DHUNDI VILLAGE – TREKKING IN AVALANCHE AREA

Sitting with three of my likeminded friends in a room in Palchan, a small village situated 11 km ahead of Manali, we were talking about places to explore nearby. We didn’t plan this trip, we just followed the tune of nature and synchronised our movement rhythmically, that is rather summing up sophisticatedly for an excuse by teenagers who have no clue about life.

That’s when we came across something called ’Dhundi’. Dhundi is the last village in Solang Valley and closest to the Beas river. It witnesses the intersection of the mighty Beas river with its first tributary originating from the Beas Kund and the Rohtang Pass respectively. It is also the first village from the south portal of the Rohtang tunnel, which is now called the ‘Atal Tunnel’.

Our hotel was adjacent to the Palchan bridge and Dhundi was around 10-11 km ahead of us. So we decided to visit Dhundi next day and fell asleep all excited. The next day I woke up at 7 am and the temperature was -10 degrees Celsius and the sun hid behind the mountains, maybe a little angry with us for not getting up on time to see it’s first rays.

With that thought, I forcefully woke my friends up and we headed towards Solang Ski and Ropeway Centre. We were stopped by the Border Road Organisation’s ranger, who at first was very friendly but as soon as we told him about our destination, got a bit sceptical. We asked him the way to Dhundi to which he replied – Bhai Ji, you have already crossed Dhundi and there is no village named Dhundi ahead. But when it comes to travelling, we need to rely on our instincts, so we found an alternative route other than the metal road because before proper roads were made, the Himachali people used hidden trails in the mountains to travel.

We eventually were treading on a rock trail which was on the outer edge of the mountain but gradually curved into a narrow trail which led us to a pine forest. Suddenly we were amidst a thick blanket of snow and we had lost it. Each step we took made us feel heavy than the previous one because the snow got inside our shoes making them wet and heavy. We thought this is probably our last trek.

Our trail suddenly ended on what I think was an intersection of two adjoining mountains, it forced us to take a left to find us ourselves in the middle of a snug waterfall flowing over the trail we were supposed to take. We were stuck again. One of my friends went to look out for an alternate trail but came back disappointed.

There was only one way to cross and that was to jump on the other side. Luckily we found a tree to grab onto so we land safely. So I jumped first and barely caught it because my feet slipped, I quickly cleared away the snow from the landing spot for my friends to jump. We came back close to the highway and clearly saw the intersection of our trail and we all were pleased to see the road again but it was short-lived. We heard a rumbling sound and found ourselves looking at two big boulders tumbling down from the mountain bringing with them kind of a mini avalanche just a few hundred metres ahead of us. We never had an experience like this before feeling so helpless in front of nature. All we could do was to run for our life. We discussed taking the road back to Palchan.

But we didn’t come this close to go back without entering Dhundi.

After a kilometre, we saw a partially completed tunnel just next to a tunnel which was entirely destroyed by a landslide. After crossing the tunnel and covering another kilometre, we saw massive cranes, excavators and road rollers. We found the supervisor of these massive machines and asked him about the place. He told us we were near Dhundi. He asked us about how we got here, so we told him about the ranger and the trail we found. 

He blatantly told us – you shouldn’t have taken the trail because this whole area is an avalanche and landslide prone area and in the winter months this place is unpredictable.

Tourist cars need prior permission before entering this area and that too on a very tight come and go schedule because there can be an avalanche anytime”. He was clearing the highway which was blocked by a landslide which struck 3 days before we visited. He also told us to return before it gets dark because temperature reaches as low as -20° Celsius in the evening itself.

I looked at my watch, the time was 1:30 pm and we still had 2 kilometres to cover so we increased our pace and reached the Dhundi bridge. 

Being a snow-fed river in Solang Valley region, the Beas river was almost frozen and there wasn’t too much water so we decided to find the intersection point following the river and we were successful.

