The trail network in Himachal Pradesh is extensive. Numerous treks in Himachal Pradesh are on the ‘postman route’; what we have defined as the Dak bungalow trails of Himachal Pradesh, where there are these ‘Dak Bungalows’ every 8 – 12 – 15 kms apart on the route in which earlier days Post was delivered on foot. That being one facet of the existence of such routes, there is another paradigm as well, which defines the reason behind the well-marked bridle paths throughout the state, especially in Kullu, Kangra, Mandi, Shimla and Kinnaur. We call Himachal the ‘Land of the Gods’. To witness this in its truest sense, plan someday to visit the world famous ‘Kullu Dusshera’; when the ‘Gods and Goddesses’; in local parlance, usually ‘Devtas’ descend from their abodes, in the high villages and interior valleys for their annual sojourn of being together with their coterie from all over the state. This way, Himachal is blessed! Every village, mountain, rivulet, mound has a dedicated ‘Devta’ which takes care of and blesses the natives, tells them of the weather and in many stories I have heard over the years, also settles land disputes, solemnizes marriages and sometimes is also the final authority whether a road should be built to the village or not. Such is the reverence in Himachal Pradesh. And that exactly is another reason that these well marked Bridle paths are in existence. Over the years many of these ‘Bridle paths’ are now roads connecting people, temples and binding the cultural fabric of the state together. Notable would be the road to Parashar Lake, Gadah Gushaini, and the recent road halfway up to Shikari Devi etc. Such a trail network makes Himachal Pradesh one of the best destinations in the Himalayas for trekking and hiking.
The Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh is popularly also known as the ‘Kashi of the north’, owing to its temples and shrines. The annual Shivaratri festival of Mandi is a huge draw and has now come to be one of the major festivals of the state. Where most of the tourists make a beeline towards Shimla, Manali and Dharamshala in the summers, Mandi district with its idyllic and ‘off the beaten track’ villages and hamlets, has been only on the priority list of pure adventure seekers, including trekkers and cyclists alike. Janjehli, Devidarh, Saroa, Parashar Lake, Barot, Thunag, Gada Gushaini, Chindi, Karsog, Rohanda, Kamrunag and Rewalsar lake etc, are what you actually call ‘The escape route’. Destinations Galore! What is noteworthy here, is the trail network connecting these destinations together and beyond with another jewel in Himachal ‘The Seraj Valley’ and ‘Shimla’.
Personally, The Jalori pass region has to be our all-time favorite in Himachal Pradesh (including Tirthan Valley of course) and not take away our professed love for other regions of Himachal (Kinnaur, Spiti and Kangra). Why I have bought up the Jalori pass region here is for its network of trails which connects with the Mandi district and offers magnificent opportunities for trekkers of all initiations. From the Baga Saraun to Bashleo Pass further to the Lambri ridge descending to Sereolsar Lake, towards Jalori pass, ascending to Raghupur fort and then a descent to Chach Galu (Galu is a pass) climbing and reaching Janjehli and again ascending to Shikari Devi and stepping up towards Kamru Nag and then the final descent to Rohanda. This route fairly defines the spectrum of Low alpine and Tree line trekking in Mandi district.
For our trek here we can take a few considerations from where to start, keeping the end point at Rohanda. Shikari devi is perched 3300mts on a ridge that has some of the finest views of the Pir Panjals and the Dhauladhars. The top is dedicated to the reigning ‘Goddess’ who is manifested in the stone idols inside the temple. Most visitors are surprised by the fact that this is perhaps the only roofless temple in India (If you know of some others, please do let us know). And as the rest houses of Himachal Pradesh always find a mention in our trekking write ups, the one at Shikari devi is an exception. Someday I will contemplate on ‘everything and nothing’ here.
The last point of our trek (could be the first too) is Kamru Nag – a manifestation of the main ‘Devta’ of Mandi. The Kamrunag manifests in the form of a lake here. The place is highly revered and every year before the monsoons an annual fair takes place here to invoke the rain gods with the blessings of ‘Kamrunag’. Atop Kamrunag it is just forest and forest and miles of forest. Kamru is best approached from Rohanda, a rewarding walk of 12 kms and takes usually around 3-4 hours at a very relaxed pace.
Please Read on for a Sample itinerary
PS: Depending upon your choice to start there are three options
At Shikari Devi you can either camp, stay at the temple complex or the best is to pre book a room/s at the forest hut.
The Shikari Devi to Kamrunag trail is fairly easy through the ridgeline again. Roughly about 16kms, it takes about 6 -7 hours of easy pace walking. At Kamrunag you should be able to locate plenty of fabulous spots for camping in the forest clearances.
From Kamrunag to Rohanda is a descent of 11kms and takes about 2-3 hours. Rohanda has a couple of beautiful home stays in orchards, or you can drive to Pangna from here and further to Chindi or Shimla.