I had this bug to in me to explore a new destination. I was not able to make my plan and suddenly, one day I spoke to my friend and thereafter we started our trip for Chanshal Pass. I had never thought of it in any corner of my head…!! Sudden plans are always full of energy with lot of adrenaline rush ….!!!!!!….WOOOO….!!! What a feel, can’t express in words…!!!!!!
The Chanshal Valley is also known as Chanshal pass and is acclaimed for its scenic beauty. It lies in between Dodra Kwar and Rohru in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. This place is approximately 160 km from Shimla and is accessible by road. All the way, we had wished the weather to be good as we didn’t want to get stuck because of snowfall.
I went in the month of December which is very unlikely for anyone to explore this region because of heavy snowfall. The best time to visit this valley is May to October because rest of the time there is heavy snowfall in the region so it becomes difficult to reach here as most of the roads are blocked. This region is also known for its strong wind flow and one needs to be behind rocks to avoid the cold air flow.
The take off point for Chanshal pass is from the pretty village of Larot around 32 km from Rohru, on the Rohru-Chirgaon-Chanshal-Dodra Kwar road. My trip was simply fantastic but because of forest fire the sky was not clear as it should have been during this month of the year. About 20 KM of last stretch is dirt and narrow which goes though Apple Orchids. I fought through the tough terrain and eventually made it to the summit. The last 20 kms took us more than two hours.
I witnessed the magnificent Sun rise at 6 ‘clock in the morning after a tough drive over the black ice from the village Larot. Unbelievable is the only word to express…!!!! All our tiredness just vanished as extreme cold wind cross our faces, which was heavenly…!!The mighty Chanshal Pass stood conquered; but proud nonetheless and we just stood there and savoured the thin air at 12,303 ft. The highest point of the Chanshal ranges stands at 14,800 ft.
The view from Chanshal Pass was fantastic a unique experience, which is very rare. There are good meadows to pitch one’s tents for night stay. There are no shops or hotels on the top so you can’t expect to have food there but cold water flowing from ice melting peaks.
After spending good long hours at the Pass, we descended to the other side of the Chanshal Pass to the village Dodra. The lovely grassy slopes of Chanshal Pass are its most unique feature. The Dodra and Kwar villages beyond the Chanshal are connected to Larot and Rohru by a daily bus service. The bus to Kwar crossed us at the summit.
Again, the road was tough with single road. We crossed the pine forest which were dry because of winters and was expecting snowfall any day from now. The drive and view was beautiful and all along the way we were talking that will come again during the month of May to witness the green part of this region.
Slow and steady, we crossed all the turns and not expecting anything from the front…BUT What a view…. Unimaginable view…!!! The Dodra Village…!! It lied in-between the mountain and hidden…!! Extremely extraordinary with its classic old architecture which was still maintained by the village…Just Beautiful …!! We felt blessed!!
We took a break at the Village Dodra for breakfast at the only one dhaba; The Negi dabhba. We had fresh and humbly sieved food. All our energy was back and got ready to explore more areas around the Dodra Village.
We were told about the Rupin River flowing down with some beautiful water fall nearby. We left our baggage at the Dodra guesthouse and started our drive toward the river.Explored the river and the water fall till the that evening, all was just nature with its beauty…!!
We took rest that night at Dodra Village and planned to rise up early to witness the Sun rise at the Village and to explore the inside the village as to shoot with natural light. The weather was cloudy during the night and if it snowed we will get stuck for at least a week. We were told by the villagers that it won’t snow and it might snow after a day or so.
Everything went just perfect, we witnessed tough drive, Sunrise at the Chanshal, classic village of Himachal Pradesh followed by sunrise at the village… All went as planned …!!! Only one wish kept on moving in our hearts to witness sunset at the Chanshal pass while going back.
We started our drive back and had a holt at Chanshal Pass for Sun set. Again out of the world was the view as if we were at heaven and next to The God…!! The sun setting with the clouds and giving it’s golden glow…felt extremely happy and satisfied with the shoots we took. It wasn’t easy at all, as the wind was extremely cold blowing in a speed so as we can hear the sound. Thick clouds were coming over the sky as if it might rain or snow. As it was getting dark we packed our photography equipments and started our drive back down toward the Larot village with tough drive with black ice on the way and then to Rohru.
We halted overnight at Rohru, and the first thing we hear that it snowed at the Chanshal Pass!! What a mixed feeling …!!!! We missed the chance to click snow or to be happy that we did not get stuck in the snow!!!! Incredible Experience…!!! We will come again Chanshal !!!
Photos & Words by Jagjit Singh
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