Hiking - Destination

Indrahar Pass Trek - Discover the Secrets of Dhauladhar Range in the Himalayas

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McLeodganj has remained a haven of cultural richness and adventure for several years, making it the ideal paradise for trekking and nature of all backgrounds. Tucked in between the suburbs of Dharamshala, in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, McLeodganj welcomes all its visitors with an air of warmth and hospitality. But for all you trekkers looking for that extra edge of excitement and spirit, the Indrahar Pass trek is an absolutely enchanting hike and experience. The trek is at the very heart of Dhauladhar’s fascinating range and is situated in the skyline on the high ridge that descends down from the Moon peak. 

The Indrahar Pass trek is located at an altitude of 4342 metres above sea level and it consists of a high and rocky terrain which extensive both in its profile of ascension and its proximity to the Himalayan range.The trek begins at the town of McLeodganj and passed through various attractions such as the famous Triund, Illaqa Pass, and the Lahesh Caves. While the trek is categorized to be rather difficult, the Indrahar Pass hike is probably the most quintessential treks every thrill-o-philiac should have on their bucket list. 

Know More About:

  • Indrahar Pass Trek: An Overview
  • The Indrahar Pass Trek: Enchantment in The Sky 
  • Best Time to Visit Indrahar Pass  
  • Best Routes to The Indrahar Pass  
  • Indrahar Pass Trek Map
  • Indrahar Pass Trek: Detailed Itinerary You'll Need
  • Highlights of Indrahar Pass Trek 
  • Trekking Essentials to Carry
  • Indrahar Pass Trek: FAQs
  • Summing Up 

The moment you arrive at the scenic town of McLeodganj, you can immediately feel the refreshing breath of romance and thrill combined together. If you are looking for the perfect weekend family getaway trek, then Indrahar Pass trek with no doubt, is the place for you!

Indrahar Pass Trek: An Overview

 indrahar pass
Indrahar Pass- A Fascination In Skyline
  • Where it is located: Dhauladhar, Himachal Pradesh
  • Number of Trekking days: 5 to 6 days (one day in Mcleodganj)
  • Livingit Rank: Enthusiast- Advanced
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,342 metres
  • Trekking Distance: 40 km
  • Trail Type: Trek starts and ends at Mcleodganj
  • Best Season to visit: September-October

The Indrahar Pass Trek: Enchantment In The Sky 

The Indrahar Pass Trek is one of the most exemplifying hikes the Dhauladhar ranges of Himachal Pradesh have to offer. Traversing through the heart of the endlessly enchanting mountain ranges, the trail forms the border line between the Chamba and Kangra districts, in Himachal Pradesh. The trail is very frequented by the nomadic Gaddi shepherds, who’ve been grazing the pastures in the area for as long as history can remember and from start to end, the path offers every trekker with spectacular views - from the Pir Panjal ranges to the scenic Lahesh Caves.

The forests covering the area consists of towering deodars, oak trees, rhododendrons and even bamboo plants! Each step of the path is embroidered with rich flora and volatile terrains - from rocky boulders to snow covered trails and pasture lands. The Indrahar Pass Trek is a geologically active region and has a surprise on each and every corner, with a new and glorious view at every turn. The trek is widely praised amongst trekking enthusiasts across the country, leaving them bewildered and wanting more. However, it is very important to keep in mind that the expedition is nothing close to a stroll in the park. It is imperative that you prepare extensively before embarking on the trek, especially considering the length and difficulty level. 

indrahar pass trek
Enchantment in the Sky (source)

Best Time to Visit Indrahar Pass Trek

The best season to go on the Indrahar Pass trek would be around the months of September and October. This is because across the months of January to March, there are very high chances snow on the higher passes, which end up making the trail slippery and dangerous. The snow generally melts away by August, making the trail highly prone to landslides. However, interestingly enough, during the monsoon season, the higher passes in the Kangra and Dhauladhar ranges stay unaffected and the weather in this particular region remains warm and sunny (with the temperature ranging from 12C° - 20 C° during the day). 

Regardless, the Indrahar Pass weather is equally beautiful from late September to October. So trekkers can even consider these months to plan for the trek. The best thing about trekking during these months is that one can also get a lucid view of the surrounding mountain ranges as the sky tends to remain clear in these months. 

