Rupin Pass Trek, Himachal Pradesh
Few Himalayan treks offer a constant feature that stays with you for the longer, better part of the trek. Treks that allow you to continually observe the subtle distinctions in the feature which otherwise get lost somewhere along the trek. The Rupin Pass Trek is one such trek that traces the Rupin River up to its origin, from the low-lying grassy plains of Uttarakhand to the icy snowfields of Himachal Pradesh. It is an ancient trade route, one still traversed by shepherds during the summer months. On the way to an altitude of 4600m, the Rupin River takes many forms: a broad, deep river, crashing furiously over boulders, split into numerous mellow streams or making waterfalls over rocky cliffs. You simply have to see it for yourself to enjoy the landscapes this trek has to offer.
Duration: 8 days
Grade: Moderate to Difficult
Max Altitude: 4650m
Starts from: Dhaula, Uttarakhand
Ends at: Sangla, Himachal Pradesh
Best Season: May-June and September-October
INR 17,500/- per trekker
Dhaula – Sewa – Jiskun – Jakha – Udaknal – Buras Kandi – Saruwas Thaatch – Dhanteras Thaatch / Lower Waterfall – Upper Waterfall – Ratapheri – Rupin Pass – Rontigad – Sangla
16 Jun to 23 Jun 2018
06 Oct - 13 Oct 2018
Request for custom trek dates.
Day 1: Arrive at Dehradun, pick up from Dehradun and drive to Dhaula
Day 2: Trek from Dhaula to Sewa
Day 3: Trek from Sewa to Jiskun
Day 4: Trek from Jiskun to Udaknal
Day 5: Trek from Udaknal to Dhanteras Thatch / Lower Waterfall
Day 6: Trek from Dhanteras Thatch / Lower Waterfall to Ratapheri
Day 7: Trek from Ratapheri to Rontigad via Rupin Pass
Day 8: Trek from Rontigad to Sangla, drive to Shimla
Day 9: Buffer day
Arrive at Dehradun and drive to Dhaula (8 to 9 hours)
The first day involves 10 hours on the road, often more, from Dehradun to Dhaula, passing through a few large towns – Naugaon and Purola, Mori on the banks of the Tons river and Naitwar just before the barricaded entry to the Govind National Park. The drive moves slowly from the hot plains to cooler regions higher up in the Himalayas. Dhaula is a small village across a suspension bridge on the Rupin River. The few houses here are ideal for a night’s halt before starting the trek.
Trek from Dhaula to Sewa (4 to 5 hours)
We are just getting acquainted with the Rupin River as we begin the trek by its side today. The trek from Dhaula to Sewa seems quite unlike the beginning of a high altitude trek. We aren’t at a significant altitude and it can get rather hot as the day progresses. The river for company and the hilly surroundings though does give the trek its Himalayan look and feeling.
The trail heading out of Dhaula first climbs up then heads down and takes a gradual ascent for a while thereafter. A series of switchbacks over a short steep section tests the trekker’s mettle early in the day. The remainder of the trek does not pose much of a challenge though. A few regular ups and downs along the side of the mountain through a mixed forest and we sight Sewa village from afar. The day’s trek ends here with plenty of time for us to chat up with the village folks and observe them go about their daily chores.
Trek from Sewa to Jiskun (4 to 5 hours)
We move out of the village early in the morning to catch up with the river again. The sights and sound of the river keep the trekkers motivated as the trail move pleasingly closer to the Rupin at times. On the way to Jiskun, we step over from Uttarakhand to Himachal as we make our way over one of the wooden log bridges on a small stream flowing into the Rupin. Further ahead, we pass a forested area for a brief period before the trail opens up again.
We can now see the trail wind on upwards ahead in the distance in the form of a broad path cut into the side of the mountain. We hike over a motor-able road for a while now, crossing a bridge to take a detour from the motor-able road and up the cliffs. It is a steady ascent with sharp rugged cliffs towering on one side and the Rupin flowing at the floor of the valley below. There are some pleasing high waterfalls on the trail too that form inviting little ponds for the trekkers to take a dip in.
Another hour’s climb and we reach Jiskun, where we come across a few shops and a post office too! We break our journey at Jiskun today and get some time to interact with the friendly Himachalis.
Trek from Jiskun to Udaknal (5 to 6 hours)
From Jiskun, the trek takes us through some delightful twists and turns as we get deeper inside the Rupin Valley. First, the trail descends down to a bridge, across which starts the climb to Jakha. The climb winds up steeply over a path cut into the side of a rocky cliff with the views getting better as we climb higher.
Jakha is a lovely village spread out on steep slopes high above the river. We trek through the broad path through the middle of the village and pass by the school courtyard and playground on the way out. The trail then ascends through the fields on the far side of the village before entering the forest again. The tall pine trees keep us company for about an hour as we descend through the forest to reach the banks of the Rupin River again.
Once along the level of the river, we carry on ahead on the narrow trail ascending gradually inside the valley. The meadows of Udaknal lie some distance ahead over to the right on the other side of a river. Watch out for a bridge that helps cross over to our campsite for Day 4 of the trek.
