Towards the end of another mundane week of my desk job, I was getting antsy to get out of the city. It was Friday, 1st April, and I was on my way back from work when I decided I’m gonna head out to Shimla for the weekend. I booked the Volvo tickets the same night and I was in Shimla by the morning of April 2nd.
For a few hours, I just roamed around Shimla, called up a couple of my friends living around there and talked to some locals about possible Tourist Attractions, and zeroed in on the Churdhar Peak Trek in the Sirmour Disctrict of HP, which, at about 12,000 ft. above water level, its the highest peak in the Outer Himalyas.
There are two Treks available for Churdhar Peak, but the Main trek & Base Camp is “Nohradhar.’ I had to take buses from Shimla, first to Solan, from there to Rajgarh, and then to Nohradhar. I reached there around evening on the same day and spent my night in the PWD Resthouse.
I began my Trekking Expedition on the morning of 3rd April around 10am, after having breakfast. It is around a 19km route from Nohradhar to Churdhar Peak. Its usually closed for treks during winter from October and re-opens in May, but I wasn’t made aware of this fact before it went for my trek. This was my first trek experience and so I was only carrying a few necessary items with me, like, Torch, Chocolates, Water, Biscuits, etc.
The route passes through the “Churdhar Wildlife Sanctuary”, so there was a dense forest for a part of my trek. After about 5 hours and 9 kilometers, I happened upon a small Dhaba(Food/Rest Stop) called “Teesri”. I rested there for a bit, had some tea and Maggi and chatted around with a few people who were on their way down from the peak. This area marked the last casually traversable point of the trek, and after this point it became significantly more treacherous, due to the snow and terrain.
My plan was to reach Dharamshala that night, at about 1km away from the peak and head for the peak the next morning. But all the changed when I missed the correct path, at around 7pm, and reached the peak instead, but at a wrong location somewhere behind the temple located on the peak. It got dark very quickly, and it was freezing there. My phone could not receive any signal, I was very far from any kind of civilization, and so effectively stuck there for the night.
I had heard stories about people who got lost on this trek, never to be found again, so my paranoia was setting in. I was scared and losing hope fast and wondering right about now why I hadn’t told anyone that I was going for this trek. I suddenly got a faint signal on my phone (Idea!!!) and I called the local police station, and was able to explain my situation to them before I lost signal again. I waited around the peak till about 9pm, freezing without a sign of rescue. So, I decided to try to find my way down through the darkness and heavy snowfall. I was able to come down around 100-200 meters & found one cave & I decided to spent my night there. All my thoughts were focused on just making it through the night.
Around midnight, I heard some light and noises coming from the peak where I was earlier and hustled towards them. It was a rescue team of 7 people, along with the Pujari ji of the Temple. I was extremely emotional in that moment, crying a lot while they comforted me. They rescued me and took me down to Dharamshala which was my initial intended destination for that night. Around 30-35 people were there at the temple that night for a Pooja when I reached there. They all greeted me and welcomed me into the temple, and told me to thank god, for it was him who saved my life.
I got a good night’s sleep there and woke up the next morning, April 4th, feeling a lot better. I headed back down to Nohradhar with some local folks. And, though, this was not the ideal first trek experience anyone would have wanted there, I still came out of it gaining a lot and not really losing anything except a couple of my childhood fears.
Already excited for my next one.
P.s. I want to personally thank the people who rescued me that night; Mr.Chauhan, the Chairman of the Churdhar Temple Committee, the Pujari ji of the Temple; the local police inspector and all the other people, apologetically, whose names I can’t remember.