Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 04

CONTINUED FROM: Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 03

Day 04: 17-April-2023

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

Distance: (8KM/3H)

Whom should we fear?


I woke up once in the middle of night. Planet Venus was shining brightly. It also appeared much bigger than what I am used to seeing. 

I woke up again at around 5:10AM and went straight to the rock from where we had a good view of Black peak and Bandarpoonch. I setup a one-hour long time lapse in which, the crescent moon travelled from one corner of the frame to another, before disappearing. This was the month of Ramadan and I wondered if this could be considered as “Eid ka chaand” (The crescent moon of Eid). I wondered how they decided on the amount of waning of moon required to qualify it as a perfect crescent. As per the calendar, the festival was only 5 days away. 

The 4-member team were getting ready for their Har Ki Dun trek. The Bengali boy had not brought a daypack. So, he was using the cover of a sleeping bag as backpack. The threads of the bag were loose and he came to me like a little boy asking - “Dada, could you please tighten this for me?” The lady from Pune had emptied her backpack and was carrying only required items with her. It still looked huge. Their Guide offered to carry it for her. As soon as they had had their breakfast, they left. 


Our cook had prepared wheat pancake, paratha and upma. Unfortunately, I could not tip the cook for his exceptional work as several villagers had gathered near the kitchen by the time we decided to leave. I do not think he expects a tip but he would have definitely appreciated one. I often tip the staff who otherwise earn much less than the trek guides. 

Before coming here, I was worried about the earthquake warnings. But having spent 3 days in the mountains, I have realised that I am safer here than anywhere else. This sher I wrote summarises my feelings. 

हम भूकंपतूफ़ान और बाढ से डरते रहे।

हालांकि हमे डरना तो इमारतोंगाड़ियों और जहाजों से हैं। - अजेय राव


I remained fearful of earthquakes, storm and floods,

while I should be fearing buildings, vehicles and ships. - Ajeya Rao

On my way back, I watched villagers plough their fields. They still use a pair of bullock to plough. Except for one young man, others were all old men. The women were helping the men. Some women were walking up the hill with a basket tied to their backs, and a knife to their belt. I assumed that they were off to collect some grass for the cattle. A few cows and sheep followed them. I wondered what most of the young men were doing. Were they all working for some trekking organisation or were they all lazing under a deck and playing cards? I would know that soon!

On our way back we took a slight deviation to visit the village of Osla. From a distance, we could see houses with tiled roof and mustard fields around them. There was a school at the end of the village and the kids were playing. But as I approached the village, I was shocked to see that there was a sea of trash thrown down the hill. The dump yard was next to the school. It was a disappointing sight. I wondered if the trekking groups or the forest department could educate the villagers and find ways to dispose trash safely. 

The kids in the school were playing carom, running race and langdi. The teachers were also playing with them. 

As we entered the village, I saw a bunch of men playing cards. So, now I knew where all the men were.  At the centre of the village, is a temple. Some say that this temple is dedicated to Duryodhana (The antagonist in the Hindu epic Mahabharata). It is said that the king of Osla was loyal to Duryodhana and hence dedicated this temple to him. However, the villagers deny this story and tell that it is a Someshwara temple. I could not verify as the temple is opened only once a month, when people from neighbouring villages gather. 

I do not understand the issue with having a temple for Duryodhana in the times where people have become blind devotees of uneducated, evil-minded, melodramatic leaders. Duryodhana after all was a skilled warrior. 

The temple architecture is impressive. It was interesting to see that the roofs of the temple were ornated with wooden carvings of birds and animals. Art after all imitates nature. 

The old Gujarati men we had met at the lodge in Sankri had suggested that we stay overnight at Osla. A homestay would cost you Rs 600 per night. That includes all the meals. None of us were keen on staying here so, we decided to continue our journey towards Cheludgad campsite. 

The fields within the village were freshly ploughed, and they too had a lot of plastic in them. Young women were washing clothes, the old ones were looking after the children. Shirtless children came running towards us and waved. Perhaps they hoped for some candies, of which, we had none left. 

A narrow pathway passed between closely built houses. The houses were made of mud and wood. The traditional ones looked prettier, with their stone roof. The new ones had an ugly green metal sheet for a roof. There was an open drainage running next to the path. It was obviously stinking. I was disheartened to see how such a beautiful place had been turned into a mess. Right education and  good civic sense could set things right. Whom should we therefore fear  - Nature or Man?

