Mussoorie To Sankri

Where time can wait

This time, I booked my trek with Himalayan Hikers; simply for the reason that only they had a schedule that matched my requirements. Himalayan Hikers are local to Uttarakhand and Sankri region. They are therefore cheaper as compared to other organisations, but serve you equally well, if not better. But they do not believe in excessive communication. For example, they do not form a WhatsApp group or don’t contact you before the trek. That was a bit strange because, I had to call the organisers multiple times the previous night to receive the driver’s contact number. 

The vehicle was supposed to pick up the trekkers from Dehradun and drive past Mussoorie to get to Sankri. I wanted to clearly communicate our location, which was on the way to Mussoorie city centre. But Kuldeep (The contact) seemed pretty chill. “The driver will find you sir.”, He said. Which he did, rather easily though. 

On the 13th of April, we boarded a Tempo traveller at around 8:30AM. I was surprised to find out that we were the only 3 doing this trek on this schedule. In a way, that was good. This would therefore be a customised trek for us, without any additional charges. Apart from us, there was a middle-aged lady in the Tempo traveller. So basically, the entire 18-seater vehicle was for just the four of us. The vehicle is also owned by the Himalayan Hikers. They often ply between Sankri and Dehradun.

We stopped at Kempty falls for breakfast. I had an onion paratha and a tasty ginger black tea. 

The road to Sankri is carved along the sides of the mountains. In some sections, the roads are very narrow. Buses struggled to cross each other at narrow bends. With some planning and communication, they found a way out of the block. 

In many places, there were rocks fallen on the road, brought down by landslides. Landslides are common in these regions as the Himalayas are newly formed mountains. I was reminded of how Joshimath is now sinking due to heavy construction work in the region. 

We spotted a few vultures feeding on a dead buffalo that was lying by the side of the road.

The road from Mussoorie to Sankri passes through beautiful mountain villages like Paroul, Kharsari and Mori. Someday, I would like to spend a few days in these villages, exploring  its surroundings and observing the lifestyle of the villagers. 

We stopped by the Yamuna River and were allowed to walk down and spend some time at the bank. I had been at the same location in December 2021 while driving to Sankri for my Kedarkantha trek. It felt good to be back here after almost a year and a half. The place appeared as peaceful as it had back then. 

A few kilometres after the village of Paroul, we stopped for lunch at a local dhaba. They made some special meal for Divyesh, without onion and garlic. 

As we reached closer to Sankri we were surrounded by apple plantations. This was the time of apple blossoms. The tiny pink flowers gave the area a pleasing appearance. 

Our driver knew almost everyone in the villages we passed by. He would make quick stops to talk to them. Most of the villagers were sitting outside their homes and playing carom. Life seemed peaceful here. There was no rush to be anywhere or get a task done immediately. Watching life in these villages, I have realised something profound. We unnecessarily give "Time", the importance it does not merit. 

At Sankri, we were lodged at the hotel Grand Shiva. This is a newly built 3-storied lodge with rooms overlooking the magnificent mountains. The entrance and the staircase had pictures of Osho. It was evident that the owners followed the philosophy of Osho. 

The caretaker at the lodge was a short, bald man. His clothes were soiled and appeared as though they weren't washed for several months. It is difficult to guess the age of the mountain dwellers, but going by his look, I think he is in his late 20's or early 30's. He did not speak very clearly. I am not sure if I can call the condition a lisp, but half of what he spoke was incomprehensible. His speech and behaviour did not appear normal. He behaved much younger for his age. When we arrived, the driver called out for him. But our man remained busy with his cellphone and ignored the driver. The driver got angry and began scolding at him. He seemed extremely careless even after that. He gave us the keys and said something that meant we had to go up. 

Our room was in the third floor. As this was a new construction, the room was in a very good condition. The views were great. Nothing else mattered. 

The last time I was here, Sankri was flooded with trekkers; at least 3000 of them, who were doing the Kedarkantha trek. At this time of the year, it was completely empty. 

