There is just something about being out in the midst of greenery, even if you are in the city. Makes you feel like you should pitch a tent, set up a camp and spend the night slow roasting your dinner. Most times, it’s not really possible to leave city life behind, pack a bag and leave for the mountains, because office, responsibilities and well, life! The best thing to do then, is to take a couple of days off and head for the nearest hills.
Now the closest you can come to wilderness, while in North India, and yet retain a sense of not being too far away from the world is in Triund. Located in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, and embraced lovingly by the Dhauladhar Range, Triund stands tall and almost inaccessible. Inaccessible only till you decide to walk up and conquer the peaks!
The road to Triund: The hike up to Triund peak, for nearly 13 kilometers, can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, based on how fit you are, how many times you stop to smell the flowers and what speed you walk at. There are clear directions all along the way, so that travellers don’t end up somewhere else. The first 5 kilometres can be said to absolutely relaxing, almost like a walk in the park, with wide and levelled walking paths. Roughly, at the end of the five kilometres, there will be a small café, where you can take a breather, drink some Gatorade and slurp on some Maggi. Rest up, before you take on the next part of the journey.
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The next 5km will bring you face to face with narrower paths, huge boulders that you have to climb across and a couple of slippery streams to cross. The remaining 3km might be the hardest of the entire hike, with steep paths and blind turns to navigate. But once you reach the summit, the sight will take your breath away, if you have any left by the time. The most welcome sights would probably be the snowy mountain tops, seemingly at an arm’s length. There are three smaller café camps here, which serve everything from rice, pancakes, noodles to omelettes and much more.
Food and other amenities: Carry a couple of chocolate bars and packets of cookies with you. For the hike, buy a couple of water bottles and energy drink to keep lethargy at bay. Other than these, you can buy almost everything from the campsite.
What to pack: Don’t pack too heavy; you know will have to carry that bag up there yourself. Make sure to take a couple of rolls of toilet paper, a change of clothes, a bed sheet, some reading material and of course, your camera. Since there won’t be any electricity up there, take along power banks or fully charge your electronic devices.
What will it cost: Once you reach Dharamshala or even McLeodganj, it will cost you no more than 1500-2000 INR to spend 2 nights in Triund. The camping site costs are 100 INR per night. If you are not taking your tent along then hiring a tent will cost you around 300 INR per night with a sleeping bag and a mat thrown in. Food for one time will set you back by 150 INR. If using ponies to take your stuff up to the summit, it might cost you almost 800 INR for the journey.
Why go to Triund: Because it is the shortest and arguably the easiest trek available in North India. It is near a major town, and there are plenty of people crossing through the day. It is cheap, it is beautiful and it is, of course, a place where you can have some peace of mind. The awe-inspiring sunrise, and the equally mesmerizing starry night will probably make you want to stay longer.
Top Tip: If you are into non-vegetarian food and like roasted meats, we suggest buying chicken from McLeodganj and taking it to Triund. The cooks at the café camps are always nice enough to let you borrow a little bit of oil and some spices to marinate the meat in, and then also help you build a bonfire to roast it on. Use bits of cleaned sticks to pierce the meat and hold it over the fire.