WOODVILLE TRAVEL SERVICES
This trek is identical to the Trek I till the village of Kanda. From this picturesque village located on a prominent spur in the Mashobra Valley, a sharp uphill one-hour ascent brings one to Kotidhar, a quaint hamlet situated amidst Rolling Meadows interspersed with apple orchards. From here a steep track cuts through Cedar woods to Charabara and this leg takes a little over an hour and a half.
The hike begins from Charabara and ascends to the helipad located on an adjacent hillock. The initial path till the helipad is along a tarmac road that winds past the Punjab Raj Bhavan, a vestige from the days when Shimla was also the summer capital of Punjab. From the helipad, that commands a 360-degree view of Shimla and the Himalayan ranges, a footpath penetrates the surrounding forests and descends on to the old Hindustan-Tibet Road, completed in 1853 by enterprising British engineers as an access route to Tibet. A short stroll along this ancient road, lined by apple orchards on one side, culminates at the school for handicapped children, a landmark from where the loop back towards the hotel begins. Here, in season, one can indulge in a frenzied apple-picking session that the various apple trees growing wild all around the school offer. The trail continues along a vintage cart track that once belonged to the commissioner for the hill states, a British officer whose residence was converted into the Presidential Retreat, the traditional summer vacation destination of the president of India. The path meanders till the Presidential Retreat through dense Oak groves that shade rich undergrowth of ferns and a plethora of wild flowers. From the Retreat, a tarmac road leading back to Charabara offers magnificent views of the eternal snow-capped great Himalayan range and the Shali peak.
The Shali Tibba (2867m) is the highest peak in the vicinity of Shimla. It is a magnificent isolated pinnacle with a Kali temple on the top. The ascent up to Shali is an ancient trail through dense pine forests and rolling alpine pastures. It is a steep and steady climb to the often mist enveloped peak. The peak commands an unforgettable view of endless snow covered ranges along with the Sutlej valley and the densely forested hills of Shimla, Fagu and Narkanda. For the avid photographer and nature lover, this one-day trek offers the experience of a lifetime.
Shimla (2205 m)- Mashobra - Khatnol (1850 m). 45 km. Travel in a Jeep/Car/Bus till khatnol via Baldhea along a fascinating dirt track to Gulshaini, a tiny hamlet (1250 m) situated at the base of the peak. From Gulshaini it is a steady climb along a rough road till Khatnol an isolated village perched amidst rolling fields. Here we start the ascent.
Halt at the Khatnol Forest Rest House for a well-deserved break Begin the climb to Shali after a short rest. The landscape changes dramatically as we follow the ancient trail towards the peak. It is a three-hour climb at a leisurely pace with ample time to stand and stare at the surrounding magnificence and the imposing peak looming ahead. The final climb is a tough one and is amply rewarded by the breathtaking view from the top.
Visit the historic temple and start the surprisingly quick descent down to Khatnol reach Shimla by late evening for a well-deserved and satisfying sleep with the memories of climbing the highest peak of the Shimla hills.
Quick Route Guide: Shimla-Chhota Shimla-Kasumpti-Mehali-Kawalag-Ashwin Pul-Junga-Paidala Bridge-Junedghat-Chail
Total Time: 8-9 hours for ~ 30 kms. at an unhurried (but not leisurely) pace including normal stopovers for rest and food.
There is a proper road from Shimla to Chail via Junga, which joins Kufri-Chail road. But the trail through hills is not well defined. One has to take "Pagdandi" shortcuts on the Shimla-Junga road (26 Km.) and then again off Junga-Solan road. After Kasumpti and before Mehali look for a way downhill on your right. You will meet the road again while bypassing Mehali. Further, at Kawalag (12 Km. from Shimla) there is a water pumping station. You should reach here in 2 hours. Ask for a "Pagdandi" route to Ashwin Pul or Junga. Here, you should look for any well-defined downhill routes on your left. Just take it. See the photograph on the next page. It will eventually lead to Ashwin Pul (21 Km.). This will result in major saving in time and distance. You should reach here in another hour. From Ashwin Pul to Junga is 5 Km. by road and probably there are no further short cuts upto Junga. In all you would have made it to Junga in 4 hours. Junga provides the first halt where you can buy supplies and have a meal.
At Junga you have to leave the Junga-Chail road (which joins the Shimla-Chail road via Kufri) and take the Junga-Sadhupul-Kandaghat-Solan road. Walk for about 3 kms. to reach a temple and a bridge before Paidala. Just past the bridge turn left in the upstream direction and then take an immediate right turn uphill for a well-defined steep trail. If you miss this, you will head for a village nearby instead. Confirm with locals if in doubt. The trail climbs 600 m. uphill to join the road from Kufri to Chail at Junedghat. It maintains a general southern direction through thick jungle but bifurcates half way up into two well-defined paths going southeast & southwest. Take the left South-Eastern branch. This leads to the top plateau of Junedghat. From Junga you should reach here in 3 hours. Continue left (Eastwards) on a well-defined level trail, which skirts a hillock keeping it to the left (do not climb up as this leads to a small village at the top and further to Alampur). Within 15 minutes, you should reach the road at Junedghat. You can take a short tea break here. From Junedghat Chail is only 3 Km.