Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A memorable trek to the unexplored part of the Himalayas


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" Wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2014 !!! "


" Our Earth has so many beautiful countries of which India is one.
The mother nature displays her exquisite features unparalleled in the mighty Himalayan snow peaks , deep river valleys , gushing torrents and beautiful waterfalls that abode our country.
To spend a few days in the company of tranquil mother nature, we need not go anywhere - Just escape into any part of the 2400 km and odd stretch of the Himalayas and you will not be disappointed. You get a whole package of Scenic beauty , Adventure and Spiritual Experiences in the form of Self realization in the enchanting Himalayas"

Well, that said, here goes our journey !!! 



Introduction to the trip :

This was a highly unexpected trek. Initially, we had planned to trek a paradise called "Valley of Flowers". But as you all know, one of the greatest disasters in the Himalayas happened during that time. "The Himalayan Tsunami", lashed the entire Kedarnath valley and affected many parts of the state of Uttaranchal. This made us to cancel our trip to the "Abode of Gods". 

Leaves were also granted in office...But what Next ? 

This was the question that was running in all our minds. Some suggested Kaziranga and other North eastern places. This didn't work since there was a huge effect of monsoons there too. Some suggested Ranthambhore, but it was closed for monsoons. Some suggested Corbett, but that too was closed. Some suggested only Shimla, but that was too simple. Some said Ladakh, but it was way too expensive. Like this, many questions and answers were framed and solved within ourselves. But, none were precise.

Finally, one place was decided. It was none other than the "Great Himalayan National Park", fondly called as GHNP. Thanks to Bhaskar for making the plan and working out on all possibilities.

Most of the members quit from the group because of the climatic conditions and other factors. So, only 5 of us decided to continue with the trek.

The team included.
1. Mr. Presly
2. Mr. Bhaskar
3. Bharath
4. Chiru
5. Myself


Since, there was a huge devastation in Uttarakhand, we planned to help the locals who had been affected. There was a huge help from all the states across India, but we too thought of helping as much as we could.

In this regard, Mr. Bhaskar took the initiative of getting the goods such as utensils and other Kitchen materials to the people in need.



Bharath, Chiru and Myself boarded the Karnataka express train on August 1st , 2013 from Bangalore. We carried the utensils in the train itself, since Bhaskar and Presly were travelling by flight.



Reached the H.Nizamuddin station on Aug 3rd at around 10.30 AM. We had booked a cab/taxi to take us to Aut (Himachal Pradesh). Later, we picked up Bhaskar and Presly from the IGI airport and then started the exciting journey.



The Actual Journey :



The horrible traffic of Delhi made us to stay in the city until 3 PM before we headed towards the highway. 

A small break for Lunch at the outskirts of Delhi at Murthal was highly energetic. The first taste of a local Punjabi cuisine was outstanding. The route of Kurukshetra, Ambala , Chandigarh , Mandi , Aut was amazing.



We reached the Chandigarh bypass around 8.30 PM. This was a dinner break. Headed to a restaurant called Haveli in the bypass road.

Wow !!! This was an amazing restaturant.



Hotel : Exterior View


Artistic window


Chandelier - not modern painting !!!


Waiting for the dinner

Brief Intro about Great Himalayan National Park :



About GHNP :

The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) is located in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, India. Initially constituted in 1984, GHNP was formally declared a National Park in 1999, covering an area of 754.4 sq kms. In 1994, two major changes were made in land use around the Park. A buffer zone of 5 km from the Park’s western boundary, covering 265.6 sq km. and including 2,300 households in 160 villages, was delineated as an Ecozone. Most of the population (about 15,000 to 16,000 people) in the Ecozone are poor and dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.

Bio Diversity :

Bounded to the East by the Himalayan Mountains, the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) forms part of the boundary between four ecological zones:

(1) the dry deserts of interior Asia and the well-watered lowlands of the Indian plains,
(2) the Oriental and Palearctic faunal realms,
(3) the high plateau of Tibet and the jumbled Himalayan peaks, and
(4) the catchments of the Beas and Sutlej Rivers, both mighty tributaries of the Indus.

