Chanshal pass and peak (3700mts and 4250mts respectively), the highest in Shimla, is a delight. What was once an offbeat delight is steadily seeing an upsurge in tourism, with the connectivity improving because of road development and its proximity to Shimla. On the heights of the Pabbar valley across the river, the road journey is a delight, with expansive meadows and stupendous views of the Himalayas, where to the north we can feast our eyes on the peaks of Kinnaur and to the south east the peaks of Uttarakhand (Banderpoonch, Swargarohini etc) Various trekking routes in the Pabbar valley lead to Kinnaur and Uttarakhand, specifically to the Jaunsar Bawa region. These trekking routes also offer some short hikes (two to four days) for the ones looking at fairly easy walking over trails coupled with the majestic views of the Himalayas. The Chandernaun Lake trek, Chirgaon to Kashapath, Treks to Kinnaur and Uttarakhand all are a hiker’s delight. This one, The Saru Tal (Lake) is a short trek which brings you up and close with beauty of this region of the Himalayas and what’s better is that it has two approaches. One is the 4 day of walking past villages and thick pine forests and the other is a short hike of about 9 kms from Chanshal pass road head itself. However do remember to take a local guide with you as there are definite chances of one hiking all the way to Uttarakhand, should you lose way. Do not rely on your network dependent GPS for this (as such there is no network). Read on for a Brief itinerary.
Journey from Shimla towards Rohru. The highway is great all the way till Chailla, from where for short stretches there can be a little problem till Khara Pathar because of occasional landslides and road broadening work. At Khara Pathar you can make a dash to Giri Ganga, and if you are not pressed for time an Acclimatization hike to Kuppar Dhar is fabulous. Anyways the road after Khara Pathar is a breeze all the way till Rohru. Do remember to seek blessings at the Hatkoti temple on the way. The trail head Kharshali is another 34kms after Rohru, Chirgaon and Gadsari. Be sure to check if the road is through till Kharshali else one can also start from Gadsari. Kharshali is a small village with a forest rest house and it’s relatively easy to find a camping spot.
Take it easy, boots out with your comfort, as we start our hike today through a deep forest, and ascend to Naulti Thatch (5-6 hours), affording the fabulous views of the spectrum of the Kinner range, specifically the heights of the Baspa valley. The meadows are welcoming and it’s easy to find a good camping spot.
A little more ascent today, followed by a gradual ridgeline walk will bring us to Saru Tal. Landscape photographers rejoice for the most beautiful frames of the high peaks of Uttarakhand and the meadows overladen with forests, as the clouds find perfect spots in the blue skies. It’s a great spot for camping and one should ideally camp here if not pressed for time; else walk for another 4-5 hours to reach Chanshal top and camp there or drive back down to Rohru in the early evening.
Only if you camping at Saru Tal walk through the Ridgeline towards Chanshal peak and then descend to the Road head at the Pass. Drive back to Rohru and decide further if you are inclined to drive towards Jaunsar Bawa region of Uttarakhand (Hanol, Mori, Chakrauta) or simply the same way back again to Shimla.
You can also do this trek in three days, drive Chanshal, hike to Saru Tal, camp there overnight and the drive back the next day.