Har Ki Dun Trek: A doorway to ancient Himalayan villages
Har Ki Dun is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Western Himalayas. It is nestled in the middle of a cradle-shaped vale below the Har Ki Dun peak. A delight for trekkers, both in summer and winter, this valley is accessible through Govind National Park – known for its rich variety of flora and fauna. The trail through alpine meadows, moraine ridges, glacier basins, pine forests and ancient villages, gives you spectacular valley views and a chance to experience the wonderful slow-paced local lifestyle.
This is a valley trek where you trek along the Thamsa River to Har Ki Dun valley. Since the trekking trail isn’t treaded upon too often, birds and animals thrive in this region. One can spot langoor families near Puani Garaat. Black bears, wild boars and Barasingha are few of the other animals you can spot if you’re lucky. Golden eagles and massive Himalayan griffins also live here. The colourful Himalayan monal, the state bird of Uttarakhand, thrives in the forests here.
In A Shroud Of Mythology
No other trek is so steeped in mythology to justify the title of “Valley of Gods”. Follow the trail of Pandavas who took the very same route to ascend to heaven via Swargarohini, the mountain that dominates the Har Ki Dun valley. The mountain views you get on this trek are unique. This is the only valley from where you can see Swargarohini – I, II, III, Bandarpoonch and Blackpeak, all together. You can also see the Ruinsara peaks from here.
The Har ki Dun trail takes you back in time. The cradle shaped valley is populated with ancient villages that are over 3,000 years old. This is also one of the few treks where one can come across the local lifestyle in close proximity. Most of the residents here grow rajma, potato and rice for living. They also weave their own wool and make jackets and coats.
The main deity worshipped here in this region is Duryodhana. It is believed that the valley was home to a warrior named Bhog Dat, a Kaurava supporter from the Mahabharata. Because of this, the Har Ki Dun valley is one of the few places in India where Duryodhana is worshipped. But with passing time, this tradition is slowing being forgotten. On this trek you will get an intimate look into lives of villagers as they pass you by.
Day 1: Reach Sankri
Sankri, base camp for this trek, is a small but pretty village with 250 houses. A few dhabas and shops make up the commerce scene in Sankri. In peak season, it is usually bustling with trekking activity as it is the basecamp for many treks – Kedarkantha, Bali Pass and Borasu Pass. The village offers a beautiful view of the sun setting behind the greater Himalayas. The peaks of Swargarohini shimmer in the evening sun, standing tall over the ridges beyond Sankri.
The drive to Sankri will take you through Nainbagh, Naugaon, Purola, Jarmola, Mori Naitwar (a left turn from Naitwar will lead you to Dhaula, which is the base camp for Rupin Pass and Bharadsar lake trek), and finally Sankri.
- Altitude: 6,397 ft (1,950 m)
- Time taken: Sankri, the base camp, can be reached in 8-10 hours from Dehradun. Transport will be arranged from Dehradun Railway station at 6.30 am.
Day 2: Sankri to Chillurgad via Taluka
- Altitude: 6,455 ft (1,967 m) to 8,415 ft (2,564 m) via 7,953 ft (2,424 m)
- Time taken: 5-6 hours. 12 km drive to Taluka + 10 km trek to Chillurgad
- Trek gradient: Flat gradient for first 3 kms. After Beeda ka Thatch is a gradual ascent and Descent all through the trail.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles in the river along the trail.
There is a four-wheel-drive road that connects Sankri with Taluka.
If you’re trekking on your own, you can either hire a jeep (locally) for this, subject to the condition of the road, or walk toTaluka. This is a landslide prone route, and is often closed during the monsoons. The trail to Taluka is almost level, going through 10-11 mountain bends. On the way, there are three big streams, almost submerging sections of the road in water. The hike is scenic, going past a series of wild roses and irises and bamboo, chestnut and cedar (deodar) trees. Just 2 km before Taluka, there is a campsite beside a stream. You can camp here if there isn’t enough time to go to Puani Garaat i.e if you’re hiking from Sankri. There is also a GMVN Guest house at Taluka for accommodation. The dhaba food is very basic.
