It has been a long time waiting. I have been meaning to tell the tale of my recent trek to Triund Hill. It was my third time and it was supposed to be easy and I even thought a bit monotonous. But then nothing goes according to plan. Not when I plan a trek and decide to go footloose in Himalayas.
On a sultry evening in May this year, I reached the Kashmiri Gate International State Bus Terminus (ISBT) along with 4 others to catch the bus to Dharamsala. Two in our groups were already in Dharamsala. We had to meet up there and from there it was supposed to be off to Triund Hill where we would spend the night and return the next day to catch our bus back to Delhi from McLeodganj.
In between, I had called the Divisional Forest Office (DFO) in Dharamsala weeks in advance and had two rooms booked in the forest guest house that is located on the top of Triund. It is a comfy place and offer good shelter during rain and thunder storm which is very common in May.
We arrived early in Dharamsala and reached the room of colleagues where we rested and got freshened up. After relaxing a bit we decided to leave for McLeodganj early so that we could start early for Triund. Rain and thunderstorm was predicted for the evening. But did I knew it will get as tough and chilly as it did.
Ah we were only beginning.
In hurry, we didn’t even go to the DFO office in Dharamsala from where we had to collect our paper for the rooms that we had booked at Triund. And little did we knew that it would cost us dearly.
We boarded a bus and left it at St John in the Wilderness, one of the oldest church in North India. It is also one of the few structures that withstood the devastating earthquake that hit the region in 1905.
If you are in Dharamsala, you should definitely visit this beautiful church located exactly where it says: In the wilderness. It’s a tranquil place and I love to spend some time here whenever I visit McLeodganj or Dharamsala.
There’s a liquor shop nearby in case you need to tank up. But I tell you that’s not the reason why I love this place.
After spending some time and tanking up, we left for Mcleodganj walking. And thus began our long, arduous, thrilling and bone chilling (literally) trek to Triund Hill. We arrived in Mcleodganj and had some steamy momos. Not that tasty I tell you but the chutney was really spicy. I loved it.
After that we started to walk towards Dharamkot and in the meanwhile we were also looking for some place where we could dump our bags so that we could travel light. Most of the people in my group were trekking for the first time. Trek to Triund is one of the best treks for beginners in Himalayas.
There are only a few better for initiation to trekking in Himalayas and Triund trek is almost up there. So we found a room near Dharamkot where we could leave our bags. The cost was 300 for a day (and night). After leaving our bags we started towards Gallu Devi Temple.
I left many things behind in my bag including raincoats. And boy! Was that a mistake? It was a huge one as I was about to find out soon.
It was already late when we arrived at Gallu Devi. After walking for so long every one was nearly exhausted already. It was an alarming sign. And that I had a beer or two wasn’t helping either.
Near Gallu we had a hearty lunch. Aloo paranthas and maggi. After that everyone wanted to relax a little beat to catch their breath. As I said, for most of them, it was their first trek.
A little bit stretched to hours and it was 2:30 in the afternoon already when we hit the trail to Triund.
There were so many changes along the route this time. First of all, there were too many people trekking to Triund. Then there were too many taxis at Gallu Devi which were almost non-existent when I did the trek next time.
Then there was a check post where we had to enter our details before the beginning of trail to Triund.
Too many Punjabis with their phone blaring with songs some even carrying small speakers. I mean it felt like it was a mistake to come here.
I have been reading the reviews in TripAdvisor and many have been complaining of how the peace and calm of Triund has been ruined by such unruly trekkers. I never in my dreams believed it would be that bad but as I started to climb, the worst became true.
Triund has become too crowded with casual trekkers who have ruined the tranquil ambience of this once beautiful and secluded trail.
But rain came to our rescue.
Soon I was walking alone. Leading from behind. I have always loved trekking in Himalayas. Those silent moments when though rushes in. Being footloose in the Himalayas is one of the greatest joys that I have found. Walking silently, observing is all you can hope for; wish for. Mostly, treks in the Himalayas or for that matters any hike in the woods especially when you are walking uphill is like a frenzy of internal monologues.
But it soon ended as heaven poured.
Not even 1/4th in the trail, rain caught up with us. And it was with a vengeance.
Five in my group were ahead and I stayed back with the slowest two. After all I was supposed to lead the group.
We took shelter inside a monolithic rock and the rain got heavier. It lashed, soon it became a hailstorm and soon we were drenched to our bones.
Didn’t I say it was bone chilling!
After like raining for an hour the storm abated and we started to climb again. The sound of songs blaring on the speakers and mobiles have stopped.
Thanks to the weather! Many have returned already and more were planning to return as the weather was looking more and more ominous.
I caught up with the five that were ahead near Magic View Café, the oldest one on this trail. Many three more have come up along the trail. Two of which weren’t there when I trekked last time to Triund.
The slower two were getting even slower. We all were wet and we all were shivering. The weather was getting colder by the minutes and it was also getting dark. I was worried is to say the least. I had to ensure that everyone reached the top sound and safe.
The fast five again took the lead and the next I met them was on the top.
For the rest three of us it was quite a story.
By the time we reached the last café on the trail, it was again raining cats and dogs. The wind was frigid and we were all drenched and had our teeth chattering. We took shelter in the café. There were more than twenty person who also took refuge there.
Even tea was not able to keep me warm and I was shivering with cold wet to the bone as I was. And the horror story that the shopkeeper was narrating was not helping at all as the two with me were the first timer. They were exhausted, cold and now even terrified.
What was I to do? I waited for an hour for storm to pass. The wind was ferocious and the rain lashed in all its fury. It was getting very late and I decided we have to make a dash through the final stretch. It was close to 7:30 in the evening already and it was already pitch dark. In the distance thunder roared which also provided the occasional sight.
