Kalatop is a wildlife sanctuary almost 8 Kms from Dalhousie and our first stop in the 3 days trek. It had just snowed in Dalhousie and we heard that there was inches of snow in Kalatop. Kalatop is at a height of 8000 Feet. But snow was not my problem. My problem was climbing from 6750 feet to 8000 feet. I become breathless when I climb the 3 floors of my office so was naturally getting to 8000 feet would be a challenge.
With the batch after us giving us a warm welcome, we started for kalatop and the first 15 minutes exhausted us. The walk takes you through the Tibetan market to Gandhi Chowk and then to a long hilly route through the jungle to the boundary of Kalatop-Khajjiar Sanctuary. The rest of the journey is from road to Lakanmandi. From Lakadmandi. Kalatop is 3 Kms walk through the sanctuary to the Kalaptop guest house.
The real challenge was from Dalhousie to the boundary of Kalatop-Khajjiar sanctuary. Through the jungle and climbing upward, I knew the meaning of traveling light.
This is just 20 minutes after we left. This is Meher Hotel. A very old hotel and a part of History because Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose lived here when he was suffering from Tuberculosis. We were told that drinking from a spring in the hills and breathing the fresh airs from Deodhar trees around dalhousie, he was cured of TB in 7 months. This sure is a grand hotel stretching on the hills, unlike other hotels which were built of single building.
Just after we left Dalhousie. This is walk though the jungle and mostly an uphill climb. This was just the start of the trek and the most exhaustive part of the first day.
It had snowed heavily a day before and the first snow of the season. The roads were slippery and snowy as our tired group made slowly toward kalatop. The cars on these road made the road all the more slippery as the snow turned into ice
The snow covered terraced hills on the way to Kalatop. On the way we found potato research center. Just a building with tatched roof. Its somewhere on those hills
The gate of Kalatop Khajjiar sanctuary. Kalatop guest house is still 3 kilometers from here. They say it was total 8 Kilometers but we felt it we had traveled 8 kilometers till we reach here. This is called Lakarmandi.
Icicles formed at the small office we rested at Lakarmandi.
Gujjar’s settlement at Lakarmandi. All houses are locked. People migrate to lower altitude during snowfall
The last 3 Kilometers walk to Kalatop. Mathew walking ahead of me
The snow covered narrow path. A slip here and you go down
The flowers that bloom in winter
The trees on the slope of the hills.
The last 200 Meters. It still felt far way off with legs paining
The end. The destination. Kalatop Forest Guest House. Finally!