Written by 11:16 am Beauty, Travel

Exploring the Enchanting Beauty of Buran Ghati

Exploring the Enchanting Beauty of Buran Ghati

Introduction

Nestled high up in the remote Pabbar valley of Himachal Pradesh lies an offbeat Alpine region that promises unmatched hypnotic beauty and a thrilling high-altitude trekking experience. This is the Buran Ghati – a windy high mountain pass perched at an elevation of 13,000 feet above sea level surrounded by towering snow-clad peaks that pierce the heavens.

A gateway to Kinnaur district across the Great Himalayan range in Himachal, Buran Ghati lies en route to the ancient migratory shepherd route towards Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti valleys across Rupin, Sangla & Baspa river valleys. Its relative obscurity from mainstream trekking circles makes it perfect for experienced trekkers seeking pristine and challenging adventures into the lap of nature. Are you ready for a rendezvous with hypnotic alpine lakes, gushing waterfalls, dense forests, and ever-expanding meadows over a stunning 10-day high-altitude trek? Join me as we set out to explore the mystical beauty of Buran Ghati!

Into the Lap of the Himalayas – The Journey to Shanag Village

The trek to Buran Ghati trek begins from the remote mountain village of Shanag in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. At 8,150 ft, this tiny hamlet serves as an ideal basecamp to acclimatize and prepare for the arduous high-altitude trek ahead. Surrounded by verdant rolling hills and overlooks the meandering Pabbar River Valley, Shanag offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped Bandarpoonch range. Its traditional community forests and remote mountain village vibes immediately immerse you in the raw beauty of the Himalayas.

Shanag is around a 9-hour drive from Shimla, the nearest railhead & airport. The scenic drive takes you past apple orchards, pine forests, and the Hatu peak before the gradients get steeper beyond Rohru. The final stretch involves a steep winding road of around 40 km uphill via Chirgaon village. The drive ends rather abruptly near a tiny wooden bridge over the Pabbar River with Shanag village visible high up on the opposite bank. Getting down to the riverbank followed by a 20-minute trek uphill over boulder-strewn paths finally leads you to the doors of this quaint village.

Into the Great Outdoors – The Trek Commences!

After spending a day walking around the village to acclimatize and mentally prepare for the challenging trek ahead, we set off uphill along a gradually inclining trail into the wilderness. The initial 4 km trail winds through thick oak and deodar forests along the true left bank of the Pabbar river glimpses of which are visible at intervals through the dense foliage. Small wooden and iron footbridges help cross over several smaller streams that merge into the Pabbar.

As we hike farther uphill with our heavy backpacks, the trails get narrower and steeper while the forests become less dense. The landscape then transitions into rolling grasslands and meadows dotted with boulders and wildflowers. Rocky outcrops provide uninterrupted views of the distant snow-clad mountains surrounding us, a constant reminder of the imposing terrain that awaits us.

By late afternoon, we reach the vast bugyal (meadow) of Chandranahan – our campsite for the night at 10,500 ft. Situated at the edge of this verdant meadow is a tiny log hut that serves as the camp caretaker’s quarters. As the evening sets in, the mercury begins to drop rapidly. 

A Tryst with Alpine Lakes – Crossing Kalanag & Buran Ghati

The second day of the trek promises to be the longest and most challenging with two high-altitude pass crossings on the menu. We set off at the crack of dawn – our path lit up in a fiery golden glow as the first rays of the sun kissed the snowy peaks around us. We steadily ascend along the bugyal for about 3 km before the terrain gets rockier and steeper. Landslides and avalanche-prone sections along this route make it important to cross certain stretches before the sun softens the snow.

As we climb higher, the valleys get increasingly wider and deeper while the mountains transition into massive rocky giants rising into the heavens. Upwards of 13,000 ft, progression slows down to a crawl as we gasp for breath in the thinning air. Blocking the towering ridges in front of us is the first challenge for the day – the Kalanag Pass at 13,800 ft. 

We stop briefly to catch our breath and admire the stunning vistas all around. The pass offers striking vistas of the second pass – our ultimate destination – Buran Ghati, still a few kilometers away. Without lingering for too long lest the dropping temperatures numb our senses, we continue traversing westwards descending gradually into a wide valley dotted with hundreds of ‘glacial lakes’. 

Re-energized and with the final pass in sight, we gear up for the final uphill push for the day. The wind begins to get stronger and unbearably cold as we leave the tree line behind and enter a barren rocky landscape. We push hard with our heads down to keep progressing steadily switching leads every few minutes. Just when it feels like the climb wouldn’t end, the prayer flags at Buran Ghati finally come into view. At 13,400 ft, we scramble over the last boulders and collapsed screen to make it atop the wind-swept ridge by late afternoon – the Buran Ghati Pass!

Otherworldly Alpine Landscapes–The Final Stretch

The next few days of the trek involve traversing through stark alpine landscapes rarely seen by mortal eyes! We walk through grasslands flanked by massive snow-capped ridges where icy winds funnel through the valleys. As we descend gradually, the terrain becomes increasingly green. After a night halt at Ropri village, we enter the breathtakingly beautiful Shilt meadow. Surrounded by mighty glaciated peaks, these wetland meadows change their appearance with each passing cloud. When the clouds lift, you get incredible views of the Shilt glacier and endless meadows bursting with wildflowers. If lucky, one can also spot the elusive Himalayan Blue Sheep grazing on these pastures.

The campsite on the last night halt on the trek is Kandha Serai – which means ‘caravan inn’. Located at the edge of the meadows, this place true to its name once served as a pitstop for nomadic shepherds and traders crossing over the ridge. Our tents here offer sweeping views of endless uninterrupted meadows stretching for miles. All good things come to an end eventually. On the tenth day, we cross over the last ridge descending through pine forests to arrive at Sutri village. Our vehicles then transport us back to Shimla marking the end of an epic escape into another world!

The Rarefied World of Buran Ghati

The trek to Buran Ghati opens up a window into a rarefied world hidden far away from modern ‘civilized’ society! Traversing through hypnotic alpine meadows, exploring unnamed exotic peaks and camping under billions of dazzling stars make you feel small yet significant in the larger scheme of things. One can’t help but feel refreshed and re-energized having undertaken such an epic adventure and lived to tell its tale!

So are you ready with your boots tied tight for a thrilling escape into thin air? The mystic high-altitude meadows and peaks of Buran Ghati await! Just remember to take it slow, brace the elements, let your body acclimatize and your mind be hypnotized by raw unspoiled natural splendor in one of the remotest corners of the Himachal Himalayas!

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