Average Temperatures

Winter: Max- 16-25 degree Celsius (day); 4-11 degree Celsius (night)
Summer:33 to 40 degree Celsius (day); 16 to 28 degree Celsius (night)
Monsoon: 23 to 33 degree Celsius (day); 22 to 28 degree Celsius (night)

Best Routes To The Indrahar Pass

It is ideal to reach McLeodganj and then start your trekking journey. Thus, you can reach McLeodganj by air, train or road transport.
 
By Air:

The trek starts from the town of McLeodganj, and the nearest airport to the suburb would be the Gaggal Airport, in Dharamshala. From here, one can easily avail a taxi or cab service to McLeodganj. 

By Train:

By rail, one can board a train from their respective locations to the closest railway station, which would be the Pathankot city railway station. From here, one would have to travel by taxi or cab to McLeodganj. If travelling from Delhi, then there are no Delhi to Mcleodganj trains and it is ideal to book a train from Delhi to Pathankot Railway Station.

By Road:

There are multiple buses that frequent from Delhi to McLeodganj and Dharamshala. The journey from the ISBT Kashmere Gate would take around 11 to 12 hours. If you are travelling from Delhi, then the Mcleodganj distance from Delhi by road is 477 km.

LivingIt Tip-
If there isn’t a direct bus to McLeodganj, one can take a bus to Dharamshala, and from there take a shared cab to the suburb for just INR 15!

Indrahar Pass Trek Map 

Check out the thrilling route in the Indrahar Pass Trek map.

 indrahar pass trek map
Map your Way to the Mountains (source)

Indrahar Pass Trek: Detailed Itinerary You'll Need 

Let's start the incredible journey to the Indrahar Pass trek that will take you through the home of Dalai Lama, dense forests, vibrant flora and fauna, picture perfect scenery, larger than life mountains and much more. 

McLeodganj to Triund via Galu Devi Temple

After a short drive to Dharamkot from McLeodganj, the trek begins fairly easy with a relatively flat and pleasant trail that traverses through the pine forests in the area. On this path, trekkers very often pass the Galu Devi temple which has a water point where one can replenish their water resources and relax for a while. The trail further down begins to gradually ascend into the dense oak and rhododendrons forests, with the terrain becoming increasingly steeper. A predominant stretch of this path is inhabited with the nomadic gaddi shepherds and locals, with small plots of land being cultivated and being interspersed with huts and shacks.

The trail leading up to Triund tends to sharply elevate and on reaching the campsite, one can get a panoramic view of the Dhauladhar ranges towering majestically into the sky. Triund is a small hill in the Kangra district and is one of the most famous and picturesque treks in the Indrahar Pass. From the Triund hill top, it is almost impossible for trekkers to not pull out their cameras and capture the beauty of the vast range of peaks surrounding the perimeter. At the Triund hill top, trekkers can also indulge in some of the local shacks and stores for some good and wholesome Dal chawal to conclude the day’s trek, for a meagre cost ranging from INR 60 to INR 120.

indrahar pass weather
Triund- Crown Jewel of Dharmasala (source)

Triund to Illaqa Pass to Lahesh Caves

The trek from Triund continues towards the Illaqa Pass, which would take around 3 to 4 hours to reach. But before this destination, the well-renowned Snowline Cafe is a major pit stop almost every trekker takes before heading forward. The trail till the cafe is primarily uphill, covering a distance of 2 kilometres from Triund. However, the route from the Snowling Cafe to the Illaqa Pass is mostly downhill and consists of flat terrains. The path also begins to get more isolated in comparison to the snowline and it’s best recommended to set up camp for the night at the Illaqa Pass, instead of heading forward to the Lahesh Caves. 

The second part of the journey is far more longer and difficult, due to the long patch of distance between the Illaqa Pass and the Lahesh Caves. For a total distance of 12 kilometres and a time of 6 hours, this section of the trek will prove to be slightly more strenuous, but yet extremely rewarding. The trail from the Illaqa Pass passes to the Indrahar Pass, courses through the Lahesh Caves and it becomes quite steep and uphill. 

indrahar pass trek best time
The Challenging Trek to Lahesh Caves (source)

LivingIt Tip:
It is suggested that first time trekkers do not venture on to this part of the expedition without the guidance of an expert and certified trekker.