Trekkers with Indiahikes drive from Sankri to Taluka (12 km, 1 hour). Taluka is a small village with concrete houses. This is quite a contrast from the architecture in neighbouring villages like Sankri, Osla and Gangad, which are close to 300 years old. We start the trek towards Bhida Ka Thach from Taluka.
Next to the forest guest house, the trail descends to the river valley of Thamsa and continues through a series of forests, while the river remains on your right. This shepherds’ trail goes along the river on a level walk. Around 10 minutes into the hike, spot the first cemented bridge over a small stream. Another 15 minutes of level walk will have you reach another bridge, this time, a wooden one. These two spots are conducive to fill up drinking water.
From here, walk uphill for 15 minutes till you see a small clearing next to the river. You can set up an emergency camp here if need be.
Another 10-15 minutes later, you’ll come across a spot where you can climb down to a tributary of River Thamsa. Look for a wooden bridge to cross this river, which is just below Datmir village. After crossing the tributary, you’ll reach a camping ground in a couple of minutes. From here, facing the inner part of the valley, locate two trails, one moving upwards and another going straight ahead. Take the second route straight ahead.
The trail from here is in bad condition as it is prone to landslides. After 10-15 minutes of level walk, you will find land cleared by shepherds to set up temporary night shelters. From here, the trail climbs up, alternating between upward and level walks. Around 10 minutes into the hike, look out for your first landslide-prone section. You may have to come down the river and cross the section that has caved in due to landslide. Around 20 minutes on this trail will lead you to a spot where there is a wooden bridge to cross over River Thamsa.
Ignore the bridge and proceed ahead. After 5 minutes, the trail turns steep and criss-crosses upwards. This section will take about 15-20 minutes to cover. During monsoon, expect this trail to be completely covered in mud. The trail will now relax with a series of level walks. Soon you’ll approach a stream coming down the hill on your right, with a wooden bridge over it.
For trekkers trekking by themselves, they can camp at the further camp site of Puani Garaat. The trail picks up a little altitude as you enter the forest again. After 30-40 minutes, look for an old village across the river on your left. This is Gangaad. From here, 20 minutes later, take a diversion towards your right until you reach a dhaba next to a wooden bridge. Behind the dhaba is a small hut, where locals use the momentum of water to run a mechanical turbine that grinds cereal into flour.
Just 25 metres before the wooden bridge, on the right is Puani Garaat. There is also a cemented structure here. Since it’s incomplete, it is not possible to stay in it comfortably. However, if the weather is getting bad and you can’t proceed, you may stay there. This is the campsite and you can pitch your tent here for the night.
An alternative for Puani Garaat campsite: Those who want to camp at Osla have to cross the wooden bridge.You will then get onto the left side of River Thamsa and trek along the river to reach Osla.
An alternative route from Puani Garaat: To reach Seema, one has to trek straight up on the true right of the river all the way to Seema. There are a few steep ascents, but the trail relaxes into a gradual walk often. The landscape and terrain will remain like this for around 90 minutes.
From Seema, walk straight towards a bridge over Thamsa and get onto the left side of the valley. From here, look for a small cemented bridge some 60 metres above you. There is a small broken trail that connects to this bridge. Soon, you will connect with the level trail coming from Osla on the left. It goes straight ahead and will lead to Har-ki-dun.
Continue on the trail by heading to Osla village, which involves crossing the bridge and walking alongside the river till you reach Osla.
Osla is a small village, about 8,500 ft above sea level. It is famous for a Someshwar Temple. Some people say it is the temple of Someshwar Devta (an avatar of Lord Shiva). The architecture of this temple is a wonder in itself. The villagers of Osla are proud of two things – one, living in the Himalayas and two, their satellite phone. Spend some time here and explore the village before moving on.
From Osla, the trail comprises a few steep sections but generally leisurely level-walks. Within half an hour, you’d have crossed two streams, out of which the second one has a wooden bridge running over it. There is also a local temple to the right. Cross the bridge and traverse around the mountain bend. You can now see a series of meadows in front of you.
