To really know a place, one needs to live it, breathe it and be it. This is the interpretation of the Nanda Devi trek. It opens the windows into the lives of its people, its culture and traditions. It is a travelogue with a difference. This trek is not just about walking the miles, but stepping into the hearts of its warm people. Taking the people of this area along the journey, not leaving them behind as mere onlookers. Making tourism more responsible and conducive to the preservers of the lands we visit.

Getting to know Nanda Devi

The Nanda Devi Trek narrates the story of the Nanda Devi region woven around its folklore and culture and the customs of the communities which have thrived here for centuries. The unique transhumant lifestyles and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of the native Bhotiya community shows the uniqueness of this region and brings us closer to the ‘Oasis’- Nanda Devi!  This interpretive trek offers a holistic experience to seekers and redefines adventure tourism by giving it a human dimension.  The stories from the bygone era of mountaineering expeditions, the daring heroic acts of the locals, the history and bio diversity of this region have been systematically made available in the Interpretation Center at the base camp Devangan Lodge.

Interpretive Trek to Nanda Devi National Park

Trying to put our own footprints into the footsteps of  Shipton and Tilman, the trek takes you to the boundaries of the core zone of  Nanda Devi National Park, a World Heritage site for natural diversity. While camping at the clifftop campsites of Kanook and Lata Kharak,the trek also provides an opportunity to visit Saini Kharak, at the top of the riverine Rishi gorge which is considered to be one of the most difficult canyons to negotiate in the world. You, however, won't be doing any climbing but will approach from the much gentler Lata-Kharak side.  Day four will see us on the highest trek elevation of 4180 meters at Jhindidhar. From Jhindidhar you will slowly negotiate the rocky patch till Himtoli and continue your downhill descent till the village of Tolma where we will stay in homestays.

TREADING THE UNKNOWN

Exploration History of Nanda Devi

The Nanda Devi basin was declared a game sanctuary in 1939 on the recommendations of the British- American Expedition of 1936, the first to reach the summit of Nanda Devi (7816 meters). The core zone of Nanda Devi National Park is 625 square kilometers, out of which only 25 square kilometres is grassland and 65 square kilometres is forested, the remaining area is rocky or snow covered. The inner area of the sanctuary is bowl shaped studded with some of the highest mountains in the Indian Himalayas, 12 of which are over 21000 ft. The drainage from the sanctuary is through the Rishi Ganga which flows 3 km downstream from Lata and joins the Dhouli Ganga near the village of Raini. The villages of Lata and Raini were in the forefront of the Chipko Movement.   Nanda Devi is the patron goddess of the Garhwal and Kumaon regions.

The 62,460 ha core zone of the Nanda Devi National Park is surrounded by a 514,857 ha buffer zone of bio sphere. The almost vertical terrain of the core zone areas holds significant populations of flora (300 plus species) and fauna including a number of threatened species notably Snow leopardHimalayan Musk DeerHimalayan Black Bear,  Himalayan Thar and 114 documented avian species.

The first recorded attempt to explore the Nanda Devi basin was in June 1883 by William W. Graham, who could proceed only up to Rishi Ganga. Another notable attempt by T. G. Longstaff  met with the similar fate, all he could manage in 1905 was a view of the inner sanctuary from what is now called  the Longstaff col. His second attempt led to the first summit of Trishul in 1907 but Nanda Devi still remained out of reach.  Incidentally it was Dr. Longstaff who discovered the Siachen Glacier during the 1930s. During the same period, the civil servant turned mountaineer Hugh Ruttledge made three unsuccessful attempts to enter the basin of theNanda  Devi sanctuary.  In a letter to ‘The Times”, he wrote that 'Nanda Devi imposes on her votaries an admission test as yet beyond their skill and endurance', adding that gaining the Nanda Devi Sanctuary alone was more difficult than reaching the North Pole.

Finally, in 1934, Shipton and Tillman, assisted by three Sherpas Ang Tharkay, Pasang and Kusang, managed to find a route through the alpine meadows of Lata and Tolma villages. This was followed by the first summit of Nanda Devi in 1936 by Tillman and Noel Odell under  the British-American expedition traversing through the  south east ridge. Odell, a Geologist by profession carried drilling equipment with the expedition gear for mineral prospecting in the Nanda Devi basin; however it was never used due to the hectic schedule of the expedition.

Eric Shipton also made another visit to the sanctuary during the same year, accompanied by TenzingNorgey, but his mission was to map the sanctuary. Nanda Devi remained one of the most popular mountaineering destinations in the world till it’s notification as a National Park in the year 1982. A comprehensive documentation of the mountaineering is showcased at the Interpretation Center in Lata village, including the story of Nanda Devi Unsoeld, who died during the Tragic Expedition of Nanda Devi in 1976.

