Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala.

Tripoto
16th Apr 2019
Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi
Day 1


Finallyy! One of the most "awaited trip" in happiness of completing graduation commenced! The trek to Triund, Laka glacier with one of my junior college friends and a group of 34 other people through an organization called Yuvashakti. Yuvashakti is one of the very renowned and trustworthy NGO in Pune conducting Himalayan treks, jungle safaris, local treks and similar adventurous excursions. This was my third trip with them and second Himalayan trek after Deo Tibba base.
We left for Delhi by Sampark Kranti express at 9 am.
Introduction and interaction with all new people of varied age groups, UNO, dumb charades, 'Antyakshari' went on and on in merriment.
Some genuine, some extremely vague, funny exchange of ideas about added to socialization. Most of the crowd in the group were students who had just completed class X and XII examinations. There were also a few slightly elderly members, extremely charismatic!
Meeting new people, making new friends, chattering and discussing has always been fun! There were naps and dozes in the scorching sun.
The sunset from the train with the vibrant hues and shades looked amazing! Network was fluctuating.
Silence broke by initiation of long talks and loud symphonies.
Soon, there was dinner time and then, sleeping time.

The prettyyy sunset as seen from the train at some random place !

Photo of Pune Station, HH Prince Aga Khan Road, Agarkar Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra, India by Gauree Gandhi

Bags well packed! All set for the excursion! ❣️

Photo of Pune Station, HH Prince Aga Khan Road, Agarkar Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 2

The previous night was chillier than expected. Temperatures rose by morning. It's quite obvious in a long-distance train journey that we get up by the very "melodious rhythms" of Chaiwalas (tea vendors). That really breaks the beautiful link we're having with our doze! ☹️
By day 2, there was more acclimatisation and acquaintance with fellow travellers and trekkers.
Fun began! Everyone was lousy till 11.30 am though.
Crossing Agra cantonment station reminded me of the time in 2016 when I was about to miss my train whilst being busy buying Pethas (a sweet authentic delicacy) on the platform!
We reached Hazrat Nizamuddin station. Fortunately, the heat wasn't severely scorching.
We were taken to hotel Sunshine, Karol baug, for the time being, to freshen up.
At around 6.30 pm, we were to assemble in the hotel lobby with all the huge luggage. The AC bus arranged was to take us to Dharamshala after an 'emetic' overnight journey. The dhabas in Delhi have never failed to capture eyes and minds and tempting tummies! Temperatures dropped dramatically by night.
We waited for dinner dhaba. Re boarded the bus for the remaining journey to Dharamshala.
Sleepy heads and a chilly night with eagerness to reach the Basecamp.

Yipppeeee! Off to Dharamshala, waiting for the bus, lobby : Hotel Sunshine, Karolbaug, Delhi.

Photo of Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station Parcel Goodown, Nizamuddin, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 3

We finally reached McLeodganj, Dharamshala at 6:30 am. The place was too posh to be called a “Base Camp!” Everybody had the yummy, heavy, Punjabi breakfast after which we were given a short time for rest. The group was introduced to all 4 leaders, 2 local, 2 from Yuvashakti. Post resting, we were taken for a small acclimatization trail nearby. We climbed up and reached a pretty plain grassland. Cameras flickered all around to capture the beautiful landscapes. The most adventurous part was, half the group with 2 leaders lost the route in the dense rhododendron and cedar forest! Alas! We tried contacting people from the other group but there was network problem and a funny confusion about the correct route. The climate was quite pleasant. Finally, crossing dangerous roads, climbing uphill and downhill, with a deep valley on one side and thorny remnants of trees on the other, we found a way to the Bhagsu waterfall where the rest of the people from the group were chilling. There was a high wave of frightfulness throughout till the time we reached the waterfall! The sight of the waterfall was enchantingly pretty and the waters, crystal clear! Reached the basecamp, exhausted. There was lunch and freshen up session again.
In the evening, few of us left for a short sightseeing tour nearby  McLeodganj comprising Tibetan temple and McLeodganj market. That day, coincidentally, had a great religious importance in Tibetan culture. We got to know this after witnessing the Tibetan dance in the monastery. Short interactions with the locals was pretty good. Shopped souvenirs, typical Tibetan jewellery, fridge magnets, shawls etc! Market was the place wherein there was more interaction, more acquaintance and hence an even more strengthened bond in general. We were getting tempted to have the first and cheapest “Pahadonwali Maggie”. Oh yes! The prices of Maggie rose with rise in altitude lol. Post dinner, there was a briefing about the next day’s schedule and climb.
Sleepy luxurious night at the base camp

The yummy wholesome breakfast..

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The lobby.. photo bomb by the opening door lol ????

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Forest Beautiful, Kar Gaya Gull !

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

View from the acclimatisation trail ..

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The Calcium Carbonate steps ????

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Pristine..

