Pin Parvati Pass Trek
 pin-parvati-pass-trek

 

Pin Parvati Pass is a great Trans Himalayan trek for seasoned trekkers. One can easily be        dazzled with the spectacular beauty this trek has to offer and overlook the challenges it throws back. Regardless, Pin Parvati Pass trek is a 100 km trail of nonstop thrills for those who seek adventure with reasonable risks. To begin with the trails are ill-defined and badly washed out in rainy season. Route finding  inside the thick forest of Great Himalayan National Park can confuse even the experienced trekker. Crossing Parvati River and its tributaries can be a harrowing experience and traversing the un-roped deceptive crevasses of the  high altitude Pin Parvati Pass has its risks

 

So why does Pin Parvati Pass still score so high in being one of the most sought-after high altitude pass treks in the Indian Himalayas? We asked Amitava Chakraborty and Vaibhav Chauhan to  answer this question and here is a summary of what they had to say.

 

1. Pin Parvati Pass trek provides the most spectacular traverses from the forest and verdant meadows of the Parvati Valley to the Buddhist villages in the trans Himalaya  region of Spiti. The sharp change in contrast of landscape, people, flora and fauna  completely takes you by surprise as you leave behind the rich biological diversity in Parvati Valley and enter the cold dry mountain desert region of Spiti.  

The day one walk from Pulga to the picturesque meadows of Khir Ganga pass through the densest Himalayan forests one can find- well complimented with some lovely waterfalls. On day 3, the experience of crossing the Parvati River by a pulley bridge used by dam workers  is an adventure in itself. On day 5, you get to witness a small glacial lake at Mantalai  at an elevation of over 13,450 feet going via few “Gaddi” encampments making it a most pleasurable experience. As you climb higher to Pin Parvati Pass, the bird’s-eye view of  the Parvati and Pin valley is fantastic. The exhilaration of traversing a 17,457 ft pass is an experience of a lifetime. The views of Pyramid Peak and White snow Peak are also  outstanding. 

 

2. The natural splendors of Pin Parvati Pass trek is beyond comparison. The vast meadows of  Odi Thach, Thakur Kuan are so full of a wide variety of alpine flowers that it puts the Valley of Flowers  to shame. The raw unspoiled beauty of the valley is unparalleled. Be it the countless waterfalls cascading down or the natural made bridges or the myriad rock formations of Pin Valley,  they collectively give an impression that one has been transported into the Garden of Eden.

 

3. The trek is an absolute must for wildlife enthusiasts. As you descend down from Pin Parvati Pass towards Paldor and Mudh, you can get lucky and spot an elusive Snow Leopard which is a rarity but a possibility nonetheless. 

 

4. The hot water springs of Parvati Kund at Khirganga draws huge number of people and is something not to be missed. Words cannot describe the experience of a hot water bath here after a hard day of trekking. It is a five star sauna experience on a trek which you seldom get in any Himalayan Trek.

 

History & Folklore:

The British  explored this pass to gain access to the once difficult to reach Spiti valley. It made for the shortest route between Kullu and Spiti which has remained popular with shepherds. The pass was first officially crossed in 1884 by Sir Louis Dane. Himachal Government opened this route for trekkers in 1993 popularising tourism to Kullu Great Himalayan National Park. The meadows of Khirganga are revered as Lord Shiva  is said to have mediated here for 3000 years. The hot sulphur springs of Parvati kund here are said to have remarkable healing properties. The two natural bridges on Parvati River known as Pandu-pul are dedicated to the Pandav brothers who are said to have built them. The sacred site of Mantalai Lake is an open temple dedicated to Shiva.

 

The documentation & photographs are based on the experience of Amitava Chakraborty’s trek to Pin Parvati Pass.

 

Dreaming Pin Parvati: Standing upon the high pass a porter makes a humble offering of camphor and incense burning in a small brass container protected from the blizzard by a the wind breakers that the cairns offer here at over 5300 metres. As the wind scatters the white wisps of smoke the fragrant smell of camphor and juniper spreads over this area which is between a rock and a hard place. All the fatigue is gone and the mind is alert to this vast amphitheatre spread below the team members’ legs.

In this interplay of snow and cloud the sun comes and goes and we have crossed into another land. On one side green pastures where flowers of  various hues have coloured our imaginations for days together and on the other side a barren desert of Spiti known as the Pin. Now  high mountain peaks are visible wherever the eye wanders, and our luck holds as the weather does not pack in and bright sunshine clears the gloom that we  trudged through to reach this high place.

