Mahadev, Super Human, another name of Lord Shiva. Mountain Ranges, Himalayas is considered to be a home of Shiva. There are several places in and around India which are linked to Shiva and his stories such as Kailash Mansarovar, Kinner Kailash, Amarnath, etc. All these destinations are considered highly sacred and quite hard to reach. Out of all one such place is Shrikhand Mahadev. Shrikhand Mahadev Trek is a spiritual yatra to one of his shivlings in Himachal Pradesh. India being a spiritual nation has numerous Shiva followers.
Understood to be one of the toughest yatras, total trekking distance is about 70 km to & fro which is to be covered in a span of 5 days. Trek starts from Jaon village in Himachal Pradesh and takes you to the mountain top, waterfalls, glaciers that you need to cross, and finally to Shrikhand Mahadev which is in the form a Shivling ( Shiv’s part).
Day 0 :
When you are leaving for a 5-day trek you are bound to be excited about the same, the same was with me. After a hectic day at the office, I just couldn’t wait to leave for Shrikhand Mahadev Trek. It was my first high altitude trek so I was a little more excited about it. I left early from Office just to cross-check my backpack if I had packed everything as required. It was going to be a tough trek so I had to keep myself prepared both physically and mentally.
My bus was at 10:30 in the evening for Shimla, so I reached ISBT just in time to board it.
Day 1 :
Reached Shimla at 6:30 in the morning at ISBT, where I was greeted there by Nettu who was my co-traveler and guide for Shrikhand Mahadev. A local who has done Shrikhand Mahadev Trek several times in the past, and many other high altitude treks.
We started our journey at 7:30 AM from Shimla accompanied by another person Amit who was leaving with a group to Kinnar Kailash. It took us 5 hours to reach Rampur from Shimla. Amit dropped us at Rampur bus stand and we took a bus to Jaon, about 50 km from Rampur which took us 3 hrs to reach the village as being a local bus it had to make multiple stops.
After buying some essentials from Jaon for the next 5 days of the trek we started for Singhad. Singhad is the last village on this trek after that there are just pitched tents/shops and langars. 4 km Trek from Jaon but a level path compared to what we were to experience next it took us about 90 mins to reach Singhad. That was our first night halt.
Singhad to Thachru (3600 mts)
We started at 7:30 in the morning from Singhad after having tea at the langar where we stayed overnight. Singhad to Barathi Nala is 4 km of trek with multiple hill cross overs along the river. This stretch acts as a good warm-up session to prepare the trekkers for the next 10 km of climb. A vertical climb with very few patches of level ground.
We had our breakfast at one of the Langars at Barathi Nala, aloo paratha, and tea, which is being organized for devotees for the past 12 years. This breakfast was of utmost importance, as we had to be geared up for the climb.
The climb was steep and through the forest. As it was drizzling all the time, it made the path a lot slippery and slushy, we had to be careful while crossing small boulders.
There were occasional moments when the weather got cleared up and we could see the valley and several mountain peaks. They were all views worth staying for some time, places I would just sit and think “what next”.
After every hour of the climb, there is a shop where we halted for some food and drinks, majorly for rehydrating ourselves. But it is recommended if you carry at least 2 lts of water bottle with you. Reaching Thachru before sunset was our only aim and we covered it well in time.
We kept walking for 7 hours with multiple breaks for rest, food, and drinks, and finally reached Thachru by 5 in the evening.
It was a tiring day, not so much as I had thought but it was just the beginning. We pitched our tents, beside one of the shop owners and he was helpful in that way. He allowed us to pitch the tent and there we were still broad daylight, with our tents pitched, bags settled and above the cloud.
Later we went for a walk in the vicinity and it all looked different, great. It was my first high altitude trek so I was just absorbing it and getting prepared. It all felt so new, so different.
Thachru to BhimDwar (4050mts)
The second day of the trek is comparatively easier than the day before. With several level paths and multiple hilltops which you need to cross is not at all a steep climb.
We started at 9 in the morning after breakfast from Thachru. Started with a steep climb, and reached the Kaali top at 4000 mts in 2 hrs time. Thachru to Kalli top hike is a without any cover, no shade at all. It is recommended if this part of the trail is covered in the wee hours of the morning, when the sun is not hard, later in the day it get tiring.
We were lucky as it was clouded and we were adequately warmed. The route from here to Bhimdwar consisted of several ups and downs. Climbed several small hills and crossed valleys.
We kept our pace slow, thoroughly enjoying the weather with occasional stops. Today’s whole trek had a whole new feel to it, with weather and landscape changing every moment.
We reached Bhimdwar at 5 in the evening and followed the same ritual. I asked a shop owner to give a place to pitch the tent, unpacked our bags, and just walked around.
Bhimdwar was different, I fell in love the moment I saw the place. Huge waterfalls on 2 sides, a huge valley in between, and when the clouds cleared for few moments we were able to see to Shrikhand Mahadev Peak, standing tall at an approximate height of 18500 feet.
Again the experience was all new and very different.
We slept early that day. I had to prepare for the next day summit. 18593 feet, now that was not something that I had done before and it had to be a difficult trek, a challenging one.
