The Har ki doon trek accumulates a lot of scenic beauty. With trails unknown and newer at every step, this trek covers a lot of untold stories and untouched beauty of nature on its route. It is believed that Har ki doon is the ‘Garden of Lord Shiva’ (Har meaning Lord Shiva, and Doon meaning the garden).
About the trek
It is by far the most beautiful treks in the Garwal Himalayas with its intense taste of tranquillity. The entire trail has villages which are more than 2,000 years old. These villages have been a great attraction among the people who seek to travel and experience the lifestyle of the local people. Why? Because it is simple, decent in between the Garwal Himalayas with no mobile network available.
How to be a part of this trek?
The trek starts from Dehradun. You can board a direct train to Dehradun station, else, visit via Delhi. Delhi to Dehradun is a journey of 6 hours at max with total 253.7 km distance via the Saharanpur Road.
- Time taken:Dehradun to Sankri base camp takes 8-10 hours. Transport leaves Dehradun Railway station within 6:30 am.
Sankri is the base camp of Har ki Doon Trek. During proper trekking seasons, Sankri becomes the hub of trekkers as it is the base camp for Borasu Pass, Bali pass, and Kedarkantha. It is a compact village that counts 250 communities along with some local shops and tea points. Mountains on all sides surround the small town. The journey from Dehradun to Sankri crosses Purola, Jarmola, Naugaon and Mori Naitwar, ending finally at Sankri.
Day:2 Sankri_to Osla via TLuka and Taluka Gangar
- Height:6,455ft to 9,000ft (via 6,807ft to 7,749ft)
- Time, Distance:6-7 hours, 20kms
- Trek gradient:The road takes elevation from Sankri towards Taluka, from where the trek begins. The trail takes an immediate elevation from Gangaad to Osla.
- Water sources:Fill bottles at Sankri. On the way to Gangaad from Taluka, there are several tea points and waterfalls, also river streams which are reliable water sources.
On the second day, the trail takes you to the ancient villages of the Uttarkashi District. The trail continues amidst the Himalayan forest. You will be walking all through the long barks of the pines, witness ferns on the walls of the mountain and different flowers blooming side the trail. Be an observant while you walk, you might witness some rare flowers and plants which are only available in this region. You will meet locals while you trek. Talk to them. Be respectful and decent.
The first village you’ll notice on this trail will be Gangaad. Remember our childhood paintings? When we used to draw triangular mountains, paint them either green or brown along with a little house with a red roof and river stream flowing from the hills thoroughly along with the small hut?
You will witness this painting in your eyes at Gangaad. The village has wooden one or two-storied houses with rooftops made of stone or red-green sheds. The Supin river stream is flowing gracefully from the heights and the village where sunsets have hues of orange in the sky. This is Gangaad in my words – a fairy’s land!
Osla is the last village that falls on the trail towards Har ki doon. This village has mythological stories which are famous among the trekkers. The stories are mostly related to Mahabharata.
It is believed that the Pandavas (the five brothers who are the lead characters in the story, acting as a heroic figure) used to live in the village Osla and conquered the Swargarohini which resides beside the Har-ki-dun valley. After that, the Swargarohini is still unclimbed by any mortal on Earth.
The place is also famous for the Someswara Temple. It is believed that their ‘devta’ (an avatar of Lord Shiva) resides inside this temple. The temple has an impressive architecture of birds, and wild animals carved in brass and wood. Once you reach the village, don’t start resting. Go out. Explore the town, the beautiful houses and their local lives. Return to your homestay. Take rest for the day.
Day:3 Osla to kalkatiyadhar
- Height :9,000ft to 9,922ft
- Time taken, distance: 6-7 hours, 5kms.
- Water sources:the river streams, and waterfalls.
Trail description: The third day gets heartwarming as you’ll wake up amidst the mountains and a sheer cold breeze. Their special steaming glass of ‘chai’, and the Himalayas make a heavenly combo! As you start trekking towards Kalkatiyadhar, you will notice a wooden bridge down the valley across Thamsa river that takes you to the village Seema. For trekking at Bali Pass, Dev Thach and Ruinsara Tal, you have to cross that bridge and walk through the trail along Seema. For Har ki dun, avoid the bridge and walk straight.
On your way, you get to see the KalaNag (Black Peak) after a few minutes of walk from Osla. The trek begins with a descend but gets steeper till Kalkatiyadhar. The whole struggle gets neutralised with the magnificent beauty of the Himalayas and musical sound of birds all through the trail.
Day:4 Kalkatiyadhar to Har ki Dun Valley and to kalkatiyadhar
- Height :9,922t to 11,700ft and back to 9,922ft.
- Time taken, distance:10 hours maximum. You start in the morning, reach the valley. Take some rest then return to the campsite.
- Water sources:waterfall and river stream of the valley.
Trail description: Kalkatiyadhar is a ‘dhar’ (edge) which takes a bend towards Har ki Dun Valley. On day four, you wake up to an ideal scenario with sounds of birds, insects and waterfalls and Kala Nag at a distance. The trek starts after crossing the ‘dhar’. After fewer steps, you’ll see the Har-ki-doon peak and Hata peak which cradles the Har-ki-dun Valley.
The Har ki Doon Valley
With flowers blooming on rocky terrain and the Supin river flowing with its silvery hue – It indeed is the Valley of Gods. You would spot the difference when the texture of the grass under your feet starts to change. It seems like a velvety green carpet, new, and untouched. Just be careful while you walk as the trail remains covered with flowers. Don’t damage them.
The lush green HKD peak with snow-capped Hata peak and Swargarohini on its right side is the site that you’d experience on you reach the valley. Here, you see the Swargarohini that holds mythological mysteries. Me, Avishek and Sandipan were amazed to see the scenic beauty!
While we were discussing how to put our feelings into words, how to capture the right picture that would narrate our emotions, our trek leader – Ganga Rana and Randev Rana called out our names. It was near to evening and our time to go! While we left, the clouds accompanied us and bid us farewell. You know you don’t get to witness good things for long – it takes away its glory.
Day:5 Kalkatiyadhar to Osla to Gangaar to Taluka to sankri
- Height :9,922t to 11,700ft and back to 9,922ft.
- Time taken, distance:5-6 hours, 30kms. The route follows the same way as you began. Averagely, it takes 5-6 hours to Taluka.
- Water sources:waterfalls, river streams and tea points as you descend.
- Trail description:the return day is going to be a long journey. Your trail will descend to Sankri the moment you leave the Kalkatiyadhar campsite. Take your steps carefully; don’t glide down from the mountains. It is time to say goodbye to the mountains. Get into the vehicle from taluka in the afternoon. You can buy some local hand-made products from the market and keep it as a memory.
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Admin is the Chief Editor at Discoveryhike. She heads the content team and runs a video series called Trek With Admin. Before joining Discoveryhike, she worked as a reporter and sub-editor at Deccan Chronicle. She holds a Masters in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications such as Deccan Herald.