 

The boot blisters, backaches and parched swollen lips are a forgotten thing  as our eyes feast on the vast array of peaks with the sun igniting the Pyramid Peak at 20,105 feet and a thousand feet below the Parbati South - another beauty. Far up in the sky lammergeyers ride the currents scouring the skies looking for prey or carrion. Here the only sounds are that of the wind blowing and our hurried breath as the whole team bowed in obeisance to the Gods for having brought us safely to this magical place. From here we could see the Shrikhand Mahadev complex and Kinner Kailash with Jorkhanden resplendent on one side and the Dibibokri complex on the Parvati side that we  left behind us.

 

On this precipice, people through the ages have built cairns out of boulders where offerings  like incense sticks, walnut shells, and a few torn prayer flags from the last expedition lay scattered. As the team were praying bent in supplication my eyes took in all these details and I lifted my eyes again to take in this paradise full of mystery and promise.

Down below one can see the tributary of the Pin river coursing through a land of hues that range from orange to vermilion or is it hallucinations at such a height ; nay this is the land of the ibex and Tibetan wolf and Monal- an exotic bird of amazing coloured plumage. We were so glad being here till a cold wind brought up a flurry of snow and the skies become overcast and we are all reminded of our mortal selves in this high place where time has no meaning and our lives feel almost fulfilled being here at this very time and place.

 

Day 0: Unpacking and planning for the trek in Pulga ahead of Manikaran

 

The Pin Parvati trek involves reaching Manikaran from Delhi in a 18 to 20 hour drive via Chandigarh, Anand Saheb Gurdwara and then up Swarghat to Bilaspur and turning from Bhuntar airport to Manikaran. Knowing the kind of ramshackle shack like sunless town that Manikaran has become, one finds it prudent either to stop before at Kasol or carry on through a mountain drive to Barsheni the last road head.

Once in the 80’s I had stopped at Manikaran to take a bath at the temple’s hot spring there and also ate rice and lentils boiled in a cloth sack by my friend who was of a religious bent of mind.  He was also was a student of history and informed me that the area above towards Barsheni were rich in silver and  were known as Waziri Rupi way back in the early 1800’s. The mines later fell into disuse due to high costs of extraction and transportation. From Barsheni one spots the hydel power project that spans the Parvati River and then carries downwards to the bridge and cross over to Pulga, 2 km ahead. 

 

This little town is of a group of three sisters Pulga, Kalga and Tulga and provides trekkers, after a bone weary drive, cheap accommodation and food at 9,154 feet. Way back till the early 90’s there was no road till Barsheni and one had to walk about five hours to Pulga but in the days of yore oak forests and bird song rent the pristine location where clear felling of trees has created quite a dusty road till Barsheni.  Barsheni which was a beautiful village covered by green trees way back when I first spotted her in September 1991 now is a very dusty group of huts from where one espies the mountain range that leads to the Pin Parvati pass and has forests of pine, holy oak and silver fir. In Pulga, if one is lucky, accommodation in the forest lodge which is a classic treat.

 

British cottage can be available.  But other homes are equally comfortable and most homes are built in the Pahari style of architecture with two stories of which the lower half is where the cattle is kept. The walls are alternately built of stone and wooden planks over which there are deodar planks covered by wooden shingles. These houses are surrounded by small orchards of pear and apples and of course some even have ten feet high stalk of marijuana growing as a cash crop.

 

After rest  the bone grinding journey was forgotten in Lal Singh’s cottage for Rs 200 to 500 -depending on one’s bargaining powers. The sleepy hamlet of Pulga which is a green little town with soaring snow clad 2000 feet high Papidarm peaks towering over the meadows where cows graze on grass interspersed with yellow flowers and one does not wish to leave early. So it is better to use the day for unpacking and distributing the load as one cannot leave belongings behind unless somebody has a team member or back up team that will carry the left behind equipments or clothes back to Delhi. The whole plan is to leave the beautiful Parvati valley and exit via the Pin Parvati pass at 17,450 ft into a stark barren landscape of craggy peaks of Spiti which is very close to the market. For good bread and cheese one can always shop for such in the little hamlet of Kasol which caters to Israeli tourists who throng this idyllic village much before Manikaran. 

 

Breaking out one’s rations the team set up kitchen cooking up a hearty meal of bread, cheese and mutton curry which is a rare pleasure soon to be forgotten in the wilderness that lay ahead. 