Fauna :

The Great Himalayan National Park is known to host a wide variety of vertebrate fauna, including several charismatic, Threatened and regionally endemic species. Mammalian fauna is represented by over 31 species belonging to six orders: Primates, Carnivora, Artiodactyla, Insectivora, Rodentia and Lagomorpha. Among these, the Himalayan Musk Deer, and Snow Leopard are endangered species (as per IUCN categorization), while the Himalayan Tahr is endemic to the Western Himalaya. Birds form a significant constituent of the biodiversity of the study area. The total number of species around 209.

Flora / Plants :

The Great Himalayan National Park supports a great diversity of plant life thanks to its wide altitude range and relatively undisturbed habitats. From the lofty pines and spruces and the great, spreading horse chestnuts of the lower valleys, to the dense cushions and prostrate branches of the alpine herbs and junipers, the Park presents an endless variety of vegetation. Although some areas have been modified by grazing, this is one of the few areas of the Western Himalayas where the forests and alpine meadows can be seen in something approaching their original state.





Day 1 (August 4th ):

We reached Aut by around 7.30 AM.


River Beas on the way to Aut

Beas covered in mist

Mr. Panki Sood, was waiting for us at the Aut bridge. He then took us to the base village of Nagni(Banjar). The whole valley had beautiful apple orchards and the very sighting of the Apple Cluster was refreshing.


The place where we stayed - Hotel Trout Valley


HDR image of the house next door


Owner of that house :)

Once we checked into the rooms, I kept my luggage and took the camera in search of some macros around the area.


Sorrel Sapphire butterfly



Common Five ring?


Prey and Predator

Hedge Blue

The lunch was amazing with some hot Parathas and Fresh apples.

In the evening, Panki decided to take us for a short walk to a nearby waterfalls. This was just a pre warm up trek or acclimatization process. 


View of Tirthan river on the way to the water falls


This plant is the natural Saunf that we eat


Trekking to the waterfall


farm on the way




Pine fruit


First view of the falls


This is an unnamed falls. It almost falls from a height of 50 mtrs.
You can name it Arjun Haarith waterfalls if you want :)


The same falls in a different POV.

For this angle, I had to place my tripod in a firm place along the freezing water. My legs were getting numb due to the chillness of the water. But, I had to get a good picture :)



After the light began to decrease, we planned to come out of the water and decided to trek back to the camp.


Himalayan baby

Came back to the room, cleaned our cameras and had an amazing dinner. We had to get ready for the next day's actual trek.

Day 2 (August 5th - Monday):

The actual trek started from this day on wards. It was a 5 day trek.

We all along with Panki, decided the place that we were supposed to trek. He suggested 3-4 routes. Since I was more interested in bird life and landscape, we decided to trek along the ridge of Sainj and Tirthan valley.

I would like to say that, we were the first organized group who have trekked along this route. Till now nobody has trekked in this path, except the local villagers.

This is the reason, I have put the blog title as " Trek to the Unexplored part of the Himalayas "

Into the wilderness

Macro on the way :







A distant waterfall


Cloud covered mountains  - Rangthar

Due to the slowness of some people in the group, we had to pitch the tent around 2 kms behind the actual place. And light too was going down.

So on Day 2 - Pitched the tent at Rangthar




The rains lashed the whole valley during the night. It was too cold outside and raining heavily. The sound of rain falling on the tent was very nice to hear. It was such a refreshing moment. Also Bharath, was too tired after the first day's trek.He went to sleep early. Me and Chiru were enjoying the rains.


Day 3 (August 6th - Tuesday) :

Trek from Rangthar to Dashmani

The morning was too cloudy and foggy. We could not see each others' tent due to the heavy fog. Hence our trek got delayed for some time. In the meanwhile, Our guides and porters prepared some delicious breakfast for us.

" Munjaane Manjalli " (In the morning mist)

Flora of Day 3 :



The route from Rangthar to Dashmani , is one of the most scenic and beautiful route. But the path is too dangerous especially for beginners. Having said that, I too fell down so many times including the guide too.  The fun part is , it includes all types of elevations, and all angles. There is an inclined slope which gradually becomes vertical. It is actually like climbing along with a water fall.

