Its 9 AM. Waiting restlessly at Litham campsite since 4 long hours, we were not able to decide whether to go towards Chandernahan Lake or head back towards Janglik. Reason for this confusion were menacing clouds hovering over our destined direction which gave us an indication of likely storm near the lakes. Gagan tried his best to convince we move back. Pyaare Lal, a shepard who has been coming to this location since years informed from his experience that weather would be clear by 11 AM. Gagan informed it would be too late as it would take 2 hours to reach lake and another 1 to come back. And it would be a tough task reaching back Chandigarh citing his new job which he didn’t want to lose. Amidst all this, emotional aspect which was accentuated by words of Pyaare Lal “Baar Baar mauka nai milta aise aane ka. Itni door aaye ho toh jana chahiye” was pushing me to visit the lake but mind was taking it to opposite direction……
We started from Shimla at 7 in the morning and Gagan’s friend, Varun who has been to Chandernahan earlier informed us that road till Rohru is very bad in patches and it’s better to have a vehicle with high ground clearance, pointing at our Ertiga. I entered in same anxious mode as I was 6 years ago while going towards Leh when locals told us about dangerous rivulet near Bara Lacha Pass which took around an hour to cross. I motivated myself with that thought that if I could clear that, this section also I would be able to clear.
When we reached Khara Pathar, around 77 kms from Shimla, after driving on proper metaled roads, finally we encountered the rough patch. Previous day rains had made the surface marshy and it became slippery to drive. But it was fun to drive on those roads. Initial anxiousness made way for the excitement as it was less bad than I had anticipated.
We reached Chirgaon at around 11:30 and then waited for our guide Pankaj who had promised to meet us there. After a wait of 3 hours, when we got ready to move towards Janglik village, our plans of starting the trek same day were postponed as he told us last 30 kms drive would take atleast 2 hours as there were no roads. Rightly so, we reached Janglik at around 5:30
Janglik, around 250 kms from Chandigarh is last village of Shimla district and people share culture more with Kinnaur than Shimla. It is a quiet village with a population of around 100 with houses following a usual pattern of slanting roofs with overlapped pieces of slates acting as roof. Located at 1800 metres, village receives heavy snowfall from December onwards till starting March.
We strolled through the village trying to soak ourselves in the calmness of environment.
Away from smartphones and internet, I realized one is able to think so clearly and world is so less complicated.
Children of village gave us good company and after that we headed towards Pankaj’s home which acted as our shelter for the night.
We woke up early and started the trek at around 7. I had seen photographs of the trek earlier and as I had realized through my other trekking experiences, a beautiful destination might not have initial part as enchanting as destination itself. That’s what we felt. After crossing the village, it was more of dry terrain and dense forests had eclipsed the landscapes.
After walking for around 2 hours through forest trails, we reached Simar Thatch, a place that provided a perfect landscape shot. With 2 little huts and small rivulets flowing besides them, it acted as our first resting point. The place had a touch of barrenness of high altitude terrain as well as freshness of mid altitude lush green meadows and that calmness and sound of blankness was starting to fill us.
Right after Simar Thatch, as we started to cross Tree Line, views of landscapes opened up and the moment we reached final ridge towards Dayara Thatch, we were awestruck by sight of towering peaks of Chanshal Range.
Dayara Thatch campsite is a vast area of almost flat land. First thing that came to my mind after reaching the campsite was to relax. An almost perfect site, campsite deserved a stay for the night but since we were short on time, we moved ahead towards Litham, which our guide told would take around 2 hours from Dayara Thatch. As a rule of thumb, you can atleast double the amount of time whatever locals tell 😀
After resting for half an hour, we proceeded towards Litham. Our guide pointed to a valley where Litham was and we thought this should not take even 2 hours 😀 But as happens always in mountains after every 15 mins we thought as if Litham was going further. It took ages for us to reach there. We were there just before sunset.
Locals had told us about a waterfall that is visible from Litham but I did not pay much attention. But when I reached Litham, that spectacular sight of that humongous waterfall removed all tiredness. I have never seen something like that. Flow of water was so ferocious; it was as if someone had opened gates of a dam. And imagine that waterfall was another 2 hours’ trek from our Litham campsite. Phew!
We had planned to go towards Chandernahan Lake(s) next day early morning. There are 7 lakes in total that make Chandernahan but locals say no one has ever been able to visit the 7th lake. I started to paint a picture in my mind how the 7 lakes would be. Would they be far from each other; would they be huge?
I woke up at 5 AM and the moment I opened the door of our tent, I was amazed at that moment to see hovering clouds which had completely engulfed our campsite and visibility was reduced to almost 10 metres. On top of that, it started to drizzle. Then the other thought came; how would we be able to trek in this kind of weather?
Drizzling continued and we waited for weather to clear as it would have been very risky to trek.
Its 9 AM. Waiting restlessly at Litham campsite since 4 long hours, we were not able to decide whether to go towards Chandernahan Lake or head back towards Janglik. Reason for this confusion were menacing clouds hovering over our destined direction which gave us an indication of likely storm near the lakes. Gagan tried his best to convince we move back. Pyaare Lal, a shepard who has been coming to this location since years informed from his experience that weather would be clear by 11 AM. Gagan informed it would be too late as it would take 2 hours to reach lake and another 1 to come back. And it would be a tough task reaching back Chandigarh citing his new job which he didn’t want to lose. Amidst all this, emotional aspect which was accentuated by words of Pyaare Lal “Baar Baar mauka nai milta aise aane ka. Itni door aaye ho toh jana chahiye” was pushing me to visit the lake but mind was taking it to opposite direction.
Enough was enough, we decided we will go towards Chandernahan and during that moment I cannot forget that look on Gagan’s face as if trying to say in typical Punjabi “Ki hai yaar. Nai” which I literally laughed off at.
Once we started the uphill trek towards that Chandernahan waterfall, weather started to clear and views were even better than previous day. Only difficult part was the last steep stretch till waterfall but somehow I was calm and rather was raring to trek through that challenging portion.
Right from time I did my BMC course, I have realized the phrase “Be slow and steady” works so perfectly in mountains. That’s what I tried to implement; I did not stop for entire stretch, rather walked slowly till the top. It was amazing sight at the top as if I had entered another world.
We had reached right at the mouth of waterfall and sat beside the river.
First Chandernahan lake was 10 mins walk from there. And, as per beliefs of locals, we were supposed to remove shoes there and cover all other lakes bare foot. We proceeded towards 4th lake which our guide told was the biggest.
Each lake was around 15-20 mins walk from previous one and walking barefoot was a different kind of satisfying experience. As we were covering one lake after the another, I just could not believe the blissful moments I was in as I had never done a more beautiful trek than this. Gushing sound of water entering one lake, staying there for some time and then leaving to fill the next lake was a distinguishing sight.
Fourth Chandernahan lake was truly a natural wonder in itself as if crafted skillfully by nature.
Reaching there filled me with that happy feeling and as I sat there, feeling coziness of wet grass in my feet, I took out a chocolate from my pocket. This has been my personal ritual, I always have one while exploring which I eat once I reach the destination to celebrate the moment 🙂