 

The local porters were given money and despatched to pick up chicken for the trek that lay ahead. Vegetables having been picked up from Kullu and also rations such as rice, lentils etc. and the team was ready for what lay ahead.

 

Day 1: Pulga (7218 feet) to Khirganga (9,180 feet), 10 km, 4 hours

Leave early morning and walk on through the village downhill and traverse the mountain for one hour  forty five minutes after which the valley narrows and the trail goes through a dense forest. You now reach a bridge which you cross and continue up the right bank of the river where the river turns to the right. Here the Parvati is joined by the torrential Tosh Nullah which rises from the snows of the main valley.

 

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After crossing the Tosh Nullah the trail  meanders along past a number of villages the last of which is Nakthena. After passing fields of hashish you reach a small clearing in the forest where you see a waterfall and a small temple dedicated to Shiva. You now cross the Parvati River to the left bank over a beautifully constructed wooden bridge.

 

Now a steep climb through a thick forest will bring you to Khirganga at 9,180 feet which is an alpine meadow with sulphur springs the likes of which are found below in Manikaran. Having walked upwards for two hours from Rudranag you reach the hot springs of Khirganga which are about twenty minutes walk above the campsite of this retreat of Shiva. As the porters set up camp you can soak in the spring waters that are said to have healing powers. The upper tank is fed through a spout in the hillside covered in a yellowish golden hue due to sulphur the smell of which pervades the air. A Shivling with its accompanying Yoni and trident are present near the baths with saffron flags fluttering in the air. 

 

Day 2: Khirganga to TundaBhuj or Bhojtunda (10,499 feet), 12 km, 6 hours

Now the walk continues up the left bank all day and it is a steady ascent from 9,180 feet to Tunda Bhuj at 10,499 feet. You will  cross three streams over some log bridges of which some look like they can be easily washed away when nature’s fury strikes.

 

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Then the walk continues through forests of birch, fir and rhododendron after which you reach open meadows after an hour of walking. Here you may encounter sheep dogs guarding sheep as they graze on Himalayan wild flowers that are mostly blue poppy, causing a blue hue to highlight the whole area.  An hour’s walk will lead you to the camping grounds of Tunda Bhuj which is a meadow at 10,516 feet. This place is named after the birch trees also known as Boj Patri the bark of which was once used to write manuscripts. Here you can take shelter in a few log huts or camp outside in your tents. There also is an expensive dhaba that has come up where none existed before and some may give in to the pleasures of relaxing and not having to cook .

 

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This is an amazing camp-site where the views of the summit of the Kullu Eiger come into view and many cascading waterfalls provide trekkers a photo opportunity like none other. The rocks from where the waterfalls cascade down are called the Pandushila rocks.

 

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Day 3: Tunda Bhuj to Thakur Kuan (11,155 feet), 12 km, 5 hours

Now comes a day of which seems like intense labour after the peaceful hikes of the days before and this is a boulder strewn zone on a narrow and slippery path. Initially there is a log bridge after which you need to climb a cliff face and perform rock climbing for almost an hour. The trail often disappears and there is no well defined path till one reaches the river.

 

pin parvati pass

 

Here a pulley bridge is used to cross the river and the trail then follows the true right of the valley and followed by re-crossing to the true left by another make shift bridge to Thakur Kuan. An hour of walking has its rewards as you are welcomed by a flower strewn meadow  on which you walk for close to an hour to reach Thakur Kuan.

 

pin parvati pass

 

Here overlooking the camp, the Dibibokri River gushes out of a narrow gorge and the Parvati River is serene at last as it flows past the campsite. The view of the Kullu Eiger is nothing short of spectacular. A dam now exists on the Dibibokri and is the cause of intense debate over the requirements of electricity in Kullu and Manali and of course the environmental degradation caused by its construction and the men and material invadingthis pristine location in the upper section of the Parvati valley.

 

Day 4: Thakur Kuan to Odi Thach (12,517 feet), 12 km, 5-6 hours

Several Gujjar encampments exist after the trail leaves Thakur Kuan and in two hours you reach a natural rock bridge which is a stone staircase cut into huge boulders also known as the Pandu Pul or Pandav Bridge.

 

pin parvati pass

 

After clambering over another massive boulder under which the Parbati meanders its way, you cross meadows after which you reach Oriage (Odi) Thach. Here  porters usually  break journey about two to three hundred feet above the river at Bakar Bihar Thach at 12,517 feet. 

