An accessible, relatively short trek that offers breathtaking views at the peak and an opportunity to make wishes to shooting stars for those who choose to camp for the night, Triund is a great place to have an outdoorsy time. Despite the destination turning into a crowded one owing to its growing popularity, it is well worth a visit for those in and around the Kangra District in Himachal Pradesh.
Upon the tranquil settings of the mountains on one side and a valley on the other, Triund can be accessed from McLeod Ganj, the hill town in Himachal Pradesh, which is home to the Dalai Lama and a large community of Tibetan refugees. The summit, till the point transport can be availed, is the Gallu temple, after which starts the trek, which can easily be undertaken without a guide. An alternate route is from the Bhagsu Nag waterfall, but, as a steep and rather unclear route, it is advisable to stick to the former, if unaccompanied or if you are a beginner. The route from Gallu temple, strewn with cafes offering snacks besides picturesque views, is a breath of fresh air with trees lining the sides. The walk is quite relaxing and is about seven kilometres in length. Only the last stretch turns slightly steep, with about twenty-two winding turns.
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The best time to visit this hill is between April and December, after which snowfall makes the paths tricky to navigate. Monsoon is also a season that is to be ideally avoided. Due to its proximity to the capital of India, New Delhi, Himachal Pradesh has become a choice destination for a weekend getaway with Triund increasingly becoming a top option. With the hill towns of Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj and Bhagsu below, Triund has also come to be a hotspot for visitors. McLeod Ganj, nicknamed Little Lhasa, offers a relaxing experience, where one gets to learn about Tibetan Buddhism and the culture, followed by a trek the next day to Triund.
Ideal for first time trekkers across varying age groups, it is a fun place for family and friends alike. For those wondering what to pack, there are basic goods available throughout the way, and apart from clothing to keep you warm, if you intend to stay the night, not much needs to be carried.
Stargazing from the peak
Even as visitors make a day trip to Triund, starting early in the morning, returning by sundown and camping at the peak comes highly recommended. The view on offer from the top is spectacular yet as the moon rises and stars begin to appear, the place turns magical. Numerous spots are available to set up tents, whether the first point one reaches upon climbing or the hidden ones that offer greater solitude. As renting a tent can be quite cheap on most days, save weekends, a trekker can head there without the need to carry equipment all the way.
As the night progresses and cold winds begin to blow, bonfires are lit under the starry skies, where many a constellation, unknown to city dwellers, begin to appear. If one is blessed by the weather gods and the sky is a clear, the world of stars comes alight. Post midnight, shooting stars become frequent occurrences. Triund grows spectacular with each passing hour, and with sunrise bringing in a new day, trekkers get ready to explore the hill once again.
(originally posted with Media India Group)