Bharadsar lake trek

The Bharadsar lake trek starts amidst the pine forests of Himri and is steep right from the start. Keep asking the passing villagers for the route, to avoid taking the wrong trail or getting lost. On the first day, a steady 4-hour uphill climb brings you to Bitri village. The Bitri village houses a little more than 100 families. A large meadow with a lake right in the centre – Saaru Taal is your camp for the first day.

The second campsite, Badaang is along the slope of the same mountain but a little higher. It is going to be a moderate trek with a height gain of over 2200ft over a distance of 7km.

Strenuous and long would be the two words to explain the trek from Badang to your 3rd campsite Dhal Dhar. Start the day's trek through the Oak forest just outside your campsite. The village Liwadi is also insight. The Dhal Dhar campsite is perched in a narrow valley. The hill opposite the campsite is covered with white Rhododendron bushes. There is absolutely no water on the entire trail.

On the next day, the trek to Dev Bhasa is a very short one lasting about 2 hours. An initial climb of 500ft in half a kilometre followed by a gentle descent brings you to the campsite.

The trek from Dev Bhasa to Bharadsar camp is undoubtedly the longest and the toughest trek of the 6 days. Bharadsar lake can be seen from a point well above the Bharadsar campsite. The lake is a couple of hours away from the Bharadsar meadow camp. It’s a trek over rocks and moraines which requires you to step carefully.

On the next day, it’s a steep descent to Upper Rehala from Dev Bhasa. Retrace your path to Dhal Dhar which takes a little more than an hour. From Dhal Dhar, take the trail going to the left of the main trail you came from. The last day starts with an easy downhill walk. However, the descent from Bitari is steep.

➤ Short Itinerary

  • Trek through Bitri village with beautiful houses, an open-air school and a temple which have unique Kinnauri architecture.
  • Camp on the Badang meadow which is nestled amidst a pine forest
  • Trek through forests, meadows and steep ridges to get to the Bharadsar meadows at a height of 14435 feet
  • Enjoy spectacular views of the Garwhal Himalayan peaks such as the Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch and Ralgan

➤ Trail Information

Day 1: Drive from Dehradun to Dhaula (12 hrs drive)

Get off at Dehradun and drive along Mussorie, Purola, Mori and Naitwar to reach Himri. The drive takes a full 12 hours on winding mountain roads. Watch out for the pine forests after Purola and the journey by the Tons river after Mori. This is one of the best mountain drives in our country.

Himri is the basecamp for the Bharadsar taal trek. Himri is 3-4 km before Dhaula – the base camp of the Rupin Pass trek. Needless to mention, Himri is also on the banks of the Rupin and your campsite is nestled amidst the pine and other coniferous trees. Himri gets its name after the Himrit rees found abundantly here. Himri is at an altitude of 4820ft.

Day 2 :  Trek from Himri to Saaru tal via Bitri village

  • Altitude: 4820 ft to 7500 ft
  • Distance: 8 kms
  • Time: 5 hours

The destination for the day is a tiny village called Bitri. Bitri lies up on the mountain ridge and Himri at its base. It is a steep climb of 2700ft to Bitri. The climb starts amidst the pine forest and is steep right from the start. An hour into the climb and 1800ft higher are your first breakpoint Kujraili.

The trail in the forest forks several times at several places. Keep asking the passing villagers for the route, to avoid taking the wrong trail or getting lost. The day's trail has almost no water sources. Ensure you leave Himri with 2 litres of water at least. A steady 4-hour uphill climb brings you to Bitri village. The Bitri village houses a little more than 100 families.

Enthusiastic young kids come running to see who the visitors to their village are. A quick walk through beautiful wooden houses brings you to the centre of the village. A school and a temple make the village centre. It is an open school with a blackboard in the courtyard.

The village temple is a major attraction of Bitri. It is carved in wood with shields heralding its doors. There is a beautiful pagoda-like structure beside the temple. It serves as its storehouse. The temple is built in typical Kinnaur architecture. Though you are still in Uttarkhand, the influence of Kinnauris strong. Lady trekkers may be disappointed as women are not allowed inside the temple. Biren Nag and Mahasu are the 2 idols worshipped here.

Make the shade of the Moruban tree a few meters ahead of your lunch point. Your campsite for the day is an hour's walk ahead. A large meadow with a lake right in the centre – Saaru Taal is your camp for the day. The lake is devoid of water for most months of the year and your nearest water source is a stream almost a kilometre away. Another interesting sight that can catch your attention is the dogs. All the dogs of the village have metal strips with spikes as protection from leopards.