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

❤️❤️❤️

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Shopped souvenirs, typical Tibetan jewellery, fridge magnets, shawls etc! Market was the place wherein there was more interaction, more acquaintance and hence an even more strengthened bond in general.

Creativity ❣️

Photo of McLeodganj Market, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Colorful Tibetan temple ????

Photo of McLeodganj Market, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Shopping ????

Photo of McLeodganj Market, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The first Maggie!

Photo of McLeodganj Market, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 4

Actual start to Triund hilltop! There was a change in itinerary due to harsh climate uphill. Instead of Mana camp, we were to camp in Bal forest. After a heavy breakfast of parathas, curd, chole bhature, porridge, tea/coffee and bananas, we bid adieu the basecamp temporarily and began our climb.
We climbed steep slopes through thick forest covers. Himalayan vegetation differs altitude-wise. At lesser altitudes, there was blossomed, bright red pink rhododendron and at slightly higher altitudes, there were pine and cedar trees offering shadows on sunny days! Carrying the huge rucksacks and climbing seemed to be a challenge. We were given yummy packed lunch daily.
After climbing 2 km, we entered a hilly forest where there were colourful Tibetan prayer flags hanging everywhere assisted by dangling branches and stems. There were steep ascents and descents. Unaware of the time and distance covered, we gradually landed at a spot where we could hear the pleasant, mild sprinkling sounds of a calm waterfall. That was the Bal rivulet! I swear I had never seen such crystal-clear waters ever! There was hardly any soul around! Least populous! And hence, clean waters! No pollution. In between the two rocky banks of the waterfall, there was a small narrow bridge made by a wooden plank. We could clearly visualize the rocks underneath. Everybody got a short, rejuvenating break at the waterfall for about 30 mins. The whistle blew means we had to move!
Resumed hiking towards the camp. The leaders tipped to walk for 6 more kilometres waiting to be climbed. We were exhausted, but still motivated to reach the camp at the earliest. There were our “Customised mehfils/On-the walk Jamming” enroute. We had our lunch near a temple which offered a view of the snow-capped peaks till the horizon.
In the evening, during tea time, we reached the campsite in Bal forest. There was an expression of accomplishment seen on everybody’s face while enjoying some refreshments.
The whole group of 36 was divided into 2 sub-groups and there were games of antyakshari and dumb charades at the backdrop of a vibrant Himalayan sunset. Funny conversations and talent hunts did not make us all realize how time flew that day. Mobile network started fluctuating. This was the only camp where we had arrangements for charging our phones and camera batteries. Soup and dinner were served at 8:00 p.m. by the campsite management crew. There was a short introduction about the next day’s climb and campsite. Immediately after dinner, campfire was lit in the dark Bal forest at night. It was perfect! There were melodies and symphonies and a short mimicry session by one of the fellow trekkers.
There were strict rules regarding the sleeping arrangements and timings. Again, the whistle blew and we had to grab the sleeping bags and push ourselves IN to recover from a tiresome stride for the day.
The sky looked magical with innumerable twinkling stars. Also, the Himalayan Moonrise! I love to capture the moon in general, so every night, I’d be ready with my Canon PowerShot to click in the cold!
Chilly goodnight.

Holy colors ❤️????????????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Bright Rhododendron ❤️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

How pretty was this! ❣️❣️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Random landscapes ????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Bal Rivulet

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Finally! The campsite.. ????️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Backdrop of the eye-catching sunset ????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Campfire in the dense, cold forest..

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Rocks underneath ????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Soooo clear!!! Sooooo clean!!! ????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 5

