Written By Bhagyashree Mahato.
“Still round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a secret gate -J.R.R. Tolkien”.
It has been more than a year we travelled and while discussing one fine afternoon with Swagata Bagchi (a friend of mine), the desktop wallpaper attracted our attention. Mesmerised by the view I learnt that it was clicked by her elder brother (Indranil Bagchi) during his last visit to Himachal Pradesh, India.
The picture seemed to be enchanting us with its lush green mountains, the clear water rivers flowing, the dense forest and peaceful atmosphere. Drowned in our own imaginations and stories about the hills we started curating our plans and peep into our pockets to check out too!
On the other hand, enjoying solitariness from our monotonous working was another major wish in our wishlists. We three started our journey on 11th of February 2020 from Howrah Station, Kolkata at 8.00 a.m. in Poorva Express and reached Delhi the early in the morning the very next day.
Let me share a glimpse of the route taken by us so you can relate it easily.
We had the whole day after reaching Delhi as our scheduled departure for Himachal was during the evening hours. The tickets for the Red Bus were booked previously from Vidhan Sabha Metro Station, Gate No.3 to Bhuntar, so after spending the whole day around the city we reached the venue beforehand and waited.
The chilly winds blowing through our bodies on the February night was filled with excitement, joy and curiosity about the adventurous awaited for us. The bus came sharp at 07.30 p.m. we boarded the bus with several others who are travelling to Himachal Pradesh.
Meanwhile, one more member was added to our group from Chandigarh for this trip who was Jishnu Jha (one of our brother’s friends). The splashing sun rays of the breaking dawn wakes us up early in the morning in Mandi, Himachal.
This was the last stop before we reached Bhuntar which was another 60kms, so we all went down during the ten mins stop and had hot tea from where we halted for making us warm in the cold. Before boarding a local bus to Manikaran from Bhuntar we took a quick treat of freshly available aloo paratha and raita from one of the local shops and it was yummy!
We spent the night in Sri Ram Mandir in Manikaran and started our trek on the 14th morning with the Nature Camping Trip, who arranged our tour for the three days (food+tents+travelling cost included).
The Offbeat Trail To Kutla (2650 Meters)
Our small local tour guide who joined us during the whole trekking started from Manikaran in a local bus with the local people.
During this, he made us a bit familiar with the places around and the activities such as skiing in uphill and downhill camp they offered was at River Raga where different adventurous water sports were arranged.
Getting down at Barshaini and took a cab to Tosh village, this is the last point of the availability of transportations.
Therefore, the trail of mysterious Kutla starts after crossing the Barshaini dam and Tosh village. We could no longer hold back our excitement while crossing Tosh village.
The colourful rooftops of the houses, the children going to school, many busy in their daily tasks while the older generation gathered to enjoy the heat in the low temperature.
Our way through Tosh was a bit slippery at times due to the melting of the snow and we had to balance ourselves so that we don’t fall often. While moving forward following the never-ending trail in the sun after two hours we reached the Waterfall Cafe.
The view of the place was enchanting as on one side where we were standing was a dry land whereas after crossing the wooden bridge you can see frozen snow where people are skiing and spending their leisure hours in the sun.
Midway we stopped by a small local cafe to have a cup of tea and met with several furry and friendly dogs who walked with us another few kilometres. Our journey till now has been easier until our guide showed us a heap of snow which was the only safest way used by the people travelling at that time and we had to climb up!
Here, we encountered our first problem which was heavy luggage and not having a stick creating difficulties to move uphill where the density of the snow increased. To mitigate this problem, we started to walk following the previous footprints in order to avoid falling down or getting stuck.
Secondly, we started taking small footsteps to remain close-by to each other and give a hand when in need.
This small climb in the snow was although dangerous has been added to my first trekking experience where at each step we corrected ourselves if we were moving in the wrong trail.
Hiking further we again landed up in dryland with the sun over our head and snow on an alternative basis unless we reached our destination.
The happiness reflected in our faces after experiencing the best view we got after the hardest climb when reached our destination and glimpse of the signboard made.
Although it took us 4 hours to reach our destination instead of 3 hours while taking shortcuts through the hilly areas and the snowy lands crossing waterfalls leaving behind several other base camps.