 

pin parvati pass

 

This whole area for miles is carpeted with flowers ranging from Himalayan blue poppies in one meadow, then red poppies in another level interspersed by anemones, edelweiss,buttercups, daffodils and wild rhubarb.

 

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The place is so magical that leaving this place  becomes difficult.

 

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Day 5: Odi Thach to Mantalai Lake (13,367 feet), 10 km, 5 hours

Wake up and start early so that you reach the Parbati pass in fair weather and forge ahead towards Mantalai lake which involves a walk over flat ground followed by a stream crossing hopping over boulders and then an easy climb in the shadow of the towering Kullu Eiger.

 

pin parvati pass

 

An hour long ascent leads you to a dead moraine of a glacier descending from a glacier crossing when you reach Mantalai at 13,367 feet.

 

pin parvati pass

 

This is a lake formed by a natural dam created by the glacial moraine and the camp site is about a half hour away signified by a group of tridents sticking out of rocks where every porter prays to Shiva for offering safe passage by burning incense and this is an area where boulders are strewn all around amongst a vista of spectacular rock formations and scree slopes descending from glaciers.

 

Day 6: Mantalai Lake to Pin-Parvati base camp / Glacier Camp, (15100 feet), 12 km, 6 hours

 pin parvati pass

 

Forget the rigours of reaching Thakur Kuan from Tunda Bhuj ; this is start of the toughest part of the trek where three steep gullies exist to the left of the camp site and you have to choose the third gulley with  a steady climb over terminal moraine consisting of boulders. Follow the cairns marking the trail to save energy or if you lose sight of these painful boulder crossings.Keep to the right now and after passing the ice pools and steep rock and snow patches you reach a plateau at 15,150 feet.

 Reaching the campsite ordinarily takes 7 hours which can go up to 9-10 hours if you lose your way. The summits of Parbati South (19,049 ft), Pyramid Peak (20,105 ft), Ridge Peak (19000 ft), and Snow Peak (18550 ft) are in full view from here.

 

Day 7 & 8 : Parvati Base Camp to Pin Valley’s Dhumdhar Campsite (15,770 feet) via Pin Parvati Pass (17,457 feet), 12 km, 5 - 6 hours

 Day 8 has another tough series of steep ascents over boulders of a terminal moraine for an hour. Keep to the glacier’s left and reach a plateau with a hanging glacier in your face. The trail now climbs for an hour between the glacier and a rock face. 

 

pin parvati pass

 

You now reach a snow field with a steady incline. Move to the left of this tricky place as there are many crevasses here and  after reaching the high point of this snow field the pass becomes visible. Two hours of steady climbing and you reach the top of the pass at 17,457 feet from where you can view all the way past Pin valley towards Kinner Kailash and Srikhand Mahadev and also the Bara Shigri complex from here.

 

pin parvati pass

 

Peaks in the Dibibokri and Bara Shigri glacier region like Parbati, Kulu Makalu, Fluted Peak and Rubalkang the Goat Head can be seen with binoculars from here.

 

pin parvati pass

 

The Pin Parvati pass was first discovered from the Spiti side and not from the Parbati side by Sir Louis Dane in 1884 and from the Parvati side the crossing was made by H. Lee Shuttleworth in 1921.

 

pin parvati pass

 

After resting here for a while you can take pictures of the Spiti valley below and then proceed down a snow slope to cross a stream. After  two hours of steep descent you reach the campsite of Dhumdhar at 15,770 feet.

 

Day 9: Dhumdhar Camp to Mudh via Wickhkhurang Camp (12,600 feet), 20 km, approx. 7 – 8 hours

Dhumdhar campsite is at the confluence of the Pin and a side stream and after a short climb up the side stream’s glacier  continue 600 to 700 metres down on the true left of the valley. There are two methods of crossing here as the nullah from the glacier becomes a roaring river at points and there are about three side streams. One either fords the river on the left or continue on the right and climb the glacier but the rest of the nullahs stare one in the face. Some have bridges and some a steel bucket on a pulley. After crossing these side streams you reach a point where a trail leads to Rampur Bushahr via the Bhabha pass. 

