We decided to trek through Kuari Pass, in Uttranchal Himalayas and the journey started from New Delhi. It was raining for the most of the journey and when we reached Rishikesh at 12 midnight, it was still raining. I was quite disappointed and I started bugging my husband that maybe we will not be able to trek at all if it rained like this. He too got confused for a while and we considered alternatives but he pacified me, saying if it would rain too much we would trek through Valley of Flowers instead.
So we checked into Gaurav Hotel, which is just in front of the bus stand and it is nothing to write home about. The only saving grace: no carpet that would stink and relatively clean washroom.
Next morning, we started for Joshimath on this Khatara (uncomfortable) bus. Our journey for the Kuari Pass Tek had finally started. It was full of pilgrims intending to visit Badrinath, which is quite close to Joshimath. Both of us have motion sickness and have no option but to get zonked on Avomine.
The journey was the usual bus journey with lovely view of the river Ganga, stops at Dhabas for lunch and tea, the aching limbs and the fervent wish that we may reach soon. Most of the time, because of taking Avomine, we both fall asleep and miss the view.
This bus had particularly sharp edge (I kept my tracksuit top on it) where I rested my hands on the window and I hit my head on the seat in front so bad a few times that I had small bumps (blame it on Avomine induced sleep) till two days after.
When we travel, we never book a hotel in advance (don’t ask me why, ask Seshadri) or decide on a trekking agency we would use. While we were walking to a hotel with huge rucksacks (and shoes tied to them), a young guy asked us if we were here to trek? He pointed out Grand Adventures to us and we were sold on their punch line ‘Where you come from is not nearly as important as where you are going!’ We liked their philosophy and decided to give them a try. They gave us good rates and ultimately we trekked with them. Our guide’s name is Sohan Singh Bisht (Sonu and I recommend him highly as a guide) and not only he is an excellent guide but an excellent cook too, a much appreciated quality by both of us! He along with our two horsemen (young lads really, of 18-19 years of age) told us so many fascinating stories. And by the time we reached Joshimath, the rains had completely disappeared. We really had a sunny trek this time.
The starting point of our trek was Auli, and one can take a jeep to Auli from Joshimath, but that would have meant Avomine and being zonked again. So, we decided to take the ropeway along with Sonu. We were quite scared that the state government authorities would not let us take so much of luggage on the ropeway but they were really nice and helpful. I have high praise for them for treating us with a lot of consideration. Our horses were waiting for us in Auli. We started quite late on the first day but it really did not matter, as we covered a very short distance.
We walked barely for 45 minutes when our guide told us we would be camping for the day. Our guide helped us pitch our tent and then took over the kitchen! Very soon we realized we had forgotten to bring sugar. But our guide, with the help of the young lads managed to get it from some village. As I said earlier, Sonu cooked excellent food and we feasted throughout this trek.
From the second day we started trekking in earnest, and we camped at the base of Kuari Pass. We decided to sit there idle for one day, as the views were fabulous. Usually, people camp at Chitrakanta but our guide took us further probably to compensate for the little walking we did on day one.
After sitting for one day we were raring to go and our guide set us a really ambitious target. We had to reach Pana (skipping two campsites along the way), and even he was anxious, as to how long we would take. We started at seven in the morning and crossed Kuari Pass and continued walking on and on and on … We walked for nine hours that day and even the locals would feel surprised that we managed to cover all that distance in one day. We feasted on Maggi in the evening before dinner and this was the most tiring day of our trek. The day after this was moderate and we camped at, Jhinji.
From Jhinji, we again had a long day, a walk of 8 hours. I thought people would be quite convinced that I can do this walk as I had done the nine hour day without any complaint. But it was not to be.
By now, our rations were really getting light and H kept joking that if I can’t walk, then I can sit on a horse and complete the trek! He also kept harping on how playing TT (I play table tennis almost daily) can never keep me fit. The guide also chimed in a few times with H. I decided to teach H a lesson.
When I walk on a trek my head is usually in the trees, flowers, hills and peaks or the stream that is flowing by. But on our walk from Jhinji to Dhuni, I kept it firmly on the path and I started with my former athlete tread and then I do not stop much (a lifetime ago, I could run ten kilometers without too much sweat). We climbed two hills that day to reach our destination and Seshadri kept struggling to keep pace.
