“We are sorry to announce that all our Kashmir Great Lakes batches have been cancelled due to the ongoing security issues in the valley”!!!!
The mail from Indiahikes was a cruel blow to the dreams that I had been delicately weaving for the past three months, about my pending rendezvous with the surreal Kashmir Valley.
‘A trek a year’ has been my life’s philosophy ever since I did the legendary Roopkund trek in 2015. And so, in order to continue with the tradition and not get bogged down by the last minute cancellation of the KGL trek, the research process started all over again..
Hampta Pass is where it finally ended..I had heard a lot about the trek and frankly speaking, doing this well known Himanchali trek was always on the cards..And boy..did I make a great decision..The trek surely lived up to the expectations and provided some everlasting magical moments..
Now when I sit back and relish my Hampta Pass memoirs, here are the five reasons that ,I think, made this trek a truly unforgettable one:
- A stunning cross-over trek
Not many treks can rival the Hampta Pass trek in this regard. The trek starts from the lush green meadows and forests of the Kullu Valley and gradually ventures into the rugged and barren landscape of the stunning Spiti Valley.
What you are left with is a visual extravaganza and different shades of beauty. In fact, the trek gives you a ‘2-in-1’ kind of a feel where you experience two drastically different settings within a span of 2-3 days..Its when you come in the vicinity of the 14000 ft Hampta Pass on the third morning, that the landscape changes from green to a mixture of grey and brown. And when you cross the pass, the jaw dropping Spiti Valley welcomes you with open arms!!
- Spell bounding Campsites
The beautiful campsites on the Hampta Pass trek are a sort of destinations in themselves. All the four campsites are riverside, wherein you can just lie down on beautiful meadows, play group games, watch that beautiful sunset, and walk under the star filled sky. Balu ka ghera on the second day, and Shiagoru on the third day were the pick of the lot.
Shiagoru is probably the most beautiful campsite I have ever encountered. A picture postcard setting, it is a huge meadow surrounded by towering peaks, and a gushing river stream bisecting the meadow into two.
- The awe-inspiring Chandratal Lake
This proved to be the icing on the cake. Most of the trekking agencies include the surreal Chandratal lake on the final day of the Hampta Pass trek. And I remain truly indebted to them for doing so.
Chandratal was not just a destination..it was an experience of a lifetime. It was a gruelling 2.5 hrs drive into the heart of the mercurial Spiti Valley, but just a glimpse of the serene turquoise waters of pristine lake made me lay off all the hardships, and surrender myself to its cascading spell. As I sat there on the shores of the lake, I could hear tranquility speak. The kiss of the wind, and the ripples of the lake provided a kind of companionship, the mortals seldom do!!
- A fast paced Himalayan Odyssey
It is a short trek compared to many other well known week long Himalayan treks. But inside these 3-4 days, you get a complete picture of what the Himalayas have to offer. Such is the diverse range, and that too at a fast pace, that you experience something new at every corner.
You start by cutting across the maple and cedar forest into the vast open meadows sprinkled with multi colored wild flowers, only for them to gradually disappear and make way to the barren valleys of the Spiti region. Add to that, the thrill of crossing a high altitude pass at approx 14,500 ft..you realize you cant ask for anything more in such a short span..
- Proximity to Manali
Most of the treks originate from a pretty obscure place lying hours of distance away from the nearest well known town. That’s not the case with Hampta pass trek. The trek starts from Manali town..In fact, in the wee hours of the first day, the entire group assembled on the Mall road in the heart of Manali, from where we were taken to the actual starting point in four wheelers..
The proximity to Manali really widens your options to explore the region further. After the trek’s completion, you have the option to cover the nearby excursions like the Parvati Valley, or venture out to Leh if the time permits. Or if you just wish to laze off and soothen up your tiring body and soul, just take a chill pill and get lost into the lanes of Old Manali.
Grab a beer pint, get into the groove of the live jazz in the numerous pubs, and let the magical Manali evenings sway you away with its ethereal charm and elegance..