 

pin parvati pass

 

Another hour of walking leads to Wichkhurang at 12,600 feet which is a shepherd’s grazing pasture. Mudh is another five kms from here and the trail descends to a rock and rubble area till it reaches a big cairn. Here you may see few Yak and Bharal in the hills grazing peacefully. This area is a national park where ibex, blue sheep, rare Tibetan gazelle and the woolly hare and their predators like the Tibetan wolf and snow leopard exist in this wild part of the Pin valley where craggy needle like peaks surround a sandy boulder ridden valley floor where the landscape changes to a psychedelic mix of pink, purple, green and maroon hills. These colours were due to pink, purple, white, yellow and maroon flowers and this area of Mudh was an oasis in a high altitude barren desert of Spiti. 

 

pin parvati pass

 

 You may stay at Tara hotel where a satellite phone provides a chance to contact families and where a warm water bath and clean bed sheets can relieve all aches and pains.

 

Day 10: Mudh to Shimla via Sangam

At Mudh you can feast on Thukpa and corn cakes and yak meat. Sometimes the road between Mudh and Sangam may be damaged. The road was built all the way to Mudh which previously was only up to Sangam the road head in previous years leading one to Kaza and Shimla. Now due to climatic changes and rainfall previously unheard in this rain shadow area, the road between Sangam and Mudh can be damaged due to mudslides in which case you will be left with no other option but to walk to Sangam.

Sert out for Sangam early morning. After the village follow the left bank and reach the  ledge on a cliff which is called Tailing from where  the Sangam village can be seen in the horizon. You may stop for packed lunch now. In four hours time you will reach Sangam from where vehicles await you to take you back .

 
 

 

 

      
 
 Pin Parvati Pass Trek 

 

Amitava

Amitava Chakraborty fell in love with the mountains at the age of 10 when his father was posted to Nairobi. Travellling to India included visits to Manali or Nainital and then a posting to Srinagar in Kashmir during the mid-80s gave him a chance to see the high alpine lakes of Kishansar,Vishansar, Gangabal, Tarsar and Marsar which sparked his interest in trekking. Later he proceeded to do shorter treks to Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Manikaran, Pulga etc. This was followed with even tougher treks like PinParvati Pass and Nanda Devi East ABC which he completed recently.

   
 
 
  Trek Itinerary

 

Day 1: Pulga village via  Khirganga

 

Day 2: Khirganga to Tunda-Buj

 

Day 3: Tunda-buj to Thakur-Kuan

 

Day 4: Thakur Kuan to Odi Thach

 

Day 5: Odi Thach to Mantalai

 

Day 6: Rest day (Either Mantalai or Parvati B.C*)

 

Day 7: Mantalai to Parvati Base Camp

 

Day 8: Parvati Base Camp to Pin Base Camp via Pin Parvati Pass

 

Day 9: Pin Base Camp to Mudh Village.

 

Bhimashankar trek
     
     
 
 
 Trek Facts 

Altitude

17,457 feet approx

 

Trail Type

Difficult gradients. Steep incline trek going inside forest covers with ill defined trails involving over 100 km of hiking. At Parvati Base Camp expect snow-fall and freezing temperature. Expect hidden crevasses on pass traverse day.

 

Railhead

Chandigarh is the nearest rail head to Manali - 397 km.

 

Roadhead

Buses are available from Delhi ISBT. Take a cab/local bus from Manali/Kullu to Barsheni. Delhi to Manali is 611 kms by road.

 

Base Camp

Reach Manali by train/bus/car from Delhi.

 

Best Season 

 May to September (Except Monsoon season)
Bhimashankar trek
     
 
 Trek Map
 
 pin-parvati-pass
 
 
 
 
Bhimashankar trek

 

Things to get

  

• Good quality hiking boots.

• Waterproof rucksack (60 – 70 liters)

• One raincoat, 2 liter water bottle

• Three water proof tracksuit/trouser

• Warm feather Jacket, Windcheater, woolen cap, thermal inner-wears, water proof gloves

• Personal Items like Camera, Phone, camera and phone chargers, Towel, Identity cards, toiletries, Slippers, medicine and first 

• Two sets of dry clothes 3-4 pairs of socks preferably warm ones.

• One Sleeping bag, carry mat.

• Camping gear, tents, stove etc (Can be arranged by local guide/porters}

• Medical Aid Kit. 

• Carabineer, Rope, trekking pole. Ice Axe (Optional).

 

Trek Photo 

 
 
 How to do this trek
 

Day 1: Pulga (7,218 feet) to Khirganga (9,180 feet), 10 km, 4 hours

With a motor-able road all the way to Bursheni, very few travelers trek the old 12 km, 6 hour hike from Manikaran to Pulga which is said to be a scenic trail going beside the right bank of Parvati river passing some small villages like Uchich village. Pulga has a Forest rest house build of pure teak wood where one can find accommodation to stay. Proceed early in the morning towards the apple orchards and follow the trail going via an open meadow called Swagani Maidan.