Two rivers with water as so clear that even the tiniest of the pebbles on the riverbed was visible to the naked eye. As soon as I reached the intersection, I removed my gloves, sat beside the Beas river, dipped my hands in the icy cold water and took a sip of the cleanest water that I ever drank in my entire life and probably the cleanest water in the entire Himachal Pradesh at that moment.

We were walking on snow that nobody had walked on for months. We were finding solid ground by poking a long stick in the fresh snow.

There were massive rocks in the then dried up Beas river which we used to sit and admire the beautiful scenery that Dhundi showed us. We found a perfectly elevated rock to sit and admire the view.

We were completely isolated. During sub zero temperature, the villagers of Dhundi go to a lower region and make a temporary settlement to be safe from avalanches and landslides. So it was just us, the endless mountains and the crystal clear Beas river flowing beneath us.

This was the most thrilling and the most frightening adventure of my life.

From jumping over a waterfall in the edge of a mountain to witnessing an avalanche in front of my eyes. This adventure made me rethink our existence.

How easily our life could be taken from us.

We should live life to the fullest and do what our heart says because life could be unpredictable. 

So travel as much as you can and as soon as you can.

Gurupreet Arora

THE INNER OUTDOORS APPAREL!

We know it’s irritating not to be able to go for our adventures these days, but it’s alright, when the time is right we want you to wear how you feel about the world of outdoors. We have launched our apparel. Let us know which design excites you the most?
Comment and tell us.

ALL LIVES MATTER/BLACK LIVES MATTER

It is disheartening to hear what is happening around the world. Please think hard and know that we are all one. How much anger is creeped within us to take someone’s life? What kind of anger is this? We have no right to form a judgment on someone’s colour, race or ethnicity. All lives are important and all lives matter, but at this moment it is crucial to understand and completely empathise with the black people in the world. We take this time for solidarity with all the black people in the world. We completely apologise for what has happened.
Here are some black Olympian’s who have won medals in Winter Olympics and have made significant contributions to the world of adventure sports.


1. Akwasi Frimpong: Ghana’s second athlete to ever compete in the Winter Olympics.


2. Shani Davis: one of the most decorated long track speed skaters with four Olympic medals in his belt.


3. Sabrina Simader: first person from Kenya to compete in alpine skiing. The only athlete who represented Kenya at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.


4. Maame Biney: an American, originally from Ghana. The first black woman to make the Olympic speed skating team and only the second African American born athlete to represent the U.S. in the Winter Olympics.


5. Erin Jackson: qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics after learning how to speed skate just four months prior. The first black woman to be on the U.S. long track team.

A big salute to all of you from and a message to all from us – WE ARE ALL ONE.

Image credits – Getty Images

3 BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MOUNTAIN LOVERS


For all the mountain lovers, just like us, there is some relief despite the grave situation we are facing. We know it is not easy to let the adventurous bug be suppressed. The trekking season usually starts in May and ends in October. A period of five months full of exploration, camping, hiking, trekking, discovering new trails, Off -roading and making new friends has gone down the drain.

But we have got you covered with three gripping books written on the Himalayas covering the entire region, if we can’t travel temporarily, we can read about the adventures and plan for later what we have missed, so check it out.

A Bond with The Mountains by Ruskin Bond

The famous mountain man Ruskin Bond wrote this book back in the ‘90s and the book was first published in 1998. Simple, innocent and childlike, the story will probably make you fall in love with the mountains like a child’s unstoppable enthusiasm. Things like wayside stations, children waving at the train and the people in it, the exotic plants in the hills, birds, leopards, deodar trees, rhododendron plants and fireflies. A must – read in times like these when we are frustrated with overthinking about the economy, career and profundity, not realizing that; it’s the simple things usually that are most profound.

The Land of Moonlit Snows & Other Real Travel Stories from The Indian Himalaya by Gaurav Punj

If you are someone who has hiked and trekked a number of times and are ready to take the next step, this book is for you. The book covers real stories of Gaurav Punj, his wife and a few of like minded friends journey to upper Himalayas – Leh, Ladakh, Spiti, Kalpa, Sangla, Jolinkong, Kugti and Sikkim. The simple life of people in the mountains, their hospitality, culture and festivals, tips and information, raw adventure, and good humour. Gaurav has written an authentic and interesting travelogue covering his adventures that will help us all adventurers, so you can’t afford to miss it.

