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Kuari Pass Trek: The Gateway Through the Indian Himalayas

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With so many options available for trekking in the Himalayas, and so many more in India in today’s times, which one should you choose? Out of all the available options, Kuari Pass Trek remains one of the most popular choices. This is because; it is from here that you get to see probably the most magnificent views of the majestic mountains. It is this trek that offers you the chance to discover and experience the captivating mix of life in the Himalayas along with a look at the village life, their culture, pristine wilderness and the great Himalayan range.

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Trekking is something that gives unfathomable joy and pleasure to people. And, why wouldn’t it? With trekking, you get the chance to explore the wondrous creations of nature and explore places that are beyond beautiful. The sense of accomplishment that completing a trek offers is something that mere words cannot describe. But, what trek should you go on this season?

Well, Located at an altitude of 4264 meters, the Kuari Pass Trek is definitely an unforgettable expedition that you need to add to your list.

What “Kuari” Means

meaning kuari pass trek
A “Gateway” to Heaven

Kuari Pass Trek, Uttarakhand has been recognized today as one of the most spectacular snow treks.

But, have you ever wondered what the term Kuari actually means?

Well, the work “Kuari” means the “doorway” or “gateway”.

Upon reaching there, on a velar day, you would be able to see mountains like Dunagiri (7066m), Kamet (7756m), Nanda Devi (7816m) and much more. The difficulty level of the Kuari pass trek is somewhere between easy to moderate while the accommodation type would be dependent on the places that you are traveling. For instance, on some days you would get to stay at guest houses while on others, you would have to stay at camps.

A Little History

If we talk about all the things that Lord Curzon did while he was in India, it undoubtedly has to be exploring and popularising the trekking route beginning from Joshimath to the Kuari Pass situated in the Garhwal Himalayas. It was in the year 1905 that Lord Curzon reached the Kuari Pass and then made the trek. Since then, it has also been referred to as the "Curzon trail".

The trail remained a not-so-popular destination for trekking for let’s say about 6 years ago. But, with more and more people getting to know more about this trek, it has become one of the most preferred places when it comes to trekking in the snow.

Kuari Pass: A Quick Overview

Location: Uttarakhand
Number of Trekking Days: 6 to 8 Days
Trekking Grade: Easy To Moderate
Max Altitude: 12,763 Ft.
Trek Distance: 33 Km.

How to Reach

Reaching Kuari Pass Trek
A Roadtrip to Memories!

The village of Dakh, which is a kilometer away from Joshimath, is the last point accessible by road. Joshimath is a small town that is located around 290 km from Haridwar and is the starting point of the Kuari Pass trek. As there is no direct access to Joshimath, Haridwar becomes somewhat of a starting or grouping point for this trek. There are several means of transport which you can choose so as to reach Haridwar for the Kuari Pass trek.

By Air

Most of the people choose to go by air as it is perhaps one of the most convenient options. Dehradun’s largest serving airport is the Jolly Grant Airport that is situated about 48 kilometers away from Haridwar. There is a daily flight from Delhi to Dehradun that you can take.

By Train

There are several trains that connect various states and cities to Dehradun. The great thing about these trains is the fact that they run almost on a daily basis.

  • From Kolkata- Doon Express (13009)
  • From Chennai- Dehradun express (12687)
  • From Delhi -DDN NZM AC EXPRESS (2205)
  • From Mumbai- Dehradun Express (19019)

Once you get off the train station, you can rent a car or hire a taxi to reach Haridwar. There are also buses that frequently run between Dehradun and Haridwar.

By Road

You can even choose to go to Haridwar by road as it is well connected to all the major destinations of the country. You can go by the NH72 that connects Haridwar with Nahan (125 km) towards the north-west and from there to Chandigarh, Panchkula, and Shimla. The NH72 would end in Dehradun and is about 54 kilometers from Haridwar.

If you are coming from Delhi, the NH72A connects Haridwar to NH58 first at Roorkee (35 kilometers) and from there to Meerut (170 km) and Delhi (235 km). However, if you aren’t going by your own car, you can take a bus from Delhi to Haridwar from the ISBT Kashmere Gate, Delhi.

Whom the Trek is Meant For

The Kuari Pass Trek is for every individual who loves to view the majestic Himalayan ranges. Right when the trip begins, you would be able to see Nanda Devi which would leave you stunned. As you reach Gorson Bugyal, you would be able to see more peaks like the Dronagiri, Hathi Ghoda, Kamet, Neelkanth and much more. Being easy to moderate in terms of difficulty, this is appropriate for any mountain lover. Anyone who is above the age of 8 can undertake this trek.

