Shali Tibba Trek

Difficulty
Difficulty
Easy - Moderate
Duration
Duration
1 Day
Trek type
Trek type
Easy trail in summers. Presence of snow can make trek in winter a bit challenging.
Altitude
Max Altitude
9523 ft
Required Fitness
Base
Khatnol
Best time to visit
Best time to visit
Summer, spring and autumn. Avoid winter and monsoon.

A stand-alone peak in Shimla with 360-degree views

The Shali Tibba is a peak that is hard to miss. It towers over the district of Shimla, right behind the Mashobra ridge. Despite its conspicuousness, however, the peak does not attract as much attention as it deserves. Shali Tibba, at an altitude of 9,423 feet, is surrounded by Shimla, Mashobra, Kufri, Fagu and Narkanda. This stand-alone peak provides a magnificent vantage point for a panoramic 360 degree view of Himachal Pradesh.

The road leading to the base camp, Khatnol Village, winds through a quiet and beautiful valley of blue pine and cedar forest. Away from the hustle of Shimla, the trek to Shali Top is beautiful, short and easy and can be completed in a single day. It is an ideal weekend trek in Shimla.

History and folklore:

The Shali top has a temple dedicated to Bhima Kali, a goddess, who is highly revered by locals. Devotees flock to the top regularly, especially during Navratri. The temple has been constructed with wood and stones, typical of rural Himalayan architecture. A trail to the temple was constructed in 1936 by the Raja of Faridkot. The same trail exists today and is in a good shape.

Prelude to the Trek:

Shali Tibba had caught my attention very early in my childhood, when I would often visit Shimla. Playing cricket in the posh British locality, Corestorphon Estate (just above the famous Lakkar Bazar), we had a grand view of the Himalayan peaks. Below the mighty 6,000 metre peaks, an isolated peak loomed over the Mashobra ridge. I longed to grow up and explore it on my own. But when I did get old enough, the thought of exploring such spots got replaced by more challenging and longer duration treks. It was almost as if I had forgotten Shali Tibba.

It was not until the summer of 2011, when I visited my late grandfather’s village in Himachal that the spark reignited. A small hike up the apple orchards of Halai village to a vantage point awakened something in me. Following this through my association with Indiahikes, I realized the joy of doing treks that are unheard  of. I began with a solo trek to Kuppar Bughyal on the Rohru side. In March 2013, I was all set to cover Shali Tibba and fulfil the promise I made to myself when I was young. The following is expanded from the notes made from my recent trek to Shali Tibba.

The Journey:

Sitting in an overnight bus to Shimla, I was going through a classic book, Shimla; Past & Present by Sir Edward John Buck. This book has a vivid description of Shimla during the British Raj and a short description of the journey to Shali Peak.

“Leave Simla after an early breakfast; first to Mashobra, then descend, to Sipi, after which it is steeper and in places rather rough, down to the Nowle Gad river, which must be forded, as there is no bridge. After crossing there is a steep ascent to the village of Khatnol, which should be reached during the afternoon; there is a very good place to camp in a grove of pine trees above the village.

Start early next morning, taking food and water also for the day as there is none to be found further up the mountain ; the last part of the ascent is very steep ; a pony can be taken up part of the way. The actual summit is very small, most of it being taken up with a temple. The height of the peak is about 9,400 ft. Khatnol is about the same level as Mashobra.”

A stand-alone peak in Shimla with 360-degree views

  • The Shali top has a temple dedicated to Bhima Kali, a goddess, who is highly revered by locals.
  • Devotees flock to the top regularly, especially during Navratri.
  • The temple has been constructed with wood and stones, typical of rural Himalayan architecture. 
  • A trail to the temple was constructed in 1936 by the Raja of Faridkot. The same trail exists today and is in a good shape.

The Shali Tibba is a peak that is hard to miss. It towers over the district of Shimla, right behind the Mashobra ridge. Despite its conspicuousness, however, the peak does not attract as much attention as it deserves. Shali Tibba, at an altitude of 9,423 feet, is surrounded by Shimla, Mashobra, Kufri, Fagu and Narkanda. This stand-alone peak provides a magnificent vantage point for a panoramic 360 degree view of Himachal Pradesh.

The road leading to the base camp, Khatnol Village, winds through a quiet and beautiful valley of blue pine and cedar forest. Away from the hustle of Shimla, the trek to Shali Top is beautiful, short and easy and can be completed in a single day. It is an ideal weekend trek in Shimla. 

shali tibba trek

History and folklore:

The Shali top has a temple dedicated to Bhima Kali, a goddess, who is highly revered by locals. Devotees flock to the top regularly, especially during Navratri. The temple has been constructed with wood and stones, typical of rural Himalayan architecture. A trail to the temple was constructed in 1936 by the Raja of Faridkot. The same trail exists today and is in a good shape.

