The Shikari Devi sanctuary is a high altitude Sanctuary named after the goddess Shikari Devi, to whom a temple is dedicated and the place is considered sacred by Hindus. An area of 7,200 ha surrounding the temple was declared a sanctuary in 1962. Nearly 40 villages are present inside the Sanctuary, and many more in the surrounding areas. Prominent are Jhanjehli, Devidarh, Rohanda, Chindi etc. and numerous interconnecting trails through the sanctuary make it a heaven for trekking and mountain biking enthusiasts. Our adventure here starts from Shimla and further finds us hiking through one of the most sprawling deodar forests in Himachal Pradesh. Mountain biking through the Jhanjehli valley we ascend towards Parashar Lake, another jewel in Himachal Pradesh, offering sterling views of the Himalayan Ranges.
We will all meet at Himachal Bhavan, Safdar Hashmi Marg, Delhi at 1900hrs and board the Volvo bus to Shimla.
We arrive at Shimla early morning at 6:00 AM and check into our hotel for freshening up and a quick breakfast at 8:00AM. Start the ride at 9:30AM. The route holds thick woods where practically every tree of the region grows – Himalayan Cedar (the almost legendary ‘Deodar’), Spruce, Oak, Rhododendron, Horse-Chestnut, Birch and Pine. Depending on the time of year, a variety of wildflowers grace the hillsides – the rhododendrons flower a dark red in spring, summer has banks of roses, daises and buttercups, the monsoons speckle the luxuriant grass with lilies-of-the-valley and peonies. The trail crosses picture-perfect hamlets where the word ‘time’ seems to mean only the seasons and the passing years – and where life has followed a steady pace for centuries. Trace fast flowing streams, cross a ‘sacred grove’ whose majestic trees have stood undisturbed for centuries, watch village craftsmen at work, listen to legends that seem as old as the hills – and in a single day, take a lifetime’s memory of some of the marvels that the lower Himalayas hold. We cycle past Mashobra and descend 16 kms to Thaila and a further 6km to Gumma, a thrilling 22kms downhill ride, thereafter the road flattens out till Basantpur and Tattapani. We get into our support vehicles here and drive the remaining 35kms to Chindi.
Welcome to Chindi (1850mts, 6070ft), a small hamlet dotted with apple orchards and a dense forest cover, at the base of Shikari Devi. Our first stage of the hike starts after breakfast from Chindi and slowly we are ascending through a well-defined trail and gaining elevation, stepping up to the ridgeline and reaching Shikari Devi temple (2850mts, 9350ft) after a challenging 22kms. After a relaxed session of late afternoon/early evening session of photography we descend 500 stairs and hop onto our waiting support vehicles to drive to Jhanjehli. Overnight Hotel.
Start early morning after breakfast and ride through the valley towards Bagsad about 25 kms from the hamlet of Jhanjehli. Another 8kms to Kandi pass and 20kms of descent brings us to Pandoh. From Pandoh a steep jeep track ascends to Parashar Lake. We camp before the lake on the sprawling meadows or near the forest rest house.
Early morning breakfast and we bid adieu to Parashar Lake, zipping downhill towards Kataula from where it is another 8kms of climbing towards Kandidhar and another 23kms to Bajaura, where we finish our ride. Take the Volvo back home from here.