Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 02

CONTINUED FROM: Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 01

Day 02: 15-April-2023

Route: Cheludgad (2575m / 8448 ft) to Halchai (2978m / 9770ft)

Distance: 6km (4H)

ಹಂಗು (Indebtedness)

It was around 5:30 AM that I woke up and found it to be still dark outside. So, I went back to sleep and in another half an hour, the continuous chirping of birds woke me up. 

We began our day with some black tea. I freshened up and packed my bag. We had our breakfast outside - Parathan, corn flakes and coffee. 

When we had just finished our breakfast, two more men from Saharanpur arrived. They had spent a few days in the neighbouring villages and were returning from Osla that morning. I told them that we had met three of them from their town the previous day. They asked me if one man was bald and the other with a beard. Their description matched that of the men we had met. 

I am sure that the group in Gangad now would be disappointed that someone had already visited the villages before them. There was no point for them to proceed with their plan anymore. One of the men told me that he had even visited Karnataka. He had travelled to the remote villages near Hunsur and Coorg to sell suit. They refer to Kurti as suit. 

They requested for some food. Radhe and Hrithik offered whatever was left. 

We left Cheludgad at around 8:30 AM. On the other side of the river was the village of Osla. We would be visiting Osla on our way back. Along the slopes of the mountains, there were mustard fields with their tiny yellow flowers.

We passed through Seema, the last village on this trail. The village has nothing but two shops and a forest department office.

We crossed a bridge and continued our trek along the opposite side of Supin river. The land around this region is owned by the villagers. Most of the land is being cultivated. Yellow mustard flowers were in full bloom at this time of the year. At a distance, we could see the snow-capped mountains. 

I was a bit disappointed to see that the villagers were farming all along the trail. At this pace, I wonder if they will soon reach Har Ki Dun. I doubt if there are any boundaries set here. There ought to be one, as this is a National Park. Thankfully, they cannot cultivate anything on the snow-capped mountains. 

Along the way, we met villagers who were herding cows. Some of them deviated from the trail and found their way downhill. The villagers had to run behind them and guide them back to the group. By then a few others would have deviated. It looked like a laborious task. Most of the villagers who took the cows to graze were women. I wondered where all the men were.

On our way, we interacted with a few villagers. An old lady asked if I had any chocolates. She then rubbed her fingers on her face and asked me something in her Garhwal language. I assumed that she was referring to face cream. I gave her the only candy that I had. She was delighted. 

There was another lady knitting a woollen sweater as she walked. I asked her if the thread was made of fresh wool. She told me that the one she was using was synthetic. She touched her jacket and said - “This is wool.”

An old man from Osla village joined us on our trail. He walked with a stick. With a woollen cap, a checkered jacket, aviator  glasses and a thick moustache, he looked like one of the Duponts (Thompsons) from Tintin. It was clear that he liked to be dressed differently from the rest of the villagers who were mostly farmers. 

Vijay referred to him as Mamaji (Uncle). Mamaji was once the caretaker at the forest guest house in Har Ki Dun. Vijay told us that he was kind to them and allowed them to stay there without any charges. But it was time to repay the favour. Because ಹಂಗು/indebtedness is an emotional trap. 

“My whole body is shivering as I have not consumed alcohol for two continuous days. This bad habit won’t leave me. Please give a 100 rupee note.” He said, before collecting one from Vijay. Vijay told me that Mamaji would buy some “Katchi” ( Local drink) made of sugarcane.

Some villagers have setup tea stalls along the trail. They were not having a great day though, as we were the only 3 trekkers on the trail this morning, and we had no plans to indulge during the trek. 

By the time we reached Halchai campsite it was 12:30 PM.  This had been an easy day. The campsite is located at a beautiful spot with the view of Black peak (Kalanag), Bandarpunch and other mountains in that range. Like Cheludgad campsite, Halchai campsite is setup on a land bought by the Himalayan Hikers. 

Vijay told us that a month ago, there were about a hundred high school kids here. It was difficult to manage the teenagers but they had a lot of fun playing games. 

Our cook made some delicious meal for lunch. We had Roti, Cabbage sabji, rice, mixed dal and Phirni. 

The weather was perfect for sketching. Sitting on a rock, facing the mountains, I sketched until it began to drizzle. The drizzle soon turned into a mild hail storm and then, a heavy rainfall. It rained nonstop from 2pm to 5pm. The three of us assembled inside a tent and played UNO. We were served Maggie and soup inside the tent.


Once the rain had stopped and the sky had cleared, we got a spectacular view of the mountains again. All the surrounding mountains were covered in fresh snow which kept reflecting the sunlight for a long time. 

For dinner, we had Lauki (Bottle guard) and potato sabji, dal roti and rice. Our cook made fresh jalebis for dessert. 

It was terribly windy and cold outside. So, Ganesh and I decided to sleep in the dining area which was well insulated.