The time that we went was core monsoon. It was raining all day, the mud was sliding and the rocks slipping. It was a very nice experience to all of us.

A minute to rest

Me and Chiru were going in the front and others were leading us far behind. There were two routes, but we both took a different route and went almost 2 kms in the wrong route. After realising that we were missed, we went back in the same direction and joined our group back.


The last and lost trail


Finally walked back and joined the group. 



Vision of a mighty rock



Misty trek

Some part of the trek was extremely tiring and some was equally easy. The fact that it had rained made the level of difficulty higher.


The woods are lovely, dark and deep ....



The route that we trekked as seen from a higher position.

One can see the water effect in the picture that has caused due to the rain falling on the lens.

Common Satyr

After a hard days climb with rain giving us constant company all along the way, we camped at Dashmani Meadows. From here, one can get to see the Monal pheasants and the Himalayan Bear provided if you are extremely lucky :)

Twilight saga

The tent as seen from the top of Dashmani meadow



 Some how, the rain god showed mercy on us and stopped for a while


Sanju and group had already pitched the tents before we went there. They had also prepared cooking for us. It was such a delicious food, that you can hardly find in cities.

In the meanwhile, the stars were glittering all around. Star Gazing was amazing !!!


Thus, ended a beautiful day.

Day 4 (August 7th - Wednesday)

The early morning on 7th, myself and Bhaskar did a small trek to the hillock which was quite a distance from our camp while others were still sleeping.

The fresh air of the Himalayas was so refreshing that we thought we were in a different world.


No way to go !!!


Skull of a Ghoral ?


Mosses and Lichens everywhere ...

By the time, we returned back to our tents, all the sleepy eyes were awake and quite active. The breakfast was prepared as well. But as usual, the mist had covered the entire valley. So, we had to wait for it to be cleared.


 Himalayan Queen Fritillary


Villagers going to collect Mushroom and fruits in the valley

Valley of flowers in GHNP

Once the morning rituals were over, we started the days trek towards Marani meadows. 

This trek is quite easy with not much of climbing or getting down. Its almost a plain walking with very few steep involved.

Started the trek by around 10 Am. Me and Sanju set off early in search of my dream bird, the "Himalayan Monal Pheasant". 

Birdwatching

Rocky terrain

A small wonder - mushroom


The valley of gods has always something to surprise us. The light played a continuous game if hide and seek with us. When we expected the mist would clear, it prolongs and vice versa.


 This location reminded me of a place in a Harry Potter movie


Excitement after reaching the top

This place was around 3500m ASL, approx 11500 feet. The weather was too cloudy and foggy. The mist used to cover the place and get cleared soon.

The urban cavemen

We reached the place around 3PM. Pitched the tent and sat inside the cave by burning firewood. The warmth that it gave, was a heavenly experience.

A very beautiful feeling it was, while enjoying the sight of the mighty mountains. It was said that, from this very place one could see the snow capped peaks. But to our luck, the valley was covered with fog. 

Waited patiently for the mist to get cleared, but in vain.


Sanju tried a lot to show me the Monal, we went to so many places in search of it. After our lunch, we got down the mountain to the valley below, searched lot of places, but no where it was to be seen.


This was a typical Monal habitat. Searched so many places in search of the elusive bird.

Mushroom Pattern


Walked along slopes, crawled under small caves, crossed streams but yet the Monal wasn't visible.



All the sheep were returning back home which reminded us also to go back !!!



Day 5 (August 8th - Thursday)

It was Bhaskar's birthday that day. Sanju got to know about it somehow, and prepared a beautiful birthday cake from the available materials.


Early morning, the weather was quite clear. So me and Chiru went atop the hill to see the beautiful valley.

The opposite hill is Rakhundi top !!!

 Sheep Grazing at Marani meadows

Sheep on the ridge of the meadow

One can see small patches of ice in the above image.