Prelude to the Trek:

Shali Tibba had caught my attention very early in my childhood, when I would often visit Shimla. Playing cricket in the posh British locality, Corestorphon Estate (just above the famous Lakkar Bazar), we had a grand view of the Himalayan peaks. Below the mighty 6,000 metre peaks, an isolated peak loomed over the Mashobra ridge. I longed to grow up and explore it on my own. But when I did get old enough, the thought of exploring such spots got replaced by more challenging and longer duration treks. It was almost as if I had forgotten Shali Tibba.

It was not until the summer of 2011, when I visited my late grandfather’s village in Himachal that the spark reignited. A small hike up the apple orchards of Halai village to a vantage point awakened something in me. Following this through my association with Indiahikes, I realized the joy of doing treks that are unheard  of. I began with a solo trek to Kuppar Bughyal on the Rohru side. In March 2013, I was all set to cover Shali Tibba and fulfil the promise I made to myself when I was young. The following is expanded from the notes made from my recent trek to Shali Tibba.

The Journey:

Sitting in an overnight bus to Shimla, I was going through a classic book, Shimla; Past & Present by Sir Edward John Buck. This book has a vivid description of Shimla during the British Raj and a short description of the journey to Shali Peak.

“Leave Simla after an early breakfast; first to Mashobra, then descend, to Sipi, after which it is steeper and in places rather rough, down to the Nowle Gad river, which must be forded, as there is no bridge. After crossing there is a steep ascent to the village of Khatnol, which should be reached during the afternoon; there is a very good place to camp in a grove of pine trees above the village.

Start early next morning, taking food and water also for the day as there is none to be found further up the mountain ; the last part of the ascent is very steep ; a pony can be taken up part of the way. The actual summit is very small, most of it being taken up with a temple. The height of the peak is about 9,400 ft. Khatnol is about the same level as Mashobra.”

shalitibba-11

 

I marvelled at the exploratory zeal of the British Officers at that time. It is impossible to think of Shimla as it is today, if the British had not invested time and money in it. they set up an administrative system here, which is still in place. 

After a sleepless 9 hour road journey, I reached Shimla at 5 am. It had rained overnight. I had landed in Shimla on the day of Holi, and I wanted to get out of the town before the festivities began. My brother from Shimla was joining me on the trek, and relying on his plans, we took off at 7.30 am, along with two more friends. The weather was partially cloudy, but no thunderstorm was forecast for the day.

The trek to Shali Tibba starts at a village called Khatnol. From Shimla to Khatnol is a 48 km drive via Dhali, Mashobra, Baldiyan, Thaila and Sahol. The roads are in good condition till Mashobra. The road takes a U-turn and enters the rear ridge of Mashobra.

shalitibba-61

 

The roads are in a bad shape here but this minor trouble is compensated with a breathtaking view of the valley. Bang in the middle, the pinnacle of Shali Peak stands out. The south face of Shali tibba appears to be largely exposed with a visibly less forest cover. The North face at the rear of the ridge has a thick forest cover.

The plan was to climb the peak via a trail going through south east-ridge. It took us 2 hours to reach Khatnol.

Day 1: Khatnol to Shali Tibba 

  • Altitude: 9,523 feet
  • Time taken: 5-6 hours
  • Distance: 7 km each way

Around 300 metres before Khatnol, you will see a road going up the mountain ridge. You will also see a sign board stating the way to Bhim-Kali Mandir – Shali Tibba. This is a kuchcha but motorable road going up the ridge, leading to Shali Tibba. The road allows a vehicle up for another 2 km, after which there is a dead-end and just enough place to reverse the vehicle.

shalitibba-51

 

The trek can start from this sign board or after 2 km.  The road winds through the ridge and goes along a forested area. In the backdrop, Shali Tibba main peak dominated the view, with Chota Shali Tibba on its left.

 

shalitibba-71

As you reach the dead-end of the motorable road, you will find a small section, where 4-5 cars can be parked. From here, look for a stone-laden trail going up the hill. The trail is well-defined; however, if trekking in winter, the trail is likely to be covered in snow.

shalitibba-81

 

 

The trail zig-zags upwards, with a series of scissor bends. The ascent is gradual. However, if you want to save time, proceed straight up the hill towards your left up in one direction. It took us 15 minutes to reach the  top of the first hill by taking the short-cut.

From, here the trail relaxes with 10 minutes of level walk inside the thick forest cover, after which the trail bifurcates.

shalitibba-131

 

One trail goes straight ahead and swirls right. However, knowing the benefits of taking short-cuts, you may take the trail on your right, going up the hill. This will require you to go via a broken trail through small shrubs. By taking the short-cut you save about 10 minutes of time to the point where both these trails meet again at an intersection. At this point, you get a view of the valley towards your right and a lush green forest below.

shalitibba-91

 

The trail now goes below the south- east face of Shali Tibba. The ascent is gradual, with a series of level walks. Notice the forest is denser in this section and will remain like this for most of the trek from now. Around 15 minutes more of hiking and you will see the trail twirling up again with a series of scissor bends. From here, the ascent gets really steep.

shalitibba-201

 

