The Chandrakhani trek

Explore The Indian Himalayas With The Super Easy Chandrakhani Trek

One of Bart Simpson’s best rules is: “If it’s too hard doing it, it simply ain’t worth it

I’m a big Bart Simpson fan; therefore, I tend to carefully check what I should or shouldn’t do, based on this very specific guideline.

And when it comes to outdoors activities, such as trekking, I become much more strict about enforcing this rule.

Now, picture yourself standing atop a soaring Himalayan mountain. You are surrounded on all sides by monstrous mountain chains. From where you stand, massive white glaciers can be seen capping them. As your eyes sweep down the mountains, you’ll hit the imaginary line at 3000 meters. This is the beginning of the mountains’ ‘green dresses’. A mountain’s ‘green dress’ consists of the vast area of vegetation (pine, deodar, and chestnut ) that covers its lower parts. You’ll even notice that the dress is decorated with white strips all the way down to the foot. Those are waterfalls.

It’s breathtaking! Flawless.

Crossing the chandrakhani pass

Here’e where the Kullu Gods hang out

But hold on…

You may say now, I’m not a trekker, right? I’m not the kind of guy who’d spend a whole day in a trekking store, searching for the latest technology in tents. And you probably never regarded yourself as a tree hugger like many trekkers seem to.

I’ve got a surprise for you… me neither.

What I’m about to tell you here is about a trek which crams in the very best of the Himalayan trekking experience. And, it’s doable. So easy that you can do it just wearing your heels. (Almost! But sport shows will be just fine).

In the worst case, when back home, you can always brag about your Himalayan trekking adventure.

And, who knows, maybe it will be the beginning of a new love…

Anyways, it’s called the Chandrakhani trek.

About the Chandrakhani trek  

Basically, if I had to describe the Chandrakhani trek in one sentence, it would be this one: What goes up must come down.

Chandkhani campsite views

Outstanding views from the Chandrakhani campsite

That’s it.  As simple as that.

Like Sisyphus, who was compelled to roll an immense boulder…Up and down the hill. Unlike Sisyphus, you’ll only do that once (probably in your life) and you will have the privilege of treating yourself with a cold beer when you’re back in town.

The trek begins from the village of Naggar, located about 21 km from the town of Manali. The Chandrakhani Pass trek involves a circular route from Naggar to Chandrakhani Pass, and back to Naggar via Malana.

Reaching the Chandrakhani Pass, and standing above the clouds with a panoramic view is a divine experience.

Some people in the region interpret the name ‘Chandrakani’ as ‘Moon shaped’ while others say that it means ‘Moon Growth’.  But, let’s leave this philosophical debate for them, maybe when you reach the Chandrakhni pass you’ll be able to contribute your own viewpoint to the discussion.

Endless legends and stories abound about this trek. One of the most famous is that a long time ago Jalmu, the main deity of Malana was wondering up in the Chandrakhani pass holding a basket full of Gods. The basket was opened and a strong wind blew the gods out in the open. Since then, the Valley is known as the valley of Gods.

The Chandrakhani pass is also known as the assembly ground of all the Kullu gods. They sure knew how to pick a hell of a place for meet-ups. With spectacular views of the Deo Tibba peak Pir Panjal and Parbati mountain ranges, whatever they talk about is surely inspirational.

Altitude sickness isn’t a concern, as the highest point in the trek is 3,450, and you’ll be descending in the same day.

Okay, so let’s get into the details…

How to prepare for the Chandrakhani trek with less than 30 min

1)      Organize a guide from Naggar. Ask your hotel /guesthouse owner to arrange that for you. He’ll find someone in no time. Remember: A guide is someone who shows you the way, and nothing more.

2)      On the day you’re leaving, buy 2-3 sandwiches and some snacks from the bakery.  Because there aren’t any shops on the trail, you’ll need a lunch pack. Dinner you can order at the campsite on day 1 and in Malana/ Naggar on day 2.

3)      Packing list: 2 T-shirts, something warm to wear at night, long sleeve trousers, 2 pairs of socks, toothpaste and tooth brush, sunscreen, raincoat ( if you are trekking in July-Aug), money in a water proof bag.

That’s it; you’re good to go.

