Rupin pass trek lies in the Garhwal Himalayas (Uttarakhand) and kinner kailash (Sangla, Himachal). Rupin pass is one of those treks that is on “the trek to-do’s” list of many trekkers. Being a moderate graded trek, it is a wonderful trek for trekkers who wish to explore what a moderate graded trek feels like. One major attraction that attracts more trekkers is the fact that it is a “2 states” trek, meaning that starts in Uttarakhand and ends in Himachal. This trek gives us an opportunity to understand the cultural and language differences and similarities between people living in villages on both sides (Dhaula, Sewa, Jiskun, Sangla).
Other than the cultural side, this treks beauty is best seen in the second season (Sept – Oct). From beautiful villages, to warm home-stays, dense forest patches, a few river crossings, amazing views of the multiple waterfalls at Dhaneras-thatch (lower waterfall), to getting to the Rupin Pass via a steep gully, the experience is simply amazing.
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Dehradun to Dhaula is a drive of 8 to 9 hours. We start as early as possible from Dehradun. We stop for bfast at Kempti falls and continue to move forward. We halt for lunch at Purola. We halt next at the check-post of Naitwar for the permissions & permits. Post that we have a short drive of an hour and get to Dhaula.
We have a briefing session in the evening along with tea and snacks. As this is a round trek [starting in Dhaula (Uttarakhand) and ending in Sangla (Himachal)], we do not have cloak room facilities. This means if you have extra luggage that you would not need on the trek, you would have to leave it in Dehradun itself.
After an early breakfast, we start our trek to Sewa. Sewa is a beautiful village with a lot many stay options. The trail today starts with a moderate graded ascent followed by a straight trek to enter the village of Sewa. Be careful of the poison ivy plants (BIchoo-booti) on this route. Today’s is a 10kms trek that would take approx 5 hours to cover. We reach post lunch and rest for the rest of the remaining day.
There happens to be a 2 story temple in Sewa. It follows Kinnauri and the local traditions being so close to Himachal. The temple is relevant from the Mahabharata’s age. The architecture of this temple proves the fact of its existence being so old. Post tea, we head towards this temple for a short walk in the evening.
The trek today starts with an easy trek for a couple of hours. This trek leads to a steep climb later that takes effort to negotiate. We cross over the Rupin river over the metal bridge. On one side we have the state of Uttrakhand and the other is Himachal. We can feel the difference with the mobile networks, electrical grids with regular supply. Airtel, BSNL networks are available there (depending upon the weather conditions).
Jiskun village is split in 2 – Juskun and lower jiskun (also known as Bawta). Depending upon our pace and weather conditions we stay in one of these places. If the day is clear in terms of weather and our pace is fine, our point it to trek as close as to Jiskun. This would make our next day’s trek shorter.
We start today’s trek with a steep descend till the water body. About an hour later we have a steep climb to Jakha. Jakha is the last village on our trek before the Rupin pass. Jakha is 3kms from Jiskun. The trail to Jakha is of stones and through forests. Post Jakha, we have a steep climb straight to the Fir forest. We cross this patch of forest and get straight to a steep descend over stones and boulders. This patch is a beautiful trail with mesmerizing views all around. This is a beautiful spot for Lunch and for re-filing water.
It would take us nearly 5 to 6 hours to complete this day’s trek. Post lunch, we have a couple of hours ascent to get to the clearing amidst tall pine trees – Udakanal.
Today’s trek is short compared to the other days – 5kms trek. The route starts with us taking a steep ascent to the right side of Udakanal. The Rupin river now flows on our left side. The views today are just amazing. We can see the top of the upper waterfall, from under which we see the huge waterfall. The U shaped valley gives us some of the most amazing views in the second half of the year. Sept, October months are colder in terms of temperatures, but they also provide amazing views of the waterfalls. Not just the lowers and upper waterfall, we can see small waterfalls all around the mountains which are a treat to the eyes.
As we gain altitude, we trek at a slow to moderate pace. Post evening tea, we need to go for a short acclimatization walk, which prepares us for higher and better acclimatization.
The trek from Dhanderas thatch to upperwaterfall is the shortest in terms of distance – 3kms. Having said that, we camp at the highest camp this night, at 13,300 feet. We start the trek early today to get to the upperwaterfall in good time. Depending upon the snow, ice or Verglass conditions, we trek at a decent pace.
The views from the upper waterfall are amazing. We get to the see the route/ trail that we had taken to get there. At this altitude, we need to ensure to trek higher and return (acclimatization walk). This walk is extremely important for us as we attempt the Pass crossing the next day.
This is the day – Rupin Pass day…!! We start early in order to cross the pass at a good time. The route starts with an hour of steep climb. This trail is difficult and we reach up to the open clearing – Rata pheri. This used to be a camping space earlier however due to its altitude, trekkers have stopped camping here. Also, the water sources here aren’t reliable in terms of availability and cleanliness. From Rata pheri we trek for 45 mins on flats and we start our gradual ascent to the pass. This is a gully which is not only steep, it’s also very challenging. This gully climb takes nearly an hour to get to. The distance of the gully is 200 metres, yet the challenge is of the lose stones/ rocks and scree. The pass is a saddle on a ridge line cutting through and across the Dhauladhar range. On reaching the top, we get to see the views of the other side – Sangla. You get to see the Kinnaur – Kailash range from the pass on this side. After spending sometime on the pass, we start our descent to Sangla Kandi/ Ronti gad. It is a steep route down and we follow a zig zag route down. In the first half of the year, the snow conditions provide perfect conditions to slide down. Taking a few slides down, definitely helps in covering most of the route in quick time. In the second half of the year, we need to trek down all the way as there might not be adequate or any snow at all to slide down.
It takes about 3 hours for us to get down to the campsite of Ronti Gad.
This is going to be the coldest night of the trek. So we make sure to be warm and rest for the night post a good meal.
We start our descent to Sangka via Kandi-Sangla to get to the Baspa valley. We take the trail that leads us straight to Sangla. We avoid taking the lower routes that lead to the river. We get to see the Kinnaur Kailash range towering at 20,000 feet from kandi-Sangla. From here we continue our descent. The entire descent is steep and will have an impact on the knees and toes.
We get to the starting point of the village where locals practice agriculture and we cross over their fields and lands. Some locals offer apples and apricots (from their own cultivation) which is an amazing gesture in itself. A lot of local houses also offer the local liquor here. We may be able to smell the fermentation while crossing over. We get to the temple where we can stop for rest. It is important that from this point the entire team treks down together till the end point as there are multiple routes to descend from here.
On reaching Sangla, we end the trek. You can either choose to stay the night here and get to Shimla the next day, else head to shimla the same night. We recommend staying the night in the hotel and heading to Shimla only the next day.