Dharamsala is one of the most popular starting points for treks over the rocky ridges of the Dhauladhar Range, which rise steeply from the Kangra Valley to 4600m. Trails pass through forests of deodar, pine, oak and rhododendron, cross streams and rivers and wind along vertiginous cliff tracks passing the occasional lake waterfall and glacier. Unless you are very experienced, you’ll need a guide, as the routes are steep and memorial stones testify to those who didn’t make it. The Mountaineering Institute on the road to Dharamkot (see p.429) can help arrange guides and porters, and stocks maps. Despite the availability of rough huts and caves, it’s best to take a tent. The best season to trek here is from September to November, when the worst of the monsoon is over and before it gets too cold. Winter climbing should only be attempted by mountaineers experienced in using crampons and ice axes.
Dharamsala to Chamba over Indrahar Pass
The most frequented route from Dharamsala to the Chamba Valley, over the Indrahar Pass (4350m), is arduous in places, but most trekkers manage it in around five days. The first section, from Dharamkot, winds through thick forest and steep rocky terrain for 9km to a grassy plateau at Triund. From here the path climbs to Laqa Got, and then on a seriously steep section up to the knife-edged Indrahar Pass where, weather permitting, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views south to the plains and north to the snowy Pir Panjal peaks and Greater Himalayas. The descent is difficult in places and will take you via the Gaddi villages of Kuarsi and Channauta to the main road, from where you can pick up transport to Bharmour and Chamba by road.
Other routes from Dharamsala to Chamba
Several other routes cross the Dhauladhar Range, including the Toral Pass (4575m) which starts from Tang Narwana (1150m), 10km from Dharamsala. The most difficult route north is the five- or six-day trek across Bhimghasutri Pass (4580m), covering near-vertical rocky ascents, sharp cliffs and dangerous gorges. A much easier four- or five-day trek from Dharamsala crosses Bleni Pass (3710m) in the milder ranges to the northwest, weaving through alpine pastures and woods and crossing a few streams, before terminating at Dunali, on the Chamba road.