Sar Pass has created its own space in the trekking dreams of the Youth Hostelers all over the world. The experience of trekking through the ancient Himalayan villages like Grahan and the stoners’ town Kasol adds to the elusive high altitude Himalayan experience. The trail is designed to give you the experience of bustling towns of Himachal to the windy lake pass where no life exists except that of fresh white snowflakes.
I have been for this trek twice in the year 2014 and 2016 respectively and both the times I have felt a unique thrill.
Here is your guide to enjoy the best of Sar Pass.
Kasol – The Hash Town of the Magic Valley
The main town is no more like you dream about it to be. Especially on weekends, half the population of Delhi and Chandigarh create traffic jam, ruckus and hotel tariff hike. So, if you wish to really enjoy it, consider either the days before or after your trek that are not weekends.
Enjoying a walk in the Bazars of Kasol or a short trek to the nearest town of Manikarn should be at the top of your must do things in Kasol. Other experiences to be enjoyed may include:
- Make your exploration more thrilling by hitchhiking in a truck or tempo going towards Manikarn.
- Feeling blessed at Manikarn Gurudwara by serving food to the people and enjoying the most delicious meal yourself. (All for Free) Every time I mention about it, my salivatory glands get excited by just the thought of the tasty Punjabi Daal and Sabji. So, you can imagine how mouth-watering the meal would be.
- Feel the warmth in the natural hot water spring at Manikarn. Personal bath is available for 30 INR/ half an hour.
- Take a trail up towards the hills (Take the trail moving up from beside the Moon Dance Café)
- Enjoy the scrumptious Lebanese and Italian cuisines with Ginger Lemon Honey Tea.
- Take a tipsy ride with Lugadi (The local Rice beer) with thupkas and Momos
The town has an ancient connection to boast about and is certainly a stoner’s and painter’s paradise with the least number of tourists visiting it due to its secluded location. This mountain hamlet would be your first camp after the base. The village is well connected with electricity and has numerous green fields and plum orchards. The Jamdagni Rishi and his wife’s temple at the centre will give you the glimpse of beautiful Himalayan Architecture. (The Temple opens only for the rituals).
I have had the best memories playing football with the school children in the village and pulling their chubby cheeks which get rosy glow in the summers. (Obviously!! They get to eat the fresh and organic fruits growing around the village). The women of the village are usually engaged in woolen works that are supplied to Kasol and Kullu Markets. So if you don’t wish to buy expensive things from Kasol, Grahan is the best place for the same.
If you are lucky enough, you might experience the snowfall right from Grahan. But, do not go with too much expectation. This camp is famous for the hailstones and windy weather. So be prepared for the surprise of nature and consider it as a welcome call from the mountains. 😉
- Locals would help you with everything from Himachali Home Cooked Food to Hot water bath in the nearby cottages.
- Try Momos at the hut near the YHAI Camp. They are unbelievably yummy.
- You can always decide to pass your evening at the camp sitting around the bonfire at the Momo stall arranged by a local lady.
- spoiler Alert: Don’t get too excited by entering the village. Your Campsite is across the village after crossing a stream by walking on just half a meter wide tree trunk.
This campsite is a part of the Great Himalayan National Park and is totally a secluded place miles away from human habitation. Consider yourself fortunate enough as only YHAI gets the permission to set up tents in this area. Otherwise, only the locals have the access to this part of the forest. All the other private trek organizers will make you toil directly up to RaataPaani from Grahan.
This campsite is exclusively meant for nature lovers. You can imagine yourself sitting near a stream of flowing water, sipping on the hot tea (probably with some pakoras or fried nuts) with a picturesque view of the sprawling mountains wrapped in the white cloak protected by lush green cedar and deodar trees.
The campsite also had big rocks to be seated on and chit-chat or just to devour the divine beauty of the blessed land of Himalayas.
- Grahan to Padri is the easiest of all the trekking stretch. So… Chill at Grahan and leave peacefully.
- Maggie , omelets and custom-made teas will be available at the stall set up exclusively for YHAI trekkers. A small covering has been arranged for all those who wish to take hot water bath. (Avoid during extreme weather and health conditions )
- Walk around to spot beautiful birds, wild buffalos and blue bulls. (Stay safe and in the vicinity of the camp)
- If you are lucky, the camp leader might take you on a trail to the forest area.
