Buran Ghati – A thoughtful journey into life

17th – 23rd May’2019

…and my first ever Himalayan Journey began.

Buran Ghati or Barua Pass is located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh connecting the Shimla and Kinnaur districts. Even today local villagers use this pass for religious or cultural purposes and travel from Janglik to Barua village crossing an elevation of 15000 ft.

Thanks a lot Indiahikes for organizing and managing our trek so well.

Day 1 – Reaching Janglik from Shimla

Shimla is the headquarter of the state of Himachal Pradesh so it is very well connected to the rest of the country. This is how I planned to reach Janglik –

  • Doha,Qatar to New Delhi by Air
  • Delhi (Sarai Rohilla railway station) to Kalka by Train(Himalayan Queen, Train no – 14095)
  • Kalka to Shimla by the heritage Toy Train ( (Himalayan Queen, Train no – 52455)
  • Night Stay in Shimla
  • Shimla to Janglik by shared car (8 seater)

From my hotel I started walking around 4:30 am to reach the ‘The Lift’ area which was our pick up point. Trucks, loaded with fruits, vegetables and spices were standing by the side of the road. Local ‘Pahari’ people were very busy in the loading/unloading activities. The market and the local business were still in synchronization with the dawn. As I was walking along, the smell of the spices thrilled my senses and I started to enjoy the strenuous walk.

We drove through the Chitgaon village and the Pabbar river valley to reach Janglik however, due to landslide,mild rain and poor condition of the bridge we could not reach Janglik as planned so we had to start our trek rehearsal ahead of our real trek. From the point near the broken bridge to the village of Janglik, it was a steep walk for 2-3 kilometers.

Our drivers

As I walked, I met with these cute little Pahari girls. I was happy to know that they love to study and go to school. Although they trek for 10 kilometers a day to reach their school and come back home, they happily promised me to continue their study.

The village of Janglik was clean and beautiful but the villagers were even more beautiful.

The Village of Janglik

Pahari women of Janglik. On request they blessed me with this lovely picture. They struggle and suffer but never stop smiling

Day 2 – Janglik to Dayara Campsite (11,075 ft)

We started our trek from Janglik on 18th May’19 morning. Any activity in which using water was mandatory, froze our hands but we were slowly getting acclimatized with the area and the weather.

En-route Dayara

As we walked, beautiful meadows, looming mountains and colorful alpine forests, full of pink-urple Rhododendron flowers, filled our hearts with joy.

Pink-Purple Rhododendron

Shepherd’s hut

Crossing a small river stream when we were about to reach our campsite, it started to drizzle however it didn’t last for long. We got to know from our trek leader Gautam that our trekking days were going to be rainy almost everyday after 1 in the afternoon, as per the weather forecast. Gautam took a screenshot of the weather forecast before we left Janglik because after Janglik there was hardly any mobile network available.

Donkeys going back to Janglik after unloading our backpacks at the Dayara Camp

The Sunset in Dayara was amazing; almost all of us captured that moment in their lenses but for me, my mind & body were not in synchronization because my stomach started giving me a lot of trouble. This was for the first time in my life that I was about to use the dry toilet so the stomach-ache made me feel even more uncomfortable.

We were into the wild already. No mobile network or electricity was distracting us from the peace of nature. The evening was slightly clouded but it didn’t rain. After the sunset, all the team members gathered inside the dinner tent and got to know each other better which helped us to choose our tent mates. We went back to our respective tents after having our early dinner hoping to enjoy a lovely sleep.

Unfortunately, even after trying very hard, I could not sleep because of the stomach-ache. Around 12:30 am, the pain increased even more and I decided to go out to the dry toilet alone without disturbing two of my other tent mates. I am not saying that I was not afraid to go out, but the pain inside me was even more uncomfortable. Fighting with the freezing cold wind, as I opened the front zip of our tent to come outside, for a few seconds the ‘Full moon silence’ made me speechless and nervous at the same time. Was it a gigantic mountain ghost or was it the most gorgeous gift of my life so far, I could not figure out for a few seconds.

Mr. Rajesh Sehgal – the 58 years’ old ‘Youngest’ member of our group and one of my tent mates. I am glad that I shared tent with him.

Our Trek Lead – ‘Goon Gautam’, as we called him while playing a game of adding adjectives before our names.

Day 3 – Dayara to Litham Campsite (11,737 ft)

After enjoying the early morning view in Dayara we started our 3 hours’ trek to Litham. In Dayara we got a good feeling of wilderness but on our way to Litham it was in full glory.

En-route Litham

I felt like close to god for the ‘Second’ time in my life. The ‘First’ time I could internalize the presence of god was when I took on my lap my newborn daughter ‘Aditri’ for the first time.

Gamut of Colors – en route Litham

In fact, Litham gave us the preview of the natural beauty or of the joy that we were about to experience in next few days. This is a very good place to take time-lapse videos. The Sharp contrast between the meadows, the snowy mountains and the alpine trees was mesmerizing.

Litham Campsite

The deserted and snow-covered mountain valley really opened up in Litham. The long distance views of the valley were mesmerizing.

Day 4 – Excursion/Acclimatization walk to the Chandranahan Lake (13,900 ft)

Chandranahan Lake is a glacial lake and is the source of the Pabbar river. For the local people the lake is a place of worship. We trekked around 2000 ft(one way) from our Litham Camp to reach the Lake however it was completely frozen so we could only guess the presence of it. Trekking to the lake was itself an achievement. I would love to come back to the Chandranahan Lake sometimes in future either by the end of June or during September-October to enjoy its actual grandeur.

Way to the Chandranahan Lake

The frozen Chandranahan Lake

On our way back to the Latham Campsite from Chandranahan Lake, we got a good snowfall. It was truly magical for a first timer such as me, however, before the snowfall started I happened to fall in a real scary situation.

