Kugti Pass has been on my agenda for several years. The following description in Gary Weare’s (Lonely Planet) ” Trekking the Himalayas” is what originally enticed me to this area.’ While the Kugti pass is the most regularly crossed path over the Pir Panjal between Brahmaur and Lahaul, it is by no means easy. Even the Gaddi shepherds regard the pass with caution and will not lead their flocks across until the weather is clear and settled.’The Himalaya mountains rise out of the Deccan Plateau in this region as a series of ranges roughly in a NW-SE direction. The first range that I crossed took me from a small town called Utralla across the Dhauladhar Range and Jalsu Pass in particular to the small village Nayagram. I intend to talk about this trek in a separate post.
This description begins when I leave from Holi on the 23rd of June crossing the Pir Panjal Range and until I reach Udaipur on the 28th June 2011. It is described over two posts. This first post takes you to the beginning of the trek where the official trekking starts namely Hadsar.
When I first arrived in Nayagram I had thought that I might stay. But my enquiries led me to believe that no accommodation existed. Actually I asked for a hotel which probably didn’t exist but I am sure someone would have befriended me soon enough. Actually that did happen when I stopped at what looked like the most popular provisioning store in the village. It looked like they were having a roaring trade whereas the few other stores around with similar provisions looked empty. Well it soon became apparent as the owners and family extended a warm welcome to me. I started to share a bottle of beer with my new found friends and lots of fried nibblies to go with the drinks. (I don’t drink beer normally but after today’s trek I needed something a little different to sweet tea or mango juice) Well the manager said I could sleep on the floor of his shop but I declined as I reckon a few creature comforts were needed to perk me up for my next trek. So I caught a shared taxi down the valley in which the Ravi River flows to a small town called Holi. Actually after what comforts I had enjoyed on this first trek Holi seemed luxurious. The PWD resthouse run by the government had an enormous room just for me and the rest of the building seemed extremely empty although the manager claimed I couldn’t go upstairs as government officials were coming. Didn’t bother me though as after I had had a good meal in town, some fresh fruit, a haircut and then hobbled back to the room I just wanted to get to bed. I really mean hobble as what had been the last day of my first trek had been extremely long and exhausting.
The next morning I caught the Public bus to Brahmour. I think only one bus runs to either Chamba or Brahmour each day and returns in the afternoon. Just before I got on the bus I met a small transport taxi operator named Nika. Nika suggest I stay at his homestay where they had one extra room. Duly noting this down I settled down to a rather crowded bus journey to Brahmour. Fortunately I got on the bus early enough so that I had a seat. Standing is no fun as you can’t even see out and your head is permanently bent over.
The trip down the valley is much like many other bus journeys that I have experienced in the Himalayas of India. Essentially you say your prayers and hope for the best. The drivers are generally good but I certainly wouldn’t want to drive on these roads. The views into the valley are often amazing and you constantly wonder how so many people can grow crops on such steep mountainsides and often on small terraced handkerchief sized plots. Just getting up and down the hillsides I am sure would be too much for most westerners.