 

A 15 minute walk will lead you to an intersection where the trail bifurcates towards the true left and right of the river bank. Both these trails are the logical route going to Khirganga. Observe the confluence of river Parvati (at your right) & River Tos (at your left). Taking the left one, proceed straight towards a bridge over Tos River. Cross the bridge and follow the laid trail up the hill going through a couple of local villages. You will pass through some lovely Apple orchards and curious onlookers. The trail now will involve some steep climb for 15 minutes and then will become a gradual level walk. After about an hour into the hike you reach Nakthan Village. You can purchase some last moment supplies here but do not expect much. Rudranag now is only 30 –45 minutes of hike straight ahead the hill with Parvati river below at the right side.

 

The trail from here has its share of uphill and downhill walks and is manageable. As you reach Rudranag, spot a sacred land with a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Next to the temple is a small waterfall. Proceed ahead from Rudranag on a level-headed trail for 5 minutes till you see a makeshift bridge.  Cross the bridge over River Parvati. The trail enters a thick forest cover and involves a steep climb of over 30 minutes. After that spot a couple of water streams running down the mountain on your left. They can be used for filling up your water bottles if needed. 

 

There will be 15 minutes of gradual ascent, followed with some level headed trail. You will find a dhaba across a small stream of water where you can enjoy some refreshments or take a breather.  You will find yourself again climbing up for another 15 minutes followed with a levelwalk of 20 minutes. The last 40 minutes of the climb is a steep one. This region experiences lot of rainfall so expect the trail to be filled with excess mud on a rainy day. Remain alert as the trail can get slippery at times. The climb continues till you reach a point from where the trail takes a logical U turn and you see a dhaba at your left.

 

From here it is another 5 minutes of walk up to an inclined meadow like setting where Khirganga is located. You will find lot of make shift huts to accommodate travelers and many restaurants with international cuisines’ on the menu. Locate an empty stretch of land to set up your camp for the night.  Lodges are also available on rent starting from Rs.150 per day. 

 

Day 2: Khirganga to TundaBhuj or Bhojtunda (10,499 feet), 12 km, 6 hours

Today’s trek to Tunda-Buj is a steady ascent out of the gorge below where Parvati River is coming down at your left side.The trail will take you through many pasture land, inside silver birch trees. You will also notice a series of lovely waterfalls on the huge mountain walls in your left side of the trail.

 

The route from Khir-ganga to the first tributary crossing starts with a steady ascent for about 15 minutes. This is followed with a series of gradual incline and decline. After 45 – 50 minutes, the trail descents towards the stream. You will notice a temporary makeshift bridge over the tributary that you need to cross over. Once you have crossed the stream, climb up to a small open pasture land. From there you will notice the path going inside the forest.  With a steady ascent you meander inside the forest for 30 minutes and you will find yourself enter a pasture land. There is a small tent where the locals are selling refreshments. 

 

This is the last dhaba on the trail.The trail curves towards the right and after 20 minutes of hike you will see the second tributary below. Proceed down towards this stream and you have reached the second make-shift bridge.

 

As you cross over, you will see a small pasture land full of knee high bushes and boulders. On your left you will see local shepherds living in their tents. You can buy fresh Buffalo milk from them here at a reasonable rate.  Keep walking for 10 minutes straight ahead till you see the trail leading up inside another forest cover. The ascent from here is steep. Watch out for your stepping as it can get slippery with all the mud. After hiking up for 30 minutes you will exit the forest and will see open pasture land and great view of the valley. You have to climb to the top of the hill in the background.

 

Once you reach the top, the trail will swirl inside around the hill and you get to see the vast expanses of the Parvati valley ahead. An abandoned hut can be located on the right side of the trail. From here the trail goes down to the third tributary. This will be the last bridge that you need to cross over and you have reached Tunda-Buj. 

 

Day 3: Tunda Bhuj to Thakur Kuan (11,155 feet), 12 km, 5 hours

Proceed ahead for 30 minutes of level walking on the pasture land. Parvati River will show up at your left side. The terrain is easy and in the distance you will see a Bridge. This wooden bridge is an unstable one but does its job. Cross over this bridge to the other side of the river and take the trail up the mountain. Expect a steep climb of 15 minutes followed with a 1 hour of gradual ascent as you pass through a sloping rocky pasture land.

 

The Parvati Valley finally reveals itself once you reach the high point. The area has plenty of flowers and in the monsoon season you can expect the whole land in full bloom. Walk down towards the Parvati River at your right for 20 minutes passing through the boulder-strewn fields. Look out for a pulley bridge used by dam workers here to cross the river.

 

Carry with yourself a rope and a Carabineer. Keep in mind the load bearing capacity of the pulley bridge as you crossover to the other side. Now the difficult part is taken care of, walk straight up ahead for 30 minutes. You will be able to see a flat meadow ground close to the Parvati river. You have now reached Thakur Kuan.

 

Day 4: Thakur Kuan to Odi Thach (12,517 feet), 12 km, 5-6 hours

The terrain from now forth goes through a series of boulder-strewn fields and multiple streams coming down from mountains connecting to Parvati River. Take the logical trail ahead of Thakur Kuan, going through a meadow of flowers for about an hour and half till you reach the river crossing section. The last 10 minutes to this spot has a series of rock fall sections so tread carefully over the loose sand. Once you have passed this section you will see a large size rock jammed on top of a tributary of Parvati acting as a natural bridge. Climb this Rock and come down to reach to the other side.

 

This rock section can be tricky and slippery so be careful. In a rainy season one can rope the entire team for safety. Now proceed towards doing the same with another Rock acting as a bridge. Cross over this bridge also known as “Pandu-Pull”. Now that the difficult part is taken care off, climb up the hill for about 20 minutes till you reach the level ground leading to Odi-Thach. Notice Mt. Kullu Eiger  in front of you at the right side along with some un-named peaks and glaciers surrounding the valley. You will also see a series of waterfall in your left-side. They are the source of water trickling down to Parvati River at your right side. 

 

Keep walking straight ahead crossing the boulders and the water streams. After 2 hour of hike, you will reach a level meadow along the river which is Odi Thach.

 

Day 5: Odi Thach to Mantalai Lake (13,367 feet), 10 km, 5 hours

Today’s trek is a gradual walk through boulders, culminating in a plateau with large array of muddy swamp land next to Parvati River. The route towards Mantali swirls towards the right side of the valley. In the distance you will see a rocky ridge which you will pass after an hour of walking.

 

After crossing this ridge you will see the swamp land along the Parvati river basin. Keep walking in the extreme left side of the valley. After 20 minutes into your hike, you will again be required to climb the second series of moraine ridge. Keep climbing up for about 30 minutes and you will get a large ridge breached from the left side from where River Parvati is rushing down. Mantalai is at the backside of this ridge. Proceed ahead by following the laid out trail in the left side of the valley. Another 30 minute of hike ahead will lead you to the final boulder ridge that needs to be climbed to reach Mantalai region.

 

There are huge scattered boulders here which needs to be climbed here and will take an hour of climbing. Once you reach the top of the ridge, you get a view of the point from where Parvati river is gushing down.

 

As you walk along the moraine, you get a glimpse of the Mantalai Lake. Climb down the ridge towards the bank of the river where a Lingam of Lord Shiva is placed. From here walk ahead (along the left side of the river bank) till you see a suitable camping spot on a level ground next to the lake. This area is Mantalai considered to be origin of Parvati river.

 

Day 6: Mantalai Lake to Pin-Parvati base camp / Glacier Camp, (15100 feet), 12 km,6 hours

The most difficult day of the trek, the trail can be tiring with a lot of altitude gain. Proceed ahead with a nice level walk along the river. Then you will encounter a tricky section where one is required to cross the ice cold river crossing on bare foot. Look for a shepherd trail taking a sharp turn towards the east. Observe three gulley’s on your way and keep in mind to follow the third gulley. Cross the first gulley and after 30 minutes you will enter into another valley which was unseen until now. Assemble below the base of the mountain adjacent to the third gulley from where a steep climb is to be done. The climb can take anything from 4 to 5 hours to complete. 

 

The initial climb will give way to some breathtaking view of the Parvati Valley. You will also see many endangered species of plants and flowers, especially “Losars” and the “Bramhakamals”. The trail crosses an area strewn with huge boulders. Depending on the season the trail from here on can be snow-bound. The weather gets very cold with wind chill factor coming in. After an hour of gradual ascent, the climb now gets steeper and brutal. Ensure a strong footing as the moraine terrain has loose rocks. You will see a small stream of water nearby flowing down. You have reached the lower base camp and still a lot of distance to be covered. After 2 - 3 hours of more climbing, you reach the point from where you see a visible snowline on the ridge. The Pin 

 

Parvati Pass is now visible and is in front of you. The older and originally considered Pass can be seen to the right side of the snow ridge. The Pass used now-days is at a higher plane above the one at the right side.

