My Trekking To Thamsar Pass, Kangra (HP) – Arindam Deb, PGDRMM (2001-02) & Ex Faculty , BIMTECH

I started trekking the Himalayas since 2014. But my trek to Thamsar pass, Kangra, early this July of 2021 was one of most transformative experience that I ever had. Trekking has had a profound impact on me and to many others whom I met and knew for trekking since years.

I was in much anxiety on the D-day, as I was supposed to begin my trek to Thamsar Pass (15400 feet from sea level) very early in the morning. But just a few minutes of stretching helped me to prepare myself for one of most challenging expedition of my life. I along with my trekking guide Shri Raj Thakur, started the trek from Baragaon (the last motorable village of Kangra district) and 21 KMs from the famous tourist destination Barot, which is known for its beautiful valley and Trout Fish. As planned, we began our trek by 5 AM, just before the sunrise, as climate changes unexpectedly in mountains after 12 PM. We reached Jhordi Waterfall, which is about 9KMs from our starting point, without stopping for long at Palachak, a divine place, where locals bring their village deity during the annual festival. Just after reaching Jhordi Waterfall all of sudden, it started drizzling and the guide decide to halt until the weather turned favourable. We had already climbed a distance of about 9 KMs uphill nonstop in just over 4 hours and I didn’t mind camping near that beautiful 50 feet high waterfall at Jhordi.

We stayed overnight at an abandoned shepherd’s hut made of stone and mud. It was amazing experience to be at a place where on one side one could hear and see the gushing mountain river and the huge waterfall, on the other side was the big lush green meadows. As the temperature started dropping below the freezing point, we started the fire and cooked our meal, a simple dal-rice meal, accompanied by locally made pickles, and least to say an overwhelmingly fulfilling one. With the absence of electronic device and nothing else to distract me, I enjoyed the evening with extra-ordinary beautiful colours and shades of nature, the sunset, the beautiful moonrise and later spent hours gazing at the stars. Looking at the weather condition, Raj bhai suggested for an early morning start, by or before 4 AM, so that we can make up the time loss due to weather. So, we started our trek by 4.10 AM next morning. It was pitch dark with only the moon lighting my way, stars peppering in the sky and some active mountain wildlife roaming around. It was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. The range of emotions that I felt cannot be expressed in words. Just before the sunrise, suddenly we came face to face in front of a bunch Himalayan Foxes. But Raj Bhai asked me not to panic, and he made some wild noises, and the foxes went away on a different route. As we trekked ahead, Raj Bhai narrated his experience of encountering a black bear and how he and his group managed to escape that bear attack. All of a sudden, every object- be it a rock, bush or a tree, seemed like a black bear or fox to me. But we didn’t stop walking, and by sunrise we reached the base of a melting Glacier, which were supposed to reach by breakfast. I walked non-stop for another 11 KMs to reach Panihartu the base camp of Thamsar. It was a snow-clad mountain and we halted near a cave.

Next day, we started before 5 AM from Panihartu, and as the sun rose, we saw a bunch of Ibex grazing over a beautiful meadow and it was a treat watching those beautiful creatures, dancing their way to greener pastures. After about 3 and half hours of walking we came to a point, from where we could see Thamsar Pass from a distance. The climb from now onward would be sort of stiff rock climbing. In past, I did cross a couple of difficult passes likes of Indrahar Pass, Minkani Pass, Jalsu Pass, Gaj Pass and few others but this one was the most challenging, coupled with the weather condition. But, as planned we reach the summit and crossed the pass by 11.15 AM. It was minus 11degree temperature, and bone chilling wind slapped us from all directions, making it extremely difficult to stand tall even for a moment. Gratitude overtook me as I said a silent prayer, being thankful for everything I ever had, for being a tiny insignificant part among His wonderful creations and for this special experience. With every passing moment the visibility started getting very low and so we decided to start descending from the pass. I was not sure, which was tougher – getting down the hill on the wet rocky mountains or early morning fear of facing Himalayan Black Bear, but whatever it was, I could feel there were lot and lot of endorphin, serotonin and dopamine hormones rushing through my blood vessels. We kept on walking down the hill for another 6 KMs until we reached back to Kortu for another overnight halt. It was an amazing day which am sure would evoke more resilience and passion in me. Next day we had a bit lazy start at 8.30 AM, as we watched the beautiful glacier melting streams, tree lines, few hundred metres big boulders, and few tens of mountain layers from a height of 3850 Meters. On my way back to Baragoan I met few more trekkers from Bangalore and Pune with similar plans but given up due to weather conditions. On reaching back to the hotel at around 4.30 PM and I was amazed by the realisation that I completed Thamsar Pass trek in just 3 and half days, where many other have taken 4-5 days, if not more. I overcame difficulties of terrain, altitude, weather, wildlife and physical ability, and the realization gave birth within me the possibilities of overcoming many more difficult situations in life. It’s not possible to understand the true meaning of these few line unless and until one experiences it oneself.

About me, I am an alum and been teaching Retail and Marketing at BIMTECH since 2004, few close friends at BIMTECH know me as ‘Ramtaa Jogi’ who keeps on shuffling and surfing through multiple jobs and industries since the past 21 years.