On my way back, I met my Kedarkantha guide Prakash again. I had a short chat with him. I shall probably contact him the next time I visit this place. Perhaps I can visit some remote villages around here.  We crossed Supin river and reached our campsite. 

I was happy to meet Radhe again. We had a good lunch. He had prepared Shevai kheer for dessert. The desiccated coconut he had added, enriched the taste of  kheer. I was curious to know if they used a lot of Coconut in their cuisine as it is not grown widely in the North. He told me that coconuts are expensive but they like it a lot. They have a tradition of gifting a coconut filled with ghee to pregnant women. 

Post lunch, we played UNO in dining area. Radhe, Hrithik and Vijay joined us. When we got bored of UNO, Radhe taught us how to play Teen Pathi. It is a game of three cards, purely based on luck and betting. The UNO cards became cash and we gambled with it. I thoroughly enjoyed the game. It is this game that the villagers play. I could see how this could turn into an addiction. The more money I gathered, the greedier I got. 

Radhe is sort of an artist. He had neatly arranged pebbles under the drinking water can, to absorb spillage. With a few pebbles, he had made the logo of Himalayan Hikers. He had also stuck a few notes on small rocks, asking trekkers to maintain cleanliness. 

We had been eating so much on this trek that none of us felt hungry in the evening. So, we requested Radhe not to make any evening snacks or soup. Ganesh, Divyesh and I took a walk by the river and went to a nearby bridge. We recorded a few videos for our vlog and Instagram reels. 


Around the same time, shepherd Shubam Singh was returning home with a flock of sheep. They crossed the bridge and stopped when they saw me and began wondering how they could get past me. I moved aside and let them go. 

Guarding them was Sheru, a puppy (Breed - Himalayan sheepdog). I cuddled him and patted his back for a while before letting him continue with his job. Shubham Singh was curious to know if I had taken a video of his sheep. I showed him what I had captured. He was a man with little or no expressions. But I could sense that he liked the video. I noticed a slight change in his expression and he sticked around to speak more. He was from a village called Pawani. It was located on a plateau, around 200m above the bridge we were at. The plateau is kind of hidden from sight. I could only see one house. He said that there are about 50 houses up there. 

Meanwhile, we saw a middle-aged lady carry a huge log of wood on her back. Since the log was at least 5m long, she had to walk sideways along the bends of the trail leading up to Pawani. I am surprised to see how such physically taxing work is assigned to the women here. 

By the bridge, we also met 4 women from Pawani. They were carrying firewood and grass back. They sat down to speak with us for a bit. They told me that they liked the shawl I was wearing. It was the one I had bought a few days ago in Mussoorie. I felt guilty for not being able to give it to them. It was new and something I liked. 

They pointed at one of the girls and said - “She is a good girl, she is mute. Doesn't speak a word! Take her with you. She can cook well.” The girls giggled. We smiled back, not knowing how to respond. 

They invited us to their village. They said that we could spend the night there and return back to the campsite next morning. They told us that they would cook good food for us. The invitation was tempting but we politely declined. The mountain-dwellers are happy people. They remind me that the simpler our life is, the happier we are. On the other hand, we urbanites have complicated our lives so much that we struggle to find happiness. 


Back at the campsite, while the others played cricket, I took a walk around. In the background, the crickets were chirping. 

इसी खामोशीगहराई और ठहराव की बरसों से तलाश थी।

आज मिली भी तो ऐसे कि मिलते ही बिछड़ने की घड़ी  गई  - अजेय राव

I had slight cold and mild fever. So after dinner, I took a pill before going to bed.  An other team had setup their camp next to our campsite. There were about 15 boys and girls. They were extremely noisy. At one point, I heard Radhe scream at them - "This is the last warning. Maintain silence and do not disturb others." Thanks to him, they stopped screaming. That night, I slept really well. 

CONTINUED HERE: Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 05


  1. No one can predict earthquake accurately in advance. It can come at any time at any place. If someone can predict earthquake accurately in advance, he/she can become a multi-billionaire.

    Teen Pathi is somewhat similar to poker. There are 2 main differences. Teen Pathi is played with 3 cards for each person whereas poker is played with 5 cards. In Teen Pathi “run” (sequential consecutive numbers) is higher in rank than “color” (3 cards from the same suit). But in poker, “color” is higher in rank than “run”.

    1. That's right. Thanks for explaining the game.


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