After reaching the destination during the evening we were lucky to have egg Maggie and relax. It should be noted that there is no network connectivity where we camped for which we have to trek back a few kilometres uphill and make phone calls if needed!
Things To Do In Kutla
1. Enjoying The View Of The Starry Nights
Staying in Kutla, the view of the night sky cannot be missed. Looking at the sky one will be mesmerized by the enchanted view of the galaxies visible in the high altitude surrounded by long pine trees and layers of snow will be creating a mysterious environment.
Presence of bears and other wild animals are also heard there, so we trekked during the daylight and came back to our camp within the breaking of dusk.
2. Trekking To Buddhaban
Buddhaban is also in the high altitude of another few kilometres from Kutla, surrounded by snow all around, waterfalls and the mesmerising view of Mountain Papsura.
The log bridge is one of the attractions which is a great spot to witness however we were not able to go down due to the snow blockages.
3. Trekking To Glacier Point
Glacier Point is not far from Buddhaban, enduring the view of the mountains, walking in the snow, melting waterfalls, and crossing several heights when we reached the location.
However, we were not able to move forward in the first case to see the main opening point of the river so buckling up and gaining courage the small guide paved the way along the edges of the cliff where we can only take a step at a time to move forward.
We were able to see the different shades of the evening sky and the slanting rays of the sun slowly turning into dusk.
Lessons Learned From Our First Trekking Experience:
1. Do Not Travel Alone
Travelling alone in high altitude can be dangerous if you do not know the way or encounter any difficulties midway. Provided the routes may be changed by the travellers with the changes in the climatic conditions so it is recommended to take help from the local people or travel with a guide who has knowledge about the place.
2. Follow The Footprints!
During our trek, we always heard this “Follow the footprints!” However, we weren’t familiar with the phrase until we followed the track made by the footprints in severe locations for moving forward.
Following the footprints helps in identifying the depth of the layers of snow and stepping forward in a cautious manner. At the same time sometimes making your own trail is also enjoyable but try this while walking in flatlands and consciously.
3. Take Small Steps At A Time And Maintain Short Gaps From Each Other During Walking
Taking short steps at a time while walking in the snow reduces the chances of losing one’s balance and maintaining short gaps from each other ensures to provide immediate help in case any disastrous situation occurs.
This also prevents active communication among each other and remains in a conscious state avoiding altitude sickness at the same time.
4. Try To Keep Your Bag Light Weighted
We tend to increase the weight of our backpacks during travelling but one should keep in mind to carry only the necessities required while trekking.
This was one of the mistakes that we made and faced trouble with carrying the heavy backpacks while climbing in high altitude.
5. Carry Dry Foods/ Fruits/ Chocolates
One can carry dry foods/fruits or chocolates like we did and consumed them from time to time during hiking in the high altitude. The change in temperature and reduced oxygen level are crucial factors which may cause sickness and affect the blood sugar level in a negative manner.
Followed by, carrying honey will also be beneficial; it promotes the blood flow due to the presence of unique pH and able to heal wounds both on internal and within its external applications.
6. Carry Necessary Medicines And Inform Others If You Feel Not Well
It is important to carry proper medicines while trekking as it will be useful in case of any emergency situations if you do not feel well.
In case of having any serious sickness always consult a doctor on an immediate basis for avoiding further issues. Consumption of clove while hiking is also able to help in dealing with the Actual Mountain Sickness or AMS.
7. Buy Or Rent Proper Shoes
Last but not the least proper hiking shoes are required. Proper shoes will help in providing grips while you walk inland, snow or any marshy area.
In order to avoid the tension during the trek in offseason and its availability we bought shoes of Quechua and were satisfied with the grips of the shoes which prevented us from slips and trips on a random basis.
Don’t forget to carry your own garbage bags and dispose of the garbage in proper garbage dumps. People in Himachal have already taken initiatives and active responsibilities to keep their hilly areas clean and maintain sustainability.
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Bhagyashree Mahato is a contributor at The Strong Traveller. She belongs from the heart of a small village named Kerowa near Ghatbera situated in Purulia, brought up in the City of Joy. She started writing out of passion as a content writer, completing her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College. She loves exploring different places, foods, cultures and can be found on iamshree04.blogspot.com.