Nanda Devi: Insight into Nature and Culture

Documented literature on Nanda Devi may be a century old but the story of Nanda Devi goes back to ancient times, overlapping with the story of the ingenious Bhotiya community who adopted this trans Himalayan terrain, they traded with the Tibetan communities across the high Himalayan passes and survived the harsh realities of this region. Nanda Devi has remained their Patron deity and a family member. She governs the life cycle of the Bhotiya Community and her influence reflects in their customs, rituals as well as the management of natural resources of her region. As a repository of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, the vertical landscape of Nanda Devi offers an all immersive experience to both the initiated as well as the non-initiated.

Bio Cultural Diversity Interpretation Trek

What's Unique about this trek

The native community is hosting this trek, a first experiment of its kind in the Himalayas. An inaugural trek for women was offered in 2006, but this offer is a commercial one. It has taken us almost 18 years to convince ourselves to present our land to visitors through  our native eyes and perspectives. Please visit our campaign  website www.mountainshepherds.com to know more about our journey.

Packaged by the tourism industry and more specifically by online aggregators, trekking is becoming more and more about milestones and exotic destinations. Your interaction with native communities is usually  limited to clicking selfies with herds of sheep grazing in Himalayan meadows,  of a shepherd with his dog, or of women carrying loads of fodder or toiling in the fields. What if the same people who live in these areas and are usually not in the periphery of your attention, invite you to trek in their own land?

Our preparations

We are in the process of developing an Interpretation Center on the Bio Cultural Diversity of our area at our  Base Camp Devangan Lodge in Lata Village. Efforts are on to showcase our culture, crop diversity, vintage implements, handicrafts, history of mountaineering and the biodiversity profile of the Nanda Devi National Park. 

We are also training youth from Lata and nearby villages in birding and taxonomy to make your trek more immersive. 

Itinerary in Detail

Day 1: . Early pickup from Haridwar and drive to Lata ( 8-10 hours ). Arrival at our base camp Devangan Lodge in Lata. Introduction and equipment distribution. Shared accommodation in bunk beds. This will be your last chance to have a bath before your trek, you can ask for warm water!

Day 2:  Early rising call with tea. Spend time at the Interpretation Center and Museum. Post breakfast hike 1.5 km to the summer Lata Village. If interested you can visit the 12th century temple of Nanda Devi. There will be an opportunity to interact with the villagers.

After tea and snacks at a village home, you will continue  your trek to Kanook (9730 ft). You stop midway to finish your packed lunch and refill your water bottles at Bhelta before attempting the final steep climb to Kanook. The campsite is on a clifftop and offers majestic views of the Dhouli Ganga valley and Kauri Pass section in the west. At Kanook you will be camping in tents, 3 persons in each. Camp toilets will be set up.

Day 3:  Today you will start your vertical climb towards Lata Kharak. The guide will brief you about the trek and lead with a frustratingly slow pace. The objective is to keep the heart beat close to normal to insure calmness of the mind. Walking slowly you  also consume less water and won’t feel exhausted. With each vertical step you will gain height and the slow pace will give youthe opportunity to learn more about the trees and birds you encounter with the help of the info booklet provided to you.

You should reach Lata Kharak (12300 ft) in 4-5 hours. Hot lunch will be served at the Lata Kharak Forest Hut. After an hour of rest you will get ready for the  hike to SainiKharak. No need to carry your rucksack as you will be returning back to stay overnight at Lata Kharak. You just carry your water bottles, camera, jacket and torch in your knapsack and head towards SainiKharak (12700 ft). You have to negotiate a rocky portion  to reach the small grassy patch in the middle of SainiKharak. If the weather Gods are happy you will get a closer view of the inner sanctuary of Nanda Devi with Bhitartoli, Hanuman, Nanda Khat, Nanda Ghunghti, Devangan andTrishul in close proximity. You return back to Lata Kharak where you will be sharing rooms in the Forest Hut.

Day 4:  Early rising to catch the breath taking morning views. After breakfast you hike towards Jhindidhar (13400 ft). From Jhindi the route goes further up to Bakfiyana Pass and further to Satkula heading towards Dharansi and the base camp of Nanda Devi. It takes a minimum of 9 days to reach the base of Nanda Devi if one is allowed to enter the sanctuary. From Jhindidhar you get a mesmerising view of Dronagiri Peak. Dronagiri is part of the Ramayana mythology. As per folklore, Hanuman took a portion of the peak as he failed to identify the Sanjivanibooti he was looking for on it. More on this during your visit! The trail traversing down goes to the beautiful village of Tolma. After reaching the highest trek elevation point you will start your downhill trek towards Tolma (8200 ft).  Long day ahh!

Mountaineering data shows that most accidents occur during descent. Twisted ankles in this case, so be careful. From Jhindidhar it’s a long downhill walk to Tolma. Shortly after crossing Himtoli you will re-enter the forest. You will be staying at different homes as decided by the village representatives. The food however will be centralized. From Tolma you will get the best sunset view on Dronagiri peak.

Day 5. Before breakfast there is an opportunity to explore around Tolma and experience the magical sunrise on Dronagiri. Post breakfast is the time to say goodbye to the mighty Himalayas, its people and villages. Gently you start on your last stretch of 3 Km trek towards the Suraithota road head. From there you will be ferried back to Devangan Lodge.