We had to cover two days of distance this day. We were trekking down. 
So we had to cover Marani -> Dashmani -> Rangthar

It was raining continuously from past night. The sound of rains was a treat to watch. But we had to return back, so we came down with the rains itself.

The heavy rains made us to halt at many places and reduced our time. The rains followed by lightning and thunder was a great experience to witness in the himalayas.

Our tents as seen from above

Horse in the meadow

While returning, we had to trek over the bed of flowers. It was like walking through heaven !!!


Valley of flowers in GHNP

Trekking through the valley of flowers

 " Mussanje Tili Thampalli " (In the chilling Dusk)

Panoramic view from Rangthar


We could not believe that the rains had stopped and the lighting had become excellent. 

All forms of weather from clouds , fog and mist , heavy rains and finally a bright sunlight was observed on the same day. This is the actual beauty of the Himalayan region.

Pitched the tent finally

(L to R : Mt. Khobri 3919 m , Mt.Chakrer )

Gradually stars were appearing in the sky and my joy knew no bounds, since I could try Milkyway and Star trail photography.




All others had slept in the tent after dinner, while I was still shooting the stars till 2 Am.

Day 6 (August 9th - Friday)

This was the last day of our trek. We had to trek down from Rangthar and reach the lodge at Banjar.
I had slept around 2.30 AM and woke up at 6 AM to see the sunrise. Though the sun came behind the clouds, it was interesting to watch this amazing natural phenomenon.

Myself and Bhaskar were seeing the sunrise, while others were happily sleeping.

After the breakfast, myself and Sanju went along a hill for about 2-3 kms in search of the Monal. But, it was not at all visible. Instead I got a feather of the Female Monal, and had to be happy with it.


The team :


( L to R : Boota Singh , Sanju , Kuldeep , Harbhans , Bhupendar )
(Sitting :  Khemchand , Chaman)

(L to R : Presly, Bhaskar , Chiru , Bharath , Arjun)

Lonely cloud welcomes us to the valley

Cooper

Hedge Blue

Ladakh cooper

 Tirthan Valley

Tirthan Valley is one of the most beautiful place in Himachal Pradesh. Thirthan Valley draws its name from Tirthan River, which originates from glaciers of Himalaya. It is perennial river of cold and clear glacier water. It is abundant of trout fish. A virtual paradise for anglers.

If is an off beat tract far from the meddling clouds. Ideal for trekker and natural lovers.


After almost 1 week in the forest where no human habitation was there, we saw a small hamlet of human habitat while coming down.



We came back to the lodge around 4 PM and relaxed ourselves after a lovely week's trek in the remote parts of GHNP.

Day 7 (August 10th - Saturday)

Went to a nearby Ram temple on account of successful completion of the trek.

Photographs shot on the way to the temple :

A small waterfall enroute the temple

Colorful Women of Himachal Pradesh

Himalayan Spangle

Ram Mandir

Record shots of Birds


Green Finch on Apple tree

We also witnessed a local marriage ceremony near the temple. It was fully filled with colors,joy,music and dance. A different type of marriage seen there.

Last view of the Tirthan river, before exiting GHNP

The same evening, we boarded a bus from Aut to New Delhi after bidding farewell to GHNP. Reached New Delhi on August 11th around 6.30 AM. 

Finally we bid adieu to Bhaskar , Bharath and Presly from the bus stand itself and thanked them for the wonderful company they gave us during the trip, as they were returning to Bangalore by flight.

Myself and Chiru roamed New Delhi's Palika Bazar , Karol Bagh etc before catching the Rajdhani express at 9 PM. We both returned on August 13th to Bangalore.

Other information : 

Distance we trekked :

1. Guesthouse (Banjar) to the base of the hill : 9 kms (Drive)
2. Base to Rangthar : 5 kms (trek)
3. Rangthar to Dashmani : 4 kms (trek)
4. Dashmani to Marani : 8 kms (trek) Max altitude : 3500m
5. Marani to Rangthar : 12 kms (trek)
6. Rangthar to Base : 5 kms (trek)
7. Base to Guesthouse : 9 kms (drive)

Tips to follow while on trek

1. Travel in groups of 4-6 depending on the place.
2. Do not make noise while trekking
3. Respect Nature and wildlife
4. Leave nature as it is - do not spoil it by throwing plastics
5. Be physically and mentally fit :)
6. Carry necessary medicines and a first aid kit
7. Torches and Swiss knife would be helpful
8. Good shoes is a must.

