The short and swift trail to Nag Tibba is accorded an important place in the small history of WildBoots. It was here in the spring of 2014, on a short hike to this mountain that the concept of WildBoots was discussed and finalized by 3 friends, passionate about trekking who wanted to create something special to get more and more people hooked onto the adventure bug.
The trek starts at the quaint little village of Thatyur, which is on the Mussourie-Uttarkashi Road via Suwakholi. It takes an hour and a half to reach Thatyur though the shared/public travel options are limited and you might have to wait for a while to get the shared taxi/jeep.
There are multiple routes to reach Nag Tibba top from Thatyur.
1. From Devalsari Village – A trek of 13 KM, stay options are available in the forest rest house at Devalsari. You will need to carry camping gear to camp near the top. Single day return trek is an option but it gets very tiring to do so.
2. From Aunter – A motorable road goes directly upto Aunter from where the Horse trail starts. The trek is relatively shorted from here and does not require a guide. Though camping gear is recommended so that you can stay overnight.
3. From Mangalori Village – The route runs along Pali River for a short distance from Thatyur after which, you turn left crossing an old wooden bridge over the river and continue up to Mangalori village and further to Nag Tibba top.
Another route starts from Pantwari, a village reached via Nainbag. The route is the shortest at 8 KMs and is mostly preferred by the groups trekking to Nag Tibba.
We took the route from Mangalori to reach Nag Tibba, partially because it’s not an oft-used route and affords relative quiet. Turns out, it gives you a chance to experience a beautiful Gharwali village and its lifestyle.
We started early morning from Mussourie with our ration of 25 paranthas and fruits, looking sufficient enough to cover the whole trek. We were not carrying any kitchen equipment and it was a slight risk considering we were not planning to employ a local guide and were going to complete the whole trek on our own, with no prior knowledge of the trail apart from what we had read up in maps.
After an adventurous ride on the back of a milk van, we reached Thatyur and after enquiring around, were shown towards the trail and given general information about the places. We knew the village of Mangalori is not far away where we planned to stay for the night, and so we leisurely moved ahead along Pali river.
After crossing the river, we entered the forest trail and continued further up along a small stream. A relaxed walk of two hours brought us to the village by late afternoon and we were greeted by the ever-smiling gharwalis and shown around multiple places to put up our camp (even invited to stay in their houses for the night). We choose the temple complex right in the middle of the village to pitch our tent (an old room is also available here to sleep in, at no cost). A temple dedicated to Nag Devta, similar to the one at the top of Nag Tibba is situated in the village and an annual fair brings people from all over gharwal to this village to pray to Nag Devta.
The evening was spent playing cricket with the village kids and engaging in conversations with the village elders and youth. Like people from all over the hills, the villagers were very welcoming and quite knowledgeable about world affairs and the city life too. We retired early to sleep, looking forward to an early start the next morning to reach the top. We had planned to get down from Pantwari village then take some transport back to Mussourie/Dehradun via Nainbag.
The day of adventures starts.
A few villagers offered to be our guides to reach the top but since the weather was clear and the route looked pretty straight-forward, we started out on our own and continued through the forest trail upwards towards Nag Tibba top. The deeply forested trail got quite steep after an hour or so and it was slightly tough going, scrambling up at times, with us continually doubting whether we are on the right trail or not. The frequent tree temples, places where the villagers had tied colorful threads to fulfil their wishes gave us confidence that we were indeed on the right trail. The entire trail was painted red by the beautiful Rhododendrons and it was a pleasure to walk along the well known aroma of these plants.
We reached the flat top ground of Nag Tibba in 4 hours, with snow still around on the top in March. The weather had turned inclement by this time, with clouds all around and visibility down to a few metres. The rains seemed to be coming any moment now. We were still upbeat, with the gorgeous forest and snow lifting our spirits up. At the top, the visibility was very low and even though we could hear the bells at the temple, we could not find it after a 10 minute search. We decided to push off towards Pantwari, taking the trail in the general direction as told by the villagers of Mangalori. Who was to know that this trail is going to take ages for us to reach humanity again.
A prominent feature of the Nag Tibba range is the long ridge lines which continue along the top of the mountain range. Thus, Nag Tibba range has very long summit height trails which do not take you near any villages directly. We got onto one of these trails and continued on a gentle walk, looking to find any signs of civilizations or a village nearby. Keeping on the right trail was made more difficult by the frequent meadows we encountered on the way, with each of them having multiple trails going off them. And all along, we were without food, through heavy rains and reduced visibility. It was turning out to be an adventure beyond what we had anticipated.
At last long, we reached a broad trail which signalled regular movement and after a few minutes we saw a few huts just a few hundred metres away on the trail. But since the huts were above our location, we decided to move in the opposite direction, hoping to find the village downwards. An hour’s walk brought us into a deeper forest with no signs of any village visible along. With sunset just a bit more than an hour away, the only hope was now to reach the huts, retracing our steps and ask for help. We quickly turned back and reached the huts in about an hour. To our amazement, we were far off the trail to Pantwari, around 15 KMs away but fortunately, just above the village of Kyari, a village in the same valley as Thatyur. We could see the village of Kyari in the distance and quickly started descending along the way shown by the residents of the huts. These people were living here to tend to their fields, growing wheat and vegetables around.
An hour of knee-rattling descend ( we were now on the move for almost 11 hours) brought us down to the village of Kyari. The villagers were astonished as trekkers seldom came down this way, being far off from the main Nag Tibba top and not falling on any of the main trekking routes. We enquired for accommodation and were told to go towards Thatyur in shared taxis to get accommodation. We gobbled on food in a local shop and then got going towards Thatyur, staying at a guest house there for the night.
Morning, we took a shared cab towards Mussourie and then moved to Delhi from there on. Though the plans for WildBoots were already on their way, the sense of togetherness on this adventure had given all three of us confidence that come what may, we will make this work. And thus was born WildBoots.
P.S. - The route from the top to Pantwari is easier but if going by our own vehicle, it is better to come back via Kyari so that we vehicle need not move a long distance from Thatyur to Pantwari to pick you up.
Another better way is to start the trek from Pantwari which is a shorter route and then retrace your steps back to Pantwari.