The terrain becomes rocky and the vegetation in the area starts to thin out. Trekkers usually spend some time regaining their energy and replenishing their resources before venturing out into the trail . One can also view the breathtaking view of the higher ranges and the valleys as they move up the pass. The climb towards the Lahesh Caves becomes even more steepers and the boulder fields on the way can make the path quite confusing to trekkers. That is why it is always recommended that hikers travel this path in groups or with a local expert, and alway ensure that their resources and amenities are stocked.

Additionally, one can even find cairns installed by the local gaddi shepherds, to assist navigation through the path. Upon reaching the Lahesh Caves, trekkers usually call it a night in the natural rock shelters that can accommodate up to 20 people. 

Lahesh Caves to Indrahar Pass

The trail to the Indrahar Pass is long and exhausting and it becomes very likely for trekkers to get lost on. The route is laid on large and rocks and predominantly quite steep. Most hikers always remember to follow the cairns installed by gaddi shepherds, which also makes it easier to climb rocks at certain places. As the pass approaches, the path becomes even more inclines and dangerous. However, interestingly enough, the more riskier the trail gets, the more beautiful the view of the landscape becomes, inadvertently turning all the exhaustion into sheer excitement. 

It takes approximately three hours to reach the Indrahar Pass from the Lahesh Caves and the pass is marked by numerous tridents and bells with red cloths tied around them. From this point on the pass, one can get a once in a lifetime view of the Pir Panjal range, situated to the north of the pass. The trail then begins to descend downward into the Chhata Parao, which becomes very confusing for every hiker. The route downward is covered in tall overgrown grass and after two hours of trekking, once a stream approaches, hikers can identify the pasture of land across the water body as the famous Chhata Parao. Trekkers tend to set up camp here for the night, to rest up and prepare for the next day’s stretch. 

Abhijeet Kashyap, the blogger of Afterburn shares his experience- “We marched towards the Indrahar Pass. This was the toughest part of the trek. There is no definite route and the path is really steep. One can easily feel effects of altitude when they gasp after every step. Fresh snow had shown after first strenuous hour. The trek was scary at several points where a slip would mean death on the rocks.” 

best time to visit mcleodganj
Magical Indrahar Pass (source)

Chhata Parao to Kwarsi Village via The Mandhara Crossing

The morning view from Chhata Parao is that of the sun rising from behind the Himalayan ranges. From the Chhata Parao, the route fluctuates with its inclines, until trekkers finally reach the Kwarsi village. Following a marked and descending path into the village, hikers soon find themselves in a serene and picturesque village, surrounded by blue pine and deodar trees. The village is also known for Nag Temple, that many trekkers visit and pay their respects to. 

Kwarsi Village To Choli 

Trekkers can follow the mule path from the Kwarsi village, towards Choli, but must remember to tread with caution as some sections of the route can be dangerous and treacherous. The path courses across fields and canopying deodar forests. Upon passing the forest, hikers will encounter a rock face that will have to be climbed down into a steep and risky descent until the Hikkim Nallah. After crossing the Hikkim Nallah, one can begin traversing across flat terrain, crossing villages like Brehi, Lamu and Hilling, before reaching Choli. From Choli, there are train and taxi services that can take you to other destinations like Karamukh, Chamba Valley and Pathankot. 

how to reach mcleodganj
Kwarsi Village in the Hills (source)

Brehi to Minikiani Pass via Drakund

From Brehi, the trail courses through on the right of the Donali Khal, gradually gaining altitude as trekkers move further towards Minikiani. The route crosses through beautiful apple orchards and oak trees and past small cattle enclosures to a long suspended foot bridge.

Trekkers continue up into a rocky valley, where they come up against the crest of the main range. The rocky peaks stand out tall and the lake that can be seen from the trail is the Lam Dal. The path to the Minkiani camps progresses up over the landscape of boulders and small pastures. The final section of the trail would involve crossing over sea of boulders to an altitude of 1300 ft.

Livingit Tip-
The Minkiani Pass trek is extremely dangerous and is best advised to only be ventured on by trekkers with substantial experience.

mcleodganj height
Soaring high in Air- Minikiani Pass (source)

Minikiani Pass to Kareri Lake and Back To McLeodganj

The boulder climb from the Miikiani Pass opens up into the emerald lake of Kareri at an altitude of 9515 feet. The trails is a pleasant downward walk through the sparse forests of pine and rhododendrons towards the Kareri lake. The route is clearly marked, quite broad and crosses the river a few times. Upon reaching the Kareri village, one can take the route across the Bhated Khad from Kareri to Naddi, towards McLeodganj. 