All you need to do is ensure that you are absolutely physically fit. You also would have to submit a proof from your doctor which says that you are fit for this trek.

Popular Trekking Routes of Kuari Pass

Highlights of Kuari pass trekking
Take the Road Less Travelled By

There are quite a few routes which people choose from. The route that you choose would be dependent on what all you wish to see.

  • Kuari Pass Trek 1: Joshimath, Auli, Gorson, Gailgarh to Kuari Pass (This route would normally take you about 4 days to complete and is one of the most popular choices)
  • Kuari Pass Trek 2: Ghat, Ramni, Santoli to Kuari Pass (This route would take you about 6 days to reach Kuari top and finish off the trek)
  • Kuari Pass Trek 3: Joshimath, Mirag, Tugasi and Khulara to Kuari pass (This route would take you about 5 days to finish the trek)
  • Kuari Pass Trek 4: Tapovan, Khulara to Kuari pass (This route would take you about 5 days to finish the trek)

Trek Starting Points

The Kuari Pass Trek begins from Joshimath which is situated in the Chamoli district of the Himalayas. This place has gradually turned out as a hub for the pilgrims and trekkers. The Joshimath temperature usually remains mild during the summer season while during the monsoon, it becomes quite cold. During the winter season, the temperature can drop as low as 20 centigrade.

The trek from here would take you through several remote villages in the Himalayas. It is here that you would be able to get a glimpse of how these people lead their everyday life in the Himalaya. It is also here that rivers like the Pinder, Nandakini, Kaliganga, Dhauli Ganga and Birehiganga meet and this gives birth to the Pancha-Prayag: Karnaprayag, Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Nandprayag, and Vishnuprayag.

This trek would take you through the beautiful jungles filled with the tall Deodar and Oak trees. You can also find the Rhododendron trees bearing flowers of gorgeous red color in absolute abundance. And as is quite obvious, you can find traces of wildlife in these forests. Paw marks of the Himalayan black bears and leopards can easily be spotted here.

If you choose to visit in the autumn season, you would find the nature in its most colorful form. The trees ablaze in the orange and yellow colors stand out as a contrast to the snow capped mountains and makes the view even more breathtaking.

Kuari Pass 'Weather Forecast' - Best Time to Visit

kuari pass trek Uttarakhand
Best View Ever!

This is a trek that can be enjoyed at its best if you visit during the winters. The temperatures can drop low but it is quite manageable if you wear proper clothing. When you trek during the winters, you would get to enjoy snowfall while also getting to see the beautiful snow-capped mountains, dense mountain forests and much more.

Kuari Pass Trek Map

map of kuari pass trek
The Kuari Pass Trek: All Mapped Out! (Source)

Detailed Itinerary - The Journey Breakdown

The Kuari Pass Trek would need about 5-6 days to be completed. It all depends on the agency that you choose. However, if you do choose to go all by yourself, you can do that and follow the below-given itinerary that would give you a fair idea of how you can complete the trek.

Travelling from Haridwar to Joshimath

On the very first day, you would have to drive from Haridwar to Joshimath for about 256 kilometers. It usually takes about 10 hours to complete this road trip. You would find Joshimath to be quite populated as it is a popular hub for pilgrim tourists traveling to Hemkund Sahib and Badrinath. You would find many places to stop on the way where you can eat and refresh yourselves. Once you reach Joshimath, you can stay at some guest house there for the night.

Travelling from Joshimath to Chitrakhana

joshimath temperature
A Glimpse of the Beautiful Chaukhamba

The drive from Joshimath to Dhak village is about 12 kilometers away. It is from this village here that your trekking adventure would begin. You would be trekking through a forest filled with oak, hemlocks, and Rhododendron for about 3 kilometers. After a small descent into the meadow, you would reach Chitrakhana (3310m). It is from here that you would be able to see the gorgeous snow-capped ridge including the Chaukhamba 1 that can be seen beyond Joshimath.

Ahead of the meadow, you would be able to find a small spring wherein you can fill your water bottles if you want to. The shepherds that you see here with flocks of goats and sheep throughout the summer season are mostly from Haridwar or Rishikesh. The route would then progressively enter drier terrain and you would need to climb to the Tugasi village where you can have your lunch and stay for the night.

