Through Majestic Mountains And Scenic Views: Trekking To Har Ki Dun In Uttarakhand

Embark on a transformative journey into the heart of the Himalayas with the Har Ki Dun trek. From the camaraderie of fellow trekkers to the enchanting beauty of the mountains, every step of the way is an adventure waiting to be discovered
Dogs will be your loyal companions throughout the trek
Dogs will be your loyal companions throughout the trekSohini Karmakar

I never considered myself a trekker until I was 13 when I embarked on the Har Ki Dun trek, which forever changed my view of nature. Ideal for a memorable family vacation, this trek immerses you in such breathtaking beauty that the uphill climb feels almost effortless. Navigating through lush green forests teeming with rare flora and fauna, the desire to sleep under the stars, enveloped by nature, becomes irresistible. Said to be one of the oldest scenic routes in India, myths suggest the Pandavas took this path to heaven, which seems fitting, as it truly feels heavenly.

If you're a dog lover, one of the most heartwarming aspects of this trek is the loyal companions you'll gain. From the moment you start your journey, a dog will join your group, sticking with you until the very end, offering protection, much like the loyal dog of the Pandavas. 

Various travel companies offer this trek; however, we chose to go with the Himalayan Hikers, who offered their assistance once we reached Dehradun.

Here's a guide to help you navigate this incredible experience.

The Start of Har ki Dun Trek

After flying from Hyderabad, our adventure began in Delhi. We spent an unforgettable day savouring delectable dishes at the historic Karim's, exploring the capital's many monuments, and soaking in the city's heritage. As night fell, we boarded a train to Dehradun. Arriving the next morning, our day began with a delicious bowl of thukpa at a local restaurant, after which we set off by road for Sankri.

Sankri village is the starting point of the trek
Sankri village is the starting point of the trekShutterstock

Our rest day at the base camp Sankri, located 1,950 m above sea level, was a delightful escape. We wandered through the charming village, savoured hot local dishes, and were captivated by the enchanting stories of the locals. We stayed at The Grand Shiva Hotel, beautifully nestled between tall mountains, providing the perfect start to our journey. 

Trek Day 1

The first leg of our adventure began with a thrilling jeep ride arranged by the travel agency. Departing from our homestay in Sankri at 6:30 am, we embarked on an 11 km journey to Taluka, 2109 m above sea level. The drive, typically around 45 minutes, was an exhilarating experience, navigating through rugged terrain. Brace yourself for a bumpy yet unforgettable ride!

Upon reaching Taluka, we took a brief 10-15-minute rest before embarking on our trek to Chehludgad around 7:30 am. Starting early is key, as trekking is much more comfortable before the sun reaches its peak. This 6 km journey typically takes 4-5 hours, depending on your pace. Aim to complete the trek before sundown, as visibility decreases dramatically after dark, making it unsafe to navigate the mountain paths. 

We completed the trek in just four hours and camped at our first site in Cheludgad, a barren land surrounded by trees 2,600 m above sea level. The travel agency provided our tents; however, if you are embarking independently, a dome-shaped tent is recommended. The toilet system took some getting used to. It was basically a hole dug in the ground with a shovel, which you used to fill it up after you're done. Dinner was a bowl of hot khichdi with a local pickle, which was simple and satisfying.

Trek Day 2 

The travel agency provided our tents; however, if you are embarking independently, a dome-shaped tent is recommended
The travel agency provided our tents; however, if you are embarking independently, a dome-shaped tent is recommendedSohini Karmakar

On the second day, most trekkers head straight to Har Ki Dun, but with a 7-year-old child in our group, we opted for an extra stop. We began our trek early in the morning, around 7 am, trekking for about four hours before finding a serene spot between Chehlugad and Har Ki Dun to set up camp. This extra stop made the next day's trek a bit easier. We camped at an abandoned agricultural land surrounded by towering mountains and pine trees and watched other trekkers, even chatting with a few, on their journey since the route was near our campsite.