LivingIt Tip:
In the monsooon season, it’s much more safer to take the route down from Kareri to the motorable road, as the forested stretch near Bhated is  known for its dangerous leech infestations.

How to Reach Indrahar Pass Trek ?
Kareri Lake (source)

Highlights of the Trek

McLeodganj is the primary base camp of the trek, and also incidentally happens to be extremely famous for giving shelter to the Dalai Lama at the Tsuglag Khang complex or the Dalai Lama Temple (official residence of Dalai Lama). The suburb is also well renowned for its nearby tourist destinations like the Dal Lake, Bhagsu Nag waterfall, and St. John’s Church.

However, above the rich and vast cultural history of the town, the true highlight of McLeodganj is without a doubt Triund also called the “Crown jewel of Dharamshala”. The terrain is rocky and is covered in beautiful deodar and oak trees and you can get a panoramic view of majestic peaks like Moon peak, Arthur’s Seat and Slab peak

From Triund one can take a stop at the Snowline Laka, which quite famous amongst trekkers for the “Snowling Cafe”, where one can enjoy a cheap yet wholesome plate of dal chawal and steaming Maggi. Beyond the snowline, is the Lahesh Caves; a part of the trek that is rather steep and better to be avoided by first-time trekkers. We suggest trekkers to camp at the Lahesh Caves and enjoy the picturesque view.

Upon reaching Choli, do visit the stunning and alluring Chamba Valley!

Trekking Essentials

1.  Documents

  • Photocopies and originals of government IDs - driver’s license, voter’s ID, Aadhar card, PAN card
  • Medical certificate and disclaimer, filled out by both the trekker and the doctor.

2. Trekking Equipment

  •  Trekking poles: These heroes are a must when trekking on during the uneven terrains or slippery pathways. Trekking poles provide right balance, make trekking relatively easier and prevent leg injuries too. 
  •  Headlamp or LED lights: Carry LED lights or headlamps that will guide you in the dark.
  •  Sunglasses: Irrespective of the weather conditions, it is essential to carry UV protection sunglasses that will protect your eyes from harsh UV rays. Also, during the winter time, the sunglasses will avoid snow blindness condition.

3. Clothes

  • A pair of dry clothes and three warm layers (include thermals): The freezing weather of Indrahar Pass demands 2-3 layer of warm clothes and thermals. 
  • Two pairs of trekking pants: Don’t forget to pack lightweight trekking pants that would provide utmost comfort during the trek. Due to the unpredictable weather conditions, it is essential to carry extra trekking pants. 
  • A poncho or a jacket and a fleece scarf or shawl: Layer your clothing with a warm poncho, jackets which would let you survive in the bone chilling weather. Scarf or shawl would be extra layers of protection from windy weather conditions.
  • Sturdy and durable trekking shoes/boots: If you want to conquest the challenging Indrahar Pass trek, then do invest in a good pair of trekking shoes. Even sturdy hiking boots would be a good pick.
  • Socks: Instead of opting for cotton socks, pack a warm woolen wear socks that will keep your feet warm.
  • A woolen cap or earmuffs: Don’t let the bitter winds cause ear troubles! Get yourself fashionable earmuffs or woolen cap and trek like a pro
  • Woolen and waterproof gloves: You would easily miss this! Do carry woolen and waterproof gloves and protect your hands from numbness.
  • A light towel: Carry a microfiber towel that would wick away the sweat and let you trek easily. 


4. Toiletries

  • Sunscreen (SPF 40+)
  • Moisturizer
  • Toothpaste and a toothbrush
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cold cream
  • Plastic covers
  • Water bottles
  • Cutlery like spoons, mug, lunch box, etc.

5. Medical Kit

  • Crocin for fever
  • Avil for allergies
  • Combiflam as a general painkiller
  • Digene for acidity
  • Crepe bandage and ointment in the case of any injuries
  • A small roll of cotton and gauze
  • Band-aids
  • Moov or Relispray for muscular pulls, aches, and sprains
  • Antiseptic screams and bug spray

Livingit Tip-
Always carry enough water bottles and energy bars/snacks like dry fruits or nuts with you.