Travelling from Chitrakhana to Tali Top

kuari pass trek best time
Nanda Devi: A Sight to Behold (source)

It is best to start this part of the trek with a few stretching exercises as it is a bit strenuous as compared to the previous parts and you would be walking for about 6 kilometers today through white and pink rhododendron flowers and lush green vegetation. However, the mesmerizing view would make you feel exhilarated. Looming at a distance, you would be able to see Mt. Doonagiri and Mt. Nanda Devi. Keep on climbing up to the Spruce and Silver Birch above Chitrakhana.

It usually takes trekkers about an hour to make it to the prominent ridge top and another walk of about half hour around the open meadow where you would be able to find a well-defined track. This place is known as the Tapovan. Many trekkers also take The Gangotri Gomukh Tapovan Trek! You can camp in an alpine meadow towards the head of Tali Top. Here you would be required to stay in tents for the night.

Travelling from Tali Top to Kuari Pass via Khullara and Back

Long Day Ahead! (source)

It is recommended that you would need to start this trek really early as this would be the longest day on the Kuari Pass Trek. Indulge in some stretching exercises, have your breakfast and begin your trek. The first leg of the trek is where you would be walking till the Khullar top. This would take you about one hour and the walk is rather easy here. Then, you would be traversing through the snow patch so as to reach Kuari Top. From the Khullar top, as you keep on moving ahead, the Kuari Pass top wind would gush past you.

The views of Nanda Devi that you would get from here would leave you wonderstruck.  Now, return back to Tali top through the same route that you took to go up. Camp at Tali top for the night and enjoy a bonfire there while enjoying your dinner.

Travelling from Tali to Joshimath via Auli

Sanatoli to Kuari Pass
Auli: A Charm of its Own (source)

While trekking downhill, you would be crossing the popular bugyals of Gurson. It is here, that you would get the views of the path leading up to the Nanda Devi sanctuary along Rishi Ganga. This is a gradual descent towards Auli passing pastures and woods. During the winter season, there is a lot of snowfall in Auli and you can choose to stop here too if you wish to. Auli temperature can drop to as low as 2 °C during the winters. Auli isn’t quite as charming as its sister hill resorts, but the place does have a beauty and charm of its own.

It is also this place where Adiguru Shankaracharya attained enlightenment before he began his campaign for uniting India and revitalizing Hinduism in the country. Auli became popular for its skiing slopes and is also home to the winter skiing resorts that are run by GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam). The Auli resort has snow beaters who beat the snow regularly so as to keep the snow maintained and perfect for skiing at all times. There are also 7 and 14 days skiing courses at this resort that you can opt for.

You could come to Auli directly from Delhi to get trained in skiing. The Auli distance from Delhi is 518.6 kilometers if you choose to travel by road and would take approximately about 14 hours to reach.

Travelling from Joshimath to Haridwar

trekking in india
Ganga Aarti: A Spiritual Chaos

This is the last day when you finally head back to Haridwar from Joshimath. If you do make it on time to reach Haridwar, do take part in the Ganga Aarti at Har ki Pauri. It is actually for being a part of this Aarti that people from all over the world travel to Haridwar. In case, you miss it, consider staying in Haridwar for a day more to experience it. It is a truly an amazing experience where thousands of people offer their prayer and chant mantras. The lit diyas and the sunset in the background are something you surely do not want to miss.  

Head back home from Haridwar by whatever means of transport you prefer the most.

Highlights of Trekking in Kuari Pass

eastern peaks of Garhwal Himalayas
The Magnificent Eastern Peaks of Garhwal

There are a lot of wondrous and beautiful views that you would get to see on this trekking. As you trek through the Kuari Pass, you will have the opportunity to see some of the highest mountains of Uttrakhand; The eastern peaks of Garhwal and the breathtaking views of Nanda Devi being one of those.

This trek gives you a chance to see the winter Ski Meadow, Auli and visit the beautiful villages of Ghuni, Jhinji, and Pana.

Getting to interact with the locals and an insight into their lifestyle is another perk of going on the Kuari Pass Trek as you would get to know their way of living their lives in the mountains. As you trek uphill, you would get to see and experience the beautiful surroundings that would leave you stunned.

Cost Terms

The total cost for the Kuari pass trek would be dependent on the agency that you choose. It would also be dependent on the kind of rooms that you choose to stay at if you want porters or not and many such things. The best option would be to ask your travel agent about each and every cost in detail so that there isn’t confusion later. This is because different agencies charge differently. Also, make sure to ask about the refund in case you need to cancel the trek.

For most of the agents, the fee can be paid online or through demand drafts or check deposit. Remember that you want to the trek to be as exciting and as memorable as possible, hence, make your decisions at this stage wisely.