7:00 a.m.: Happy morning! The water was ice-cold! After breakfast, everybody kept their sleeping gears assembled at one place outside the tents for the mules to carry. Oh yes! The mules (a.k.a. Cargo on the walk) were helpful animals in the hills to carry some super heavy portered bags and camping material from campsite to campsite.
We left for Mana camp, in proximity to Triund hill. Mana camp gave the closest views of the gigantic ‘Oreo cake’. There were walks through dense rhododendron forests and rocky staircases up and down to reach Mana. We had our lunch near a temple on our way. Another astonishing aspect was, how and who built these small yet ‘vibrant’ religious places at such high altitudes, on remote hills? Where did the people get to know about these from? Thought provoking.
The landscapes kept changing. On our way, it started raining unannounced. From trekkers in trekking gears, we transformed into Jadoo like scarecrows to protect ourselves and the backpacks from getting wet.
When we reached the top of an anonymous hill from where we could sight the camp on a meadow…also got the very first closest ‘jhalak’ of the gigantic “Oreo cake” partly masked by a white-grey cotton candy. It was difficult to take eyes off that view! Rain ceased after a while. Now it was time to descend that anonymous mountain, fortunately less steep, covered with grass popping up from the chocolaty wet mud. There were chances of slipping and falling, hurting the glutes and dirtying the bags! The arranged tents looked like tiny blue dots on a lush green background with a backdrop of Oreo cake. Steep slopes replaced flattened yet uneven grasslands. With the campsite approaching, happiness reached a peak in our minds.
The main assembly tent looked messy with stacks of raincoats arranged haphazardly one on top of another. Just behind the raincoats, on the table, the luggage was dumped carelessly. We grabbed the small easy to carry Quechua chairs and sipped tea in merriment with the pristine view of the Oreo cake. There was a hell lot of mule potty all over, sitting directly down on the grassland became tough. There were small debates about ‘Mumbai Vs Pune’, discussions about the changing lifestyle of Indians, Indian traffic and so on. Maggie was the evening snack for that day. It tasted immensely yummilicious in that cold climate and with that WOW view!
Low temperature made a ‘chillier’ atmosphere! Daily dose of different boiling hot soups was a MUST before munching on the dinner. It was wonderful how the locals managed to serve us with a full fledge variable ‘four course’ meal up in the hills. Gratitude couldn’t be expressed in words!
Whistle blew, dinner ready!
All four guides had been extremely cooperative, friendly, helpful throughout. We all used to have fun together daily. There was one person from the group daily who became “Sir’s scapegoat” lol.
Star gazing caught minds of multiple people from the group. The only drawback was we couldn’t actually lie down and count stars due to the omnipresent mule potty! We witnessed and captured the Himalayan moonrise. It was enchanting each new day! Every passing minute, it had different ‘Avtaars’.
Faint yellowish brown as Masala milk to pearly white. It showcased all those shades.
A chillier night than Bal forest. An extravagantly beautiful moonrise and a starry sky. No 37th human around! Purest climate! More excitement to finally reach and spend 2 days in Triund.

The breakfast at Bal camp ..

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Mixed terrain..

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The mules! Helpers ❣️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The temple I mentioned about.. ✨

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

We could spot Mana camp and Oreo cake! Yipppeeee! ????????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Best!! ????????❤️❤️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Relaxation goals? ☺️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Assembly tent ???? super messy! ????????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The gorgeous camp ????

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Cotton candy Oreo cake ????❤️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

????❤️

Photo of Triund Trek, Trail to Triund Hill, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 6

Freezing morning! All get set ready for Triund! We had to ascend up a hill, descend down, again ascend and then climb up and down for a few thousand meters to reach Triund hilltop. Sounds tedious right? It wasn’t that much though! Oreo cake mixed with black forest pastry showed up in all it’s magnificence.