You deserve a bath after 3 days and we will insure you get hot water as you arrive at the base camp! If you need to wash your cloths, you can use our laundry.  Before dinner there is an opportunity to buy handicrafts (rugs ) and spices from our store. The rugs available for sale are hand woven by the women from Lata and nearby villages. The spices and herbs are also home grown.

Day 6:  After loading your baggage in the vehicles we will bid you farewell with folded hands. We never leave home for a journey without a heavy breakfast and will definitely insure that you are properly fed before starting your return journey!  There are multiple options from Haridwar to reach Delhi and Lucknow.

FACTS

Destination: Lata Kharak-Saini Kharak-Jhindidhar-Tolma
Age: 18years+
Duration: 6 days (from Haridwar)
Trek Strength: Low Volume (minimum10/max 15 pax)
Category: Moderate/Difficult
Inclusion: All services including stay, food, forest entry permits and camping charges after arrival on day 1 at Lata village till departure on day 6.
Exclusion: Transport pickup charges between Haridwar and Lata village. Baggage transfer charges if one desires to offload his rucksack during the trek.

COST

Rs.8,800/-

per person for Indian Nationals.

Rs.10,600/-

per person for Foreign Nationals (due to difference in official permit and camping charges).

Available Dates

Click on the batch to Register.

Procedure for Booking

STEP 1: Please download the Indemnity Form and Registration Form. Read carefully before proceeding to book your seat. Please note that you have to submit hard copy of the forms at the time of reporting for the trek at Lata.

STEP 2: Choose your dates and proceed to finish the online payment formalities.

NOTE: Please note the maximum group strength is 15/day and minimum group strength to run the trek is 10 pax/day. In case of below 10 booking for a particular date, the participants will be informed a week before with options to either reclaim the booking amount or choose from other available dates.

For any queries you can contact us.

Brief Itinerary

DAY 1 Pickup from Haridwar and drive to Lata. Trek briefing and equipment distribution. Overnight at Devangan lodge in Lata.

DAY 2 Trek 1.5km to summer Lata village. Village visit and interaction with villagers. Post village visit, trek 3km to Kanook campsite. Overnight in tents.

DAY 3 Trek 4km to Lata Kharak. Post lunch hike to Saini Kharak. Overnight at Forest hut at Lata Kharak.

DAY 4 Post breakfast trek to village Tolma via Jhindi Dhar, Himtoli. Homestay at Tolma village.

DAY 5 Post breakfast trek 3kms to Suraithota roadhead and drive to Devangan lodge.

DAY 6 Post breakfast return drive to Haridwar.

Food: During trek days only vegetarian food with eggs will be served. While at base camp (day 1 &4) both vegetarian and non vegetarian food will be served. Our meal plan is similar to that of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering with six servings a day. This includes morning tea, breakfast, forenoon fruit juice/snacks, hot lunch/pack lunch, afternoon tea with snacks and dinner. A small emergency ration is also issued to the participants at the onset of trek.

Environmental Ethics: While organizing treks our emphasis primarily remains in minimizing the generation of trash during trekking by repackaging the goods in reusable containers. Whatever trash generated in the forms of empty food cans etc is brought back for segregation at our base Devangan lodge. We prefer to properly document our trash management process. You are welcome to visit our Trash Management Log page on facebook to check the evidence.

Baggage transfer: Limited baggage transfer facility can be arranged with prior intimation. The trek is porter supported and it will cost Rs. 1000/day for hiring the services of a single porter including his wage and food. A porter will carry only 20 kg of weight. The cost can be shared with other members desiring to offload their rucksack. However you will be still carrying your water bottle, woollens,  and other essential items your might require during the trek.

Cloakroom facility: Available at the NDI Basecamp, Devangan Lodge, Village Lata.

Dietary restrictions:  Please inform us in advance in case you are allergic to any specific food/ingredients. We hope you understand the difference between allergy and aversion to some food.

Access and transport logistics: NDI base camp at Lata village is located 25 km upstream from Joshimath (NH 58) on Niti –Malari road. Shared Sumo taxi and buses are available from Haridwar till Joshimath. From Joshimath our representatives will assist you in getting transport till Lata. We are also arranging Pick up services from Haridwar. The 9 seater shared Sumo taxi will leave early from Haridwar and cost Rs. 7000 one way till Lata.  It can accommodate 5-6 persons comfortably. You can split the cost with other trekkers joining on the same dates.

First aid and emergency: First aid facilities at all three locations and a backup vehicle at the  base camp will be available for evacuation. Arrangements for emergency evacuation from higher camps will be promptly arranged. Please read carefully the T&C.

Cancellation: Full refund for cancellation before 30 days from the commencement of the trek with 5% deduction for payment gateway and related charges. Before 20 days 50% of the amount paid will be reimbursed. Before 10 days 25 % refund. Change in trek dates or participation in other NDI programs will be entertained only  once. No show/no refund. Program will be cancelled one week before the date of commencement if the minimum group strength of 10 pax  is not achieved. Under such circumstances you have choice to switch to another date or reclaim your amount.