How to Get Fit for Indrahar Pass Trek

Since this is the Himalayan trek, you need to prepare your body well in advance. Situated at a height of 14,160 ft the Indrahar Pass trek is definitely not for novice trekkers. From rocky terrains to steep routes, the ascent is definitely not a cake walk! Therefore we insist on training your body well before the trek.

How to train your body?

You have to focus on three main factors:

  • Cardiovascular Exercises
  • Flexibility 
  • Lung Capacity

CardioVascular Exercises

Trekking in the mountains demands good endurance and you can achieve this by fast walking and jogging. Start training your body in advance- we suggest you prepare a month or so before the trek date. For the start, jog for 1-2 km for 20-30 minutes. Then gradually increase your pace and decrease your time frame. Ideally, by the end of the month, you should jog 4 km under 30 minutes. Apart from jogging, indulge in step climbing, swimming, aerobics, jumping rope. The whole idea is to increase your heart rate and survive in the mountains. 

Flexibility

This is the thumb rule for trekking in the Himalayas- higher the flexibility of your body, the easier the trek!

So before you begin your cardio workouts, perform stretches for your entire body. You can focus on stretching the hamstrings, back muscles, lower leg muscles, hip flexors, shoulders. Exercises will prep up your body muscles and let you climb the challenging mountains in a jiffy.

Lung Capacity

Many trekkers miss this important factor- good lung capacity. Yes, you need to increase your lung capacity to breathe the thin air in the Himalayas. Your lungs should function even in the less air and this you can do by learning the techniques of lung capacity. There are various breathing techniques such as Diaphragmatic Breathing, number breathing that will increase lung capacity.

Also, exercises such as Pilates, Core strengthening, swimming will help in increasing lung capacity.

Physical Fitness for Indrahar Pass trek
Push Your Limits (source)

Indrahar Pass Trek - FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the best time to go on the Indrahar Pass trek?
The best time to visit Indrahar Pass trek is the months from September to October.

2. Which type of shoes should I buy?
Buy a quality pair of sturdy trekking shoes that cover your ankles. Avoid using sports shoes as the trail is uneven and tricky. But in case you buy new trekking shoes, remember that it is vital to try them out at least for a month before you begin the actual trek.

3. How much weight will I have to carry?
Around 10 kgs per traveller is advised. Always carry things that you'll need during the trek. 

4. Will there be mobile connectivity?
No. There will be very little to no mobile connectivity from the Triund hill stop onwards unless you are carrying a satellite phone. But this gives you the perfect opportunity to put your phone away and thoroughly enjoy the lush expanse of flora and fauna that accompany you on every step of the trek.

5. What is the difficulty level of Indrahar Pass trek?
The trek is moderately easy until the Triund hills top. However, from this point onwards, the trail becomes increasingly difficult and risky. Past the Indrahar Pass, it is critical that only trekkers with prior experience venture into the bouldery and steep paths of the rest of the hike. It is essential that a trekker is medically fit prior the trek. Indulge in cardiovascular exercises, lower leg exercises that will train you to trek easily through the mountains. 

Manu Khandelwal, travel blogger of Har stuff suggest- “The trail till Ilaqa pass is easy except some sections. Further, from Ilaqa Pass, it gets tough. It would be better that you start doing exercise at least before 2 weeks from the trek dates to increase your stamina and endurance and to strengthen your muscles. Leg and thigh exercise are must because your legs always play a major role while trekking. If legs are gone then all over. It is recommended that you practice yoga such as “alom vilom” and “kapalbhati” so that you would not have any breathing problem at higher altitude.”

6. What is the minimum age required to do the Indrahar Pass Trek?
The minimum age required to go on this trek is 14+. But more importantly, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that the individual is physically fit.

Summing Up

indrahar pass trek
 Paramount Beauty in the Dhauladhar Ranges

The trek into the Indrahar pass is no exception to a rough and tough adventure of undulating terrains and surprises on every corner. The ascent into the Indrahar Pass involves many continuous climbs over obscure grasslands and boulders. Towards the south of the pass, every trekker is rewarded with spectacular views of the great snow capped Himalayan ranges and Indian plains. And while the entire stretch of the trek is definitely physically and mentally taxing, it is definitely an adventure that would reap every trekker with the most rewarding feeling of satisfaction and achievement. 
 
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