Table of contents for Chail-Narkanda-Hatu Peak trip
- Chail-Narkanda-Hatu Peak trip part 1
- Chail-Narkanda-Hatu Peak trip – Part 2
Day 2 – 19 June 2010
We started for Narkanda at 9 AM on Saturday. The distance between Chail and Narkanda is about 80 km. The single road from Chail takes you to Kufri via koti where it merges in the Shimla-Rampur highway. We started early (by our standards) to avoid the notorious traffic jams at Kufri.
The road till kufri was simply amazing with dense forests of tall deodar trees keeping us company for the drive. The road quality was very good except for a 5 km patch near Koti where maintenance work was on. Near Kufri we saw yaks and horses going to Kufri for the touristy rides.
Kufri was crossed at 10 AM without any hurdles and we stopped at Fagu for breakfast at Kailash (again) restaurant. Nice tawa paranthas with lots of butter, curd and tea. From here on, it was non-stop ride to Narkanda. Some pictures en-route Narkanda:
We reached Narkanda at 12 and found that the place really didn’t have many hotels. Narkanda is more of a rural center for nearby villages than a major tourist destination. The PWD rest house at the chowk was full. We decided to try our luck at the Hatu even though we saw availability status on the site.
The hike yielded no results. Back in the main market, we tried two other hotels without success. Finally, we found a room at Hotel Harsh villa about 250 meters from the market on a road going upwards in parallel to the PWD rest house. Advance paid, we came back to the market for a quick shave and a cup of tea and then started the trek to Hatu peak.
You can take your car right up to the peak but the road to the peak is wide enough for a single car so you need some experience of driving on narrow hill roads.
I love to explore hills on foot and sit in secluded places looking at nature’s wonders so the car was left right at the base where hike starts. The distance from the base to the top is 6 km and it’s a steep ascent as you gain 3000 feet in these 6 km. About 100 meters on the road and Mahesh suggested trekking through the forest. So we left the road and picked up a walking path. Some distance covered and the track disappeared.
We kept walking in the general direction of Hatu uphill. 15 minutes of this ascent, and the illusions about our fitness were all gone. We wanted to ask for directions but there was no human in sight. After walking for 1 hour, we reached a hilltop from where the road down below was visible. While we were taking a break here, a group of guys was coming down from the peak. They confirmed that we were on the right path but we still had 4 kms to cover. From here onwards, we took a mix of road and off-road tracks and a lot of breaks. We did not meet anyone else attempting Hatu on foot after this though there were a fair number of cars going up or down. We met this guy with his herd of goats grazing peacefully while he had set a tree stump on fire. The weather did not warrant wood fires so we asked him why he did that. His answer- “Aise hi” (just like that).
One thing that we noticed walking in Chail and Narkanda were a large number of tree stumps (not natural death) on the slopes. This is not easily seen from a car but very noticeable when you are on foot. Hope the Himachal govt. is doing something to stop this.
We finally reached the top huffing and puffing after a 3.5 hours walk at 4:30 PM. As expected, the views from the hilltop at 11000 feet were beautiful. There is a small temple of Hatu Mata at the peak. The beautiful wooden temple that you see in the pictures is the new one being constructed right next to the old temple. There is nothing else on the peak. No vendors absolutely.
A water tap near the temple provides you all the liquid you can get here. Most of the people at the top were from nearby areas in Himachal.We saw some local youth who were there with family drinking beer and then throwing the empty bottles carelesslyon the peak.
After enjoying the views and a well deserved rest, we started back at 6 PM. This time, instead of walking, we asked a local couple for a ride in their car. The next 10 minutes were spent in the man talking with us while driving full speed on the steep slopes with sharp turns and Mahesh and I praying for our lives. Thankfully, we came down safe. A cup of tea at the bus stand and a walk in the market later, we reached this beautiful meadow/bugyal about 150 meters away from our hotel. We sat there for a long time watching the kids playing cricket.
We had dinner at Shyam Bhojanalaya in the main market. The food prices at Narkanda restaurents/shops are at local levels and that means no tourist tax. While buying sweets, I saw a calendar of Shrikhand Mahadev (more than 18000 feet) in the shop and had an interesting discussion about the place with the elderly shop owner. Shrikhand has been on my list of to-do places for some time. Its one of the Kailashas considered to be Great Lord Shiva’s abodes. We met a guy there who had done Shrikhand 3 times and was planning for Kinner Kailash this time. The yatra to Shrikhand opens only for 15 days (second half of July) every year and mostly local youth attempt it.
Day 3 – 20 June 2010
We started for Tani Jubbar lake and Thanedar at 8:30 AM after breakfast at the bus stand. The lake is 7 km and Thanedar 16 km from Narkanda. The roads for the first 6 km were in bad shape.The lake turned out to be rather small and appeared lifeless with no birds/ducks or flowers in sight. The small temple near the lake was not yet open.
Next stop was Thanedar, famous for the apple orcahrds. This was to be the second disappointment of the day. When we asked the locals what was there to see, they all replied “Yahan to kuchh nahin hai” (there is nothing to see here). The apple harvest season starts here in late August/early September so this is what we got at the famous Stokes farm.
We came back to Narkanda at 10:30 AM and drove straight for Delhi. Shimla was crossed via bypass at 12:30 and the first stop was at HPTDC’s Apple cart inn at Kiarighat. This is a nice hotel-restaurent about 20 km from Shimla. We enjoyed bread-Omlette and tea (very good) here sitting under the trees.
The toy train near Kalka
We were beginning to feel the heat as the plains drew near. By the time we reached Kalka, the AC’s had to be turned on. To think that we were wrapped in our Rajais only the previous night. We reached Pinjore Garden at 4:30 PM and decided to take a break there. Pinjore Garden turned out to be a beautiful place but we could not move around much due to the heat.
After this, there was only one target, reach home and take a cold bath. We missed karnal Haveli somehow and stopped at the newly opened haveli at Sonepat for dinner. There was a long waiting at haveli so the dinner was at a Murthal dhaba.We reached my home at 10:45 PM after the long drive and found that this was the hottest day of June with temp at 45 C.
Drenched in sweat, I was already planning my next trip.