After hiking for 15 minutes, you will enter the first of a series of cleared lands. Note that some of the land has been used for cultivation. From here, there are two more mountain bends that you need to traverse. The upward incline will gradually increase as you walk alongside a huge field of boulders and grass. This whole section to reach the top of the mountain bend may take around 90 minutes.
You will see a makeshift wooden bridge below the valley over Thamsa. If you want to trek to the meadows of Dev Thach, Ruinsara Taal and Bali Pass, cross this bridge.
To go to Har ki Dun, ignore the bridge and walk ahead . As you walk past a series of wheat fields, look out for two of the highest residential buildings in this region. The trail ascends over the confluence of Thamsa and Ruinsara rivers to a vantage point with views of the snowcapped mountains of Dhauladhar.
The climb is steep but the beautiful landscape compensates for the struggle. As you reach this vantage point, look for Kalanag (Black Peak) and Bandarpooch ranges looming in the distance.
Day 4: Chilurgad to Kalkatiyadhar
- Altitude: 8415 ft (2,564 m) to 9922 ft (3024 m)
- Time taken: 3-4 hours, 6-7 km
- Trek gradient: Easy. Initial descent of 15 minutes followed by mostly level walk for about 90 minutes. Steep climb for 15 minutes followed by a level walk and boulder section finishing off with a gradually ascending trail.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from the river along the trail
The meadows of Dev Thach are clearly visible on your right, across the confluence of the two rivers. At this point, you have crossed 3,000 m altitude for the first time. The valley now separates into two, with Har-ki-dun on the left and Ruinsara Taal, Bali Pass on the right.
As you cross the mountain bend, you are greeted with the sight of the Har Ki Dun peak and Hata Peak, below which is Har-ki-Dun valley. The campsite is now only 4 km away through pine forests and meadows. The trail initially descends as you trek and then becomes level for about 15-20 minutes.
After this, the trail crosses multiple streams. The pine forest has a sizable number of rhododendron trees. There is also a lovely stream gushing down on the way, with a variety of Himalayan alpine flowers along its sides, especially blue poppy. About an hour later, pass through another section of meadows with a delightful growth of chestnut. The smell of cedar and pine wood trees is intoxicating to any nature lover. After another 20 minutes, you reach a small waterfall and leave the meadows behind.
From this spot, you have to negotiate a steep climb of about 15 minutes. Slowly, patches of snow start appearing on your trail and become prominent after a while (snow is seen only till the end of May). After 15 minutes of level walk, spot another wooden bridge.
From this junction there is a short climb of 10 minutes, over boulders, till you reach another camping ground. The final forest stretch lies in front of you. After half an hour over a gradual incline, you traverse the forest ridge from the left side of the valley.
As you cross over, look for Forest Guest House huts just in front of you above a small ridge. Walk for the final 10 minutes along the camping ground next to Thamsa and cross the last wooden bridge to reach Har-ki-dun. Look at the two valleys opening up in front, divided by a stream called Karmanasha. The valley towards your left is going to Maninda Taal and Borasu Pass and the other, to Jaundar Glacier.
Day 5: Kalkatiyadhar to Boslo via Har-ki-Dun
- Altitude: 9922 ft (2,564 m) to 9922 ft (3024 m) via 11,700 ft
- Time taken: 5-6 hours, 10
- Trek gradient: Easy. Initial descent of 15 minutes followed by mostly level walk for about 90 minutes. Steep climb for 15 minutes followed by a level walk and boulder section finishing off with a gradually ascending trail.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from the river along the trail
- Distance: 3km (Maninda Taal)
- Time taken: 4 hours
When you reach Har-ki-Dun, the sheer beauty of the valley will make you never want to leave the place. So, a rest day at the campsite is highly recommended. At Har-ki-Dun, one can see the vast grounds below Swaragrohini-1 peak. The meadows here are full of alpine flowers. You can explore the entire ground in about an hour or two.