Bhimdwar to Shrikhand Mahadev to Bhim Dwar ( 5300 mts)
Today was an important day, Bhimdwar to Summit and Back to Bhimdwar. This was a long trek and also a challenging one. We were at around 3800 mts and the summit was at 5300 mts so a lot of altitude change as well.
We started at 5:30 in the morning a little-altered timing as we were planning to start at 4 am. It is always good and easier to climb in the morning. As soon as the sun is up, it gets warm and you start losing a lot of energy.
Bhimdwar to Parwati Baag was a vertical climb for about 3 km and it took me almost 2 hrs to reach Parwati Baag top. Parwati Baag is a valley on top of the hill and it is spread over several acres of land. Shrubs covered with flowers all over.
It was a beautiful sight, which I will remember for a lot of time to come. Every time there was a vertical climb, the views are that were just memorable. I would just forget all the pain and tiredness and would want to spend some moments just admiring the beauty. But we had a long path to cover this day.
From here we walked through the glacier to reach Nain Sarovar. It was a long trek as we were negotiating boulders on the glacier it took us 90 minutes from Parwati Bhag to Nain Sarovar. The last stretch to Nain Sarovar which is at about 4300 mts was steep with boulders all over, from here the long trek to Shrikhand Mahadev starts.
Nain Sarovar as the name suggests (Nain: Eye, Sarovar: Lake), is believed to be formed from a drop of tear from Goddess Parvati’s eye ( God Shiva’s wife). Goddess Paravati was searching for Lord Shiva and after not finding him around she started to weep which led to the formation of Nain Sarovar. Lake in itself was not big, but it was covered with snow and frozen at most parts.
Multiple hilltops to be crossed, glaciers in between, with altitude increasing at every foot forward this was a challenging trek.
According to locals, Bhim is believed to be placing stones as stairs to reach heaven, and that places certainly seemed as if one someone has placed stones on top of one another. There were few stones having some words engraved on them and it was “Bheem Lipi” as claimed by locals.
It took me 4 hours to relentless trekking to reach Shrikhand Mahadev. In between, there were few occasions when the weather turned clear and I could see Shrikhand Mahadev and then started trekking to reach the top with new zeal. With Har Har Mahadev, Bam Bam Bhole and Jai Bhole chants all around it was a totally different push with excitement to reach the top. Something that I hadn’t experienced to date. It was just out of this world.
Reaching on top to Shrikhand Mahadev after hours and days of the relentless trek, sleeping in the tent, sleeping bags was a feeling compared to none another. I just sat there for a while, let things mellow down a little. It was a great feeling, a positive vibe all around.
Reaching Shrikhand Mahadev top was a delight, it was cold at the top but we were lucky as the weather cleared and we could see all the valleys and other peaks surrounding Shrikhand Mahadev. The highest peak among them was Kartikeya Peak, Lord Shiva’s other son apart from Ganesh.
I could have stayed there for a lot longer, but we had to start our way down as we had to reach Bhim Dwar on time and keeping the terrain in mind. I was aware it will take a little more time to reach Bhim Dwar. Seeing valleys while coming down and crossing through glaciers was not an easy task and when everything was slippery.
We were lucky that it wasn’t raining at that time else it would have been a lot more difficult. We met rainfall several times in between but always in patches, nothing major, but as soon as I reached Nain Sarovar weather took its toll. It had started raining and the terrain got slippery, it got a lot more difficult
Bhim Dwar via Thatchru to Singhad
After successfully completing the Shrikhand Mahadev summit. It was time to head back. We decided that we will try to reach Singhad the very same day, a 24 km trek from Bhim Dwar. Though it was quite tiring it will save us a day and we can get back to network and work at the earliest. Started at 7 in the morning, got up early and packed our bag to start the descent. We know it had to be pacy with an occasional switch of the bag to carry.
Reached Singhad by 7 in the evening. It was an intense 12 hrs of trek from Bhim Dwar to Singhad. Changed our clothes, freshen up a little. We were staying at the same langar which we had stopped at when we began our trek.
Singhad to Jaon to Shimla
The final day of our Shrikhand Mahadev trek and it seemed so as well. We were lazy to the core, got up late, late as in by 7:30. We already had our bag packed last night, so nothing much to that morning. Left Singhad by 9 and after having breakfast at one of the Langars we proceeded towards Jaon. We were lucky to meet Amit Bhai at Jaon as his phone was switched off and we were planning on ways to get back to Shimla.
He was there with a group who had just returned from Kinnar Kailash Yatra and had come to Jaon just to see the place. We couldn’t believe our luck.
I started at noon from Jaon and reached Shimla by 7in the evening, I had a bus from Shimla till Delhi at 9 so I was right on time. I boarded my HRCTC bus at 9 and was in Delhi by 5:30 in the morning.
When I look back at the trek, I knew it was a tough trek and I feel amazed at how well my body gets adjusted to the surroundings. I wasn’t supposed to carry a 20 kg bag on my back, but I did and it never felt that tiring. The views, the weather was all just great and never met so many Shiv ji bhakts together under one big roof.
It was all enlightening, listening to Babas talking, seeing people doing this trek barefoot, talking to local boys who ain’t just good trekkers but “shooters”( it feels as they are running), 2 days and they are done with the Yatra, simply great, simply admirable.