I slipped while descending. We were not told to wear micro-spikes before I slipped. I didn’t know how to slide on the snow or in case I slip accidentally, how should I break or save myself from slipping further down, so I was slipping with a tremendous momentum and I could not stop myself. Near a small rocky lump, I tried to stop somehow with my feet but the momentum was so high that I could not stop and my body tumbled over the rock. I got very scared as the rocky river was coming near. I was badly hit on my shoulder but at that instance, I could not feel any pain as my main focus was to survive. I could see another bigger rock in few meters. I thought in sheer determination that I must hold this rock and stop myself. This time, I did not move straight to the rock. As I was slipping by the side of the rock, I grasped it with all my strength and finally survived from going into the river most part of which was invisible as it was flowing beneath the glacier.

I realized that I shouldn’t have started my trekking experience with a moderately difficult Trek such as Buran Ghati.

Couple of other trekkers slipped after me but those instances were less scary. I happened to save one of my fellow trekkers from slipping further down. Finally, our trek leader instructed us to wear micro-spikes and we reached our Litham campsite safely afterwards. The snow-falling was fully on.

A note of Caution – You can enjoy, until you are alive

Day 5 – Litham to Dhunda (13,365 ft)

Dhunda was literally a planet of snow. It is completely isolated from the civilization and was the base camp for our trek to the Buran Pass. If you are not with a group and new to the mountains, the atmosphere can easily make you scared. On the contrary, if you are with a group and safe, this place is like the heaven on earth. The difference between the Hell and the Haven is so marginal, isn’t it?

Early Dawn in Litham – Pure & Serene

Dhunda Camp site

It took almost 8 hours for us to reach Dhunda from Litham. The trek was easier than the trek to the Chandranahan Lake but tougher than the trek from Dayara to Litham. The place was not good to walk around without proper guidance; even a 100 meter walk from the camp was enough to make me breathless and tired because of the altitude and the knee-high snow.

Dhunda Camp site

We could not have a deep sleep that night as we were to start very early the next day morning for the Pass. We were anxious, a bit nervous but immensely enthusiastic. Four more technical guides of Indiahikes joined our team ahead of the pass day. We were taught to wear gaiter, micro-spikes and harness properly. We were strictly told that we must start by 3 am for the Pass.

Day 6 – Dhunda to River Camp site(11,800 ft) via Buran Ghati (15,000 ft)

It was our day to climb the Buran Pass. We all waited for a long time for this day. With the grace of God, the weather was fantastic and we were about to be only the 2nd batch of Indiahikes to cross the pass this season.

We started at 3:15 am. Temperature was sub zero and all our headlamps were on. A group of 19 men and women followed the footsteps of the guides and climbed along a trail-less steep path. For me, the experience of Chandranahan Lake trek helped a lot. Now, I could place my steps more carefully, technically and firmly.

One hour before crossing the pass
(facing towards Dhunda)

One hour before crossing the pass
(facing towards the Buran Pass)

The last 300 meters’ walk before reaching the pass was really challenging and my breathlessness was at its peak, however we crossed the pass in record time and more fun were awaiting for us. It was indeed an accomplishment for all of us.

Our Team at the Pass

After crossing the Pass...

We stayed almost half an hour at the Buran Pass and then, with the help of the experienced technical guides, we rappelled down to the other side. Then followed the slides, one after another. We descended very fast by sliding. I think we did a total of five slides. These slides were necessary to loose height fast and at the same time to avoid walking through the knee-height snow which was very tiring. Crossing the pass and then going for the five long slides back to back are among the best reasons to do this Buran Ghati Trek, I guess.

Kinnaur Kailash range was visible after crossing the pass

The spot of our longest slide. It is a rockfall zone too.

Completing all the slides, I descended very fast while the rest of the team members were still way up in the snow. The 58 Years’ old Sehgal Sir, one of my tent mates, was next to reach my spot. We waited for a long time but nobody else reached because the spot of our last slide was a rockfall zone and rockfall indeed had happened two three times. As our fellow trekkers were coming down slowly, we decided to follow the trail ourselves and reach the river campsite early. Unfortunately after taking two-three turns not only the trail disappeared but also our teammates were no more visible to us. Even we were unable to see our next camp site. So, we decided to wait by an unknown river side. We were lost and a bit nervous too but the flowing river, silent mountains, sound of wind and playful clouds were giving us the courage and company. I got a taste of solo travel too.

The deadly valley – wind was flowing like a river, perhaps the glacier moves the same way in winter

The team reached our spot almost after 45 minutes but following a different trail. I again apologized to myself for not following the group.

We reached the river campsite around noon and soon after reaching the camp my heart started to become heavy thinking about the end of the journey. Until sunset, that day, I sat outside the tent alone looking at the mountains and listening to my travel playlist. My mind was not ready to leave the place so soon.

The river camp site

Day 7 – River Campsite to Barua Village

Apricot Tree, en route Barua Village

Apple flowers

Pink Rhododendron flowers

When she saw us from a distance, she thought that her wait is over as the doctor has come. A feeling of helplessness ran through my mind. Then when she understood, with that inspiring smile, she welcomed us

Our trek suddenly ended at the Barua village but I was not in a mood to say goodbye to the mountains. It took a long time for me to come out of the joy of life but I promised myself to come back to the nature soon, very soon.

The Return Gift…

I got a heavenly kiss from this little god

The Unconditional love

I learned a lot of things from this trek. I met with people having similar mindset, spent time with the mother nature for a long time and above all got a direction in my life. I felt that how joyful it is to be in nature away from the so called complications and ‘goals’ of our life.

Hope you have enjoyed the journey….

I would love to get your feedback.

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