The logical route to Sangla valley (Chitkul, Himachal) via Borasu Pass is also visible from this vantage point.
Day 6: Boslo to Untigad
- Altitude: 9922 ft to 11316 ft
- Time Taken, Distance: 6-7 Hrs, 9-10 km
- Trek Gradient: Immediate climb after the Boslo campsite later it’s a gradual ascent till the Har Ki Dun.
- Water sources: No water source for the initial 4 km later water sources at regular intervals. Day pack with one litre water is sufficient for the day.
This is going to a long day. Your trail will start from and you have to go for a sharp descend immediately when you leave the campsite. The descend path needs to be taken carefully and you will happen to see the conjunction of two roaring glacial rivers one is Har Ki Dun and the other is Kyarakoti. They both join to become Tamsa river.
You need be a little careful with the trail as during the spring there is bloom of various flowers so don’t damage the flora. Later you will have to cross the Har Ki Dun river. The river which you saw yesterday in its ultimate beauty has became ferocious with its ultimate volume. You will have to cross this river by walking on the makeshift bridge made by log of woods.
Be a little careful and you will easily cross by. Now the trail will be taken over with the eye atching Silver Birch, Blue pine and all sorts of vegetation. The Kyarakoti river will be following next to you with its full power with a continuity of a music. 3 km past the river crossing you will come across two gigantic rocks laying one above the other making a natural shelter below. You may get some survival lessons/tips from your trek leader at this location. You will get your first water source after walking 4 kms.
This place’s name is Chhatri where there is a concrete shade made by Forest deptt. The trail will have snow bridges after winters which may be dangerous at times. Look at the horizon in front and you will see the Black peak. After completing 9 kms you will reach Untigaad. This is a lovely campsite surrounded by water streas all around and snow laden peaks. Take rest for the day.
Day 6: Untigaad to Ruinsara Tal to Devsu
- Altitude: 11316 ft to 11811 ft (Ruinsara Tal) to 9944 ft
- Time Taken, Distance: 6-7 hours, 12-13 kms
- Trek Gradient: Gradual ascent to the lake. Continuous gradual descend till the river crossing of Devsu. Finally a steep ascent to reach Devsu.
- Water sources: Water sources regularly along the way. One litre of water is sufficient.
It is an eventful day as you will see the majestic Ruinsara Tal. The lake is around 1.5 kms from Untigaad. It will hardly take an hour to two to reach this lake. The trail is completely filled with silver birch or Bhoj Patra trees and is mostly rocky. Post monsoon this lake is surrounded with greenery while after witer it looks like a high glacial lake with big chunks of ice in between.
The lake is brown/blackish in colour due to huge vegetation inside. The best view of this lake can be had from the top of a rock right in front where you can get the reflection of the mountains right in front of it. The lake is surrounded with unmanned peaks but the trail ahead goes to the famous Bali Pass trek. Further walking into the trail will lead you to the Kyarakoti Glacier which is the base camp of the challenging Back Peak aka Kalanag. You can also see the hanging glaciers of Swargarohini from this lake.
A shepherd’s hut on a rocky patch of a mountain might surprise you. But it is said that it almost 100 sheep can be held inside that cave. However, there are too many pests and it is better for trekkers to avoid it t The return journey to Untigaad will put you back on the same trail as before.
And after 8 Kms from Untigaad you reach the broken bridge of the confluence point of Kyarakoti and Har Ki Dun rivers. Though this time take the trail towards Devsu. After crossing the Kyarakoti river it will be a steep ascent to Devsu. You will be welcomed with beautiful alpine bushes full of all kinds of flowers and greenery.
This is one of the best campsites of this journey as you will be surrounded with a carpet of grass on the ground. Surrounded by a blanket of trees, with snow laden mountains ahead and the deep blue sky above. If you’re lucky you can spot some Himalayan birds like Monal and Pheasant, and animals like black panther and Himalayan bear. You can even view the Kalkatidhar campsite from here.