Walking the Himalayas by Levison Wood

Levison Wood, ex British Army and now a full-time explorer, writer and photographer walked the most dangerous and rugged terrains of the Himalayas. From Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan, meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala – the Central Tibetan Administration headquarters. Meeting nomadic tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan border and reminiscing hitchhiking times in Nepal at the time of political conflict. Most of the journey is done on foot because as Levison Wood says – travelling on foot is the only way to really explore the back country and villages hidden from the main trails and roads and there is a unique bond that unites walkers everywhere.

We hope these books bring you joy and make you dream about the mountains more often. You have a book to recommend and join The Inner Outdoors community?  Email us at theinneroutdoors@gmail.com with “TIO” in the subject line.

Jayant Jayneel

Pin Parvati Pass – A Must Do for Experienced Trekkers

What can I say about Pin Parvati pass? It is a dream. One of the best treks I have ever done in my life. Pin Parvati offers everything a trekking enthusiast expects from the mountains. This trek is magical and ideal for adventure lovers, as it fills you with thrill and a high dose of adrenaline. The Trek starts from the Green Parvati Valley in Kullu district and ends in deserted Spiti valley. Let me be very clear. Pin Parvati Pass trek is not for beginners because of the difficulty level. It falls in the challenging category.

It is challenging because of the following reasons:

  1. It is a 7 days’ trek with high intensity and a distance of almost 100 km. That means on an average, one needs to trek for 4-6 hours each day which is not easy at high altitude. A person should possess good physical fitness to complete this trek
  2. There is no communication and help if something goes wrong in between the trek. For example –  falling sick, mountain sickness or any major injury. There is a good amount of altitude gain every day on this trek, with maximum altitude being 17,500 feet at Pin Parvati Glacier
  3. There is no mobile network connectivity for around 8 days, no civilization and help, so one needs to take extra precaution
  4. This trek offers walking on different kind of terrains, which becomes treacherous. Walking on steep, narrow trails, ridges, stones, glaciers, crossing multiple streams and rivers

If you are an experienced trekker you needn’t worry about these difficulties and can handle most of it. But trust me, this trek is worth all the mental and physical effort that a trekker faces during this journey as each day is filled with new beautiful places which you would have rarely seen. I was fascinated by the beauty of mountains and nature which you encounter during this trek. The campsites are so beautiful you will want to make it your home.

Why should you do the PIN PARVATI PASS trek?

  • If you have prior trekking experience and want to take it to the next level, then Pin Parvati is the trek that can add a lot of weight to your ‘Trekking Resume’. The trek starts with gradual ascent and Parvati river flowing on the side. The trail comprises of crossing forests, walking on steep paths continuously, snow, slippery ice, moraines for hours at high altitude and hot sun which is really exhausting but worth all the effort because of spectacular views.
  • If you are in love with the beauty and thrill of high altitudes. This trek starts from an altitude of around 7500 feet and with each passing day there is a gradual altitude gain and reaches maximum of 17,450 feet at Pin Parvati Pass.

As you go higher, the landscape and terrain changes with the altitude. From lush green Parvati Valley to crossing a vast glacier and ultimately landing up in deserted rough terrains of Spiti Valley, the thrill never stops.

  • You want to Camp every day in a Different Terrain and Setting.

Conclusion:

Pin Parvati Pass trek is a versatile trek. Each day you will get a chance to camp in an entirely different setting.

On the First day you camp at Kheerganga, a place famous for hot water springs.

Second day the campsite is at – Tunda Bhuj with green lands on one side and huge waterfalls falling from humongous mountains on the other side.

On the third day you enter the Valley of Flowers and camp in the middle of a place called Thakur Kuan.

