It is common knowledge among trekkers that the Rupin Pass trek is full of surprises. Not every trekker watches out for the changes in sceneries though. Here, I’ve made a checklist of all the surprises that are in store on the trek. Look out for them.
1. The first view of the Rupin River
The trail starts to climb immediately out of Dhaula, your base camp for the trek. Around 20 minutes into the trail, the climbs levels out. Look out for a sudden appearance of the entire Rupin River fanning out into a wide bed below you.
2. The Sewa Temple
At Sewa, ask villagers to direct you to the temple. Those who have never seen a temple of the Kinnauri tradition will be in for a surprise. The temple looks like a watch tower – tall, standing on a base that runs at least 4 storey high, ending in a kind of a cabin with a sloping roof. So unique is the architecture that it is unlike anything you would have seen.
3. The Bridge that Separates Uttarakhand and Himachal
Further on, the trail briefly meanders on the Rupin river bed before climbing on to the embankment. The trail soon runs into a dilapidated wooden bridge over a smallish tributary of the Rupin. Spend some time on the bridge because it is the first surprise of the day – the bridge separates the two states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
4. The Hanging Village of Jhaka
Stepping past the post office of the Jiskun village, peer straight ahead and high up in the horizon. A cluster of houses, marking a village hangs out of the mountainside – so incredulous, that it takes time for you to fathom how a village can hang from the walls of a mountain. The village is Jhaka, also commonly called the hanging village.
5. Fir forests after Jkaha
Half hour outside Jhaka village, the trail flattens out and plunges into a fir forest, so sudden that it is almost like a gate has opened up. Pine trees over 100 feet tall tower over the trail. And within the enchanting forest Maple trees play hide and seek. The forest ends as suddenly as it starts over a confluence of the Rupin with a tributary.
6. Buras Kandi and Saruwas Thatch
Later, past Udaknal and just past Buras Kandi, around a bend in the trail a sight leaves you gaping. Rhododendrons bloom everywhere and climb a thousand feet into the slope. It is a riot of colours: pink, violet and white Rhododendrons – all of the dwarf kind. Some of the Rhododendrons even swoop over the clear waters of the Rupin, their flowers falling into the river to be carried downstream forever. After Buras Kandi you enter Saruwas Thatch, which is another sight in itself. With bursts of yellow flowers and bees buzzing around them, it i a sight to behold!
7. The first view of the Rupin Waterfall
After a while, stepping over the roots of the Rhododendrons, the trail suddenly tunnels into a view of the U-shaped Rupin glacial valley. In the far distance, at the end of the valley, is the famous three stage Rupin waterfall. It appears to be falling from the clouds.
8. The Glacial Valley around the Rupin Waterfall
Soon after Saruwas Thatch, the trail climbs over a bump to suddenly stand on the lip of the glacial valley. The sight in front is straight out of a picture book. The Rupin flows gently, slowly through the middle of the greenest meadow that you have seen. On the sides of the valley, snow patches stick to the valley walls.
9. Snow bridges in the valley
Look out for the snow bridges that you have to cross on your way to the lower water fall camp site (Dhanderas Thatch). Snow bridges are common on slopes but to see them on a wide open valley is a surprise.
10. The Upper Waterfall Campsite
Getting to the upper water fall camp site is a series of switchback climbs over the three water falls (and many on snow bridges and patches). Climbing the final ridge, the Upper Waterfall camp site is unlike any place you have seen before. It is a large basin where icy flanks of mountains surround it. Below the flanks snow melts to form hundreds of little streams that join together to form the Rupin.
11. The Gully to Rupin Pass
The final climb to the Rupin pass is through a gully. In the narrow snow laden gully voices echo and reverberate through its confines – something that is new to most trekkers.
12. The Kinner Kailash Ranges on the other side of the Pass
Getting out of the Ronti Gad campsite on the Sangla side, the trail descends harmlessly along over meadows, when a sudden bend on the trail brings you face to face with the towering summits of the Kinner Kailash ranges.
There are many other twists and turns on the Rupin Pass trail. I have listed the most significant ones here.
*Many pictures in the article are not exactly of the location mentioned in the paragraphs. If you have pictures of the exact location we are talking about, send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org.