Day 7: Devsu to Gangaad
- Altitude: 11316 ft to 7937 ft
- Time Taken, Distance: 5-6 hrs, 9-10 kms
- Trek Gradient: Continuous gradual descend till Gangaad.
- Water sources (important): Regular water sources along the trail. Carry sufficient water.
Trail description: Today the trail will take you back in time as we trek to the ancient village of Gangaad. The trail will continue between the forests full of Chir Pine, Needle pine, various ferns and flowering trees. While you will walk on this trail you will see the trekkers going for the Har Ki Dun trek on the parallel side of the trail.
Both these trails join at the Seema bridge after which it will be the same route back to base. Two kms after the bridge you will reach the Chilurgaad campsite and we will further descend to reach the ancient Gangaad village.
Talk to the locals, about their village, their history, their food and culture. But don’t be intrusive. Be polite and respectful.
Day 8: Gangaad to Taluka to Sankri
Altitude: 7937 ft to 6910 ft to 6455 ft
Time Taken, Distnace: 3-4 hrs. 7-8 kms and 1-1.5 hrs on vehicle.
Trek Gradient: Continuous gradual descend till Taluka. Vehicle transfer to Sankri
Terrain type: Forest Trail with steps. Carry two litres of water as
Trail description: It’s the last day of your trek. Time to say good bye to the villagers of Gangaad. The route will continue to Taluka the same way as the day you began. It will roughly take 3-4 hrs on an average pace. The vehicles will take you from Taluka to Sakri and you reach in the late afternoon. You can buy some local made products in Gangaad such as Wool, Honey, Herbs, Organic Rajma, Red rice etc.
Day 1: Reach Sankri; 8-10 hours drive from Dehradun. Transport will be organised from Dehradun Railway station at 6.30 am. Cost of cab – Rs.5,500 per vehicle (shared among 5-6 trekkers)
Day 2: Drive from Sankri (6,397 ft) to Taluka (7,953 ft). Trek from Taluka to Chilurgad ;1.5 hour drive and 5-6 hours trek , 11 km.
Day 3: Chilurgad to Kalkaltidhar; 4 hours, 7 km
Day 4: Kalkatidhar to Boslo via Har Ki Dun;
Day 5: Boslo to Untigad;
Day 6: Untigad to Devesu Thatch via Ruinsara Tal; 7 hours, 12 km
Day 7: Devsu Thatch to Gangaad, 5-6 hours, 10 km. Drive to Sankri
Day 8: Gangaad to Taluka by trek than drive to Sankri; 3-4 hours trek and 1.5 hour drive.
Day 9: Depart from Sankri by 7 am. You are expected back in Dehradun by 7-8 pm.
Please note that you will be staying at a lodge in Sankri. The stay on all other days is in tents (3 per tent).
It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek. Since Sankri will have limited facilities to photo copy, do not leave this till the end.
How to get to the basecamp – Sankri
Delhi → Dehradun → Sankri
The Har Ki Dun trek starts from Sankri, 196 km from Dehradun. Sankri is a small village bustling with trekkers. There are around 250 houses in this village, and the views from here are beautiful!
Indiahikes organises transport from Dehradun to Sankri. The pick up is at 6.30 am from Dehradun Railway station on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs.5,500 per vehicle. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared by trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
The drive to Sankri is beautiful, beside the River Tons. You pass through Mussoorie, which is a popular hill station. Stop for breakfast at Kempty Waterfalls, which is a popular tourist destination. You will reach Sankri around 6.00 pm.
Note: In case you have excess baggage, you can keep it at the base camp, Sankri, and collect it after you’ve completed the trek. Lockers are not available, so please make sure that you do not leave behind any valuables.
To reach Dehradun
The best way to reach Dehradun is to take an overnight train from Delhi. There are two trains available from Delhi to Dehradun.
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 5.40
- 12055 DDN Jan Shatabdi – 15.20 – 21.10 (reach the previous night)
If you cannot find a train, then take a bus. To stay on the safe side, book buses online in advance. Book such that you have some buffer time to make it to Dehradun on time for the pick-up; buses usually get delayed.
