Thursday, August 01, 2013

Trek to Nag tibba

This trek was on my mind for a long time. It was just that somehow I couldn't find time to do it. But this June it all changed. The 'Nag Tibba' trek was completed though a lot of difficulties came in the way. It was the obvious case of 'So near yet too far'. Though the trek starts only 70 Kms from Dehradun, still it seems to be so far away at least from Gurgaon. So I would start this blog as a guide to all those trekkers who are looking for some source of information on Nag Tibba.

Reasons for choosing Nag Tibba:

1. Duration -Was looking for a weekend trek. A trek which could be done in 2-3 days starting from Delhi. Though it took us 3 days but that’s a different story. This was ideal for a weekend trek.

2. Level of difficulty- Living in congested and dusty cities have already taken the remaining stamina from me, so I was looking for a trek which should be not too difficult to tread for me as well as for my wife for whom this was going to be her first trek.

3. Safety - Though any trek in the hills is safe as far as human aspect is concerned, I was more worried about the weather. Didn't want to go to too interior or too high up in the mountains. By those parameters nag Tibba was perfect. It was at a height of around 3000 meters and the gradient was not that steep.

4. Cost - I didn't want to take some package from Adventure Company and spend my money there. I wanted to do it in less than Rs 10000/- including lodging and travel. Since this time the plan was to camp on the hill, we decided to get a tent. I searched for online tent on rent but could not find any reliable source on net. Finally, my friend Harsh came to my rescue and I took it from him for free :).Besides it , I also took 2 sleeping bags and 2 sleeping mats.

5. Travel - There were some other options in Himachal where I could have gone by bus/train but then having your own vehicle always helps. So I decided to take my Santro car till the base point.

Day 1: We started at 4:30 from Gurgaon - our usual time of leaving. It gives us an extra edge in avoiding the Delhi traffic. But still at this hour there were trucks plying in the middle of the road. Sometimes, I think what economic super power we are going to become when we can't build a simple bypass to avoid Delhi. Anyway, we continued. In around 3 hours we reached Muzafarnagar bye pass. Now there are 2 routes to go from here. One is to continue on NH-58 and the other is to go through Deoband. Since 4 laning of NH - 58 is going on so there are a lot of traffic jams on it, I decided to take the other route. Also there was extra adrenalin rush to try a new route. For around 30-35 Kms the route was perfect. After this our troubles started. Suddenly we found ourselves in mid of no road. The road suddenly vanished and in place of it there was only concrete and mud. Karnika was scolding for taking this route but then it was my mistake also. This condition of road continued for another 20-25 Kms and it took almost 2 hours to cross it. It was my worst ever road experience. We were just praying that there is no puncture.
The road to hell at Deoband

Finally got some relief on entering Uttrakhand

Finally around 1 PM we reached Mussorie taking Rajpur road from Dehradun. Every time, I came to Dehradun, I found it changed. There is a feeling of nostalgia attached in every corner of this beautiful city. Alas, the innocence is simply dying down with modernization. I still vividly remember how 20 years back as a small kid, we used to roam the ECE road and there were big licchis trees in every house. My mausajis house which was in Coronation Hospital complex was a story in itself. It was a big English bungalow spread in 2 bighas with big front and rear lawns and it has been a witness to my innumerable summer stories. But now that everything is gone. In place of it, some builder has made some multistoried apartments. Anyway this is a topic of some other time.
One beautiful house in Dehradun with weather changing in the background
So, the time was 1 PM and we were in Mussorie. The weather has suddenly metamorphosed and it was raining. I couldn't resist getting out of the car and drenching myself in the rain. We decided to spend that day in Mussorie since it was already late to make any progress on the trek that day. We zeroed upon a hotel for 1500 bucks and ordered some chow Mein from the restaurant below. After this we slept. On waking up at 5 PM, we decided to roam around the town and have some good dinner was which not to be :(. The tourists have started pouring in and the whole mall road was buzzing with activity. I generally hate being touristy but for some hours sake, I decided to plunge in.
Weather has started to turn omnious
Now started the search for some good food. I was in the mood to gorge some delicious chicken but Karnika insisted, we try something new. She searched the internet and found the one with the best reviews and it was Kalsang, the Tibetan restaurant. So the ambience was good as was the service. I was very hungry and in my anxiety I decided to have fish which was going to be my worst fish dish ever. I ordered a Pomphret and what the fish was it. First of all there was no single bone. The whole dish was peppered with bones and I had to leave it in between. Anyway, we finished the dinner and headed back to our hotel. Already tired of walking, we soon felt asleep.