We took a small break (where Seshadri decided to pose with the buffalo skull) and after he reached there panting, much later (OK, maybe not that much later, but still after me) I told him he could use the horse if he felt like it. I also asked for his opinion on TT again and it had changed considerably in the short span of time!
Our walk downhill was a really tough one as the road was full of loose stones and believe me, itne pathron per tou mein jindagi mein kabhi nahin chali hun (I have never walked on so many stones in my entire life). Even now my knees hurt.
Kuari Pass trail is not that littered but in the pictures above you can see the typical haul for a day. Both H and I try to pick up as much plastic as we can from the way but sometimes we are just too tired to bend down one more time or go after a off the track piece. We burn it at the camp later. If you have a better suggestion to deal with the plastic problem, do drop in a comment.
The last stop on our trek was quite close to this village and the kids have a favorite hobby, they hang around the campsite and just sit and stare at you! Quite unnerving if you ask me.
The last day’s walk was relatively easy and we soon reached the road head and once again back to the reality. Oh! and if you trek through Kuari Pass, the villagers consider you either Ungrez (Foreigner! imagine me, dark and sunburned on top of that, being mistaken for a foreigner) or a bangali (Bengali, which is far from true but at least West Bengal is in India). For the local people no one else treks!
34 thoughts on “Kuari Pass Trek, Uttarakhand Himalayas, India”
Nice, evocative post.Hope you had tons of “guliyo pahari chai,” or the sweet, syrupy pahari tea :-)Kamla
trecking is ofcourse one of the best ways of sight seeing,trecking in itself is an experience where you are not looking for a destination to enjoy the views but every new step is a new destination.
The photo with sesha holding the buffalo head reminds me of the time when i found one during our first trek and stored it on top of my rucksack. Later on our way down I was chased by a herd of wild buffalos..i think they found me attractive 🙂 with the skull on me
Wow!Great pics and great writing here… I have never seen this part of India myself 🙁 – I wish I could. Thanks for sharing this :)Suyog
Great pics… It looks like you had a wonderful time…
Great post,Mridula..Fantastic pics!!! And u had a beautiful trekking…hava great week ahead..
nice fotos.. believe u guys had gr8 fun.. was it only u & ur H??must ‘ve been gr8 effort in covering the distance in 1 single day.. gud determination..if u get time, chk out foto post in my blog of my trip to mumbai…
Excellent post. I longed to visit these places myself. See when I will be able to do that.
You seem to have had a nice trek.Gorsaun looks incredibly different this season! I never knew it would be like that. Cant image we skiied down those woods! Memoriesssss!I should do Kuari pass sometime. Do you get snow on the top in this season?
Mridula:Nice post and nice fotos – reminds me, need to take a vacation.Now try chilling in G’gaon
cool post! Good pics.
Nice pictures and account of the trek, Mridula. About knees hurting while coming downhill, you might want to try one of those support wraps around the knees for downhill treks. Really helps.
Wow, beautiful pictures! I especially love the one called “Crossing Gurson Baghyal”. Absolutely gorgeous! It sounds like you had an awesome time!
Amazing place…. Would like to trekk there sometime…
Kamala, so nice to see a comment from you. I absolutely adore tea but I got only normal Dhaba tea 🙁 No pahari tea. I will try next time. Do you belong to the hills?Well said Maverick, I completely agree with you.Krishna, in fact when we found those skulls, sesha was telling us about your incident only :)Didi, jaab tu jaayege tou tere gaal aur naak dono laal ho jaayenge! Soch le.
Suyog, next time make it a point and visit Ladakh.Emma, we did have a wonderful time. Gangadhar, I still have my head in the mountains, and it is a strugle to get back to routine. Sathish, I had a look at your photographs 🙂 Arun, and I can’t imagine Gurson coveed in snow! Kuari Pass and Har-Ki-Doon both are beautiful treks in Uttranchal. And no, even at the top there was no snow now.Ashis, I find it so difficult to chill in Gurgaon :(Travel Plaza, thanks.Pooja, right, we will keep knee caps in mind and we probably need better shoes, the one we trek with, Hunter shoes, have very little cushion.Amy, we had a most wonderful time, thank you.Ajeya, do trek there, Kuari pass (also known as Lord Curzon’s Trail) is beautiful.
