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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Trip to Chakrata

here r the details of my trip to Chakrata. it is a small hill station in dehradun district, surrounded by lush green pine, deodar, fir, spruce and oak forests. the forest department has a good presence here since there r lots of reserved forests in this area. u can get taxis/buses to this place from dehradun. just remember, the road to this place is a bit narrow. so traffic is allowed in only one direction at a time. so u should check out the "gate timings", from either dehradun or vikasnagar. initially, the forests r mainly barren. but then they start getting really green.

This is a pic of the meadow just behind the forest rest house in Chakrata. I guess the forest guards use it to play cricket/football when they are free. :-). Check out the beautiful deodar and oak trees which grow at this altitude.

This pic is taken from the front portion of the forest rest house. Check the beautiful flowers grown on the ledge. You can also see the hills beyond Chakrata, where Debvan lies. Between the trees is a silhouette of the DFO residence. We spent the night here on our way back

This pic was taken from behind the forest rest house. The entrance showed here leads to the dining hall. A big monkey came here while we were having our lunch. The kitchen and a forest gypsy is also there in the background.

This si the DFO residence, constructed below the rest house. It was made in 1888. You can see this by magnifying the window and looking at the notice board between the two windows just above the entrance. Notice how old the architecture is. Wonder how they made such a grand building at this altitude (7292 feet). It contained some very old books with yellow pages (all dated pre 1939).

This path leads from the DFO residence to the 'Chowk' at the end of the town. Notice the palm trees that grow along with the deodar trees. It was lovely walking along this path.

This pic shows the full DFO residence. The two trees in front of it are plum trees, which grow at these altitudes. The red coloured flowers are poppies. In front of the residence is a small nursery maintained by the forest department.

This is the nursery maintained by the forest department guys. They grow all sorts of local fruits and vegetables over here, like beans, plums, matar and potatoes. In the background is the Chakrata town. It also has a charming market and a beautiful Tibetan temple. Foreigners are not allowed to proceed beyond this town.

This was the path from the gate of the nursery to the place where they grow the plants. Check how tall the trees are at this altitude and how the sunlight penetrates through them.

After having lunch at Chakrata we went to Debvan. The road was barely motor able but the views were stunning. At one point we were driving along a ridge with near vertical cliffs on both sides. This picture shows a lovely nursery on the way to Debvan. It was maintained by the forest department official, Mr. Katakuram (Mr. K), who was also our guide. He takes a lot of interest and passion in his work and is very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the region. He even showed me some samples

Another view of the nursery and the opposite hill. The white flowers are mainly hill daisies. Mr. K also grown many deodar, pine, fir and spruce saplings over here. He also showed me samples of plants used for reducing pain, healing fractures, improving eyesight, etc. these are the actual 'jadee-bootis' mentioned in the Vedas.

These are the three Nepali kids who work in the nursery over here (part - time). They come from a nearby village and attend school also.

Babba and Mr. K. He keeps a record and pic of all the visitors in this small glass house. He also has albums with samples of the medicinal plants growing in this region.

Another view of the nursery, in better sunlight

After the nursery, I decided to walk to the rest house via the forest path. The gunner came with me. This is a view of the hills while we were walking. Now our altitude was 8000+ feet. The vegetation now comprises mainly of fir and spruce trees instead of deodar and oak. Notice how dense the forests are.

Finally, we reached the Forest Guest house at Debvan. It was a nice walk. I saw some 'Wan-Gujjars' on the way, with their cattle. Was hoping to see some Kankad (local name for the high altitude deer), but was not so lucky. There was a beautiful open meadow in front of this rest house. It is at a height of 9200 feet and one of the highest points in this region.

Amma and babba at the guest house.

This pic was taken from the meadow. Amma is walking back towards the guest house. The building right at the top is the kitchen. From this place we walked to the 'Vyas Shikhar' (Vyas Peak), to view the sunset.

Another pic from the meadow. Amma walking back and Neelakshi sitting on a log. There are some Gujjar huts below this place. Also, the source of water is 1 km below. The chowkidar fetches 20 kgs of water in one trip. It is a really Herculean effort. I tried to help him but could not even carry it for 1/3rd of the way. Really needs a lot of practice.