This route was the most scenic with pine and cedar trees inhabited by a variety of colourful birds like magpies & Himalayan vultures. Majority of the landscapes were grasslands and meadows. We could spot Mana camp while climbing. The farther we went, the happier we felt about having climbed lot much of distance. At a point, we couldn’t spot Mana camp anymore. All we could gape at was some part of Dharamshala deep down the hill. Even on this trail, we had different small n’ tiny temples.
There were fur balls (dogs) who sometimes accompanied us for most of the trail, or till the end. There was a majority of fellow trekkers who were dog lovers. Yay! There was Brownie, there was “Kaku”, there was fluff, endless to name! They had their own unique routes.
Post breakfast, nobody actually felt hungry immediately for the next couple of hours. We had dry fruits, energy bars, laddoos, Chitale bakarwadis, candies and lemonade tablets to gulp on enroute. Obviously, we were to stay hydrated all time for energy and to avoid lethargy while climbing. We moved closer and closer to the Oreo cake.
Within a few kilometres, we realized that we were almost inside the clouds which we fascinatingly saw the previous day uphill. It was foggy!
Sir warned us not to involve in any kinds masti with the snow we might find on our way. Yes! There were a few soft, half molten snow patches on our way. ‘Kids’ couldn’t resist to begin a snow fight! This made space and scope for many Instagram boomerangs and videos! Another peculiarity was the RED LADY BUGS in bulk!! At every place! We also saw a few weird small reptiles and creeping creatures.
After climbing for 6000 meters, whilst reaching the lunch spot near another temple, it started raining, with hail stones! We ran to a more spacious shelter nearby, resumed lunch with that surrounded mystical mist. Rain did stop after 40 minutes! Here, at this huge hut, the centre of attraction was a little Himalayan lamb. Dark buff coloured, highly adorable and extremely restless! Trying to grab and munch on our bags, it created havoc. We left the place as soon as the rain stopped, and resumed the ascent. 4-5 more kilometres were remaining to reach Triund hill top. Brownie accompanied us. The dog!!! Yes!
We could often coincidentally cross narrow roads with the mules. It was overall adventurous. There were short breaks during every trail to refresh and resume.
At 2:00 p.m. that day, we finally made it to Triund top. Dharamshala (and Kangra valley) now looked tinier from above. The elevation was almost 10,500 feet. Tents were arranged. Everybody immediately sat together for games, music and dance along with random discussions.
The scenery was predominated by greenery which had our blue tents, black, white, brown mules wandering around, slight amount of hardened snow and interrupted rocks poking from the green grass and the mighty snow covered-cloud hidden Dhauladhar range. Randomly, some shepherds were seen with their cattle. It was an utter pleasure to the beholder’s eyes! One could sit for hours and hours on the grass or rocks and spend time just staring at the massive snow covered Dhauladhar. I was more excited about how offbeat the moonrise there would be!
Tea, biscuits and bread patty with that landscape, with those people and the super motivating liner by Farhan Akhtar in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was splendid! I thought as if “those were the best days of my life!” Away from routine life, away from the scorching sun, away from pollution, negativity, stress! I could sense how happy it was! Bonds with the fellow travellers had strengthened even more by that time. There were new friends, brothers, sisters. All for life. 36 different temperaments, different mindsets adapting and enjoying the excursion altogether!
The next day was most awaited, thrilling, adventurous, trickiest of all. We were to go to Laka glacier! A walk of 7.5-8 kilometres from Triund and we would reach Laka. The day of actual adrenaline rush!
It was very tempting to just lie down on the moist grass and stare at the starry skies. It appeared to be full of celestial bodies before moonrise. All twinkling and glittering! It was dreamy. Even in the dark, we could visually grasp a few glimpses of the snow-covered peaks, trying hard. There was a reminder for going to sleep.
We went inside our respective tents. When I was on the verge of sleeping, I could hear somebody say my name. Nah! This isn’t something scary! So yes, a junior fellow traveller tried calling me as it was the time for moonrise. I thought for a second, Sleep was always there, but I couldn’t simply afford to miss the unique moonrise in the Himalayas. Unzipping the sleeping bag, we rushed outside. The moon actually looked the prettiest from here! Colour transformation and the way it slowly peeped from behind the huge peak, unparalleled beauty! We were all shivering in the cold. But didn’t honestly bother!
Sleeping with the laughter and giggles and jugaads in the tents, with the rising moon lingering constantly in mind. Peaceful cooold night it was!