On the fourth day, you reach a place called Odi Thatch which is usually described as the Big Garden. It is nearly as big as a football ground, no exaggeration. All the sides are surrounded by snowcapped mountains.

The tents are pitched in this big meadow with a breathtaking night sky and the milky way galaxy.

On the fifth day you will reach a beautiful lake called ‘Mantalai Lake’. This is one of the major attractions of this Trek. This Lake is the source of Parvati river and considered to be a holy place. A paradise where you can sit beside the lake and enjoy its beauty.

On the sixth day, you start trekking towards the glacier and around 5-6 hours of trekking you camp for the night just at the base of the Pin Parvati Glacier.

On the Seventh Day you cross the vast Pin Parvati Glacier, Ice walls and magnificent views of snow-covered mountains and peaks of the Himalayas and finally after some time you are at the top of Pin Parvati Pass.

Reaching at the top is quite satisfying and a feeling of accomplishment. The views from the top are truly remarkable and you cannot stop appreciating the art of God who has created this beautiful nature.

After crossing the glacier, you enter the Pin National Park of Spiti Valley and after crossing a couple of water streams you will reach the final camp.


Robin Rao is a passionate mountaineer and a fitness enthusiast. He started rock climbing at an early age and then started mountain trekking and climbing avidly in the Himalayas.. His passion for outdoors made him discover another passion in his life i.e Fitness.
Staying Fit has become his priority now and he truly enjoys his passion by indulging regularly in Fitness activities like cross fit, functional training, cycling and running. He is also associated with Decathlon Sports India as a Brand Ambassador.

Instagram Handle

https://www.instagram.com/cliffclimber_/

THE HIDDEN GEM IN INDIA

Owning an Indian passport is not a novelty. There are only about 60 countries you can travel without a visa or visa on arrival. It is frustrating because India is the second-most popular market for Instagram, and when everyone around the world is posting beautiful travel pictures on Instagram, we think India being such a large market is lagging.
But there is a place in India which seems to be a country on its own.
Surely the gods live here, this is no place for men, were the words described by the famous English journalist and author, Sir Rudyard Kipling.

Not as if we know what heaven feels like, but it must surely be like this. You don’t attain salvation after the seventh realm, you attain Manali. Yes, Manali it is. Nestled at an altitude of somewhere about 2000 meters in the state of Himachal Pradesh amidst lush green Deodar trees, it is a hidden gem. The snow-capped mountains and the lush green trees remain silent but observe each tourist of their desires and purpose of the visit, therefore, conveying the message to the omnipotent presence. Hence, the on-arrival Visa is granted, but the visitors are not aware of it.

A magical location in the Indian Himalayas exuding freshness and a vibe of divinity, after all, it is situated near Kullu valley, the valley which is often referred to as the ‘Valley of Gods’.

Instead of a destination, Manali has become a notion interpreted in many ways, some of which are – The drugs and hippie capital of India, a major holiday and drive destination of North India, some strongly boast about the breathtaking natural beauty being the hallmark of this valley, the part of high Himalayan mountains which hold the last snow ranges of the region, a place with thick forests amidst beautiful foliage and flowers and the gastronomical capital of Himachal Pradesh.

The things you can do in Manali:

Adventure Sports- Mountaineering, trekking, rock- climbing, mountain biking, river rafting, bouldering, camping. People from around the world come to Manali for such sporting activities. 

Food- Manali is well known for its variegated cuisine, it is the gastronomical capital of Himachal Pradesh. From cozy cafes to themed restaurants, the local food freshly cooked in the guest homes and Israeli shacks with Hebrew written on its entry, you can find the most exotic dishes to savor.

The secret parties- only if you are lucky enough, you would manage to uncover groups that host wicked parties in the mountainous region. And, once you are invited, you will remember the party forever.

Hindu Temples- there are significant temples, each holding its importance and they are sure not to be missed out on. Some of them are, Hidimba Devi Temple, Manu Temple, and Vashisth Temple.

