Thursday, February 12, 2009

Trek to Har-ki-Dun and Ruinsara Tal - August 1994

My inspiration for Har-ki-Dun trek came from a book Beautiful Garhwal which have some of the write-ups of Ruskin Bond . In the book, one of the many pictures of Garhwal had a caption – Har-ki-Dun, a small valley, more beautiful than the Valley of Flowers. I had already done the Valley of Flowers trek in July 1990. After discussion with my fellow trekkers, we made up our mind to trek HKD in 1994 when we were returning from Chhota Kailash Trek in Aug-September 1993. We also apprised MONTREK Association, Lucknow ( who had organised the Chhota Kailash trek for us) about our intention to trek HKD in 1994. We were happy to note that MONTREK had included the trek to HKD and Ruinsara Tal for August 1994 slot in their trekking and mountaineering programme for 1994. The trek was approved by Indian Mountaineering Foundation. [Those days, it was one of the a pre-conditions for getting Special Leave from our employers, the other condition being the Certificate of Completion of trek from the Organiser].

We (myself, Deshpande, Jambukeswaran and Krishnamurthy) reached Lucknow by Pushpak Express. We were joined by three more persons from Lucknow – Bhupal Singh (Team Leader), Rastogi and one teenager (whose name I am not able to recollect). Next day, we had briefings about the trek from Ashish Roy Chaudhary, General Secretary, MONTREK. Incidentally, he happened to be our colleague from Lucknow Office. After collecting haversacks, sleeping bags, tents etc, we boarded Doon Express in the evening and reached Dehradun the next late morning. Next day, we boarded an early morning bus and reached Purola ( 150 kms) early afternoon. After lunch, we got a bus bound for Netwar (1380m). Unfortunately, due to a landslide, we had to abandon the bus about 4 kms before Netwar. After crossing the landslide, we got a jeep which dropped us to Netwar. By the time we could complete the formalities with Forest Office for the trek, it was already dark. Hence, we decided to stay at Netwar.

Day-1 : Netwar-Sankri (1450m) – [9 kms by trek +3 kms by Jeep]

We got up early in the morning to a overcast sky with light rains. Our plan was to reach Sankri by Jeep and start trekking to Taluka after engaging two porters. But we came to know that due to massive landslides - one at very close to Netwar side and the other mid-way to Sankri – jeeps would not ply to Sankri. We had no option but to trek to Sankri. It was drizzling when we commence our trek at around 7.00 in the morning. After crossing the first landslide point about 2 kms from Netwar, we covered about half the distance to Sankri when we encountered the second landslide point.

Landslides on way to Sankri

The force of the rain water made the stream flowing through the accumulated mud and stones, made the crossing a bit risky. We decided to take a detour and moved down from the road side. After crossing the stream, we climbed up the other side of the road. The sky was cloudy but rains had subsided. Hence, we decided to try our luck for a jeep ride. Since, no jeep was in sight, we decided to walk the remaining distance to Sankri. Finally, we could get the jeep ride for about 3 kms to reach Sankri around noon.

Waiting for a jeep somewhere on way to Sankri

As we were alighting from the jeep, a young handsome man introduced himself as the caretaker of GMVN Rest House. We were not aware of the existence of this Rest House in Sankri. We checked in the Rest House and after lunch at the road side dabha, the afternoon was spent in arranging two porters as Bhupal Singh and one teenager accompanying him could double up to pick up some of our loads in their sacks. In the event, the problem propped up when so called leader of the porters based in Sankri resented for our bringing 'outsiders' as porters. We had to convince them that the two persons we brought with us were not porters but had joined us for trekking from Lucknow.

Sankri village was located about 1 km down the road. As usual, the GMVN had a superb location being perched on a high hill surrounded by tall trees. The area was very quite as if everything had come to a standstill. Since GMVN had no electricity, we finished our dinner early and retired to beds. As the night fell, the road side suddenly came to life with lots of commotion. We came out of the room and noticed that some men, apparently drunk, were quarrelling among themselves and to our surprise, one of them happened to be the Caretaker of GMVN. The nuisance continued till midnight after which we could get a sound sleep.

Sankri Village

Day-2 : Sankri to Taluka (1900m) - 12 kms by trek

As we were getting ready for the trek, the three porters who were engaged to carry the loads pointed out that the total weight of the loads to be carried by them were high and hence they would need one more porter. Rather than bowing to the porters' demand, we decided to adjust between ourselves the so called excess weights. In this milieu, our departure for Taluka was delayed and we could commenced trekking at around 7.30 in the morning.

Taluka village

The trek to Taluka was on a narrow mud road which was broken in a couple of places due to landslides. Luckily for us it was not raining though weather was cloudy. A part of the trek goes through Govind Wildlife Sanctuary. Just about one km before the Taluka, the mud road ended with a narrow cliff blocking the further extension of the road. We reached Taluka at around 10.30 a.m. We could have continued the trek to Seema ( 15kms) but the porters were hesitant. We were also lured to the newly built GMVN TRH with brand new mattress, pillows, blankets and above all the clean toilets by the Manager of TRH as according to him, we were the first occupants of the TRH. The rest of the day was spent in exploring the village and resting. All in all, it was an easy day with more or less plain walk through the forest. [To be continued]

A solitary hut near Taluka

Fields on the bank of Tons river

Crossing a wooden bridge over Tons on way to Seema

Tons river in spate on way to Seema

A pine tree balancing precarously on a tree trunk

In to the dense forest on way to Seema

A local in traditional dress - and.....

local girls near Seema

Seema GMVN seen from the Osla side

Mist and the silhouette of huts make a good contrast on way to HKD

A waterfall on way to HKD

Wildflowers in HKD

Me near HKD

A loghut at HKD

Har-ki-Dun valley in misty weather

Har-ki-Dun in sunny weather

Carpet of flowers near HKD

Shepherd's huts on way from Seema to Ruinsara

Crossing a stream on way to Ruinsara

Ruinsara Lake

Our tents at Ruinsara

Wildflower bunch at Ruinsara

Ruinsara meadows

Dinner preparation at Ruinsara

Crossing a precariously placed tree logs and a waterfall near Seema

Osla village seen from Seema

A nice solitary house in the midst of fields on way back to Taluka

Photos by the author


shalini said...

Lovely Pics of HKD great to see lush green valley

Sadanand Kamath said...


Mahesh said...

Dear Sadanand,

First of all, congratulations for excellent snaps! They reminded me of my Har-Ki-Dun/Ruinsara-Tal trek way back in 1984, when I was in IIT, Bombay. We are celebrating our Silver Jubilee Reunion this December and I am writing an article on my Himalayan trek then. Since I don't have many photographs from 1984, I wanted to use some of yours and would like to seek your permission for same. Of course, I will mention the credits. If it's alright with you, can you get back to me on my G-mail address, It will be great if you can send me high resolution versions of these photographs too.

Thanking you in advance and with best regards,

Mahesh Vaidya.

Sadanand Kamath said...

Thanks for comments.

I have already sent you an e-mail regarding using my pictures for your proposed article.

abhirama said...

We are planning to do this trek this March end. How will the weather be during March end?