Enroute Triund..

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

On our way..

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Hail it was! ❄️

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The cutie lamb ????????

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Fur balls ????

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

That shade though ????

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Triund top ..

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Mahadeva Temple, Triund top..

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Tea with a view yeah?

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Rocks well balanced!

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The BEST campsite ????️????❄️

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

This was the moonrise that night.. from that pristine place ❤️????

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

'Tinute' Dharamshala and Kangra ????

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Postcard view yeah!? ❄️????

Photo of Triund, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 7

Excitement all around! Laka was calling! Oreo cake now appeared to be even more gigantic! Making us realize that actually human presence is so trivial when it comes to mother nature! We all wore the green T-shirts captioned “Mountains are calling and I must go!” being distributed by Yuvashakti.
It was extremely chilly! Ice cold... Brushing teeth was a real struggle. We were being briefed, instructed and warned, informed about the do’s and don’ts. All were to walk in a single line. The backpack we were to carry to the glacier was supposed to be the lightest. Visit Laka glacier, have fun, return and spend the rest of the day at Triund hilltop! Only packed lunch, water, some dry snacks and rain / snow crafting gear were to be carried.
The climb began. While walking, we felt as if Dhauladhar was moving closer and closer. The steep climb began. Here, we had a white fur ball accompanying us. Surprisingly, in spite of the road being quite tough, this cutie managed to climb up till the glacier!
After 2 kilometres, the steep, tricky ascent set in. There were deep valleys on one side, and snow-covered dense patch on the other. Serotonin and adrenaline were competing to reach high levels in the circulation! The snow was half fresh, melting, soft, slippery. We HAD to keep the upper body straight, focus on climbing and keep going. Toughest was when there was mud mixed with half snow half water, layered on a rock to be climbed on! There were big snow-covered boulders with steep inclination.
Few thousand meters more and we were to start the fun!
And…alas!!! We all reached Laka! The moraines! Just lofty hills and mountains and mighty peaks on all four sides! The bags were thrown somewhere randomly on the snow or possible rocks. Nobody refrained from climbing up the ‘deputed’ patch and slide down. It was tempting to slide repetitively. We fell while climbing up, slid. Again, we attempted and fell.! Continued, reached the top and came sliding in groups! Slow MOs and normal videos with funny boomerangs managed to keep it all ‘well documented’! Numb bums everywhere! We also spotted a small café, creatively structured in the snow. Here, obviously, the Maggie costed the most…Lol! We threw snow balls at each other, the two fluffs preferred to sit aside and be the audience for the funny human acts in their area.
There were photo sessions both group and individual, with the fluffs, continuously going on.
To utilize the creativity and mark that fun, few of us started making a snowman. Individuals were assigned for managing to obtain snow, arrange it, shape it, fix it and then touch it up. Searching for the nose, mouth and ears for our cute little snowman took time. It became the prime centre of attraction. Thanks to our sweet architect friend and an aspiring artist cum architect! Nobody paid any heed to hunger till the time their photo session and enjoyment till the depth of the heart seemed to be over which was never.
In the middle of the snowy land, there was a rock, which became a hotspot for all to get clicked. The sun had been playing hide and seek with us through the clouds. Similarly, a peak at 5800 meters played hide and seek through dense cotton candies floating in the blue skies. It hardly showed up, most of the time being covered by clouds. Its height made us imagine how high Mt. Everest must be!
Snow fights constantly went on. We sat making place somewhere on the rocks nearby and gulped our lunch. The silence whilst having it proved how hungry everyone actually was. It was almost 3:00 p.m. when we wrapped stuff and were ready to hike down to the camp at Triund hilltop. We knew, that this was going to be missed badly later! Eyes were stuck on the mighty mountains of Dhauladhar range. It was a premium postcard view.!
Descent began. The same risky roads, the slippery snowy rocks, wet mud, uneven terrain. Looking back at the moraine with a sad feeling of ‘getting detached’ with it. We couldn’t camp in Laka due to excess snow.
The leaders made the atmosphere light and funny by initiating snow fights and snuggles by themselves! A hasty hullabaloo! Descending was tough. There were more chances of collapsing. I had to capture moments and sceneries on our way back.
Every step was crucial. Critical! We found an adventurous spot to climb on and get captured with the jaw dropping view. Climbing up that highly inclined, almost a straight rock needed assistance. Luckily, we had a local guide with us. He managed to take us all up that rock and make us stand there steady for a snap! Looking down back gave the view of the deep valley, it felt as if we would have fainted if we stared for long! Extreeeme adrenaline rush! I took the guts to stand on that rock patiently, WITHOUT looking down for long, somehow balancing initially. It was Cloud nine! I never imagined what had just happened! Also, on our way, the leader showed us a café which was formed by compounds of the colourful prayer flags hanging and flying in the winds, had cosy chairs and tables with one of the most magnificent views of the cotton candy Oreo cake.
At around 4.30, we speeded up and reached Triund by 5. Sipping tea with that adventures at Laka in mind was something like a pleasant hangover. We couldn’t believe that the actual trek was on the verge of getting concluded. We were to leave from Triund the next day and trek back to the base camp.
We played UNO in the hills, the game which makes or mars friendships, they say! Some genuine conversations about music, life in general, the hills remained carved in the minds.
Second night at Triund. There was campfire, music, feedback about the whole trek. As a token of thanking the local leaders and their crew for being able to manage such good food and hospitality at those high altitudes, we all decided to pay a fairly manageable amount. Also, as a responsibility towards mother Nature for letting us enjoy safely, we ensured that there was not even a single bit of garbage left anywhere on the campsite. This was executed the next morning.
Moon that day, was somewhat near to half with an entirely different shape-colour-hide and seek pattern. We went to sleep with heavy hearts, an unwillingness to leave.
Chilly, thoughtful, satisfied, happy goodnight!

Laka calling! ❄️ Grasslands initially..

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The trail..

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Addition to the picturesque view ❤️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Poppy rocks! ✨

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Narrowed, steep roads later..

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Whooaaa ????

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Ahead ahead we went..

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

And! Made it to the moraines! ❄️❄️❤️❤️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Loft loft everywhere! ❄️❄️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The group picture ❤️❄️????

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Snowman in Making.. ☃️☃️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Ready! The celebrity ????❄️☃️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Cutest Himalayan fur ball ❄️????❤️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The rock.. Hotspot.. ❄️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Anxiety evident.. The adrenaline rush rock.. ????

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

This was comparatively less adventurous ????

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The cafe.. ❤️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Whilst returning to Triund.. ????

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

That's nature.. creating space for everyone..

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

That temptation to slide down! ????❄️

Photo of Laka Glacier, Illaqa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 8

