Saturday, 13 December 2014

Call of the wild- Trekking from Narkanda to Kullu

Forest Rest House at Narkanda
There are two trekking routes to Kullu from Narkanda which is 64 Km from Shimla on the Hindustan- Tibet Road. One lies in the inner Seraj valley after crossing the Jalori Pass via Luri Ani route. But the more adventurous trekkers proceed to Rampur Bushahr to negotiate the unconventional route via Bushahr pass in the outer Seraj valley.

The first lag of the trek from Rampur Bushahr to Sarahan via Arsu is a distance of 25 Km through beautiful scenery which enthralls the onlooker. Even the tortuous path up to Arsu is carpeted with lovely flowers. During the months of May and June, the carcass and scarlet clusters of sumach are ablaze among the fields. The tall pines, lofty furs and mighty deodars kiss the sky. In the fruit orchards the cherry, apricot, peach and plum blossoms are splashed against mountain slopes as if by some merry artist.

Sarahan is a spot of unalloyed natural charm cradled by enormous emerald meadows and singing streams, which give it an exotic appearance. A night’s rest at civil rest house rejuvenates the weary limbs.

This Sarahan at the outer Seraj valley of Kullu district is not to be confused with the Sarahan in Mahasu district on the upper link of the Hindustan-Tibet Road and another Sarahan on Shimla-Nahan Road in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh. 

This Sarahan is ensconced in the mountains of outer Seraj area of Kullu. It is not a tourist spot. One has to travel from Shimla along the Hindustan Tibet Road to the town of Rampur Bushahr and then across the raging Satluj to the Kullu district. The last lag of the journey is the large village of Nirmand up to Bagi Pul. From here the trek begins with a steady climb along a small stream.

The scenery of Sarahan casts a seductive spell on lovers of nature. It is a quite alluring place far from the maddening crowd.

A similar experience awaits the trekker beyond Sarahan en’route to the 12000 feet high Bashleo pass. A 12 Km descent takes one to Bathal, another spot of great scenic beauty. The slopes along the route are lined with fresh green foliage and the grazing grounds used by the Gujjars who tend their cattle. The sight is a tapestry of colors and gaiety against the rich background of lush green forests.

The entire route is dotted natural work of rock outcrops with multi-colored flowers peeping out along with clumps of rhododendrons. The trekkers exhilarate in negotiating hairpin bends. Crossing the Bashleo pass from the outer to inner Seraj valley is a unique experience, and its top provides a panaromic view of Pir Panjal range.

The descent of Bathad on the steep mule track is treacherous.  But the masses of blue purple, iris splashed over the hill sides, buttercups, daisies, sorrel, wild rose and a host of other flowering plants make the trek a rare pleasure. A cold bath in the Bathad rivulet is indeed refreshing.

The people of the area who seem to have few needs and therefore few worries lead a simple life. They are god- fearing, credulous and superstitious. But they are contented with their lot and are lively, good- tempered, truthful and honest. Their weather beaten faces proclaim poverty and the deplorable socio- economic state of the region.

Since food is scarce and the arable land limited, the people ward off  the danger of over- population by practicing the law of primogeniture. Hence polyandry is a social and economic necessity and the parents are reluctant to educate their children and make them work in the fields instead.

The path followed from Rampur virtually cuts one off from all that is known to be sophisticated, and it is only at Banjar at a distance of 16 Km that one finds the signs of civilization. The road becomes jeep-able and the melodious sound of the running brook and the soothing verdure provides an unforgettable sight.

Banjar is a beautiful spot nestled in the interlocked ranges of high hills. It is a good market town that caters to the needs of the sub-urban hilly area.

The visitors like to linger on here and this is what seems to happen with the weary trekkers when the grey half light of the morning flirts with them through the blinds of the cosy civil rest house. The last trek to Lrji and Aut is of 22 Km.

The Banjar-Larji is a verdant valley with Tirthen, the tributary of Beas, flowing through it. Mangalore and Bali are the flourishing villages on the way. Aut is the gateway to the Kullu valley and at every step the Beas river reveals the changing beauty of this heavenly region.

Bajaura and Bhuntar are the places of special interest between Aut and Kullu. Some 32 Km from Bhuntar, the hot springs of Manikaran are an important tourist attraction. A jeep-able road along the Parbati river leads from Bhuin forest rest house to Kasol, a place which is known as mini Isreal as number of  tourists are always found nestling there. The distance of Manikaran from Kasol is about 5 Km. Kasol is an oasis of beauty in wooded wilderness of the Parbati valley. It is a quite and a charming place ideal for those in search of tranquility. The nearby Pin Parbati range provides a delightful backdrop. For the tourists wishing to get away from the monotony of routine chores, veritable it is a veritable paradise.

The turbulent Parbati River inspires awe and only Byron is needed to capture and recapitulate its might and beauty in the words of sublime poetry. The waters of the hot springs spurt out under pressure. The rice placed in a muslin bag can be cooked in less than 20 minutes. The water which contains not sulphur or iron is famous for its healing powers.

The contour of Kullu Manali is pleasantly broken by a number of transverse ridges and mountain streams. Manali is a tourist dream. The thick log cabins piercing the sky right from the banks of Beas river and the lovely wooded walks up the Hadimba Devi temple, Vashist Kund and Jagat Sukh attract the visitors from far and wide. The soft pine scented air, lingering shadows, a thousand hues sprinkles over fluffy clouds by the setting sun can rejuvenate the sagging spirits.

The visit to Manali is incomplete without a visit to Rohtang Pass, the gateway to Lahaul and Spiti. On the way the trekkers come across undulating terrain and tiny hills. The hills are stern and their sides are furrowed with precipitous water courses. The pyramidal masses of granite rocks look formidable. From Rohalla onward the ascent is tough and perilous. But the effort is compensated by a close view of the snowy ranges which conjure up visions of the fairies smiling coyly at the viewer.

What lends special charm to Rohtang Pass is the sight of snow covered peaks towards North, vast exposures of the plains in the South and the majestic meandering Beas coning out of the Bead Kund.

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1 comment:

  1. Good post. Narkanda is ideal for a summer, or even winter retreat. Narkanda and its surrounding villages are famous for splendid apple orchards, contributing to the economy of the district in a major way. Variety of hotels in Narkanda caters to the needs of families, friends children and newly married couples.