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Lakhamandal Story

Lakhamandal Trek

The year was coming to an end and I wanted to do a small two to three days trek. The idea of doing the Lakhamandal to Kalsi trek came to mind and I started to look around for information, which was hard to come. The info I had was old and I could not really depend on it as due to road construction in the mountains a lot has changed. Still I wanted to go and see for myself and so got in touch with Dewan who agreed to join me for this small trek. 

A fine winter morning I picked up Dewan from the Dehradun railway station. I had the car and so we were spared the hassle of looking around for vehicles going towards Lakhamandal. We drove out of the town and stopped for breakfast before the climb to Mussoorie started. The climb up to Mussoorie was quite peaceful and we stopped there for some last minute purchases. The road moved down and passed the famous Kempty Fall. We were now moving into the Yamuna valley and once we reached the river we moved upstream towards Yamnotri. The land on the other side of the river was the Jaunsar - Babar region. The part where we were supposed to be moving was Jaunsar and is inhabited by Jaunsari tribe. Though part of the Garhwal region it has had separate identity and people of this region were not mixing with others from across the river. We were told that the dress of the people of the region was quite different but other than two ladies we did not see any one wearing the traditional dress all along the trek.

The road was narrow and went along the river. We were looking for Kuwa which had been shown quite near to Lakhamandal. However, we reached Barai ghat  where Barai gad comes and meets Yamuna on it's left bank. Across the bridge we entered the market place and decided to have lunch as the place had few basic dhaba's. As we sat awaiting the food, we enquired about Kuwa and on telling the reason for going there we were told that there was no need to go to Kuwa. Our destination was only five km from the place where we sat and was just across the river. It was a big relief and so after food we took the road going across the river and climbing upto the village. As we entered the village a set of caves drew our attention. Latter we were told that they there was a temple there where the Pandvas used to offer prayers. We enquired about the temple and were shown the temple on the upper end of the village. A small road took us to the temple where we spent lots of time looking around. A lot of excavation work has been carried out at the place and a large number of shivlings have been found. Well we could imagine the grandeur of the temple when it would have been fully functional. Now of course it has few visitors and the lone pujari did small puja for us. The old pujari took us around and told about the various locations in the temple compound. having seen around the place now we were more concerned with our staying place for the night and the guide for the trek we wanted to undertake from Lakhamandal to Kalsi. We were told about the motor road and when we told that we wanted to walk down they were confused. We told them about the old trek route in detail but they still could not understand why we wanted to walk when there was road everywhere. Well we insisted on walking and requested them to tell us about any person who and moved along the trail so that he may guide us. The old man who had shown around the temple complex, agree to come along with us. We explained him the economics and he went to his home to tell his family about the job he had landed with us. We moved back and reached the new hotel we had passed as we had moved into the village. Shri Rana runs the place and he showed the rooms and also we placed order for dinner. We stayed at the Panchayat Guest House but regretted next day as the person in charge asked for twice the money it would had costed us at the Rana's hotel. Panditji, the guide reported in time and we awaited the bus from Barai ghat which reaches the place by 0730 hr. The bus came at the scheduled time and we said bye to my father who was taking back the car we had traveled in to Lakhamandal. It was cold in the morning but the sky was clear. The bus was going to Chakrata and returns back in the afternoon. The climb started immediately and a 12 km ride brought us to Goraghati. The sun had not reached the place and it was very cold. We moved into the shop at the turning and ordered tea, which brought back some warmth. The shop offers aloo parathas and we ordered some for us as the sunrays hit the place. As the preparations for parathas started we moved around the place. A board cautioned the foreigners from entering the place. Goraghati is the last place till which they are allowed. Well it used to be the same for Indians till quite sometime. Far on the horizon we could see a big building with a red roof. We were told that it was Chakrata. We did not think much as we were not going towards that place. The hills on the right looked quite mighty and from just above the shop one got clear and good view of the Bandarpunch peak with its glaciers.