Sankri → Dehradun→ Delhi
The Har Ki Dun trek ends at Sankri. From Sankri, you’ll be retracing your route all the way to Dehradun. It takes 10-11 hours to drive back to Dehradun. Indiahikes organises this transport for a fare of Rs.5,500 per cab. This is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Dehradun by 6.00 pm.
If you are travelling further from Dehradun, keep a couple of hours as buffer time in case of delay. Book your onward travel from Dehradun post 8.00 pm. If you are travelling to Delhi, you can choose to go back by Mussoorie Express (21.20) or Nanda Devi Express (23.30).
If you want to get to the base camp by yourself
There are direct buses from Dehradun to Sankri. They leave at 6.00 am, 7 am and 8 am respectively from Dehradun Railway station.
If you are reaching Dehradun late, you can take a bus to Purola/Naugaon and then a connecting bus to Sankri. The last bus leaves from Dehradun Railway Station at 12.00 noon. If you reach Purola late, you can stay there overnight.
If you are taking a hired taxi, the route is pretty straightforward. First, head to Mussoorie, then move down to Yamuna Bridge via Kempty falls. Then follow the Yamuna on your left until you reach Damta and further on to Naugaon. Cross the Yamuna at Naugaon and head towards Purola. The route immediately turns scenic, with pine trees overlooking the road.
At Purola break for lunch. From Purola, the route gets mesmerising with the road climbing up and descending through thick pine forests until you get to Mori along the Tons River. 5 km out of Purola try to locate the south face of the Kedarkantha peak on your left. The highest peak, it is not difficult to spot.
From Mori, follow the Tons to Naitwar, again through some breathtaking mountain scenery. At Naitwar, the road branches off to the right along the Supin, until you get to Sankri an hour later.
How to get fit for the Har ki Dun trek
The Har ki Dun trek is classified as a trek of moderate difficulty. You trek up to an altitude of 11,768 ft. You start from an altitude of 6,398 ft at Sankri and reach the highest point of 11,768 ft at Har ki Dun. This means there is a long train that you will have to climb. Hence, you need to make sure you are fit for the trek.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
Here’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek.
One month trek fitness routine for easy treks
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 Har ki Dun 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. The Kalkatiyadhaar section is especially steep- sport shoes won’t be comfortable enough. 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 Har ki 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.
On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.
- 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.
- Three trek pants: two pairs of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case one of the others gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- 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.
- Ponchos: At high altitudes, snowfall and rain are quite common and hence it’s mandatory to carry a poncho so that you don’t get wet.
Indiahikes offers rentals on this trek. You can now rent trekking shoes, trekking pole, padded jacket and poncho instead of buying them. You can collect these directly at the base camp and return them there after the trek. Get the details here.
- 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, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- 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. We recommend the Lifestraw Go. Indiahikes trekkers can get it at a discount here.
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 1 Strip
- Crocin – 10 tablets
- Avomine (optional, in case of motion sickness)- 1 Strip
- Combiflam- Half Strip
- Muscle relaxant – Half Strip
- Digene – Half Strip
- Avil – 1 strip
- ORS – 6 packs
- Knee Cap (If you are prone to knee injury)
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
- Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
What are the risks on the Har Ki Dun Trek?
Har Ki Dun is a trek of moderate difficulty. And with every high altitude trek comes a flurry of risks – altitude sickness being the biggest risk. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it.
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety:
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
Right from the time you decide to register for the trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below.
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have introduced an eligibility criteria for the Har Ki Dun trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Har Ki Dun trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually.
2. Rest Day at Har Ki Dun Campsite
On the fifth day of the trek, we have allocated a rest day at the Har Ki Dun campsite. Prior to arriving at the Har Ki Dun campsite, you would have gained an altitude of 5,371 feet and trekked a distance of 24 km. So your body needs rest to recover from fatigue.
3. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Har Ki Dun trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required. Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health, wherein he will be entering details about his health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms he should look out for and what action he should take during emergencies. These Health Cards will be taken back at the end of the trek.
4. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will also be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine. Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high campsites for any emergency situations.
5. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain, where there might be too much scree or moraine.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
6. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Har Ki Dun trek
If you have registered for this trek, then here is some information that you must know in order to have a safe trek. At Indiahikes, we believe that as long as you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can survive easily at high altitude.
First thing you should know is that Har Ki Dun is a High Altitude trek. It climbs up to an altitude of 11,700 ft. So it comes with its fair share of risks – altitude sickness, lack of easy exit points, unfriendly terrain and extreme altitude gain.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS is one of the biggest dangers on a high altitude trek such as Har Ki Dun. AMS occurs when your body isn’t acclimatising to its surroundings. It can accelerate very rapidly, so it is important to identify the symptoms as soon as you see them. Before you read further, watch this video to understand the symptoms of AMS.
Where on the Har Ki Dun trek is AMS likely to affect you:
Over years of conducting the Har Ki Dun trek, we have noticed that there are some campsites where trekkers are most prone to be hit by AMS. Let’s take you through the trek so that you know where it is likely to occur and what precautions you can take.
On the first two days of the trek, between Sankri, Taluka and Puani Garaat, it is safe to say that you will not experience any symptoms. They are at fairly low altitudes, with Puani Garaat just touching the border of high altitude (8,280 ft).
On the third day, at Kalkatiyadhar, a few trekkers begin to feel queasy. Kalkatiyadhar is at an altitude of 8,986 ft.
On the fourth day, you climb from Kalkatiyadhar to Har Ki Dun, that is 8,986 ft to 11,768 ft. That is a 2,700 feet altitude gain on a single day. The Har Ki Dun campsite has had several cases of AMS being reported. At 11,768 ft, it is at an unfriendly altitude. Trekkers usually complain of headache and fatigue upon reaching Har Ki Dun.
What to do if you feel symptoms of AMS at Kalkatiyadhar or Har Ki Dun
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the video below to understand how to treat and prevent AMS. The information in this video is rare to find. With this knowledge, you can probably save your own life or another’s trekkers life.
As a first step, your trek leader will run you through the Triple One Test – One Disprin, One litre of water and One hour of rest. If you’re suffering from dehydration, this will solve the problem and you will be fine in one hour. If the symptoms don’t go away, then he’ll begin to treat you for AMS, perhaps with a course of Diamox. If you’re already on a course of Diamox, your trek leader is likely to increase the dosage.
The increased dosage of Diamox usually takes care of the Acute Mountain Sickness. In addition to that, the rest day at Har Ki Dun on Day 5 helps trekkers get enough rest while also getting acclimatised to the altitude.
If you’re not at your 100% at the end of Day 5, then again, report to your Trek Leader. AMS can escalate and turn into HAPE or HACE. He will make you descend to Puani Garaat, where you will be fine. This is the only campsite where exit is possible quickly because it is the closest campsite to the base village, Sankri.
If you face any of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness, don’t take them lightly. Report them to your trek leader immediately.
If Diamox alone doesn’t work, he might administer Dex or Nifedipine, or perhaps oxygen, depending on the circumstances.
On the Har Ki Dun trek, there have been cases of AMS being reported. While AMS can be treated with medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours. And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Exit points on the Har Ki Dun trek:
The safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. On the Har Ki Dun trek, exit is extremely difficult. If you’re hit by AMS at any point on the trek, Puani Garaat would be the ideal campsite to descend to. Puani Garaat has mules. From Puani Garaat, Taluka is a 12 km drive, which takes about an hour to reach. Taluka village has a basic medical dispensary and it can be used only to get first-aid treatments.
For any advanced treatment, Purola has the closest well-equipped hospital in the area. It is 55 km from Sankri (base village of the Har Ki Dun trek). Usually, it takes 4 hours to reach Purola. During winters, there will be a lot of snow on the road. It could take longer.
This means that in case there are any medical emergencies, you have to descend all the way to Sankri and hire a jeep to Purola. Evacuation will take 24 hours or less since you are deep in the valley and the roads connecting Sankri and Purola are notoriously bad.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life-saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker.