Trek from Udaknal to Dhanteras Thatch / Lower Waterfall (3 to 4 hours)
The famous cascading waterfalls the Rupin makes as it flows over steep cliffs is where we are headed towards today. Crossing small streams and gaining altitude steadily from Udaknal, we trek towards Buras Kandi, a small clearing in the forest which also serves as a campsite. Ahead of Buras Kandi, the trail magnificently opens up into the broad U-shaped valley and we sight the waterfalls in the distance.
The trail along the river continues upward towards the waterfalls. The gradual hike over smooth green meadows beside the crystal clear waters of the river is delightful to say the least. The snow covered mountains in the distance give the landscape a refreshing look. There are plenty of green patches along the trail and we camp closer to the Lower Waterfall – Dhanteras Thatch for tonight.
Trek from Dhanteras Thatch / Lower Waterfall to Ratapheri (3 to 4 hours)
The trek today is significant – not for the distance to be covered but the altitude gained and terrain encountered. It is also an important acclimatization day for the trekkers before the all important ‘pass day’ – the long trek to Rupin Pass that follows. Camping at a higher altitude and in typically cold and windy conditions of Ratapheri is a challenging task for most trekkers.
We approach the base of the Lower Waterfall bellowing down over rocky cliffs. The route now climbs up from what is typically a snow patch towards the right of the Lower Waterfall (when facing it). This is the first snow-covered section to be negotiated on the trek and due caution is necessary. We make our way up diagonally across the snow section – instead of ascending vertically, a good practice when faced with a steep climb on hard snow.
We then traverse to the left over the Lower Waterfall over a few more patches of snow. The ascent also involves hiking up a few rocky ledges leading up to the camping meadows near the Upper Waterfall. From the Upper Waterfall, a short steep climb for about an hour is to be negotiated first before the trail allows the trekkers to relax for a while. We move steadily towards the snowbound sections of the trek before camping at a level area closer to the base of the Rupin Pass and the origin of the river. The campsite is a gorgeous one, overlooking the beautiful wide valley we have trekked through over the last couple of days.
Trek from Ratapheri to Rontigad via Rupin Pass (6 to 7 hours)
‘The Pass Day’ – it promises to be a long hard-earned trek to stand tall atop the Rupin Pass at 4800m. An early start to the trek is a must to ensure we reach the pass at the earliest, taking advantage of the packed snow conditions. One the sun melts the snow on the mountain slopes the going is bound to get tougher.
In the May-June seasons, the landscape remains white till we approach the base of the Rupin Pass. The trek over the hardened snow is at a slower pace and it takes some time for the trekkers to get used to the different terrain.
The final section to the pass is the most challenging part of this trek. Weather conditions and terrain dictate the pace – a snow gully during the May – June season or a scree-filled, rocky climb in the post monsoon season. This section is steep too and the lose rocks hanging over the edges of the pass are sure to get your adrenaline flowing. Utmost concentration is demanded of trekkers to get up this gully and stake claim to the Rupin Pass.
Once on the pass, the feeling is one of exhilaration as the nerves settle down. The trekkers treated to glorious views of the valley beyond and the panorama of high Himalayan peaks all around. Prayer flags and caranes adorn the pass, a common decoration that marks the high altitudes of the Himalayas.
Trek from Rontigad to Sangla (7 to 8 hours), drive from Sangla to Shimla (6 to 7 hours)
We descend rapidly on the last day of the Rupin Pass trek passing through the last remnants of snow and large meadows as we head to the base of the valley. We come across shepherds and livestock more frequently as get nearer to civilization. The sharp features of the Kinner Kailash range peak out in the distance, right in front of us, as we make way down the narrow trail out of Rontigad towards the cover of the pine trees far below.
We pass through the huts of Sangla Kanda (Kanda or upper Sangla) first, which is a good place to get some rest and give our knees a much needed break before continuing with the unforgiving descent. The trail is steep at times and it is better to approach the last part of the trek cautiously to avoid unnecessary injuries. As we move lower into the Sangla valley, a pine forest provides welcome respite from the dry and hot conditions – a sharp contrast to the colder weather we have encountered at the previous two camps. The trail broadens as approach the wooden houses of Sangla and the last section of the trek moves along an under-construction road proposed to connect Sangla and Kanda in the near future. The descent finally ends once we arrive at a bridge across the Baspa River. To reach the motor-able road however, a short climb through narrow steep lanes between the houses of Sangla.
To be utilized in case of bad weather or unforeseen delays. Trekkers should plan for return travel taking into account that a buffer day will be utilized during the trek.
Trek cost includes:
Trek cost does not include:
Dehradun is well connected by train and air with all major cities in India. The Airport is around 20 kms away from the main city of Dehradun.
Reporting Date & Time:
Day 1: Please plan on reaching Dehradun by 6:00 a.m. on Day 1. Trekkers will be assembled and leave for Dhaula latest by 6:30 a.m. on Day 1 of the Rupin Pass Trek.
Return Date & Time:
Day 9: Please plan on return travel from Shimla after 9 pm on Day 9 or on Day 10, taking into account a buffer day will utilized during the trek.
What to bring, how to prepare
Please go through the list of the personal trekking gear you are expected to carry for the trek, high altitude trek preparation and more in the Information section.