Day 1: Stairways to Heaven

On Day 1  ( Naggar to Chandrakhani 6-7 hrs. walking.) Sadly, there’re no good news for the beginning of the trek. Why? Because, from your very first step up to your campsite there’s massive legwork required. The trail starts on the road below Rumso village, which is 4 km from Naggar. You can go there by car. The stairway will lead you to Rumso. Have a cup of chai (tea), and a look around – especially at the old wooden temples. From Rumso, the trail takes off through a thick pine, deodar, and chestnut forest, going up for several hours.

The trail then breaks out to the alpine meadows at higher altitudes. It’s your first true reward for the effort you made: the view from these meadows of the Kullu valley, Manali, Pir Panjal, and Bara Bhangal ranges is spell-binding.

Walking along the trail now to the Chandrakhani base camp, where you’ll be sleeping in a shepherd’s hut, is a delight. The trail passes through some magnificent U-shaped valleys . It is so beautiful that it almost makes you not want to reach the nearby campsite.

nomads below the Chandrakhani Pass

Nomads near the Chandrkhani basecamp are trying to sell us chees and butter

What is a shepherd’s hut? It’s a small bricks hut. The floor is made of stiff mud, while the top of it is covered with mattresses. At the center there’s a Tandoor (an iron fireplace) to keep the place hot. It’s very basic, and super effective.

The shepherds are nomadic people moving with their herds (cows, buffalo, sheep ) to high areas in the summer, searching for lush meadows. When the season is changing, and the whole area turned to white, they move down to the lower parts of the valleys until the next summer.

It’s been a long day for you.  But here comes the good part…

Climbing for 6-7 hours is not easy. But now the fantastic views towards  to the north and the Chandrakhani Pass in the east is well-rewarding. You must have a cup of chai before ordering your dinner and sitting down on the hut’s ‘porch’; just relax and enjoy this special place a few hours before the sun will set. The guys will be starting up the Tandoor to warm up the hut.

Day 2: Crossing the spectacular pass of Chandrakhani and going down to Malana village

Day 2 Chandrakhani to Malana (6 hours):

No more climbs today! Some smug folks may tell you how much they prefer going uphill to downhill. I never bought it, and you shouldn’t either. Today is an easy day, because mostly you’ll be walking down hill after crossing the scenic Chandrakhani pass.

On the way down to Malana

On the way down to Malana

After having breakfast at the campsite, you’ll be taking off for a 1hour walk up to the Chandrakhani pass. You’ll pass through beautiful alpine meadows, abundant with medical flora. The Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh is a well known medicinal plants hot spot in the western Himalayas, while Chandrakhani is one of the richest with medicinal herbs in the entire valley.

Reaching the Chandrakhani pass, you’ll immediately understand why the local Gods have chosen this place as their favorite. Satisfaction guaranteed!

The Deo Tibba and the Pir Panjal peak are towering to the north, the Parvati valley laying peacefully below, and the immense Parvati range looms upwards.

Old Malana Villiage

Old Malana Villiage

After walking on the ridge between the huge boulders for less than hour, you’ll steeply descend to the unique, and secluded town of Malana. 2-3 hours from the pass, you’ll hit Malana. This is the end, my friend!

 

Make sure you’re wearing long trousers today because the path is covered with thick vegetation and loads of nettles

 

Now it’s time for getting back to Naggar; here’s what you should do:

1)   Go down from Malana to the main road on the other side of the river.  It’s approximately 2 km.

2)   Grab a taxi to Jeri. From Jeri’s bus stand you can catch either buses or taxis depending on your budget to Bunthar.

3)   From Bunthar (again depending on your budget) taxis and buses are available. If you’re not on a short leash, then hire a taxi straight to Naggar. If you are, then you’ll have to take a bus to Patlikul via Kullu. From Patlikul any rickshaw driver will be more than happy to have you on board for the 6 km ride, and drop you of at Naggar.

Now when you’re back to Naggar, sitting on the Ragini’s rooftop restaurant ( best one in town), finally having a beer, there’s nothing better than to sum up the entire Himalayan experience with the remarkable insight of Bart Simpson ( again ) :

Bart simpson

 

 

“I don’t know! I don’t know why I did it, I don’t know why I enjoyed it, and I don’t know why I’ll do it again”

 

 

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