If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
The video below will help you understand what medicines to administer when and how much. Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about HAPE and HACE. Here, you can learn about the advanced symptoms are and how to tackle them.
It is a myth that fit and experienced people are not affected by Acute Mountain Sickness
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please login to your account and cancel.
Cancellation requests will not be taken over phone or email.
The cancellation charges are as under.
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (cancellation charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforeseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 5 km in 35 mins before the start of the trek. Unable to do so can make your trek difficult.
In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training and upload the fitness screenshots on your dashboard. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
Indiahikes has the right to reject trekkers who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason are trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1750 plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 350 per day inclusive of tax. You can opt for offloading directly your dashboard after your payment is done for the trek.
Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
Online offloading in advance is possible up to three days prior to the trek start date.
We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Dehradun and drop you back from Sankri. This will cost approx. Rs. 5,500 per 5-6 seater vehicle one way. A 10-12 seater vehicle costs Rs.9,000 one way. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers.
Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 8 (Sankri to Sankri). You will be staying at a lodge in Sankri and camping on remaining days of the trek (3 per tent). Twin sharing is not possible. Stay is on sharing basis with males and females separately.
If there is a group size of 10 trekkers and above, then we will waive off the trek fee charges for one person.
Note - There is no discount available if the group size is 9 or less than that.
You can register the entire group and send us an email. If the group is registering individually, then the primary participant needs to send an email to the Trek Coordinator with the list of trekkers from the same group.
If you want to make the payment individually, then individual registrations have to be done.
This will be the case for a group of 10 trekkers. So if you have a group of 20 trekkers, then we will waive off the charges for 2 trekkers.
What will the pick up point be? How is travel arranged?
Indiahikes will organise transport to and fro Dehradun railway station and the base camp Sankri, on the first day of the trek. This will be in 5-6 seater vehicles. The cost of each vehicle transport one way, is Rs 5,500. A 10-12 seater vehicle costs Rs.9,000 one way. It will be shared among co trekkers in the same vehicle.
How to reach the pick up point, that is Dehradun? Any hotels you recommend?
Dehradun is connected by air to most major cities in India. You can either fly directly to Dehradun and spend the night before the pick up. Another option is to fly to Delhi and take an overnight train the Nanda Devi express to Dehradun. Do not take the Mussoorie express as it always late.
You can look at Hotel Drona and Hotel Grand. They are both close to the railway station as well.
How do I prepare for the trek, it is my first trek. What is the difficulty level?
Har Ki Dun is considered a moderate trek. This is because the distance covered on most days is long, an average of around 10 km. Also the trek itself is 8 days which makes it very tiring. It is a good trek for fit first timers.
You need to make sure you are physically fit to walk 10 km on an average in the mountains.
You will need at least 4 weeks of good preparation for this trek. You can begin preparation by going for brisk walks and then do brisk jogs to improve your cardio. Your target should be to cover 5 km in 35 minutes comfortably by the start the trek.
Is there an option to not carry my backpack and do the trek?
Yes, this is called offloading your backpack. It means a porter or a mule will carry it for you. You will receive it at the end of the day at each campsite. It is at an extra charge of Rs 1575 and is for the entire duration of the trek. You need to book and pay for this beforehand online.
Can I bring luggage I do not require on the trek and leave them somewhere before the trek begins?
Yes, we have an option of leaving behind extra luggage you do not need on the trek, at our base camp, Sankri. Ensure you leave no valuables (laptops, cash, electronics) in this luggage. There is no extra charge to leaving this luggage at the base camp, and you do not have to pre-book it anywhere.
What do I need to bring on the trek, and what can I rent with Indiahikes?
You will need to bring everything mentioned on the things to take tab.
We have trek poles, shoes, backpacks and padded jackets on rent.
All rental gear needs to be booked and paid for online on your dashboard. It will be provided to you at the base camp before you begin the trek.
Here is what trekkers have to say about their experience at Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal