In the October month of the year 2014, I was part of a group for the first time for a trek to Mani Mahesh Lake, which is at the foot of Mani Mahesh Kailash Mountain Peak in the Bharmour Division of Chamba District of Himachal. Earlier, I had been on some easy treks which did not present much challenge. But what I had heard of about this particular trek from the previous trekking teams had aroused my interest. I eagerly waited for the destined day. It was a sort of pilgrimage for others in the group, but for me – being an atheist – it was a trek full of challenges. But I cannot deny the fact that I was curious to explore the divinity after all.
From Delhi to Chamba
We took a bus from Kashmiri Gate Bus Depot, pre-booked by my organisation, around 8 pm. You do not need to pre-book though, but if you are a part of huge group, it is advisable that you do. Buses ply almost every hour for Chamba, Himachal. One can choose to take the road in their own vehicle if they enjoy doing so. We reached Chamba next morning around 9 am.
When we were closing in on Chamba, our bus passed through a cloud and all of a sudden we experienced heavy rainfall. It was pouring heavily, and as soon as the bus came out of the cloud there was no rain, amazing! isn’t it?
Chamba to Bharmour
There are rarely any buses for Bharmour from Chamba. We met our trek organisers from “Sarvan” and hopped into the Mahindra Boleros that were waiting for us. I must admit the road was treacherous but the whole ride was smooth. We stopped on the way to Bharmour for some brunch (we had already missed our breakfast) at a shop where we had buns and butter with tea. And trust me it tasted like heavens, perhaps for the reason that I was extremely hungry.
Upon reaching the house of Mr. Sarvan, yes there are no hotels around. There are only these locals who have the permits to organise the treks and they have 8-10 rooms in which we were accommodated in a group of four. No qualms about that, as the backyard opened to a greeting himalayan range and apple orchards.
A Delhiite and the Food
Being a Delhite I have the luxury of having the best food in the world, even at the lesser known places of Delhi. But that is what Bharmour (Chamba) cannot afford. The food served was simple yet sumptuous. Some members of our group did complain about the quality of the food as it lacked spice and flavour that they are used to. Little did they realise that the food was best suited for the weather they had to face. Eventually, the manager had to succumb to the demands and non-veg meal was added to the daily menu.
There are few shops at Bharmour. Locals do run some shops but they only have the quintessentials. It is advised that you go for the trek with all the essential as you might not find those in Bharmour. There is a wine shop though, but the prices are on a higher side – as you would expect in hills. Everything comes at a premium there, and I for certain have nothing to complain about.
Bharmour to Bharmani Mata temple and back to Bharmour
Bharmani Mata temple is 4 km away from Bharmour on the top of the ridge with the beautiful view of mountians. Legend says that Bharmour is named after Bharmani Devi. Locals say that the trek to Mani Mahesh is incomplete without a visit to Bharmani Devi temple. It also serves as a warm-up trek which will take you to Bharmani Temple through Village Malkauta. After the visit to temple we started trekking to Bheem Godda and Ghararu from where we enjoyed beautiful view of Bharmour and snow clad mountains.
The Trek – Hardsar – Dancho – Mani Mahesh Lake
On the very next day after breakfast, around 10am (not everyone in the group was as excited as me), we boarded Boleros again to Hardsar – the beginning point of our trek. We had to finish the trek to Dancho, where a camp was put up for our stay in the evening.
The trek to Dancho was rather easy, and I was missing the excitement I came in search of. A small stream flowed all through our trek, the sound of which was music to ears. We clicked photos, cracked jokes, rested along for few minutes – waiting for others who were left behind.
The Grizzly that never appeared
We reached Dancho around 3 pm, where we had our lunch. After having our lunch we rested in the fixed tents. We had our dinner in the evening and stayed overnight in these tents. Our guides, the locals, asked us to beware of a ‘Grizzly’ that roams around at night. They advised us to stay inside our tents at night and if needed go out in pairs. I was scared as well as thrilled. And as the fate would have it, I woke up around 3 am for nature’s call. I would have avoided going out if I could. For my modesty, I did not wish to wake up anybody and so decided to go alone, but not far from the tents. The moon was shining bright and dew had frozen on stones, making it slippery to walk. I relieved myself as quickly as I could and rushed back to the tent. Using freezing cold water to wash myself was more troublesome than any Grizzly.
Continue reading my journey in part II of this post. Read it here…