People party in pubs, clubs and resorts to celebrate and welcome New Year. But my plans were different this time. I choose to explore the natural beauty and rejoice the New Year through Trekking. Thanks to my friend Tejas who recommended Brahmatal Lake trek at the height of 12150 ft. It is cushioning in the nadirs of Uttarakhand’s Himalayas. The place is said to be perfect for winter trekking from December to March. A climatic vision of marvelous high peaks scintillating athwart a vivid sky, eerie forests of oaks and rhododendrons, snow-concealed fields, the mountainous Brahmatal lake environs, and waterside camp out at Bekaltal gives you a precious pleasure of life.
As this was my first winter trek, I strictly follow the shopping guide provided from our trek organizers and trust me, it was the best decision I ever made. Me along with my friends Nimit, Tejas shukla, Jignesh, Parth and Tejas lodha also opted for this trek from Ahmedabad. Preparation was smooth as you can find almost everything from Decathlon including trekking gears and clothes.
This is how my packing started:
4 members from our group left early from Ahmedabad to explore Nainital and other nearby places where as Me and Nimit left after 2 days and planned to meet them at Kausani from where, we headed towards the Lohajung (our base camp of the trek).
After finishing my office work, I took a taxi and left for an airport to catch GoAir flight scheduled at the 10:20 PM from Ahmedabad airport. The flight was delayed by half and hour and we spent our time by talking about next plan to reach Kathgodam from Delhi.
Finally the announcement made to board the flight and we landed around 12:30 AM at Delhi airport.
I already inquired about how to reach NDLS (New Delhi Railway Station) from Airport during late night as the metro is not functioning during these hours. We just came out of Delhi airport T2 and take left turn till shuttle bus stand. It was just 5 min walk and you will reach the bus stop from where you will easily get Shuttle bus to reach NSDL. We boarded bus going towards Kashmir gate which dropped us at NSDL station main gate within 45 minutes.
It was around 2:15AM and we had to wait for 4 hours to catch our train to Kathgodam. After having tea (taste was very bad), we entered into the station and tried to find tourist rest room. Sadly the one which we found was not properly maintained and air circulation was also very bad. We decided go directly at platform to rest for next 3 - 4 hours.
It was our first encounter with Delhi's cold as the temperature was around 7 - 8 degree and we somehow managed to warm our self with hot tea and woolen muffler.
This was among the longest days of traveling. We boarded the Shatabdi Express at 6:00 AM from New Delhi Railway Station and reached Haldwani at 11:30AM.
Note: If you are looking to board a shared Jeep for Kausani or any other places in that region, better you drop at Haldwani rather than Kathgodam. Here you will find more options as most of the shared taxis operated from Haldwani.
We boarded shared taxi at the rate of Rs.350/- per person from Haldwani Railway Station to Kausani and the journey started to Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. We took our lunch at around 2PM after we crossed Almora which is around 90KM from Haldwani and took around 2 and half hours to reach there. Generally I prefer having local food during my any trip and this time also we had a temping local food at this roadside dhaba. Nimit is a foodie guy who waited for atleast 12 hours (generally he need food at every 3 hours) to have this delicious full lunch. See how beautiful these routes are:
The route towards Kausani itself was pleasing where you can have a great view of mountains farms and greenery. Luckily, 2 soldiers from Kumaon regiment were traveling with us from Kathgodam who shared amazing stories with us about the region and how they joined army. It was unforgettable experience interacting with them throughout this journey. We reached Kausani by 5:00 PM and check-in to Himvadi resort where our fellow trek mates (from Ahmedabad) already reached and were waiting for us. Though it takes around 4 hours to reach Kausani from Haldwani, we were relaxed during the travel as the road is in good condition.
Kausani is a beautiful hill station widely known as ‘Switzerland of India’. It is famed for its picturesque grandeur and its remarkable 300 kms comprehensive panoramic sight of Himalayan mountain tops.
Our night stay was planned at the Himvadi Resorts, Kausani. We stayed in the Eco Friendly Cottages available here (See above photograph). The dinner was served timely and the menu was also decided by our team. Trust me; we literally licked our fingers. The Resort’s management arranged a campfire for us on a special request and a nominal fees. Cold + Campfire and Light Music was a great combination must say.
As compare to Delhi, the cold was very heavy here in Kausani and this was the first experience for me to experience such chilling night of Uttarakhanda. Being delighted by the service at the resort and enjoying the campfire we went off to sleep with butterflies in the thoughts for next day’s journey.
Brief Review of Himvadi Resort at Kausani
I found the Himvadi Resorts the perfect stay for people who wish to wake up with the sun and in the nature’s lap. Witnessing the snow snuggled peaks of Chaukhamba, Nanda Ghunti, Nanda Devi, Nandakot, and Panchchulli can be seen directly from the cottages of the resort. The sumptuous green surrounds fetches all your attention leaving you mesmerized. The in-house 24 hours room service and basic restaurant make the resort a place worth staying. The resort also offers you taxi service on pre-booking basis. The rooms, suits or cottages are affordable. If your idea of relaxation is just a comfortable stay with basic necessities then Himvadi Resort awaits you.