Manali is a hidden gem in India which you can’t afford to miss. For queries related to travelling or different adventures in and around Manali, contact us at theinneroutdoors@gmail.com

Jayant Jayneel is a wanderer by soul and a writer by heart. He had read Robinson Crusoe when he was ten in 1999, and did his first trek in 2000, Sitlakhet/Ranikhet circuit. Since then he has been on foot, mostly in the Indian Himalayas looking for stories. A Bachelor of Arts graduate in Tourism & Hospitality management from Raffles College, Singapore. He has completed 24 treks and has been to 12 countries, and has also dived in the middle of Atlantic Ocean, just for the thrill. He has worked with the best adventure travel company of India – Snow Leopard Adventures and Himalayan Caravan Adventure in Old Manali leading groups and promoting outdoor education. He has worked in the field of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality building and motivating dynamic teams focused on accurately administering company programs through writing content, copy and conceptualizing ideas. Jayant has also worked with Decathlon Sports India in their mountain sports brand – Quechua

Instagram Handle

https://www.instagram.com/jayant_jayneel/

WHAT IS OUTDOOR EDUCATION?

Do you want to study engineering, medicine or law? Get employed with a handsome salary and benefits, get married and have children?

Well, the chances are you will either drift away in search of following your dreams midway because let’s be serious, most of us Indians don’t want to become engineers, lawyers or doctors in reality now, since there are several career paths to tread on.

For a community who heavily relies on Bollywood, we didn’t learn a thing from the movie “Taare Zameen Par” and for a country that offers such a versatile landscape, we Indians are not fond of exploring the outdoors.

We mentioned in our last post that India has a lot of experiential activities like; trekking, hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, surfing, wildlife, river rafting, climbing, and learn a lot about the vast flora and fauna. Albeit, the world of social media has got us rattled and parental pressure mentally deteriorates us.

As we are about to finish the second month of 2020, we want everyone in India to go out, start small.
Go for nature walks, learn about birds, learn to predict the weather looking at the sky, be inquisitive about different flowers and smell them, and as you progress slowly, prepare yourself for the next step.

To go for Hikes and trust us, we say this with experience, you will always be enveloped with a marvelous sense of well being. You will feel physically and mentally strong, you will understand the importance of eating healthy, and not indulging in habits like smoking.
We are starting an online outdoor course so for any queries regarding the course, do contact us at theinneroutdoors@gmail.com

ADVENTURE TOURISM IN INDIA

The Indian government has opened more than 120 peaks for mountaineering and trekking, that will help in promoting adventure tourism in the country. India’s rank in Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) of the World Economic Forum has moved to 34th rank in 2019 from 65th in 2013. It is an exciting time for Adventure Tourism in India.

The famous tourism campaign of our country justifies the name, the incredibility lies in the vastness of India. From snow – capped glistening mountains, wildlife sanctuaries, ancient civilizations, religious monuments, spectacular scenery, national parks, different languages, festivals, spicy food, and the golden sand beaches, it seems to have everything.

IMPORTANT STATISTICS:

  • India is the 7th largest country in the world, and 3rd largest in Asia.
  • India is second only to Africa in the variety of its Wildlife resources.
  • Total Area of India – 3,287,263 square kilometers.
  • Foreign tourist arrivals grew by 3.23 per cent to 96,69,633 during January-November 2019.

India offers a plethora of adventure sports and travel activities from:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Mountain Biking
  • Surfing
  • Wildlife Safaris
  • River Rafting
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Mountain Climbing

2020 -2026 is a crucial time for Adventure Tourism worldwide, and is anticipated to reach $1,626.7 billion, enlisting a compound annual growth rate of 13.3% from 2019 to 2026.

India can actually take a lot of advantage out of Adventure Tourism. Our aim is to bring the world of Adventure Travel in full flow to you, just how our ancestors lived, when the world was young and they roamed the earth trekking and hiking far over mountains and desert, grassland and jungle, looking for food and shelter. Ate when hungry, rested when they were tired.

We want to open your inner world with the help of outdoors.