I wanted to undertake a less frequented trek but had only the weekend to spare. Most trek options are extremely crowded till I stumbled upon this one- Kuppar Bugyal Giri Ganga trek. Truly a road less traveled but the only challenge was that I could not find enough details online. Hope I could help you will relevant details through this blog in case you are planning a trek there!
Kuppar Bugyal Trek:
- Delhi to Shimla: A number of buses are available. I prefer the Himachal Tourism or Himachal Roadways buses that depart from Himachal Bhawan, Mandi House in Delhi and drop you off at Victory Tunnel at Shimla and the same route on return.
- Shimla to Khada Pathar (85 kms): Shimla to Khada Pathar from the local bus stand (close to Victory Tunnel) 2 options are available: Shared cab- 2 hrs @INR 250 per person and local bus- 4 hrs @INR 126 per person. On the way back from Khada Pathar shared cabs are not available and hence you have to figure in 4 hrs for the local bus (with erratic timings)
You can rent a cab or tempo till Giri Ganga and begin trek there.
Water is only accessible close to the Giri Ganga Temple. Thus water needs to be carried till Giri Ganga and can be refilled there for Kuppar top.
Himachal Tourism is constructing a guest house at Giri Ganga and they say there is a rest house at Kuppar top (but I never spotted one). Thus best to carry your own tent if you are trekking during winters like me else during summers tents are available for rent at Giri Ganga or you can sleep at the temple.
Nothing available beyond Khada Pathar unless one of the camps at Giri Ganga have some. Thus best to carry your own food.
My Trip and the Trail in Detail:
I undertook this trek in this trek in the first week of Dec 2016 along with another friend. I was carrying a 17kg backpack with tent, sleeping bag, food, water and woolens. We took the 8.30 pm Volvo from Delhi and reached Shimla at 5.30 am. We then then took a shared cab till Khada Pathar leaving Shimla at 6.30 am and reaching around 8.30 am.
Khada Pathar literally means a place where time stands still as a rock. Our exposure to the place was a little tea/ sweet shop where we had cooked food and chai marking the beginning and end of our trek. But given the fact that it was a small town, the shop was extremely busy. Everyone found our trek amusing. The owner kept insisting on us taking a cab till Giri Ganga, however, we declined. Then he asked, “Are you doing a course on trekking?” “No”, I said. He couldn’t fathom why we trekking.
A little further down the road, on the right hand side is a dirt road from where the trail begins. We passed tempos on the way and some locals who were chopping and collecting wood for the winters. In a few weeks they were expecting snow and hence the preparations had begun. There were two bifurcations on the road that we encountered. First bifurcation you are to stick to the road on the left and on the second bifurcation stick to the road on the right.
The local had told us to walk on the road till we see a pipeline and then follow it as a shortcut till we hit the main road again but that proved to be a bummer. We asked few locals who surprisingly misguided us and we wasted time. One local actually said, ”Why are you going to the top? Let me show you the pictures on my mobile here only”. (haha..)
After about 3 kms is when you will hit a turn from where you are to climb the hill through the shortcut to help cut across and reach the road at a higher point.
Giri Ganga Temple
The Giri Ganga Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to the Giri Goddess, associated with the River Giri. During summers the pujari (priest) stays there at night but during winters he leaves the place at about 2 pm. Once snow blankets the entire area, the temple remains closed till Navratra in March.
The Pujari treated us with green tea and biscuits and guided us of the path ahead. He warned us that since all Gujjars (tribals) had left the place, it was not really safe. The jungle had wild animals especially at the Kuppar top so was not advisable to stay there. We heard the warning but moved on. We were again misguided by a local we met on the way and then had to turn back when we lost the trail. Since we had lost time, we decided to camp about 0.5 km from Giri Ganga Temple at a flat land before the steep ascent starts.
We fixed our tent. We then saw a fox closeby and just got inside our tents at 6 pm. It was quite difficult to kill time inside the tent but we could not step out in the dark as we did not even have a matchstick to light a fire. This is the first time on a trek wherein I didn’t even get out to look at the milkyway. Of course we could barely sleep thanks to the cold and fear wherein we kept listening for animal sounds.
In the morning finally at 6 am there was light wherein I got up and got out of our imprisonment- tent. We resumed the trek at 8 am. The ascent is steep and the forests end soon. Post that there is clear land, which is highly deceptive because as you look above you feel you need to climb just slightly more and you will reach the top but one you reach that top you see another top and so on. Midway through the ascent I decided to leave my bag on the trail as there was no human in sight to tamper with the bag. The view of the valley and peaks around is spectacular and keeps getting better as you ascend further. Once you reach the top, you sight the snow covered peaks as well.
The top itself is 5 km long. Since there was no board or markings, we could not spot the temple, rest house and stepwell at the top. Also we heard some animal sounds and did not explore any further. We rested for sometime and sank in the view and then began our decent.
We reached the temple and met the pujari and told him about our adventures. He added, “Yes, the graves of gujjars are located close to the place you camped. The fox is practically a pet of the temple. At the top, everyone hears sounds of temple bells and prayers even when no one is inside.”
Till then we had only been scared of animals, but he added a spooky twist to it as well.
When we reached the tea shop at Kada Pathar, the locals commented,”the wild animal could have just picked up your tent and walked away with it. Had a wild animal killed you, the area would have gotten a bad name.”
I felt sad for any wild animal who would mess with a human. We were carrying bells to announce our presence so that we do not catch a bear off-guard. I had trekked with a bell all over Japan. Anyways, I guess we were lucky that we did not have any untoward incident.
The Bus Back
But our adventure did not end there. We took a local bus to Shimla as shared cabs weren’t available and private cabs were asking for an exorbitant rate of INR 3500. But the bus at 4pm did not ply and the bus at 5 pm was completely full. We struggled to maintain our balance and stand in the bus but learnt that the bus would reach Shimla after 4 hours which implied that we would miss our Volvo at 8.30 pm. The Volvo appeared more luxurious than a water bed at that instant.
The bus stopped at Chaila for half an hour meal break. We then got a private cab till Shimla for INR 1800 with another local willing to share the ride. We finally succeeded in boarding the bus at Victory Tunnel. I slept like a log in the bus till the conductor screamed “Delhi bypass” at 5 am.
A very adventurous weekend. Now I am back to work, pretending as everything around is normal but something has changed within me!!
My appeal to all trekkers: Please carry your waste back and do not litter the place. Nature is beautiful and let us keep it that ways.
Please click here to watch the Trek Video.