Due to off-season (Yes, winter is considered as a off season for Kausani), you will get good rate but be prepare to face the chilled and windy weather of the region.
Next day, the morning welcomed us with this beautiful view of the mountain range which can be seen from our cottage. Due to cloudy weather, we could not have a clear sighting of Nandadevi mountain range but as per our discussion with care taker, we can have clear view of this mountain during clear sky. We started doing our routine exercise to warm our body with some stretching, running and push-ups. Waking up with the purest air and surroundings; we got ready to check out from the resort. A tempo traveler from the Trek The Himalaya was ready to pick up us from Kausani main market. It drove us to the base camp of Brahmtal Trek – Lohajung; a small village.
According to the actual itinerary; we were to be picked up from Kathgodam but as we wanted to have rest before trek; we opted for a night stay at Kausani. Thus, the tempo traveller took us from the mid-way of Kathgodam – Lohajung route. It takes approx. 11 hours to reach Lohajung from Kathgodam. Because we had already been to Kausani; the journey to Lohajung was left for only 4-5 hours.
We had our lunch on the way to Lohajung at the Dhaba again. By evening we reached Lohajung.
Mr. Rahul; our trek leader called us for a briefing. We were a group of twenty four persons. All excited and enthused to trek. Post dinner, we packed our rucksacks and slept with super excitement for upcoming days.
Waking up with the sunrays; we warmed up ourselves with the basic exercise. Post light and healthy breakfast we started trekking. At first it tends to be a sunny day. By afternoon heavy snowfall started. Thanks to the raincoats and sheets that we carried with us. They saved us and our bags. It was pleasurable to be in the snowfall and experiencing it in real.
We crossed a small village named Mandoli. Refilling of water bottles and relaxing here was a short break take we took. On the way we saw the merging of two Mountains Rivers Kali and Pindari.This place was named as Kali Valley. Approx. 2:00 PM, we reached at first campsite Bekaltal. We had a peaceful lunch in a separate tent.
The chilling weather did not let us move outside our tents. It was snowy and windy. We decided for a night stay. The Lake was frozen. The view was icy and white all around. This gave us a chance to click and capture pictures. Meeting fellow trekkers we greeted and had a chit-chat session.
By 7:00 PM, we had our dinner and went to our respective tents. I shared tent with Mimit.The TTH Team provided us sleeping bags and liners.They were enough to defend us from the unnerving night.
Note:There was continuous and heavy snowfall in the night hours. In the middle of the night, the TTH team took charge to cast off snow from the tents and surroundings to save tents from falling down. We were also doing our best to wipe off the snow from tent’s roof.
The morning was much better. Mountains were covered by a snow. Fortunately it was bright day. Our trek leader decided move towards our second camp site, Brahmatal camp. It is scarcely situated at 500 meter from Brahmtal Lake.
We started trekking around 9:30 AM. Walking through groves of oaks and rhododendrons and over steep slopes for quite some time we finally coming out to a meadow. The meadow of Telandi.The meadow spools till 11500 ft. It is the uppermost point, from where activates a slow decline to Brahmatal.
Our first halt was at Bekaltal Lake. It was frozen and we snapped few pictures. We had lunch at top of the peak viewing the Himalaya. We reached Brahmtal camp by evening.The mounting crests of Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, and others of the Greater Himalayas can be dotted far across the sky. Overall it was exhausting trek owing to incline walk but we loved it.
Note: Cart 2-3 liters of water as there are no water points on this track.
It was the most awaited day. We wereall set to visit Brahmtal Lake. Packing our lunch we started our trek by 9:15 AM. We reached Brahmtal Lake in just 15 minutes. It was a wonderful lake. We stayed here till lunch hours and clicked multiple pictures.
Post lunch we marched for 3rd campsite. Around 2:00 PM we reached there. We were relaxed. Playing volleyball here was a brilliant plan and we executed it. The evening and night hours were spent in conversations and gossiping.
Note: We have telecom networks here and so we called our families and friends.
Waking up to the beautiful and blissful morning we left the 3rdcampsite by 9:30 AM. We marched finally forLohajung village. Having a talk with native residents and enjoying the sunny day with an easy trek was fun. Around noon hours we reached LohajungBase Camp and had our lunch.
We left Lohajung at 7:30 AM for Kathgodamto reach by 7:30PM. We boarded Ranikhet Express at 8:40 PM for Delhi to reach Delhi at 4:00AM then next day.
Hiring a taxi for Airport’s Terminal 3 Ihalted atGurudwaraon the way to thank Almighty for the memorable trek that I had completed. I reached airport at 6:00 AM. Boarding the flight at 8:45AM to land in Ahmedabad by 10:30 AM I finished my trip.