Day 2: We woke up at 7 AM. The temperature must have been around 20-21 and it was perfect for some outdoor adventure. Only it begins to rain and my worst fears started coming true. There was no option. After all the payments at hotel, we proceeded towards our next stop Thatyur, around 45 kms from Mussorie. Now to go here take the road which goes towards Tehri. After around 10-12 kms there is a bifurcation. Take left from here to Thatyur. Straight will take you to  Dhanaulti and Tehri.
The drive to Thatyur is amazingly beautiful

Beautiful vilage - Raoten ki beli


We don't need to take that. The road to Thatyur is amazingly beautiful with small villages like 'rauton ki beli' along the way. The drizzle has stopped by now and the weather has cleared and we could see vast stretches of fields and farmers ploughing their land in early morning. It was truly a mesmerizing scene. After one hour and a half we reached Thatyur. I had already talked to Mr Sushil Thapliyal, the previous day. The deal was set at Rs 3000/- including transportation to base site, food and guide. We were taking our own tent so that part was saved. I had borrowed a small tent from my dear friend Harsh and it was quite OK for me and Karnika. The only problem - No one including the guides knew how to put it: D. More on that later.
The weather was also amazing

So we reached Thatyur at around 9 AM and have aloo ka paranthas at the local dhaba. There Mr. Sushil has arranged a trekker for us which was to take us to the base village, Munglauri,around 11 kms from Thatyur. The road is not suitable for a Santro, so I parked it near the dhaba and we proceeded towards Manglauri.Now there were 3 other people in the jeep. They were quite surprised to see a young couple with back packs and tent :).So there was a good chatter in the jeep about what we 'sehari' people do and all those stuff. I need to mention one thing here. Though we both, Karnika and me were going in an unknown area for the first time, surrounded by jungle and high mountains, there was not an iota of fear in my mind about the other people sitting in the jeep. This is the best thing about hills. That innocence is still there and I fell lucky to be born in this beautiful state. So after half an hour we reached Manglauri village.

The trek started and in no time we were out of breaths
The weather had again turned hostile and I could see the clouds looming at the top of the mountains. It started raining as we started our ascent. The villagers were kind enough to give us their umbrellas. I was really touched by this. An old man offered  me his umbrella saying that you are like my son, though I politely refused the offer. Soon it became too heavy that we had to take the shelter in a school which was on the way. It was closed at that time since it was Sunday. For good one hour, were stranded there. I was looking back at my decision to trek in this season. Karnika was busy in her photo shootouts.
Devalsari village can be seen in the background
Finally it stopped and we decided to move ahead as it was already 11 AM. Now there are 2 routes to reach nag tibba from here. One is short but steeper and the other one is long but gradual. We decided to take the long one since it was  also more picturesque. The weather has cleared by now and I could see the clouds touching the summit of many mountains in the background. Soon sun came out for a brief moment and with new zeal and enthusiasm, we proceeded towards our goal. We were 4 people, me and Karnika. Sushil and a guide which was like his friend. They were carrying the back packs and tent. I don’t think we both could have trekked with 15-20kgs on our back. The trek path was clearly laid though broken at some places. Due to rain, everything was sparkling green around us and with clouds caressing us, it was turning out to be one hell of a trek. Karnika was also keeping pace with me and was going good. After trekking for 2 hours we reached an open space from where we could see the Devalsari village in the background. That village is also the base for alternate route. Stopping there for brief moment we proceeded. Now we were gaining height and could feel the air becoming cooler and cooler. Just when it looks that we had reached the top another top would emerge in front of us. This went on for quite some time. Now we had started to feel a bit hungry also. After 4 hours of continuous trek, we reached a place called Taal,

