Dayara Bugyal Winter Trek
Whether you are looking for lush green meadows accompanied with a great view of Himalayan peaks upfront or you want to witness some serious alpine snowbound environment, Dayara Bugyal Trek can offer you both. Of course your timing of the trek needs to be determined as per what exactly you are looking for.For me, traversing meadows has been a routine affair. Be it the beautiful meadows of Bedni, Ali Bughyal & Gorson or Khuliya top; have seen a handful in many of my previous treks. However what was not done before was of witnessing these beautiful meadows in winter season when they are covered in some good snowfall.
Thanks to the trek documentation on Indiahikes page on Dayara Bughyal done in autumn, an idea came to my mind of exploring the “Bughyal” in maximum snow conditions. As always, Arjun Majumdar was kind enough to entertain this thought and expressed his support over the intent of this trek. Also the tag of Dayara Bughyal considered being one of the most beautiful meadows of the region needed to be assessed. For Bedni Bughyal has been the best bughyal I have seen. Can Dayara better it? I was about to find that out.
Planning for a trek involving 3 to 4 days does not require much preperation. But trekking on a trail expected to be completely washed out with good snow-fall requires in getting some basic preparations primarily your gear in order. My gaiters and trek poles had taken a pounding from a previous trek done in extreme snow conditions so a visit to a hiking equipment store nearby had to be done. Getting the equipment right, I partnered along with Deepak Gahlot for another trek venture. For both of us just hate to sit in the boredom and monotony of the city life when a window of opportunity beckon for a trek to be done with minimal rest.
The best way to save time by my experience has been to always arrange for your own conveyance and start the travel at night time to avoid traffic jams on the way. We started off late at 10:30 PM from Delhi in our own car and reached Rishikesh by 2 PM. From Rishikesh we drove nonstop till Chamba and took a nap of 2 hours inside the car and again made a dash for Barsu. By lunch time we were at GMVN guest house at Barsu which is one of the two options for a hotel stay. The care taker, Shri. Rawat greeted us and informed since it was the off season time of the year the guest house was completely empty.
Author: Sandhya UC
Dayara Bugyal Trek Guide
Day 1: Barsu to Dayara Bughyal Camp site via Barnala
(7 km trek. Barsu to Dayara Bughyal Camp site , 5 to 6 hours) First day of the commencement of the trek, we woke up early and had our breakfast and got our lunches packed. It is said to be auspicious to pray to the gods and break a coconut before commencing anything special. Nothing of that sort happened in our case and we settled with taking a group picture from the start point of the trek as a token of our faith in good things to come our way. We meandered along the pond next to the village and started to gain altitude slowly and steadily building our pace till we had climbed 1 km and were able to get a good view of Barsu village bellow with Mt. Srikanth looming in the background.
I was aware of the fact that in the month of summer and monsoon this area is completely transformed into a thick jungle with its oak and Rhododendron trees. It was hard to imagine how lovely that would have appeared, the price we payed for witnessing snow. The vegetation was in a semi dried state and nothing was so fantastic to write about so we kept our pace in going on with it. The next 3 kms of the trek required lot of patience as we entered the forest and had no view of the scenery to compensate for the semi-desolate state of the trail. Munching on some energy boosting MARS bars we discussed about the picture albums we had seen of people who had done this trek before and marvelled on the prospect of bringing back some good ones of our own. I am not much of a talker when I am into trekking. I like being in my own zone with my own thoughts and a fair amount of concentration on the trail. With years of trekking behind me I have learned the importance of keeping your focus over your surrounding and the trail you are treading. For our guide, Bipin, this was a routine affair and had a swift pace I found it hard to keep up with him. Deepak, still being new to the domain of trekking needed frequent breaks to begin with. I could see the frustration in the eye of Bipin who very cheekily knick named Deepak as a “Hathi” or Elephent. However, in our later part of the trek, Deepak got back in improving his pace tremendously. The week long cardio training he was doing was finally paying off. Our next spot where we decided to rest and have our early lunch was set at Barnala, a tree lined meadow which appears as you cross the first ridge.
As we neared half a km to where Barnala began to appear at the top, the snowline was now visible throughout the trail. We passed some gujjar huts on the way with some curious “langoors” staring at us intently hoping to find something to eat from us. Barnala was completely covered in snow and gave good prospects for a beginner to learn Skiing here.
The sun was bright and the weather was clear giving us great view of the peaks as we reached Barnala. There is a small lake here which was in a semi frozen state. We offloaded our bags and took out our lunch bag. Bipin went down to the lake to refill the water bottles. This will be the last source of water if you happen to come here in snow conditions. The crows here were super eager in making a kill for the loaf of bread and “paranthas” we tossed at them. Surprisingly one of the crows showed excellent eye to beak coordination by catching the loaf thrown at it in mid air. I was impressed but was careful not to over feed these feathery creatures. Throughout our trek we were not able to get any network coverage for our Vodafone service provider until now in Barnala.
