Many trekkers miss out on trekking to Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Valley in spring. Simply because they are unaware of what lies in store, and that’s unfortunate.
On the Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Tal trek, in spring, when the snow has melted and the spring colours have bloomed, is the only time you see an ancient Himalayan culture in this backdrop. The combination is stunning!
The variety of springtime hues and snow is fleeting, lasting just a few weeks in March and April, so catching a glimpse of it is a special treat. Few trekkers have experienced the spring beauty of this trek.
I’ll start with a section which people rarely talk about — the forests of Har Ki Dun.
Forest of Har Ki Dun
We talk about the ancient villages on the Har Ki Dun trek. But to reach those villages, you trek through a beautiful forest of oak and pine trees with the gurgling Thamsa flowing right through it.
You start the trek by getting into a dense forest of oak and pine trees. Photo by Arjun Majumdar.
The entrance to the valley takes your heart away. It’s a beautiful combination of forest and river. Photo by Sandhya UC, Co-Founder and COO of Indiahikes.
The forest gets denser as you go further. The narrow trail snakes through this dark forest for a good hour before opening up to the ancient village of Gangad. Within the forest, rustic wooden bridges start popping up.
“Quaint old wooden bridges across the river appear out of nowhere, giving you great picture opportunities,” says Sandhya. In this picture, you see a bridge over the Ruinsara Gad. You come across this one on your way to Devsu Thatch.
It is a classic setting of early spring. It’s a lovely pine forest section 500 m away from Har ki Dun. In spring, the forest floor is covered with receding snow. Photo by Jothiranjan.
Towards the tail end of spring, when all snow has melted, the greens start to show. You trek on a mossy green forest floor while going towards Boslo. Photo by Gautham S
The forests bring us to the next stunning section of the trek — the valleys.
Two spectacular valleys of Har Ki Dun and Ruinsara
It's an unusual trek in that you won't cross any passes or summits. A beautiful trail connects the valleys of Har Ki Dun and Ruinsara. Both of them will completely enchant you.
"I loved the expanse of the Har Ki Dun valley. The valley has everything going for it. Big snow-clad mountains tower right in front of you. A big river flows right in the middle. Lovely green meadows across the valley floor. I could sit there and just take in this scene the whole day,” says Sandhya.
Even though this is a valley trek, there are sections when you ascend onto the mountain sides. In this picture, you see trekkers on the mountain flank, trekking from Kalkatiyadhaar to Har Ki Dun. Photo by Nitin Utane.
This photo of the Har Ki Dun valley is from March 2021. The spring is just setting in. Skies are clear. Temperatures are rising. Yet, there is a good amount of snow in the Har Ki Dun valley. Photo by Jothiranjan.
In spring, you also see tiny flowers blooming in the valley. Photo by Vamsi Krishna.
Deeper into spring, you'll start seeing soft clouds floating in the blue sky. The landscape comes alive with colour. Notice the vibrant colours on the mountain, brilliant turquoise of Thamsa here. You'll see this section while trekking from Gangad to Kalkatiyadhar. Photo by Manish Goel
If you thought Har Ki Dun valley was stunning, wait till you step into the Ruinsara valley. “The isolation of Ruinsara valley grips you. For me, trekking through the picturesque Ruinsara valley was like reaching the pinnacle of a trek even though there was no real summit,” says Sandhya.
In the valley, the setting of the Ruinsara Tal stays with you for a long time. “It’s just you, the mountains and the lake. Looking at the mountains reflecting in the clear blue lake had a big calming effect on me,” remembers Sandhya. Photo by Arjun Majumdar.
This is the best-kept secret of the trek. Located in the Ruinsara Valley, you hardly see much of this meadow from anywhere else but when inside it. The secret is indeed well wrapped around by pine trees! Photo by Sandhya UC
The unforgettable ancient villages of Har Ki Dun
“Spending a night in the village home on this trek takes you back hundreds of years. The stories of the village elders and the smiles of the children are something you want to take back with you,” says Sandhya.
You start your trek in one such village—Kotgaon.
The trek starts from the quaint village of Kotgaon. Here you are looking at the Indiahikes campus at Kotgaon. Photo by Jothiranjan.
A little further into the trail, you reach the ancient Himalayan village of Gangaad. Look closely at the picture. You’ll see that the village is almost hanging on the side of the mountain. Photo by Naveen Hiremath.
But it’s not just one ancient village. You cross a handful of Himalayan villages on the Har Ki Dun trek! Trekking through them offers a rare glimpse into their unique culture. The experience of hopping from one ancient Himalayan village to the next is rare.
Another village you come across is Osla.
Trekkers are approaching another ancient Himalayan village, Osla. Photo by Dushyant Sharma.
While trekking through these villages, you can't help but notice their way of life, the way they build their houses or how they cook.
The grey stone used to make the roofs of these old homes is called Pathaalin in the local language. These roofs are built by skilled craftsmen who measure, cut and polish the stones. Photo from Indiahikes Archives.
A cutout stream from the Thamsa river powers this flour mill. It’s called Puaani Garat. In the villages of Osla, Gangaad, Seema, Dhatmir, and Dharkot, you can find many working Garats. Ragi and Jhangora, two local grains, are crushed here. Photo by Dushyant Sharma.
In these ancient villages in the Himalayas, people make their clothes by weaving. Here, a woman is making her winter clothes. Photo by Jothiranjan.
While treks take you to some of the remotest locations of our country, getting such a peek into the ancient culture of the Himalayas is rare.
Watch this video to know Why We Love Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Tal trek :
I'd like to end this photo story by saying that the Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Valley trek in spring is a unique experience. Unfortunately, many trekkers miss it simply because they are unaware of it.
If you have any rare spring photographs of the Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Valley trek, do share them with me. I’ll include them in my next photo story.