Every mountain lover (categorically in North India) would know of ‘Choordhar’, the highest peak (3630mts) of the Shivalik range, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Shivalik 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 – Dhār – Ridge’. Well, that’s for the name, Choordhar 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 Choordhar from the many vantage points in town its visible from and remark ‘There is much snow now on Choordhar, 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 Shivalik, 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.
Board the evening Volvo bus for Shimla from Himachal Bhavan, Safdar Hashmi Marg, New Delhi.
Arrive early morning in Shimla and drive to Chail (2hours). After freshening up we gear up for a short ride towards Kali Tibba and temple. Thereafter we ride downhill 20kms towards Gaura on the banks of the Giri River and the entry to the Peach bowl of Himachal Pradesh at Rajgarh Valley. Rajgarh is another 22kms from here. Overnight at Hotel.
Rajgarh on the way is an 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. Drive 30kms in the early morning towards Nauradhar. Nauradhar is the base for the trek start towards Choordhar. Boots out 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), Dhauladhars 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. Drive back to Shimla to catch the Volvo in time.