The Complete Guide to the Dodital Winter Trek
The Dodital Winter Trek has something unique to offer. Trekking for several days in snow is rare in India. There is always the question of where and how do you camp in snow? Most trekkers don’t understand this difficulty. That’s why a trek like Dodital is superb for winters as it has fixed campsites all the way to Dodital. Dodital lies in the Garhwal Himalayas bordered by the Bandarpoonch and Swargarohini ranges on one side. It opens up through the Darwa Pass towards Yamunotri on the other. It is considered the birthplace of Lord Ganesha and home to the fresh water Himalayan Trout, the beauty of this lake matched by few others.
➤ Highlights of the trek
A Challenging yet Rewarding Winter Trek
- There are few treks in India that can qualify as a true winter trek. Dodital is one of them. The snowy scenery is outstanding and camp sites are easily reachable.
- For those looking to explore the Himalayas in winter and experience snow, nothing is better than the Dodital trek.
➤ Trail Information
Day 1: Drive from Haridwar to Sangam Chatti, 7hrs
Start early from Haridwar and head to Uttarkashi. You reach Uttarkashi by lunch time. 10 minutes out of Uttarkashi, take the deviation to the left. The road goes along the Assi Ganga river. The 2012 August flash floods have left the place battered. All the buildings are washed away and the road itself is very rocky. Huge boulders brought down by the raging river are strewn all around.
The 45 min bumpy jeep ride brings you to Sangam Chetti. A couple of huts, a broken iron bridge and a couple of concrete buildings make up Sangam Chetti. It is the sangam or confluence of the Varna and Assi Ganga rivers. The flash floods have destroyed all the level camping grounds in and around Sangam Chatti. Just around the bend is a small area to pitch 7-8 tents. This is the only place to stay for the night. Water is from the rivers below. However, as there are villages upstream, make sure you boil the water before drinking. Sangam Chatti stands at an altitude of 5250 ft.
Day 2: Sangam Chatti to Bevra via Agora village.
7.25kms, 5250ft to 7200ft. 4-5 hours.
Cross the river over the rickety wooden bridge and go along the ascending stone paved trail. The zig zag climb takes about 15 minutes after which the Assi Ganga river opens up. The trail always sticks to the right bank of the river- but at a height.
A steady 10 minute climb brings you to a clump of trees. Expect them to be devoid of leaves if you are there in winter. The trail enters the tree clump and within a couple of minutes it forks. Take the one going straight down. The trail climbing up left goes to the Barkoli village. The trail descends for 5 minutes before climbing again. The zig zag trail helps you gain height without straining your lungs.
The trail continues to climb gradually and in fifteen minutes you reach a shelter. The shelter has a clean stream coming down in front. Fill your bottles here and move on to get the first sights of the snow clad mountains ahead. Twenty minutes from the shelter, the Dundukola and Agora villages come into view. Soon you pass the first hut and the welcome arch of the village. You see a small waterfall fall right behind the welcome arch to your left.
The Dundkola village takes about 5 minutes to traverse on foot after which you move to Agora. Agora, the smaller of the two villages has a tourist lodge where trekkers can stay. Being a little too early to end the day’s trek, the lawns of the tourist lodge make a good break point for trekkers.
The tourist lodge is almost at one end of Agora. The trail noticeably becomes cleaner once you leave the village with all the village litter behind. The mountains to your right have a good coating of snow and the river flows deep below to your right. The trail is narrow and certain stretches have railings.
The ascending and descending trail soon enters the shade of the Rhododendron trees. During winter the shaded trail has a coating of snow on it. The trail hugs the mountain side now and there are deep cliffs to your left. On your right is a 2000 ft drop to the river below.
After a ten minute trek in the shade you descend to the river. An easy crossing of the river over stones gets you to Bevra. Bevra is an established camping ground sheltered by mountains on 3 sides. The mountains keep the place warm even in winters. A couple of cafes with camping area in front of them and a few toilets make up Bevra. The restaurant at Bevra can provide accommodation for 3-4 people.
Day 3: Bevra to Manjhi.
7200ft to 9800ft 7.5 km (5-6 hours on snow)
Head left from the campsite and move up towards the buildings you see. The last building has a small source of water near it. Fill your bottles here as there are no sources of water for quite some time ahead. From the buildings your first landmark is the ridge in front. It takes 25 minutes from the Bevra campsite to get to the ridge.