Day 3 : Trek from Saaru Taal to Badang

  • Altitude: 7700 ft to 9700 ft
  • Distance: 7.2 kms
  • Time: 4 hours

Wake up to a beautiful morning at Saru Taal and get ready for another stiff climb to Badaang. Badang is along the slope of the same mountain but a little higher. It is going to be a moderate trek with a height gain of over 2200ft over a distance of 7km. An hour’s rocky and steep climb brings you to a small stream which marks your entry into the deodar /pine forest. The trail eases out beyond the pine forest.

A stone laden trail gets you through the forest before the last two km to Badang which again becomes a bit of a climb. Spot the Himalayan langurs and the many varieties of birds in the forest. Badaang campsite is located on a beautiful meadow surrounded by a beautiful deodar forest. The campsite has a stream flowing right next to it.

Day 4:  Badang to Dhal Dhar

  • Altitude: 9700 ft to 11,280 ft
  • Time: 5-6 hours

Strenuous and long would be the two words to explain the trek from Badang to your 3rd campsite Dhal Dhar. Start the day's trek through the Oak forest just outside your campsite. 3 hours of trekking through the forest with a couple of stiff climbs, brings you closer to the ridge with the forest is beginning to thin.

The forest opens into the meadows and you are about 1000ft higher than Badang. This is Vijay top and a kilometre ahead is Masundha Dhar. From Masundha Dhar the trail goes as a ridge walk from one mountain ridge to another. 20 mins into the meadows, the views open up beautifully. The massive peaks of Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch and Ralgan appear right in front.

On either side of your trail are Rhododendron shrubs growing in abundance. The ridge walk carries on and on for 4 more hours. The sky in front has a 180-degree panorama of mountains set up for you. The trail continuously climbs from one ridge to another with a few small intermittent descents.

The village Liwadi is also insight. The Dhal Dhar campsite is perched in a narrow valley. The hill opposite the campsite is covered with white Rhododendron bushes. There is absolutely no water on the entire trail. After more than 5 hours of the trek being on a ridge top with no tree cover, it's easy to feel dehydrated and tired. Carry 2 litres of water from Badang and sip it wisely along the way.

Day 4: Trek from Dhal Dhar to Dev Bhasa

  • Altitude: 11,300 ft to 11, 900 ft
  • Time: 2 hours

The trek to Dev Bhasa is a very short one lasting about 2 hours. An initial climb of 500ft in half a kilometre followed by a gentle descent brings you to the campsite.

The campsite is situated on a very small plain adjoining 2 mountains. The area is rocky and you are in for a bumpy night. The water source is about 2 km away from the Dev bhasa campsite. The camp is surrounded by rocky mountains on 3 sides and is quite windy.

Gangotri range can be seen from Dev Bhasa ( alt 11800-11900 ft.) The trail to your destination can be seen from Dev Bhasa. This day is short and would even out if extended by a couple of km or even 3kms. This would make the final trek to Bhardsaar lake less tedious. However, the climb ahead is strenuous and steep. Camping anywhere else before the Bharadsar meadow camp becomes impractical.

Day 5: Trek from  Dev Bhasa to Bharadsar meadow

  • Altitude: 11,900 ft to 13,120 ft

The trek from Dev Bhasa to Bharadsar camp is undoubtedly the longest and the toughest trek of the 6 days. There are 2 routes to Bharadsar camp. The longer one which goes left, round about the mountain and then comes right. The shorter one is a steep ascent crossing a pass and getting down straight to the Bharadsar campsite. The terrain from here becomes bouldery. You may get patches of snow too.

On the longer route, a 4.5-hour climb brings you to the cross over point or the ridge. The Bharadsar camp is 3 hours away from the pass. The path on the other side of the ridge was made of layers of rocks with snow here and there and also gaps in between hence making a risky trail.

Bharadsar lake can be seen from a point well above the Bharadsar campsite. The lake looks partly frozen and dark in colour mainly due to the shadow of the rocky mountains surrounding it. A 4-hour trek over a rugged trail takes you to the Bharadsar lake from the camp.

The terrain on the other side of the ridge is extremely rugged and could be even called hostile and the weather is chilly to the bone. The Bharadsar meadow campsite has neither water nor firewood. The only source of water is by melting snow. Ensure that you carry sufficient fuel for both cooking and melting snow.

Day 6: Trek from Bharadsar meadow to Bharadsar lake back to Dev Bhasa

  • Altitude: 13120 ft to 11,900 ft

The Bharadsar lake is not visible from the Bharadsar meadow campsite. You get a distant view of the lake from the ridge you came from.

The lake is a couple of hours away from the Bharadsar meadow camp. It’s a trek over rocks and moraines which requires you to step carefully.

