Today I have a trek suggestion that may take you by surprise.
It’s this: Steer off the popular Hampta Pass trek for the upcoming monsoon season. Instead, choose Chandrakhani Pass.
I’ll tell you why.
Hampta Pass is a great trek. It has spectacular forests, a valley filled with flowers and a thrilling pass crossing.
But the Hampta Pass trek is getting extremely crowded.
Since we opened this trek (in June 2011), we’ve seen a steady growth of trekkers on it. It’s reached a point where you no longer feel like you are trekking deep into nature. It’s not pristine anymore. There are a lot of trekkers you continuously bump into. At campsites, you are jostling for space. Worse, the trash that is being left behind is disturbing.
“Hordes of trekkers step onto the trail in the monsoon season. There are close to eight permanent dhabas on the Kullu side of the trail. It’s become so commercialised! The charm of trekking has vanished from the Hampta Pass trail,” says Dushyant Sharma, Senior Trek Leader at Indiahikes, who led a massive cleanup on the trail last year.
It’s concerning that the crowd and the permanent dhabas generate a lot of waste. From the Hampta Pass trail alone, our team collected 545 kg of waste. (Watch: Shocking Clean-Up of Hampta Pass)
This plight of the Hampta Pass trek nudged us to look for an alternative immediately.
So we turned to Chandrakhani Pass, a known but underrated trek in the monsoon
The Chandrakhani Pass trek has been on our minds for a long time. It is a superbly beautiful trek, mostly done in the summer.
Like the Hampta Pass, this trek starts in the Kullu region, in the quaint village of Rumsu, just an hour away from Manali. From there, you trek through a beautiful mixed forest filled with pines, deodars, and maples.
You trek through a mixed forest of pines, deodars and maples on the trail to Chandrakhani Pass. Photo by Akshay Kevin.
The trek of Chandrakhani Pass follows an ancient shepherd’s trail. You’ll find sheep everywhere! Notice the dense forest punctuated by sheep here. Photo by Chirag Parmanand
By the second day, the forest starts getting sparse, and you find yourself amidst the rhododendrons. Soon after, you pop out of the tree line to get to the grasslands and a thrilling pass crossing. For the pass, you ascend to 12,185 feet. And then you start trekking on a ridge for three hours. It’s a uge adrenaline rush to trek on such a ridge with the commanding views of Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges.
You rarely get an experience like anywhere else in Himachal Pradesh.
The 3-hour thrilling ridge from the Chandrakhani Pass. Photo by Akshay Kevin.
After crossing the Chandrakhani Pass, you descend into the Parvati Valley. On your way down, you traverse charming meadows and clearings.
Sheep again, grazing on the sprawling meadow of Chandrakhani Pass trek. Photo by ChiragParmanand
You end your trek at the ancient village of Malana.
“It’s a complete trek, one that we’ve wanted to open for a while,” says Suhas Saya, Head of DIY and Exploration at Indiahikes.
“On seeing the condition of the Hampta Pass trek last year, we realised now is the time to move to the Chandrakhani Pass trek,” he adds.
So after the Hampta Pass season ended in September 2023, we sent out two teams to recce the Chandrakhani Pass trek, one in mid-October and then again in November.
“These reconnaissance treks convinced us that the Chandrakhani Pass trek must be experienced in the monsoon. It has all the great highlights of Hampta Pass; the forest, the clearings, the mountain views, and a thrilling pass crossing. All this, without the jostling crowd,” Suhas shares.
When are we opening the Chandrakhani Pass trek?
We’re opening this trek in July and August and continuing until mid-September.
“Even during peak monsoon, it does not mean it always rains on a trek. You could get heavy rains for a few days, while it might be sunny and dry on other days. Very often, you can do a full monsoon trek without rain or with only light showers,” shares Arjun Majumdar, Founder-CEO, Indiahikes. “But trekking is a delight in these months, especially the flowers on the trek and the vibrant green of the open lands, which are stunning,” continued Arjun.
Monsoon brings out the earthy green beauty of Himalayan treks. Waterfalls, rushing streams, and flower-filled valleys are all in view. You can't see this landscape at any other time of year.
Starting July 2, 2023, we will have groups on the Chandrakhani Pass trek every Sunday.
You’ll find all the information available for this trek here: https://indiahikes.com/chandrakhani-pass-trek
Please note: If you have already registered for the Hampta Pass trek, you're welcome to transfer to the Chandrakhani Pass trek. We will treat this as an exception, and make this transfer without any additional fee.
Considering this is a new trek, if you have any questions about the trek, drop in a comment here.