The Sainj Valley trek: A weekend trail takes you through the heart of the Great Himalayan National Park

The Sainj Valley trek: A weekend trail takes you through the heart of the Great Himalayan National Park
Sainj Valley trek.
Autor snímku Sacred Exploration

The Sainj Valley trek is a traverse through the Great Himalayan National Park, which is a rare privilege. This trek offers you a glance inside the unperturbed beauty of nature, and what’s more is the preservation of life done incredibly well- the wildlife has been safeguarded and the communities living in these areas have been allowed to thrive as they are. These reasons have contributed to the fame of the park and it’s recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site! 

The beauty of the meadows at Shangarh is a treat which parallels the grandeur of Kashmir. Yep, we  know what we’re talking about and you’ll definitely believe that this wasn’t a far fetched comparison. Bordered by pine trees, the grass looks greener here with the mountain view that takes your breath away, much like the grasslands of Kashmir.   

Then, the walk through the dense forests is a treat for all your senses, including the variety of bird cries and the first breath of fresh air when the trail finally opens into the valley, and the Sainj valley and the mighty peaks surrounded by the Raktisar glacier are indeed a wondrous sight. This is not all, the trail then continues into quaint villages, fragrant apple orchards, and the mysterious Pundrik lake which is surrounded by an air of mystery and plenty folklore!

And the unbelievable part is that you get all of this in a weekend trek! This trek is incredibly rewarding if we think of the time constraints as well as the fact that you get to see villages and temples which will take you through aeons of time in a single moment, and in a place so close to urbanised Kullu! 

The Great Himalayan National Park consists of four valleys, and the Sainj Valley is one of them. The other three valleys, namely, the Tirthan Valley, Parvati Valley and Jiwa Nala valley are mostly not the preferred trekking in Rishikesh destinations. This is largely because most treks in Parvati or Jiwa Nala valley are inaccessible for beginners. Tirthan, a sort of twin valley of Sainj Valley, is relatively more popular and therefore, the better choice for most beginners. This is why we’re hyping you about The Sainj Valley trek so much! This would be a perfect getaway to see the unperturbed and pure face of nature, and a beautiful beginning in your book of trekking in India adventures inside the lush ecosystem of Great Himalayan National Park. A brief but undeniably thrilling beginning for sure! 

Here’s a peek into what we surmised to be the best part about the trek:

The enchanting meadows

The vast meadows of this trek will give you plenty of space to fret about, and to let your heart soar! These meadows are textured in a way that they are parallel to the magnificent and famed Khajjiar grasslands! And yes, we know about the sweet rewards of hard work, but here, no effort is required to get to these amazing meadows! Because this is the starting point of it all! 

Pundrik Lake

This lake has too many lores credited to its name and this definitely makes the trail much more intriguing! You don’t even realise you’re getting closer to the lake when all of a sudden you notice the thick layer of grass and scattered leaves along 

the surface of the lake. There are so many myths related to this lake, some of them conjuring stories about a field which had been fought for ferociously by the deities of the surrounding villages. This lake is also said to be blessed by the Sage Pudrik of the ancient times. Maybe this is one of the reasons for it’s ever growing size! The surrounding trees give a beautiful border to this lake. This lake has a perimeter of approximately 400 metres! 

The magnificent Birds

This trail goes through the Great Himalayan National Park and this makes up for a wonderful and melodious surprise!  A wide spectrum of birds can be spotted here, including the delicate Blue Magpie, Western Tragopan, Himalayan Griffon, The Bright Yellow billed Chough, The Himalayan whistling Thrush (this bird chirps in the sweetest lilt!)  Little Forktail, Great hill Barbet, Verditer flycatcher, black/white cheeked/red vented and red whiskered Bulbuls, Brown fronted pied Woodpecker. The sightings of these birds are sure to send you in reveries of marveling nature, and their delightful chirping will definitely make your day! 

The Traditional Villages

Most villages inside the Great Himalayan National Park are immune from the civilisation and modernization of the world. This makes the trek a perfect getaway and a gift for the soul by reconnecting with your roots. We’d go as far as saying that this is a sort of detox! The architecture is as per the traditional Kulluvi culture, and the deodar trees are the construction material for most of the homes found here, as well as the temples built here. The single government school has a quaint air to it, and Gaarats, which are mechanical grindstones make cooking a communal experience by grinding flour for the entire village! A well-knit society and village such as this will definitely make you think more about the community life we’ve been missing out on! Also, this is why this trek is so unique, and another of these CANNOT-BE-MISSED experiences!

Short Itinerary

Day 1: we’ll assemble at the AUT at 8.30 am and will then take a drive to Shangarh.

Shangarh (6,900 ft) to Tindadhar (6,365 ft); 4-5 hours. Cab cost per vehicle is Rs.2,500.

Day 2: At Tindadhar (6,365 ft) to Pundrik lake (6,875 ft) and then return back to Ropa (4,987 ft) that’ll take around 4 hours. Lastly, drive out from Ropa. 

Long Itinerary

Day 1: 

Altitude: 3,231ft (985 m) to 6,365 ft (1940 m) via 6,900 ft (2104 m)

Time taken: 2 hours drive from Aut (25 km); 4 hours trek (6 km)

Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Gradual ascent throughout

Water sources: Carry two litres of water. There are waterfall enroute for a refill anytime you want.

GPS coordinates: Lat 31 ° 44'39 "N, long 77 ° 12 '31''E (Aut); Lat 31 ° 45'57 "N, long 77 ° 21 '20''E (Ropa); 

You should reach Aut from Delhi. Located on the banks of the river Beas in Aut is the magnificent Markandey Rishi temple. This river widens at the confluence with Sainj and Tirthan rivers. You  will be picked up at Aut (before crossing the tunnel if you are coming from New Delhi, Chandigarh etc) and drive to Shangarh, which is around 25 km away. As the ride proceeds, you’ll see a huge lake formed by Larji dam at the confluence of Beas, Tirthan and Sainj Rivers. The trail you’ll encounter ascends gradually, and after about 1 km, you’ll see a stream flowing along the trail. Surrounded by thick vegetation, you can gaze at the rich flora and fauna. Spruce, fur, deodar and rhododendron will hug you from all sides. Walking through the dense forests will finally take you to your campsite. From there,m in thirty minutes, you’ll reach a massive waterfall. This place is regarded as Nuhada by the locals. 

Day 2:

Trek from Tindadhar to Pundrik Lake and back to Ropa. Drive to Aut.

Altitude: 6,365 ft (1940 m) to 6,875 ft (2,095 m) to 3,231 ft (985 m)

Times taken: 4.5 hours trek; 1.5 hours drive to Aut

Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Gradual ascent to Pundrik Lake. Continuous descent to Ropa.

Water sources: Carry one litre of water. You can refill your water bottles at Sarahan.

GPS Coordinates: Lat 31045’30” N , long 770 20’ 42’’E (Upper Nai)

After breakfast, we’ll leave for another beautiful walk amidst dense trails. After about 40 minutes, you’ll reach Sarahan village, where you’ll see uniquely built homes and cute animals kept at the ground with the human occupants at the first floor. Just at the end of the end of the trail you’ll notice the village deity Jehar devta. This sight is surrounded by several iron tridents/trishuls and red flags. Also, there are two enchanting man-made structures in this clearing: one is a carved wooden temple dedicated to Pundrik rishi and other one is a government school. This temple has several exquisite craftsmanship on deodar wood. For returning and tracing way back on the same trail to Sarahan, we’ll take the road trail to Ropa which will take around 2.5 hours.

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The Sainj Valley trek: A weekend trail takes you through the heart of the Great Himalayan National Park


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