 

Day 7 & 8 : Parvati Base Camp to Pin Valley’s Dhumdhar Campsite (15,770 feet) via Pin Parvati Pass (17,457 feet), 12 km, 5 - 6 hours

 

It is advisable to have a rest day for acclimatization and contingency needs. The Base camp tends to get washed out with snow blizzard which blanks the visibility and plummets the temperature to sub zero Celsius. Depending on the weather, start very early in the morning as the pass should not be traversed after Noon due to weather which always detoriates in the second half of the day. Today is a tough day of traversing a crevasse prone ridge.

 

Ensure the team follows the instructions given by your guide as he route find the way through the snow laden plateau and hanging glacier. It takes anything from 2 to 4 hours to reach the top of the pass. Look towards your east (or true right) for the prayer flags which are now visible. After 30 minutes into the hike, locate the first gully and continue with the steep climb.

 

There is a 984 feet incline through the ice-field which needs to be covered until you reach a higher screeplateau giving a faint impression of a spot where a Advance Base Camp may be set in case of an emergency. This spot is located at an altitude of 16,535 feet. Proceed further with another steep ascent of 660 feet which goes all the way below the pinnacle of the Pass. This may take anything from 45 minutes to 1 hour to traverse. Look for a prominent rock structure in front of you.

 

Pin Parvati Pass is a small col located at the south of this rock. Another 60 feet steep climb will lead you to the Pin Parvati Pass highest ground. This may take another 30 minutes. Care must be taken for the crevasses on this section. At the top of the pass enjoy the view of the lofty snow peaks of Kinnaur, Kullu and Spiti side. This is where all the steep climbing ends and the descent part begin which can be brutal for the knee and toes. Way find your way down towards the Spiti side of the valley from the true left of Pin Glacier avoiding heavily crevassed sections.

 

Depending upon the snow condition, rope the whole team and let the guide lead the way. There is a km of steep decent over slippery snow till you reach an upper scree slope section. Continue moving down keeping to the left of a glacial stream. The walk will ease out and will become gradual descent, although lot of walking is required. Look out for the Pin side Base camp visible below also known as Dhumdhar Campsite. An hour into descent, a river crossing will be required. 

 

Look for options for crossing the river via snow bridges. If nothing is available ropes and high boots may be required to cross the river the old school style.  This section may take anything from 1 to 2 hours to complete. Look out for a meadow spot of land. You have reached Dhumdhar Campsite.

 

Day 9: Dhumdhar Camp to Mudh via Wickhkhurang Camp (12,600 feet), 20 km approx. 7 – 8 hours

A long day for trekking with beautiful views of Spiti Valley. The day begins with a series of river crossing sections. Make sure they are crossed in the first half of the day when the level of water is manageable. Dhumdhar campsite is at the confluence of the Pin River and a side stream. From the campsite take a 20 minute short climb up the side stream’s glacier section. Then continue 2200 feet (approx.) down on the true left of the valley. There are two methods of crossing here as the nullah from the glacier becomes a roaring river at points and there are about three side streams. One either fords the river on the left or continues on the right and climb the glacier.

 

The rest of the nullahs stare one in the face and some have bridges and some have a steel bucket on a pulley. Make these crossing of these side streams till you reach a point where a trail leads to Rampur Bushahr via the Bhabha pass. This section may take 3 to 4 hours to cover. Another hour of walking leads you to Wichkhurang at 12,600 feet which is a shepherd’s grazing pasture field. The trails are well defined with minimal chances of getting lost. Mudh is another 3 to 4 hours of hike from here and the trail descends to a rock and rubble area till it reaches a big cairn.

 

The final section is a gradual ascent going along terraced fields of pea and barley to Mudh Village. Stay overnight at Mudh and leave for Kaza, Manali or Shimla through jeep or take a bus to Kaza and then look for alternative means of transport to destination of your choosing.

 




  
 

Neeta Dixit writes about the pros and cons of the Hamta pass trek.

Hamta pass is a relatively easier trek in the Himalayas with average distance per day usually being only 6-8kms. The altitude gains and drops are not very drastic but gradual making it easy to acclimatize too.
 
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