If I have to mention only one reason to do this trek then it has to be the
spectacular awe-inspiring startling soul stirring view of the Dhauladhars from the top of the Adi Himani Chamunda temple. The treacherous trio of the Kundli, Toral, and Talang Passes is visible from the temple clearly. Bang in front of you.
The temple stands at the height of 2900 meters and it is believed to be the ancient seat of the famous Chamunda Goddess. This trek offers you a spectacular view of the mid Dhauladhar ranges as well as the Kangra Valley. The trek can be completed in one day and you can even stay at the temple premises. You can also pitch your tents at the top but be advised, this place often sees sub-freezing temperatures even during the summers.
The temple gates remain open between April’15 and November’15. You can visit even after that but the temple priest and his aides wouldn’t stay a day after November 15. Last year, we visited the temple on the last day of the season and the temple priest was all set to leave. After they have left, they do leave beddings and utensils behind so that trekkers or pilgrims may use them.
This year, the winters have been behaving weird and in November, the temple premises were clear of any snow. Even the mighty Dhauladhars were craving for snow. However, within three months, the scenario has changed and the latest reports say that Himani Chamunda has received as much as 6-8 feet of snow within three months.
This trek can be approached from two sides, one via the Jadrangal village, which is just a 10-15 minute walk from the new Chamunda temple close by the main road. This trail is comparatively easy and you have to climb a few thousand stairs to be able to reach at the top. The other trail starts from Jia Village, which is also a well marked trail but passes through a thick forest. The Jia trail keeps the temple hidden from you for almost half of the journey. One side walking distance is approximately 12-15 kilometers and its all a moderate climb to the top of the temple.
The Dhauladhars rise from your right and height of these moutnains increases with every step of yours. Sighting a paraglider in these mountains is a common thing. These paragliders take-off from the Bir-Billing site and fly like free birds in the sky making every one watching them envious.
The trail is water deficit and there is not even an ounce of water available on this trail. The trail is well lit and you will see solar lamps that serve as identification marks for a solo trekker in day and provide light for those who prefer to walk in the night. During the pilgrimage season (Navratre), there are enough makeshift stops en-route.
The Triund Hill and the Kunal Pathri temple are visible to your left from the top of the temple and mostly shepherds take this trail to go towards Triund and Indrahar Pass. The said trail passes through a thick forest and only experienced trekkers venture on this route.
Right next to the Gauri Junda (Dharamshala Matterhorn) peak lies the Kundli Pass and next to it is the Toral Pass.
The one right in the front of the Himani Chamunda temple is the Talang Pass. The state government has proposed a road across the Talang Pass to Holi (Chamba), which to me looks like a ploy to fool the gullible Himachali’s. The state government has tested this trick already to fool people. Prior to the proposed Talang Road, the road was proposed across the Jalsu Pass. Even the preliminary survey works were done at the Jalsu site. But then such is politics. Promises are meant to be broken, probably that’s the line of thought our politicians have adopted for fooling the masses.
First foundation stone for a road to Himani Chamunda was laid in November 2002. Second time in May’2005. And recently in 2009. If they took 12 years for laying a foundation stone you can imagine how long will it take for them to dig a tunnel across the treacherous Talang Pass.
I hope they leave these mountains as it is and complete the work they started at the Jalsu Pass trail.
I am writing this post three months after visiting the temple because there have been reports of Chamunda Temple being burnt down in a fire caused by lightning. The news report appeared in a couple of English as well as Hindi dailies. However, there is no confirmed news as yet regarding the same. [IndiaTV News Link]
I am planning to visit the temple again this year when the gates open on 15 March. Let us pray that the gateway to the Talang Pass is intact.
P.S. Photographs clicked using a Samsung Galaxy Mobile Phone :/