Where to travel
The trek to Sidh Peeth Adi Himani Chamunda (Old Chamunda) Temple (about 3,180 meters / 10,500 feet) is a seasonal ritual for local shepherds, whereas a difficult trek for the people from the plains. But the reward is superb:
- The Himalayan solitude,
- View of the Talang Pass,
- The Himalayan rural landscape,
- A peep into the shepherds’ life,
- Divine blessings for your future projects,
- A glimpse of the first step in wool making,
- Face the Dhauladhar Range topped with snow,
- Acclimatization for the next mountaineering expedition
So, cultural, mental and physical adventures await you in a remote meadow above Badsar Village in Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh (India).
What to do & see
Upper Jia (Jiya at 1,515 meters / 5,000 feet) to the trail starting point in Badsar
About one kilometer walk along the road that crosses the Banner Khad Bridge is through the village with a backdrop of the Himalaya.
Badsar (near Nulllah) to Hanuman Temple
Take right turn at the signboard reading Aadi Himani Chamunda Bridle Path and follow the well-marked cemented trail that runs for about 3-4 kilometers. This steep trail meanders through the grassy meadow that has a few pine groves for shade and catching your breath.
Beyond the cemented stretch, stony steps guide you. Walking on the stony steps of different sizes and shapes is demanding, and especially it strains your knees. Along the stony steps, you can spot the change in vegetation: rhododendron trees with wide canopies clung to the slopes.
As you climb up, the vistas will expand and surround you, challenging abilities of your eyes and the wide angle lens. The roar of the Banner Khad accompanies you until end of the cement trail. In the morning, you can clearly hear drums from the schools and prayer chants. On a clear day, the mountain opens its beautiful bosoms. Occasionally, the silvery rivulets follow the cleavages. But the bosoms suddenly disappear behind the mist and buzz of insects and flutter of butterflies engage your attention. Then again, the bright blue sky appears. The vultures soar in the sky.
Along the snaky trail, sometimes the sun stares in your face while on other occasions it warms up your back. You will meet shepherds tendering their cattle and sheep, collecting fodder and / or shearing wool from the sheep. Colorful flowers bloom along the trail to enhance lush green landscape. But at several places, the trail is covered with loose mud and roots, a result of mud slide, and loose rocks and stones, an offshoot of landslides.
Hanuman Temple to Chamunda Temple
For about half a kilometer from the HanumanTemple, the trail is not very well defined. Especially, on a misty day / during whiteout, you may lose the trail. But on a clear day, it is easy to follow the fading trail stretch and beyond that you can again identify stony steps until you reach your destination. Do not leave the trail. If you follow the trail, you will have no problem and you will not need a guide at all. This part of the trail is relatively gentle than the earlier one. The natural smells and sounds (calls of sheep, horses, birds, and shepherd voices communicating with their “mal”, rustle of wind, calls of vultures…) will please and refresh your senses. The urban sounds fade and rest in the bottom of the valleys.
Chamunda Temple to Jiya
The old temple is popular among locals but outsiders may not know much about it. The outsiders pay obeisance at New Chamunda Temple which is directly accessible by public and private buses, cars and taxis.
There is a strong belief that wishes said at the temple with true feelings are honored. Some devotees even do this trek bare foot to ensure that their wishes are answered.
The temple cannot be rated high on aesthetics and architecture, but its surroundings are magnificent. Watch the sunrise and sunset, and a play of clouds on the mountain ridges and in deep valleys. The temple commands views of Palampur, the Kangra Valley, Dharamshala and Talang Pass (4,643 meters / 15, 322 feet) over the Dhauladhar Range, connecting the Chamba and Kangra Valleys. Several shepherds come here with their horses and sheep, which are worth many frames.
While returning from the Chamunda Top, natural sounds will succumb to the urban sounds as you approach to the cemented trail. Enjoy what you missed while going up.
Several taparis (temporary stone shelters of shepherds) are located along the trail. In case of rain and / or whiteout, you can take shelter in them. Taparis do not have any facilities. They are just stone enclosures with a temporary roof. The occupied taparis will have a few blankets, utensils and a hearth.
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When to go
How to reach
New Delhi to Kangra: about 550 kilometers / about 10 hours drive
Chandigarh to Kangra: about 240 kilometers / about 6 hours drive
Kangra to Jia: about 40 kilometers
Earlier Kingfisher was flying between New Delhi and Gaggal (Kangra) Airport. Currently, there are no air services to the airport.
