I must tell you first that this is a very unusual and little known trek located in the Jaunsar-Babar region in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, between the rivers of Yamuna and the Tons, in the state of Uttarakhand, India. This trek is of great cultural and historical value. I came to know about this trail during a bike ride from Mussoorie to Kalsi in Feb 2013. I remember sitting in a small tea-shop in a village near Yamuna Bridge, chatting with my fellow biker about old trek trails. As we continued our chat on treks, the old but graceful shopkeeper interrupted us to give a valuable piece of information. He told us about this old trail which starts from Kalsi which is about 6 km from Dakpatthar (if you are coming from the Dehradun-Vikasnagar side) and goes up to Lakhamandal. The kind of insight that the old man gave us on the trek will put any travel writer to shame if it is well translated and published. Here I would like to share with you some interesting facts about this elusive trek on which I went in October last year :
The trek starts from a small village Kalsi which is about 6 km from Dakpatthar, a small town but well connected to Dehradun. It takes around 2 hours from Dehradun to Dakpatthar by bus. It is a place of great historical significance. At Kalsi, there are rock inscriptions of the Ashokan age (King Ashoka) in the Pali script (ancient Indian Language). A tribe known as Jaunsari live in this region. Their customs and traditions are entirely different from those of the rest of Garhwal. The practice of polygamy and polyandry prevail among them. From Kalsi to Viratkhai it is a long trek of about 22 km (recommended only for hardcore trekkers). However, you can drive or take a shared jeep up to Biratkhoi and start the trek from here. At Viratkhai, there is a fort in ruins now. According to the Ancient Hindu text of Mahabharata, this fort belonged to Maharaja Birat. This is an ardous trek which requires 15-20 km of walk (combination of level, ascent and descent) daily and requires atleast 3 night halts at Viratkhai, Dungyara and Goraghati and on the fourth day you reach Lakhamandal. At Lakhamandal there are ruins of the ancient palace (called Lakshagraha in sanskrit) which the Kauravas made of lac (dried resin from a tree) for the Pandavas to immolate them alive. The last village on this trail is Kuwa (1090m), from where it’s a 69 km drive (2 hrs) to Mussoorie.
The villages along this trek are worth seeing, culturally and architecturally. Clustered houses with tiled roofs match the environment. I would like to specially mention the villages Viratkhai (3080m), Chaurani (2180m), Dungyara (1608m) and Goraghati (2310m) which are exceptionally scenic and give stunning views of the valley. The trek is rich in flora and fauna and is particularly inviting for ornithologists.
Take a direct bus from ISBT Dehradun to Dakpatthar (2 hrs drive) or hire a taxi (it’s better to take a prepaid taxi from the Taxi Stand at ISBT)
From Dakpatthar take a shared jeep to Kalsi or Viratkhai (wherever you choose to start the trek from)
Return : Reach Kuwa on the 4th Day of the trek and take a bus or shared jeep to Mussoorie (69km/2hrs)
From Mussoorie take a bus or taxi to Dehradun (35km/1hr)
Autumn and Winter (Oct to March)
Word Of Caution : This trek, being long and strenuous, requires a very high level of fitness and is recommended for experienced trekkers.
We, at TRAILHIKERS are trying our best to start this trek from this winter season as we would love to give this unique trekking experience to the trekking enthusiasts. We would really appreciate your comments, queries and suggestions on our blog !