Triund is the crown jewel of Dharamsala. Set at 9325 ft (2,842 metres) above sea level, Triund offers breathtaking views of Kangra Valley on one side and the Dhauladhar Mountains on the other. It’s not the easiest attraction to reach, as the 9km trek from McLeod Ganj to Triund is a steep ascent of over 1,100 metres and typically takes 4 ½ hours. But it is well worth the effort.
I unfortunately missed out on last week’s group hike due to illness, so I decided to go solo, setting off just after sunrise. Hindsight made me grateful for the early start because as it turns out, I was the first up the mountain that morning. I barely saw a soul until I made it to the top, where I found a crowd of campers packing-up their tents. Feeling like Cheryl Strayed from ‘Wild’ I wandered into the Himalayan wilderness without a worry in the world. Alone in nature, phone-less and free, I found myself thinking more clearly. I started to hear, see and feel life’s little details more vividly, as my senses seemingly switched to HD mode! I usually struggle to calm and focus my ‘monkey mind’ but the mountains made mindfulness easy. Which is why I think we should open up our definition of ‘mediation’ because for me, a meditative mind comes easier hiking up a mountain than sitting still in silence. You might find you get the same mental ‘freedom’ from cooking, cycling or even cleaning! In my opinion a meditative exercise is anything that enables you to focus on the here and now. But once again I digress, let's get back on track...
The route is very straightforward as you essentially follow one winding path all the way to the top. There are a couple of crossroads early on in the route, but there was always a handy, hand-drawn arrow to guide me in the right direction (so no maps or guide books needed!) The trail is easily reached from McLeod Ganj, climbing up through the thick pine forests that loom over Dharamkot village. Although the trek is accessible and well marked it is not a complete walk in the park. The gradual incline sharply increases over the last 1km, and is nicknamed the “22 curves” because of its 22 tiring corners that wind up to the top. Whilst I didn’t have to scramble up the mountain, the path is quite rocky in parts, so I was grateful I’d traded my flip-flops for trainers (although I did see a girl going bare-foot, so I guess it’s down to personal preference!) You don’t need to be an exceptional athlete for the trek, but it is at times challenging (and comparable to Mt. Snowdon in North Wales). In the trekking world it is described as an ‘easy to moderate’ climb (bum numbing, but not soul crushing!)
Some of the hand-drawn signs along the route:
I was slightly apprehensive about climbing during monsoon season, as torrential down pours and thunderous storms are a daily occurrence. During the group trek a storm struck just as they reached Triund Hill. Not only were they unable to see anything but they also found themselves freezing cold and had to purchase hats, scarves and gloves at the summit shop! Pre-empting the worst, I filled my rucksack with warm clothes and waterproofs. But I needn’t have bothered because I spent most of the trek in a t-shirt, blessed with sunshine and clear skies. Which made my summit even more spectacular, as I was able to see for miles in every direction. In fact, I should’ve packed sun cream because I got quite badly burnt on my neck and shoulders (apparently high altitude increases the effect of UV rays, so make sure you cover up!) But I was too busy admiring the view to notice, mesmerised by the Himalayan landscape that spans as far as the eye can see. After a 20-minute ‘sugar stop’ at the top, the clouds started to rise quickly and before long the mountains dissolved into the thick cloud, like a mirage disappearing into the distance. Sorry for all the poetics, but the Himalayan mountains are truly magical. Whether there is cloud-cover or clear skies, there is always a sense of mystery to these miraculous mountains that tower over the towns below. They are a must see and in my opinion another Wonder of the World!
On my way back down the route started to get quite busy, so if you want some peace and quiet in nature, I’d recommend setting off at the crack of dawn! You also don’t need to worry about bringing all of your supplies with you, as there are several little cafes dispersed along the route, selling tea, coffee, snacks, sugary drinks and hot food. Although be warned, prices rise with the altitude and at the top I paid 90 rupees for a chocolate bar, which is more than double the local price (but still less than £1!)
Donkeys carrying supplies up to the summit
Apparently my trek time was quite fast, making it to the top for 9:30am after 3½ hours of climbing. And I was back home by 1pm, just in time for a well-deserved lunch (my plate was piled high!) and a long, lazy afternoon nap! As I’m sure you can imagine, I had no desire to do downward dog the next day but as it turned out, a good stretch was exactly what I needed…
Tips for trekking up to Triund:
-Getting there from McLeod Ganj: Triund is around 9km form McLeod Ganj. You can save time by getting a taxi to Dharamkot and then trekking the final 7km.
-Time: Ascent should take 4-5 hours depending on physical ability (experienced trekkers may reach the top in 2-3 hours). Descent will be faster. However, I’d recommending setting aside one full day for the trek.
-Best time of year to trek: You can trek throughout the year, however heavy snowfall in January and February might make it more difficult. The best time for trekking is from March- May and September- December. Whilst there is heavy rainfall throughout June and July, trekking is still possible.
-What to bring: Wear shoes with good grip (trainers are fine) and make sure you pack warm clothes and sun cream. There are shops along the way selling food and drink and you can purchase woollens at the top if you find yourself getting really cold!
Also, make sure you take your rubbish with you!
-Triund information: http://www.triund.in/
-'India Hike's' guide to Triund: https://indiahikes.com/triund/
-'Go Nomad’s' travel guide to Triund: http://www.gonomad.com/1964-india-trekking-from-mcleod-ganj-to-triund-and-beyond
-‘Wiki How’ guide to trekking Triund: http://www.wikihow.com/Trek-to-Triund-Hill
-An idiot-proof guide to hiking up to Triund: http://alifeofmore.co.uk/an-idiot-proof-guide-to-hiking-the-triund-dharamshala/