Let me be frank. The last stretch to Triund Hill is considered the toughest to trek. The gradient is steep and after rain it becomes slippery too. In the dark; one wrong turn could lead you away from the trail. It was a huge risk which I took and we set out towards Triund. Other people taking shelter in the café also decided that they had to move now as it was getting really late and the storm was not likely to stop.
I took the lead now and the two followed. With more than twenty people in tow. I was breathing easy. I also knew that the two were taking it too easy (even though they were frightened) and that they needed a push. Something more to scare them, to make them hurry.
So what do I do?
Frankly I was freezing by now and I wanted to make it to the warmth of the forest rest house at Triund as soon as possible. So I hurried. Soon I was walking alone. There were no one in sight. Neither ahead nor behing and it was pitch dark with occasional lightning from the sky showing the way.
I wasn’t even sure if I was walking the trail or if I was lost. It was frightening to be honest. It was first experience of something like that in my years of trekking. Those moments when you almost think that you will turn away and go back for you could walk no more. There is nothing left in your power you think that could make you go on anymore.
You cry to yourself silently. Ah no more! These mire, and forests and sounds and light make no sense anymore. You are numb to everything that is physical. If you can’t walk, you are ready to crawl but towards the unknown not to the comfort of the bed you had left somewhere behind.
So I keep moving on.
Stopping and turning back was not really an option anymore.
After for walking like 20 minutes or so, I saw a shop up ahead. I relaxed finally as I knew I was on the right trail and I was about to reach Triund Hill.
As soon as I arrived on the ridge, I felt I’ll be blown away. The wind was lashing against my body, threatening to carry me away. It was very strong and I needed a shelter. I took refuge in the shop. More trekkers were huddled inside. It was like fifty more people were normally even fifteen wouldn’t fit.
The wind was so strong that I was afraid to even go to the rest house which was some 50 meters away. After spending 10-20 minutes which seemed like hours I made it to the rest house.
On my way I saw something alarming. There were no tent pitched anywhere along the ridge which is normally full of them.
I opened the door of the rest house and I was greeted by a shocking sight.
There were more than 50 people huddled inside the common area. There was no space even to walk and make my way towards the room. I couldn’t see a familiar face and suddenly it had me worrying.
I wondered then if the five who were ahead on the trail were there or not. We were not carrying the paper from the DFO and I worried if we will be provided with the rooms or not. What will happen to us tonight? It was one of the scariest situation I have found myself in during my years of trekking.
Somehow I made my way towards kitchen and saw five familiar faces. Ah boy! Wasn’t that a sight? A sigh of relief and with tension released I met my friends. Now it was the matter of rooms. Baisakhi Ram the caretaker of the room was reluctant to give us the room without permit but after some cajoling and looking at our sorry state he agreed to give us room but only one.
Ah! Even half a room in weather like that would be more than welcome. We checked into our room and with mind at ease I started to shiver. Yes I did. Now I realized how cold I was. I was soaked to my bone and the shiver was uncontrollable. There was no clothes to change into. I had left everything in the backpack that was back in a dusty room near Dharamkot. I got out of my pant and tees and took refuge in the blanket.
It took a while before by body stopped to shiver. After half an hour or so, the last of the two also arrived. By this time we had settled down and everyone was breathing easy. Everyone recounted their experience and the scare that the weather gave them. How some thought they wouldn’t reach and how some thought it’s better to be in Goa or Kerala than trekking in Himalayas.
To be honest, for the first timers, such weather could really cause fright. Even deter them from ever trekking again. Trekking, honestly, is not for the gentle souls. It could get really tough especially when weather plays spoilsport. But after all has been said and done trek to Triund hill is a relatively easy trek that I’d definitely recommend to beginners.
Anyways, after settling down it was time to relax and unwind. In frigid weather like that, the best thing that goes down the throat is rum. A few pegs and the warmth finally returns in all its vigor. There are 6 of us settled down in the room meant for two. 6 of us are on the double bed and one is in the sleeping bag that I carried.
Baisakhi Ram nods on the door again. He asks us if we could accommodate 3 more people. They are looking for shelter and that there aren’t any available as all rooms are full overcapacity. We agree. Two guys and a gal walks in. Baisakhi Ram provides them with sleeping bags and then nine of us settled in that tiny room. When the mountains show you kindness, all you can do is give back. There is no turning away on the mountain; only togetherness and bonhomie.
We woke up the next day to a beautiful morning and endearing views. It is time to sit back and relax and soak up the surrounding. To talk our talks, to reflect and rejoice.
Disconnected with mobiles, we were in the happiest nirvanas in our existence. Not yet out of rock n roll world but it was just in the middle of it. Words were frequently exchanged. Commitments were made. For future adventures.
Time to leave now. For the bus is waiting to take me back to my own prison cell. The place I call my home, to Delhi.
Phone no of DFO (Dharamsala) for advance booking: 01892-224887
Rest House Rooms: 500 per room per night (Total 6 rooms)
We ate rice plate, each one costing INR 130. A bottle of mineral water was INR 50 and maggi was INR 60 and a cup of tea INR 30. (These are rest house rates other cafes may cost +10 for each item)
Bus ticket from Delhi to Mcleod: INR 570 per person
Bus Ticket from McLeod to Delhi: INR 575 per person
If you hire a taxi from Mcleod to Gallu Devi, it will cost approx INR 400 (one way) and an auto rickshaw will cost approx. 200 (One way).
I leave you with a few more photos:
- Complete Travel Guide on Planning Travel to Leh Ladakh
- Weekend Trip to Uttarakhand by Motorcycle