At the ridge turn left and climb up till you reach the trail hugging the mountain. It takes about 10 minutes. Turn right and follow the trail all the way. The trail is now directly opposite Agora village which is clearly visible on the mountain to your right.
The trail weaves in and out on the side of the mountain moving from one mountain to another. You are in the shades of Rhododendrons and Pines. Half an hour later, take a sharp turn to the left and climb up again to the ridge. The climb along the ridge is steep. A half an hours stiff climb brings you to a rain shelter. The rain shelter is directly opposite the Dayara meadows. Bakaria top, the highest point of Dayara bugyal is directly opposite the rain shelter.
From the rain shelter, Manjhi is 5 kms away and Dodital is 10 kms away. Kucheri the mid point between the shelter and Manjhi makes a good lunch spot for winter treks.
Follow the trail heading up along the mountain edge. The trail is exposed for the first 10 minutes before entering the cover of Rhododendrons. In winter the trail under the shade is almost sure to be under snow. Snow at places is 1ft to 2 ft deep and gaiters will come in handy to keep your legs and pants dry.
45 minutes from the shelter the trail brings you to a point where a small stream comes down between 2 mountains. Cross the small stone bridge and this is Kucheri. Take a break for lunch before proceeding for the next 2.5 kms to Manjhi.
The trail continues to weave through the mountain sides gradually gaining height. In half an hour you come to a point where the trail forks down and a board indicates that its towards Dayara Bugyal. An hour later the trail deviates sharply to the left. Climb up to see the first huts of Manjhi.
Manjhi is a big slope with open spaces under Oak trees. 10-15 Shepherd huts are scattered all over the slope under the trees. To the left is also a forest hut with a toilet. It takes about 10 minutes to get from the first hut to last hut on the Manjhi slope in sinking snow.
The top most row of huts has a small stream to the right of the slope and is the best place to pick a kitchen hut.
Day 4: Manjhi to Dodital.
9800 ft to 10,100 ft. 5 kms.
The trek from Manjhi to Dodital is an almost flat walk for 5 kms. The 5 km distance can be covered in an hour during summer but can take anything upto 4 hours during winter due to the snow.
Take the trail heading to your right out of Manjhi. The trail is wide and well laid out and mostly under the shade of Oak trees. The trail, laid on the side of the mountain, goes round from one mountain to another with the Assi Ganga river flowing deep below. Moving from one mountain to another you usually see a small stream trickling down from in between the two mountains. There are two such places where you can perennially fill water on this trail. One is 1.5 kms out of Manjhi and the next 2.5kms out of Manjhi. From the second water spot, a gentle ascent of a kilometer brings you to a shrine on the left of the trail.
The shrine at 10,300 ft is the highest point on the trek till Dodital. The trail goes around the shrine and descends into a woody flat area. From here, Dodital is a kilometer ahead.
Dodital is a huge open area surrounded by mountains in 3 directions. You are first greeted by the stream running down from the Taal before you actually see the Taal. In winter, expect the whole area to be under a carpet of snow. A few forest rest houses and a few ancient temples are sprinkled beside Dodital. All of them are shut and under heavy snow in winter. Expect a different scenario in summer.
Right behind Dodital is a big wall, and the top of it is known as Darwa top. Darwa top is a climb of 2,500 ft and can be done in 2-3 hours in summer. You get good views of Bandarpoonch and the surrounding mountains from Darwa top.
The return from Dodital
In winter it is generally not possible to trek beyond Dodital. In winter the return is generally quicker. For one, you are going down. The other reason is that the footsteps on snow are already made for the return. If you have taken 3 hours to get to Dodital from Manjhi, it would take less than 2 hours to return to Manjhi.
Also, it is possible to cover the distance from Manjhi all the way to Sangamchatti in 7-8 hours with an hour’s break at Bevra for lunch.
➤ How to get fit for the trek
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.
➤ What to pack for the trek
- 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)
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
➤ Trek Contribution
Author: Sandhya UC
Sandhya is possibly the most experienced woman trekker in India. Through Indiahikes, she has explored and put on the map more than 20 of the greatest Himalayan treks in India.
Inputs taken from Dr. Kaustubh Harshey’s article on the Dodital and Darwa top treks.