View from the Vyas Shikhar. It is 15 mins walk from the Forest Guest House to Vyas Shikhar. There was a stone slab on Vyas Shikhar which pointed out the directions, names and altitudes of the various peaks that could be seen from there. You can see it in the bottom left corner of this pic. It even shows the height of the place (9400 feet). This pic shows the eastern direction a few mins before sunset. The snow clad peaks are not visible because of clouds.

Neelakshi, Amma n me (not a bear in a red hat) with the mountains in the background. The forest guys had even constructed a small hut over here with two benches. There were many white daisies growing over here. I even spotted a cobra lily on the way.

A cobra lily which I spotted on the way to the Shikhar. They grow at these altitudes. Mr. K told me that animals don't eat them because they contain some poisonous alkaloids and look like a cobra.

We got up at 5 am and reached the Shikhar again soon after that, hoping to catch a glimpse of the snow clad peaks. It was a mistake. The best views are when the sun has risen completely (after 9 am or 9:30 am). Look carefully. The peaks you can barely see in the background are the inner Himalayas (banderpoonch, nanda devi, etc). They are in the east and the sun rises behind them. Thus they appear as dark shadows early in the morning. Anyways, the view was spectacular, extending all the way from

Sunrise behind the Banderpoonch (Monkey's tail) massif. It was really lovely. It just took a few seconds for the sun to come out from behind the mountains. You could even catch the shadows moving away on the mountain face. Now, the snow started reflecting slowly on the peaks. Could not capture it in this picture since it was very dim compared to the sun's light.

Pic of the flowers seen growing around Vyas Shikhar.

Another pic of the cobra lily. I took this while walking back from the Shikhar.

I came back to the Vyas Shikhar just before we left for our trek to Kanasar. This picture does not do full justice to the view I saw. It was 9:30 am and the sun was shining brightly in the sky. The snow clad mountains were fully visible. If u look closely at this picture, just behind the mountains on the left corner, you can probably trace a faint outline of the snow clad peaks behind them. It was the second best view of the Himalayas I ever saw in my entire life (nothing beats the view from Yamunotri)

Another unsuccessful attempt to capture this view from Vyas Shikhar.

At around 10 am we left on a trek to Kanasar. I was the last one in the group, taking pics of anything interesting I saw. We also met some Gujjars. The Gujjar girl started crying and ran away as soon as she saw me (I hadn't shaved for two days). I gave the kids a pack of Minto and that soothed their nerves. The path was absolutely beautiful, and you could notice a change in vegetation with altitude. Fir and spruce gave way to oak and deodar.

A dry spring that came on the way. There were many more beautiful sights, but I was running out of disc space. We drank water from a spring and saw some places in the forests where the Gujjars had created small reservoirs of spring water. We also encountered a 'bansariya'. It is a big bird which makes a screeching sound. It had made a small nest with its chicks just besides the trekking path. We just observed them from a distance and went on our way.

A small and beautiful meadow where we again met some Gujjars and their cattle. Their horses were truly magnificent - white, sturdy and strong. Notice how tall the trees are - it is difficult to get the full length in one shot.

We saw the Himalayas from many points in our journey. The sun was up ahead and we were really lucky that it was a cloudless day. Still, it was really difficult to capture them in the camera.

Phew! I finally managed to get them in the camera. To the left side is Himachal Pradesh. The mountains on the extreme right are Banderpoonch (just above Yamunotri). There was a small clearing with a rocky outcrop on which we guys had a small snack break. I took these pics from that place.

Another pic of the mountains. They are more visible on the left hand side of the pic.

The mountains again. This time the sunlight was behaving itself :-)

Mountains galore. Just one more pic left and a million views to be shot. Battery was also down by this time. We went on to Kanasar and stayed there for the day. In the night I went with Mr. K to a small village (Kanti) which is below Kanasar to collect some supplies. Met a doctor over there who has been working in that area for a long time. Usually, people are afraid to work in such remote places but this guy enjoys helping the villagers. Good work doc, keep it up!