Trek Essentials

kuari pass trek
What to Pack, What Not to Pack; That is the Question.

There are definitely quite a few things that are absolutely essential to carry when you go for a trek. Listed below is a checklist that you can follow when packing for the Kuari Pass Trek. One basic tip would be to avoid carrying things that aren't as essential. Understand the fact that you are going on a trek and you wouldn’t need as much stuff as you do when going somewhere else.

Basic Gear:

  • Trekking backpack that has comfortable straps and a rain cover. (The backpack should be sturdy so that it can easily carry the weight of all the things that you have packed)
  • Water Bottle. At least carry two water bottles, of one liter each. Also, make sure to carry at least one thermos flask which can be used to carry warm water or tea or coffee)
  • A Walking stick and a head torch
  • Snacks like dry fruits, energy bars, chocolates, and electoral.
  • Your personal Medicine kit.

Livingit Tip
Always consult a doctor before you go on a trek. They would examine you and determine if you are physically fit to go. They might also provide you with certain medications after doing a thorough examination

Clothes and Shoes:

  • At least 2-3 Comfortable full-sleeved T-shirts
  • Windproof and waterproof pant and jackets
  • A thick woolen sweater or a fleece jacket
  • Trekking pants and thermal inners
  • Trekking shoes (Should be high ankle ones and must have a good grip) and flip flops (can be worn when you aren’t trekking and just exploring the village that you have stopped at)
  • At least 5 pairs of cotton and woolen socks

Personal Utilities:

  • A good sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Moisturizer
  • Wipes and Toilet paper
  • Lip Balm, toothbrush, and Toothpaste

Tips to Consider When Heading Out for Trekking

There are a few tips that can help you while you are going on your trek.

The agency that you take your trekking package from, would usually offer you two kinds of package. One that includes the transportation facility and the other that doesn’t. The package that provides you with transportation would most probably pick and drop you up from the primary location to the point from where the trek is to begin and then back to the primary location. While the other one that doesn’t offer transportation, the charges would be less for that but you would have to reach the trekking point on your own. Calculate your total cost and see which one would be more convenient for you.  

When you trek to rather high altitudes, the climatic conditions vary a lot as compared to that of the plains. It is for this reason that adequate amount of time should be taken so as to get acclimatized. If possible, include one or two extra days in your trek for acclimatization.

You would be advised to not consume alcohol or any other kind of intoxicants while on the trek.

It is advisable to avoid trekking at night as the paths often go through jungles and steep areas which can be dangerous.

As is quite obvious, littering in any place is a bad habit and should be avoided. When you go on a trek, it mostly takes you through eco-friendly areas. It is therefore advisable to litter the campsites and the local areas.

Test all your trekking gears before heading out on the trek. There might be some gears that might be too old or would need to be replaced. Examine them properly.

Always have a partner with you when you go trekking. This is because the trekking areas are rather unpredictable and accidents might happen. It would be a safer option if you have someone who knows you well to accompany you.

Carry a map with you. This is important so that you can know where you can replenish your water supply and stock up on more food. Trekking areas often take you through mountains and forests where you won’t find food.

Tips to Keep you Safe While Trekking

What is mean by Kuari pass
Trek Safely!

There are a few things that you must follow while on a trek so as to keep yourselves safe and sound.

Understand the fact that your safety is your own responsibility. Stay on the trail at all times and avoid taking shortcuts or going on paths that you might not be completely sure of.

When you are planning a trek, always keep your medical conditions in mind. Of course, trekking might sound exciting but health should be your topmost priority. Heart issues, back and knee issues, asthma, diabetes as well as other medical conditions can actually get worse due to severe weather and exertions.

Know what your capabilities are. If you are on your first trekking trip, try to be conservative and hike only for a short distance. Climbing, altitude and cold can actually make the hike much more difficult. Once, you feel that you can do more than that, go ahead and plan your next trek.

Invest in good quality trekking equipment. For instance, the backpack must be one that fits your body type while hiking boots must be ankle length. You might feel that these aren’t so essential but they actually do play a crucial role in your safety. For instance, if the shoes do not have a good grip, you might fall which can be quite dangerous on a trek.

Summing Up

If you ever have trekked before in high-altitudes, give Kuari Pass Trek a try this time. After proper training, challenge yourself and trek the Himalayas. Though not a very strenuous trekking, you would surely have an experience that you would cherish for a lifetime.

kuari pass trek motivation
The Best Views Come After the Hardest Climbs (Source)

Have you ever trekked in the Himalayan areas before? If yes, how was your experience? Do feel free to share them with us.

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