12 Surprising Twists On The Rupin Pass Trek

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.

You’ll see the Rupin River in many of its moods on this trek. How it transforms from one to another in less than a second is something that will surprise you! Picture by Sumit Sadhu

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.

Rupin Pass Trek
The temple at Sewa set amidst wheat fields and fruit orchards

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.

The village of Jhaka is a spectacle. Many trekkers have christened the Hanging Village because of its appearance

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.

rupin pass trek
Half hour outside Jhaka village, the trail flattens out and plunges into a fir forest

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!

The wild flowers of Saruwas Thatch. Picture by Clifford Joseph

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.

Indiahikes - Rupin Pass Waterfall
The Rupin Waterfall in all its glory. Picture by Sreedharlal B Naick

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.

The Glacial Valley at Rupin Pass. Picture by Sushrut Sardesai

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.

A snow bridge close to Udaknal on the Rupin Pass trek. Picture by Anirban Banerjee

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.

The upper waterfall campsite. Picture by Anirban Banerjee

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.

rupin pass trek
The final climb to the Rupin pass is through a gully

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.

The Kinnaur ranges after crossing over the Rupin Pass. Picture by Vinod Krishna

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 [email protected]

What you should do now

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18 thoughts on “12 Surprising Twists On The Rupin Pass Trek

  1. Beautiful trek. This trek is a mini guide to trekking in the Himalayas. Every day is like the next chapter of an action-adventure novel, and the plot twists are breathtaking!

  2. This is an amazing trail, comprise of 3 seasons of weather, Spring, Summer & Winter. A combination of village trail & nature trail at the later part of the trail, the last day of ascending gully to Rupin Pass is the challenge, thanks the technical local guide who helped axed the steps to the pass in Z path, this alleviate our upward trekking and reduce our effort to the summit pass, we don’t feel choking upon reaching the top. it’s a great experience to wear spike crampons to walk on the snow and enjoy very much on the fun in sliding down.

    1. Hi Harsha, the pass will not be accessible in December because there will be too much snow! It starts snowing heavily by the end of October and the trail doesn’t clear out until May. May and early June are the best months to experience snow here.

      1. Hi Swathi,

        I have done Bhrigu Lake Trekking. Such a beautiful trekking ever I did in my life. I have promised myself to trek more. I have planned to trek at least one trek every year in Himalayas, Can I trek on Rupin Pass next or do you have any other suggestions? and to add more I want to take my trek stage by stage higher.

        1. Hi Akhila
          You cannot really compare the two treks. However, yes, Rupin Pass is a more challenging trek than Bhrigu. As long as you prepare well for the trek and meet the fitness requirements you can pretty much attempt any trek. You will only enjoy the trek if you are physically capable of comfortably finishing the trek. You can most certainly do Rupin Pass or any other moderate or moderately difficult trek to get a taste of something more challenging.

  3. Hi,

    I have done triund thrice, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib and Brahmtal Trek in last year. Can I go for Rupin Pass or should I go for more easy-moderate treks?

    1. Hi Ajay,
      It usually starts snowing near the pass in the second half of October. But it also becomes very cold, with night temperature falling to -4 or -5 degrees celsius at the Upper Waterfall campsite.

    1. Well, in terms of fitness, if you’re really fit, then it could be your first trek. But we would suggest doing an easier trek first. The experience from the first trek helps better the experience on a tough trek!

    1. There will be some snow, lots of snow patches. But not like the snow fields that you see in May. If you want to experience snow go in May or early in June.

    1. Hi, nope there won’t be snow except in patches or in case there is unexpected snowfall. Ideally, autumn months are dry and have clear skies. It starts snowing after mid-December in the Himalayas.

  4. During this mid May 2019 I alongwith my friends joined the Rupin pass trek and it was wonderful. The starting villages, then the meadows, fur forest, snow patches, rhododendrons and their beauty is beyond our expectations. Specially the last few days trek on the snow, the Z path Rupin gully climbing is challenging and once you stay on the top the view of Kinnaur range is so mesmerizing you will forget all your pains of previous days. Our heartfelt thanks to India hikes.