We freshened up and took a walk to the Someshwara Mahadev temple. The temples in these villages remain closed most of the time. They are opened once a month, on a specific day or for a special festival. That is when people from all neighbouring villages assemble. This evening, there were a bunch of young adults, hanging out at the temple premise. The weather was quite pleasant - Bearably cold. 

We took the village route to get to the market area. The cafe I had visited last time had closed down. Most of the shops had no customers and the villagers sat in front of them, chatting. Nobody seemed to be in any kind of a hurry. Divyesh and Ganesh rented trekking poles and ponchos for the trek. For an entire trek of 5 days, the poncho and the pole rent were Rs150 each. 

Himalayan Hikers have a small office at the Sankri market. By the way, Sankri market is on one road for about 200m on either side of the main junction, and houses not more than 10-15 shops. 

The small cabin was filled with pictures. In those photographs, I could almost see the founder of Himalayan Hikers age. In some, he was a young man on a mountaineering expedition, in others he was being facilitated by a politician. There were also a few posters of famous trekking trails, maps and the certificates of achievement he had garnered. 

We met Pravesh there, who was actually meant to be our trek guide. He had retuned from Har Ki Dun trek that same evening. But he had to stay back for his vaccination. He told us that a few days ago, a dog with rabies had attacked him at one of the campsites. After bitting him at the back of his thigh, it ran towards the trekkers who were walking ahead. He screamed a warning at them but by then the dog had bit a trekker. He showed us the bite. It was terrible. The tooth had dug deep into the skin. The area had turned red due to bleeding. I recollected the dog bite I had had a few years ago. As the dog that bit me was not affected by Rabies, I stopped at 3 vaccinations. But Pravesh had to take more. So he had chosen to carry his vaccines along with him during the trek. But the manager did not like the idea and requested him not to go on treks during his time of vaccination.

Our guide therefore was going to be Vijay. Vijay is basically from Nepal but was born and brought up in India. His father served in the Gurkha regiment of Indian army. While his elder brother decided to shift to Nepal, Vijay chose to stay back in India. His family lives in Dehradun and he also has an apple farm in a village called Khanyasini. He had recently climbed the Black peak (6387 m/20955 ft). The pride he felt while speaking about that experience was clearly visible on his face. Of course, it is a great achievement and very few can brave to climb such heights. 

It was evident that Vijay was a talker. He spoke continuously and occasionally enjoyed cracking jokes. I wasn't yet sure if that was a good or a bad thing, because the three of us are silent by nature. 

We gave him the documents (A copy of Aadhar card and a declaration form) for our trek permissions. He had to submit them at the Forest department. 

Back at the lodge, we met a group of old men (probably in their 60’s). Most of them were from Gujarat and some from Maharastra. They had just returned from Har Ki Dun trek. They told us how beautiful it was and how we must choose to stay in a village called Osla on our way back. For most of them, this was their first trek and they were all excited about this achievement.  Some of them were enjoying a drink and  they invited us over; which we politely declined. 

We got our backpacks ready and had dinner downstairs. The cook at the lodge had gone back to his village and someone less competent had replaced him that evening. The food was terrible to say the least. But it really did not matter to us. We were not very hungry after all. Our guide Vijay was not very happy about it though. Tired as we were, we went straight to bed soon after. 

CONTINUED HERE: Har Ki Dun Trek - Day 01



  1. Dog bite is a big menace in India. I read about 3 dog bites today. Your trek guide, you, and Arjun Tendulkar. It is not about dogs that are kept as pet by individuals. It is about stray dogs in the streets. Last time when I visited Chennai (particularly Adyar) I could not walk in the street after 9 pm. I don’t know from where all these dogs come and roam the streets.

    1. I feel that man is a menace to the planet. In India, dogs, cows and other animals wander around freely and co-exist with humans, unlike in the West, where they have been eliminated or cornered to designated spaces. Dogs bite humans only when they sense some threat or if they are suffering from rabies.

  2. Sankri is one of y favorite place to stay and from where we can connect to most of treks like Har ki Dun, Kedarkantha, Black Peak Trek, Borasu Pass Trek etc. Thanks for sharing this post with us.
    Trekking in Uttarakhand


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