Midnight 4:00 a.m.: We could sense a hue and cry, a tempest around, being inside the tents. Initially we neglected it and dumped ourselves inside the sleeping bags. Its severity had increased slightly and now the four of us in our tent felt that the uppermost layer of the tent had almost flew away! There was lashing, haunting sounds of the winds! Our tent, facing the direction of the wind, became the victim of the Himalayan windy storm. We got up, sat, managing to hold on the remaining layer of the tent. Sir was already on a rescue duty. He commanded us to pack our bags and be ready with the torch to run inside a room as soon as he guided. He guided with the whistle and we acted accordingly. We were taken in a room for the rest of the night. Fortunately, the people who were responsible for the stay and meals, they also had these small rooms for outsiders who didn’t wish to camp. Those vacant rooms helped that time. We were provided with the sleeping gears, luggage dumped on one side, we continued our peaceful doze, and the storm continued outside, gradually ceasing.  The sleep inside was warmer than outside, and hence there was more difficulty to get up immediately at 7:00 a.m.
The storm had made the climate chillier in the morning! With numb palms and crackling sounding teeth, we freshened up. As decided the previous day, we quickly divided ourselves in groups and ensured that the whole campsite was clean and tidy for the next whosoever group. Also thanked the crew for every luxury they provided. Early morning, we also spotted Himalayan vultures, very close for the first time. They were also chilling in a group of 3! Flicker! Triund hill top had been the BEST! Sun was hidden behind the grey clouds. Meadows shining bright with the diamond like dew!
It was 9:30 a.m. Time to leave. Heavy but happy hearts! The route was similar to the one we chose for Laka. After a temple, instead of climbing up, we were to hike downhill. Rhododendrons showed up bright carmine red pink. There was a gradual change in the flora and fauna as the altitude decreased. This trail also had snow patches, valley on one side, steep snowy terrain on the other. Time and again, we looked back at Triund and Dhauladhar range. ‘Bubyeee!’ they said. We felt grateful. The roads were beautifully decorated by the rocks with dry leaves and rhododendron petals.
The landscape transformed from alpine to calcium carbonate rocks glittering all around. After continuing the trail for 6 kilometres with short breaks, we landed at a place where we had our acclimatization trail on Day 1 in Bhagsu. It was 12:15 p.m. We walked some more distance and heard the sounds of a waterfall. It was Bhagsu waterfall! We were close to the campsite. The climate wasn’t cold anymore. It was hot! Already missed Triund and Laka! 
We rested at the waterfall for a few moments and resumed. Mobile network was now available. Friends, parents, other special people pinged and were pinged to have crisp conversations. We stopped at a temple for having lunch. Now, there were happy hopes of reaching the hotel, and just relax in the artificial air conditioners. Till the previous day, we had enjoyed the natural air conditioners in abundance. Now there were steep descents to reach the village and subsequently the hotel in Bhagsu. Steepness was something less desirable when we were already in less energy state.
In spite of the weakened legs, we urged ourselves to go visit the market and St. Johns Church in the Wilderness. By walk. Pain masks itself and distance seems less always within a group. The climate was colder in the evening.  On the way back, few of the brats wanted to go shopping after having steamed and fried momos.
In these days, all of us had the maximum intake of Vitamin TEA and Punjabi food dominated by cottage cheese!  Next day was utilised to explore few tourist spots in and around Dharamshala and McLeodganj.
With all the fun times spent in Laka, Triund and in general and with a tired body, we dozed. Some kids still stayed up till late playing the game of FSTD.

Pre-leaving portfolio ????????

Photo of Triund, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

Return journey..

Photo of Triund, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

"Banjaara Yoga!"

Photo of Triund, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

Decorated prettyyy roads!

Photo of Triund, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

Last but not the least .. Triund.. ❄️

Photo of Triund, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

Market symbolised, at 1:30 p.m., that we were now really close to our base camp. There were many pretty cafes, yoga centres, hostels and home stays around. We met people traveling all the way from Netherlands, Belgium, Germany. All we needed was just relaxation and rest! Now we remembered that we didn’t bathe for the last four days! We finally made it to the hotel, after a rigorous descent. Happy happy!
We tried to sleep. It felt as if all the bones of our legs had broken and separated inside! The pain and strain! Many had their legs twisted, blisters on the great toe and toes, strained knees, inflamed ankles.

Pretty dream catchers in the market ..

Photo of Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

We experienced the wild silence at the rocky church. Surreal! Explored a bit and left.

The church building..

Photo of St. John in the Wilderness, Road to Naddi Village from McLeod Ganj, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Holy..

Photo of St. John in the Wilderness, Road to Naddi Village from McLeod Ganj, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Hauntingly serene!?

Photo of St. John in the Wilderness, Road to Naddi Village from McLeod Ganj, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Texture..

Photo of St. John in the Wilderness, Road to Naddi Village from McLeod Ganj, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

At the church..

Photo of St. John in the Wilderness, Road to Naddi Village from McLeod Ganj, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Photo of St. John in the Wilderness, Road to Naddi Village from McLeod Ganj, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Photo of McLeodganj Market, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Photo of McLeodganj Market, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Tibet feels?

Photo of McLeodganj Market, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Shopping people went to the market, rest of us just stayed back at Jimmy’s café, Mcleodganj, sipping various hot n cold beverages. I had the best perfectly brewed café mocha here in Jimmy’s café. Seriously the Yummiest!

Pizza time! ????❤️

Photo of Jimmy's Bakery & Cafe, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Mocha brewed to perfection..

Photo of Jimmy's Bakery & Cafe, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 9

All set for sightseeing!

