Bashal Peak trek gives another view of the Himalayas. Its panoramic click and being constantly followed by the Sutlej rivers makes the trek all the more beautiful. You see nature at its very best with the partially snow-capped mountains and the charming green grasslands.
In the trek, there are lots of beautiful spots where you can stop and capture a few beautiful moments. Trekkers of any age can conveniently do this trek without any hindrances.Bashal Peak Trek gives a beautiful panoramic view of the Himalayas from Churdhar Peak and has a mystical appeal. The charm can just not be ignored!
Reach the bus stand early for the 7 p.m. bus to Kalpa, which reaches Jeori before 6 in the morning. Board the bus to Shimla. The road to Shimla might be a little rough so make sure you have medication is you suffer from motion sickness.
You will pass the Sutlej river through the drive. Once you reach Jeori, there is a road going up to your right and with a signboard showing the way up to Bhimakali Temple. You will get jeeps and buses to Saharan from here. You will pass through beautiful apple orchards.
You should reach Saharan by late evening, the same day. The Bhimakali Temple complex is nearbyschard. Sarahan was the erstwhile capital of the Bushahr princely state, Bhimakali temple was one of the few places where human sacrifice took place until the last century.
Find a good place to stay. There are lot of hotels near by where you can have a safe stay.
The old HT road went from inside the ITBP camp, a couple of kilometres from Sarahan towards Jeori. There will be an inquiry done by the guard for which you need to have your identification with you. It is a fairly level track that runs hugged to the mountain slope, with woods on both sides-up in the mountain to the right and down in the Sutlej valley to the left. You can catch glimpses of the Sutlej as the valley drops sharply below.
I had lunch at The Shrikhand and afterwards,started for a walk around town. I walked past the Bhimakali Temple, towards the other end of the town and saw a board marking a Pheasantry.When I went up to check it out, I met a middle aged man near the entrance, who told me thatthe Pheasantry was closed for visitors as it was the breeding season. As I turned back to walk, he joined me. We talked and I told him the purpose of my visit to Sarahan. He pointed towards the mountain to the north which had some snow on the top and told me that was Bashal and it had snowed on the top the last night. But my excitement was short lived as he said that the snow would melt by the next day when I got there. I asked if he had been to Bashal, and he laughed and said that he had been there many times. He told me that it would take me 4-5 hours to get to the top and that I could also get down at Chaura (on the NH) and take a bus back to Chandigarh from there. This idea appealed to me and I asked him for directions. He smiled and said that it would be difficult for me to find the trail to Chaura. He also added that he wanted to show me there but he had some work in his village the next day. I was a bit disappointed, for he seemed like a nice guy. As we walked past a small stadium and the heli pad, he showed me his village, Ranvin, at a little distance in the valley below, and took leave.
On my way back, I visited the Bhimakali Temple, whose architecture was unique. I bought supplies for the next day’s trek and got back to the hotel to enjoy the sunset from the lovely sit-out. The sky was cloudy in patches, but I could see peaks of the Shrikhand range acquiring a reddish hue. I had come to know that during July-August, a pilgrimage called the “Chhari yatra” takes place to the 5227m high Shrikhand Mahadev. One of the routes to the top of the peak passes through Fancha, a village on the other side of the valley.
I had an early dinner at the hotel and soon afterwards retired to the spacious dorm-room for the night.
After a good night’s sleep, I got up before daybreak, freshened up quickly and after having some chocolates, left for the bus stand. I couldn’t find any bus, so walked downhill to the ITBP camp and reached at around 6. I started at the nullah I had marked the day before. There were concrete steps by the side of the nullah, which ended after a few ten meters. Thereon, it was a trail with a steep climb. After some time, as I looked down, I could see the whole of Sarahan. Soon after, the trail left the side of the mountain and went through woods.
It was over an hour since I had started but the climb uphill wasn’t getting any less steep or any easier. The weather was better than the previous day, but it was windy on the mountain slopes. The woods were interspersed with grassy patches. Looking back from one such clearing, I could see down on a ridge overlooking the Sutlej, a group of military buildings, which weren’t visible from anywhere in Sarahan. I was now back on the slope from where I could see the whole of Sarahan and ahead of me was a field with fencing, but broken in places. I crossed the field and continued on the edge of the mountain. By now, I had lost the trail and found it again, a couple of times. I took a break, caught my breath, had some biscuits to eat, and after a while, continued up.
Soon, I was in the woods, and the trail had become harder to follow. I tried to keep to the edge of the mountain and not waver from the course straight up. After about an hour of walking, I reached a shepherd’s shelter, which was nothing more than a big tarpaulin held up by wooden poles. I asked for directions toBashal, to which the head of the family, a bearded Gujjar shepherd, pointed upwards in the general direction. I asked if there was a trail which I could follow and the manjust waved his hand and showed upwards.
After little help from the Gujjar shepherd, I tried to find the way up on my own. The forest was dense and the earth dark and damp, with fallen leaves. Though it wasn’t as steep, my pace had slowed. I tried following the small stream by the Gujjar shelter, but after about half an hour felt it was not the right way up, so veered left to a high ground. With my feet sinking in the damp soil, and no trail to follow, I crawled up along the high ground for about an hour. Demoralized and feeling lost, I was about to turn back when I heard a sound. Moving to my left, the sound grew louder till I realized it was the sound of a waterfall. Excited, I walked in the direction of the sound and after about ten minutes, from between trees, in the distance I could see the white line the waterfall was. I could see the top of the waterfall and was delighted to see the tree line. I inferred that about an hour of walk, and I would be in the meadows from where I could see the peaks. With renewed energy, I continued uphill through the dense forests.
