Located in the western fringes of Nanda Devi Sanctuary, the Kuari Pass trail doubles up as the perfect vantage point to watch some of the big mountains of our country. As you march along the trail, every known summit of Gharwal Himalayas start to pop up. It’s hard to sweep the view in one glance.
There are big mountains to see everywhere — Nanda Devi, Dronagiri, Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Hati Ghoda, Kamet — they loom over you.
Mt. Nanda Devi
At 25,643 feet, Nanda Devi is the highest inland peak in India. It is easy to understand why trekkers burst into tears at the sight of Nanda Devi. Up close, this imposing peak will make you weak in your knees and tremble with joy. If it is your lucky day, you can see snow plumes evaporating from the peaks before curling away into the atmosphere!
Nanda Devi in all her majesty! As seen from Gorson Bugyal. Picture by Samrat
A view of Nanda Devi from Auli from the first day of the trek. Picture by Sandeep Bhat
Hathi Ghoda Peaks
Hathi Ghoda is a peak with interesting nomenclatures. Hathi Parbat, which stands at an altitude of 22,070 feet is also known as Elephant Peak. And Ghoda literally translates to Horse. It is easy to see why they are named so. Up close, their resemblance to the said animals is striking.
The Hathi Ghoda peaks as seen from the Kullara campsite. Picture by Sarat Moka
Hathi Parbat as seen from Kuari Top
When it comes to views of big mountains, the meadows of Gorson Bugyal hold the best seat in the house. Apart from flaunting unsurpassed views of Nanda Devi, the meadows unveil yet another surprise in the form of Dunagiri. At 23,182 feet, this snow-capped peak looms above the clouds and shines like a beacon.
Mt Dunagiri on the Kuari Pass trek looms closer than any other peak. Picture by Shreyash Ganguly
Camping at Khullara with Mt Dunagiri watching over in the background. Picture shot at sunset by Dan Alagarajah
The Kuari Pass and Pangarchulla trails share the same route for a good three days. So much so that you see the Pangarchulla Peak at 15,069 ft, up close before taking a deviation to Kuari Pass. The peak stays with you for a good part of the trek.
The Pangarchulla peak at 15,069 ft is right beside Kuari Pass. A good summit climb for summers, the peak looms over the landscape for a good part of your trek
The Pangarchulla Peak. Picture by Nikhil Patil
At 21,640 feet, Neelkanth is a pyramidal-shaped peak, which is dubbed as the “Garhwal Queen“. Steeped in mythology, this dramatic peak is revered for its beauty. Frank Smythe, the British mountaineer described the peak as “second only to Siniolchu in Himalayan beauty.”
Not very often do you see a cluster of peaks that are as prominent as the Chaukambha Massif. The four pillars stand tall and straddle together like brothers-in-arms. Chaukhamba I is the highest peak in the cluster, rising above the other three at an elevation of 23,419 feet.
The imposing Chaukhamba Massif -Four Peaks
Mt. Kamet will always hold a special place in mountaineering history. It is a landmark mountain, having been the first summit over 25,000 feet to be climbed. At 25,446 feet, it is the second highest peak in the Garhwal region, second only to Nanda Devi.
Kuari Pass is a trail crafted for trekkers who are in love with the big mountains. More so that, you’ll be spoilt for choice all through your trek.
You can read all about the Kuari Pass trek here.