Roopkund vs Rupin Pass debate

“Which is a better trek? Roopkund or Rupin?”

I find it very difficult to answer this question. It is so hard to choose between the two great treks, that I have always stuck to a middle path. I have pointed out the pros and cons of both Roopkund and Rupin Pass, but consciously never taken a stance on either of them.

So finally, for the first time, I am going to choose one of them as a better trek. My choice may come as a surprise to many.

First, some background on why both are great treks.

Roopkund – What makes it a great trek?

To me, Roopkund is priceless for two reasons. I have never seen high altitude meadows as beautiful as Ali and Bedni Bughyal. Yes, there are other great high altitude meadows in our country, but the way Ali and Bedni Bugyal reveal themselves, a layer at a time, makes them unique.

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Walking from Ali Bugyal towards Bedni Bugyal. Picture by Anjali Gupta

When you crest Ali Bugyal, more meadows reveal themselves, stretching in a giant arc ahead of you. White mountain peaks jut out from the green edges of the meadows. By the time you reach Bedni Bugyal and camp beside the still waters of the Bedni Kund, even the die hard trekker, who has seen it all, accepts that this is as good as it gets.

The oak forest of the Roopkund trek is the second best thing about the trek. There are oak forests on other treks too, but the way they are laid out on the western slope of the mountain on the Roopkund trail is perfect. They light up in the morning sun, unlike any other forest. Such is the wonderful play of light through the dense trees that just a trek through the oak forest is worth doing the entire trek for.

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Trekkers gathered at the Roopkund lake. Picture by Ravi Singh Rana

Finally, the moment when you reach Roopkund is a high. Surrounded by cliffs on three sides, with Roopkund in a snowy cauldron, it feels like you are in the midst of something majestic. The thrill of getting there after an exciting climb is compounded with the tranquillity of the place. It is a sight so unique that you are unlikely to find anything similar on any other trek. It is no surprise I have found many breaking down into tears when they reach Roopkund; such is the sense of accomplishment.

The Rupin Pass trek on the other hand has three great things going for me.

The first is the surprises on the trek. Every day, every hour the scenery changes to reveal a new sight. I have documented a few here (12 Surprising twists on the Rupin pass trek), but I assure you that this is not a complete list.

The second delectable thing about the Rupin Pass trek is the Dhanderas Thatch campsite. It is probably one of the most exquisite Himalayas has to offer. Snuggled at the bottom of a perfect “U” shaped glacial valley – it lies on the bed of a lush green meadow. From your view at the bottom of the meadow, snow patched cliffs tower on all three sides. In front, the Rupin cascades down from the snowy Dhauladar range for over two thousand feet to form the famous Rupin water fall.

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The Lower Waterfall campsite with River Rupin cascading down and flowing by. Picture by Vinod Krishna

The third thing that I love about the Rupin Pass trek is the pass-crossing day. The alpine setting is so stunning that it takes time to absorb the vision of snow in all directions. As the trail goes around bends of the mountain side, over snow fields and snow ridges, it is difficult not to feel overpowered by the occasion. The climb through the gully to the narrow Rupin pass and the glissading descent on the other side to the Sangla valley are moments that freeze in time.

So which of the two – Roopkund or Rupin Pass do I choose as the better trek?

Well, it is tough one, but I finally choose the Rupin Pass.

It is like this: Roopkund is like an art house movie. Everything is classy about it. It is perfect in every way – perfect oak forests, perfect meadows and perfect alpine settings. The Rupin Pass trek on the other hand is like a Bollywood blockbuster with its masala. There are long stretches and there are short walks. There are dense forests and there are open tracts. There are hanging villages and there are quaint towns. There is a lot going on all the time with its sudden scenery changes. And like a blockbuster it ends in a flourish with a thrilling pass climb. While class has its place, the commoner always loves a masala trek. That’s why, I prefer Rupin Pass over Roopkund.

