Today’s guest post was written by Sidhu from Sidhu Jetha. if you would like to know more about him, please scroll down to the bottom of this post where you can find his details.
It’s been five years! Five and a half to be precise but I still remember each and every moment of that dangerous trek we did. There were four of us, Jinson, Yash, Subhas and me – two were from Kerala, one from Madhya Pradesh and a Bong in me. Despite our differences in region, beliefs and choices we had something in common – our blood was warm and mind fearless. We just finished our post graduation and attractive corporate offers were waiting for us but at that time, we had no extra money to spend. Still, we decided to visit Dharamshala – then decided to visit Mcleodgunj and on a peak of excitement, decided to trek to Triund.
The trek was not a problem- the problem was that we had no proper trekking equipment. Take my example – I was wearing a torn out sandal, in Hindi we call that chappal. Its sole was broken and had absolutely no grip. Two of us was wearing sneakers but I and Jinson came in chappals. We did not even have a stick to help us. When we reached Mcleodgunj, we heard somebody discussing the trek- and we decided to go. We asked a few locals who suggested us renting a few gear essential for a safe trek but as I said – we didn’t have enough money.
We decided to put the concerns aside and start – a vehicle dropped us to the point from where a narrow hilly road on the slope of the hill was supposed to take us to the summit – The Triund Hills #placestovisit. It was four-o-clock in the afternoon and the driver of the vehicle suggested us to be fast so that we reach the top before the sun sets – remember we did not have a torch with us. He also suggested since it was summer, so we had about three and half hours time but if in any case, we couldn’t complete it by sunset, it becomes peach dark in the evening and the path above is extremely narrow.
The point where we were standing is called Dharamkot. The primary school beside us, a water tank and a small Dhaba style eatery – that was all there. We bought two bottles of water & few packets of snacks fearing the things might be costlier uphill. We had a small chat with the shop owner who didn’t look much confident about us. He told us that the trail up to Gallu Devi Temple will be not much steep but rest of the path is very steep and narrow. We had not much time so we started climbing, initially very fast but slowly the tiring muscles started to slow our speed. In about 45 mins we reached the temple.
It’s a small temple but extremely holy for the locals, we decided to enter while coming back and continue. There are two eateries at that point – Rest-a-while Cafe & Sun & Moon Cafe. There is absolutely no reason to get excited about these seeing the word ‘cafe’ in their names. These are again small little tea shops who also serves eggs, noodles, cakes & chips. The owner of the Sun & Moon Cafe insisted we rent a room there and spend the night while we can continue in the morning and climb down the next afternoon. His concerns were logical seeing the receding sun. But we were not interested and started the main trek. It was almost 5:00 and we had to reach the top before 7:30, the time he said the sky will become completely dark.
We did not stop for next one hour. The road, at places, became extremely narrow and sleepy. It was also becoming steeper and our thigh muscles were starting to ring alarms. The feet were becoming heavier and throats dry. We decided to stop for five minutes to have water and relax the muscles a bit. But it seems to become tougher after the break. I must mention that with every twist and turn in the path, the hill was becoming more and more beautiful. The cricket ground of Dharamshala has been the focus because of its bright red colour. After the break, we again started climbing but this time we had to take small breaks every fifteen minutes. It was getting extremely difficult and the body was not moving at all. Still, all of us could keep on motivating each other. The time was about 7 when we started feeling the strong wind. The light was really low and we believed we had only a few steps left to climb. We saw a person coming down with his horse – he said we have made it there is less than 100 meters to reach the summit. We understood that he sends supplies to the shops above. Bidding him goodbye we started with fresh enthusiasm and the joy of achieving. That was probably the toughest 100 meters I have ever covered. The wind had become stronger and was making a clear sound. We anticipated it was the normal wind at the top of the hill but later we were going to face the wrath of nature.