The best network that works in this area is BSNL and Idea. After making some calls, we pushed for the remaining 2 kms of trek to the entry point of Dayara Bughyal. The trek involved a very steep climb up the forest mountain which was buried in lot of snow-fall. And the snow here was slippery which made the whole trek a bit challenging. One and half hour into the climb, huffing and puffing, we finally reached the top most point of the second ridge. As we took a sharp bend over the ridge, we got a grand spectacle of the bughyal known as Dayara. Every hill of this meadow was covered in some serious snow.
This place must have had a fresh snowfall on the day we reached Barsu as it was told to us by Bipin. Another 15 minutes of a gradual climb we reached where gujjar huts were located along a temple which was completely buried under snow. Luckily some of the Gujjar huts were above the snow-line and we had lot of options to choose which one was the best to spend a night.
We asked Bipin to set up for the fire to make some soup while we checked in other huts for some left over wood. After collecting enough logs to last us for the night, we went inside the hut and had our soup with snacks. My altimeter was showing the altitude of this spot at 1035 ft. This meant we trekked close to a thousand meter in a 7 hour trek. The evening was spent in taking some pictures over the sunset view over the breathtaking 180 degree view of the Himalayan ranges.
For the first time in the extreme left we were able to witness the White peak (Bandarpoonch-2), Bandarpoonch-1 and Kala Nag (Black Peak). This followed with Mt. Shrikanth, Gangotri peaks, Jaonli and Draupadi ka danda. All these peaks are frequently climbed for training purpose for the N.I.M (Nehru Institute of Mountaineering – Uttarkashi) students of mountaineering. We appreciated the setting which was fitting enough and thanked the weather gods of being kind enough in give us a clear day to marvel this view. By now we had used all our water supply and had to extract water by melting it over the fire in a pan. After having our dinner we went to sleep early. I woke up at 1 am at night and went out to get a view of the mountains. It was a moonlight night and the peaks were gleaming in darkness and there was not even a spot of man-made light around. There was a heightened sense of gratitude over witnessing such pristine beauty and for a moment the freezing cold wind had no effect over me as I was transported to another world, frozen in the beauty of this lovely solitude, the time had stood still for me. This was one of the few moments of my life I felt free. It was incredible.
Day 2:Dayara Bughyal Camp site to the highest point of Dayara Bughyal to Bakaria top and back to Barsu (7 to 9 hours. Return to Delhi from Barsu)
Next morning we woke up early and had a quick breakfast. The plan was to traverse swiftly the entire length of Dayara Bughyal and reach for Bakaria Top and then come back, pick up our stuff and head back to Barsu. I do not know we were being overly ambitious or foolish when we decided in travelling to Bakaria top, which was 6 kms ahead passing Dayara Bughyal and then return back to Barsu.
As we passed around the meadow, we saw 3 to 4 hills above us which we needed to cross. The complete meadow gave an impression of a white snow-dune. This meadow has a tremendous potential of being converted into a skiing resort with the meadow being of an approximate 26 sq. km of land area. Apparently Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Congress Party Minister, came here couple of years back and camped in Dayara for a day. Bipin told us it was a huge affair and Rahul was a brisk trekker and amazed the locals in the sheer pace he set in going about reaching Dayara Bughyal. Mr. Gandhi Junior a trekker? Hmm interesting. On to climbing the second hill, the level of snow was getting close to knee deep. We had to be extremely careful in not climbing up the hill straight and rather take a zig-zag approach. In patches the snow was slippery. Another half an hour into the climb and we reached the highest point of the Bughyal. We took a break and spent time appreciating the crisp view of the Bandarpoonch range along Black peak.
In the distance we saw a hill top buried in snow which was where Bakaria was. Determined, I and Bipin proceeded closer towards the top. The snow was now seriously becoming a hassle and slowing our progress. With another 2 kms to go for Bakaria, we estimated that by the time we reach Bakaria top and back, we will be late to descend for Barsu. We decided to return back to Moosa Dhangi which we had crossed and head back to our camp site. By the afternoon we were at our camp site. To our surprise we saw a huge number of crowds gathered around the camp site enjoying the view. We spoke with one of the Retired N.I.M Instructor who told us they have bring a group of employees of Tata Steel from Jamshedpur on a leadership expedition. They had plans of camping in Barnala and do some skiing in the area. After a lengthy discussion over the prospect of mountaineering in the select peaks of this region, we headed back to Barsu and reached Barsu by 4 PM giving us enough time to drive all the way to Harshil before sunset where we witnessed a heavy snow-fall but that is an another adventure altogether.
This trek requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. Make sure you are 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. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
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.
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, it is important that you 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.
- Trekking shoes: The trek distance is long and you will have to walk for long distances which need you to have comfortable trekking shoes. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
The Miyar Valley Dun trek happens round the year except for monsoons so make sure your have the proper clothing as per the season demands so you can keep yourself protected during the trek.
- Three (Five in Winter) 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.
- 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.
- Two collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. There might be snow in Har Ki Dun Valley or from Kalkatiyadhaar (depending on the season you are going in), so carry a pair of sunglasses.
- Suncap: The sun is more harsh at high altitudes so wear a suncap to protect your face and neck.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries (Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste)
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)