Har ki Dun, is a valley that is situated in Govind Wildlife sanctuary, Uttarkashi district in north-west Uttarakhand. It was a cradle shaped valley that can only be reached by trekking to the valley. The distance to the Har ki Dun valley is 25 KM from the road head. Thus the total trek distance is 50 KM. It takes 2 to 3 days to reach the valley and return in another 2 days. In 1937, Doon school master Jack Gibson along with Tenzing Norgay and his colleague John Martyn climbed Bandarpunch peak. Jack Gibson made several expeditions in the region and trained young Indian mountaineers. The flora, fauna and Garhwali culture of Har ki Dun region thus became known to the outside world. The name "Har Ki Dun" is interpreted in two different ways. First is the literal translation, i.e. Valley of Gods - Har is the name for Shiva, one of the trinity gods as per Hinduism. Dun means a valley. The other name has more resemblance with the local culture and traditions. The second translation is "The sound of Shiva or the Sound of God". Every year to welcome Lord Someshwara (a form of Shiva) a festival is held in the valley, where a Dhaki (drummer) plays the drum. It is said that ages ago a Dhaki had disappeared in the Valley above and every year during the festival month one can still occasionally hear the Dhaki playing drums far up in the valley in the early hours of the day. Many village elders mention of several accounts throughout their lives about hearing these drums.
Day 2 Sankri to Puani Garat (2,500 m): 10 km trek in 5 to 6 Hours Distance: 10 KM drive, 10/12 KM trek Duration: 1 hour drive, 5 to 6 hours trek Altitude: 8,270 Feet | 2,520 meters
Since, the journey is long, we start as early as we can in the morning. After breakfast we board an SUV and drive through a forest road. The drive is quite bumpy. The vehicle crosses one or two streams on the way. We reach Taluka in about an hour. It is a small village with a few shops and two Government guest houses. The trek commences from here on a stony path. The fragrance of cedar trees can be felt around Taluka. Sometimes during winters, or especially during periods with rather heavy spells of rain, the road to Taluka may be too dangerous for vehicles, as streams run across the road and thus one may be required to walk a stretch of around 8 km up to Taluka, albeit it is only occasional. We walk close to the river Supin gushing through rapids. Under the shade of walnut, pine and cedar trees, the walk is quite pleasant. In autumn we can often find walnuts lying around. One must avoid “bichchu ghas” which literally translates to ‘scorpion grass’. A slight touch can give us stinging sensation which lasts for about twenty to thirty minutes. This herb is also cooked as a vegetable and eaten. Often the passing villagers greet us on the way. High up above on the true left, we get to see the village of Datmer. It is lined by series of step farms. The farms have the bright red colored Cholai growing from late monsoon to early autumn. The path crosses over a few streams which merge with Supin. After a few hours of walk the village of Gangad can be seen towards the left, across the river. It is possible to come across a yellow throated marten in the forests of this area. We can also find edible fruits of seabuckthorn. They are orange in color and grow in bunches. Also, known as ‘leh berries’, the juicy and sour fruits are a rich source of Vitamin C. We continue our trek and soon we reach the secluded campsite at Puani Garat.
The ascending path climbs high above the confluence of Supin river and the river from Ruinsara valley. From near this confluence, we get a view of the snow-clad peaks of Ruinsara valley including Black Peak, the highest peak in the region. While towards north we can see the Har Ki Dun valley far in the distance. We can even spot the Forest hut at Har ki Dun from this point. After traversing higher up along the true right of the river, we enter the final stretch which is inside a forest. The forest opens up into the main camping area of Har ki Dun, right beside the gurgling stream. This is a very panoramic spot in Har ki Dun located at the junction of two valleys, one originating from Jaundhar glacier and the other from beyond Hata glacier. Higher up towards the North we can spot the Forest Rest House, while the wood crafted GMVN guest house lies further up in the distance. The Har ki Dun peak stands tall right in front of us behind the Forest Rest House. Towards its left, Hata peak which is usually snow covered can be seen. The minor ridge to our right, lined with a few scattered Himalayan birch trees Bhojpatra separates us from the massive Har Ki Dun valley that goes up all the way to the base of Swargarohini Peak. The paper like bark of these trees was used in ancient times to write religious scriptures. The vast open meadows following the course of the Supin river can be explored. Further ahead of the meadows one can walk among the forests of Bhojpatra trees (Himalayan birch) or get a closer glimpse of the Jaundhar glacier and Swargarohini peak, for which we will have to head updwards the Har Ki Dun valley, towards the Swargaroini peak in the eastern direction. We can choose to relax and soak in the environment for some time or we can continue our trek to Marinda Tal, in the north, just 2-3 km away from Har ki Dun. The trail is gradually ascending here. It is a small lake formed by a huge boulder obstructing the river which flows down from the base of the Borasu Pass. After our short visit to Marinda Tal we make our return journey back to Kalkatidhar. We take the same route and it becomes much easier as its all downhill from here. We reach back by early evening and rest at the campsite.
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