Damn, I can kill myself for this. Last day of the trip and we had reached Chakrata. I decided to climb the peak overlooking Chakrata. It was a tiring but beautiful journey. Finally, I reached the peak but was very tired. It was a near vertical climb in the end, as can be seen from the pic. I just took the pic without even bothering to check it. Then I just tried to go back somehow. Climbing down on this near vertical face was a tougher challenge. There were many Tibetan flags on the way.


Blogger abhiuday said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 2:17:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger abhiuday said...

hey nice to see chakrta finally on tourist map i dont know why the gov of india still keeps it restricted to foriegn tourists...there are no more secrets to hide there....its natures paradise for us .....restrictions should be lifted from it...

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 2:19:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Prashant Joshi said...

hey abhiuday, it is open completely for indian tourists. as for the foreign ones, i guess there r restrictions coz of the military training areas in that region.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 1:38:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Anonymous Saumya Ganguly said...

Thanks for all the photographs. Is there a way I can email you for more detals? I would like to know whether one can plan to stay at Chakrata for, say, three days. How practical is it to depend on the Forest Rest House? How are the vehicle charges like? I remember that HP Tourism had offered to arrange a car for Rs 21000 for a Kinnaur trip that we finally managed to do for Rs 7000. \

Sunday, April 20, 2008 at 10:19:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Prashant Joshi said...

Hello Saumya,

you can mail me at (although i usually check it on weekends only). for chakrata you can stay there for 3 days. we did the same. the forest guest house has two or three parts - for multiple parties to stay. we also stayed there for 3 days - one da in chakrata, one day in deoban and one day in kanasar (in the forest rest house in all these places).

chakrata town has 2 main places to stay - the snow view hotel (open for all civilians), in the heart of the town and the forest guest house (usually for govt ppl). we had managed to get the Forest guest house through some contacts int he state govt. this is the tourist season so i suggest that you book it in advance. and you try to contact both the snow view guys and the forest guest house guys.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 5:07:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Prashant Joshi said...

also, about 12 kms from chakrata is this place called deoban. it is a MUST visit if you go to chakrata. there is a smallforest Rest house where we stayed. it is a totally forested area, so carry everything by yourself.around 500 mtrs fromt he rest house is the local peak which is called vyas shikhar. it is an awesome place to watch the sunrise from. then, from deoban, there is a 10 km trek to kanasar village. f course, you can goby road also, but we preferred the trek. in kanasar, you can find one of the largest trees in asia...really huge one.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 5:09:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Prashant Joshi said...

for jeep rates, i guess you can get one between Rs 500 per day and Rs. 1000 per day + petrol expenditure. rates fluctuate witht he tourist season.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 5:10:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stunning pictures almoraboy.Your blog is only place where we could see forest guest house.Could you please let me know which is better place to stay forest house or hotel snowview.we have access to both and we are planning to visit there in Sept.Also which route is preferable via kalsi or mussorie.

Dr Lokesh Kumar

Monday, August 24, 2009 at 7:09:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Prashant Joshi said...

forest guest house will be the better place to stay anyday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 2:06:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Prashant,
Astounding description and adjoining pics, you can start writing or collecting folklores.
Now my purpose, I am planning for a trip to Kasauni and may be chakrata and my idea is to get some peace and trek in the mid september, 2010. Now will you please tell me that is it a good time to go there ?

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 4:26:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Prashant Joshi said...

all times r great. if it rains a lot in september, then the views might be hidden due to the clouds. if ur lucky, then u might catch a glimpse of the same.

Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 12:43:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger neha said...

I liked your write up very much. I appreciate for your superb post with lovely photos and comprehensive explanation about the place. I just went through and found it amazing place. TigerFall is truly like Tiger. :-)

Chakrata Trip

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 5:04:00 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Dr Sumit Bhatnagar said...

Hi Prashant, You should have gone to tiger falls also. it is huge

Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 10:02:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Prashant Joshi said...

will do it next time definitely ...

Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 10:42:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Prashant, thanks for excellent details. I plan to go to chakrata in mid-October. Wanted to ask you how do I get bookings done for the forest rest houses. Do I have to visit their office or is it possible to do it online. Also which one of the three would you suggest.

Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 8:40:00 PM GMT+5:30  

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