Aloo parathas were ready and we also had got ready to move on the trail.  We had decided to go to Bijnad via Barontha, a distance of 12 km on the first day. The walk started around 0950 hr on a path going down and out of the village. We were moving on a wide path which could be converted into a road any day. After some time we left the big path and took a side trail moving steeply down to the nala down below and another small village. We left the village on side and kept moving on the trail which led to another village and then we reached Bharkhoti. Then a big village came and Panditji informed it was Barontha. It was only 1045 and we had reached the half way point very early and that too walking on village trails. it came as a surprise and I again asked Panditji for confirmation. Well there was no doubt about it. He also confirmed that the village above was Pango village. We were not tired and so did not stop there. A school was in progress and villagers moved around doing their jobs. We were subject of interest as maybe after long time someone from outside was walking around these trails with rucksacks. Anyway in short time we moved out of the village and were on a wide road under construction. We were saved from walking on the road, as soon we took another village trail and reached Chamao village by 1110 hr. All along the road going towards Chakrata was seen on the opposite side hill slope. Kusai Bazzar came into view as we reached Bignu village by 1130 hr. Well another half and hours walk brought us to the days destination of Bijnath which is known as Bijnad locally.  Just before the village we met an old man, Shri Sant Ram. He carried the typical long grass cutting knife of this region and was fit and fine. We started to talk with him and he invited us to have tea, which we politely refused. He told us that he was 86 years old and had seen the place change and the coming up of roads in the region. We spoke with him for some time and then moved on. He insisted on tea again as we moved on. Well the sun was shining bright and it was hot and we had reached the days destination in around two hr. Not our cup of tea. me moved across the village and went down to the river and crossed it over a small bridge. On the other side was a single home which had a small shop and running water with mustered fields in full bloom. We decided to sit there for some time and enjoy the surroundings. Spent some time there and got moving again. Shortly thereafter we reached a place where a small water channel was under construction and walking over its edge we reached the trail again. In the valley a river was flowing and the slopes above were thick jungle. Passing few abandoned hut which we were told was Khadkota, we reached a place where the cattle camp was located on the opposite side of the river and it was a very scenic camping ground. However we did not stop there and decided to cover as much ground as we could cover that day. The sun was beating down on us with all its might and we had started to feel hungry. So as soon as we sighted the tap with running water we put our rucksack down and sat for the snacks we were carrying. We had reached Dungyara. A road is passing above the place, though we did not see it, and were quite happy that way. Few kids were playing around and we realised we were sitting next to there house. All of them school going kids.

The snacks and water refreshed us and we again picked up the bags. All this while we had been moving on descending trails or flat trails and had reached the valley floor. We walked some more on the flat trail passing a village and then we reached the Baladevi mandir. Said our prayers and we crossed over the river over a small bridge and the trail climb up immediately. Soon we realised that Panditji had not moved on this trail as he took a wrong path and we climbed to a village on the left side of the ridge. Again we came back and crossed over to the right side of the ridge and kept climbing up. The big building with red roof was seen high up on the ridge in front, signaling that we were quite near to the town of Chakrata. Since we were not going there we did not think of moving in that direction. The climb continued and we reached a road and crossed it into a big village. It was Ravana village and was located on the edge of the thick jungle which covered the upper ridge. Once we thought of stopping there but then decided against it and continued on the trail as Pandiji told that Magti was quite near. We entered the thick jungle as the shadows were lengthening and it was a bit scary. We moved slowly on the clear trail and kept looking for sky over the ridge. Finally it stated to open up and we reached a small opening which seemed like part of a golf course. As we crossed the final slope in front we found ourselves standing on the edge of a huge ground, which we latter came to know was the Chandmani Polo ground. On the other side a lone man was crossing the ground. We thought that it was the route to Magti which was not far according the Panditji. However, after Baladevi Mandir we had our doubts on the experience of Panditji and told him to find out from that man as to where the trail led to. He came back to tell that went to another village and that Magti was located on the other side of the valley in front of the ground. It was cold on the open ground and our shouting brought out a Jawan who are posted at the ground for guarding maintaining it.  He told us to take the road going below the ground and move two km to a small place which had hotel. As it was getting late and Panditji seemed to be lost we took the advise of the Jawan and moved to the road and walking on the road under construction we reached Purodi, which is five km from Chakrata and a similar distance from Magti. A road is going to Magti and by a minute we missed the bus going to Magti. it was dark and cold and so we decided to stay at Purodi. The hotel there was costly  and so we moved into the PWD rest house. Our discussions at Purodi confirmed our fears that a road was running all through the place we wanted to trek and so we decided to return back from there itself and caught the next day bus going to Dehradun via Chakrata, Kalsi, Vikasnagar and Harbatpur. By ten thirty in the morning we were at the Harbatpur junction where my father picked me up and Dewan took a bus to Saharanpur and onwards to Delhi which turned out to be quite a bothersome travel for him as the bus service was quite bad on the route.


Lakhamandal Trek Photos Part I

Lakhamandal Trek Photos Part II

Lakhamandal Trek Plan



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Published on: 2009-11-15 (1887 reads)

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