Mountain goats near Taal

It was an open wide small bugyal(grassland in English) and there was supposed to be a lake at that place but currently it was dried up. We decided to have some lunch here. Sushil has already packed some paranthas with him. He made the tea and we took a well-deserved break here. Some goats were grazing there and at one moment, they came dangerously close to us, thinking us to be some intruders. Anyway, it gave me a good photo opportunity to click these beautiful animals upfront. Now we were at same level as Nag Tibba and it could be seen in the background. We had started to feel the muscle pain in the legs as after so many days we were walking this much. We would have covered around 8-9 kms walking. Still it was not there yet. But in spite of that, the jungle was beautiful and one could feel the fresh air going in and out of the lungs. In between we also found some time to capture this amazing beauty in shutters.
Route from taal to nag tibba base was mesmirizing
After 2 hours of wandering, we finally reached Nag Devta temple. It is a small 2 storied temple dedicated to Nag devta, meaning the ‘snake god’. This temple is very pious to locals here and Sushil made sure that we took our shoes off while entering the temple compound. They performed a small pooja there and gave us some Prasad to eat. From here it was hardly a 5 minute walk to the Nag tibba. We were still not at the top but as it was late we decided to camp down there only. The Nag tibba base is a small grassland around half a km in stretch and on a clear weather, one can see the Himalayas from here. But our luck was not to be that good as it was very cloudy that evening. The government has made 2 rooms there for tourists but they were in no condition to stay. I can’t understand why we people can’t treat a government property as our own. And then we complain that government is corrupt. It is also amongst us and it should be our duty to maintain our surroundings clean. Fortunately, the tent which I had brought was water proof so we decided to camp it outside and Sushil and other guide decided to stay in the room. They told us not to be scared as they were nearby. We had only Maggie to eat so I and Karnika went up the hill to gather some wood. We managed to light some fire from our stock and it was a very surreal feeling to have done something that day. There was no other trekker that day, probably because of weather. Now came the hard part - setting up the tent. Sushil and the other guide were behaving as they had seen the tent for the first time in their life and were very confused what to do with the tent. So in the first attempt, we set it wrong with the inner side coming on the top. Finally on our third attempt, we managed to set it right.
Finally the tent was set and how set it was :)
 The temperature has dropped to almost 10 and it was cold outside. We sat around for some time and then had the Maggie. After an hour we went inside the sleeping bag. However, in spite of being so tired, the sleep was not coming easily as the tent was not on a horizontal surface but on a gradient and sleeping in a bag was not my cup of tea. Finally I managed to get some sleep only to be woken by my disturbed growling stomach in the middle of the night. It was all because of that 'healthy' Maggie. Soon the stomach pain and pressure becomes unbearable and I decided to step out of the tent. Though I was a bit scared of taking the nature's call at that hour of the cold night and in midst of a jungle, but finally succumbed to pressure. I would not say it was the best moment shitting out there but the relief was amazing and I could see the stars watching me from above. Soon I was asleep again in the tent only to be woken up by the wild horses galloping around in the morning.
Early morning 5 AM shot
Day 3: We woke up around 5 in the morning and decided to proceed as we had to still ascend our way to the Nag tibba top which was a further 2 hour ascent from there. We had quick tea and started packing our tent and bags. From nowhere, a sudden burst of rain started -so powerful that in no time we could see waterfalls gushing out from everywhere. It rained heavily for full one hour. We dropped the idea of going to the top since it was already late and we had to get back to Gurgaon same day. It would have been better if we had one extra day but the idea of going to the top in inclement weather was too treacherous. So we headed back to the base site. The rain has stopped by now and we were proceeding fast. On reaching Taal, our guide said that we should take the other route which is a bit steep but short.
Looking at the accomplishment just achieved
We blindly followed him. But it was not a good decision as the path was really very steep. In fact there was no path as such. It was just going down the mountain. Initially we were enjoying but soon it became dangerous as the path was slippery with overnight rain and it was very difficult to even stand out there. I scolded them for bringing us from this route but then we were already in the way and there was no point going back. It took us 4 hours to finally reach Manglauri village and the time was 12 PM. So anyone going to Nag tibba should be beware of this route, especially when there are females in the group. It might be good for an adventure activity but its definitely not safe, least in the rainy season. One wrong step and you would find yourself in deep ravine.
Even our guide was feeling short of breath :)
Finally we started from Thatyur at 1 PM and reached our Gurgaon home at 10 PM in the night. So, the trek ended with a lot of lessons learnt. On the one hand there was a sense of accomplishment of ascending a mountain with 12 km of trek, there was some disappointment also as we could not reach the top and could not see the Himalayan range. May be next time we would try in winter. But overall, it was great escape from the mundane city life and we look forward to further more adventures in future. Happy travelling :)
Below is the map from Google maps route from Manglauri village:
Google maps view of Nag tibba

2 comments:

Gwenan said...

Hi, what's the best way to contact you?

Thanks,
Gwen

LethalStriker said...

Hi Gewnan ... You can mail me at rawatgaurav81@gmail.com