Dharamsala is surrounded by the beautiful Dhauladar mountain range and offers excellent hiking. Most visitors stay 4km uphill in the mountain village of McLeod-Gansj. From here there are many options to hike around and enjoy the serenity of the mountains. You don’t need a guide/porter since its very easy to navigate. Don’t take too much with you, though in the winter months make sure you have warm clothes for the freezing nights!
Multi day trekking to Triund, Snowline and the Indrahar Pass
The most popular trek is the one up to a little campsite called Triund. If you are in McLeod and want to escape the busy Indian traffic for a bit then this is a must-do. It is possible to hike up in the morning, spend some time high up in the mountains, enjoy the spectacular views and head back down before sunset. This daytrip is a moderate hike away from McLeod and if you take a taxi to the start of the trail it is only 2-4 hours to Triund. The single trail starts at the Gallu Devi temple, which you can reach by a 40-min cab ride from the main square. This will set you back around 250Rs in a tuktuk or pay 400Rs for a taxi. If you feel like walking then it is a 30-minute walk to Dharamkot from where you take a forest trail that leads you up to the temple in 45-60 minutes. The forest trail is a beautiful path through a pine forest with huge trees, but be careful the uneven rocks can make these endless stairs pretty inconvenient.
Once past the Gallu Devi Temple the actual mountain trail starts and it all gets a bit more scenic with views overlooking Bhagsu, Dharamkot and McLeod-Gansj. You will wander on an easy to moderate ascending trail while enjoying the views on your right. Apart from some hikers coming down you wont see anybody else before you reach your first place to take a rest. The blue teahouse that was looming on your right is approximately half way to Triund. Here you can buy some sweets, drink a tea or have a meal. There are two teahouses and the second one is my favorite. Magic View has everything you want if you are lucky. Sit back, drink a tea and enjoy the fantastic view!
When you continue walking you will see the teahouses of Triund up on the ridge right above you. The trail gets a bit steeper and after you pass another teahouse on your left you will have to meander your way up the 20 hairpin turns. This section is the hardest part but the positive thing is that Triund is waiting for you at the end.
Staying overnight in Triund
If you have the time to stay here for the night then definitely consider doing this. It is an amazing inspiring experience to be so high up in the mountains and see a fabulous starry sky, shooting stars guaranteed.
There are a couple options if you are planning to spend the night. There is a teahouse that provides beds, so in case you don’t want to sleep outside, ask for a bed. They go around for 150 – 500Rs, blankets provided. Tents are for hire and come with a sleeping bag and a thin yoga mat. Depending on the size of the tent you will pay between 400 – 1000Rs per tent. Prices depend on the season. It can get crowded in weekends!
Stay overnight/trek to Snowline
Another option is camping a little bit higher up in the mountains where you will get an unrivaled view of the rocky Dhauladar mountain range. There is a path that starts on your left when walking into Triund. It will take another 45-75 minutes to reach Snowline at an altitude of 3.300m. Apart from the massive views, you will as well find a more relaxed vibe here. You can gather some wood and make a bonfire after sunset to hang out with other guests. Just like in Triund they sell water, cookies, nuts, food, etc. The prices are slightly more expensive, but it is worth making the climb to Snowline as there are only a couple people staying here where it can get pretty crowded at Triund.
Trek to Indrahar pass
For the adventurous people there looms a challenge staring up to the impressive rocky peaks of the Dhauladar with an altitude of 4.400m. It is possible to summit these mountains! It’s hard to believe when looking at that seemingly steep rocky wall, but there is even some kind of route. From Snowline it will take you 4-6 hours to reach the top of the Indrahar pass from where it is possible to summit a couple surrounding peaks like the Moonpeak. But be careful don’t take this trek lightly. You will definitely have to be in a good condition. From Snowline you will start following a trail downhill to a beautiful green meadow. From here the easy path stops and prepare for some bouldering and climbing. Red painted arrows and piles of stones will guide you up to the Lahesh Cave. Then continue ascending while keeping the summit of the Indrahar pass on your right side. Follow the red arrows for as far as you can find them. They will guide you all the way to the top!
Understand that nature can be cruel and know your limits. Unfortunately two people are still missing after trying to summit Moonpeak a couple years ago. It is advisable to hire a guide if considering a summit attempt. It is possible without as we tried to do that. Somehow high up we lost the track though and never made it all the way to the top. We saw some fabulous glaciers cave instead!
Lost and completely exhausted we decided to give up and return to Snowline. Nature won and made me realize how small we are and how extreme nature can be. The mountains are a fabulous playground but are lethal at the same time! Respect nature!