St. John Church in the wilderness was open this time and we could attend (kinda) the prayers.

Immediately we left for Dal lake and the Shiva temple just next to it. The view of the mustard coloured waters (due to the underground soil), green pine tree hill just above with a pure blue sky! It did look amazing! We could spot a cute little grey puffy bird getting showered by the waters of the lake. The Shiva temple was just opposite to the lake.

Shrunken yet beautiful Dal lake..

Photo of Dal Lake, McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

The grey cutie..

Photo of Dal Lake, McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

Such a fluff!

Photo of Dal Lake, McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh by Gauree Gandhi

Next, driver uncle drove us quickly to the War Memorial. We reached, paid tributes to the greatness and sacrifices by all the war martyrs and patriots, soldiers and officers. Goosebumps recalling the Kargil war, the recent Pulwama attack, its revenge! Patriotism evoked in our minds.

Tribute .. ????????

Photo of War Memorial, Kachehri Road, Jawahar Nagar, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Random flower in the campus..

Photo of War Memorial, Kachehri Road, Jawahar Nagar, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

After this, reached the HPCA stadium. Such a scenic place! We could spot Triund and bits of Dhauladhar range clearly from the stands. Cricket with such a view must undoubtedly be a pure joy! To the eyes as well as the mind! Architecture on point.

How so beautiful!?

Photo of HPCA Cricket Stadium, Gumma, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Cricket with THIS view! ❤️????

Photo of HPCA Cricket Stadium, Gumma, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

According to the itinerary, we travelled to the Norbulingka Tibetan Institute. It was a clean, serene, silent, pretty place in Dharamshala which depicted Tibetan culture. Right from the entrance, it was colourful! The doorways, fountains in between, small lake like water bodies with colourful fish, the cleanliness, the silence and a positive atmosphere existing in every corner made it one of the beautiful gateways one would ever visit! Also, it had a monastery to meditate and experience the silence. It was heavenly! The Tibetan museum had different dolls arranged according to the geography, culture, occupation and lifestyle in Tibet.

Colors..

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

Architecture on point!

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

All whites and reds..

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

Random photography experiment ????

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

❤️

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

This turned out to be good!

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

Sweetest gateway..

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

Interior of the monastery.. with the enchanting silence..

Photo of Trek to Triund : The Crown Jewel of Dharamshala. by Gauree Gandhi

It was already 2.30. we proceeded to Kangra with hungry tummies. The drivers took us to a hardcore Punjabi pure veg restaurant. Paneer again! People were bored of having chole and paneer all the time for the past 7 days! Me? I wasn’t! Give me paneer to eat anytime and I’ll munch on it! The spelling mistakes and Punjabi experiments with English vocabulary brought a wave of giggle amongst our crew. Punjabi food is utterly delicious!

We gulped the lunch and left for Kangra fort. Reaching by 4.10, we hastily explored the intact and non-intact yet beautiful remnants of the fort, capturing the ancient, royal architecture. We could find Triund and Dhauladhar hidden behind the clouds. Deep down, there was a small river with dark turquoise, emerald waters flowing swiftly through the buff coloured rocks and stones. There were different entrances of the fort implying historical and strategic importance. Also, some broken windows giving a spectacular view of Kangra and Dharamshala.

Walkaway into the history..

Photo of Kangra Fort, Old Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Steps and gates all around..

Photo of Kangra Fort, Old Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

The remnants..

Photo of Kangra Fort, Old Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

????????

Photo of Kangra Fort, Old Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Gaze.. Gape..

Photo of Kangra Fort, Old Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Gauree Gandhi

Time was running like Usain Bolt! Hence, we had to rush too! Else, we might’ve ended up losing our bus for Delhi! The cab drivers drove as fast as they could and we eventually reached the War Memorial entrance. Boarded the bus at around 5.25 pm and left for Delhi. The whole excursion had come to an end. Oh melancholy! There was meeting and greeting with the remaining members who didn’t accompany for the sightseeing activity.
We arranged the luggage, sat calmly aback staring at the views and cityscapes of Dharamshala and Kangra from the window, we bid goodbye to the pristine place with heavy hearts. It was the actual time of the end of a picturesque adventure.
The ‘besura’ as well as ‘surela’ singing continued for a while. Silence started to dominate slowly and everyone had their eyes half shut. I went through hundreds of thousands of pictures snapped in the last 8 days. We waited for dinner. Half awake, we stepped out of the bus. Freshened up and dined at a dhaba in Chandigarh. We could sense the temperature transition.
Re-boarded the bus with full tummies. Now it was actually sleep time.! Everyone was torpid. In their Kumbh Karan mode to just relax and go to sleep. No more loud chitchats, no more games.