Mridula, your photos are absolutely stunning and it sounds like an amazing trek. Every time you write about another trek I want to get on the first plane there and do it too.
Amazing trek great pics and thanks for helping me visit thru your words. How long did this whole thing take you?You also made me want to just take off and use my remaning vacation for soemthing like this.. sigh 🙂
Lily, maybe when you visit India next time, you can trek in the Indian Himalayas? I am sure you will enjoy it.Sanjay, it took us 6 days of trek days and 12 days from Delhi to Delhi. I have realized that it is better to have some extra days in a trek, so that if due to some reason you get delayed you are under no pressure to rush. If you have vacation, it should be utilized and then shared with all of us on your blog.
What a wonderful travel tale – as always I feel transported to the place.
It looks like a great trek! We are going to India this July and August and plan to do the trek ourselves. Can you tell us, how much you paid per day per person with Grand Adventures?
Larst, we did had a wonderful trek, thank you. We did not hire everything from Grand Adventures, as we had our own tent, sleeping bags, rucksacks and a lot of food stuff. We hired a guide and horses through them. We paid 400 rupees per day for the guide (a bonus was he cooked too as our group was small, otherwise people hire cooking staff separately) and 300 rupees per day for each horse so we were roughly charged 1000 rupees per day for these two things. The agency also did our forest department permission and we paid around 700 rupees separately for it. We paid something like 8500 rupees as our final bill for six days of trek. Also people take different amount of time for the same trek, like some take 8 days to complete and the amount spent will go up then. I wonder if this helps? Feel free to drop in a mail or shoot another comment if you have further queries.Also, it may rain a lot in July and August but even then I guess something or other should remain trekable. Hope you will have a nice trip.
Lovely pics, the peaks are so very clear and nice. I had to wait 10-12 days to see these pics as I was out of town with limited access to net – and every night I crossed out another ‘wait’ day :).Good luck for the TataBye – I do hope we will get another lovely account of a gret travel from you.
Rajeev, I didn’t win the Oktatabyebye thing, but I can anyway take a vacation 🙂 Which I plan to take after the World Cup Soccer is over. And thanks for your kind words on my pictures.
Dear Mridula,You had a good time in Kuari Pass Trek. So nice picture you clicked. Whenever you want to go any trek book all the things in advance. It will make your trek comfortable and memorable.Thanks Arun
Arun, thanks a lot for your comment and the kind words for my pictures. We somehow believe in traveling without booking too many things and till date it has worked fine with me.
hey tat an awesome trek u did lady..:-)am planning for this very trek,hope to get some rough estimate on the budget expenditure..u could mail me at firstname.lastname@example.orgPallavi
Hey!!Awesome info!!Solved so many doubts! :)ME and two of my cousins planning to do this trek in July (I know it’d be raining, but that’s the only time we can manage! )Can you please gimme an estimate of the budget? Specially from Joshimath?
Hey just saw your previous comment about the cost etc. Can we hire sleeping bags/rucksacks etc. from them? We are quite new to trekking (haven’t really gone for a trek more than 2 days)! We don’t mind traveling in road transport etc. instead of booking cabs at Rishikesh itself.
Hi Aditya,Sorry it took me quite sometime to get back to your comment. Yes you can hire stuff like sleeping bags and tents from travel agents.I wonder who much rain would be there in July. Even w always travel by shared jeeps and buses rather than hiring cabs. Have a wonderful trek.
Hi, I was so impressed by your trek experience that I myself decided to do this trek and I would be doing this trek in April.Can you please help me out on 1 thing,Can you give me rough idea of expenditures you made during this trek, for porters staying in joshimath etc.Also since we are planning trek from Ghat to Auli,can u tell me whether we would find all equipments shop and porters available at Ghat or we will first have to move to Joshimath and then after hiring everything will have 2 come back to Ghat for it.Thanx and regards
We(9 persons) want to go on trekking from Auli to Ghat via Kuari pass, can you please give the packeage cost in detail.
Hi Saurabh, we did it in 2006 so the info would be a little outdated. If you want Sohan’s number we can pass it on to you and you can inquire with him.