Triund trek

Triund, Himachal’s jewel crown and a stealer of hearts

Himachal’s Triund is a must visit for nature lovers who are ready to be a bit adventurous in their escapades. A great trek and a refreshing camp site waits for those who persevere.

Everybody heads to the hills looking for some peace and calm from a busy city life. I was no different, aiming for the top of the mountains after a few months of hustle at the workplace. But this time, I was just a little more adventurous than usual.

I had spent a whole year in a reputed company and had just got a promotion. But while an increase in salary and designation was nice, two words on the assessment page had caught my attention. It said ‘exceeds expectations’. These words felt like a rush of adrenaline everytime I looked at them. In an organization that had the best talents come together, I was someone who had exceeded expectations. The mood was such that I straightaway called a friend to ask if they were attempting any treks in the upcoming month. Turned out, they were heading to my favourite state Himachal Pradesh for a trek to the beautiful Triund. Being new to trekking, I was glad they chose Triund hilltop that lies 9350 feet above sea level, because this trek was relatively comfortable than the steeper spots my trekker friends usually went to.

The following weekend, we reached Dharamshala in one of the inter-state buses and spent a day in the vibrant little town of Mcleodganj. The next day, we made our way upto Dharamkot that lay 8 km further. Dharamkot seemed to me like an exclusive place, the kind only some of us are allowed to enter; in this case only the ones who can persevere a more uphill journey from the now mainstream Mcleodganj. What we were rewarded with is a remote yet breathtaking environment. The rough mountain terrain was spotted with quaint cafes with dim lights and menu cards straight from Europe. Interesting teas and concoctions galore, these cafes even played music that catered to the foreigners who could be seen everywhere. So enamoured were we that we completed a day here in absolute trance. It was the next morning and we were standing at the Gallu Devi Temple, which served as the base point for the trek to Triund.

The trek was everything and more one could hope for. I had planned for the 9km uphill journey to be exhausting. I had eaten just the right amount of food before starting the trek, had drank just enough water so as not to get dehydrated and worn the right clothes, not too tight or loose. It was a very sunny yet windy day and the more conservative call to wear the light cardigan while no one else in my group did, paid off.

But the steep ascent was physically exhausting. It was a steep climb and though many people were climbing before and after us, it did not seem to take away the tension I felt in my tummy while placing my foot at the right crevices amidst the rocks. My knees and feet repeatedly gave up, crying for some rest but there wasn’t any space to do so. What really helped was the kind advice of a few locals from last evening. “Climb at the same pace, not too fast and not too slow. And don’t breathe through your mouth,” the café owner had said. I tried to remember those two things everytime my body gave up in the middle of literally nowhere. A stunning sight came somewhere in the middle of the trek. The Dharamshala cricket stadium could be seen like a glistening diamond ring as we looked down. The huge HPCA stadium seemed like a small and pretty pond from where we stood and the view inspired us to keep going further.

As we made it to the top, a small refreshments shop greeted us. Fresh orange juice, a few fizzy drinks and biscuits lined the small shop and made us feel a burst of gratitude at human presence in such remote corners of the world. We chatted with the shopkeeper who was quite popular among the regular trekkers and locals, many having written about him and his magical shop in their blogs.

Refreshed, we started on our last kilometer but it turned out to be difficult with its infamous name ’22 curves’ being true to the last letter. Comprising of 22 steep curves, the last kilometer almost took the wind out of me and I was glad to have the company of my friends so that I didn’t quit or worse, start to cry in public.

At the most tired second of my entire journey uphill, I suddenly saw a sight my eyes couldn’t believe. We had reached the top and Triund welcomed us with fresh air and nature at its most beautiful.

True to its lore, Triund seemed like a fluffy green table surrounded by the majestic Dhauladhar mountain range on one side and the valley on the other. Fluffy green, because we had attempted our trek in the summer and had been welcomed by lush grass instead of the winter snow. Triund, which means a point where three trails connect, was once the grazing ground for the gaddi shepherds. With a rise in tourism, these shepherds opted for steeper, more remote hills.

Indeed, tourists were everywhere; some sitting and singing in groups, a few capturing the grand mountains with their cameras and solitary ones reading a book or soaking the sun. I wanted to waste no time and do something my heart desired too. And at that very moment, I saw a lonesome shop made of rocks, selling Maggi!

To have a bowl of Maggi at what was the highest point travelled in my entire life was a tick off a bucket list before the term became popular. I cherished every spoon, afraid the time was passing too quickly.

We made friends with a few youngsters from Scandinavia, who chatted with us late into the night. Lying on my back, I looked at the stars that seemed like they could be touched. I had never seen brighter stars than these in my life. The chill started to get the better of us as we retired to our government guest rooms. We seemed to be the only ones smart enough to book these no-frills accommodation as everyone around us went inside their sleeping bags under the starry sky itself.

Morning came upon us in no time as people woke up early to make the most of this fabulous experience. We too got out of our rooms and had the most gorgeous tea at the single shop, which was restocked, thanks to the shopkeeper who climbed up and down everyday with fresh supplies! Worth every curve I encountered on my way up, I wondered what else my life held in the new future. I had reached Triund on an impulse, joyous from my promotion. However, only after reaching the top did I realise how we are only a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things. Nature, our planet, our universe and all the elements are much greater than us humans, the one species that prides itself on being intelligent.

In this one morning when the sun seemed oh so close to us, I felt gratitude for all the good people and things the universe had sent my way. I also made peace with the fact that no matter how many achievements I might count in this life or no matter how many failures I’d see, I’d be okay. I would simply surrender to nature every once in a while to reconnect with myself. Nature would always ‘exceed expectations’.

As we made our way downhill, the base came sooner than we’d imagined. Resting our legs at the café at the base of the trek, we jokingly begrudged our normal life that had returned to us far too quickly. But I promised myself to return to Triund one day. Not because I intended to become a seasoned trekker or celebrate another promotion. I simply wanted to feel the magic I had experienced on the ‘jewel of Dharamshala’ once again in life.




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