The uphill climb can be divided into three sections. After 15 minutes of going straight up the hill, you will reach a small expanse of land with a clearing. From here, all you can see above you is the mountain obscured with thick forest cover. Another 20 minutes of hike straight up the mountain will have you reach a similar kind of spot. Only this time, the size of the cleared land is visibly small. All this time, you will find yourself crossing the logical laid-out trail. After another 15-20 minutes of climbing up the mountain, you will find yourself connecting to the trail, which now is visibly wider in size.

shalitibba-161

 

From here, you encounter two more criss-cross sections till the point where you see a small rock in front of you. From here, you get a clear view of the valley and the mountains. Just above, you can see the peak of Shali, which is only a 15 minute hike. From here, you get a 180 degree view of the valley.

shalitibba-191

 

The ascent from now on is gradual and the difficult part of the trek is over. You reach the gate of the Shali Temple, which has an old bell hung on it. Proceed straight up on cemented stairs till the point you reach a small level land. Here, there are two cemented huts meant for pilgrims to spend the night. The Temple now is some 50 steps up.

shalitibba-271

 

The temple is the most prominent structure atop the peak. This is Shali Tibba.

Enjoy the panoramic view of the Great Himalayan Ranges. Starting from the Kullu side, one can locate Mt. Deo Tibba and Mt. Indrasen, followed by Sail peak from Lahaul-Spiti side.

shalitibba-331

 

This is followed with the Shrikhand ranges and Kinnaur side peaks, namely Mt. Hansbeshen, Mt. Krunshikring and Churdhar range from Chopal side. Peaks from Uttrakhand are also visible and it is said one can see Bandarpoonch, Rakht Dhar and Badrinath on a clear day.

shalitibba-321

The Descent:

After spending ample time at the top and enjoying a 360 degree panoramic view of Himachal, it is time to head back to Khatnol. Those who wish to spend the night can do so in the accommodation available below the temple.

shalitibba-291

 

You have to speak with the temple caretaker beforehand for bedding arrangement. Otherwise, you can carry your sleeping bags and food. Keep in mind that there are no sources of water available throughout the trek, so it is a good idea to carry your own water. There is another trail that descends from here going down towards the north side of the peak via Chota Shali Peak or the sister peak of Shali Tibba.

This is located at the South West side of Shali Peak. The top of Chota Shali Peak is visibly lower in altitude and offers limited spots for camping or sight seeing. Take the logical trek route back to Khatnol, which ensures a gradual descent. Avoid taking the shortcut like the one taken to reach the top, as it may be a burden on your legs.

The route back to Khatnol is pleasant and enjoyable. It will take just around two hours if you are a brisk walker.

More trek routes:

An alternative route to Shali Tibba if from Annadale ground in Shimla. IT goes via Glenn and the lower banks of Bhadadi, all the way to Mashobra and Khatnol.

Another trek starts from Chharabara, 13 km from Shimla on National Highway-22. This is a small village, located at an approximate altitude of 8,251 ft. on the catchment area of the Yamuna on one side and Sutlej on the other. The route from here proceeds to Dhali, around 5 km of trek, and connects to Mashobra ridge and reaches Khatnol. The route is very scenic and goes via Shimla forest reserve and catchment area.

How to get fit for the Shali Tibba trek

The Shali Tibba trek is classified as an easy-moderate trek. 

Cardiovascular endurance


On the Shali Tibba trek, you trekking on narrow uphill climbs. This requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday.  You should be able to jog 4 km in half an hour before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start by a slow jog and gradually 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. the altitude gain is quite a lot in a short span of time, though this is a reasonable altitude gain. But 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

Flexibility
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.

What to take on the Shali Tibba trek

Bare necessities

  1. Trekking shoes: You need to have a good pair of trekking shoes for this trek as the terrain is really different and partly rough. You may find snow of the way in specific months. Sports shoes will not be comfortable enough. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes
  2. Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.

Though the Nag Tibba trek just a short two day trek, it is not as simple as it might seem. The climatic conditions will vary and hence, you should have all the necessary items to protect yourself.

Clothes

  1. 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 higher altitudes so make sure you have at least three layers of warm clothes to protect yourself.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.

Accessories

  1. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. There might be snow closer to the lake, so carry a pair of sunglasses. 
  2. SuncapThe sun is more 
  3. Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
  4. Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
  5. Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
  6. Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
  7. Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.

Others

  1. Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks. 
  2. Toiletries (Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste)
  3. Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons. 
  4. Two water bottles: 1 litre each
  5. Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.

Mandatory Personal Medical Kit 

  1. Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
  2. Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
  3. Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
  4. Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
  5. Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
  6. Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
  7. Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
  8. Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
  9. Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
  10. Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
  11. Gauze – 1 small roll
  12. Band aid – 10 strips
  13. Cotton – 1 small roll
  14. ORS – 10 packets
  15. Betadine or any antiseptic cream
  16. Moov spray (aches, & sprains)

Mandatory Documents

Please carry the below documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded (PDF), filled in, signed and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp. 
  • Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
  • Medical Certificate and Disclaimer (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
  • Medical certificate (to be filled by a doctor) – Download PDF

Complete trek guide

Last updated: January - 2017

 Complete trek guide