My tryst with TRIUND TREK

Vikram Garg
The esteemed Triund trek has been on my bucket list for almost two and a half years, maybe a little more, owed to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ironically, as eager as I was to achieve this feat, I had no prior research or a personal analysis like I usually do. The artist of the picture painted in my head of the trek was a common one, hearsay!
There was a myriad of reasons why this particular trek appealed to me. The scenic views, lovely mountains, new areas to explore, the thrilling trek itself. Also, because the site is near Jammu and the total moving time for the trek is within a day which suited me personally. But I couldn’t point out one particular reason that ignited the fire within me till I pursued the trail.
With bags packed and food secured we reached McLeod Ganj with our family package and some friends. Only four of us from our group intended to take on the expedition.While leaving for an evening stroll in the markets, we discovered a small travel agency adjacent to our hotel. We inquired about the availability of a guide, and Mr. Kuldeep, the man answering our questions said he’d accompany us himself. We agreed to meet the next morning, at 6 am sharp in our hotel lobby.
We were ready for the adventure; trekking bags packed with hydration, dry fruits and, some sandwiches. Kuldeep informed us that the trek could be pursued from two points, Dharamkot and Naddi point, the difference being that the former is shorter but steep whereas, from the latter, an extra kilometer had to be scaled but was less steep. Another option was to travel by car to the Galludevi temple and begin from there (walking distance would have shortened by 2km approx), however, we chose to start from Naddi point, on foot as it was closer to our lodging.
As someone who enjoys nature and music, I had never run a marathon or traced a trek without music. But when I began trekking, the melodious silence and tranquility of the place were the only music my soul needed and longed for. After a few steps, we found ourselves under a plethora of Tibetan Lung Dar prayer flags. Strings of colorful squares intertwined with each other intricately, painting the sky. It was truly beautiful.
As we continued walking, we finally reached the sacred Gallu Devi temple from where the real trek began. The simplicity and prayers offered in the temple overcame the slight annoyance of the dust dancing to the music of horns by local cars (allowed to carry visitors to the temple).
With each step forward, the elevation increased but so did the picturesque and mesmerizing views. The mountains blanketed us with forest green and a sweet mist. I couldn’t help notice the unceasing row of lush trees marked with delicate maroon flowers. As if reading my mind, our guide let us in on a local secret about Basa flowers. A toothsome chutney, prepared from such flowers was promised to us by the very kind Kuldeep.
He pointed his finger far away indicating the half point. I’m sure he also pointed to the final site but we can’t confirm, as at the moment we were occupied mustering strength to reach just halfway. We were blessed with strength as we marveled at all shades of the sun. During the sunrise, it felt as if someone above poured buckets of red, yellow, and orange on a canvas.
When we reached halfway, we were buzzing with hunger and excitement. The sandwiches we savored on the way left no trace. Then we had the popular Indian breakfast brought to us by our advisor guide. Bread omelet, Maggi, and Adrak wali chai. While sipping the tea prepared with love and mountain spirit by the oldest Chai shop since 1984, we looked down the valley and the tiredness was mopped away by the oxygenated breeze and fulfilling sense of achievement. We packed up and continued our journey upwards. That was when we paid attention to Mr. Kuldeep showing us the peak, the destination. Reaching that tip seemed impossible and the hard surface, quilted with stones was indeed challenging.
I had paid my homage to the Amarnath yatra before the pandemic struck, and was thankful for the realization of the importance of a trekking stick/pole. The pole supported my body weight as well as eased the journey to some extent. As we drew closer to the peak, people with red noses and wide smiles could be observed coming down. Our advisor maintained the thrill and kept us avid with the ticking countdown.
We were finally on top of the world!
As soon as the boundless mountains freckled with snow and the seamless sky came into view, every fiber of my being was rejuvenated. The small Shiva temple caught the corner of my eye. Meditating there, filled my heart with peace and mind with calm. A little Hanumanji rested at the corner of the cliff as if looking over everyone and everything. We had decided to stay there for about fifteen minutes but the topography urged us to stay. Colorful tents lined up the cliff, abodes for travelers who wished to stay overnight.
I was admiring everything for the millionth time when an old friend tugged at the pit of my stomach, ‘Hunger’. Our guide immediately, got plates full of appetizing Rajma Chawal and tangy pickles from a local tented kitchen there, with advice that by the time we start our journey back down, the food would settle down. The courtesy and amiability of this man surprised me yet once again. I realized that the sanctity and the quietude of this place were reflected in everything; people like our guide who kept our crew together, offering his hand considerately in steep areas; the dogs who befriended us, and trailed ahead, guarding us; tunnels of green that welcomed us warmly and chirping birds. I saw everything in a new light.
Reluctantly, we left the site and made our way downhill. The journey was easier comparatively. We enjoyed tea halfway, at a makeshift Tea Shop with carpeted floors. I wasn’t ready for this adventure to end just yet. As our guide filled his bag with Basa flowers for the promised chutney, our group bid farewell to the wonders and jewels of this celestial place. The total time taken by us was 7hrs 22 minutes (moving time of 5hrs 20 minutes) covering a distance (up and down) of 18kms approximately from Naddi point with an elevation gain of 3044 ft.
We thanked the Divine power and the Nature for pure will and strength that fueled us. On our way back, we noticed a leak in the municipal pipes that carried chilled, fresh spring water. We refilled our bottles with the natural nectar of nature and advanced towards our lodging. The day wasn’t over yet. At 7 pm our friend Kuldeep brought us the famous chutney to complement our meal. We laughed and cherished the memories while I crossed ‘the Triund trek’ off my bucket list.