Day 10

There was a slight messy sound when we got to know that we had almost reached Delhi. It was 5.45 am, we had time to rest. But! There’s always a ‘But’ after an ideal plan! This was a good ‘But’. One of the fellow travellers were planning to visit India Gate, Qutub Minar. Who knew when would we again visit Delhi? Sleep or sightseeing? We chose to abandon and postpone the sleeping plan. There was a little time to sleep and rest the tired limbs. Procrastination? Nope! Sleep is the thief of time! 

Delhi sun shone bright at 7.30 am. Unfortunately, I forgot the cap and realized this when we had already started exploring India Gate. I always had this funny confusion. Gateway of India, Mumbai, is well suited and makes sense with its name. But India Gate, Delhi, always reminded me of that Basmati rice brand! (No offense) I later learnt after visiting that it was named as a tribute to the Defence officers. (Chuckles) after loitering around, we left for Qutub Minar.

Tribute ????????

Photo of India Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

A different angle..

Photo of India Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

Delhi heat had now started becoming scorching! Qutub Minar: the monument I had heard of multiple times and wanted to go since long back! Muslim architecture never fails to leave the spectator spellbound by the intricacy in every minute pattern! Awestruck! There was a dome which had a design made in different shades of sandstone with concentric circles. I was tempted to lie down and shoot, but the crowd was a way too much to do so! There were trial and error shots. Though denying, everyone was tired and sleepy, but still had that enthusiasm to explore, click pictures and enjoy the sunny morning at that place! Now the sleep started getting an accompaniment of hunger with time. There was a hawker serving yummy paneer kulchas. Breakfast was complete after sipping on the chilled, refreshing lemon juice.

Photo of Qutub Minar, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi
Photo of Qutub Minar, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

Tall it stood!

Photo of Qutub Minar, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi
Photo of Qutub Minar, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

The experiment..

Photo of Qutub Minar, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

Symmetry..

Photo of Qutub Minar, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

With the Minar..

Photo of Qutub Minar, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

12.30 pm: sir called! the bus drove us to a flyover near Hazrat Nizamuddin station. It was tedious to carry the luggage, walking in the sun for 10 more minutes to reach the station. The heat, the crowd, the mess, everything was adding on to more eagerness to dump the luggage and board the train at once! Such railway stations are actually the biggest proofs of population explosion! Never mind. Adding salt to the wound, the platform walkway/roads where our train (Goa Nizamuddin Express) was waiting, were under construction. Why Murphy uncle why? What had we kids done to you that every time we were your samples? We walked rapidly and boarded the train. The whole Yuvashakti gang of around 40 people was in one bogey! Siesta had been giving calls, slowly losing its dormancy. 90 minutes of a good sleep slightly managed to get the charisma back! We played antyakshari and chitchatted for the rest of the long hours. Previous journey, not so good experience of the dinner on the train gave us an idea of ordering pizza from Dominoes in Jhansi.
There was literally pin drop silence in our compartments till the time we enjoyed the pizza. Absolutely no hullabaloo, just oregano, olives, capsicum, CHEESE smells lingering!
I had become a Snorlax during this return journey! Eat. Sleep. Eat. Sleep.! Hot night! ☹ It wasn’t even close to warm, it was hot! Burning hot!

Semi Lunar Sun..

Photo of Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station Parcel Goodown, Nizamuddin, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi

The huge stack!

Photo of Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station Parcel Goodown, Nizamuddin, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Gauree Gandhi
Day 11

The previous night hadn’t been really good. Hyperacidity and weakness had suddenly set in. Too much sleep during the day due to zero sleep the previous night. Just liquid diet. We did enjoy the memory game, antyakshari, some singing, some rapid-fire rounds. It felt as if, if at all we had a mercury thermometer nearby, the mercury would burst out of the bulb! It was THIS hot! Madhya Pradesh and central Maharashtra were burning like a furnace! We were scheduled to reach Pune by 4:15 pm. All tanned. Noses deteriorated. We discussed and giggled at the moments we enjoyed during the trek. It was a happy sad day.

We all started singing aloud at 4:00 pm! MERE SAWALON KAAA, JAWAB DO! GULABI AANKHEIN JO TERI DEKHI! RAAT KALI, IK KHWAB MEIN AAYI! ‘Synchronised’ the whole funny concert had been! Parents standing at the platform could easily figure out which bogey were we in. The people around also gave strange looks, we hardly cared!
There was a final pack-up. All waiting for the train to stop at Pune junction. There were sweet goodbye hugs and handshakes with lines like ‘Hey! Keep in touch!’ ‘Will meet surely!’ ‘I’ll miss you sooooooo much Radio Mirchi partner!’ so on and so forth. Even while writing this now, I can recall those beautiful days, the fun, the memories.  Memories we would cherish for life time. The star gazing! The adrenaline rushes! One of its kind! The Himalayan moonrise! Triund last night Wala ‘Toofan!’
Bid adieu. Until next time. 

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