- Zoom in your camera lens to see the Nagaru Camp site at the last hill’s edge.
- The amount of snowfall before your trek would decide the availability of a waterfall right beside your camp site and a small water channel flowing right through the camp field. So pray for the snowfall for the trekkers and the villagers’ sake.
The grass that grows in this field gave it a name of Ming (the grass meant for the horses) Thatch(cover or layer). Before reaching here you will have to cross a never-ending stretch of a constant assent. The lunch point RataPaani is the most amazing lunch point that will make you forget even the most expensive dinner at any sea-side hotel or a mountain-view restaurants. You can boast about toiling up till there, standing proudly atop the hills that you climbed for two days. Obviously, this also makes it the best selfie point and the photographers’ opportunity to take the best shots.
There is further a leisure walk till you reach a grass field covered with yellow flowers with the backdrop of beautiful hills. And then a steep climb will lead you to the rim of the hill. Be ready for more astonishment. You can bid adieu to the Sun as it sets down spreading the 50 shades of crimson.
If the sky is clear at night, gear up for the astrophotography.
- Don’t forget to spot Padri Camp and Grahan Camp that will be clearly visible from RataPani.
- Keep your camera ready for the most vibrant sunset.
@12,500 ft, it is like “Nagada Sang Tent Baje”, And I am not joking, it does happen. The wind at night can literally be heard like a Nagada and warns you to keep your tents safe. 😉 (No, that’s not the reason why it is called Nagaru). There are cases of the tents ‘gone with the winds’, in fact one batch every year mostly loses a tent.
The location of the campsite is right atop Ming Thatch. Just like the campsite even the lunch point is equally thrilling. You would be sitting/standing at the edge of the rocks. A little mistake and you may be flying down to the base.
- Be ready with huge safety pins to pin up your tent if required.
- Keep your bags on the edges to save your tent for the night.
- Cover yourself completely to avoid any health problems during your final summit.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Drink enough hot water.
The Summit @13,800 ft
The final summit starts as early as 4 in the morning. On this stretch you would trek on the snow. You will reach the summit by the time the Sun wakes and says ‘hi’ from behind the mountain. Enjoy every bit at this juncture and explore the lake (Sar in local language) if the weather is fine.
The most exhilarating part of the trek starts after this summit. All the pain, hard work, tiredness will vanish just with a push on your first snow slide to Biskeri Thatch. Trust me, this is the best part of the trek. I have been seeing people coming for third or fourth time just for the snow slides. You would rush through at least 5 slides before you reach the lunch point in valley.
Just a few minutes away lies your next camp hidden among the deodar trees.
- Don’t be a stunt man/woman while sliding and follow the guides.
- Keep all your valuables safely tucked inside your bag.
- Tuck your T-shirts and sweat shirts in to avoid snow entering your clothes and making your skin numb.
- To keep your feet safe from the snow wear plastic bags after a pair of socks and then again cover it with second pair of sock. This will save you from severe frostbite in case of excessive snow.
- Your clothes won’t remain dry however hard you try. So try wearing quick dry pants.
- If the snow is too less, wearing your raincoat will help you slide faster and would also save your clothes from getting wet.
The camp gives you the glimpse of the villages of Pulga, Kalga, Tosh and like a roaring lioness flows the river Parvati through these villages. The clear sky may provide you the glimpse of the famous peaks too. Don’t forget to ask the locals to guide you with the same.
After a short trek of 3-4 hours you reach to the so called Switzerland of India. The camp site is surrounded by huge snow capped mountains. The most beautiful part of the site is the star studded sky decorated with gleaming pinnacles of the hills around.
Do not miss out the stay at this wonderful campsite.
You always have an option of continuing the trek downwards for around 2 hours and straight away reach Barsaini from where you can get the bus to Kasol.
The Very Important and free advice:
- Do not research much about the trek. Enjoy the surprises and novelty it offers at every step.
- Don’t forget to carry the required things for the trek. Check the list of ‘ Things to Carry for a Himalayan Trek‘
- Not a Youth Hosteler? No problem. You can become an International Youth Hostel Member just by registering online.
Have more questions? You can either tweet me for the fastest reply or can put it in the comments below.
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