Why Bhabha Pass Trek Should Be On Your Bucket List
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Life is a journey. In this long voyage, you meet people, make acquaintances and then continue on your way. But, some people are such that their memory remains with us forever. The same can be said about places. You visit tens and hundreds of places in your life, if not thousands, but the memory of only a few of those stays. Bhabha Pass in the Spiti Valley is one such place, a trip to which one just wouldn’t forget.
Let’s talk about Himachal Pradesh for a second, where Bhabha Pass is situated. The North Indian state is characterised by its mountainous terrain, which is about 1400 feet high in its lowest regions and reaches well over 20000 feet. It is perhaps the biggest adventure destination in the country, where everything from mountaineering, angling and river rafting to paragliding, rock climbing and camping can be enjoyed. When the winter season comes and snow covers almost the entire state, thrill seekers throng it to test their skiing and snowboarding skills. The state is truly a spectacle in every sense of the word.
You can call Spiti the most alluring place in the state. It is often referred to as Little Tibet, since its vegetation, climate and terrain significantly resemble that of the Chinese autonomous region. At an altitude of about 2745 metres above sea level, it is the realm of Himalayan peaks and the meandering Spiti River. Some of the most scenic towns and villages in the state, such as Kaza, Keylong, Kibber and Tabo, are located in this region.
About Bhabha Pass
I know they say that it is not the destination but the journey that matters, but when you are travelling to Bhabha Pass, every aspect of the venture is pure bliss. One of the high passes in Himachal, Bhabha is situated at an altitude of about 4850 metres. The summit of the pass, Saddle Point, is at the staggering elevation of 4910 metres, and thus offers majestic views of the Bhabha and Pin Valleys. From here, the contrasting sceneries of the two valleys are visible. The lush hills of Bhabha and the desolate ones of Pin act as a visual orchestra of classical and modern instruments.
About the Trek
The Bhabha Pass trek in the Spiti Valley is the ultimate adventure in the Himalayas. Between the departure from Shimla and arrival in Manali, two of the most popular spots in the entire state, the venture entails seven days of non-stop thrill. The trail is graded moderate to difficult; therefore, anyone, who has even a little experience of hiking in the Himalayas, and feels is fit enough to travel to altitudes of up to 5000 metres, can take on this challenging journey. Saddle Point is the highest point of this trek, and the trail passes through some of the remotest hamlets in the state.
Needless to say, this hike is full of photography opportunities. When you are amidst the mighty Himalayas, you know you have some of the best sceneries in the world to behold. The trail is replete with boulders and moraines, making the hike more challenging than usual.
Here is a day-wise description of what the journey to Bhabha Pass entails and the surprises it has for trekkers.
Departure from Shimla: Time for an Adventurous Ride
What most travel operators do is they take participants from Shimla on an electrifying road trip to Kafnu. The 205-km journey to the quaint hamlet lets one behold magnificent snow-capped Himalayan peaks and feel the cool mountain air. This marks your arrival in the awe-inspiring valley of the Bhabha River. Finding accommodation in Kafnu is not that difficult as there are many options. Those, who are feeling a little too adventurous, can camp under the starry sky and take the excitement a notch higher.
From Kafnu to Mulling: The Trekking Begins
After a road trip on the previous day, it is time to commence the trekking section. You proceed from Kafnu to the meadow of Mulling. The hike in itself is an invigorating experience as you pass through forests of cedar, pine and birch. On your way, you will also be welcomed by apple orchards that will refresh your body and soul. This hike takes about 6 hours to complete, and it is not that challenging. This can be regarded as the warm up for the forthcoming challenging sections. Surrounded by tall trees, Mulling is a well-known campsite among trekkers exploring the area.
Time to Choose: Kara or Phustirang?
Kara and Phustirang are two destinations, where trekkers can camp further ahead on the hike. The route to Phustirang goes via Kara, so the decision making can be done once you reach the latter. Those, who feel spent after trekking, can call it a day and stay at Kara, which lies about 450 metres above Mulling. The way to it is full of obstacles in the form of river crossings that have to be negotiated via natural bridges. It is not uncommon to find local shepherds grazing their cattle in the area. The people are quite friendly and readily interact with tourists, telling them about their life in the Himalayas.
Phustirang is about 450 metres above Kara, and the higher you go, the thinner the vegetation gets. The sojourn includes hiking on the banks of a river, and some sections of the trail may be quite difficult, testing the skill and determination of trekkers. Those, who can afford to add one day to their tour, must stop at Kara, and spend time relaxing and admiring the vistas of nature. The arrival at Phustirang commemorates you reaching the altitude of 4000 metres. Just 1000 more to go after this!
Reaching Bhabha Pass: It all becomes worth it
Reaching the summit of Bhabha Pass is a unique feeling, which cannot be expressed in words. To understand it, I guess you have to be there and experience the emotion and sensation it generates. But, before arriving at the pass, you will have to navigate a difficult path, laden with snow. Every step, taken towards the pass, and every hardship, endured in reaching it, is rewarded by stunning images of the Pin and Bhabha Valleys. One sight of the scenery makes the journey worth it; filling the heart with immense peace, pleasure and fascination. Even Pin Parvati Pass, which is at the height of about 5300 metres, is visible from here.
Trip to Kaza: It’s not over yet
Traversing a few hamlets on the way, hikers make their way to Kaza. The latter section of this trip, from Mudh village, is covered via an automobile. There is no dearth of sightseeing spots near Kaza. The most prominent one, which a trekker just cannot miss seeing, is Key Gompa – a Tibetan monastery perched on top of a hill. Coming to Spiti and not exploring its Buddhist side seems like a waste; therefore, it is only sensible to make some time to pay a visit to the sacred shrines. Those, who seek adventure, can head to the small village of Hikkim, which has the highest post office in the world. It is only 15 km from Kaza and takes about 40 minutes to reach. Don’t you like the sound of, “I have been to the world’s highest post office”?
Chandratal: There’s more
Pick any list of the most beautiful lakes in India, and you will probably find Chandratal in it. That is perhaps why most tour operators take trekkers to the breathtaking lake. One look at it and you understand the reason for its popularity. The ethereal beauty of the waterbody, combined with the scent of the Himalayan sand carried by the cold wind, is a feast for the senses.
Arrival in Manali: The End of the Himalayan Affair
The thrill ends with your arrival in the town of Manali, one of the most renowned hill stations in Himachal, on the 7th or 8th day of the trek. This is where the tour operators leave you to go your own.
Best Time to Go
The majesty of the Himalayas is such that no time is bad to come here. However, the end of the monsoon season is considered the best time to go on the Bhabha Pass Trek – the months of September and October. This is when the weather is friendly, and the path is comfortably negotiable. During other times of the year, almost the entire landscape is enveloped in a layer of snow, which makes the hike extremely strenuous. If not that, the monsoon rains that arrive in July and last till August make the trail slippery.
Now you know how amazing the Bhabha Pass trek in the Spiti Valley is. Even if I inspired a few thrill seekers to go discover its splendour, the purpose of writing this blog is achieved.