Himachal Road Transport Corporation (H.R.T.C.) offers bus services to Kangra from Inter State Bus Terminal (I.S.B.T.) Kashmiri Gate, New Delhi and I.S.B.T, Sector 43, Chandigarh. Book bus tickets online.
New Delhi to Kangra: Bus fare varies from INR 383.00 (ordinary) to 950.00 (Volvo) per person.
Chandigarh to Kangra: Ordinary bus fare is INR 215.00 per person.
Local buses (Public and private)
Kangra to Dadh Village (1,285 meters): about 26 kilometers. A local bus charges INR 27.00 per person for this 30 minutes ride. The buses going to new Chamunda Temple will stop at Dadh.
Dadh to Jiya: The fare for the 15-20 minutes ride amounts to INR 5.00 per person. Get down at Upper Jiya, near the Baner Khad Bridge that connects Badsar and Jiya villages. Upper Jiya to Badsar is one kilometer walk along the road. The cemented trail starts from Badsar.
Broad gauge train: Delhi to Pathankot
Narrow gauge train (Toy Train): Pathankot to Kangra
Broad gauge train: Delhi to Pathankot
Delhi Pathankot Express (14037) runs on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
Departure from Delhi (DLI): 8:00 AM; Arrival at Pathankot (PTK): 6:10 PM
Dhauladhar Express (14035) runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Departure from Delhi (DLI): 10:10 PM; Arrival at Pathankot (PTK): 08:05 AM (next day).
The train fare ranges from INR 212.00 per passenger (Sleeper Class) to INR 1,505.00 per passenger (First AC).
Kaushal Travel Services provides car rental services at Shop No: 41, Near New Bus Stand, Kangra Town-176001.
Chandigarh to Kangra: AC Indigo / Alto / Van rate starts from INR 4000.00 (as of September 2012)
Kangra to Jia: Maurti Van taxi fare amounts to INR 500.00 for two passengers.
You can camp. Carry complete camping gear.
Government guest and rest houses
Himachal Pradesh Forest Rest House, Kangra Town
Contact Dharamshala Forest Circle
DivisionalForestOffice, Dharamshala, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh
Tariff less than INR 500.00 per room
Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department (H.P. P.W.D.)
H.P. P.W.D. Guest House at Kangra
Contact E.E. Kangra at 91-01893-255028
H.P. P.W.D. Guest House at Dadh Village
Contact E.E. Dharamshala at 91-01894-223264
Tariff less than INR 500.00 per room
The Citadel Resorts in Jiya Village, Kangra District: INR 2,000.00-5,300.00 per night (exclusive of taxes). Contact the hotel.
Hotel The Grand Raj in Kangra Town: Tariff starts from INR 1,200.00 per night (exclusive of taxes). Book the accommodation.
Request the temple for accommodation within the complex. The slate huts have stony uneven floors. The huts neither have attached bathrooms nor beds. You have to search a private place for answering the nature’s call and sleep on the ground.
Field Notes: We did this trek on Sep 25-26, 2012.
Different people have different notion about the length of the trail. For instance, Dharamsala Tourism Department said that it is about 7.5 kilometers one way. Locals say it is 13-14 kilometers one way.
Locals take about four hours to reach the top and two hours to descend. You can also do the return trek in one day provided you start at 6:00 AM and you are fit enough to walk 10-15 kilometers in 3-4 hours in the plains. Alternatively, you do it in two days: one for going up and other for coming down. You therefore have enough time to explore serene surroundings of the Chamunda Temple.
The temple offers free accommodations for visitors on recommendation, prior request and / or first come, first served basis. However, a donation is anticipated from the visitors. You should insist on receipt for the donation. A refundable security deposit of INR 100.00 is collected at the time of check-in. The blankets and rugs will be provided to sleep in stony huts without heaters. The temple does not serve food. Carry food and woolens. If traveling during September, carry light rain wear also. Only local SIMs catch signal along the trail and within the temple complex. So, purchase a local SIM if you want to interact with your friends and relatives.
In the night, horses cantered and woke us up several times. If you are a light sleeper, you may also experience the canters.
If you want a guide, you have to shell out INR 1000.00 per day.
What is happening?
The govt. planned to lay a motor-able road to Himani Chamunda Devi temple.
We do not support the project.