Trek Day 3

On the third day, our trek, though shorter, presented a steeper challenge. However, the breathtaking views more than compensated for the effort. We set out early from our campsite at around 6:30 am and arrived at Har Ki Dun Valley around 2 pm, just in time for lunch. The route from Chehlugad to Har Ki Dun Valley is the most scenic stretch of the entire trek, winding through the Govind National Park, where diverse flora and fauna abound. Along the way, we encountered streams of glacial water, perfect for refreshing breaks and capturing unforgettable photos. Throughout the trek, you'll be confronted with spectacular views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks, including Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch, and Black Peak. On reaching the campsite at Har ki dun, 3600m above sea level, we pitched our tents beside the confluence of the Supin and Runisara rivers, a stunning blend of green and blue. Tired from the long journey, we retired to our beds early that day.

Trek Day 4

Marinda Lake, perched at an impressive 4,200 metres is fed by melting glaciers
Marinda Lake, perched at an impressive 4,200 metres is fed by melting glaciersShutterstock

The fourth day is often called the exploration day, offering a chance to discover two main attractions from the campsite: Marinda Lake and Juandhar Glacier. For those choosing to explore, the first trek begins from your campsite, taking you to Marinda Lake, perched at an impressive 4,200 metres, fed by melting glaciers and snowfields. Spend some time soaking in the serene beauty before continuing to Juandhar Glacier, one of the largest sources of the Tons River, towering at 4,300 metres. Both destinations offer unparalleled views, letting you take in nature's grandeur that makes the 7-8 hour trek completely worth it.

Trek Day 5

You start your descent on the fifth day. We took a slightly different route and trekked back to Chehlugad through Osla village. Nestled in the majestic Swargarohini peak valley, Osla village, around 2590 m above sea level, is steeped in myth and legend. According to Mahabharata lore, it is from this very peak that Yudhishthira, accompanied by his loyal dog, ascended to heaven. Osla is also renowned for its ancient temple, which is dedicated to Duryodhana.

The villagers, especially the elders, are deeply immersed in the epic tales of the Mahabharata. During my visit, I was captivated by a 70-year-old woman who charmed me with fascinating stories passed down through generations. Her vivid narrations brought the legends to life, reflecting the rich cultural heritage that thrives in this friendly and welcoming community.

Trek Day 6

Starting early in the morning from Cheludgad, we trekked back to Taluka, each familiar path evoking nostalgia for the journey uphill. Crossing familiar landmarks, it felt like we were leaving a piece of ourselves behind in the mountains. This time, we enjoyed the bumpy ride back to Sankri with no complaints. It was as if the mountains had taught us their ways, and after all we had endured, this leg of the journey felt like a piece of cake.

The stunning views more than made up for the strenuous climb
The stunning views more than made up for the strenuous climbSohini Karmakar

Back to Reality

On the last night of our trek, we celebrated our victory with a heartfelt gathering. Sitting around a crackling bonfire, we shared stories of our journey while savouring delicious desi chicken with the promise of keeping in touch. A sense of solidarity lingered as we took our final group photos and said our goodbyes. The subsequent ride back to Dehradun was bittersweet. Instead of anticipation and excitement, it was filled with a longing to return and a fond recollection of the breathtaking views and cherished memories we had gathered along the way.

Travel Tips to Remember

  • Be mentally prepared to adjust to various hardships and uncertainties along the way. Nothing can be predicted in the mountains.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking glucose water every half hour. Take small sips rather than gulping down large amounts to avoid feeling weighed down, which can make the uphill trek more challenging.

  • Pack plenty of energy-boosting snacks like energy bars or chikkis to maintain strength throughout the trek.

  • Make sure to check weather forecasts before embarking on the journey.

  • Check for symptoms of high altitude sickness. At any sign of high altitude sickness, seek immediate medical attention. Carry an emergency first aid kit with you without fail.

  • Be prepared to sleep in sleeping bags and experience uncomfortable sleep for the first few nights in the tent.

  • Start physically preparing for the trip at least three months before, preferably five to six months before. Stamina-building exercises are recommended. If possible, try to walk uphills around your area.

  • Bond with your guides since they will be your saviours once on the trek.

Getting There

Fly to Dehradun from your home destination. Take a jeep from Dehradun to Sankri (base camp). Take another jeep from Sankri to Taluka, from where you will start your trek.

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