If you do one thing in Dharamsala, you must hike up to Triund. Dharamsala is technically the city located on the low-lying areas below McLeod Ganj – the major tourism town on the mountainside. McLeod Ganj is where the Dalai Lama Temple is located and offers a wide range of accommodation and restaurants. But McLeod Ganj is only half way up the mountain. Nearly a four hour hike from town is Triund, a beautiful mountain peak overlooking the massive snow-covered Himalayas.
If arriving from Dharamsala, you can easily take a bus or shared jeep from the main bus station (15 rupees) to the McLeod Ganj bus station.
In McCleod Ganj, it is best to stock up on some food and water to prepare for the hike. There are two ways to reach the top of Triund – one path on the left and right side of the valley. The left side is the far more common path, but the right is still easily navigable and has less crowds. Around 1:00 pm, I headed to Bhagsu Waterfall from McCleod Ganj passing the many shops and vendors along the way. The actual waterfall has unfortunately been overrun by Indian tourists so there isn’t much to stop for and enjoy. However, as I approached the waterfall, I went on a smaller turn-off to visit a hippie-style cafe further up the hill along a well-maintained track. This cafe was the last water stop before nearly three hours of uphill climbing.
After the cafe, I crossed over the river and began the long uphill climb along a well-maintained path. Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe this climb. It was just constantly upwards for hours upon hours, but the view climbing up was absolutely stunning.
As I continued to climb, the trees grew thinner and thinner. An Indian man decided to start climbing with me towards the beginning, but he needed to stop for several cigarette breaks along the way up. I knew this guy wasn’t going to make it to the top, and sure enough about half way up we passed through a small village and he turned back.
As the trees began to clear, I had to maneuver through herds of sheep as I tried to stay on the path. Eventually I reached a ridge and got my first jaw-dropping view of the Himalayas behind McCleod Ganj. I found another group of Indian guys making the climb and we stopped to take celebratory pictures.
Unfortunately a celebration was not in order yet because we still had nearly an hour left climbing along the ridge to reach the true peak of the mountain. Every twenty minutes or so we reached another “false peak” that looked like the real top but only revealed another peak we must climb to continue upward. This group of Indian guys were a bit slow though so after a couple peaks I set off on my own.
Eventually tired and about to give up, I reached the summit and by God’s graces the sun came out and bathed the mountaintop in perfect golden hour sunshine.
The top of Triund is actually a popular place to spend the night offering a Forest Rest House with indoor accommodation or numerous tents that can be rented from local people. There are also several small huts selling food, chai, and other items necessary for a night of camping making this an extremely easy place to visit because you pretty much don’t need to bring anything yourself. There are even “toilets” too.
After taking enough pictures and stopping for some snacks, I began the long trek back down the mountain along the main path most people use to access the top. To be honest, getting down felt longer than coming up. For hours I continued my walk down hill slighting veering off the main path having to navigate through small villages to finally find my way back. I didn’t get back until 7:30/8:00pm mostly after the sun had set. It was definitly a long hike, but worth it for the experience.
Back in McCleod Ganj, I went to back to Backpacker Hotel which had a dorm room for only 250 rupees ($4.25 US), and I kept thinking is it really possible to just live in Dharamsala on $10 a day and hike up to the Himalayas everyday? That would be the life.
Unfortunately I only had 10 days total in India so hanging out wasn’t an option, but seriously, if you want to hang out somewhere for cheap, get super fit, lose weight, and enjoy yourself, just come to India where you can easily live on $10 a day.
If you’ve done this hike and liked it or just think it sounds cool, let me know in the comments below!