For more information on Star Trail photography : Click the below link

Contacting Mr.Panki Sood

 

Mr. Panki is a great trip organizer, an amazing photographer and an adventurist by himself. He has done in-numerous treks across India and climbed mountains too.
He would organize the trips to GHNP , Lahaul-Spiti and to other places which consists of both trekking and photography tours.

He can be contacted at : 
Email : pankisood@gmail.com
Phone : 09817700040


Thus ended a most memorable trip to GHNP !!!
Thank you

34 comments:

  1. Magnificent captures from the wonderful trek.

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  2. Sooper Arjun, the star trails are fascinating indeed and a lovely write up too :)

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  3. Nice writing maga. Got all memories of GHNP. It was an awesome trip.

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  4. Wow ! This is one of your best Blogs Arjun. I appreciate the energy you had to go around and take pictures of butterflies even after hard trekking. Lovely images. The sheep on the hill top is among the best.

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  5. Great work Arjun...with so much of information and beautiful pictures...good to know that you and Chiru had an awesome trip.... :-)

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  6. Excellent blog. You all are lucky blessed souls to experience the heaven on earth. Keep sharing the expeditions details so that we can be with Nature virtually :) All the best for the next trek in 2014 :) :)

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  7. Arjun,

    You rock man .. u'll be my "Man to GO" when i decide to do a trip!

    Great pictures and stupendous write up

    Cheers
    Goutham Ramesh

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  8. """Exceptional""" Beautifully photographed and narrated :) :) :)

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  9. I extremely fall short of words to appreciate this. Superb photography....light...shadow...zoom in out....fog.....fantastic......Your love for nature.....creativity....excellent narration ....To The great extent you have attempted to give us that experience which you could get it practically there ...but the same time this will strongly motivate readers for attending / participating such treks....your all such work is showing great calibre ... hats off to you If I try and keep writing this...to any extent it will yet fall short in decoration ....it itself is highly decorated ....Million thanks to you..

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  10. Arjun this blog is classic example of your passion for photography and trekking, reaching new heights, seeing new places, indeed right from the begining of this blog, it took me non stop viewing and reading words written meticulously by you, expressing the trek in true value. Some of the macros, landscapes and waterfalls are really beautiful and I am sure many are going to come......I wish you all the very best and man you are rocking :)
    Chandrashekar

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  11. Dear Arjun, exceptional images and write up of your interesting and adventurous trip to a remote untapped region. It is one of your best! One day, I too hope to make images of the Arjun Haarith Waterfalls! This blog reflects most convincingly your appetite for adventure and your talent in photography. I am impressed. Wishing you the best in life and in photography.

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  13. you have to take wildlife photography seriously buddy :) its one of the best blog i have read so far :)
    Am inspired to write my trek experience after reading this :) Wonderful narration :) Keep going :)

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  14. wonderful landscape.. complimented by beautiful snaps... TFS

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  15. Enjoyed reading the post thoroughly...amazing adventure and superb clicks! Look forward to more!!

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  16. Really its wonderful ..Excellent perform with so much of details and amazing photgraphs.

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  17. Great tour, describe beautifully with lot of pictures!! thanks for sharing your experience with us..

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  18. Lovely shots and a superb narration.Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.Looking forward to more such blogs form you.

    Makarand Saraf

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  19. Excellent trip report Arjun!

    The details are well documented and serve for future use by one and all. The images are very inspiring!

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  20. Himalaya is such a wonderful place on earth.Excellent perform Arjun...with so much of details and wonderful images.

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  21. Dear Arjun,

    Thanks for promoting this amazing trek which Sunshine Himalaya Adventures arranged for you in this pristine valley. Panki is one great host and i know you would agree to that. Looking forward to your next adventure with us. BTW The pictures are just great !

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