3666 mts) -> Trek (7 km) -> 3 hours
- Pindari -> Phurkia (3220 mts) -> Trek (7 km) -> 2 hours
- Phurkia -> Dwali (2640 mts) -> Trek (5 km) -> 1 hours 30 mins
- Day 8: -> Dwali -> Khati (1334 mts) -> Trek (11 km) -> 4 hours 15 mins
- Day 9: -> Khati -> Dhakuri (2686 mts) -> Trek (8 km) -> 5 hours
- Day 10: -> Dhakuri -> Upper lohar khet(1758m) -> Trek (8 km) -> 4 hours 15 mins
- Upper lohar khet -> Bageswar -> By hired car -> 5 hours 30 mins