From the Bharadsar lake, retrace your steps till the campsite. From the camp, take the straight path to the ridge top. If there is snow, it will be an easy climb up to the ridge which takes an hour.

The descent on the Dev Bhasa side is steep and slippery. The direct ridge route is much shorter than the roundabout route. Take the direct route to the ridge even on the way up. A 3-hour trek from Bharadsar camp brings you back to Dev Bhasa.

Day 7: Dev Bhasa to Upper Rehala

  • Altitude: 11,900 ft to 8,840 ft

It’s a steep descent to Upper Rehala from Dev Bhasa. Retrace your path to Dhal Dhar which takes a little more than an hour. From Dhal Dhar, take the trail going to the left of the main trail you came from. The initial trial over loose stones and rocks tends to take a toll on everyone’s knees. An hour into the descent, you get your first stream to fill water and another follows after one more hour.

After the initial 2 hours, the trail enters the meadows again and then goes through a beautiful pine forest. The altitude reads 10,800ft. The forest ends and the trail winds through terraced farms growing Rajma and wheat. Pitch your tents in the small patches of green amidst these terrace farms.

The altitude is considerably less at 8,840 ft though it is quite higher than your basecamp at Himri. There are herds of sheep constantly moving above and below your tents grazing while the dogs keep barking the entire night to ward against any danger to the sheep. The camp at Upper Rehala marks your entry into civilization.

Day 8 : Upper Rehala to Sankri via Jhakhol

The day starts with an easy downhill walk. Streams are flowing all along. An hour later comes to the village Rehala and then Karla. Another village Bitari follows within an hour. The descent from here is steep. Go down all the way to the Supin river where the Obra river joins it. A small tea shop lies here. From here it's a couple of hours uphill walk to Jakhol.  Have a vehicle waiting for you at Jakhol and drive to Sankri which is 16 km away. Plan to stay the night at GMVN in Sankri.

In season, Sankri is bustling with trekking activity- being the base for KedarkanthaHar ki DunBali Pass and Borasu Pass.

Day 9 : Drive from Sankri to Dehradun

My conclusion about this trek is a very short one: This trek is commercially not viable and if being advertised, it should be made clear that the trek is not an easy one and is meant for avid trekkers in the Himalayas. I had a great experience here, especially since this was my 1st exploratory trek there was some responsibility to be shouldered ( writing this diary in my case). The group was amazing. My fellow trekkers were wonderful people and a lot of knowledge was shared among the members of the group. All I can say is I will always look forward to trekking with these very same people again. (Prashanth, Sanjeev, Neha, Anjali, Shikar, Sarang, Ronald, Sudipta, Aneesh).

➤ How to Get Fit for Bharadsar Lake Trek

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Cardiovascular endurance
This trek requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging every day. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. Make sure you can jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.

Strength
This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover carrying your backpacks and trekking along with your backpack is not a very easy task. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set.

Flexibility
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, you must arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however, light can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.

Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.

➤ What to Take on Your Trek

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Bare necessities

  1. Trekking shoes: The trek distance is long and you will have to walk for long distances which needs you to have comfortable trekking shoes. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
  2. Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for the backpack is essential.

Clothes

  1. Three Warm Layers: You will be trekking and camping at high altitudes. So make sure you have the apt clothes for the climatic conditions. It will be cold at the higher altitudes so make sure you have at least three layers of warm clothes to protect yourself.
  2. Two trek pants: One pair of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case the first one gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair.
  3. Two collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sunburns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one.
  4. Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.

Accessories

  1. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness.
  2. SuncapThe sun is harsher at high altitudes so wear a sun cap to protect your face and neck.
  3. Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woollen hand gloves. One pair of waterproof/resistant, windproof gloves.
  4. Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
  5. Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
  6. Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
  7. Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.

Others

  1. Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, a medical kit and some light snacks.
  2. Toiletries (Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste)
  3. Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
  4. Two water bottles: 1 litre each
  5. Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry a few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.

Mandatory Personal Medical Kit

  1. Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
  2. Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
  3. Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
  4. Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
  5. Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
  6. Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
  7. Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhoea)
  8. Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
  9. Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
  10. Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
  11. Gauze – 1 small roll
  12. Band-aid – 10 strips
  13. Cotton – 1 small roll
  14. ORS – 10 packets
  15. Betadine or any antiseptic cream
  16. Moov spray (aches, & sprains)

Author: Sandhya UC

About Author

SANDHYA UC

Sandhya is possibly the most experienced woman trekker in India. Through Indiahikes, she has explored and put on the map more than 20 of the greatest Himalayan treks in India.

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