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Trekkers climbing through the gully towards Rupin Pass. Picture by Anirban Banerjee

Don’t get me wrong. I love both treks dearly. And it is hard to choose between the two. But if you push me hard, I’ll go with the Rupin.

If you’ve done both the treks, let me know what your thoughts are. I’ll be glad to debate you!

 

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Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. Long years of trekking and facing problems in getting information about trails led Arjun to start Indiahikes. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking, he leads Indaihikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India.

15 thoughts on “Roopkund vs Rupin Pass debate

  1. I am really looking to do rupin pass this year! I have done hampta pass and chadar trek before! Now there are 2 things i want to ask
    1) which is the best month to do rupin coz i am planning anytime after june.
    2) i have a problem of breathlessness the moment i start climbing up ! What all shud i do before the trek to make this one a little smooth for me!!

    1. Hi Yakuta, the next best month to do Rupin after June is September. 🙂 Just prepare for the trek and come. Do you have any active fitness regime in place?

  2. Hi,
    I have already done Roopkund trek. I loved the trek as it was a very good experience for me. Just for the records Roopkund was my First trek of any form. So I am happy that I could complete the trek without any physical or mental issues.
    After completing the Roopkund I have realized that good preparation ensures less pain during the trek. I have been thinking about where should I go for the next trek and I want to go with Indiahikes.
    So kindly advice me on whether my next high altitude trek should be Rupin Pas or some other trek.
    Thank you,

  3. Hi,

    I am planning to do trekking in the month of November/Dec. Which is the best option

    My requirement is 6 to 7 days, moderate – difficult and prefer snowy areas

    1. Hi Aravind, there won’t be much snow on any of the trails in November. If you want to see snow, then go in the latter half of December. Kuari Pass is one of the best options in that season. It is a 6-7 day trek. It is of moderate difficulty. Apart from that, if you are looking for a particularly difficult trek, you can go for Goechala in the first week of November. That will most likely be the last batch in the year, because mid-November onwards there is too much snow at Goechala.

      In December, there are several other winter treks. Take a look at this article for details about the same – https://indiahikes.com/top-6-winter-treks-in-india-that-you-must-do/

      1. Hi Swathi,

        Thanks for your info. So you mean to say that there is no much winter/snow treks in the month of November ? cos even though I said Nov/dec, to be specific I am planning to do trek in 2nd/3rd week. Is there any trek available according to my specifications ? (No of days not a problem)

        1. To elaborate on my previous comment – November does have snow at higher altitudes because it is the onset of winter. But usually there is too much snow to possibly do the trek – so trails in Uttarakhand and Himachal, like Roopkund or Rupin Pass become inaccessible.

          However, the North East sees lesser snow. By November, it does start snowing, but the quantity is lesser and the trails are accessible. So Goechala is a good option in the first week of November. But this is a difficult trek and requires a good amount of fitness.

  4. Hi fellow Trekker ,
    my last trek was @17500ft. (Neelkanth Mahadev Lahaul) THis year me and my frnds are looking to go higher can you suggest some good treks for 5-6 days

    1. Hi Varun, if altitude is your primary requirement, then I would recommend the Kanamo Peak trek. This is a 6 day trek in Spiti Valley. It climbs up to approximately 19,950 ft. But it is a difficult trek. All of you will need to be in the prime of your fitness. You gain 4000 ft in one climb and get down the same altitude in a day. It’s a very strenuous climb.

      If you’re just looking for something a bit more adventurous, then go for Rupin Pass or Buran Ghati. I’d say one of these two treks will be the best option for you.

  5. Hi
    I want to ask are there any late bookings like we are planning rupin/roopkund in early June we’ll have to do late bookings as 2 of my brothers are having 12th boards so please let me know..

    1. Hi Nikunj, Unfortunately, both of those treks being extremely popular fill up very quickly. When would you know your dates?

    1. May is in fact one of the best months to do the Rupin Pass trek. The snowfields you’ll see and climbing up the gully in snow is an absolute adventure. Go for it. 🙂

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