At about 7:15 we finally took the final turn and the summit was in front of us – Jinson was the first to reach and shout of joy. We have made it – and in time – but that was not the end of the worry. In front of us was a picture of a kind of devastation. The tents meant for camping were uprooted. One tent was flying. We saw a few people fighting with those and trying to close them. We ran to the nearest Dhaba and together asked one question – ‘Raat Ke Liye room Khali hay?’ (Is there rooms available to spend the night. We understood it will not be possible to stay in tents in this weather. By the time the wind has become extremely strong and cool and with that, it started to drizzle. We were not very confident about it but to our surprise – the person smiled and said – ‘Haan, Ek hi bacha hay, Kismat achchi hay ap logonki’ (Yes, There is only one left. Lucky you are). He quickly took us to the room and gave the key.
It was pitch dark by that time. the rooms were just walls and roof – with a few mattress laid on the floor – we did not anything more. There was no water, no light and no toilet. It was a storm going on outside. The windows were rattling with the wind and whistle was blown by the small holes in those. We did not have a candle – only the light of our mobile was the only hope. Those days we did not use smartphones – so the mobile batteries used to last long. We kept mobiles on to keep the room lit and simply spread ourselves on the mattresses. We drank up rest of the water and whatever food we had with us. It was impossible to go outside but the rest was good for our body. We don’t know the time but after a while, we heard a knock on our door. No one was supposed to be outside but the knock repeated.
I went up and opened the door – The view outside was frightening – strong wind, heavy shower and absolutely nobody in vision – except the two ladies with backpack outside the door. They asked for shelter for the night – I didn’t want to make them wait – they entered the room. They had sleeping bags with them – so a bed was not an issue with them. The surrounding was so dark that we couldn’t even see their faces. They started late and faced the storm midway. Once the weather below improved they again started but the storm at the top was still going on.
The storm lasted till 10:00 and after that, we went out. The shop was open and we saw a few faces there. Maggi Noodles was the best option available for dinner and we ordered a plate each. It cost Rs.50/- per plate for the Rs.10/- packet at that time. We had dinner, roamed around the place for a while and went back to our room for sleep. It was a deep sleep after a day’s hard work 🙂
The morning was sunny – we waked up early to find the girls up already. They (Laura and Becky) were from Israel and had been travelling India for about a month. It was a bright morning and we spent quite some time enjoying the ridge. The gigantic Dhauladhar range was so close that it seems we can touch it. The ridge of Triund itself is extremely beautiful with lush green fields and stones scattered here and there. At the ends of the ridge it feels like the end of the world from where you see nothing below. It’s a tremendous place and both the journey and its destination are simply awesome.
A lot of people come to Triund for a trek up to that point and also for trek further up in the Dhauladhar. It is located at about 2875 Metres. above MSL and the trek is about 4 km long. The place gets heavy snowfall during the winter and the best time visit is between February and May.
That day I learned one thing – to reach a height a lot of pain, a lot of hard work has to be done – at times the body may not support but the mind has to be strong and once you reach that height the joy will surpass all the pain. Life is nothing but a constant trek. That one risky adventure has made me strong. Now I know – I am climbing up for something precious, whatever comes in the road will go and the end will always be happy.
Getting down a hill is tougher than climbing up – we felt that very much especially because of the shoes (or No shoes). We again did the job well. It is risky but less energy consuming. It was a bright day and we had a lot of confidence – so we made it by afternoon. We thanked all, who met us while going up, on our way back and this time also visited the temple.
Finally, when we reached Dharamkot again, we hugged each other – we all put our lives at a risk. Now that you have read this you must know that Trekking in a completely unprofessional, unplanned way is possible – but be sure you never try this. We were extremely lucky. Had the storm started 10 minutes earlier – we would have gone. If there was a rain on our way, which is very common, we don’t know what could have happened. I still feel cold blood running through my vain whenever these thoughts come in mind. Be fearless but take the necessary care. Recklessness is not the right way.
Sidhujetha is a Travel & Food Blogger from Kolkata, India. Though academically he is an Architect and Town Planner, his conquest to visit more and more places and understand their culture has made him travel the entire country. His interest in travel has introduced him a variety of cuisines and that eventually led him to start cooking. He is a passionate cook and loves sharing the uncommon facts about the common foods. He is also a very good photographer and tries to capture the moods of people and buildings.