After losing way a couple of times, I finally came out of the forest after more than an hour. Ahead of me were rolling grasslands extending uphill in the distance, but there was no peak visible. The highest ground was at 11 o’ clock from where I was. No trail was required here; I just had to walk towards the highest point. The wind was blowing stronger and I could finally see the sky after hours of walking through the dense, dark forest. I now climbed past sturdy shrubs of Rhododendron, which bore light pink flowers. As I inched closer to the highest ground, I saw still higher ground ahead, at my 10 o’ clock. On my way up, I saw some melting snow in patches on the ground.
I had now reached the ridge, which sloped down to my right and dropped into a valley ahead. To my left, a couple of hundred metres ahead was the highest point. I could see the foothills in the distance to my right and felt that if I continued in that direction, I would reach a point overlooking Sarahan. However, I had the top of the mountain in mind. As I walked towards my destination which was now so close, I felt light-headed in a good way. Maybe it was the thinning air, or maybe the feeling of finally having made it.
I reached the top at 1 p.m. It wasn’t a rocky peak, just a grassy high ground. Ahead of me the ridge sloped down and rose to a higher peak, at 1 o’ clock in the distance. The peak was sharper, rockier and had snow on it. Though I wanted to continue, I reasoned that it would take maybe another hour, so I’d better stay here for a while and enjoy the views.
I sat facing the snow-capped mountains across the valley to the north. The peaks to the east were not visible as they were covered by clouds. The sun wasn’t shining bright, but the weather wasn’t bad either. Looking down, I saw the meadows dotted with yellow flowers. There was a flock of sheep that looked like off-white dots moving on the meadow, coming from the right. I waved towards it and few minutes later saw a shepherd come up with his dog. I smiled and said hello and asked him the route to Chaura. He looked back to the north-east and after thinking for a while, said it wasn’t a good idea to get down to Chaura, for it would get dark by then. Looking at my watch, I was surprised thatit was 2 p.m. I had lost track of time marvelling at the sceneries! I got up and pointing towards a small pond in the distance, to my 1 o’ clock, asked him if I could come out on the old HT road if I went in that direction. The shepherd nodded nonchalantly and walked down to his sheep.
Pressed for time, I ran down in the direction of the pond to get down to the track before dark. Once I entered the forest, it seemed like 4 or 5 in the noon on a cloudy day. As I walked down fast, I stopped abruptly when I saw that ahead of me some earth had removed in a small landslide. I was now faced with a dilemma- to climb back up and trace back the route to Sarahan; which would cost me no less than an hour, or continue around the land-slid portion (I could see transmission lines down in the distance and thus inferred that I wouldn’t be in the wilderness for long).Luckily for me, the soil was damp and cohesive, so I sat down and crawled slowly and cautiously. I was much relieved after, and continued walking down through the grassy section till I again entered the woods.
It had gotten darker in the woods and I feared it would get completely dark by the time I got near the HT road. I increased my speed and was running down through the jungle when from the corner of my eye, I saw something. I stopped immediately and turned to look to my left, where in the distance were three black stump-like objects. I looked carefully and saw it move! Bears! It was a big bear and two smaller bears. I stood frozen for a while and couldn’t think.
The cliff ran through the grassland and went into the forest to the sides. I walked along it and found a spot where it was a ten feet drop. This valley I had been coming down in was obviously the site of a big landslide in the recent past. As I stood looking down, I cursed myself for having taken this route, but there was no other way out. I gathered all my courage and grabbing on to nothing but wet grass began climbing down.
Luckily for me, the forest soon ended and I came out on the dirt path the HT road was.I let out a big sigh of relief and thanked god that the ordeal of the descent was over! It had taken me more than three hours to get down from the top, and I still had some distance to cover. I turned left on the track and continued to the ITBP check post.
After walking for about half hour, I finally saw the check post and felt a weight lift off my shoulders. As I waited for the bus by the side of the road, I saw in the dusk the flickering lights of Sarahan, beckoning me.
I was exhausted so put off the bus journey to Chandigarh for the next day. I got back to the dorm-room at the hotel and lay in bed thinking of the events of the day. All the tiring and (mis)adventures didn’t seem so bad now. I soon fell asleep reminiscing of my time in the meadows.
Next morning, I got up early out of habit. After having breakfast, I managed to hitch a ride to Jeori, from where I took a bus to Shimla. I was in Shimla by mid-afternoon and took another bus to Chandigarh, which reached in the Evening.
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to 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. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
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. 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.
No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.
What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.
How much should my bag weigh?
“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.
One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.
How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.
Where to pack
Bottom Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack.
Middle Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.
Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.
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There is no direct bus from Chandigarh to Sarahan. You can take a bus going to Kalpa/Reckong Peo in Kinnaur and get down at a place called Jeori, to change buses to Sarahan. Buses to Kinnaur are in the evening- at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and the tickets could be booked on spot (These are Ordinary buses; The Semi-Deluxe bus are also available to Kinnaur. There is one at 5:50 p.m. and another at 6 a.m.)