Every mountain lover (categorically in North India) would know of ‘Churdhar’, the highest peak (3630mts) of the Shivaliks range, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Shivaliks mountain system is older than the Himalayas, and as such Choordhar is part of so many legends and folklore. The name of this highest peak would translate to ‘Bangle of snow’, ‘Moonlight gleaming on snow’; the breakup of the word would be Chur – Bangle – Dhar – Ridge’. Well, that’s for the name, Churdhar is surely one of the best short treks in the region. We have been raised in Shimla and I recall towards the onset of winters, our elders would point towards the faraway peak of Churdhar from the many vantage points in town its visible from and remark ‘There is much snow now on Churdhar, it should be here in no time’ and then when during monsoon it would snow because of high altitude on Choordhar our elders would be quick to point out of the looming dip in temperature. So much for the weatherman talents. That said, Choordhar being the highest in the Shivaliks, is visible to advantage from Shimla, Chail, Kasauli, Solan and Chopal in Himachal Pradesh. Such is its reverence that being approachable from almost four places, there is an annual pilgrimage during the ‘Saavan’ (monsoon) season to its heights. The peak is revered as one of the abodes of Lord Shiva and a temple is dedicated at the top. Another legend says that this was the place where Lord Hanuman found the ‘Sanjeevani Booti’ to treat Lakshmana when he was injured in the battle with Ravana. Culturally Choordhar is a part of many folk songs from the region.
The hike up the mountain is moderate, gradual ascending over a well-defined trail, through meadows and forest of almost every variety of pine. We never go over the tree line, so its alpine beauty at its best. Choordhar is also the perfect snow trek in the winters. Do not let confidence get the better of you, it is suggested to take the climb at an easy pace and ideally take a break of one night in between before you hit the top spot. Also be aware that there are many snakes in the region and there are chances to lose your way as well, choose your local guide who knows the place. Choordhar can be approached from Nauradhar, Pulbahal and Saraha near Chopal. The most popular route is the one from Nauradhar, which over the years has seen some fairly nice hotels and guest houses mushroom to host the visitors. Saraha near Chopal is another recommended point of starting the climb. Chopal is approximately 80kms from Shimla, and it’s a beautiful drive through apple country.
We recommend climbing up from either of these two places and getting down to the other side. Both are well connected, however the Nauradhar side would make it more interesting, so one can make a full round trip. Here is a suggested itinerary.
Arrive in Nauradhar. The road winds off from Solan on the Kalka to Shimla highway (NH 05) and takes about 2 hours from Solan. Rajgarh on the way is another idyllic spot and so are nearby destinations like Dadahu, Giripul and Haripurdhar. During the start of the summer, this valley aplomb with stone fruits. Such is the produce, that this valley is very popular as the Peach bowl of Himachal Pradesh. Another produce of the region is Garlic, again very large quantities, and yes – it’s size. Good options for stay can be found in Rajgarh, Nauradhar and nearby at Dadahu.
Boots out early after breakfast and start your ascent. Reach Tesari meadow after an easy ascent of about 4-5 hours, through an oak laden trail. This is a very good and a recommended camping spot.
The top is another 3 hours from Tesari. The final climb is steep and you will definitely make stops to catch stunning vistas of the Himalayan ranges afar, from the Trans Himalayas and Greater Himalayas (Kinnaur), Dhauladhar and Pir Panjals to as far as Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand. The wide expanse of the Doon and the Chandigarh plains is a sight to remember and so are the views towards Shimla and Chail. Seek Blessings at the temple and start your descent down towards Saraha on the Chopal side, which should take you about 6 hours.
From Saraha drive to Chopal and stay at the rest house. The next day you drive to Shimla.